Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Leaf Aptus 22 Experience Report

A review diary by Uwe Steinmueller @Digital Outback Photo

Also photos by Bettina Steinmueller





Diary Index


Note on image processing:

As usual we work only with raw files and use Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CS2 or Leaf Capture 10 (pre release).

All images are also sharpened using EasyS Sharpening Toolkit and tonality tuned with our Tonality Tuning Kit (e.g. mid-tone contrast and opening up shadows).


9/3/2005 Getting Started

The Leaf Aptus is now the third MF back (22MP) that we used untethered on a Hasselblad H1.

All these backs work completely untethered with battery in/on the unit and CF cards as storage.

The biggest visible difference between the Aptus and other backs is the huge 3.5" touch screen LCD . We did not get any manual with our review unit. But the clear online menus made working very easy and we were up to speed in about 20 minutes.

Main Menu

In strong sunlight the LCD is hard to read. The unit we got came with a Hoodman shade (used normally for video cameras) that helped to shade the LCD. As we understand Hoodman plans to develop a more suitable hood.

Shoot Menu

The shoot menu provides you with all the info you need:

  • Histogram as shown
  • Larger histogram overlay with RGB channel histograms
  • Overexposure indicators on demand

Overall the LCD is very helpful to view images and work with the unit.

Note: While the Aptus stores images from the internal buffer to the CF card some of the operations on the LCD cannot be performed (e.g. changing ISO).

For outdoor work we think that the Phase One P25 with its more limited LCD is as practical as the Aptus. But of course the Aptus would allow a more detailed inspection of the images if you find a shaded place.

We use the uncompressed raw mode on the Aptus (files are 41MB large) because ACR 3.x can right now only open the uncompressed files. The Aptus also support lossless compressed raw files that take up only about 50% of the space. Probably future versions of ACR will also support the compressed files.

First Pictures

Our usual walk in Los Gatos:

Ristorante in Los Gatos

Crop at 100% magnification (Adobe ACR with very strong sharpening)

Crop at 100% magnification (Leaf Capture 10 with default sharpening)

Leaf Capture is only available for the Mac and allows all the corrections you want (including of course tethered shooting). The results are excellent (see above sample crop) but the processing is pretty slow. Camera Raw is by some magnitudes faster.

Overall we like the results from both raw converters but would use the Leaf Capture software for maximum detail.

Note: We assume that the H1 + Aptus 22 is not at the maximal resolution with the 80mm + 1.7x extender we used as the 1.7x extender may lower the lens resolution somehow. The 1.7x extender also created clear barrel distortions (we used the CS2 Lens Correction filter to compensate for it).

Note: We shot from a sturdy tripod and used mirror lockup in combination with the self timer. Because the H1 uses a leaf shutter that should be hardly any vibrations introduced by the shutter.


Original RAW file can be downloaded from here (huge 41 MB). File can be opened in Adobe Camera Raw 3.x.

You can only use this file for your own tests as all copyright is U&B Steinmueller. Do not publish any derived images. Remember that this is a very unique service by Digital Outback Photo.



What about noise? We used Camera Raw 3.2 with no noise removal. We shot once again the Los Gatos Bear Cafe at different ISO levels:

The following crops are all at 100% magnification.

Note: H1 used the 80mm lens and a 1.7x extender. The blur in the tree is due to longer shutter speed at lower ISO.

Leaf Aptus 22

ISO 25

ISO 50

ISO 100

ISO 200

The results from ISO 25-100 look pretty good and ISO 200 quite useable. We think that Leaf could even include an option for ISO 400.

9/5/2005 Compared to Canon 1Ds Mk. II

We shot the same scene at different days at about the same light with the Aptus and the Canon 1Ds Mk. II. We show these photos to give our readers an idea what level of detail both cameras can capture.

Note: Both shots from tripod and using mirror lockup.

Note: This is not by a far stretch a scientific comparison.

Aptus 22

  • H1 + 150mm lens (lens shows slight distortions that we did not correct)
  • Converted in Leaf Capture 10 (pre-sharpened)
  • Final sharpening with EasyS Sharpening Toolkit (level low)

Leaf Aptus

100% magnification (click on image for larger crop)

Canon 1Ds Mk. II

  • 1Ds Mk. II + Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS
  • Converted in RSE
  • Distortion corrected with PTLens
  • Sharpening with EasyS Sharpening Toolkit (very strong level)

1Ds Mk. II

100% magnification (click on image for larger crop)


  • Frame with Aptus slightly larger than with 1Ds2 (22MP vs. 16MP)
  • We used on H1 a prime lens vs. zoom on 1Ds2
  • Detail level is close
  • Aptus image looks somehow smoother
  • White balance is slightly different


Other Reviews:

Review methodology (or lack of :-)) here.


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