Robb Williamson Upgrading to the Leaf Credo 80

 In Kyra Bodrick, Photographer Spotlight

“I chose the Mamiya Leaf Credo 80 because it was the best bang for the buck, based on my goals. Adding an 80MP system helps distinguish me from the 35mm crowd. It also preserves the value of my initial medium format investment. Upgrading is a pretty cost effective way to add features and to keep current with technology.”

Arizona-based Robb Williamson is a versatile and highly successful commercial and editorial location photographer. His specialties include aviation, architecture & design, industry, panoramics, environmental portraits and landscapes.

Four years ago his article on Luminous Landscape detailed the search for and eventual choice of his first medium format digital back — the Leaf Aptus II-10.

Since then, Robb has been busy shooting non-stop on assignments around the world. Recently, we learned that he had just upgraded from the Aptus II-10 to a Leaf Credo 80. Naturally, we wanted to hear the story behind his upgrade.

“Also, besides my client work, I’m planning to create a brand of ‘special works,’ that meld my environmental portraits with my landscape work. I have a whole list of related goals that include a traveling gallery for which I need to be able to produce larger-sized prints that people can get close to and study in detail. For that, an 80-megapixel system is key.”

Last January, with winter winds howling in Atlanta, Robb visited the offices of Capture Integration to pick up his new Credo 80. Although the city was in the grip of a now-infamous snow and ice storm, nothing could stop him from making the journey; he was eager to visit again with the folks at CI to get briefed on the Credo’s special features and on Capture One software.

Enjoying some downtime in Vegas with the Credo 80…

After Atlanta, Robb joined his wife for a trip to Las Vegas where she was attending a conference. “I wanted to feel comfortable with the new back before tackling new assignments, so I decided to pack up my new Credo for its first trip, and take my time trying it out.

“It was great to enjoy some downtime and get to know the Credo without any pressures of a new assignment in front of me. I had photographed the new City Center hotels and shopping areas back after getting my Aptus II, so I felt it fitting to go back there and shoot a bit at twilight of that area. As day was fading, about a block from The Cosmopolitan, I set up in a good position to see some of the newer buildings at City Center. I opted for my 40mm lens without any stitching. It was a perfect focal length for my framing. I dialed in 16.5mm of fall on the Credo and I was set to watch the evening and activities float over the camera.

On Assignment Long Beach…

“A few weeks later, I was on site at the new Courthouse in Long Beach, CA* for AECOM – the largest architecture and engineering firm in the world. I felt completely in control and very comfortable shooting with the Credo. I was literally “in the zone.” Lighting in this new, modern facility was good and I found that I was able to cover ground almost as fast as I might have done with a Canon system, simply because of the clear information on the bright screen. Checking focus was easy, and I didn’t need to tether. This process saved me a lot of time and cut down on the amount of extra gear I’d otherwise have to carry.

“I used the built-in live view to quickly set up the back with framing. It worked well on the interior scenes where lighting did not have many hot spots. I closed the aperture a couple of stops and could work with the slower frame rate just fine. Most of the time, I work by myself and hire local assistants for bigger architectural or portrait projects, so the less I have to keep track of while I’m shooting, the better.”

Later, he learned that the Long Beach Courthouse had been named “one of the top 12 design projects in the world,” by McGraw Hill publishing. Its architects also earned the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Commercial Real Estate Award for the 2014 Best Public Project earlier this year. According to Robb, he never could have achieved the image quality of this building without his Credo 80 system.

So what’s the bottom line?

“After purchasing the system four months ago, I feel the Credo ‘brings the goods’ and just makes my life easier. Using a digital back now feels even more special than when I made the initial investment four years ago. Is the decision to spend so much on a camera system taken lightly? No, of course not. I know the hard work it took for me to earn the purchase price. But just as the LASIK eye surgery 20 years ago was priceless for me, the Credo is in the same category today. It was — and is — a sound investment.”

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