In the FYI department – for years, Leaf  digital backs have offered Live View for composition and focusing functionality when shooting tethered to a computer. The advantages of Live View are well known by now, since most 35mm DSLR’s offer high quality, real-time Live View in camera. Live View for medium format doesn’t match the flexible, high quality Live View associated with 35mm DSLR cameras, but, while limited, can still provide benefits in the right situation. The CCD sensors in medium format digital backs are not suited for Live View, yet a form of Live View can be obtained. The limitations include a slight delay in the refresh rate, an inability to handle excessively bright or dark ambient light, and restrictions on which cameras/digital back combinations Live View is possible on.



Even with the restrictions, the advantages offered by medium format Live View can be significant. Take the example of a digital back on a view camera in a studio setting. Instead of composing and focusing through a small 60mm x 45mm or smaller ground glass, you have the same imaging area full screen on your 24″ or 30″ display. This allows for a much more detailed view of your composition, while also providing the benefit of zooming (digital loupe) to see detail many times larger than what you could view through the ground glass even with a high powered optical loupe.


In addition, you’ve eliminated many of the variables that can impact accurate focus – the position of optical elements in the lens respective to the factory spec of the position of the imaging plane (digital back sensor) and vice versa. The position of the mirror, and/or the ground glass itself. The position, relative to the rear of the camera and also the parallel positioning itself, of the CCD sensor. If any of these elements are out of spec, then focus can be off. What you see in the ground glass may not match the end result. When using Live View, what you see is what you get, the view you’re focusing on is what the sensor itself is actually receiving.


Leaf Live View 100% zoom makes focusing a breeze on a 27″ LCD display.


For years Leaf digital backs have offered this form of CCD-based Live View with Leaf software, but the purchase of a USB software dongle was required to activate the feature in the software. This little piece of plastic and mini-circuit board pulled a hefty $1,600 out of your pocket. However, there is good news that you may not have heard. Capture One has been compatible with Leaf digital backs for roughly 2.5 years. If you own an Aptus-II or later, when using Capture One DB (free to any Leaf or Phase One digital back user), Live View works without the additional USB dongle.


That’s great news, as Capture One offers a dramatically enhanced workflow compared to Leaf’s own Leaf Capture software. But what about legacy Aptus users (Aptus 22/65/75/54s/65s/75s)? While these products won’t work with Capture One DB, they will work with Capture One Pro ($299), which is functionally identical to Capture One DB, but is also compatible with many other cameras, Canons, Nikons, Sonys, etc, and also the original legacy Leaf Aptus family. The original Aptus can even take advantage of Live View in Capture One without the USB dongle. Below is a list of medium/large format cameras and Leaf digital back combinations that can use Live View in Capture One.




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