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Is this possible Aptus 17 with no Bluetooth Do all A17s have BT


Thank you for your replies on whether a sensor can wear out. I now have more questions!

The vendor says he has never been able to get his A17 back to work via Bluetooth to an iPAQ. He is running LC 11 and he doubts that his back is BT-enabled. Unfortunately, he is overseas and he cannot advise whether the BT symbol is shown on his back in the place I have seen it on other backs--in the battery attachment cavity.

I was informed by one user that" The Aptus line was built a couple of years before LC11 came out. All Aptus backs already had bluetooth on-board which probably was a remainder from the Leaf Valeo Wi (wireless) backs. Bluetooth was disabled fairly quickly via firmware for the Aptus because Leaf had too many problems getting it to work properly.

"With LC11 they also distributed new firmware for the Aptus back that enabled Bluetooth again so it could be used with the Wiview application. With installing the software, the software also updates the backs firmware (which is something to keep in mind when hooking up to an older version of the software). With new firmware you also get new features many times.

"All Aptus backs have Bluetooth on-board depending on what firmware you have installed it is enabled. In the menu structure of the Leaf you can turn Bluetooth on or off."

So, is it possible for an A17 back to not be BT-capable?

Also, is it possible for an A17 with LC11 and BT turned on not to be able to communicate with a correctly selected and set up iPAQ? In other words, is it true that all A17s running LC11 and with BT turned on will definitely be able to communicate with an appropriate iPAQ?

Apart from using a non-qualifying iPAQ, what could cause an A17 to be unable to communicate to the iPAQ?

I can unfortunately not give you a direct answer on your questions, just this observation: BT often is a royal pain in the b* to get to work. I own an older iPAQ where it basically hardly ever works. It depends on the other BT device too of course. Sofar the only BT stuff I saw "just work" is my Mac Mini. BT is a neat idea but often sunk due to substandard implementation.

What do you need BT for on the Aptus?

Thank you Wilco.
I want to use the back on a Flexbody and I expect that some of the tilts with the Flexbody will make viewing the screen on the back awkward so I was counting on being able to use an iPAQ with the back to check selective focus, and so on, more easily.

The vendor hopes that future releases of software will achieve the BT concept. He is now confident that the back is BT capable, which is my immediate concern.

With a Valeo, you have a serial cable option but that is not the case with an Aptus, i understand.
Hi Roger

I see. I cannot speak from experience, but I have used my iPAQ (an oldish 3870 by the way) as a photo viewer for viewing P&S digicam images when travelling. For that purpose it is usable, though not stellar. I have my reservations to be honest for your use-case. I think the screen is basically too small & too low-quality to check focus. But I hope you can prove me wrong. Newer iPAQs often have even smaller screens.

(Roger, Wilko... hmmm ;-)

"With a Valeo, you have a serial cable option but that is not the case with an Aptus,"

What does that mean? A cable to an iPAQ? Or a tether cable to a laptop?

Obviously, you can shoot to a laptop. No small screen there, and you can check critical focus with the "detail" tool in Capture 11. There is no way even on the APTUS LCD to truly check critical focus ... it is best done on a computer screen.

However, I don't quite understand how you would be using a Flexbody in this manner. Wouldn't you use the focusing screen and reflex finder or mag finder with the back off the camera, then mount the back for the shot? I check composition and critical focus directly on a focusing screen with an 8X loop ... that, or shoot to a laptop.

I tried the Aptus 17 with a Flexbody. Two comments:

1) With a standard Hassy, you have the ground glass for focus and the back mounted at the same time. Push the button, and the mirror conveniently flips out of the way. With the Flexbody and the A17 untethered I was always swapping the focusing glass (and/or viewfinder) and the back. If you are checking lighting and composition on a shot, every adjustment requires the swap of gear. Every swap exposes the sensor to dust. Sensors have an electrostatic charge that loves dust. It's a clumsy arrangement, atleast for me.

2) The sensor is smaller than the 6x6 film area. Remember the 1.5 factor? Using the focusing screen provided for this back, the area available for shift/tilt effects becomes much smaller. I personally found that working area too small for me. At this point, if I need the effects of large format camera movements, I pull out my LF beastie, shoot, and then scan the results for digital manipulations.

Dave Klemp
To Marc:
All my "knowledge" comes from the manuals and others. I understand from the Valeo manual that you can connect your iPAQ with a serial cable to a Valeo.

I thought the A17 back's software allows you to zoom in on part of the image to check focus. I prefer this way if it is possible because of the higher magnification possible. Likewise, WiView on an iPAQ also allows you to zoom in on an image. Again, I have not tried my theory!

To David:
Yes, the risk of dust is always present. I am contemplating making a soft "tube" from plastic or fabric that attaches to the back of the Flexbody and has a pouch for the sensor cover. I will then remove the reflex finder, attach the tube, put the back still with its cover inside the tube, remove the cover, put it in its pouch inside the tube, attach the back to the Flexbody and take a shot. The sensor will never see the elements!

I know it is fiddly but that's me to a "T".

I'm not sure how the 1.5 factor affects the use of the back on a Flexbody. I know a 40mm lens becomes a 60mm and that the amount of shift possible increases as the focal length increases. I expect that the shift limits will be the same as the original lens before the 1.5 factor based on my experience with a 2x converter on my 150 lens

Any way I will try and see what happens! I enjoy my time making gear and fiddling rather than outputting images. I am clearly an amateur!
Yes, you can zoom in on an image, but it is not a truly reliable way to check critical focus. It is a decent indication, but I've been surprised when upon returning to the studio and reviewing images at 100% on a 30" screen that the area I thought was in focus was a bit soft ... usually the back of the subject due to marginal DOF fall off.

Personally, I wouldn't worry so much about dust attraction when swapping out the focusing screen or Reflex finder for the digital back. If you keep the sensor cover on until the last moment before attaching it should be fine (unless you are in a dust storm).

If the sensor is going to act as a magnet for dust, it'll attract it from the camera opening anyway, so a sleeve won't stop that. I use two things in the field ... a VisibleDust Arctic Butterfly electrostatic brush for the sensor, and a small can of compressed air to blow off the camera opening.

Besides, the amount of times you won't be able to use the rear LCD wouldn't be that often would it? The best solution I've ever seen for this issue was the original Kodak Proback which had a hinged rear LCD so you could have the camera on the ground and view the LCD from above.

One accessory I can highly recommend for outdoor work is the LEE rear bellows shade made specifically for the Aptus backs. That shade, and the Arctic Butterfly, is the best money I ever spent on my Aptus 75s.
Hi Roger,

With respect to the use of a serial port versus BT: BT is already slow, serial port is even slower. I don't know how much data the back wants to transfer but it might be a consideration. iPAQs have a serial port (at least mine does), in my case it uses it to talk to my wired GPS in the car.

If I had to buy into this I would want to see it all work in front of my eyes..

The Aptus can be programed to send lossless compressed MOS files which would help in transfer speed. But it still has to be slow going with files this big huh? I can't seem to find any specs on the specifics.

I think you have to have a burning need for this function.

I know Canon has some sort of wireless transfer of files which includes a new unit that bolts onto the 1DMKIII and 1DsMKIII.
Hi Marc,

Canon uses WiFI connections if I am not mistaken. That is 54Mbits/sec. Classic BlueTooth is ~1Mbits/sec or 3Mbits/sec for a slightly faster variant (faster BT standards are in the works). My guess would be the iPAQ and Aptus use 1Mbits/sec BT speeds.

That is sloooow for big image files.

1MBits a second???? Yeah, that's seems like an eternity. Maybe alright if you're doing the zen thing ... but man, the light could change in that amount of time.

Funny, I saw a demo of that Leaf wireless system years ago, and I don't remember it being that pokey.

The new Aptus is quite quick now. It's now firewire 800 tethered, and wham, shoot and look.
If you use the compressed file format, it seems you can't outshoot the buffer anymore.
From Leaf Support I received this definitive answer about bluetooth for the Aptus 17:

"This feature is used only to send preview images to a HP iPaq handheld PDA running Leaf software. It has a VERY limited range when used with the Aptus model that you have. Also some Aptus models cannot turn on this feature. I would recommend that you simply ignore this."
Thank you all for your info.

I will have to see how my Aptus performs when it arrives.

I do not want to take a laptop into the field. I guess an option is to buy an Epson 2000 (or whatever number they are now up to) or some other portable card reader/image viewer and put the CF card into that to check out the shot if the Aptus screen is not viewable.
I do not think any of those viewers will display a leaf raw file. I was considering a leaf back but I work only with PC's so I would need to invest in a MAC to work with the leaf software. after talking to leaf the 2 viewing options are an Ipaq with the leaf viewing software or a Mac with the leaf capture software.