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Hello! I'm in a quandry. I'm in the process of securing funds for an artistic photographic project, for which I will be taking plenty of shots outside, at dusk, in London. However, I also shoot fashion magazines as a prelude to commercial work in that field, and gig shots/portraiture etc. for paying the bills. But basically my dilemma is this: I'm after a camera that I can take my artistic shots with, that is also good for studio and live work. My initial thought is - a 555ELD with a phase one P30 back would cover most of those bases, with a decent prism and short lens for outdoor work and longer lens for studio and live work. Of course, now the 555ELD is discontinued, and how long stocks will last I have no idea - considering that my grant won't come through for three or four months, this could be a problem. At the moment I work with hired equipment and find the situation most unsatisfactory. I've thought about the canon, of course, but I don't like the feel of it in my hand, and always find that pointing an SLR at someone in the street is more likely to produce an adverse reaction than using a waist-level viewfinder discretely. So, basically, I'm after advice. I need a camera that is rugged and portable, capable of working with a high-level digital back, and ideally also good for studio and live work. Help!
Why not just the 503cw?
Not YET discontinued - can get the CW Winder - and takes all digital backs on the market.
It is a bit lighter than the 555ELD and the Winder on a 503cw makes it easy to hold.
That's what I have and find it good.
I believe that a digital back on a 555 does not require a cable from the camera to the DB and the 503 does need one - so that may be an irritation to you... or maybe not.
I think it's worth it though.
I wish you well with your project and if you like we could meet up in London some time and you can feel what it is like in your hand (I should have a Leaf back on mine by the time we are able to meet).

> As of mid-October, Boolchand's in the Caribbean (St Thomas) has a > 555ELD from the time before they were included in the US pricing > structure ( they use to be considered International from the US > perspective) ....which makes it a couple of years old, but still > never used to my knowledge. They have been selling their "old" > stock at a discount price. You might contact Ashok Chugani > ( to see what they are actually asking, and > if it is still available.
TM, seems that if you need the features of MF then the Digi-503CW may be a great idea.

But, while a bit left field consider this: if street shooting dominates and the frame size of MF is not really necessary, then the most versatile, discrete and superb image quality will come from a Leica M rangefinder camera. And recently Leica released the M8 digital rangefinder with what promises to be an excellent 10MP sensor with a 1.3 cropped 35mm frame (convenient as it mathematically makes lens choices easy/logical eg 35mm lens gives a 50mm frame angle of view etc.). Not idea for studio use of course but I suppose the question is how big your images will be enlarged to.

So in a compact Leica M system you may just have the ideal tool for your project.
Wow! That's a really excellent bunch of suggestions - this being the first time I've posted on a camera (or any technological) forum, I was half expecting a slow trickle of my-camera-is-better-than-yours style postings. Right then - 555 vs. 503 - I do like working with 503s, and still haven't completely made my mind up about this. But the cable thing does bother me; I'm going to be wandering around, in crowds, on the tube, and the camera will be hanging from my shoulder perhaps, and the cable will snag, I just know it. Most of the time, snagging seems to be a cable's main purpose. I'm not going to be carrying a backpack around - hence the digital, I can have a pocket full of GBs rather than rolls of film, and I want my camera accessable instantly.
As for the Carribean camera shop, I'll definitely be dropping them a line. The internet is a wonderful thing, thank you for the suggestion.
As for the Leica - I'm guessing their most people's favourite compact brand, and I know what you mean about the camera's versatility and discreteness, and it is a beautiful thing (and for all the technical and utilitarian details in the world, if the camera doesn't look right in my hand, I don't feel comfortable. Which probably makes me sound incredibly petty and you'll all be kicking yourselves for offering your advice, but I've used three camera in my entire life and each has become a part of me) If I could afford a second camera it would be another to tear my hair out decision (because, let's face it, those canons make a pretty good 2nd camera). I'm just not sure I'd be confident about shooting a DPS for glossy publication with a camera that size, or a 24x30 print for that matter, which is what I'm aiming for.
Thank you all.
>If there is a bit of a gap before you get the cash, what about an earlier EL series camera as a stop gap? That is if you want the motor drive. An 500 ELX gives you OTF flash and the GMS mirror system that eliminates screen darkening with tubes or long lenses. Or a 553 ELX that gives you AA batteries, rather than NiCad batteries, which might be an issue. You will then have a backup camera body when you buy the big one. Various knowledgeable mavens in the 'Blad sphere have pointed out that the older ELs are now very good value 2nd hand.
My shooting partner (weddings) has a mint 555ELD for sale with a Kodak Proback attached. The price is very reasonable. This camera was used as a back-up in the studio so it is extremely lightly used.

The 555ELD is designed for high volume studio work like catalog photography, and high volume portrait work. IMO, it is a "lifetime" camera as it will most likely outlive all of us.

A few considerations based on your input and projected applications.

Waist level or not, pointing a 555ELD at people will garner as much, or more, attention to you as a swifter acting DSLR. With the lightening fast DSLR, you are done before they know you are there.

The 555ELD is considered a walk around camera by no one I have ever known. It is a tank of a camera best at home on a sturdy tripod.

Even though the 555ELD is "digital ready" I believe you will have to use a sync cord from the leaf shutter lens to the digital back anyway ... so I'd double check that. The only back I know for sure does not require a sync cord is the Hasselblad CFV.

In many cases you will also need an adapter plate if the digital back you select is a 645 type sensor configuration. The plate has to be the type that allows you to remove the back and reorient it in either the landscape or portrait orientation. Not ideal when in the field.

Although all the regulars on this forum know I am a staunch supporter of the Hasselblad V system cameras and lenses, in your case I would recommend moving on to a 645 type camera for which all the digital R&D is aimed at. It is simply the future of photography, which should be an important consideration from someone at your stage of development.

Of those 645 choices (I've used or owned them all), the best and most integrated has proven to be from .... surprise! ... Hasselblad.