The Tables have Turned, and now David Saffir Needs Your Assistance

We are writing this note for distribution to all the places where David Saffir has generously provided his expertise and wisdom over the years; please distribute as appropriate.

Many of you will recognize David’s name. Some from the excellent book he contributed to our Mastering Digital Series, named Mastering Digital Color. It still sits on my resource volume shelf. Others have heard David speak at venues from Sammy’s in California to B&H Photo in New York. And in recent years you may have had the opportunity to discuss photography, videography, and digital workflow with him in the Datacolor booth at a number of tradeshows. Thousands of you would recognize his voice from the webinars we co-hosted for Datacolor on a wide array of photo and video topics. Finally, there are those who have followed David’s personal blog, as well as his frequent contributions to the SpyderBLOG.

Like many photographers, David is an independent contractor. This means he has to pay for his own health insurance, most recently through the Affordable Care Act. Recently David’s wife underwent major surgery, and the bills, above what insurance covered, had already begun to mount. During her recovery David suffered a major stroke, leaving one side of his body paralyzed. Neither of the Saffirs will be able to return to work any time soon.

An account has been set up on David’s behalf, and any donations to it will be used towards the Saffir’s rapidly growing short-term expenses. Donations can be made payable to David Saffir, and sent to his sister Cynthia Saffir, 2266 Pelham Ave. Los Angeles CA 90064. Alternately, you can donate via PayPal, account name All donations, of any size, will be much appreciated.

We will keep you informed of David’s progress as further information becomes available. Thank you for your assistance.

David Tobie, on behalf of Mike Ritzer, Ken Sklute, and a growing list of other photography friends.

Photography Quote of the Day

I can look at a fine art photograph and sometimes I can hear music.- Ansel Adams

© David Saffir

Girl In White Dress, © D Saffir

Tour 09: Fine Art Printing and Fine Art Reproduction Update

We’ve been having a great time. We held our Tech Expo (day 1)  and Workshop Session (day 2) at the Denver Studio Complex and Denver Pro Photo. This was the first of seven events planned, ranging through Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

The Tech Expo featured wide format printers from Canon, Epson, and HP, color management tools from X-Rite, displays from Eizo, cameras from Mamiya/Leaf, papers and print finishing products from Premier, lighting from Westcott, Eizo, and more!


The Tech Expo was very well attended, and we had reps from a number of companies present.

Dennis Halley (digital2you) was the primary host. During the course of the day, we fielded questions regarding inkjet printing, color management, print finishing, art reproduction, media selection, medium format cameras, and displays from Eizo.


We also had quite a bit of original artwork on hand, and print reproductions of many of these examples.

On day 2, we held our workshop on Fine Art Printmaking and Fine Art Reproduction. The session was very well attended; we had approximately 20 students in attendance.

We not only covered the “how to” aspects of fine art printmaking, we also got into the details of the business model for fine art printmaking, using your wide-format printer to make prints for other photographers, art reproduction, color management, print finishing, and more.


We had a complete fine art printmaking setup, and of course a studio setup for fine art repro:

I encourage you to attend one of the next sessions. We will be in Glenwood Springs, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson, and Albuquerque.

To register for the workshop session, please go to the Digital2You web site here or CALL FOR DETAILS 303-934-2777

Pro Studio Lighting Review: Westcott Spiderlite TD-5

I have had the Westcott Spiderlite TD-5 lighting system in the studio for testing for the past couple of weeks. I’ve used them for art reproduction, still life/product photography, portraits, macro photography, and more.


We will have these lights with us during the upcoming Fine Art Printing and Art Reproduction seminar series and Tech Expo, starting later this week in Colorado, moving on from there to New Mexico and Arizona.


NEWS BULLETIN, JUST IN TODAY AT 1 PM PACIFIC TIME: X-Rite, one of the sponsors of the seminar series will provide an iOne Display 2 as a door prize/raffle gift at EACH seminar event. Seminar attendees are eligible to win this gift. One device will be given away at each event (approx retail value just under $200). 


I have used three cameras with these lights: my Hasselblad H-series with Phase One back, the Mamiya AFD III with Leaf digital back, and the Nikon D3. All did well.




The lights were provided in a kit, consisting of a transport bag, light stands, light heads, soft boxes, and a few accessories.


They provide great “window” lighting using the provided daylight corrected florescent bulbs, which are, according to the manufacturer, set to 5500K. I measured them myself with an iOne spectro, and both came in at 5400K. This is an absolutely insignificant difference, in my view.


The lights can also be adapted to other lighting – for example, strobe heads or tungsten halogen bulbs are easily installed.


The light heads are easy to adjust; the soft boxes rotate easily from landscape to portrait orientation, and multiple switches on the back of the light head permit use of varying light levels. The soft box mounting ring is built into the light head – very convenient.




My most color-critical application is art reproduction. Color in artwork is usually so complex that “getting it right in the camera” is extremely important. The even illumination of the lighting system, combined with correct color temperature makes this element of production much easier – and of course minimizes post-production woes.


We also recently held a “Hot Car and Motorcycle” photo shoot at the SCV Center for Photography. The TD-5 lights did a great job of rendering the color in our “guest” Porsche Carrera S convertible. (see earlier post). Also recently used them for some macro work – see below – same level of performance.


flower red combo 1 copy final


Dennis Halley ( and I will have these lights with us on the Focus 09 seminar tour (fine art printing and art reproduction, plus tech expo)  starting later this week. We will be working in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Join us for these seminars – you just might find a new way to improve business!



all images © David Saffir 2009

Camera Test: Mamiya 645AFD III Camera and the Leaf Aptus DL-28 Digital Back

I recently received a Mamiya 645AFD III medium-format camera to test, accompanied by a Leaf Aptus II DL-28 digital back, and several lenses. 


I’m going to report on my experiences with this camera, starting with an overview and first impressions in this post. In subsequent posts, I’ll cover a variety of shooting situations (in studio and on-location), image quality, and the Leaf Capture software and its performance. Note that this is one of the cameras we will be using on the upcoming Focus 09 Fine Art Printing and Art Reproduction Seminar Tour October 2-21.


The camera arrived in the original packaging, which is well designed, protecting the camera quite well.


Ergonomics are top-notch; the camera is well balanced, and controls are logically placed and fall easily under one’s fingers – in short, it just feels good. 


Camera, lens, and digital back build quality is excellent. This is clearly a pro-level camera, robust materials and construction.


In the next image, basic features are marked by the numbers. Number 1 is located next to the shutter release, and shutter controls: single, continuous, mirror-up, and lock. Number 2 shows the settings screen, which indicates battery life, aperture/shutter speed, and the like. Number 3 shows the dial which controls shooting mode – Aperture priority, shutter priority, program/auto, manual, X, and custom function. Number 4 indicates the digital back, 5 the stylus used to activate controls on the back.






Controls on the front of the camera include depth of field preview, and a focus mode selector (single, continuous, manual).


The camera is powered by AA batteries, which is a plus in terms of cost as compared to camera bodies which require more expensive 123 batteries.





Mamiya lenses have a strong reputation for build and image quality. Focusing rings are well-dampened, and autofocus lenses are quick and quiet.


Some specs on the digital back: 28MP, which produces a >150MB file @ 16 bits. The sensor size is 44x33mm, and offers  ISO ratings of 50-800. Pixel pitch is 7.2 microns, which is larger than, for example, the Nikon D3x which features 5.9. Dynamic range is reported to be 12 stops.


So far, I’ve used the camera mostly in-studio, with a couple of short sessions outdoors. To this point, the in-camera meter has been accurate, handling high-contrast situations accurately. More to follow on this topic.


The camera may be used shooting to a CF card, or tethered to a computer. The days of using an attached hard drive are gone. The battery mounts underneath the camera back, which I find convenient as it helps balance things when using longer lenses.


The digital back shoots at 1/fps. It has an excellent, bright viewing screen, 6x7cm, which has very good contrast and color. It can be viewed outdoors, but direct sun is a challenge. In-studio it is, in a word, stunning.


A feature of the Aptus digital back is it not only provides a preview and histogram of the image – it is a touch-screen controller for the camera, controlling quite a few functions.


In short, one can set up the parameters of the shot, from color space to pre-sharpening to pre-set camera profiles – all with a tap of the included stylus.


Now some have criticized this for being “too complex”, or “too fancy”, and I just can’t agree. It is much quicker than push-button driven controls, and the menus are clear and pretty easy to follow.


For example, one can set up the camera to provide a simple image preview, image preview with histogram in the corner of the image, or histogram overlaid on the image. Quite flexible and useful.







RAW file format is now compatible with Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture. I applaud the company’s approach to open architecture – makes it much easier to work in a variety of circumstances and locations. We don’t always have control of the resources available to us in the field!


Image quality is excellent. Although the camera provides ISO settings up to 800, as a practical matter image quality begins to suffer at 400, and has significant color and luminance noise at 800, even in bright light. To be fair, this camera was designed for lighting-controlled situations – ie, ISO 50-100.


I used the camera in studio to capture some macro shots of an orchid. We used the new Westcott Westcott TD-5 lights with daylight-balanced fluorescent bulbs installed. (a check with a spectrophotometer shows these to be dead-on at 5500k).


The macro lens is a 120mm f/4 model, updated with a 16-bit CPU. The focusing ring is smooth, perhaps a little heavy to turn. I’d like to see a little less pressure needed, and a better turn ratio for close focusing – after all, this is a manual focus lens. Having said this, I had no trouble at all focusing the lens. (There is a very accurate focusing indicator in the viewfinder).


Image quality is superb. On macro shots, I recommend using a sturdy tripod or studio stand, and mirror-up mode for maximum clarity. 


The image below shows an orchid photographed in-studio, with a cutout at 100% to demonstrate sharpness. The white “fuzz” you see isn’t sharpening artifact, it’s part of the flower!




I’ll be photographing a number of subjects this week, including some acrylic paintings for a fine art reproduction project that just came in. More to follow!





We’ll be working live with this camera, among others, at the upcoming Fine Art Printing and Fine Art Reproduction seminars in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. These one-day intensive sessions start at the beginning of October 09. For more information, go here.





Fashion and Glamour Photography Seminar Sept 12

Fashion and Glamour Photography Seminar, Sept 12, 2009

Instructor: David Saffir


Location: Santa Clarita Valley Center for Photography, 28368 Constellation Road, 

Santa Clarita, CA 91355


We will have two professional models and a pro makeup artist on hand.


Fashion and Glamour Seminar

Fashion and Glamour Seminar



























Intermediate-level class intended for advanced amateurs, aspiring professionals, and working pros.

One-day intensive, includes live shoot and Photoshop classroom work

Two models, professional makeup artist


First Segment: (9-12:00): live shoot, preceded by discussion of pre-shoot prep, choosing a “look”, hair/makeup considerations (mostly logistics, such as stylists), venue, lighting, props.


Second Segment ( approx 1-2:30): continue live shoot, variations on style such as high vs low key, style changes, etc.


Third Segment: (3-5pm)

– Importing images

– Basic editing in Camera RAW (demo of Phase One software)

– Macro-to-micro editing in Photoshop

– Special effects and problem solving

– Finishing up

– Client presentation

– Basic printing tutorial

– Making test prints (live)


Fee: $195, plus small ticketing fee. Class size limited.


To complete your reservation, use this link to visit Evenbrite ticketing.


Thanks, and see you there!