Sean de Sparengo
Leaf Credo 80

"To my eye, the Credo has a more film-like look to it straight out of the box than any other back I’ve used, and my retouchers always pick up on that."

Sean de Sparengo

Sean de Sparengo is an award-winning British advertising and portrait photographer. His images immediately engage the audience, blending technical excellence with a startling creativity.

Corner-to-corner sharpness and crisp, clean details lend Sean's images a powerful impact that cannot be ignored. To achieve his technical excellence, Sean depends on his innate ambition and on his Leaf Credo 80, which he mounts on a Mamiya 645DF+.

“I’ve shot with pretty much every current medium format digital camera system there is, but image quality wise I’ve always been impressed by the incredible natural tones that you get out of the Leaf backs. To my eye, the Credo has a more film-like look to it straight out of the box than any other back I’ve used, and my retouchers always pick up on that. I like the way the middle range of the exposure has so much tonality.

Getting the most out of a Credo 80 means you have to process the files carefully. Capture One software has the best tool set for job. Shooting at 35 asa already means grain-less imagery but then when you need to push the back to say 400 the noise reduction in Capture One 7 is quite amazing.”

One of Sean's most recent assignments was to capture images to raise money for a Chinese children’s charity. The images were used in a book and an exhibition. His days required seven to eight hours of driving on very rough and dusty dirt roads, often followed by hikes to reach the schools. With altitudes ranging between 3,000 to 4,000 meters and daytime temperatures of 30 degree (Celsius) with -15 degree nights, the project was a challenge both physically and technically.

“On the more physically demanding days I carried just one lens, a tripod and a bunch of batteries. It makes for a really simple setup and the Credo's high-res screen gave me the confidence to shoot without an external monitor, even at apertures that required ultra-critical focus. The onboard digital level is a real bonus as I’ve never seen a tripod base and head spirit levels that actually agree with each other. Having a very accurate digital level right there on the back makes the initial setup fast and easy.

Live view has been much improved on these new Credos too, making table-top adjustments and focusing much easier than before. I don’t use it that often but I had a project where I used a tilt and shift lens and the faster frame rate made tilting the lens for extended depth of field a real breeze."

On location, I like to use one of those cleverly converted Peli cases to house a Macbook with an external Lithium battery so I can set up quickly with all the cables pre-routed and then shoot fast while tethered for pretty much a whole day. I was pleased to take the latest Mamiya 120 mm auto-focus macro, which is a stunning portrait lens and probably one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever shot.”

“I decided that beautifully detailed, very honest portraits would capture the spirit of the kids perfectly. Kids don’t usually stand very still so luckily I’d just taken delivery of the new DF+ which has a much improved auto-focus system. This meant that even at f4 I was able to nail focus on the eyes very successfully, even when the depth of field was so razor thin the front of a schoolchild’s eye was sharp but the back part of the eye was not.”

“My Credo back has made the process easier for my working day in several ways that really count. The high resolution screen is fantastic and now when I have to use another system it feels like I’ve gone back to the dark ages.

It’s fantastic to be able to double tap the screen and check focus on such a high resolution file so quickly. I actually prefer it to systems that have focus peaking as I can see exactly in the actual raw file where the focus rolls off without having to guesstimate so much. With fast cards I can scroll around so quickly at 100% - it makes screens on other backs seem pretty pointless. I’ve had the ubiquitous touch screen phone for what seems like forever; so being able to scroll around an image at that resolution directly on the camera feels normal, that is until you remember the size of file you are throwing around. It’s actually remarkable. You know a User Interface is well designed when you don’t have to keep reaching for the manual. My assistants love it, they just “get it” so quickly.”

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