I think this is great post. Unfortunately a lot of the content of internet photo forums is just online pissing contests and misses the point of actually taking pictures. Because of the nature of my business, I have the choice of just about any camera gear I want to use when I shoot. I own a lot of medium format gear and a lot of Canon gear, but usually when I photograph it's with my G9, because I have a stronger bond with it than with any of my other gear- it's natural, feels right, and doesn't get in my way. Also because I always have it with me, and because in the end I like more of the pictures that I take with it than I do with my other cameras. Sometimes I feel guilty and break out the medium format (Mamiya AFD II when I do, because again that's what I bonded with), but usually I shoot with the G9.
In the film days I would tell clients don't specifically ask for a camera format because of the reproduction qualities. Let us use a camera because of what it allows us to do or allows us a specific look.
Sure you could mount a Nikon F5 with a tilt shift on a 50lb majestic tripod and shoot it like a view camera or if you had a really great assistant you could shoot 4x5 film at a rate of about one frame every one and a half seconds, but usually those were more parlor tricks than anything else.
The real reason to use a 35-mm camera was for speed and spontaneity, medium format if your working slower, (like portraits) and or shooting static like studio fashion, beauty or large format or portrait and still life. Those reasons are pretty much valid today as we make the transition to digital, except that the dslrs offer about 3 stops higher iso than the medium format backs and at some point at higher iso the 35-mm cameras usually outperform the larger cameras in real detail.
It's funny. In my NY space I have three large 44" wide prints leaning against a wall. They were shot with the original 1ds1 which was what . . . 11mpx. Those three images have probably sold as many projects as any portfolio or website just because they are pretty and nobody asks if they were shot with a medium format camera, or a nikon, or canon or anything. In fact if there are any comments from an art director it usually an assumption they were shot with film, probably because they were shot with continuous light and are not overly sharpened.
I still have that original 1ds and from time to time use it because I love the colors and the look, though compared to the newer canons and nikons it seems almost bog slow.
Actually most people say they can't tell in print if an image is shot medium format or 35-mm but for most beauty and studio fashion I can usually spot medium format digital because it is overly crisp, overly detailed and to me gives the impression of digital.
Still, if this is about bonding with a camera, It's increasingly difficult to do that with digital, knowing in a year or so there will be a new, better, bigger, faster one tempting us to make that upgrade. It's difficult not to look at all of these cameras as temporary.
For me I have and will continue to upgrade the dslrs, but in medium format I'll stay where I am because I don't see the real difference or advantage of going from 31mpx to 60 something mpx for an added $15,000. In a way this holds true for even the dslrs because once Canon and Nikon opened the door to the same sensor in a body that costs 1/2 of the "professional" version many people will go to the lower priced option, if the sensor is the same. In fact I think the biggest complaint of the new Nikon D3x in regards to price isn't that it costs the same as a Canon 1ds3, it's that it costs twice a 5d2 or a D700. I think most people believe the next Nikon will have the same 24 mpx sensor at a reduced price in something like a D800 or whatever they call it.
I think that's what has hurt the camera business more than anything, knowing that what you buy today is not something that you will necessarily be using in 3 years, definitely not 10, so why spend more for a more robust camera with incremental upgrades, regardless of format.
The lines are getting blurred between the 35-mm and medium format cameras, mainly because 35-mm covers so much territory and for commerce I think format size and framing dimensions is becoming almost irrelevant. Now I shoot probably twice to three times the amount of horizontal images than I do vertical and I attribute that mostly to art directors working on horizontal pallets rather than a vertical sheet of paper.
As far as bonding, it's just hard to do knowing that in the world of medium format bonding usually means waiting (for a lot of things) and workarounds. In the land of dslrs, bonding usually means a new one in a few months, or maybe a few years.
To be truthful the camera I have "bonded" with more than any other is the leica and maybe I'm fooling myself and saying I'm not impressed by the red dot, or the mystique of the leica lenses . . . maybe I am.
The thing I love about the m-8 is I don't view it as a changing camera. If it had twice the size or speed or mega anything I probably wouldn't care. I also love the fact that what I see through the lens always looks a little different on the lcd. Every frame is kind of like going to the lab where what you see through the viewfinder looks different on the contact sheet. Still there is something nice about this camera kind of knowing that I won't be trading it in in a few years.
It's also kind of nice not to see 3,000 of them hanging around tourist's necks in Times Square.