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Author Topic: Why Medium Format?  (Read 40046 times)

N80

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Why Medium Format?
« on: August 08, 2016, 08:11:22 am »

I am an amateur photographer x 30 years. I shoot moderate to high end 35mm equipment. I recently switched from LR to Capture One and gained some exposure to Phase One's camera equipment which is very interesting particularly their new 100mp back.

I understand that this type of equipment is primarily used by professionals. I know a number of talented professionals (journalists, wedding, portrait, artists etc) and none of them used MF digital although some of them used MF film in the past.

So I'm wondering (genuinely, I'm not trolling here) what sort of work and output requires $50,000 camera systems (over and above 35mm digital systems with 30-50mp sensors) and why. I posted this question on the Phase One forums but got no reply. Most of the discussion there was purely technical of course.

Any insight appreciated.
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eronald

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2016, 09:11:04 am »

I am an amateur photographer x 30 years. I shoot moderate to high end 35mm equipment. I recently switched from LR to Capture One and gained some exposure to Phase One's camera equipment which is very interesting particularly their new 100mp back.

I understand that this type of equipment is primarily used by professionals. I know a number of talented professionals (journalists, wedding, portrait, artists etc) and none of them used MF digital although some of them used MF film in the past.

So I'm wondering (genuinely, I'm not trolling here) what sort of work and output requires $50,000 camera systems (over and above 35mm digital systems with 30-50mp sensors) and why. I posted this question on the Phase One forums but got no reply. Most of the discussion there was purely technical of course.

Any insight appreciated.

"Requires" is an interesting word. The answer is probably "almost none". As I am cynical, I would say that much of the MF "requires" 100MP argument serves to justify inflated shooting budgets. It was not always so, but of late the small cameras have really caught up, and multi-shot is being implemented on several low cost japanese mirrorless dSLRs

On the other hand, many of the MF equipment owners are superb photographers, technically and artistically, and the images they show are extraordinary.

Edmund
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2016, 09:51:19 am »

I am not sure that pros represent the majority of MFDB owners, wealthy amateurs certainly seem to be very well represented too.

Our resident dealers have listed in the past the many objective reasons why shooting MF has some advantages over smaller formats. Some quick points:
- leaf shutter lenses,
- mountability on tech cams,
- different look resulting from the larger sensor
- excellent color profiles
- very good lense, especially wides and short teles
- ...

Cheers,
Bernard

eronald

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2016, 11:06:43 am »

Bernard,

 Everything you say about leafshutterability, mountability, shiftability, profilability is true, but does not explain the point of paying 50K for 100MP when an 8K CMOS Hassy back will get you all of the same with 50MP, and an old Imacon tethered back will do,the same for 1K. As for the image quality, really most of it can be had with 35mm these days as the OP points out.

 In the end I think "Ferrari" is the best concise reply. And there's nothing wrong with liking fast cars, but Mercedes is ok too for most of us :) My experience was that in the end the MF system is usually too much bother, which may be true also for people going shopping, although I know of one guy who got a Ferrari to pick up his kid at school because the other parents were looking down at his daily beater.

Edmund

I am not sure that pros represent the majority of MFDB owners, wealthy amateurs certainly seem to be very well represented too.

Our resident dealers have listed in the past the many objective reasons why shooting MF has some advantages over smaller formats. Some quick points:
- leaf shutter lenses,
- mountability on tech cams,
- different look resulting from the larger sensor
- excellent color profiles
- very good lense, especially wides and short teles
- ...

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 11:16:06 am by eronald »
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yaya

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2016, 11:39:04 am »

I am an amateur photographer x 30 years. I shoot moderate to high end 35mm equipment. I recently switched from LR to Capture One and gained some exposure to Phase One's camera equipment which is very interesting particularly their new 100mp back.

I understand that this type of equipment is primarily used by professionals. I know a number of talented professionals (journalists, wedding, portrait, artists etc) and none of them used MF digital although some of them used MF film in the past.

So I'm wondering (genuinely, I'm not trolling here) what sort of work and output requires $50,000 camera systems (over and above 35mm digital systems with 30-50mp sensors) and why. I posted this question on the Phase One forums but got no reply. Most of the discussion there was purely technical of course.

Any insight appreciated.

You can spend some time and go through the various video and written testimonials available online, that can provide a good picture of who uses what, what they use it for and how they use it:

Phase One User testimonials page
Featured Photographers on Phase One's Youtube channel
Mamiya Leaf Testimonials
Mamiya Leaf Applications page
Mamiya Leaf customer videos

If you use social media there we regularly post more of these videos received from customers and we also send them as newsletters, which you can register to. I'm sure that the other MF manufacturers do the same.

Enjoy!
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Theodoros

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2016, 12:04:53 pm »

Guys what are you talking about? Pros are all about maximizing the potential of the tools they are using and using the best tool possible for a task... What would a pro have to gain out of an 100 or 50 or other Cmos modern chip?
 
His without microlenses older back (which cost him a fortune to buy) performs much better with his view camera and larger image circle lenses, his multishot back gives him an image that no single shot back can even dream of for all his stills and repro, all LL or action he needs he can do perfectly well with an old D700, all his studio fashion work can be done with either the DSLR or the MFDB (as it was for more than a decade now) and the resolution he has on hand is more than he'll ever need... Why then bother with amateurs and all their "discussions" and "comparisons" of nonsense?  ...Being a pro has nothing to do with "playing the photographer" the way that amateurs think of it... Only problem is if the pro is a ...pro, or if he has advanced "playing the pro" from "playing the photographer"...

IMO, the only recent new coming in photography that would attract a pro, is the coming of mirrorless which can (to some extend) replace his MFDB's use for certain applications and save costs and portability by sharing the same as with his MF system lenses at the same time... The next "revolution" that may interest a pro is if there will be (or rather "when" there will be) multishot ability on a (or more) mirrorless camera... For mp count, it's about the last thing he'll ever be concerned on...
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Joe Towner

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2016, 12:31:28 pm »

Easy, because if you walk back just a few years, there was no 35mm option.  Medium format has been at 39MP since at least 2005, something that 35mm only hit with the 5Ds/R and A7rII only hit in 2015.

Those same advancements in 35mm CMOS tech applies to the much more profitable MF range, thus the 33x44 50MP Sony chip, and it's 100mp sibling.  To go further, the high-MP 35mm cameras are greatly impacted older lenses, where you really have to have the latest glass to get the best results.  Medium Format glass covers a larger area, allowing for larger photosites, and while the latest lenses really are needed with the 100mp chip, the quality of the Zeiss Hasselblad V-mount glass works great with the current 50/60MP digital backs.

There are trade offs, but everything is.  My use cases are for images that are huge, where folks can get right up to it.  I'd either have to stitch a lot of 35mm shots together, or do a single/few shots stitched in MF.

Now my question for you is did you shoot any MF film in those 30 years?  Really, take the time and rent a RZ or Hasselblad V or even pick up a Bronica setup for a few hundred dollars.  Shoot a few rolls of 120 and tell me it doesn't put a smile on your face when you look at the negatives for the first time.

-Joe
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2016, 12:36:48 pm »

Hi,

100 MP is certainly beneficial when printing large. But, I am not sure it is necessary in order to print large. I made some experiments comparing 80 MP and 39 MP in reasonably sized prints 31"x47" and I would say it takes some very close viewing to see the difference.

Leaf shutters are an advantage when shooting flash in daylight if that matters depends on needs.

If we compare similar technology, a larger sensor can collect more light. So, at base ISO the larger sensor will give smoother midtones, but sensors are now so good so even an 4/3 sensor will give excellent midtones correctly exposed at base ISO.

MF images need less magnification, so they put less demands on lenses. At least some MFD lenses are very good. On the other hand, there are truly excellent lenses 24x36 mm, think Otus. How good is the Otus combined with a high resolution sensor?

MF lenses are often not very fast, but they may be usable fully open.

Personally, I have a Hasselblad V-system with a P45+. On a good day it can deliver images that may be better than my images from the A7rII I have, but it may be that the A7rII is so good that the P45+ will see little use. The A7rII does the job and it is much more flexible than the Hasselblad/P45+ combo.

Best regards
Erik


I am an amateur photographer x 30 years. I shoot moderate to high end 35mm equipment. I recently switched from LR to Capture One and gained some exposure to Phase One's camera equipment which is very interesting particularly their new 100mp back.

I understand that this type of equipment is primarily used by professionals. I know a number of talented professionals (journalists, wedding, portrait, artists etc) and none of them used MF digital although some of them used MF film in the past.

So I'm wondering (genuinely, I'm not trolling here) what sort of work and output requires $50,000 camera systems (over and above 35mm digital systems with 30-50mp sensors) and why. I posted this question on the Phase One forums but got no reply. Most of the discussion there was purely technical of course.

Any insight appreciated.
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Theodoros

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2016, 12:51:28 pm »

Just to add.... Honestly you people (put your hand on your hart and then answer)... If Pentax ever decided to get an MF mirrorless out with the same sensor as the 645Z and the multishot ability of the K1 included... Do you think that there would be a pro ever buying something else? and more... (now really put your hand on your hart before you answer...) if they "split" the 645Z into back + body combination (for 3-4 platforms) and add K1's multishot ability to the back.... Do you honestly think that a PRO (some -few- amateurs might) would ever buy a back from one of the other makers of backs?

 ;D Even Yaya or Doug would buy that and even the CEO of P1...  ;) then all discussions in Lula would be dominated to discuss the benefits of true color and Erik would be busy on explaining that MS on an FF chip should be of 200mp...  :-X

P.S. I'm using MF from 1982 (Bronica ETRS with MC lenses, then ended up ETRSi with 10 PS lenses) and changed to Contax 645 back in 2005 and then MFDB on Contax from 2006... My first digital SLR was also in 2006 and my first FF 2008, Fuji GX-680 (digital) was only added on 2010, it was Sinar P2 with film up to then and now again back to it after converting it for mirrorless FF DSLR and MFDBs...)
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Steve Hendrix

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2016, 01:02:03 pm »

Just to add.... Honestly you people (put your hand on your hart and then answer)... If Pentax ever decided to get an MF mirrorless out with the same sensor as the 645Z and the multishot ability of the K1 included... Do you think that there would be a pro ever buying something else? and more... (now really put your hand on your hart before you answer...) if they "split" the 645Z into back + body combination (for 3-4 platforms) and add K1's multishot ability to the back.... Do you honestly think that a PRO (some -few- amateurs might) would ever buy a back from one of the other makers of backs?

 ;D Even Yaya or Doug would buy that and even the CEO of P1...  ;) then all discussions in Lula would be dominated to discuss the benefits of true color and Erik would be busy on explaining that MS on an FF chip should be of 200mp...  :-X

P.S. I'm using MF from 1982 (Bronica ETRS with MC lenses, then ended up ETRSi with 10 PS lenses) and changed to Contax 645 back in 2005 and then MFDB on Contax from 2006... My first digital SLR was also in 2006 and my first FF 2008, Fuji GX-680 (digital) was only added on 2010, it was Sinar P2 with film up to then and now again back to it after converting it for mirrorless FF DSLR and MFDBs...)


Right.... in the world where everyone only agrees on one camera (probably the same world where everyone agrees they only want or need one type of car, or one type of house)... And where anyone who thinks or feels differently is apparently some sort of idiot. In your world, are professionals just idiots who get paid better?


Steve Hendrix/CI
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voidshatter

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2016, 01:40:01 pm »

Display.
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Theodoros

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2016, 01:41:41 pm »


Right.... in the world where everyone only agrees on one camera (probably the same world where everyone agrees they only want or need one type of car, or one type of house)... And where anyone who thinks or feels differently is apparently some sort of idiot. In your world, are professionals just idiots who get paid better?


Steve Hendrix/CI

Who said that?

In my experience Steven, pros that are payed better are the ones that provide the best for their clients... That would make Pros that are using MF with film for weddings (mostly S/H with fast lenses), pros that are using tech cameras for architecture, pros that are using multishot backs for art repro and stills, pros that are using fast cameras with fast lenses for action, pros that are using large format  sheet film for creating art... and then pros that are using all shorts, but above all their lighting skills for fashion... do you know different?

My proposal on the (hypothetical) back from Pentax, was A. Because it's feasible (since the have both the integrated camera and the multishot tech), B. Because it would be top for many of the tasks mentioned above, C. Because it would be cheap as to attract pros...
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Steve Hendrix

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2016, 01:53:47 pm »

Who said that?

In my experience Steven, pros that are payed better are the ones that provide the best for their clients... That would make Pros that are using MF with film for weddings (mostly S/H with fast lenses), pros that are using tech cameras for architecture, pros that are using multishot backs for art repro and stills, pros that are using fast cameras with fast lenses for action, pros that are using large format  sheet film for creating art... and then pros that are using all shorts, but above all their lighting skills for fashion... do you know different?

My proposal on the (hypothetical) back from Pentax, was A. Because it's feasible (since the have both the integrated camera and the multishot tech), B. Because it would be top for many of the tasks mentioned above, C. Because it would be cheap as to attract pros...

It sounds like you did, since you seem to indicate anyone who shoots with something besides your feasible camera would have to be nuts.

Your feasible camera would be a nice evolution of the product line. But don't be so absolute Theo, and propose that it is the only option anyone would choose.


Steve Hendrix/CI
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Theodoros

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2016, 02:02:37 pm »

It sounds like you did, since you seem to indicate anyone who shoots with something besides your feasible camera would have to be nuts.

Your feasible camera would be a nice evolution of the product line. But don't be so absolute Theo, and propose that it is the only option anyone would choose.


Steve Hendrix/CI

No... it sounds like YOU are proposing that I did... wouldn't you buy one Steve?  ;)  Why not propose what is absolute? Isn't what is absolute what pays best? ...your words!    Who makes "absolute" to be considered as "absolute" Steve? ...isn't it what the best paid pros use?  ;)  (your words once more)
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DrakeJ

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2016, 02:06:48 pm »

So much anger in this thread... I guess according to Yoda you have already gotten past the fear-stage.

Steve Hendrix

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2016, 02:38:40 pm »

No... it sounds like YOU are proposing that I did... wouldn't you buy one Steve?  ;)  Why not propose what is absolute? Isn't what is absolute what pays best? ...your words!    Who makes "absolute" to be considered as "absolute" Steve? ...isn't it what the best paid pros use?  ;)  (your words once more)


Never mind, Theo.


Steve Hendrix/CI
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eronald

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2016, 03:11:55 pm »


Never mind, Theo.


Steve Hendrix/CI

Steve -

 The OP is looking for some "killer features". Give hime some and you might make a sale ...;)
 
 Here, I will help you a bit: The large finder image of an MF camera is a pleasure to use.

Edmund
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douglevy

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2016, 03:16:35 pm »

There are a lot of reasons. I'm a full-time pro and I shoot both Nikon & Hassy/Leaf. I got into it because I wanted better lenses, shallower dof and faster flash sync. What I didn't expect was the amazingly better color (like, way, way better) and other perks like the way the files respond in post compared to my Nikons. It's one of those things though, until you try it in the conditions you shoot in, it's tough to explain.


-Doug

Theodoros

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2016, 03:31:30 pm »

There are a lot of reasons. I'm a full-time pro and I shoot both Nikon & Hassy/Leaf. I got into it because I wanted better lenses, shallower dof and faster flash sync. What I didn't expect was the amazingly better color (like, way, way better) and other perks like the way the files respond in post compared to my Nikons. It's one of those things though, until you try it in the conditions you shoot in, it's tough to explain.


-Doug

Actually thanks for posting this Doug... All this is true and it is there with MF from day 1.... Another reason why pros are slow to upgrade... add to this the much better compatibility of older backs with tech camera lenses... and the picture on why pros are slow to upgrade is complete! ...its all a matter to use equipment that pays for a pro... and what pays is what gets the best results...
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jamgolf

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Re: Why Medium Format?
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2016, 04:19:47 pm »

Thanks for presenting the question in terms of "what sort of work requires..." and not "who requires..." :)
Now let's also remove the element of cost and focus only on the system...
So instead of asking: "what sort of work and output requires $50,000 camera system"
Let's ask: "what sort of work and output requires a 80-100MP MFDB camera system"

The type of work that requires such equipment is the work done by the likes of Edward Burtynsky (documentary landscape), Thomas Struth (contemporary), Richard Misrach (contemporary landscape), Richard Avedon (Portraiture), Victoria Sambunaris (contemporary landscape), Brett Weston (abstract landscape), Ansel Adams (traditional landscape), Hiroshi Sugimoto (seascapes)... even Peter Lik (colorful landscape) and Rodney Lough (colorful landscape)...  etc. etc.

Looking at printed works of these artists, in museums and/or galleries, makes it very clear that such work requires a different type camera system. I understand some of the names I mentioned passed away before the MFDBs even existed - but I am saying that is the 'kind of work' that requires MFDB equipment. So that's really my answer to your question. 

Now, obviously not everyone "pro" or "wealthy amateur" [I hate that term], who owns such equipment is at the level of the esteemed names I mentioned, but many are interested in doing that 'kind of work' and in that pursuit, they choose such equipment.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 04:30:07 pm by jamgolf »
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