After seeing the endless posts regarding the nikon D800 and the end of MF. I have kept silent for the most part deciding not to participate. Instead of participating I spent my time working working with my gear, figuring out the limits of my lenses and their strengths. I am sorry to say, there is NO POSSIBLY WAY that a D800 (nor D800e) can even get CLOSE to comparing to the images that are possible with my Alpa and P65+. And before anyone gets crazy, I have used the D800e. I have just recently purchased a D3x for my fiancee as well (I prefer the D3x files over the D800 files). As with every piece of equipment, the higher end you get, the more possibilities there are to move forward. However, this works inversely as well, if you are not aware of how to use a tech camera properly, your work can actually diminish in comparison to a D800.
These are the following (personal, artistic, and some slightly technical) reasons that 35mm will never be able to compare to MF :
1.Razor thin depth of field - creating a special pop and 3D look that cannot be matched until they start making Large Format digital backs
2.Out of focus rendition - those items out of focus, remain 10 times more usable than out of focus items on 35mm.
3.Out of focus rendition look - The items out of focus resemble a painting (take a look at the crops below).
4.Color accuracy - don't even need to refer to specifications, I see this first hand every day I shoot and with every client who looks at our work. D800 color rendition is a joke in comparison...
5.Sharpness - Last time I used 35mm, they were basically useless wide open. Now I shoot wide open every single shot I take. I find that it provides a sharpness than cannot be matched and a sense of pop, that will NEVER be matched on 35mm.
6.Precision - This is mainly an Alpa thing (cannot speak for other tech cameras, because I have not tried them) The precision provided by the lens mounts, back mount, etc, allows for fine adjustments that actually STAY!
7.Tilt/Shift - I have heard great things about the new canon tilt/shifts. But from my experience, just the mechanisms involved in all other tilt shift systems I have used, they are built more like a toy than for precision. With the Alpa tilt shift, I can make very small tilt adjustments in both the x and y axis to allow for perfect precision. With the canon, nikon, schneider, or any other branded tilt/shift lens, the lens must be rotated then adjusted in just one direction. For example, if you have composed your shot with say 8 degrees tilt downward; then you decide that you want to have a slight left tilt as well you must spin the lens until it clicks in place, completely changing the focal plane (especially on a wide angle lens). Where as with the Alpa system, I can decide I want a downward tilt with some tilt slightly left, I set up my camera as so. Tilt one of my tilt adapters downward, then add a sway to the left. With the very fine adjustments, there is an infinite number of possibilities that will always be able to PERFECTLY get what you need in focus.
ps: sorry if I did not use the technical terms properly. I am selftaught and I hope that this was not as confusing for you as it was for me to write
8. This applies to Rodi's only - the ability to have an open aperture choice. As I am self taught, I never understood the real point of having already chosen aperture settings. Yea I get it makes it easier to find proper exposure - BUT what is proper exposure? The ability to choose f stops in between others is something that allows very fine adjustments (infinite) that could otherwise never be made. How many times did you take a photo that you knew you needed to keep the same shutter speed and iso, but wished you could have a stop in between two f-stops? I know this happened to be many times. Now, this is no longer a problem...
9. Flexibility and Open Platform - The ability to use tilt/shift with almost all lenses. The ability to use macro with almost all lenses. The options are endless.
10. Money - We charge for the rental of our equipment. In our current location (Paris) people are not very willing to pay a lot of money for shoots. However, when you mention that you only charge rental fee for a day of shooting, they listen. While that rental fee is still far more than what they planned on paying, they justify the price. Clients take interest in what is different. We have not done a single shoot with a client without him/her asking about the camera. They see that for us, photography is everything. They see that we put money into our business, reassuring themselves that they have spent their money well. Would you pay for someone to wax your ferrari with wax that he purchased at the gas station? I know I wouldn't...
11. One of the most important
What we say in France - "C'est tellement stylé"
What we say in America - "Its badass"
We have received numerous clients and business cards just from having a beautiful camera while at another shoot.
Final Thoughts: With all this being said, I personally would shoot a low megapixel digital back on a tech cam before I shoot any megapixel count 35mm format.
Now some photos from our last shoot to show everything from above. Oh yea, accidentally left my max shifted 25mm (how it is packed in my case) so 90HR can be shifted 25mm
All photos shot wide open. NO EDITING OUTSIDE OF CAPTURE ONE - besides dust cleanup in photoshop.
17mm tilt adapter
34mm tilt adapter
This photos displays the unmatchable detail and color rendition achieved via MF.
This image displays the razor thin depth of field. And the "painting-like" look of the out of focus portions of an image. As you see from above, from far this gives a pop that is unmatchable in 35mm format (no matter how many megapixels you have).