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Farewell to Medium Format: One man's journey

Don Libby

Well-known member

We were in Hawaii a couple years ago and I limited my gear to an IQ1-100, XF and just 3-lenses (due to size and weight). In the course of staying in HI I became very ill (just ask Sandy and Ken Doo) and the act of using/lifting the camera became too much of an effort. Other than one day shooting lava from a helicopter I saw more of the ceiling over the bed than anything else. This was the same time Fuji released the GFX.

Fast forward to this year. Sandy and I went to Scotland where I took the GFX and 4-lenses. No sickness and I had a ball using the GFX.

A couple months after returning from Scotland and we spent sometime at the San Diego Wildlife Park with me using the new GF250 and 1.4 extender. I walked around the entire park for well over 8-hours with the GFX and 250/1.4 slung around my neck. No issues! I had used the a 240 with the XF and could not stand the weight for more than a couple minutes.

I had serious doubts after the Hawaii experience that I would be able to continue using MF and would be forced to revert to 35mm. We were in HI for 6-weeks with me ill most of that time. I ordered the GFX shortly after returning and haven't looked back. It took me some time to sell all the P1 gear however it was done and I have never missed it.

The GFX50s reminds me of my first P1, the P30+ as it has the same sensor size yet much more resolution. I shoot mainly landscape with a touch of nature and wildlife thrown in and have found the GFX to be just as good as any medium format camera I have used to date. The size of the GFX and lenses has been a tremendous boost to my work. I'm 70 years old, survived a head on accident, gunshot to the chest and Viet Nam. My body is getting much more cranky as I age and anything I can do to lessen the daily pain helps. The weight difference between the two systems is enough to accomplish that.

I came close to saying farewell however thankfully I found the GFX. I might also add that while I have never tried one, the Hassy X1D hold just as much promise. I've used the GFX now for 20-months and like it just as much now as I did when I first got it. I'm also looking forward to the new 100. I'd also look into the Cambo Actus as a way to stay with a tech camera and have both.


Active member
Could not imagine no longer using my Hasselblad V system as it is a big part of my bread and butter. I have thought about the aging body aspect and will gladly hire help to tote it around if and when it comes down to that.

Sorry to hear you have to give up MF.
Dear Jae,

MF is getting lighter at the same rate we're aging! Here are my two ways to keep on truckin':

––Settle in closer to home. You've been photographing in great scenic spots, but there's also great natural beauty in whatever forests and parks are nearest to you. Everyone photographs the spectacular places just about the same way (with slightly different light and clouds). But if you hike locally within your distance and weght-bearing limits, you can find lesser vistas that are perhaps more personal to you. Some will be unique landscapes that others would never see.

––Stick with MF, but switch to X1(or 2)D, or GFX50R. Accept the limit and challenge of one lens at a time, 45mm Hasselblad or 32-64 Fuji. If the latter is too heavy, wait for the forthcoming 50mm Fuji pancake. You don't need long focal lengths if you're seeking more intimate landscapes.

Just my two cents,


(Full disclosure: 82, one functioning knee, and just barely able to schlep GFX +one lens + carbon tripod, w/ trekking poles.)

Kirk Thompson Photography - HOME


New member
What a moving story, Jae. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

None of us are getting younger and sometimes the burden does become tiresome indeed. We've all settled down in our own way and made compromises.

I too have gone through my own journey of delight and then disappointment with MF - first with IQ180 then P645Z and associated lenses. Mainly due to the cost and weight issues. Even though I am a bit younger than many, I am not athletic and cannot carry heavy gear.

Finally settled for the Sony system, A7rX and A9 (for wildlife). Sold my Canon gear as well for the same reasons.

Have never been happier. I can still print as large as I want (have very impressive 72 inch wide prints on my wall) - can always do a Pano or super-resolution shot if more is needed. FWIW, even an iPhone print can become a wall poster.

So MF is really for those who like the aesthetic and want the super high resolution it delivers. It is no doubt an incredible format for what it can do, but for me, alternative systems can deliver all that I need.


Active member
I am +1 on the one camera one lens scenario. I am only 54 but had a wee tumble last year trying to get a shot and smashed leg, pelvis and lower back. I decided that once I was able to walk again that I had to go light, so I got a Wotancraft sling bag, normally used for cycling, so I could position it perfectly in the middle of my back and with no lateral movement to protect my recovering pelvis. So if it doesn't fit in the sling it doesn't come. So I have used just the X1D + XCD30 plus my NiSi filters for a year and loved the freedom of walking around with a super light bag and a travel tripod. Walking was great for my leg a lightweight sling good for my pelvis/back. So I wouldn't give up MFD I would give up weight.

14 mths after my accident I have added the XCD120 which will fit in my sling, it arrives next week, but I am 54 and recovering, likely stronger than I was before my accident with my workout routine.
Great recovery story, and thx for tip about the bag! They have lots of models, so I wonder which one balanced the weight evenly on your back?



Well-known member
I think a Z7 with the zoom would be about as light as you can get and still
have a lot of resolution.

Personally I'm sticking with my D850 and 20mm.
28mm, and 85mm Nikkor f1.8 G lenses. Light enough for me and fits in a small Streetwalker
backpack. About six pounds total. Unless I am doing night shots I don't even use a tripod,
Somewhere up the thread, I suggested going for the lightest MF gear. I just followed my own advice and got a 40mm Canon pancake and TechArt adapter for GFX. This and carbon fiber tripod are as portable asMF can be! The only thing I miss is my RRS gimbal, for stitching – a little too heavy for me at this point. First try today with the tiny Canon lens, right after some rain:




Well-known member
Somewhere up the thread, I suggested going for the lightest MF gear. I just followed my own advice and got a 40mm Canon pancake and TechArt adapter for GFX. This and carbon fiber tripod are as portable asMF can be! The only thing I miss is my RRS gimbal, for stitching – a little too heavy for me at this point. First try today with the tiny Canon lens, right after some rain:

View attachment 137677


Thanks Kirk.
The GF45 is the lightest of my 5 GF lenses and quite manageable I find.

BTW does your Canon pancake vignette?
Are there image formats with no vignetting? TIA.


As my forum name suggests ….. I'm elderly

When I worked as a pro from 1979 to 2008, I carried the most ridiculous amount of equipment
around with me to cover all the eventualities of the job, and I never gave it a second thought;
I had to have it, so I had to have it with me (I was never studio based).

Once I retired, the one thing that I did not WANT to do was to carry loads of stuff anymore
and shortly after that time came micro 4/3rds and the idea (to me) that one zoom could replace
a number of primes - and up until now that's the size/weight/image quality compromise that I've accepted.

I say 'until now', because as 4/3rds bodies grow and FF bodies shrink (yes I AM aware of lens size :))
I could be tempted back to the 35mm brand (now with a Z) that I started using in 1970.

Here's me (on the right) hiking from London to Gothenburg in 1968 -
Just carrying one 35mm RF camera, one prime and one light meter

So my journey has sort of gone full circle!

Putting the above drawing into context, we had been hitch hiking all day and not got very far - it was getting dark, we had been dropped off in the middle of a Swedish forest - we saw a light in the distance, somebody who might put us up for the night -
we walked into a bog and came face to face with an Elk!
For some reason or another the house owner's beautiful daughter ( who drew this) tempted us to stay a few days :D
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[QUOTE/]The GF45 is the lightest of my 5 GF lenses and quite manageable I find.

BTW does your Canon pancake vignette?
Are there image formats with no vignetting? TIA.[/QUOTE

Hi K-H,

In my limited experience , it vignettes no more than other lenses at its middle apertures.

I don’t always avoid vignetting - in fact I like it. You get a little bit of vignetting if you use a 40mm Cron in 6x6 format, and plenty of nice vignetting if you use the ‘classic’ 50 Zeiss Sonnar wide open ON 3x4 format. Here's the Sonnar:

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Active member
Hi Wayne,

I still carry like 12-15 kg of gear, regardless of format...

But one my favorite playthings is a Contax 28-85/3.3-4 zoom lens combined with a HCam Master TSII and the Sony A7rII.

That package weights 1.9 kg (4.2 lb) and offers 10 degree of tilt and still delivers 42 MP.

The HCam master TSII on it's own allows for +/- 15 mm of shift, but the Contax lens doesn't allow a lot of shift.

I am mostly using that gear for tilts.

The EVF on the Sony allows for magnified live view, making focusing easy and also peaking that is helpful in finding tilts.

It would be quite possible to use a Fujifilm GFX with a tilt and shift adapter from Kipon together with medium format lenses.

Here are some demo images with HCam Master TSII:

And here is an image of the HCam Master TSII with the A7rII and a Hasselblad Macro Planar 120/4: HCamMaster.jpg

Best regards

fine for what?

Hard to make a 90” print from an iPhone snap. I have no problem with someone who realizes they don’t need the resolution and control of medium format because their end purpose is just to throw something onto a computer screen or make an 8x10 print, but I do sympathize with anyone who’s age and health force them to give up using the gear that provides what they “need” . I find myself having to make similar choices as I get older and the knees start screaming.

But if/when I end up with only an iPhone, it will mean I’m done with my current pursuit of creating work to sell, and just shooting nice pictures like the billions of others out there to show where I am and what I’m seeing. Granted I believe a good photographer can get more out of an iPhone than the average smart phone user, but the end purpose of these images is certainly a different realm. To be honest, not sure I’ll spend much time hiking into to such places just to take an iPhone snap and say I was there.

But it does seem there is a lot of territory between a MF tech setup and an iPhone that would allow the OP to continue to create high quality images that can handle being printed in decent sizes ... there are several micro 4/3rds kits out there that are pretty small and light (a few pounds) and are quite capable. I would think when you get to the point you can’t carry a 5 lb pack, you probably shouldn’t be making the hike anyway.


I was pleasantly surprised to many responses to my original post, and I thank many of you who encouraged me in different ways. As many of you already know, it wasn’t my intent to suggest the quality of iPhone camera is anywhere comparable to MF camera, but I have to make a choice between what I want and what I can.

I just came back from two weeks trip to the Balkan countries. This was the first trip where I didn’t take my MF system, but Canon with 25-105 mm with a tripod and iPhone. The Balkan is very mountainous regions and many old towns are located on hills and with many steep steps. I averaged 7 miles of walk and equivalent of 40 floors in steps each day (thanks to iPhone’s tracking), with the record of 93 floors in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

There were many many occasions where I wished I had my MF but soon realize that I could never able to carry it to where I stood. I used my Canon on tripod 90% of time and the rest Canon hand held or iPhone.

I don’t think I will get a new mirrorless MF but 16-35 mm lens to overcome the lack of shift/rise in SLR. I hope I can manage with a SLR and two lenses setup as long as possible.

A couple shots with iPhone, :p



I'm in pretty good shape, but I found lugging my old V-series kit (503CW with PME5 and winder, a couple of A12 magazines, 40/50/80/120/250mm lenses, a Mutar, some extension tubes, tripod, and about 15 rolls of film) around the Old City in Dubrovnik to be quite a workout. ;-) I'm glad I left the 500mm behind. :D