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Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

stephengilbert

Active member
In what way do you consider having (60K in bank + Nikon kit) a better situation than (0K in bank + Phase One kit)?

In a way, it's a question of opportunity cost. What are you going to do with the money if you don't buy MF? Assuming, of course, that you have the money. If you don't, this thread is just another waste of people's time.
 

Abstraction

Active member
That doesn't make sense. Consider the same equation from the other side. In what way do you consider having (60K in bank + Nikon kit) a better situation than (0K in bank + Phase One kit) ?

Consider the nature of your query from another perspective. A hard-core painter, for e.g.. might consider all of us to be deluded (and he might not be wrong in that frame of reference).

Similarly, the crowd here is biased towards MF. Why would you want to ask this question to a biased crowd then? Why not ask in the nikon forums? Perhaps the answer is because you seek to challenge the existing norms. Perhaps a better challenge would be to challenge yourself to reach a point in life where the cost difference between 35mm and MF does not matter to you at all. (Believe it or not, this is what I did over the last 10 years). And then immerse yourself in MF photography. Then wrinkle your nose and throw it away in disdain or donate your kit to one of us before proclaiming that it was a rubbish experience. Perhaps then you might be able to convince yourself. Or others.

I apologise if this sounds condescending. Not at all the intention. Just what you get when you challenge the norms :salute:
A situation of having a Nikon kit and $60k in a bank might be a better situation than P1 kit and 0k in a bank if the Nikon kit produces the same quality images as the P1, thus allowing me to produce beautiful work and having $60k in a bank with which to do other things. The P1 and 0k in a bank scenario would drain the extra $60k without buying me anything more.

What would the Nikon forums have to offer? They might agree with my developing notion, but so what? The reason I ask this question of this particular crowd is BECAUSE it's biased. I want to know why. I want to see what you see.

It doesn't matter how much money one has or whether it's a big monetary hit for that particular person or not. There are always other things to spend money on. If you're telling me that the reason you or other folks on this forum got their MF cameras because "you can", that would certainly be the type of an answer that would put this entire discussion to rest.
 

Chapel

Member
I had a Leica M-P 240, APO50 Lens plus a few other lenses so all in all it wasn't an inexpensive kit. Looking at MF images made me think there had to be more in the way of image quality. I got a older Mamiya AFDII with a Sinarback at 22mp off Ebay for around $ 1200 and am amazed how nice the files are in Lightroom. It seems I have much more adjustment for noise, shadows, highlights and color with the MF system. I just recently got a Leaf Aptus for around $ 3000 so I am not tethered all the time and using Capture one db is a real pleasure. Bottom line is I sold all my Leica stuff and am using the Mamiya for all my photography which is mostly just a hobby for me. The medium format works a little slower but the inexpensive lenses I have render nice sharp images and nice bokeh. So I'm all in and loving it.

Greg
 

Abstraction

Active member
I had a Leica M-P 240, APO50 Lens plus a few other lenses so all in all it wasn't an inexpensive kit. Looking at MF images made me think there had to be more in the way of image quality. I got a older Mamiya AFDII with a Sinarback at 22mp off Ebay for around $ 1200 and am amazed how nice the files are in Lightroom. It seems I have much more adjustment for noise, shadows, highlights and color with the MF system. I just recently got a Leaf Aptus for around $ 3000 so I am not tethered all the time and using Capture one db is a real pleasure. Bottom line is I sold all my Leica stuff and am using the Mamiya for all my photography which is mostly just a hobby for me. The medium format works a little slower but the inexpensive lenses I have render nice sharp images and nice bokeh. So I'm all in and loving it.

Greg
I wonder if that's a function of med format or CCD vs CMOS sensors? I wish there were 35mm cameras with similar resolution as the Sinar back that would allow us to see a side by side comparison.
 

Geoff

Well-known member
Yes, there is a reason: quality. All the way through the chain, from lenses, ergonomics, backs, processing software and printing. If you see it, you get it; if you don't, then don't bother. Sorry to be rude, but that's what it is.

My Sony RX1 is a fine camera, and quite useful. But for reaching the next level - no way. MFDB all day.

Why? Because later in life, I don't want to do anything almost. Waste of time. And yes, you can see it. It's the difference between a photo as a representation of what is out there vs. a nuanced read of what is there. It's the same reason why folks have been committed to large format: nothing else will do.
 

Chapel

Member
Maybe, I started with a M8 CCD and thought the M240 took better images. I was thinking maybe larger pixels in medium format.
 

kdphotography

Well-known member
In what way do you consider having (60K in bank + Nikon kit) a better situation than (0K in bank + Phase One kit)?

In a way, it's a question of opportunity cost. What are you going to do with the money if you don't buy MF? Assuming, of course, that you have the money. If you don't, this thread is just another waste of people's time.
Geez, you really ruin things for me now, Steve. Ok, with opportunity cost, I'm thinking more about getting that boat now. I'm single and I figure a boat is gonna attract the ladies more than medium format. :loco:

Gotta love that opportunity.

:ROTFL:
 

docmoore

Subscriber and Workshop Member
A situation of having a Nikon kit and $60k in a bank might be a better situation than P1 kit and 0k in a bank if the Nikon kit produces the same quality images as the P1, thus allowing me to produce beautiful work and having $60k in a bank with which to do other things. The P1 and 0k in a bank scenario would drain the extra $60k without buying me anything more.

What would the Nikon forums have to offer? They might agree with my developing notion, but so what? The reason I ask this question of this particular crowd is BECAUSE it's biased. I want to know why. I want to see what you see.

It doesn't matter how much money one has or whether it's a big monetary hit for that particular person or not. There are always other things to spend money on. If you're telling me that the reason you or other folks on this forum got their MF cameras because "you can", that would certainly be the type of an answer that would put this entire discussion to rest.
Is your quest one of economics or personal development?

60K in the bank equates in your postulate as something that brings value to your existence ... would donating that 60K to a "good cause" bring you any value ... or is this just apples and
oranges ... IOW you seem to think that if a 72 DPI web picture from a small DSLR is adequate ... why would anyone spend the money for something different?

Truth is you have boxed yourself into a corner that the majority of serious amateurs and professional photographers would never enter ... the choice of equipment is secondary ... without
a sense of perspective or "vision" nothing will be suffice but for the majority of us it is a personal commitment and sacrifice ... because there in our mind is a difference ... if you cannot fathom it then fair thee well ....

On a tangent why is it that the majority of professional cellists play instruments that range into the millions in value? Surely not because they can discern the difference ... they must be pandering to the banker in the third row....

In short there seems to be no reason that you need more than a Holga or a pinhole camera ... if you cannot discern a difference great ... but don't drag the rest of us who can to your
level of perception.

Rant over ... back to reality ... the magnificence of this existence cannot be conveyed by any static physical imager ... but that does not preclude our desire and attempt to
do so.

Bob
 

Uaiomex

Member
To OP. By reading the responses, I conclude there is no compelling reason to own a MF system over digital 35. It is a subjective thing. I think too, that I can tell the difference sometimes.
For me it is not worth it. There are much better ways to spend $40k in this world and still have an amazing dslr or mirrorless kit.
Eduardo

Edit: If I had 20-30-$40K sitting in the bank and absolutely no desire or need for anything, I would certainly buy into DMF.
 
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satybhat

Member
To OP. By reading the responses, I conclude there is no compelling reason to own a MF system over digital 35. It is a subjective thing. I think too, that I can tell the difference sometimes.
For me it is not worth it. There are much better ways to spend $40k in this world and still have an amazing dslr or mirrorless kit.
Eduardo

Edit: If I had 20-30-$40K sitting in the bank and absolutely no desire for anything else, I would certainly buy into DMF.
Personally, the whole argument doesn't make sense.
There are 3 variables involved, always. (Resources - i.e.*Money/Time/Effort), (tools of creation) and (Art).
Money patronises art. Literally. Without money, there would be no art. So much is known.
Without money, there are no tools either.

But to use alternative tools to save money? Not sure if that's a valid form of reasoning.
To answer your question, ($0 + MF back) gives better quality than ($60K + nikon). Hence one is better to me than the other. With the 2nd option, I compromise on quality, but gain money. If money is your prerogative, what more can be said?
 

Jamgolf

Member
Photography is just a hobby that I take quite seriously. It brings me a lot of enjoyment and in some ways defines me as who I am, what I do and what I want to do. I’ve owned a lot of different photographic equipment in the past 5 years. For the experience and the enjoyment if it - 617 Horseman, Rolleiflex FxN TLR, Leica M9 + Noctilux etc., Nikons and the Zeiss glass and many many Leica-R lenses converted to the F bayonet, Pentax 645D with some rare Hasselblad/Zeiss CF glass, Hasselblad H. You get the point.

I entered the the MF technical camera inferno over a year ago and I ain’t leaving. I had to sell every other piece of equipment to be able to afford a pre-owned Credo 60 and 2 Rodenstock lenses. These are my most beloved material possessions.

What MF means to me is really quite irrelevant for everyone else. My only regret is that I did not get this a few years earlier. I wish I could have a mulligan. I believe many of my (non candid) photographs that I am most proud of, would be far superior if this equipment was at my disposal and if I knew how to use it. I think my photography would be far ahead of where it is today.

Whether MF does anything for anyone is for each individual to try and decide. If someone cites “better resolution”, “better color”, “better workflow”, “better bokeh”, “MF look” - or whatever else. Will that convince you? It should not. Think about what it is going to be used for and then think about whether it would be a suitable choice.

Personally I have been inspired by Richard Avedon and Victoria Sambunaris and Andreas Gursky. Weston and Adams. The deliberate.
Medium format with a technical camera is my choice to achieve my aspirations.

I also find the arguments that dismiss MF as simply over-priced or not too much better than DSLR etc quite silly.
To me the choice of a phone-camera over a Nikon D800 is a far more sensible one than D800 over a IQ180.
 

Uaiomex

Member
Sorry but it can be used the other way around. "But to use alternative tools to spend more money?"
I understand (I think) OP's curiosity because I genuinely feel like him. I don't think he's trolling. To tell him to go to the Nikon forum to ask the question won't help any better than asking here. In this forum at least there are many excellent users of DMF that may provide a better understanding of this "enigma" for us strangers.


Personally, the whole argument doesn't make sense.
There are 3 variables involved, always. (Resources - i.e.*Money/Time/Effort), (tools of creation) and (Art).
Money patronises art. Literally. Without money, there would be no art. So much is known.
Without money, there are no tools either.

But to use alternative tools to save money? Not sure if that's a valid form of reasoning.
To answer your question, ($0 + MF back) gives better quality than ($60K + nikon). Hence one is better to me than the other. With the 2nd option, I compromise on quality, but gain money. If money is your prerogative, what more can be said?
 
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gavincato

New member
So I mostly shoot weddings. I shoot large chunks of the day on medium format (a 645z).

I'm very willing to admit that for weddings, that the difference between MF & 35mm is not massive. If you were money conscious, I would agree that buying MF is very hard to justify vs the 35mm stuff.

I still prefer the MF, but am totally ok with others being ok with 35 - There are some outstanding tools available these days in 35mm world. If you get good results from them, great - stick with it & the amazingly huge selection of lenses.

However - there are some areas where MF takes a larger stride. A fortnight ago I shot a wedding in new zealand and spent a day taking landscapes. Nothing too serious, just went on a big hike with a 645z and the new 35mm lens and some other glass. The files that I have here, there is no freakin way that 35mm dslr's would touch them quality wise. I have a 1dx, but have played with d810's and 5dsr's and anyone who think there's only a tiny difference between them and medium format is just kidding I think. At iso100 & f/10 these files are just amazingly sharp with the most incredible colours, DR, tonal range, that beautiful native 4:3 ratio - just the general overall look. And that's just from the cheap guy on the market, the 645z - let alone a big phase one.
 

Lucille

New member
Interesting read...

I am very interested in the Pentax 645Z...

My motive is simply better IQ.


I keep wishing Sony would release a affordable medium format either Rx fixed lens or interchangeable using their 50mp sensor.
 

Transposure

New member
Intriguing thread....
So, I will throw my hat in the ring...

I shoot professionally. I shoot mostly people, some architectural and some products. I have two main kits, a Canon 1Dx with a plethora of Canon L series glass and a Phase One XF with a Credo 60 back.

I use both systems interchangeably but each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Canon 1Dx:
Built like a tank and completely rain proof. I have shot in the pouring rain. The camera uses a 18MP CMOS sensor. It has lightning fast multi-point autofocus that is near telepathic. I can move and my subject can move and I can move focus points and I can achieve focus in a microsecond. It is second nature with my experience and the customization that I have set in the camera. The system has produced beautiful, sharp, saturated, accurate photos repeatedly and is largely infallible as a system. However, it will only sync flash up to 1/250s. So, when I am outside and I want to use flash in bright sunlight, I can only go to 1/250s with my Profoto strobes. More on that in a minute.

Phase One XF/Credo 60:
Also built like a tank, literally! It has one focus point. One. I will say that again....one. Focus and recompose is a necessary evil. With the XF, the focus speed rivals the Canon. The one point, however, is a drawback, but, considering what follows, I can accept it. The digital back uses a 60MP CCD sensor. That is 3x the resolution, although I know you wanted reasons beyond resolution. But that IS, in fact, a factor in the decision-making for purchase. Using the output file from this system gives a better starting point for large scale prints. In addition, after personally comparing files, I have witnessed that the gradations from light to dark are more refined in the Phase One file than in the DSLR file. There are simply more tonality steps that stand up to more post processing. This results in smoother tonality and luminosity changes in light to dark transitions. Big points for MFD. The system syncs up to 1/1600s due to the leaf shutters not found in DLSR's and due to the speed of communication of the Profoto Air system. What does this mean? Well, if you are outside in bright sunlight and you want to shoot at f2.8 for an artistic reason, and use fill flash, and have the sky blue instead of white, you can. You can use all of the power you want from your Profoto strobes to fill in the shadows when you run the shutter speed up to 1/1600s. More power from the strobes allows them to be moved further from your subject which equates to more freedom to frame a shot. Can you do that with a DSLR? Sure if you want to gang together 4 or more speedlites. I choose not to and I get beautiful shallow depth of field, with great exposure of everything with little hassle. Big points for MFD. When I need to access a function, change a setting, or check an exposure, I use the two touch screens on the camera body and digital back. I am not pushing buttons and scrolling through menus like on the DSLR. I get to where I want effortlessly. Big points to MFD.

Both systems that I use represent, in my humble opinion, the best of their class (Yes, I know there are newer, better, backs). Both offer advantages and disadvantages and both are tools to achieve certain goals. Would I use the Phase system to capture a dancer jumping through the air with a streamer? No, I would choose the 1Dx and shoot 14fps with tracking focus. Would I use the Phase system to shoot a fabulous portrait or fashion shot outdoors in the sun with blue sky, shallow DOF and strobed fill on the model, you bet! When I print a 40" x 60" print for my studio gallery, would the Phase file print a little better all else being equal? Yup.

Aside from the performance issues above, do I like the build quality of the systems? Yes for both. Does that matter? There is a certain appreciation that I have for tools that are well designed, ergonomically efficient and that provide a great user experience. Is it any different from a mechanic that prefers to buy and use Snap-On as opposed to Craftsman or Harbor Freight?

In the end, the cost for entry for me was justified as a business expense with the benefit of providing a special look with the capabilities of the 1/1600s flash sync that the leaf shutters afford. You just don't get that with a DSLR. If you wanted to get that with a DSLR, it comes with more setup and time. And time, is money. The added resolution for the jobs that require the best resolution possible for large scale output is also a reason for the investment. And one last thing, with the XF's built in Profoto Air trigger, I simply turn on my camera and start shooting with strobes firing away. No trigger for the hotshoe. It just works.
 

satybhat

Member
I started a thread, some time ago, ...

So, if we set resolution aside, is there a compelling reason from an image quality perspective to go with MF at what winds up being a considerable price premium? Granted that some, if not most MF backs are CCD and that may give the MF a certain look. However, CCD has a number of very real limitations and the trend is towards CMOS, which is what most 35mm digital cameras use. I can see that it's somewhat easier to work the tech cameras with a back, rather than a 35mm camera and there are more options available, but that seems to be an extremely niche market. Those who need movements can find them in 35mm ranging from TSE lenses to tech cameras accommodating the 35mm cameras.

So, what is a compelling reason for you, those of you who have made the jump to have done so at such a high cost? What compelled you? Would you do it again? If you had your 35mm kit today, would you still change it for MF?
No, personally, I don't think the OP is trolling either. I do think though that the argument of MF vs 35mm is not valid at all, especially with cost thrown into the fray. They are two different systems altogether. Yes, both systems make photos. So does an iPhone. So did HCB's Leica. So does the Hubble Space Telescope. Different tools for differing outputs. So much is obvious. Of course you can do nice landscapes with 35mm. Some I have seen are better than many MF shooters' outputs. This does lead me to conclude that the utility of MF is being questioned on cost alone. We are discussing art economics. Not art tools. Most definitely not ART.

The simple solution to the OP's queries about price premiums and high costs is this: you can enter the MF league without the high cost. Look at the work of David Ward as an example.
http://www.into-the-light.com/gallery/

Most of this series was shot with 4x5 film and more recently A7R. You can acquire both systems for under 12k. Good work can of course be done at low costs. So do that already.

As noted above though, what DMF offers is this:
tonality
microcontrast
colour accuracy
high resolution, hence bigger prints

I'm not sure how else to answer your question...
Thanks for the interesting discussion though.
 

jerome_m

Member
So, if we set resolution aside, is there a compelling reason from an image quality perspective to go with MF at what winds up being a considerable price premium?

Now that the thread has developed a bit, it seems that the main argument is the "price premium". I have two comments.

First, you estimate the price premium at $60K. That is in the upper range for tech cams and the IQ series. My second-hand H4D was considerably cheaper.

Second, supposing the price was $60K, may I inquire what you would personally do with that money? It is an honest question: if I had $60K sitting in the bank, I would not really know what to do with it as I have no desire or need for anything. I would like to know about your personal ideas for spending that "price premium".
 

danlindberg

Well-known member
1. I print rather large, running a gallery, and there is a clear difference between MF and 35mm when final result is hanging on the wall. MF wins.

2. I teach photoenthusiasts on a regular basis the fundamentals of photography and here it is much easier on the tiny Alpa TC rather than the A7r (where it takes 1 minute to find 'format').

3. Workflow & feel is more inspiring to me and this alone makes me go the extra mile.
 

aztwang

Member
There is no right answer. There is no wrong answer. This is like asking how long is a piece of string.....
Horses for courses. I jumped and still kept my Nikon gear for several reasons. But the one outcome I never expected was it slowed down my
process. Made me think more, out of the box and created an all new love for this art, a burn inside thats is all new...Can't put a dollar amount on that....and you'll probably call bullshit but I assure you there are many here who have gone thru the same transformation.
Personally after reading your responses to those who responded to you, sounds like your the devils advocate. Why do some go from a kit lens to an 85 1.8 to a 85 1.4 to Zeiss? They are after a little more of that something that brings them back to pulling that camera up to their eye and squeezing off another frame in search for a 'lil bit nicer, sharper more beautiful image...
 
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