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Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

Geoff

Well-known member
I have shot with medium format equipment, albeit film, not digital, so the "feel" of the "real camera" is familiar to me. There is no Zen like feeling in it for me. Cameras are tools, nothing more.

As far as interfaces and the simplicity are concerned, any camera is as simple as you want to make it. You can take any camera with manual exposure capability and use it as such. You can turn off autofocusing on any camera, you can turn off TTL flash, you can turn off the meter and use a hand hand incident meter. In other words, you can take ANY camera and break it down to its bare bones and use not just like a manual camera, but like a view camera.

Initially, I thought that the most compelling reason for getting MF was the ability to use tech cameras. However, given that there are offerings out there that accommodate not just mirrorless, but SLR bodies, even that point becomes moot (as are the lenses, since the same lenses are used on tech cameras regardless of the bodies)

Additionally, since the new generation of backs has embraced the Sony CMOS sensor, it seems to me that the ONLY truly compelling reason to get the MF equipment is resolution. If one needs resolution north of 50mp, then MF is the way to go, no question about it. The resolution difference is real, EASILY seen, and objective.

The rest... meh. At least, that's my own take on it. People buy all sorts of stuff for all sorts of reasons. That's not an indication of anything, other than marketing, perhaps.

I don't mean to beat up on people who like MF. Some of them really need it, I think most of them don't, but they're the ones spending their own money, so who am I to judge? In the end, having seen a number of RAW files and done a number of comparisons, *I* don't think the image quality difference justifies the price. Since I thought that having a digital back was the only way to use a tech camera, I entertained the idea, but since that's not the case either, I can't see a COMPELLING reason for ME to jump on the bandwagon.

Having said all that, I'm glad the MF equipment is out there. I definitely like these forums and the folks here tend to be more civilized and generally, better photographers.
Forgive me, but I have an issue with this post.

There have been many people who have spent good time to try and describe how and why the use of MF gear matters to them. They have by and large been courteous enough to say if that doesn't matter to you, then it's probably not for you. And in general the discussion has accommodated different points of view.

You have said before that the tools don't matter, the "zen" is not a factor doesn't matter, and that the argument about slowing down doesn't work for you. Fair enough. No problem. I might disagree, even profoundly so, but to each their own. It's your experience.

But the statement in the above post that probably most users don't really need MF gear is a different matter. In saying that, you are projecting your view (that it doesn't really matter to the photog) on how the rest of us work and use our tools. I don't think that's right or in the spirit of this discussion.

Please reconsider.
 

Abstraction

Active member
Forgive me, but I have an issue with this post.

But the statement in the above post that probably most users don't really need MF gear is a different matter. In saying that, you are projecting your view (that it doesn't really matter to the photog) on how the rest of us work and use our tools. I don't think that's right or in the spirit of this discussion.

Please reconsider.
That's my take on it. That's not to say that they don't enjoy it, but when I say "need it", I mean whether they could have accomplished the same goals with different equipment. I don't mean "similar goals", I mean really the same goals. As an example of what I consider "need", let's say you're doing architectural photography, I would say that you really NEED some sort of shifting capabilities. If you're doing a portrait (a regular portrait, nothing specialized), then you really don't NEED shifting or tilting capabilities. It's ok if you have them, but you really don't NEED them.

So, to clarify my statement, NEED is something you can't do without, not something that's nice to have.
 

Dogs857

New member
It's all Reductio Ad Absurdum

Is there a compelling reason to drive a Ferrari?? I can carry far more shopping and kids in my Jeep, and am only allowed to drive at 50kph in town.
Is there a compelling reason to drive a Jeep?? Most of the major roads are sealed and there is no practical reason to own a 4WD any more.
Is there a compelling reason to listen to a high end stereo?? My $20 CD player plays music.
Is there a compelling reason to have a big TV?? I can watch movies on my computer screen.
Is there a compelling reason to own a dishwasher?? I have a sink, the ability to boil water, soap and two hands.
Is there a compelling reason to own MF cameras?? My iPhone takes pretty good shots.

If you want to start an argument and then deny any response that people give you then you are really not that interested in my opinion. It's quite obvious that MF is not for you, no worries at all. The question you have to ask yourself is that if money was no matter what would you do.

I would not drive a Ferrari because I am not a big fan of sports cars. That doesn't make people who drive sports cars wrong.
I would still own a Jeep because I derive pleasure from going bush on hard 4WD trails.
I would buy a good stereo because I love listening to music. I can't personally hear the differences that audiophiles can but it is not my passion.
I would have a big TV because it is a more immersive experience and I enjoy watching movies.
I would have a dishwasher because it saves me time and I personally hate washing up.
I would shoot MF because it gives me pleasure and I can see the differences. This is my passion so I pay far more attention to it.

Does it affect me in the slightest what anyone else shoots with?? No not at all. This is a very personal industry and everyone has different requirements. Someone shooting high end fashion will have different requirements from someone shooting landscapes. The trick is to figure out what you want early, because it is an expensive business, and this is regardless of what format you shoot with.

By the sounds of it there is no compelling reason for you to move to MF. Congratulations on working this out, now you can move on and embrace whatever else you chose to shoot with. That doesn't make anyone else's choices wrong. We only get one play on the wheel of life, why not do whatever makes you happy??

Do I need MF....... no not at all.

Do I want to use MF........ absolutely.

And that is the most compelling reason of all.
 
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alajuela

Member
That's it, in a nutshell.

I have been reading this and interested in the circular logic being repeated and repeated. As said before MF is obviously not for you, but to parse words and miss the thought perhaps is why MF is not for you.


Stop trying to demean and bring down others' preferences to a level you need to rationalize your choice. The question this begs , is to whom are you trying to rationalize your choice.

If you do not see value of a larger capture plane, or any of the other inherent values of MF, lucky you. enjoy what you have and shoot more. With your money saved, feel the warmth.
 
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Abstraction

Active member
I have been reading this and interested in the circular logic being repeated and repeated. As said before MF is obviously not for you, but to parse words and miss the thought perhaps is why MF is not for you.


Stop trying to demean and and bring down others' preferences to a level you need to rationalize your choice. The question this begs , is to whom are you trying to rationalize your choice.

If you do not see value of a larger capture plane, or any of the other inherent values of MF, lucky you. enjoy what you have and shoot more. With your money saved, feel the warmth.
I didn't realize that I was trying to demean and bring down others' preferences or to rationalize or justify my own choice. I was ready to end this discussion for quite some time, but people chime in and I thought I would respond. It is difficult to communicate tone on the forums, so each and every reader projects his own.

I went out of my way to explain my rationale and to say time and time and time again that these are my criteria and these are the things that are important to me. Anything can be misinterpreted whether willingly or unwillingly, but I thought I made it clear that I'm not trying to fire across the bow.
 

gavincato

New member
That's my take on it. That's not to say that they don't enjoy it, but when I say "need it", I mean whether they could have accomplished the same goals with different equipment. I don't mean "similar goals", I mean really the same goals. As an example of what I consider "need", let's say you're doing architectural photography, I would say that you really NEED some sort of shifting capabilities. If you're doing a portrait (a regular portrait, nothing specialized), then you really don't NEED shifting or tilting capabilities. It's ok if you have them, but you really don't NEED them.

So, to clarify my statement, NEED is something you can't do without, not something that's nice to have.
goodness - why are you even here?

The photos you posted you made could be comfortably accomplished with any 35 based digital slr made in the last 10 years, aps-c or full frame. Heck, damn near any compact could do it. The resolution requirements are so low it's incredible. You are saying that most of us don't need med format - take some of your own advice. You don't need full frame 35 yet alone medium format.

Personally I believe you should forget about changing camera gear and learn post processing. You say you don't know photoshop - so change that. Put some effort into learning lightroom/C1/Photoshop. You'll get far bigger improvements there. Post processing is critical to the end result.
 

Dogs857

New member
I didn't realize that I was trying to demean and bring down others' preferences or to rationalize or justify my own choice. I was ready to end this discussion for quite some time, but people chime in and I thought I would respond. It is difficult to communicate tone on the forums, so each and every reader projects his own.

I went out of my way to explain my rationale and to say time and time and time again that these are my criteria and these are the things that are important to me. Anything can be misinterpreted whether willingly or unwillingly, but I thought I made it clear that I'm not trying to fire across the bow.
It's all good buddy.

The thing about forums is people will come in late and put in their 0.02c worth (myself included). With subjects like this people can also get quite emotionally invested in their opinions as well. If you want to see some real fun try starting the "CCD v CMOS" debate again :)

You are the master of your own ship and it is good to see that you have a clear idea of what you want and what you need. Good luck with whatever you end up with and enjoy the hell out of your photography.
 

Abstraction

Active member
It's all good buddy.

The thing about forums is people will come in late and put in their 0.02c worth (myself included). With subjects like this people can also get quite emotionally invested in their opinions as well. If you want to see some real fun try starting the "CCD v CMOS" debate again :)

You are the master of your own ship and it is good to see that you have a clear idea of what you want and what you need. Good luck with whatever you end up with and enjoy the hell out of your shooting.
Thanks, I appreciate that. Furthermore, this particular forum and this particular thread helped crystalize things for me and I'm grateful to all those who have taken the time and made the effort to respond.
 

Egor

New member
Just read this whole thread (was having trouble sleeping) and it reminded me of a famous Oscar Wilde quote:

“When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss Money”

Personally, I now use both MFD and 35mm and in some cases, my iPhone. I have a successful photography business and am booked out quite solidly.

My amendment to Wilde's quote would be:

"When amateur photographers talk about photography, they talk about cameras and lenses. When professional photographers talk about photography, they talk about light and technique"

Peace :)

e
 

jlm

Workshop Member
Putting some obvious subtexts aside, the only generic difference between an "amateur" and a "professional" photographer is that the pro makes or tries to make a business out of it.
 

Egor

New member
Putting some obvious subtexts aside, the only generic difference between an "amateur" and a "professional" photographer is that the pro makes or tries to make a business out of it.
Correct, Jim.
That is why I said it. I have the utmost respect for amateurs and hobbyists in this field, and fine art practitioners and the like. They are the best and have honed better technique than many professionals I know (myself included)
As far as the age old debate of amateur vs professional. you are correct. But if something is important to you, you hire a professional. (Would you hire an amateur for your wedding? appendix removal? multi-million dollar product launch?...etc)

I don't believe any subtext intended. Its just that many in the thread stated something about how expensive MFD is compared to smaller format gear and "would you rather have $60K in the bank vs...blah blah blah..." remember? Well, then you are talking about money and business sense, not photography tools. I can tell you that the largest expense in any small business is payroll (i.e.: skilled professional man hours). I can only speak for myself (and a few thousand others I am sure) when I tell you that the most precious commodity in professional photography is TIME.

In our studio, MFD saves time in post-proc and in some cases in technique time. That amounts to over $2500/week over using the small formats for certain jobs. That adds up fast in a busy studio. It is significant and tangible. The opposite of the initial meme posted is true, I don't have an extra $60K to throw at post prod corrections that DO NOT OCCUR WITH MFD; therefore, MFD is the cheaper option despite the relatively higher upfront costs.
 

CSP

New member
Putting some obvious subtexts aside, the only generic difference between an "amateur" and a "professional" photographer is that the pro makes or tries to make a business out of it.
sorry, this is what amateurs love to hear but it is not the reality , here are some points what in my view separates pros from amateurs:


most pros are :


able to work under pressure

can deliver creativity when it is needed

can organize and work with other creatives

care more about light and less about cameras

don´t need expansive gear to fill a creative void
 

Abstraction

Active member
Just read this whole thread (was having trouble sleeping) and it reminded me of a famous Oscar Wilde quote:

“When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss Money”

Personally, I now use both MFD and 35mm and in some cases, my iPhone. I have a successful photography business and am booked out quite solidly.

My amendment to Wilde's quote would be:

"When amateur photographers talk about photography, they talk about cameras and lenses. When professional photographers talk about photography, they talk about light and technique"

Peace :)

e
At the risk of waking the horde of well wishers who never fail to seize an opportunity to proclaim how much my work sucks, I will agree with you. In the end, the format doesn't matter, the lenses don't matter past a certain point and we spend most of our time splitting hairs. However, given that most gear oriented forums are about splitting hairs, we may as well indulge.
 

Wayne Fox

Workshop Member
I don't mean to beat up on people who like MF. Some of them really need it, I think most of them don't, but they're the ones spending their own money, so who am I to judge? In the end, having seen a number of RAW files and done a number of comparisons, *I* don't think the image quality difference justifies the price.
You’re right ... who are you to judge? so why do you persist in doing so?

This has been hammered to death for so long by so many people it’s getting quite tiresome. While it’s a correct statement that most don’t need it, those on this forum aren’t “most”. Extrapolating that most don’t need it means that most shooting MF don’t need it is a stretch. Your persistence in constantly hammering this point home is becoming a little inconsiderate and trollish. Having a point of view is fine, but quit trying to put everyone into your world. Most who frequent this forum are experienced and advanced shooters, I would bet that almost all who shoot MF on this forum have multiple systems they could use if they choose (I have a full d800 system with Zeiss glass, as well as a full Sony a7rII system). And despite that we still choose to shoot MF most of the time for all of the reasons we have stated as well as others. It doesn’t matter whether or not you agree, and your point has been heard (for the millionth time by you and others). Give it a rest.

The quoted statement really bears this out ... judging MF vs dSLR by looking at raw files isn’t how I make my decision. I decide by the prints. My “test” print size is 24x30. My actual selling pieces are up to 90” long, and my better images are only available in 40” or larger sizes. I shoot MF because I don’t want to try and do stitches of moving water, or I don’t want to take the time to do stitches because I have to shoot a focus stack or perhaps an HDR(although that’s becoming pretty rare). I want a single capture to hold up to 72” or even more, or a simple 2 shot capture shifting the back on my tech camera to merge perfectly and let me print to over 100”.

Your first question tried to exclude resolution. If you don’t print, you don’t need it, but in fact the resolution is key, and you can’t exclude it from the discussion. Nothing about MF will make better images to throw on a blog. If you just print up little stuff like 20x24’s or smaller (and don’t ever need to crop), then sure, it’s a lot of money for perhaps little gain. While there are many other things some of us really like about MF, if those don’t float your boat, fine. But bottom line to me are the prints.
 

Ken_R

New member
I started a thread, some time ago, regarding technical cameras and whether Live View was available on MF backs. The discussion veered off a bit, there were some side comments and after a while, it occurred to me that there may not be a compelling reason to go to MF from an image quality perspective. After digging a bit further, I realized that there are technical cameras that can accommodate 35mm DSLRs and Mirrorless systems. Further investigation revealed that the new generation of digital backs are based on pretty much the same sensor technology as those in Nikon and Sony systems.

Granted, given that the MF sensor is bigger, especially the Full Format MF, we can get higher resolution at the same pixel pitch as the 35mm format.

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?
Yes, You can achieve a certain level of single image capture quality with the new 100MP Medium Format Digital Back that you can't with any smaller format digital camera available today. I say again, single image capture.

Is it worth it? Each person has a different answer to that question.

The main thing is there are MANY factors to consider and the fact of the matter is that Medium Format Digital offers something different, in workflow, in optics, in bodies etc. Even within Medium Format Digital there is a huge range of choices.

Choosing camera gear is almost always gonna be a matter of personal preference and hence, the endless discussions.
 

MrSmith

Member
sorry, this is what amateurs love to hear but it is not the reality , here are some points what in my view separates pros from amateurs:


most pros are :


able to work under pressure

can deliver creativity when it is needed

can organize and work with other creatives

care more about light and less about cameras

don´t need expansive gear to fill a creative void
i would like to add: can deal with the visually unaware and manage client expectations
and: make a silk purse out of a sows ear.
 
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