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Reasons for MF in 2021

Why to go Medium Format these days? Is there still any rational behind? What are the intentions we have going that way and spend a lot of money?
Sensor resolution is going up also in full frame (24x36) in the next months to 100MP, the frame rat is up to 30 full frame, Sensitivity goes down to -7, so we are lucky in photography heaven coming from ISO 50 film and we do have a camera always with us ready to start pictures and videos fitting in our pockets the smartphone.
So is it the sensor size? Is it the mysterious name "Medium Format " or the acronyms like Hasselblad or Rollei? We are not free of influences. F.e. A Hasselblad X1 is small as a 24x36 camera. Is it the sensor size? I suggest Sony and Canon to have much better processing power and much better software algorithms because they have more money to invest. So isn`t a high end Sony or Canon or.. better (?) than a X1? So Fuji has gone an interesting way with there 50 or 100 series. A lot of modern sensor technology and processing. So it looks like market share gives them the lead. So pure resolution and sensor size (the Phase One way) are no garants for success.
So market leaders especially like Sony and Canon are offering this year extremely advanced cameras. Smartphones are near perfect daily companions, so why to carry a lot of kilograms around from a niche system?
So please lets discuss
Please take a look also to the tread "why do cameras look the way they do" republished from luminous landscape
Of course not, you are right. I am using a phase One XF, so there is no rational behind it, its my pleasure, the look to a waist level finder etc. I do feel that MF manufacturers are missing a separate direction to keep their future. to shrink a medium format camera to a pocket size, is that the point? For me not. The form factor of a Fuji is awfully in my view. I personally feel that there is a market for slow and precise design photography, may be also doing videos in a same manner. So the 6x6 viewfinder of my old Rollei system leads me to phase one. If you do feel all is perfect, okay. I do feel medium formartdid not find its direction separating this field from the leading edge in the 24x36 format.


Well-known member
This type of discussion is currently going around since the delivery of the Fujifilm 100s (i.e. Hugh Brownstone’s latestYouTube videos),and with the delight of some camera phone shooters showing their portfolios that impress some viewers. It’s all good IMHO.

I enjoy all my camera gear from APS-C, MF digital & film, to 4x5” because they all fit in my creative toolbox. I also enjoy cooking and have specific tools to create delicious food with that my grandmother used over fifty years ago that another cook may not choose, and I gave up my sports car for a camper van because my travel needs changed. “So what”, you may say, and I get all that …

My point is, cameras are just tools to get us where we want to be photographically. I understand the timing of this question as I have seen it repeatedly over time as the technology evolves. It’s all good, and as Will appropriately stated above: “I don’t have to justify what gives me pleasure.”

Just shoot, have fun and give praise to technology!


Well-known member
1) There's the do what gives you pleasure argument. Life is short, then you die. If you like and can afford using certain kinds of equipment, even for reasons that don't make any technical sense, then why not?

2) There are technical reasons linked to the size of the sensor and how it performs. This is where the gap is closing rapidly in terms of practical differences. A lot of things that could only be done well with larger formats can now be done with smaller formats. That trend will continue.

3) And then there are personal/technical reasons. I like using view camera movements. I suppose I could figure out ways to do my work without view camera movements, but I don't want to (and I don't have to, thankfully). A 33mm x 44mm sensor is the sweet spot for me. It's all the image quality I need, and smaller sensors don't give me the same lens choices I have with 33mm x 44mm.



Well-known member
Why use film and and old film exposing cameras is also a recurring question. I even myself question why I do such things, but even if I can’t answer I still continue without too clear answers to such questions. Why can be a question that that doesn’t need to be answered meticulosly in order to enjoy things. If you have to have a definite answer, then those things may not be for you.


Well-known member
We have been having this conversation since the 19th century. Now, many people are not confident in their photography and seem to need to justify it and so we use specs and such. But there is no technical justification (in the case of the photography done here, but technical photography for archives, for example, might be more prescriptive) beyond personal preference. There is no ideal that needs to be met.

The question in photography is easy: Do I like the photography I am producing? The answer should be yes. If no, then you need to find the solution. That might be technical, that might not. But technical criteria does not give any intrinsic value. Take any photograph from any point in history and the technology does not represent its value.


Well-known member
This is really such a non-topic. Remember when photography was invented in the 19th century and everyone stopped painting? This is why there are no painters from the 20th century because photography was a technically superior medium.

Or was the buggy whip? I forget...

(Note, photorealism is a painting genre from the 20th century.)

You cannot answer a subjective question with objective criteria.


Well-known member
I still shoot MF because I enjoy it, in particular enjoy using the X1D. I don't really have much to add other than what others have said.

Discussions like these regarding digital medium format seem to pop up in some form or another every time new advances in FF35 tech (or software) come about and get boring and tiresome IMHO. Aside from specific use cases and personal preference, I find a lot of online discussion behind the rationale of using System X or Y is driven by photographers trying to justify the $$ they spent or defend their purchases, and has little to do with photography itself.

All the cameras out there are great and are worlds better than the D300 I started with in digital (which wasn't itself bad). Pick what you like, what fits your style, and what fits your budget, then stop paying attention to technical advances and get shooting. If a system isn't working for you, pick something else....and if depreciation regarding financial value of equipment is of concern, stay far far away from buying digital cameras (MF cameras especially....or purchase them used).


Well-known member
I think photography forums attract people who like photography and also like gear. Many people like gear more than they like photography, and honestly that's just fine. That's why threads like this are so common.

Recently I finished David Campany's new book, On photographs. I really liked it and can recommend it enthusiastically. But one thing that you might take away from a book like this is how little the gear mattered.

Obviously the gear mattered a lot to in the making of some of the photos in the book. I'm not saying "gear doesn't matter". Of course it matters if you need certain gear to make a picture. What struck me about David's book was the total disconnect -- from the non-photographer viewer perspective -- between the equipment that was used and whether or not the photograph was successful. I can honestly say that at no point in studying the photographs he showcases did I think, "Wow, that would have been so much better if the photographer had used a medium format camera and paid more attention to the quality of the in-to-out-of-focus transition."


Well-known member
Since my 10 year old S lenses still draw more beautiful than my SL lenses (which I also like). Because the S007 - for my taste stills beats SL2 and M10r color and tonality.

FF got pretty good over the last years, and the advantages of MF has decreased. But I think in regards of color, tonality and transition between focal plane and out of focus areas is still there. Also with the increased resolution FF lenses get bigger and bigger and FF lens prices increase as well. So size differences is not that big any. more. I like FF for flexibility and speed, and MF for max IQ.


Whatever camera(s) we are fortunate enough to use to make great images, we are blessed! Cameras are tools, and tools will always evolve and get better. That said, photographic equipment are personal preferences in our photographic journey. Hopefully we can share our wonderful images with everyone who want to see and enjoy!


Well-known member
My personal reason to use MF is.... i have high standards when it comes to photography, yes 35mm cameras are becoming better, but so does MF.
Bigger sensors, bigger pixels and bigger glass, will give you better results!


Well-known member
I too, don't really see the point of the question...each is a tool and I use it as such. If a production requires speed, I'll grab my Canon 1DX kit. If I need movements, I'll grab my LF kit. Otherwise, I'll shoot my H5/6 or P1 stuff. If I know I'm in suspect weather conditions, it'll be the 1DX even if I have to "suffer some quality loss". I personally hate the Fuji system - can't stand mirrorless nor the Fuji canned colors. Yes, I can adjust those colors to match my other stuff, but why do extra work to get the same result?

Like any other tool, everybody has their own reasons for using it. Why would a framer prefer a hickory handle hammer vs a metal Estwing? Some mechanics prefer pneumatic impacts whereas others are into 19v battery operated and yet others still prefer a breaker bar/manual ratchet for the same task.

I personally think that those pondering this question needs to get out of the armchair and get out shooting - with whatever gear they have at hand!


Active member
IMO, better DR (larger sensors) and better lens quality are reasons for MF. For me, it is also how Hasselblad processes the signal before writing to RAW files.
I also like how I can combine film (Hasselblad 5xx) wit digital (CFV II 50C).
However, I am not always shooting MF cameras, and like using anything from m43 to "real" MF. The output of those various formats is different.


For me personally, an objective reason is the 4: 3 format. The 3: 2 format can only be used well for me in a few cases.

Otherwise, I use the equipment that, in my opinion, is most suitable for solving my task and that fits my workflow.

But you could just as well ask the question - "why is analog photography still used today?" The answers will be as varied as the people are.

Greetings Gerd


Well-known member
Why do anything when you can just pose silly questions as to why you would do it?

I bought a (not an acronym, the name of the company's creator) Hasselblad 907x in order to obtain the specific look and feel that a high-quality, ultra wide lens (XCD 21mm) on a larger than average format sensor provides, mimicking in an all digital system the look and feel I used to get with a Hasselblad SWC. It's not quite a large enough sensor to produce the exact same thing, but it's very close in terms of the imaging qualities.

So I don't question why; I buy the gear I feel suits my needs and desires, and go shooting with it. The fact that the camera is useful for much more than that, and that its back brings my existing Hasselblad 500 series cameras and lenses into the digital capture world seamlessly, makes it a cost effective purchase.



Workshop Member
This type of discussion is currently going around since the delivery of the Fujifilm 100s
This type of discussion is *currently* going around since the delivery of the Fujifilm 100s. However, as you know, it goes around with literally *every* new flagship camera launch.

"What's the point of MF now that the Canon 1D?"... "What's the point of MF now that the Nikon D800?"... and so on through history.

The reasons are always the same: If, for you, the upsides (image quality, method of working, features/tools, look, etc) outweigh the downsides (size, weight, cost, speed, etc).