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Thread: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

  1. #151
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    Hi Everyone! My first post here. I thought I may have something useful to share. I have shot film in LF/MF for over 20 years (35mm for 30 odd years). In my pocket/bag everyday is an M9. I use Nikon gear too. I only own one zoom lens. I've been up to my neck in the sea with a D700. These systems are tough, fast, value for money and versatile, huge choice of focal length, high ISO etc. My 3 year old can take lovely pictures with a D700!! Small format is brilliant at what it does. But to get excellent to best quality out of any setup, the amount of effort is practically identical in S or M format. All can produce excellent large prints in terms of detail if enough care is taken, but of course going up in format will improve things.

    #1 is that MF is all about quality and to achieve that requires effort, study, practice. Be patient, it's worth it. It took me 3 days and about 200 shots over 5 sessions to get to grips with a 300mm Nikon lens. It took about 7 days and about 300 shots to get good results from the 645DF with two lenses (bearing in mind I shoot MF film already!!). It has taken me almost a year to understand a Leica 50lux and it's many tricks! There are still thousands of situations in which I would not know what to do with the DF for maximum results, it's going to take a few more months of regular usage to get a significant body of experience with this camera. Learning a new film can take many months.

    #2 is that incredible tonal rendition is possible. 16 bits per pixel and large photosites seem to make a great deal of difference. B&W images are gorgeous. There is detail (data) in mid to high tones that I'd never seen before in digital. It really feels like film and incredibly tolerant in the highlights. Small format tends to blow the red channel too quickly and it's really easy to see posterisation on skin highlights and this is why I've never left film. I am totally knocked over by the tonality.

    #3 Lens/Look. There's a look to using MF (and more so on LF) that is natural and pleasing. The DM33 full frame captures that look.

    #4 Yeah lots of MPixels are obviously a good thing. But this is quite a limited feature unless you do #1. For me #2 and #3 are the most important benefits of MF.

    #5 On digital MF. DoF is not just a consideration, it's the WAR ZONE of PERFECTION.

    #6 Good Light is more important than anything else to achieving quality. In MF/LF, light is critical.

    #7 High ISO (200/400/800 on a DM33) can still achieve #2 and #3 if you have #6! But don't expect the same #4 Nik Define works wonders with TIFs that have no sharpening or noise control btw.

    #8 My need for long exposures may mean spending more $$ on a Phase One back , My need for ultimate tonality of large 16 bit photosites may mean keeping the DM33 (actually I ended up here on GetDPI as I'm trying to figure this one out).

    #9 The detail of MF allows quite a lot of liberties to be taken with perspective correction in post processing. Reducing one major benefit of LF (of course seeing the final image at capture time and Scheimflug can only be done with movements).

    #10 No one right bag has been mentioned already.

    #11 You'll be happier once you just accept it is better to spend more on photography than on a car.

  2. #152
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    First post here and I'll just start off by saying that the posts on color shift and other general topics kept me from throwing my back into the ocean.

    I debated for a long time about jumping into the MF world of digital. Who am I? I am an advanced amateur photographer with no professional experience. I like abstract, landscape and architectural photography. I love film and the experience of developing and printing with chemicals, but hate the trial and error that comes with it. My MF favorite was the Hassey 501; black with chrome. I really wanted to find a way to combine old school with high tech.

    Digital backs have always looked clunky and awkward and very 1st generation (fact or fiction I don't know, but that was my perception). With the introduction of the CFV-39 and CFV-50 from Hasselblad I knew it was the right time to jump in.

    My expectations going into this were:
    1. Seemless integration with my Hasselblad 501
    2. Amazing quality images with "out of this world" resolution
    3. No physical cords or cumbersome connectors would be needed
    4. My work would look better than with 35mm full frame Canon 5D
    5. My software would work with it (Lightroom and Photoshop)

    Seemless Integration - perfect integration with no issues whatsoever. I removed the camera back from its packaging (CFV50) and snapped it to the back of the Hassey and it looked just like a film back - but with a bright crisp clear display. Weight felt very similar to a film back. Low profile battery was barely noticeable. No cords, no clunky processes, good user interface.

    Image quality - Amazing now (horrible at first). In both Lightroom and Phocus they images would come in with this nasty, baby-poop green tint. They looked great on the back's viewer, but very different when imported into Lightroom or Phocus. No picture in the brochure showed images with the green cast to them, no warnings from the manufacturer, so I thought I had a dud of a sensor. But I found out this is quite common. Once I came to that realization, but anxiety of paying the price for a back let up.

    Software - here is where it is falling down. Get ready to have new steps added to your workflow. Color casts. lens vignetting and lens corrections are common when pulled right from the card. Phocus software (supplied with the purchase from Hasselblad) is fantastic at handling the color casts, vignetting and lens correction. There are threads here that talk about Scene Correction (this function is your way of creating a custom color cast/vignetting fix). Lightroom is still not ready for what is needed with these back's.

    All in - it will take some time to get used to; is not always intuitive; but is a fantastic way to get back to the the joys of MF photography.

  3. #153
    New Member Studio B's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    Coming from a MF and LF film background I've always been disappointed with the results from my FF DSLR's. When I found an old Leaf Cantare digital back I was excited to start working with my trusty Mamiya RZ67 again.

    Some may laugh at the thought of using such old equipment (hey times are tough, it was in my budget) but I'm amazed at the images this thing still produces. There is such depth/"pop" and sharpness of which I've never seen with the smaller sensors in current DSLR's.

    Of course the setup is cumbersome and has alot of wires, but for my application in the studio this combo works and works well.

    What have I learned? Don't knock older MF digital technology.

    Oh and I have the "On Location" setup with 12v power supply, so it is portable.

    Last edited by Studio B; 15th July 2011 at 11:24.

  4. #154
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    Just chiming in with my 2 cents, as someone who started down the dark path of MF with a Hasselblad 500CM and acquired an RB67 Pro-SD before hitting a RZ67 Pro, and just picked up a AFD II with Aptus 65s MFDB.

    a. MF is bad for my bank account (and marriage - wife finds out about my 'acquisitions' and i'll be dead. she can bury me with my cameras though) :P

    b. DOF on MF is insane. I can shoot at f5.6 and still only get the center sharp. Never had this on my D3s

    c. MF cameras are heavy. My lightest MF weighs almost as much as my D3s. And that's shooting with film, not an MFDB

    d. ISO performance? What ISO performance? I now learn to shoot at ISO50-200, using as small an aperture as is practically possible, in the best light I can find, at shutter speeds of 1/(focal length x 2). A good day out with my MF systems means hitting the streets with my Hassy or RZ67 loaded up with Delta 3200 film. A day for challenges is using Ektachrome E100.

    e. I take more time to create my image. No happy snaps. Camp out, meter, wait for the moment, fire. And remember to remove the dark slide. Nice thing about the AFD II + Aptus 65s is that it does kinda of behave like a DSLR, but all 'roided up.

    f. MF isn't a replacement for my 35mm. My D3s is still my primary for concerts and motorsports. My film MFs are for street (the Hassy anyway) and landscapes, and my MFDB system is mostly used on street portraits (and I'm trying to get into fashion photography - not enough models hereabouts :P)

    g. Compose, then shoot. On my 35mm systems, it was more shoot-then-crop in too many cases.

    h. In good light, at ISO 50-200, my 5 year old AFD II + Aptus 65S MFDB outperforms the Nikon D3x. The color gradations are in a league of its own, and sharpness is breathtaking. In good light.

    i. MF systems are heavy and bulky. Finding a bag for the AFD II is a PITA. Not so bad for 'boxy' systems like the Hassy/RB/RZ since almost every component is square or rectangular. Not so for the AFD II.

    I still can't figure out whether it's 'safer' to leave the MFDB on the body during transport, or if I should disconnect it and wrap it in 2-3 layers of Domke wrap. Maybe I'm just paranoid, but I never really had to worry about film backs.

    Oh, and the danger of hanging out in a forum like this is the temptation to sell my RB67, RZ67, F3T, X100, NEX5 and Bessa R3M kits to contribute towards a CFV-39 fund - bet there's some serious topping up to do...

  5. #155
    Senior Member malmac's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    Well I am a MFDB newbie

    What have I learner - well more truthfully what am I learning about?

    Never new what an LCC was - had used a grey card and colour checker but LCC - now that is part of the process.

    Had never used Capture One - now we are using it for all our RAW editing and loving it but still very green.

    Loving the detail, dynamic range and 16 bit colour - hating the fact that I have to do practical stuff and can't just emerse myself in endless shooting and editing.

    Also have learned that what ever camera you have the best fun is taking the pictures - seeing the world, thinking about how to turn an idea or feeling into an image and then following through to a finished product - you don't need MF to enjoy photography, as many people know - but when you get it right with MF the results are beyound words.


    Mal

  6. #156
    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    Quote Originally Posted by ghoonk View Post

    b. DOF on MF is insane. I can shoot at f5.6 and still only get the center sharp. Never had this on my D3s
    One thing I've found helpful is to use my iPhone to check dof (if I have time or to understand and commit to memory some mf dof facts). I use the app "Simple DoF" because you can put in two camera and just swipe your finger across the screen to go from one to the other. Very handy. I'm not sure they have your mf camera, but you'd be close enough with a Hassie model. I have it set for my Canon 5dMK2 and HasselbladH3d2-->22-39-50. Well worth the $3 or whatever it was.

  7. #157
    Senior Member faneuil's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    I agreed about the ISO issue until recently.
    I lucked into a great upgrade from P45 to P65+ back.
    Sensor plus mode on phase backs is a game changer.
    I can happily shoot at ISO 800 and get the shots I want.
    Low light shooting is possible.
    Sure S+ mode is 15mp -- but super sweet 15mp retaining that MF look.
    I had my p45 for 2 years and used it for strobe work only. The P65+ opened up huge possibilities and I am having a blast.

    Eric


    Quote Originally Posted by ghoonk View Post
    d. ISO performance? What ISO performance? I now learn to shoot at ISO50-200, using as small an aperture as is practically possible, in the best light I can find, at shutter speeds of 1/(focal length x 2). A good day out with my MF systems means hitting the streets with my Hassy or RZ67 loaded up with Delta 3200 film. A day for challenges is using Ektachrome E100.

  8. #158
    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    What you need to be careful of is pixel peeping. MFD has so much information that when you view it at 100%, you are viewing it in conditions no one else will see the image--no matter how large you print. (Unfortunately, I sometimes think the abbreviation for medium-format digital is OCD.)
    This was posted in another thread here about MFD but I thought that it summed up a lot of medium format issues and concerns that we have. We worry about pixel peeping artifacts sometimes that you could never actually see in prints. Ditto MFD = OCD when it comes to gear too! (I'm shamelessly guilty here myself!)
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    I thought I'd add my thoughts as I jump into MF digital....

    Without a doubt I enjoy slow methodical working, and I am so so drawn to the image quality, which truly is intoxicating - especially for my use, landscapes, mostly B&W.

    What I have learnt is that this site is a valuable resource with very helpful people who love the format and are prepared to share what they know. This is simply ace.

    I have also leant that the more I read the less I seem to know, yet the more I learn! And that I have a very supportive wife :-)

    When I have my system I'll post what I've learned about USING MF digital!
    Last edited by supernewtent; 27th September 2011 at 13:39. Reason: Adding more...

  10. #160
    Workshop Member Bryan Stephens's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    I am just getting into MFD, after shooting MF film for 12 years with both a Hasselblad and prior to that a Mamiya 645, so I am somewhat familiar with those two systems.

    I currently shoot Nikon D3s for mainly sports and action, but miss the extreme detail and saturation I was able to get with my MF and am looking to venture back into MF in the digital format. As this is not a small expense, I want to be sure that I do it right the first time.

    I have been reading a lot about the various systems out there and how they compare and am overwhelmed. I am looking at three different systems for both studio and also for scenics. I have looked at the H4 system, the PhaseOne and the Leica S2 as I know all three are excellent but I am not sure of the advantages each would provide.

    Not sure if this is the right thread on this, but any suggestions would be very welcome.

    Thanks in advance.

    Bryan

  11. #161
    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    Bryan,

    Having be a sports photographer for 5-7 years and now primarily in the studio, I think if you're doing mainly sports and action, mf is a questionable choice. Focus is slower, lenses shorter, dof narrower, there is no fps - instead spf, high iso not available, no zoom lens comparable to basic 70-200 dslr workhorse, no lens stablization, and things you take for granted with dslr are not there.

    However, the quality of any of those mf cameras will blow away any Nikon or Canon, as long as ISO is not on the higher side, but that's still best seen in larger prints or groups. S2 probably handles most like a dlsr, but at a high price and limited lens options.

  12. #162
    Workshop Member Bryan Stephens's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    David

    Thank you for the response, but I guess I did not explain that my reason for getting back into the MF scene is primarilly for landscapes as well as portraiture.

    I will continue with my Nikon system for my sports and action photography as I attempted to do some shots with my Hasselblad 503cw with marginal results at best. When I was lucky enough to capture the exact moment, the images were spectacular, but I would lose more "moments" during an event than I liked.

    I have been concentrating on landscapes again, and I can see that my images from my 35mm system are lacking in comparison to what I was able to achieve with my former Hasselblad. I really want to get into the MFD arena and am just so confused by the choices out there. Since I am most familiar with the Hasselblad system I thought that would be a good choice, but have read so much about the PhaseOne system and the Leica S2.

    Thanks again

    Bryan

  13. #163
    Senior Member David Schneider's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    Bryan,

    I'm no expert on landscape. Obviously, mf choices are often made based on the thickness of your wallet. Leica will thin your wallet more than others. If you feel you'll need long shutter speeds, as in minutes, check that out carefully.

    If I have any suggestions it's to have money available and ready in case you find an exceptional deal on some carefully used gear and to do your homework.

  14. #164
    Workshop Member Bryan Stephens's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital newbies, so what have you learned

    David

    Point taken. I have been demo-ing the H4 and Phase One for the past couple of days, and plan on doing the same with the Leica S2.

    I know that I need deep pockets to go down any of these roads, which is not much different than my original journey into MF some 18 years ago. It is all relative I know, but I am excited about the journey and the many possibilities that lie ahead.

    Bryan

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