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Thread: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

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    Member Abstraction's Avatar
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    Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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?

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    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?
    The rendering and the quality of the lenses.


    If you had your 35mm kit today, would you still change it for MF?
    I still have my 35mm kit. I would suppose most MF shooters still have a 35mm kit, actually.
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by jerome_m View Post
    The rendering and the quality of the lenses.
    What do you mean by "rendering"? How does that manifest itself within the image? I have looked at RAW files from 35mm and MF format and I had compared them and sometimes I see something, which I can't quite put my finger on and sometimes I can't see a difference at all.

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    For me....
    -large viewfinder
    -transition between focus plane and background...smooth
    -tonal transitions
    -dynamic range
    -detail

    The images look more real, more 3d, less artificial. I can see details I didnt even see in reality.

    I can see the difference even at smaller sized images. (I think I can)

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paratom View Post
    For me....
    -large viewfinder
    -transition between focus plane and background...smooth
    -tonal transitions
    -dynamic range
    -detail

    The images look more real, more 3d, less artificial. I can see details I didnt even see in reality.

    I can see the difference even at smaller sized images. (I think I can)
    And that's really the rub: "I think I can". I think I can too, but I don't think I can to the tune of $50,000 or even $15,000. If the price delta is going to be that high, shouldn't we be able to obviously see the difference? The difference should be so big that there shouldn't even be any doubt or debate about it.

    A lot of it, in fact, most of it has to do with money. If the price delta is small, we really don't care if we see that big a difference. We like the viewfinder, we like the way it feels, we like the work flow, all good things, and so we can afford to indulge. However, when the price delta is SO high, shouldn't the difference be a lot more than "I think I can?"
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    Senior Member dchew's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    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?
    - I like working with a technical camera
    - I like not looking through a viewfinder
    - I like not having a light meter
    - I don't like autofocus

    You could argue I could turn off all those things on a DSLR (or on my a7rII). Just like I could manually shift an automatic transmission. But for me it would not be the same thing. I would absolutely do it again.

    Notice I did not say anything about the quality. I don't believe there is a compelling quality reason.

    Dave
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    However, when the price delta is SO high, shouldn't the difference be a lot more than "I think I can?"
    For you it sounds like the answer is yes, but for others maybe not. We don't all have to have the same marginal utility for better quality. In fact it would be a pretty boring universe if we all did.

    Dave
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    A lot of it, in fact, most of it has to do with money. If the price delta is small, we really don't care if we see that big a difference. We like the viewfinder, we like the way it feels, we like the work flow, all good things, and so we can afford to indulge. However, when the price delta is SO high, shouldn't the difference be a lot more than "I think I can?"
    No offense but why are you even asking the question? It sounds like you have your mind made up and are going to set the tone of the discussion any way independent of the replies.
    Last edited by JorisV; 14th March 2016 at 16:53.
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by dchew View Post
    - I like working with a technical camera
    - I like not looking through a viewfinder
    - I like not having a light meter
    - I don't like autofocus

    You could argue I could turn off all those things on a DSLR (or on my a7rII). Just like I could manually shift an automatic transmission. But for me it would not be the same thing. I would absolutely do it again.

    Notice I did not say anything about the quality. I don't believe there is a compelling quality reason.

    Dave
    That's interesting. Question: Why would you be willing to pay so much money just to drive a stick shift? I understand it's fun, but there's the sort of fun where you don't mind shelling out a few dollars and there's the tens of thousands of dollars worth of fun. The fun part makes sense to me, but the money to fun ratio doesn't.

    Why not just get a film camera and have the same sort of fun for a lot less?
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by JorisV View Post
    No offense but why are you even asking the question? It sound like you have your mind made up and are going to set the tone of the discussion any way independent of the replies.
    I knew that was coming.

    I'm asking because I'm interested to really understand what is it about MF digital that compels people to spend an extraordinary amount of money on MF equipment. I feel as though I'm missing something. I play the devil's advocate to peel the onion in order to get to the core of the issue.

    Don't pay much attention to my style of inquiry. I need that to understand things and I do that regardless of the subject at hand.

    Please bear with me.

    Thanks

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    Senior Member dchew's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    That's interesting. Question: Why would you be willing to pay so much money just to drive a stick shift? I understand it's fun, but there's the sort of fun where you don't mind shelling out a few dollars and there's the tens of thousands of dollars worth of fun. The fun part makes sense to me, but the money to fun ratio doesn't.

    Why not just get a film camera and have the same sort of fun for a lot less?
    I just might get a Mamiya 7ii, but that would be for occationally use. Film doesn't do it for me. Waiting for processing just so I can scan it and get a digital file that isn't as good? Meh.

    With digital medium format I can enjoy and have a great file! Can't beat that. And my gear doesn't weigh any more than my 35mm DSLR kit.
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Ok, your question was besides resolution, that is a obvious advantage for some user scenarios.

    First you need to be a technical perfectionist. If not, forget it, because the price delta, as you call it, is not worth it. Also, if you are more interested in artistic aspects of photography, forget it, spend your money in getting a good teacher, muses and photographic opportunities. But you knew that already ...

    So to the topic: I think it is a very good question, at least it was for me.

    I recently bought a Leica S 007 with some S lenses. Not so much, because it is MF, but because of the whole package which I could not find within full format and other MF alternatives. Here is why:

    I love my Nikon D810 and still use it for wildlife. For landscape I used it with several Zeiss ZF2 lenses and adapted Leica R lenses, always flirting with Otus lenses which I never bought (because they are only manual focus, nearly as expensive as some MF lenses and - mainly - the focal length selection is more than limited for my kind of use). Comparing the Nikon lenses with the ZF and R lenses, I never liked them because of color rendering, tonal transitions, micro contrast, out-of focus rendering, etc. I tried some wide angles and standard lenses, but ended selling the Nikons because I could not get it right even with some effort in post.

    Then I made an expensive "mistake". I bought a Leica M240 with 3 M lenses which I used some time parallel with my Nikon/Zeiss combination. I even tried some blind tests to fool myself but the Leica images had something which I could not get with Nikon. The Nikon sensor is clearly better than the Leica M (and S) sensor, but this is not relevant so often as I thought it would be, but the lenses made the difference in nearly every photo. What is this secret "salsa", I don't know. There are a lot of Leica haters who deny it. You won't see it all the time, looking at your photos at 100% (bad habit), but you should see it looking at prints and at a big 4k/5k screen (whole picture).

    And sure, it's personal, if you can't see it, better for you, you will save a lot of money.

    I sold my Leica M, not for the lenses for sure, but because I was not happy with the Rangefinder experience and also thought that 24 MP is too limited. The route was clear, I bought the Leica S because I liked the ergonomics, very few cameras can offer (the viewfinder, the simplistic menu, fast DSRL like handling, etc.) But at the end it was the LENSES. They are expensive, yes, but what the f… In combination with the fat pixels (6m) of the 37MP sensor, these lenses shine. They have a different character than the M lenses but in their own way they are wonderful. Color rendering, tonal transition, 3D, micro-contrast, these are the known technical terms. By the way, it is not the shallow DoF, this you could get with FF lenses also, it is the construction of the lenses which defines the out of focus rendering also, both before and behind the focus point. Maybe I could be happy with the OTUS lenses because I like the way, a lot of Zeiss lenses render, but in practical terms it is not working yet, maybe in the future if Nikon or Sony come out with a decent mirror less camera.

    I also think there are some similar alternatives because of excellent MF lenses of Schneider/P1, Fuji/Hasselblad and Pentax, but again, the package is not for me. One of the interesting features of the Leica S is its adaptability to other lenses with a lot of character, especially Contax 645 and Hasselblad V.

    May I go back to FF for general and landscape work, no way … maybe in the future when Sony comes out with a better camera body (don't think 7RII is it) or when the Leica SL II with 37 MP comes in 3-4 years ....
    Last edited by siddhaarta; 14th March 2016 at 17:49.
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    Senior Member DougDolde's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Unless you buy a 60 megapixel back or better, my opinion is just buy a Nikon D810 or similar. I compared the IQ140 to the D810 and couldn't see much difference in resolution. However I did like the Phase One color better out of the box. But thats not a big deal, color can be altered to match your style.

    My current back, an IQ180, blows away Nikon or whatever you can throw against it.. For a back up I'd pick the new Pentax K-1

    This one, Desert Tortoise, shot with Phase One XF/IQ180, 28mm Mamiya D lens

    Attachment 117196
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    I knew that was coming.

    I play the devil's advocate to peel the onion in order to get to the core of the issue.
    Perhaps renting the onion and peeling it yourself for a week may or may not give you the answers. I think for a lot of us, it is a subjective and personal, even more so for those of us that use tech cams.

    Of course, there are some that have specific customer requirements.
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    You can equate medium format digital photography to many other pursuits of excellence and/or happiness. Once you add money into the equation, 99.9% of these pursuits of excellence often will come with diminishing returns. You could easily say that about higher end cars.

    It's very subjective. And from a quality perspective, the question is---is it good enough for you? Are you happy or satisfied with what you have? Or are you always wanting, maybe pining for more?

    I shoot both a DSLR and medium format digital. I can tell you that 9 out of ten times my clients will pick a portrait photographed with a MFDB. They have no idea. They have no clue. No idea why they choose the way they do. They just do. And that's good enough for me. In the end it is just a tool, and obviously each format has its strengths and may be better suited in certain areas.

    From a photography perspective, I simply like medium format better. Always have----going back to my film days.

    Remove money from the equation and simply pick what works best for you. Besides, it's Dante's Forum. C'mon in, the water's fine.

    Or you could buy a boat.
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    I suppose you could ask such questions in all aspects of life.
    For eg.

    Do you HAVE to have a beautiful wife?
    Do you HAVE to have a cute dog?
    Do you HAVE to live in a dainty 3 bedroom house with a large backyard instead of a smaller one?

    Humans evolutionarily gravitate towards beauty in all aspects, making big issues out of minor increments. Even if that pursuit is commonly known to be a waste of time and resources.
    Price points: some of us can afford, some can't. I would love to own the Hubble space telescope one day. That doesn't mean that NASA is wasting its money today. After all, what good does it do looking at stars?

    Most of us believe in other people's theories inasmuch as we believe their opinion that their kids are cute. So feel free to form your own. Good luck.
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by DougDolde View Post
    Unless you buy a 60 megapixel back or better, my opinion is just buy a Nikon D810 or similar. I compared the IQ180 to the D810 and couldn't see much difference in resolution. However I did like the Phase One color better out of the box. But thats not a big deal, color can be altered to match your style.

    My current back, an IQ180, blows away Nikon or whatever you can throw against it.

    This one, Desert Tortoise, shot with Phase One XF/IQ180, 28mm Mamiya D lens
    I'm a bit confused. In the first paragraph, you state that you couldn't see the difference between Nikon 810 and IQ180 and then, you say that the IQ180 blows the Nikon away.

    Since you said that you couldn't see much difference in resolution and the color wasn't a big deal, in what way did the IQ180 blow Nikon away?

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post

    Remove money from the equation and simply pick what works best for you. Besides, it's Dante's Forum. C'mon in, the water's fine.

    Or you could buy a boat.
    You can't remove money from the equation. Money is very much part of the equation. As I had stated previously, if the price difference is small enough, we can afford to be "subjective" if you will, and just say: "I like the MF experience, it's got that 'je ne sais quoi" and so I'm going to pay, let's say 10% more and have that visceral enjoyment. Fair enough, but when we're talking about spending 10x as much for what could objectively amount to being a 5% difference... that's why the French stormed the Bastille

    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post
    I suppose you could ask such questions in all aspects of life.
    For eg.

    Do you HAVE to have a beautiful wife?
    Do you HAVE to have a cute dog?
    Do you HAVE to live in a dainty 3 bedroom house with a large backyard instead of a smaller one?

    Humans evolutionarily gravitate towards beauty in all aspects, making big issues out of minor increments. Even if that pursuit is commonly known to be a waste of time and resources.
    Price points: some of us can afford, some can't. I would love to own the Hubble space telescope one day. That doesn't mean that NASA is wasting its money today. After all, what good does it do looking at stars?

    Most of us believe in other people's theories inasmuch as we believe their opinion that their kids are cute. So feel free to form your own. Good luck.
    Naturally, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm leaning towards proclaiming that MF is a waste of money, but I'm not there yet. I want to believe there is a practical reason folks go out there and spend crazy money on MF stuff. I want to believe it's not just for bragging rights.
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    I'm a bit confused. In the first paragraph, you state that you couldn't see the difference between Nikon 810 and IQ180 and then, you say that the IQ180 blows the Nikon away.

    Since you said that you couldn't see much difference in resolution and the color wasn't a big deal, in what way did the IQ180 blow Nikon away?
    I think he meant IQ140, not IQ180. Doug owned the 140 first before the 180. 40MP vs 80MP.

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    Naturally, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm leaning towards proclaiming that MF is a waste of money, but I'm not there yet. I want to believe there is a practical reason folks go out there and spend crazy money on MF stuff. I want to believe it's not just for bragging rights.
    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

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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.

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post
    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
    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.

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chapel View Post
    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.

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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.
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Maybe, I started with a M8 CCD and thought the M240 took better images. I was thinking maybe larger pixels in medium format.
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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    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.

    Gotta love that opportunity.


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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    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
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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.
    Last edited by Uaiomex; 14th March 2016 at 19:35.

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uaiomex View Post
    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?

  31. #31
    Senior Member Jamgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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.
    IQ3 100 Cambo 1600 Rodenstock 23,32,50,90 Zeiss 350SA
    UnTroubled Land
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post
    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?
    Last edited by Uaiomex; 14th March 2016 at 20:36.

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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.

  34. #34
    Senior Member Lucille's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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.
    the HepKitty
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    Workshop Member Wayne Fox's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    So, if we set resolution aside,
    Why would you set one of the most important reasons to shoot MF aside? I don't want to get into the ad nauseam debate on whether or not its needed. But the resolution is possibly the most compelling reason.
    wayne
    My gallery
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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.
    Ken
    http://www.transposure.com
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    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.
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    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".

  39. #39
    Senior Member danlindberg's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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.
    Alpa FPS MAX TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com
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  40. #40
    Senior Member aztwang's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    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...

  41. #41
    Senior Member dchew's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    Naturally, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm leaning towards proclaiming that MF is a waste of money, but I'm not there yet. I want to believe there is a practical reason folks go out there and spend crazy money on MF stuff. I want to believe it's not just for bragging rights.
    And that is why we sometimes tire of these questions. If you don't find what you perceive as a practical reason, then you will make a leap to saying for everyone else it must be just bagging rights.

    I don't know why it is so difficult to see that what seems practical for one person may not seem practical for another. That's why we have demand curves.

    Why shoot with a full frame DSLR? Isn't m4/3 really good enough for 90% of what you do? Gosh that feels so strange to me saying that and presuming so much about someone else.

    Dave
    How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! - John Muir

    davechewphotography.com
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  42. #42
    Senior Member Chris Giles's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Hiya,

    I sold all my medium format kit and now shoot solely 35mm. But shooting medium format is a feeling. You can't define or describe it and a lot of 35mm stuff is more efficient faster and flexible.

    So say, I was shooting on the Pentax 645z, the glass was that slightly imperfect organic glass which I actually rate higher than the latest digital stuff due to how it looks.

    I guess it depends if you want something for yourself or a general work. I don't actually miss my 645z, I loved the images from it but sensor tech is moving on (I prefer my Canon 5DSr colours).
    Chris Giles Photography

  43. #43
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by jerome_m View Post
    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".
    If I had $60k sitting in a bank that I didn't know what to do with, I would probably give it to someone who would or whose life would drastically change for the better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Fox View Post
    Why would you set one of the most important reasons to shoot MF aside? I don't want to get into the ad nauseam debate on whether or not its needed. But the resolution is possibly the most compelling reason.
    Fair enough. Would it be fair to say then that there is no compelling reason to go to MF unless you need resolution way beyond the 50mp that the current 35mm cameras offer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucille View Post
    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.
    I went over RAW files shot with Pentax 645Z and Canon 5DSr. For the life of me, I could not see a difference between them. I looked really, really hard.

    Quote Originally Posted by danlindberg View Post
    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.
    Is there a clear difference between MF and 35mm at the same resolution? If so, what is that difference?

    I want to thank all of you folks for responding. I'm actually getting a lot of insight from this discussion. I appreciate all of you taking the time to share your experiences.

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    I started this thread some years back on Fred Miranda and got all the information I needed.
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/top...ormat#11741709

    Read carefully all posts by theSuede. Extremely knowledgeable gentleman. It would be a sacrilege to take his answers and quote out of context.

    If you are really looking for what you say you do, you will find all the answers there. I did.

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Abstraction,

    You can't remove money from the equation.
    No, you cannot. However, cost is one thing; affordability is another.

    I'm leaning towards proclaiming that MF is a waste of money, but I'm not there yet.
    When you arrive, remember to qualify your proclamation with "For me..."

    I want to believe there is a practical reason folks go out there and spend crazy money on MF stuff.
    There is: it makes them happy.
    Rob
    www.robbuckle.co.uk
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  46. #46
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    I have tended to flip the question you have asked.

    Through out my career and private use, I've continually asked myself ... "Is there a reason why I can't move away from MFD and just use 35mm?" It was a logical business question that a lot of photographers were asking for various reasons (partially convenience, partially aesthetics, and partially consolidation of expenses).

    Years ago, I compared my 22 meg Canon against my 22 meg Hasselblad H2D in various controlled shooting conditions. No contest. Other than handling, higher ISO and speed of operation that gives 35mm its purpose, the H won every time. Better holistic results made up of a lot of image factors ... including more faithful colors and color separation, smoother tonal transitions, more organic in-focus to out-of-focus transitions, and the less quantifiable 3D realism that seems a trait of MFD.

    The most obvious technical variables between the two were: CCD verses CMOS; Optics (L glass verses HC glass); and perhaps the most important difference: Pixel Pitch: The same resolution achieved in a larger sized sensor.

    It is no secret that many simply loved the way the "Big Pixel" MFD backs rendered images.

    In my experience, when a MFD back has smaller pixels it gains the resolution advantage over current 35mm offerings (60, 80 and 100 meg MFD). When the resolution is similar to 35mm, (16, 22, 33, 40 meg MFD) the MFD back then uses bigger pixels ... which provides that holistic improvement in image characteristics. In either case, MFD justifies itself only IF those characteristics aid in your form of photographic expression.

    I've made those comparisons many times with the same results.

    My latest was my 37 meg Leica S(006) verses My 36 meg Sony A7R and 42 meg A7R-II. In this case, similar resolution but the sensor size difference is less than comparing a FF 645 MFD back. The Leica still wins, but may not have by such an obvious margin were it not for the S optic system developed specifically for this camera. Where the S further justifies itself is having taken on more diverse applications ... as mentioned previously, the S also is a dual shutter camera and can sinc to 1/1000 with my Profotos.

    Personally, I never say never. Who knows what is possible in a small form camera? The A7R-II is an amazing thing. When 35mm can deliver those image characteristics I look for, I'll gladly jettison the MF stuff.

    Marc
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    Member Abstraction's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Krosavcheg View Post
    I started this thread some years back on Fred Miranda and got all the information I needed.
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/top...ormat#11741709

    Read carefully all posts by theSuede. Extremely knowledgeable gentleman. It would be a sacrilege to take his answers and quote out of context.

    If you are really looking for what you say you do, you will find all the answers there. I did.
    That's a fantastic answer! It makes perfect sense. Would it be accurate to say that given that the new 100mp back has the same pixel density as the 50mp 35mm, the MF lenses have to be just as sharp as 35mm, thereby negating the MF advantage other than allowing for greater resolution?

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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction View Post
    That's a fantastic answer! It makes perfect sense. Would it be accurate to say that given that the new 100mp back has the same pixel density as the 50mp 35mm, the MF lenses have to be just as sharp as 35mm, thereby negating the MF advantage other than allowing for greater resolution?
    You mean deliver closer to 60lpmm as in the case of 35mm equivalent?
    Hard for me to say without having insight in up to date technical information on latest lens line up.

    I would guess that it is unlikely. Even at 80Mpx sensor pixel density 40lpmm ballpark lenses delivered exceptional results already.

    I would more so concentrate on LieView, Video and PDAF point he made plus readout.

  49. #49
    Senior Member Jamgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction
    Would it be fair to say then that there is no compelling reason to go to MF unless you need resolution way beyond the 50mp that the current 35mm cameras offer?
    Quote Originally Posted by Abstraction
    Would it be accurate to say that given that the new 100mp back has the same pixel density as the 50mp 35mm, the MF lenses have to be just as sharp as 35mm, thereby negating the MF advantage other than allowing for greater resolution?

    No, I don't think it would be fair or accurate to say that.

    Aside from resolution or the medium format look there are many other reasons. I can mention a few:

    1. Possibility to use leaf-shutters and strobes for ambient light control
    2. Possibility of using some of the finest lenses available with up to 100 line pairs/mm (Rodenstock/Schneider)
    3. Ability to achieve perfect composition in camera via rise/fall/shift
    4. Ability to stay within the optimal aperture range of the lens via use of tilt
    5. Ability to achieve focus in unique situations via swing
    6. Ability to achieve perfect stitches by using the far larger image circles of the MF lenses
    7. No worries about shutter vibration when using slower shutter speeds
    8. 4:3 aspect ratio over 3:2
    9. Built-in lens profiles in Capture One
    10. Beautiful color profiles in Capture One


    Some of these are technical camera specific since that is how I use my digital back.
    Whether some/any of these are important for you is for you to decide.
    The point is that there ARE many other compelling reasons.
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  50. #50
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    Re: Is there a compelling reason to move to MF?

    One could argue that the lens for 35mm format has to be even better than the Mf lens, as more enlargement would be required to make the equivalent print size. Speaking about resolution primarily.

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