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Author Topic: State of MF digital  (Read 15185 times)
ixpressraf
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« on: December 20, 2009, 02:00:44 AM »
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Last year, it seemed like as if there was no future no more for MF digital.... as far as you read on this forum over here. Most topics are about the fact that according to some people MF digital is of no use anymore, or that one better puts his or her money on 35mm digital. A few thoughts however: i was always thinking this forum was about " digital medium format photography" with tips and tricks. ( not any more, it is about telling people how bad they have invested and how wrong we are, us MFdigital users). Sadly, it has been a very long time ever since something constructive has been said about MF.
As LL seems to be the largest community in the world for MFdigital, and there seems to be so much negativism towards MFd, Hasselblad, sinar, phase and others will be almost bacrupt!!!!!!!
However in the real world, things are very different. There are thousends of professional photographers using their MF digital system day by day, never wishing to switch to 35mm for various reasons. I for myself can speak for our Hasselblad user group over here where we have about 43 members, using various Hassies with back's from the 384v to the H3d50.
These people shoot hundreds of thousends of images, a friend of mine shot about 193800 pictures with his H1/132c combo.
I almost always use my Hasselblad because i like the way of working, the way of composing on the bright viewscreen etc...
Strange is that when we have pro meetings, fairs, exheibitions...i constantly discover new photographers using MFd. And these are not only fashion and sports photographers: nope, these arein to  portrait ,wedding, studio, fine art, still live, packaging, advertising, technical, industrial and more. Fashion and sport have always been domains of 35mm, as long as i can remember so it is normal these people dont want to use MFd.
So if in such a tiny country we have already more professional photographers making a good living using their MFd equipment then all MFd users on LL worldwide, what are those few voices over here to create such a negative feeling towards MFd.
Just my .02  
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Frank Doorhof
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« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2009, 02:30:31 AM »
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I REALLY don't get the vibe that Fashion should be the domain for a DSLR, really.... who told you that.
I only shoot fashion, beauty and I'm using a MF system for 99% of my work.
Also look at FTV, Worldfashion etc. most of the guys there are walking with MF cameras and DSLR's of course.

Sports, ok that's no place for MF.
But fashion with all it's structures etc. is the perfect place for MF.
Also the WLF with fashion is a wonderful thing, it makes communication with the model so much easier.

About the negativity.
I've posted in most of the threads on DSLR vs MF and will do again.
It's very simple, DSLRs are getting very very good and because people love to have a 2000.00 camera that can come very close to a 10,000.00 camera and love to act like that camera beats the 10,000.00 one.
That's human nature.

Comparing a DSLR to a MF camera is horses for courses.
Fact is that a good DSLR can do a lot a MF camera can do, but to be honest also some things not.
Think about high sync speeds for strobes, very important for SOME fashion shooters.
Think about the larger sensor and lower ISO thus enabling to use smaller aperture but with a shallower DOF (also important for SOME fashion shooters).

As long as even those two are not met with A DSLR solution one can never say MF is dead.
What is true is that the MF market is getting smaller, but there are still photographers out there that can't live without their system (I'm one of them at the moment).
On the other hand the MF is getting BIGGER, prices have come down so fast that people who were in the market for a 1DsIII are now probably also thinking about getting MF.

So in the end we'll see what happens, but for me the MF market is very alive.
The funny thing by the way is that people have to see and not read.
I teach several workshops a week and all students are at awe at the file quality I get from the very basis Aptus22.
When they hear the camera I use can be bought for 950 euro (RZ67ProII) with lenses and a second hand Aptus22 for app 3000.00 some are really considering making the switch.
And some are now shooting film (not a lot that has to be said), simply because they fall in love with the way the cameras work.

It's always a double edged sword.
I LOVE my 5DMKII and I use it for many occasions, however when it counts on quality and I have control over my light it doesn't come close to the Aptus.
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erick.boileau
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2009, 02:34:48 AM »
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I also prefer MF for landscape and architecture
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pixjohn
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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2009, 02:53:50 AM »
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I also think my MF out performs my D700. It just seems like a lot of ups and downs in the MF format world with camera and software issues. I like shooting dslr from time to time but when I see the difference with MF tethered its a no brainer.  I think one point the DSLR  lackeys like to bring up, you can't tell the difference when something is printed in a magazine. As soon as someone shoots both formats side by side in a magazine, I am not sure how this statement stands up.  Personally I like the  slower pace of MF and the larger viewing area. I use to shoot people with 4x5 and Med format film.  I think its much cheaper to get into Med Format digital then the past. I just saw a Leaf Aptus 75 sell on Ebay for $7,700.
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ixpressraf
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« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2009, 03:07:07 AM »
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Sorry Frank, just saying about fashion because of what James Russel said.
My point is that LL represents only a very extremely small part of working MFd professionals, maybe 1\10000% of all photographers shooting MFd. I do not want to flame the ridiculous war again, i am just asking myself why only those negative voices are written on LL......... often by people not even using MFd.
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tom_l
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2009, 03:48:19 AM »
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The problem I see, is that the next generation of photographers won't have the MF knowledge anymore.

15 years ago, back at the photo school, none of us students could afford an own MF or LF system (except for a C330 or similar), but the school had a dozen of Sinars, 2 Blads, 2 RZ, RB, a Fuji 6x8. We loved to rent these systems to discover them, and we learned what was possible with MF.
 Now, used MF is affordable, but young people learn their stuff with a 5D, D300. Even if 22 MP backs with CF cards are around 3000 soon, a lot of the new generations have never really touched these old MF systems. (Public) schools have probably not invested in Hy6, H1 and other AF bodies, so young people will discover these systems when they assist a photographer who shoots digital MF.

Tom
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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2009, 04:10:51 AM »
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Quote from: ixpressraf
Fashion and sport have always been domains of 35mm, as long as i can remember so it is normal these people dont want to use MFd.

Sport, yes, but fashion??
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2009, 04:13:38 AM »
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Quote from: tom_l
The problem I see, is that the next generation of photographers won't have the MF knowledge anymore.

15 years ago, back at the photo school, none of us students could afford an own MF or LF system (except for a C330 or similar), but the school had a dozen of Sinars, 2 Blads, 2 RZ, RB, a Fuji 6x8. We loved to rent these systems to discover them, and we learned what was possible with MF.
 Now, used MF is affordable, but young people learn their stuff with a 5D, D300. Even if 22 MP backs with CF cards are around 3000 soon, a lot of the new generations have never really touched these old MF systems. (Public) schools have probably not invested in Hy6, H1 and other AF bodies, so young people will discover these systems when they assist a photographer who shoots digital MF.

Tom

FWIW (and I can only speak for the 2 vendors I'm closed to) the educational market for MF digital; colleges and universities has grown significantly over the last few years and is still steadily growing.
It is true that 35mm systems become widespread in this market but still many institutes appreciate the value in teaching on MF and LF cameras and as they already have loads of old Hassy's, RB's, Cambos and Sinars and as they don't need massive files, it makes a lot of sense to them to invest in entry level backs, new or used.

From their point of view it helps them compete with other institutes and offer their students something that is closer to what they might work with once they've left school. We as manufacturers invest quite a lot in seminars and workshops with schools as we see the "seeding" value in this kind of work.

Yair
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carstenw
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2009, 04:24:40 AM »
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There is a very good reason to use MF even today: high resolution for huge prints. I have hesitated to post this since I believe he frequents these forums, but I went to Camera Works a while ago, a high-end gallery which regularly sells prints for over €25000, to see the Russell James exhibition, and there were several enlargements there which were just enlarged too much. In particular there was one portrait at about 2m x 1,2m large selling for the price of the budget of a small nation, and even from a viewing distance of 3m I could clearly see digital artifacts both on the cheeks and in the hair. I would venture a guess that they were done with a 1Ds3 or a 5D2, having some idea what he shoots, and remembering the artifacts from my (ex-) Canon, but of course I cannot be sure. I hope that it was just a clueless gallerist who chose to enlarge the shots so far past the max. size. With a P45+ or whatever other high-res back, the shot would have looked much better.

I go to this gallery frequently, since it is free (), close to where I work, and has regular shows from the best photographers in the world, and I am sad to report that the kinds of huge shots often done with film (6x6, 6x7, 4x5...) don't yet work that well in digital. You can often see the file breaking apart when enlarged too much. Film has lower resolution, but holds up better when enlarged to those sizes. The current show is Nick Brandt with huge prints  made from 6x7 (Pentax 67 II), and then scanned at high res and Photoshopped. This works fine. I have recently bought a couple more lenses for my Hasselblad 2000, specifically for doing large prints from film. I also have a Novoflex adapter for them for my Contax/e54, but I don't expect that the digital enlargements will work as well at huge sizes. I will test it though.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2009, 05:51:56 AM by carstenw » Logged

tom_l
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2009, 04:26:31 AM »
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Quote from: yaya
FWIW (and I can only speak for the 2 vendors I'm closed to) the educational market for MF digital; colleges and universities has grown significantly over the last few years and is still steadily growing.
It is true that 35mm systems become widespread in this market but still many institutes appreciate the value in teaching on MF and LF cameras and as they already have loads of old Hassy's, RB's, Cambos and Sinars and as they don't need massive files, it makes a lot of sense to them to invest in entry level backs, new or used.

From their point of view it helps them compete with other institutes and offer their students something that is closer to what they might work with once they've left school. We as manufacturers invest quite a lot in seminars and workshops with schools as we see the "seeding" value in this kind of work.

Yair


Good to hear that! I didn't have that impression.
The manufacturers must have quite some old backs (new/used) on their shelves (Valeo, H25 or even earlier), if public and private schools/institutions have access to these backs, this is probably the best way to keep MF alive!


Tom
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2009, 05:12:21 AM »
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Quote from: carstenw
. I have hesitated to post this since I believe he frequents these forums, but I went to Camera Works a while ago, a high-end gallery which regularly sells prints for over 25000, to see the Russell James exhibition, and there were several enlargements there which were just enlarged too much. In particular there was one portrait at about 2m x 1,2m large selling for the price of the budget of a small nation, and even from a viewing distance of 3m I could clearly see digital artifacts both on the cheeks and in the hair.

And I'll bet they're selling them for a fortune, the market just doesn't care in the real world, the niche for very large very very high quality prints is tiny anyway especially when the market has a rather different idea of what quality is relative to photographers, the fine art market couldn't care less about 16 bit colour...

If one finds that the market is buying 'lesser quality' work at prices far and above what one can sell their 'higher quality' stuff then one has to rethink their entire strategy and maybe see that using $25,000 backs has nothing to do with print prices or popularity whatsoever.

Fashion, commercial and advertising is of course different but I find the notion that there is a market out there for fine art work that demands huge prints at a price level to make a modern MFDB solution (with all that entails) a justified business purchase to be utterly contrary to the facts of the industry with the exception of a very few individuals worldwide.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2009, 05:14:29 AM by pom » Logged

carstenw
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« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2009, 05:16:12 AM »
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Quote from: pom
And I'll bet they're selling them for a fortune, the market just doesn't care in the real world, the niche for very large very very high quality prints is tiny anyway especially when the market has a rather different idea of what quality is relative to photographers, the fine art market couldn't care less about 16 bit colour...

If one finds that the market is buying 'lesser quality' work at prices far and above what one can sell their 'higher quality' stuff then one has to rethink their entire strategy and maybe see that using $25,000 backs has nothing to do with print prices or popularity whatsoever.

Fashion, commercial and advertising is of course different but I find the notion that there is a market out there for fine art work that demands huge prints at a price level to make a modern MFDB solution (with all that entails) a justified business purchase to be utterly contrary to the facts of the industry with the exception of a very few individuals worldwide.

The market is there, but I believe that the galleries are skimming quite a lot off the top, so the photographers may not see the same economics.

My point was more that I would not want to see my work enlarged way past the best before date, with such visible artifacts. The choice then remains to print smaller (not likely, given gallery demands) or use the MFDB for such work. There are many obvious advantages of 35mm, but for this particular purpose, I think that MFDBs are the way to go.

Anyway, I am not a pro, just an idealistic hobbyist, so what do I know.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2009, 05:17:57 AM by carstenw » Logged

tho_mas
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« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2009, 05:44:52 AM »
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Quote from: carstenw
I don't expect that the digital enlargements will work as well at huge sizes.
you can also print your digital files on film to enlarge them afterwards based on that film.
As you are located in Germany this guy might be interessting for you; he prints digital files on Ilford Micrographic Film with a laser writer http://savedpictures.com/english/loesung/index.htm - the results are simply stunning.
I once tried his service but I didn't make prints (since 200% - 250% and even some more enlargement based on the actual digital file still delivers great quality). But maybe it's worth a try.


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carstenw
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« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2009, 05:52:58 AM »
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Quote from: tho_mas
you can also print your digital files on film to enlarge them afterwards based on that film.
As you are located in Germany this guy might be interessting for you; he prints digital files on Ilford Micrographic Film with a laser writer http://savedpictures.com/english/loesung/index.htm - the results are simply stunning.
I once tried his service but I didn't make prints (since 200% - 250% and even some more enlargement based on the actual digital file still delivers great quality). But maybe it's worth a try.

Thomas, what size do you print, max, and which MFDB do you use for those? Have you ever seen artifacts?
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tho_mas
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« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2009, 06:01:51 AM »
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Quote from: carstenw
Thomas, what size do you print, max, and which MFDB do you use for those? Have you ever seen artifacts?
I am using a P45 and my prints are 120x160 (-120x180) cm. At that size artifacts are not an issue; of course not when I stitch 2 frames with the Cambo but even not when using the Contax, so a single shot.
As to viewing distance my criticial limit is half the diagonal of the print.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2009, 06:03:21 AM by tho_mas » Logged
carstenw
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« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2009, 07:28:12 AM »
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Quote from: tho_mas
I am using a P45 and my prints are 120x160 (-120x180) cm. At that size artifacts are not an issue; of course not when I stitch 2 frames with the Cambo but even not when using the Contax, so a single shot.
As to viewing distance my criticial limit is half the diagonal of the print.

That seems very reasonable. Have you tried those sizes and that limit with a Canon or D3x?
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michael
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« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2009, 07:39:32 AM »
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I'll just add a word on the education side. Most of the top photographic schools and university programs do have and use MF backs, because it will be just about impossible for someone to get a job as a photographer these days (I'm talking commerce not fine art), let alone as a digital tech, unless they know MF practice, the use of C1 for tethering, and so forth.

As for the fine art side, during the past couple of years I have seen a huge number of well recognized photographers who either run their own galleries or who are represented by major ones, who have switched to MF, in particular the Phase One P65+. This includes folks like Peter Lik, Charlie Cramer, Bill Atkinson, Tim Wolcott, Mark Dubovoy, and many more whom I don't know personally.

The reason is simple. This differences over DSLRs are clearly visible especially in large prints, which is what most people sell in a gallery environment.

Michael
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2009, 07:40:51 AM »
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Quote from: carstenw
My point was more that I would not want to see my work enlarged way past the best before date, with such visible artifacts. The choice then remains to print smaller (not likely, given gallery demands) or use the MFDB for such work. There are many obvious advantages of 35mm, but for this particular purpose, I think that MFDBs are the way to go.

Anyway, I am not a pro, just an idealistic hobbyist, so what do I know.

My point is that these people are pro's, they know their markets and for 'that particular purpose', unless it is economically feasable to invest in MFDB's for a fine art photographer, which I doubt in the majority of cases, the obvious solution is to either hold on to professional pride and not print so large or listen to the market and print that large knowing that your audience are willing to pay and wouldn't know an artifact if you shoved their noses into it as the case seems to be.

For a pro, i.e. someone trying to make money from sales of these prints, the math has to add up and that is after backup bodies/backs, travel, flights, insurance, printing and mounting costs, etc, etc. That's not even counting the time spent both in the field and on the computer oh and of course all the years spent reaching that level of excellence. A skilled amatuer has only one yardstick, what they personally believe is the quality necessary to produce work which is of a level that they require, that versus their bank balance. A professional has to balance market needs with personal pride and the bank balance which is why you will see a lot of possibly substandard work selling for certainly unsubstandard prices. At that point you have to look at your own work and ask yourself whether your own personal balance of the above is correct for the current market climate.

A month ago I was in a gallery. I saw a woman walk in, spend 20 minutes looking through some prints and then buy a (what appeared to me to be) badly printed, soft and untonal B&W 8X10" unlimited print unmounted for $1500 from an artist whose name is known but not for 'big' prices, etc. I'm producing beautiful larger (though not huge) limited prints from 30-60 megapixel files, beautifully dry mounted on archival foamcore and with a gorgeous 8 ply Museum grade white Matt. Free shipping worldwide. I'm asking $600 upwards. Now I only went public with the sales a week or so ago and many of the projects are still very much ongoing but watching that taught me something very very important. Yes presentation is important, yes quality is important. No you don't need either to make good money on sales. The above is more important to me than to a client who is more interested in the name of the artist and the image itself, everything else is just window dressing.

Those who can command the prices in the Fine Art world which would make a MFDB viable are at the stage that they do not need the MFDB to do so. That they buy one seems to be in almost every case to replace LF, not 35mm. There are of course exceptions, there are plenty big names. I just believe that they are in a group small enough to be memorised by those in the know and that is worldwide, it's just not that big a market place.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2009, 07:43:39 AM by pom » Logged

tho_mas
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« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2009, 07:58:19 AM »
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Quote from: carstenw
Have you tried those sizes and that limit with a Canon or D3x?
no, why would I? I don't own either of those cameras.
I always meter manually, always focus manually, like large viewfinders, always carry a tripod, always have time. I never apply noise reduction or create one of those smeary effects you literally see in every fashion shoot. I always take a lot of time looking at the subject and just a few seconds to capture it.
I am totally free from that pressure high volume professional photographers are under.
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gwhitf
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« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2009, 08:10:17 AM »
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« Last Edit: December 21, 2009, 07:34:18 AM by gwhitf » Logged
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