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Author Topic: How best to get an overview of digital Medium Format and lrg sensor photography  (Read 2581 times)
Yoram from Berlin
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« on: November 28, 2011, 03:03:02 PM »
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Hi.

Once again I find myself considering the switch to something larger. This time I've really hit the wall on my Canon 1Ds Mk III, and I need to move to something with higher resolution, and deeper colors.

How might I gain an overview? In Berlin I can pretty much rent all of them, and holding and testing the cameras will be important to me. But I would also spend some time reading about it. This forum has been very helpful, but is there a comprehensive comparison (or partial comparison) that tries to make sense of the current market offering?

I shoot fine art images for very large printing, using models and the language of fashion photography. I shoot in Studios using flash systems.

Thank you for any guidance, and please feel free to ask questions that might clarify my quest.
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2011, 03:18:45 PM »
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Go to getdpi.com. There is a medium-format digital forum section and well as a gear review section. It is really not easy to get information on this gear--the high prices mean that there is a limited market.

The best thing it to shoot with different systems--each will have strengths and weaknesses. You really can't beat first hand experience.
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dizzyg44
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 03:28:02 PM »
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Ditto what he said, but also.....

Welcome Iron Flatline!  It's nice to also see you on this forum, I've missed seeing your posts on Imageaspect.com!
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dizzyg44
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2011, 03:33:10 PM »
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Also, I remember you frequently traveled between Berlin and NY.  While there are some medium format dealers and specialist in NY, I highly recommend contacting Capture Integration with any questions you may have, especially in regards to Phase One, Leaf, and Mamiya.  You won't find anyone more willing to help answer your questions without pressure to buy (and no I don't work for them)
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 03:38:20 PM »
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The ones who will spend the most time and will be the most deeply knowledgable with you are the dealers (as they have profit motives) or good friends (assuming you have any with medium format). Of course dealers will have their biases (e.g. we sell Phase One, Leaf, and Leica, but not Hasselblad or Pentax), but the good ones are frank about their biases and the great ones look primarily for long-term customers and so would rather tell you a product is not right for you than take some short term profit. They can also give you hands-on testing at no cost, or at a cost counted towards any purchase.

Good higher end assistants are also good to speak with as they've often been in the trenches with a variety of gear and software; the only issue there is I find a lot of assistant's knowledge/reference-points are quite old (e.g. they tried camera X several years ago when using version Y software and it was terrible - which is true but often not related to the 2-generations-later camera and 2-generations-later software).

The major photo trade shows including Photokina in your home country are good resources to get a look at all the major offerings, but unless specifically arranged before hand (and often not even then) it's difficult to do any real shooting (a camera can be stable/fast/reliable on the show floor taking a picture every once in a while but crash constantly when shooting fast in the field).

Beyond that the two major forums (this and getdpi) are great to have specific questions asked. If/when you do post a question here try to be as specific as possible and include as much relevant information as possible (e.g. avoid "which of these two is the 'better' system" and instead try "I find X, Y, and Z important, how will these two cameras compare on those points?").

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« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 03:59:20 PM by dougpetersonci » Logged

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yaya
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« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2011, 04:00:09 PM »
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The ones who will spend the most time and will be the most deeply knowledgable with you are the dealers (as they have profit motives) or good friends (assuming you have any with medium format). Of course dealers will have their biases (e.g. we sell Phase One, Leaf, and Leica, but not Hasselblad or Pentax), but the good ones are frank about their biases and the great ones look primarily for long-term customers and so would rather tell you a product is not right for you than take some short term profit. They can also give you hands-on testing at no cost, or at a cost counted towards any purchase. Good higher end assistants are also good to speak with as they've often been in the trenches with a variety of gear and software; the only issue there is I find a lot of assistant's knowledge/reference-points are quite old (e.g. they tried camera X several years ago when using version Y software and it was terrible - which is true but often not related to the 2-generations-later camera and 2-generations-later software).

The major photo trade shows including Photokina in your home country are good resources to get a look at all the major offerings, but unless specifically arranged before hand (and often not even then) it's difficult to do any real shooting (a camera can be stable/fast/reliable on the show floor taking a picture every once in a while but crash constantly when shooting fast in the field).

Beyond that the two major forums (this and getdpi) are great to have specific questions asked. If/when you do post a question here try to be as specific as possible and include as much relevant information as possible (e.g. avoid "which of these two is the 'better' system" and instead try "I find X, Y, and Z important, how will these two cameras compare on those points?").

Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)


^

What he said...

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orc73
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2011, 09:37:39 AM »
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Hi Iron

What does it make a good camera? I guess the handling and ability to work with a cam in the situation you need it. And the output.
I find myselves in a similar situation, seeing some pics from great artist and wanting to be able to make better pictures with richer colors.
Though questionable is: is it the camera or the processing?
What really surprises me, that nobody really has comparison pics - before spending so much money I would definitely do that.
We could argue, though I don't think an MF camera is that much better in handling then a 35mm dslr to justify the price(more even the other way round for many purposes - my K5 with pancakes handles so incredibly well). So where really the difference should be is output quality, in what ever way that is. Here I just don't get enough information.
As you might say in germany: "Ein Bild sagt mehr als 1000 Worte".

I had a phase one P40+ for try and compared it with my d700 in studio for some beauty shots. Depth of field was a bit narrower in some settings, what made it interesting.Worth 20k? probably not, as grey filter could help to reduce aperture and allow me to get similar results. Colors no noticeable win.
Of course if you zoom in, there is an incredible load of structure and detail. To have a nice pic though it is hardly a factor,except the really big prints of course.
So I guess conclusion: if size matters.

Still I was not able to get a Hasselblad H4d-40 to compare. Colors might be better here?

What I found out in my research is: some guys have P1, some HB. The people I met couldn't really tell the differences. I guess they also better be happy with what they have as they just spend all their savings on it and don't want to question that.

Another thing is of course is reputation, you might get a project because they see you have a hasselblad Smiley

For me: I'm ready to spend the money if I can see a clear difference in prints up to A1 size. If not I'm better off waiting for the Nikon announcements.
I guess the more limiting factor with Nikon on FF could be the glass if it comes to resolution and contrast.

So if you find out something special on your journey I'd be happy to hear from you Smiley

best regards







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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2011, 09:59:01 AM »
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Do most of your images have zero adjustments/retouching done before they are used by your clients?

If not then the test you ran excluded one of the most important differences: take the file and start playing around with it. Push around contrast, exposure, enhance specific colors, remove blemishes etc. The pliability of medium format raw files, large viewfinder, flash sync speed, tethering speed/stability are not going to show up in a studio default-settings test.

I see a lot of fashion work done with strong styling in post and the beefier the file the better (resolution being perhaps the 3rd or 4th most important element of "beefiness").

Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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EricWHiss
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2011, 10:11:24 AM »
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What really surprises me, that nobody really has comparison pics....

I've done a lot of comparisons - you can find my threads here on LuLa if you search.  I compared a canon 5d2 to a phase p20, hasselblad CF39MS back and aptus 12.      

The MF cameras will allow you to print larger, but can change a persons working style.   I see in your behind the scenes video on your blog that you are shooting in the studio with a tripod with strobes, so these differences might not impact you at all.    The advantages the MF cameras will bring to you besides more pixels will be the faster sync speeds - providing crisper images.   The downside will be you may not be able to use the AF like you did with your canon 1Ds3, and more light will be required (probably 3 to 4 stops more).

I still use my canon 5D2 where it makes more sense and I make prints from both.   No question you'll be able to go significantly larger, more than double the size you had from the DSLR.  I think the MF files upsample better too.   It appears from the prints that the MF files have more feel to them than the ones from the 5D2 and the 5d2 prints look a little flat in comparison.  

So many variables to consider between your working style and processing style - you just have to test the cameras and backs yourself in your own environment to really know if it will work for you or will help you reach your goals.
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Yoram from Berlin
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 10:15:39 AM »
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Yeah, I need to test it out. I worry about DOF, although the project I'm developing right now is ok if it goes shallow. More light is possible, I'm barely half way up to ProEight /ProHead combo I like to use. I like to shoot on a tripod at the beginning of each look and scene I have in mind, but then pick up the camera and get closer. Higher shutterspeed sounds awesome, I find 1/250th on the edge of motion blur when working with fabrics.
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« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2011, 10:16:23 AM »
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We've worked with hundreds of photographers to do comparison shoots that suite their specific needs, wants, budgets, styles, situations, and environments.

We used to spend a lot more time on general-application testing, but we've found over and over again that the only test that matters is the test you do yourself with your own particular circumstances considered. We offer evaluation rentals, free in-studio use (Miami/Atlanta/Boston) and sometimes trips to a photographer's studio to accomplish just that.

Doug Peterson (e-mail Me)
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Yoram from Berlin
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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2011, 10:16:39 AM »
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...and my Retoucher wants bigger files!
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Doug Peterson
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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2011, 10:19:21 AM »
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Also worth noting that "Better color" is most important when dealing with subject matter that has important but subtly differentiated colors. A solid medium green dress is extremely easy to capture well. A hand died dark blue dress with varying accents of subtly different  slightly-cyan and slightly-magenta color shot in tungsten light with a light skinned model - that is much harder.
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EricWHiss
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2011, 11:52:41 PM »
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Yeah, I need to test it out. I worry about DOF, although the project I'm developing right now is ok if it goes shallow. More light is possible, I'm barely half way up to ProEight /ProHead combo I like to use. I like to shoot on a tripod at the beginning of each look and scene I have in mind, but then pick up the camera and get closer. Higher shutterspeed sounds awesome, I find 1/250th on the edge of motion blur when working with fabrics.

Well half way up means you'll probably need more light. The first stop to go from ISO 100 to the lower ISO 50 base on the MFDB's will take you to using all the range, and then you'll need 2-3 additional f/stops of light when you stop down the MF lenses further to get the same DOF you are used to with the canon.   

I used to use a profoto D4 1200 with the key light set at 300w/s with my canon's.  Sometimes I'd have the heads set to the lowest setting of 9 w/s.    I do most of my studio work now with Rollei MF cameras  (6008AF with CF 528 back and AFi-ii 12)   and  had to add a D4 4800 pack  and sometimes now use both packs close to max.      Looking at your images hard to say what you shoot at since they are composed of many individual images - but I can tell you if you go to MF you'll need at least f/13 or f/16 to get the whole body in sharp focus front to rear.  I often shoot at f/16 or smaller for figures. 

Naturally the MFDB without AA filters and other reasons deliver a much crisper file to begin with.   You'll at first be pleased with whatever you do because the jump from the DSLR's is really noticeable. But after a while you'll want more and will start to pay attention to stuff like diffraction.    With the 22mp backs you can easily shoot at f/20 without really seeing the diffraction loss (at least in my experience) but once you go to the higher pixel count backs you can see it at f/11-f/13.   The loss is there but relatively minor until about f/16.  Beyond that you can of course still shoot -  its still doable at f/20 or f/22 because you can get back some of the details using software - Lightroom detail slider does an okay job - I usually process out the raws in C1 or Phocus with very small radius sharpening and then hit it again in LR3 to get back detail.  Images like my Opportunity series, art reproduction, or macro that have fine details benefit from this.  Your retoucher will know how to do it - so bottom line don't worry really about the DOF, but worry about lights and workflow.    You can take the back off whatever camera platform you go with and put it on a tech camera with movements if more DOF is needed.
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yaya
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« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2011, 02:28:25 AM »
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Hi.

Once again I find myself considering the switch to something larger. This time I've really hit the wall on my Canon 1Ds Mk III, and I need to move to something with higher resolution, and deeper colors.

How might I gain an overview? In Berlin I can pretty much rent all of them, and holding and testing the cameras will be important to me. But I would also spend some time reading about it. This forum has been very helpful, but is there a comprehensive comparison (or partial comparison) that tries to make sense of the current market offering?

I shoot fine art images for very large printing, using models and the language of fashion photography. I shoot in Studios using flash systems.

Thank you for any guidance, and please feel free to ask questions that might clarify my quest.

Yoram I think it would be useful as a starting point to rent/ borrow/ demo one of the MF kits and give it a try alongside your Canon. I'd call Tom at Probis

Next time I'm in Berlin I'll be happy to meet up for a chat about cameras

Also have a look at my friend Alexander Koch's work he is based in Berlin and has a lot of experience with various MF solutions and I'm sure he'll be happy to chat to you about it

Enjoy the journey

Yair
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theguywitha645d
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« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2011, 09:45:56 AM »
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I worry about DOF...

These huge megapixel backs can fool you there--100% monitor view is not a real-world viewing condition and will give the impression that DoF is narrower than it really is. I made a number of 40 inch prints when I started just to get a sense of the DoF I was getting in the file.
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