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Old May 27, 07, 7:49 pm   #1
 
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Medium Format in Digital

Is it economical to turn a regular medium format camera into a digital camera? Picking up photography later in life and still learning. Thanks for your help!
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Old May 27, 07, 8:33 pm   #2
 
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There are *far* greater experts than I, whom I am certain can (and probably will) add more, but as I understand it, it is economical in terms of memory space, but a poor trade off in terms of quality if you want to do much with the image later (eg enlarge one part of the image) or if you want really high resolution photographs or have a large print made. Memory is cheap enough that I always shoot & save in the highest possible resolution and then reduce from there if needed - for example for emailing smaller image files.

The short of it seems to me that you save space, but lose flexibility with saving in medium format and I'd rather buy a larger memory card than compromise on what I may want to do with an image later. MYYV.

Experts, correct me if I'm wrong, please.
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Old May 27, 07, 9:02 pm   #3
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You can purchase a number of quality digital backs for the major medium format systems like Hasselblad or Mamiya to replace your film back. These backs are all designed for the traditional medium format shooters - highend professionals - and as such are expensive. Very expensive. Even the used ones are expensive - like $1k for a 6mp Phaseone. They are also among the highest resolution digital cameras available - a PhaseOne P45 is a 39 MegaPixel back that produces a 117mb file. Seriously high quality images and cameras that are pretty much reserved for highend commercial photographers, since for all but those with $10k day rates a good Canon or Nikon produces almost indistinguishable images.
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Old May 27, 07, 9:11 pm   #4
 
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There really is not an affordable medium format digital system.

Once you get lenses and other things you will be spending some serious cash compared to A Canon or Nikon digital system and honestly unless you are a making 10K on your day rate like the above poster says you don't need it.

Now if you just want to shoot film, a medium format film scanner can be had cheap and medium format film gear is not expensive in the used space at all.

you will learn far more about being a good technical photographer shoot 100 manual focus, manual exposure slides, than filling a digital card with 10x those images.

If you want to learn digital, get a camera from Canon or Nikon, those you can buy without a home equity loan. If you must spend 20k you can get into medium format digital, but for that you can solve the problem in different ways.
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Old May 27, 07, 10:02 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by brentley View Post
Now if you just want to shoot film, a medium format film scanner can be had cheap and medium format film gear is not expensive in the used space at all.

you will learn far more about being a good technical photographer shoot 100 manual focus, manual exposure slides, than filling a digital card with 10x those images.
I agree with you on the first part - if you want to shoot MF, just get a good quality film scanner and a decent used body and lens system. If you think you might go digital, get a body that can accept a 3rd-party back in the future.

To the second point, though, I think you can learn from shooting digital just as much - you just need to force yourself to be disciplined - try to get it right in the camera. With digital, you get the benefit of instant feedback - with MF, you're waiting to get your rolls developed.

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure I've never taken a single frame on my DSLR in Auto or Program modes. Most of the time, I shoot aperture priority, periodically manual. Unless you've either got a real bright viewfinder or a split-prism focusing screen (I've got neither on my D70, sadly), manual focus is more trouble than it's worth. As long as you know what your depth-of-field is and how to use that to your advantage, I don't think it really matters whether you turn the AF dial yourself or let the camera handle it.
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Old May 27, 07, 11:29 pm   #6
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To the second point, though, I think you can learn from shooting digital just as much - you just need to force yourself to be disciplined - try to get it right in the camera. With digital, you get the benefit of instant feedback - with MF, you're waiting to get your rolls developed.
Digital in some ways makes the learning process easier. The EXIF file contains all of the relevant information on your shot - no more notebook, no more waiting for the darkroom. Take the memory card back to the computer in the evening and you can quickly find out what worked and why it worked.
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Old May 28, 07, 12:39 am   #7
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Originally Posted by bdjohns1 View Post
I agree with you on the first part - if you want to shoot MF, just get a good quality film scanner and a decent used body and lens system. If you think you might go digital, get a body that can accept a 3rd-party back in the future.

To the second point, though, I think you can learn from shooting digital just as much - you just need to force yourself to be disciplined - try to get it right in the camera. With digital, you get the benefit of instant feedback - with MF, you're waiting to get your rolls developed.

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure I've never taken a single frame on my DSLR in Auto or Program modes. Most of the time, I shoot aperture priority, periodically manual. Unless you've either got a real bright viewfinder or a split-prism focusing screen (I've got neither on my D70, sadly), manual focus is more trouble than it's worth. As long as you know what your depth-of-field is and how to use that to your advantage, I don't think it really matters whether you turn the AF dial yourself or let the camera handle it.
I agree with this and also with the comments about the EXIF files for learning. As I said on another thread Im also looking into scanning film images and that seems especially advantageous for medium format. I think that the cost for medium format is still pretty horrendous in digital and Im not sure even the 39 mp Hassleblad would match the same camera/lens with film (pretty sure it wouldnt in fact). If you are going for maximum image quality in medium format, shoot film and scan.
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Old May 28, 07, 5:00 am   #8
 
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I shoot with canon 1 series and L glass equipment for the majority of my photos. However for portraits, nighttime city scapes and some travel imagery i still shoot with my hasselblad system. The hasselblad produces a quality that is really truly amazing.

If you currently have a hasselblad system you can buy a brand new Imacon back for it from Hassleblad for about £5000 or about £3400 2nd hand. I think that if you have the 500 series body and lenses already then this is the best way to go.

If however you are starting from scratch then buy a 5D and some L glass and be happy.

Chris
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