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Old Nov 19, 2009, 12:51 PM   #1
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Default Why Medium-Format?

Why do most studio photographers opt for medium-format cameras like the Hasselblad? I know part of it has to do with the fact that they need super high res prints for billboard size ads. Are medium format prints totally free of noise throughout the ISO range? Why do they run 40k plus? No more blown highlights because if a massive dynamic range?
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Old Nov 19, 2009, 2:16 PM   #2
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Most studio photographers don't use medium format. However, the vast majority of people that use medium format cameras are studio photographers. They routinely need to produce poster size prints, so they need the higher resolution. Also, the bodies and lenses are large and heavy, so medium format cameras don't often get moved outside the studio, so people that don't always work in a studio often prefer something a little more portable.
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Old Nov 19, 2009, 4:29 PM   #3
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Figured that. And when I mentioned "studio photographers" I was thinking more along the lines of the big name ad agencies, magazines (e.g. fashion...VOGUE)...etc.

Is it just about the resolution?? Being able to shoot 50MP images. For ads to be plastered on sides of buildings and such. I'd assume there are more technical reasons than that...no? And as I asked...why do they (e.g. Hasselblads) cost so damn much?? Making them up to 4-5x more than a Nikon D3x.

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Old Nov 19, 2009, 5:31 PM   #4
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Large formats require large lenses too. In the days of film, Hasselblad bodies weren't a lot more expensive than top-of-the-line Canon and Nikon bodies. But the lenses were very expensive, and there weren't enough large format cameras to inspire third party lens manufacturers to make lenses for them.

Of course, a 50MP 36x48mm image sensor costs a lot more than a 24MP 24x36mm image sensor, so that also plays a big part.

And a pentaprism for a medium format camera costs more than a pentaprism for a 35mm or FF camera.
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Old Nov 20, 2009, 10:42 AM   #5
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When I got married back in the film days, I requested for a photographer who used a med format camera. This was due to the larger film and when we wanted certain photos blown up later, they would come out nicer than the average slr back then.
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Old Nov 20, 2009, 2:40 PM   #6
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I suppose medium formats also have a greater dynamic range. Just as FX bodies have better dynamic range over DX. The larger the sensor the more dynamic range. And I'm not sure if I recall correctly but I think I read that there are no blown highlights or black crush with MF. Correct?

As for portability...now there are a few 24MP DSLRs. The D3x is targeted at studio photographers. Not too long ago if the ad photographers needed 24MP resolution prints they had to go medium format. Not any more. Though, now that there are 39MP and now a 50MP medium format I suppose they will request those resolutions.
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Old Nov 20, 2009, 7:54 PM   #7
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I thought I'd jump in for fun here and touch upon your question about the high costs of medium format cameras. As others have pointed out, they are larger, which means more material per camera, have technological aspects such as much larger sensors, and lenses that are also larger, thus more glass (and generally high quality to begin with)... etc.

So the MBA in me starts talking, and anytime you have companies producing products in lower numbers due to either their complex nature and lower demand, then you will see costs skyrocket; otherwise these companies would go out of business pretty quick if they sold these cameras for $4,000. Think of Ferrari or Bugatti. Superior in some ways to "traditional" cars and manufactured in small numbers = high price tags. And like most businesses in this category, I have a feeling these costs are also inflated somewhat. Like a Ferrari; I doubt in terms of materials they cost "that" much more... but there is an element of luxury to them.
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Old Nov 20, 2009, 8:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agc828 View Post
I suppose medium formats also have a greater dynamic range.
Not so.

See DXOMark's comparison.
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Old Nov 21, 2009, 1:12 AM   #9
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Perhaps BG has it pegged. If you just base it on materials used, manufacturing costs...etc...alone that probably would not explain the extremely inflated costs of a Hasselblad. I too believe it's more likely because they are sold in a more limited numbers (vs. DSLR's) that they are able to ask for such high prices. And managed to make a name for themselves with a great marketing team over the years. More so than because they are that much technically superior than a good DSLR.

And, thanks for the link TCav. Surprising and interesting find. Assuming you take the word of a post-processing software company. Offering camera comparisons now are they? Heh!!

Any how on to other topics.

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Old Nov 21, 2009, 8:54 AM   #10
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And lets not forget that Hasselblad pays a lot more for a 50MP 36x48mm image sensor than Nikon pays for a 24MP 24x36mm image sensor. And, for all the reasons Binary Graphite points out, a lot more than just double.
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