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Old Aug 31, 2006, 3:56 PM   #1
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Why do some professionals insist on "medium format" or "large format" cameras over lets say a DSLR?

I was briefly reading up on Phase One medium format technology. They claim totally noise-free photography using their "digital backs" with a medium format camera like the Mamiya's or Hasselblad's. Is this true? Are photo's produced totally without noise?

They also offer significantly larger sensors and more MP. I think the maximum is 22MP. Could be wrong. And there is one camera back that allows for shutter speeds of as fast as 1/10000. So could a Phase One camera not also be used for sports photography? If they aren't aready.

And why "large format"? Even more detail than medium format?

Thanks. Was just curious.
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Old Aug 31, 2006, 4:35 PM   #2
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I don't know the answer to all your questions but most of those high-end digital backs only will go up to ISO 400.....kind'a easy to keep the noise down with those limitations.
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Old Aug 31, 2006, 5:51 PM   #3
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Medium & large format usually refers to film cameras and the size of the negative they produce. The larger the negative the clearer the enlargement and you're not trying to focusan image on something the size of a postage stamp. Sure, a 22 MP medium format sensor is nice, but the cost is roughly a dollar per thousandth of that shutter speed you mentioned ($10,000).


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Old Aug 31, 2006, 6:10 PM   #4
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You really have to go to a gallery with exhibits of medium and large formats to appreciate what they can do. I went to a local one, and the person has 5 by 7 feet (and larger!) pictures that are in great details and vivid colors. His images were mostly nature, so it takes full advantage of the camera's capability. BTW I'm talking about medium and lage format film, not digital.



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Old Aug 31, 2006, 9:55 PM   #5
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Kalypso wrote:
Quote:
I don't know the answer to all your questions but most of those high-end digital backs only will go up to ISO 400.....kind'a easy to keep the noise down with those limitations.
Hello Kalypso et al.,

Actually that's not true. Medium format cameras fitted with the "Phase One digital backs" can do up to ISO 800. And shutter speeds as fast as 1/10000. And virtually non-existent artifacts. Like those found on P&S and DSLR cameras.

I suppose what it comes down to is your intended purpose. If you're looking to shoot "the best" and cleanest "large scale" pictures for commercial work (e.g. 10ft by 15ft movie ads...to billbaord posters for Times Square) then I suppose using medium/large format cameras are the way to go. Even some sports journalism work. Though, in that case your ability to anticipate the shot will be vital. As the fastest fps is "1 shot per second". If you want something faster then you'll have to go with something like the Canon EOS 1D Mark II N rated at 8.5 fps @ 8.2MP.

Though, I suppose if you could afford to spend $39,995 CAD on a Phase One equiped medium format camera I'd say "go for it!!". Even if you only plan to print at most 13x19 inch pictures. You'd have the cleanest and most detailed pics around shot with your 39MP Phase One P45 camera. Never mind the fact that you'd also need to consider a comparable pigment ink printer. You will get "totally noise free" pictures. And be able to produce pics large enough to cover an entire wall of your room. How great would that be? We don't need to eat!!

And yes, I definitely do plan to go to photo exhibits where they have used either medium or large format cameras. Should be impressive. Maybe I'll be so impressed I'll trade my sister for a Phase One P45 and some Hasselblad lens.
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Old Aug 31, 2006, 10:36 PM   #6
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I basically agree with DarkDTSHD, I just wanted to add a story.

A friend of mine is a shooting pro. He's been shooting for 20+ years using 35mm, medium and large format.

Needless to say, he's been shooting digital mostly over the last 4 to 5 years. Much cheaper. But over the last few years his customers have been demanding much larger prints. 60" and more. Very high resolution, very sharp, staggering detail.

So he is seriously thinking about getting a phase one. He already has all the equipment to put it on (body, lenses, tripod...) but its so much money he is holding out.

Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is the quality of the lenses. it is possible to get really high quality Medium and Large format lenses. Expensive, but much better than you'd get with 35mm (which is part of the reason the results are better.)

Eric
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Old Sep 1, 2006, 12:20 AM   #7
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eric s wrote:
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I basically agree with DarkDTSHD, I just wanted to add a story.

A friend of mine is a shooting pro. He's been shooting for 20+ years using 35mm, medium and large format.

Needless to say, he's been shooting digital mostly over the last 4 to 5 years. Much cheaper. But over the last few years his customers have been demanding much larger prints. 60" and more. Very high resolution, very sharp, staggering detail.

So he is seriously thinking about getting a phase one. He already has all the equipment to put it on (body, lenses, tripod...) but its so much money he is holding out.

Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is the quality of the lenses. it is possible to get really high quality Medium and Large format lenses. Expensive, but much better than you'd get with 35mm (which is part of the reason the results are better.)

Eric
Hello Eric,

Thanks for the story.

You said you can get medium/large format lenses. Did you mean to be put on DSLR cameras?

Any how, I'm eager to start attending some photo exhibits shot using medium and large format cameras. Actually DSLR or prosumer cameras too. Good photography is good photography. Regardless of the gear used.

Later. Time to catch some Zzzzzzzzzzz....
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Old Sep 1, 2006, 1:57 PM   #8
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I don't believe you can attach a lens meant for medium or large format cameras to a 35mm camera. I don't believe many of them have electronic shutters and such (
I think... I'm not sure, but I seem to remember that.) So I don't know how well it would work, if at all.

You see, there are two separate issues with how a camera resolves detail.
- You need a lens that can project a very high resolution, very sharp image.
- You also need a sensor (or film) that is capable of capturing that detail.
(and other things like a steady platform to take the picture from and other things...)

The sensor in the Canon 1Ds MkII is starting to out resolve the lower quality lenses that Canon makes. The films used in medium forumat (and I assume the digital backs for them) are so high resolution that only really high quality lenses can produce enough detail for the film/sensor to capture.

Yes, I recommend going to galleries that feature images taking with medium and large format. If you're using to what you can see with 35mm, you'll be blown away by medium and large format.

Eric
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Old Sep 1, 2006, 3:30 PM   #9
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The largest phase-one is 39mp at the moment.

Some of the big points are:
  • The sensors at 48mm*36mm are double the size of a full frame DSLR.[/*]
  • They use 64bit (4 16bit channels) to capture the image, current DSLR use (3 12bit channels). And they can do double pass captures, automatically doubling the data captured per pixel.
    [/*]
  • A single cymk double pass capture pops out a file in the 500mb range, thus helping sell more hard drives and memory.
    [/*]
  • They are expensive, (not sure that is a selling point).
    [/*]
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Old Sep 1, 2006, 7:54 PM   #10
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eric s wrote:
Quote:
I don't believe you can attach a lens meant for medium or large format cameras to a 35mm camera. I don't believe many of them have electronic shutters and such (
I think... I'm not sure, but I seem to remember that.) So I don't know how well it would work, if at all.

You see, there are two separate issues with how a camera resolves detail.
- You need a lens that can project a very high resolution, very sharp image.
- You also need a sensor (or film) that is capable of capturing that detail.
(and other things like a steady platform to take the picture from and other things...)

The sensor in the Canon 1Ds MkII is starting to out resolve the lower quality lenses that Canon makes. The films used in medium forumat (and I assume the digital backs for them) are so high resolution that only really high quality lenses can produce enough detail for the film/sensor to capture.

Yes, I recommend going to galleries that feature images taking with medium and large format. If you're using to what you can see with 35mm, you'll be blown away by medium and large format.

Eric
Hey Eric,

I mis-read you before regarding your comment on high quality lens. I was tired and about to crash as I noted.

Any how, I did speak to a "professional" that shoots mainly in medium format. Bruce Percy. Not sure if his name rings a bell to you or any one on this forum. Anyways, all he told me was that he actually prefers images that aren't so "clean" (e.g. noise free). He also has a Canon 5D (as well as a Mamiya 7 medium format camera) and mentioned how he thought the images produced by that camera is actually "too clean". Wa a little surprised to hear that. At the moment I'd love to be able to shoot and print images that are "noise free". Assuming that is possible. He said he didn't know.

I'd still like to know if they are truly "noise free" or if there is still noise but to a much lesser degree than you would find using a good DSLR.

But I do now know that because the negative is so much larger with a medium format image that the picture will be that much more detailed and saturated. So I'm guessing going from DSLR to medium format is just taking it to the next level. Would the difference be as obvious as "standard definition TV" is to HDTV?

As for the cost of the flagship Phase One dgital back and medium format camera. At 40k CAD they ARE expensive as Peter said. That's more than the cost of an average family car and then some. I guess that's why these cameras are usually only used for commercial photography.

Perhaps one day, when my skills have risen to that level and I've won a lottery, I'll invest in one.
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