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Monday, 16 January 2012

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I don't know anything about the viability of the medium format digital market. Is this new combination about protecting existing technology or about creating new technology? I know lots of commercial work is done with digital medium format but is that strictly necessary from a quality standpoint? It seems like you would have to be outputting awfully large images to justify MF digital over the best FF 35mm. Just my ignorance speaking I guess.

The question is, will their mirrorless system be ready in time to save the new brand?

On the Products page, most of the links take you to a page on the specific product (like Aptus II backs). The only one that doesn't work (page not found) is the "Leaf Aptus-II and Mamiya 645DF". So much for synergy.

They had me at "Strong Worldwide Synergy". Obviously this is going to be great.

yawn ................

No square format? Aren't they keeping up with TOP?

I wonder how many empty tin cans I'd have to collect and sell to recycling to be able to afford one of these systems?

cfw

The reason why an MF digital back appeals to me is not because of sharpness or detail but because of the greater tonal range.

When I look at old photos shot on large format I get a real kick from that extra richness in tone compared to something shot on 35mm.

I'm guessing/hoping that a Leaf or Phase One back would provide something similar when compared to, say, the 5D mark II. I still think the latter is a fantastic camera, though.

"The question is, will their mirrorless system be ready in time to save the new brand?"

*Perhaps that would be the new Mamiya 7dd with a swithable ovf/evf and auto or manual (rangefinder) focus and featuring frame rates of up to 14.1 fps at full resolution.

The 7dd nomenclature serves to separate it from smaller cameras by other brands and to signifify the sheer size of the 69.5mm by 56mm, 250Mp sensor:) Of course, it will be a premium product targeted somewhere above the Fuji X10 and X-pro models.

Mike

* engage ironic humour mode now

CFW, guessing at a retail package price of $45,000 for 80Mp, 75c/pound for aluminum cans, you'd need 109,091 cans for that new camera. And then you'd need to buy at least one lens...

The trouble with small formats is this: In realistic terms, you can't really use a pixel much smaller than 5 microns across. You can push it a bit further, but you're really just covering the extreme cases where someone gets lucky or goes to great lengths to lay down more resolution on the sensor.

The really useful way to get up past around 40 megapixels is to go to a physically larger sensor, which means something like medium format.

As an old Mamiya lover (I still have four of them on the shelf - including a very nice RZ67 :) I really hope it will work out for them ... I would like a 100 MP back some day - without having to sell the house first :)

Dear Ken,

Strictly speaking, yes.

Just as, strictly speaking, there is a need for 4x5 or 8x10 film, over medium format.

Whether YOU need it is another matter entirely.

~~~~~~~~

Dear Andrew,

I am not sure what you mean by greater tonal range, but I am assuming you mean exposure range? If so, medium format backs are extremely good, but nothing special. They typically fall in the 12.5-13.5 stop range, but so do a number of smaller-sensor cameras. In fact the exposure range champ, currently, is the Pentax K-5, with a 14-stop range, and a sensor only 2/3 of 35mm size (1.5 lens multiplier).

pax / Ctein

Dear Andrew M,

"In realistic terms, you can't really use a pixel much smaller than 5 microns across."

Huh??? Since when. Not in terms of resolution, bit depth or exposure range.

It makes getting high-quality high-ISO dicier, but that's not the forte of medium format backs, anyway.

pax / Ctein

Mike said: "*Perhaps that would be the new Mamiya 7dd with a swithable ovf/evf and auto or manual (rangefinder) focus and featuring frame rates of up to 14.1 fps at full resolution.

The 7dd nomenclature serves to separate it from smaller cameras by other brands and to signifify the sheer size of the 69.5mm by 56mm, 250Mp sensor:) Of course, it will be a premium product targeted somewhere above the Fuji X10 and X-pro models."

Well if the 7dd can't shoot 4K/60P 3D, then its a bag full of fail! And really, I need 96P.

Patrick
(would someone please help me remove my tongue from my cheek?)

All kidding aside, I wonder how many photographers truly need the IQ advantages/file size advantages MF backs provide? My guess is that the number is shrinking as full frame increase their pixel count at quite good IQ. My hunch (as nothing more than a hobbyist snapshooter, no insight into professional photography) is that commercial shooters can get on quite well with top-end FF 35mm for any job they are likely assigned. My guess is that mammoth output like billboards can be made with fairly modest file sizes due to viewing distances.

Landscape/fine art photographers are the only segments I imagine have actual need for what MF offers that 35mm doesn't, and they may be better served by scanning backs for even better IQ/higher resolution (except in cases of moving subjects), and at lower costs besides.

I guess, in short, what I'm wondering is how big a print do you need before a top quality 35mm can't compete w/MF?

Please don't construe me as being of the mind that MF is a bad proposition. It doesn't solve any problems that I personally have. Even if I came into crazy money, an MF back wouldn't be appealing to me, just as a 35MM FF camera wouldn't. I don't need more than the ~12MP I have now, as I don't print big (if ever). I like small. I like the idea of having the best IQ making camera at my disposal until I think about what comes along with it, and frankly, give me an A900 or S2 and I won't make any better pictures than I do now, most likely. I'm the diffraction limit! (g)

Patrick

I suspect, but do not know, that this may be maneuvering to compete in the Pentax range of the MF digital field. These are two strong brands that have been hip-bumped off the plateau by PhaseOne, which has wrapped both brands pretty much into its own.

I wouldn't be expecting new technology from this partnership but, rather, a new mid-range product or two. Just my guess.

Another guess: the meetings will be pretty entertaining...and nutritious.

Patrick Perez
"I guess, in short, what I'm wondering is how big a print do you need before a top quality 35mm can't compete w/MF?"

Oh about 16"x26" for me.

Just as with film the choice of format means trading one set of constraints for another.

I have not used a medium format digital camera yet, but I have been making some 6x6 foot photographs in the gigapixle range by piecing together as many as 60 exposures on a Canon 5d mkII or a Sony NEX 3, and I'd say that at about 16x24 inches you would certainly know the difference.

Printing on canvas once I get to the equivalent of about a 16x24" print from an individual exposure, things begin to noticeably decline. Less than a 10x15" print equivalent on the highest resolution paper, there is no difference no matter how many more pixels.

In fact a 200 megapixel image printed at 20x20" actually looks less sharp that it does at 40x40". I think this is because the interesting detail gets lost in the smaller print.

So for me, given that my technique and equipment suck* yet I can read roadsigns a mile away shot handheld on the NEX with a 30 year old lens you can buy for 40 bucks, I'd say somewhere around 16x20 and 20x24 inches is where I'd start to notice the difference in single images.

I would imagine that the current generation of Sony sensors at 24x36mm would be pretty good for up to 24x36inch prints.

Really though, other than the obvious things like the quality of the light or the mental state of the photographer, my big limitations are air quality if I'm shooting through a mile of it , and subject movement if there are people in the picture. Medium format isn't going to fix that.

That said, a Leica S2 would be welcome here but not as welcome as the digital equivalent of a Graflex. My guess is that if you liked medium format for film, you are still sort of wanting medium format digital for the same reasons.

*my technique and equipment suck in the sense that I'm trying to make the optical process as obvious as I can, with focus shift , funky old lenses with different looks and so on , but you really can't read it until the prints get really big and you stand a foot or two away. Most people are trying to avoid that.

This is probably a move to consolidate their operations. One sales team, one service team, one website, etc. Doesn't mean anything to the customer, but saves a lot of money.

A lot of MF-format users are commercial photographers who used MF film. Do they "need" it today? Maybe not, but if you're doing a shoot with models, assistants, lighting, studio, on location, etc. then the cost of the camera itself is negligible. Might as well have "the best."

Maybe Phase One has read the tea leaves and are moving towards more tightly integrated/locked-in digital MF systems? Before the camera and back businesses were entirely separate. Now, off the top of my head there's the Pentax 645D, Leica S2, Hasselblad H series...and soon to be the Mamiya-Leaf system? And that'd be it.

Dear Ctein

I mean the greater richness of the tones that you get when shooting on larger formats. Er, I think that's what I mean.

When I see a 35mm print and a large-format print of the same scene, compared side by side there's a richness in the LF that is highly appealing and I wonder whether it's worth stumping up for an MF back for the same appeal?

Dear Andrew,

Ahh,I get what you mean. Yes, I feel the same way about film formats. 35mm never worked for me; I had to move up to 6x7 cm.

There's a big difference between digital and film- small format film has inevitably more grain (aka noise). Digital doesn't show anywhere as much difference in noise between formats-- there are some very low noise small-sensor cameras (when you,re talking about low ISO's). It's essentially impossible to make a grainless 8x10 from 35mm film; all you can do is keep it down to a very low level, but it is perceptible. It's possible to make near-grainless prints from very small sensor digital cameras.

The human brain compensates for noise-- it adjusts its "this is important" threshold to be a bit under the noise level. That is why music in a car can seem to sound good, but when you listen to the same music in a quiet home, you realize that you were missing all sorts of nuances. In a noisy environment/print, the brain throws away a lot of tonal information.

Anyway, bigger digital does look better than smaller, but the difference is nowhere as profound. Whether it is enough to matter to you I couldn't say. It probably isn't enough to matter to me... But then I decided that medium format was "good enough" and never invested much in view camera work. So, your mileage, etc.etc.

pax / Ctein

Brian Woolf is comparing a 17 MP MF with an old 12 MP APS-C D300... Of course he will be disappointed! Now if he was talking about a D3X or 1Ds III his comment would make some sense (but I guess his opinion would then be completely different).

Dear Ctein

Thanks for your reply. That was what I meant. Sorry I found it hard to articulate!

I loved shooting 6x7. I tried to make 5x4 work for me on numerous, expensive occasions. I think I liked the idea of being a LF photographer. Eventually, I had to own up that it wasn't working well enough to justify the financial cost and physical effort.

The thought of a MF digital back appeals but I have no need for a really high res version.

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