« Fujifilm GFX Review, Part III | Main | Medium Format Digital »

Tuesday, 07 November 2017

Comments

None of the ones you mentioned would’ve very interesting to me. However if money really was no object a Hassy Hx with the HTS and a couple of lenses would be fun to try.

No. They don't do anything that makes the extra size and weight worth it.

Would it be wrong to want to mount the Leica S lenses onto the Fuji body? Yes I know that's cheating, but I would have to spend time with those two systems to make a decision.

I’m a photo hobbyist, Mike, even if a serious one. For me, at a certain point enough is enough.

My gear is basically a couple of micro four-thirds cameras and a couple of APS-C cameras (although I do have a full-frame Sony A7 Classic that I got a fabulous open-box deal on).

Some of the best micro four-thirds gear competes with medium-format film - you’ve made this observation yourself.

Honestly, I don’t need medium format in any way and don’t want cameras that are any larger and heavier than what I have. But more power to those who do.

Siren Song. I'm of a mind (that for me) full frame is the sweet spot for sensor performance, camera value and most importantly (to me), lens selection. For me this means a Nikon D750 and a selection of prime lenses.

And for full disclosure, the pricing of the MF systems automatically biases me towards FF (Nikon/Canon/Sony) or APS-C (Fuji) systems and even though I've not used a M4/3 system, I'm sure they're terrific too. The MF systems are surely awesome and state of the art, but they are more than I would ever be able to take advantage of in relation to what I currently have and the kind of photography I do (i.e. retired guy happy snapping). And honestly, MF is way out of my price range, so there's that, haha.

I would not buy a medium format system even if I could comfortably afford one. Here are my reasons:

1) I seldom, if ever, make prints larger than 11x14-inches; so other than me, who would ever see this hypothetical gain in resolution and tonality? Certainly no one looking at web-sized reproductions.

2) I don't like carrying relatively large and heavy equipment.

3) The increased resolution, tonality, and dynamic range of medium format do not necessarily provide an esthetic benefit to type of work I do (street and travel). If I were a portrait, fashion, or landscape photographer it might be a different story.

That's it for me. Next?

". . .if you could comfortably afford a medium-format digital camera . . . "

Yes, although I can think of many better uses tor the money, it wouldn't be a hardship.

" . . . would you want one?"

No

". . . Or do they just amount to another siren song?"

No longing calling to me from the Rhine . . . I've never been attracted to gear that doesn't accomplish something I want. There was a time, long ago, when it seemed that I could only do certain photographic things with MF film. At that time, the cost was prohibitive.

That time is past, not because what I want to accomplish has diminished, but because the capabilities of digital have improved so much. The long effective focal lengths of µ4/3, and esp the amazing IBIS, focus bracketing and HR Modes of Oly's latest OMD models, actually go beyond anything I had imagined back then. They fully meet all my straight photography needs. I can't imagine any reason to lug around a larger, heavier camera with fewer, less long and wide, slower lenses.

I do use a FF mirrorless, an original A7, for my alternate photography, because the various old and odd lenses were almost all designed to cover FF and do their stuff better on it.

I just did some color rendering testing of old Oly E-1 and E-300 DSLRs. I couldn't believe how difficult they were to use after converting entirely to live view mirrorless a few years ago. What a pain!

Would I want one? Hell, yes!

Definitely not a siren song....its all about the print.

I'll take the GFX, thank you very much.

The Fuji GFX would make a lot of sense for me if I wanted a camera with a larger format than my m4/3 cameras. I like the aspect ratio better than the FF 2/3.

The problem is, I don't make large display prints, and I think that's where the FF and medium format cameras shine. If you mostly look at photos on video screens or make average-sized prints (19") there's not much advantage in the larger formats, and there are some significant disadvantages (size and weight, cost, less flexible systems.)

But...I admire MF portrait work, and I'm becoming more interested in certain kinds of portraits. Maybe when I retire, I could buy a second generation GFX and do portraits for a while...

Leica S It's all about the lens' and it just feels right in the hand.

I’m fairly sure that for me the answer would be ‘no’. I have noticed over the years that when I buy a big impressive camera, I am impressed, but I don’t use it. That’s what would happen here. The Fuji, Hasselblad, etc, are VERY nice, capable cameras, but it would be a waste for me to get one.

The only possible way that this might change would be if I saw the large prints in person, was significantly impressed, and it was a style of photography that I aspire to do. Mostly I like to photograph ephemeral situations, and print at modest sizes, so this isn’t the tool for me.

I would, and do, want a medium-format digital. Having retired, my wife and I are blessed with the opportunity and time to travel, primarily to iconic outdoor locations. I love sharing photos with our family. And, printing and hanging a few as remembrances. I have learned to slow down and be more selective in making photographs in our travels. I use the Olympus OM-D system for it's size and weight. While the image quality is fine for most of my purposes, there have been a few times I wished I had a larger format available. Full frame isn't a big enough jump to make me change systems...yet. Field cameras are too much for me to learn and carry at this point. Medium format is just right.

Not a camera, but one of those digital backs for the 501CM would do nicely. I think you can find them used for a lot less than a new MF system.

The allure of film medium format was resolution. Still true with digital medium format, but a 50 Mpixel 35mm is astonishing today, so I will pass medium format.

Hi Mike,
That is a very good question. If I could afford one, I would definitely buy one, in order to find out for myself how it is really different from other cameras. I would want to try all kinds of things - adapted lenses, hand holding, tripods, super fast lenses, all that. I would have all kinds of fun. The only way to find out it for me to experience it. I think you quoted Oren Grad a long time ago about the importance of "demystifying experiences" by actually seeing for yourself.


And, maybe, I would keep it. Maybe. I'm pretty happy with a smaller format right now.

If I had that kind of money, though, I think I'd have tested a lot of other things before medium format, and found out for myself what they are like. I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up with a Fuji mirrorless system, instead of a Panasonic, or a Mac instead of a PC. But switching is costly, so...

I look forward to your answer. I'm very curious.

No. I don't feel I need a medium format nor would I spent the money. I have a Sigma SDQ-H with a couple Art lenses and that's as good as it gets. The Sigma produces excellent 20x24 prints, I don't need to spend any more. I need to shoot more.

Regards
Roger

That is an interesting question. I think the answer is no, I wouldn't get one. I used a 60MP Phase One set up for five days in the Palouse during a workshop sponsored by Phase, and with Michael Riechmann and Art Wolfe as instructors, among others. An unforgettable week of photography. No doubt, the medium format stuff was fantastic, and the results I got were eye-opening. Still, I laughed when the Phase rep sat me down and offered me a great "deal" on a phase one system ($35k+), and today's stuff is such a bargain in comparison. But, in the end, I don't print that large, I don't work that carefully, and I would doubtlessly rarely use it to it's potential. So, though I've felt a little tug in the Fuji GFX direction, I suspect my regular Fuji-x gear is all I need.

More than a thought experiment for me. I can afford it, but haven't bought it. Why? The sensible reasons are: (i) I use and like f1.4 lenses (ii) I use and like 'motordrive' and take a lot of files - big storage issues (iii) I appreciate the lightness of my current kit (iv) I shoot in some pretty dodgy places and the idea of having that much kit being ready to be broken / stolen is a bit off putting (v) it is good discipline to avoid GAS (vi) having 'ultimate' image quality isn't really key to what i shoot (but always interested in more DR / less noise...) (vii) I mostly shoot with two bodies which raises the entry cost to where it kind of starts hurting. The real reason? I suspect the net iteration of the Fuji might be even more exciting...

For the record, I shoot with (two) very battered Fuji X-T1s. Both will need replacing soon...

AH! 'Comfortably afford' is the key here. I'd quite like a Leica S - if I could comfortably afford one. If I can't 'comfortably afford' one, I'd settle for the Fuji as I know what other X series cameras are like. As it is, I'm settling for what I have at the moment.

No, I do not think so for my own needs. I am transitioning from DSLR's to a smaller kit (rangefinder body w/ 1 normal & 1 wide lens). The number of megapixels available today is overkill for what I print (rarely above 11x14) and more importantly the dynamic range is pretty darn good now.

Medium format cameras have even better quality pixels, but I doubt I would ever realize that in my work. Certianly the quality to weight ratio would have a negative return on investment for me.

Yes. They are good tools. There are some photo subjects where they would be the right choice. So, if money weren't a factor, I'd have one. Like in the olden days when I did most of my work with 35mm cameras, but had medium format cameras and view cameras for the times when they were the right choice.

These days working with Micro 4/3 and 1-inch sensor cameras most of the time, I'm thinking about a "full-frame" camera to be the tool I use when I need that additional resolution. Not in any hurry to do that...I'm guessing the next generation will be more megapixels and lower cost and that might hit the sweet spot that causes me to buy one, especially if nothing happens with the little cameras to make me feel I need to upgrade one or more of them.

Have to say no. I'm very happy with what I'm getting from a Sony 7mII and a PenF digital I would take the money and buy even more old lenses for them though, and maybe even a few new ones!

Yes. But only one of the first three you mention, most likely either the Hassy or the Leica, and very most likely the Hassy. But since I’ve never handled any of these cameras doing so could change my mind. Happily, since I’ll never be able to comfortably own any of them it’s not a decision I’ll ever have to fret over.

I don’t have a great answer to the question ‘why’ other than to say I’d expect better technical capability. The truth is closer to the fact that they are just very seductive - other than the Fuji, an ugly duckling in my view. The hasselblad really looks like a camera that I’d like in my hand.

That’s actually an excellent question.

Until some years ago, and especially when I was young, image quality was the holy grail for me. Something you have to pay through the nose for clearly had to be valuable, for one thing!

And up to a point (about 12 megapixels) I followed this. But then...

Now, anything more than 20 MP is just not interesting to me. And anything bigger than a M4/3 camera is certainly not interesting to me. Life is just too short.

I confess a lot of the reasons I read for medium format (and larger sensors) sound a bit like religion. I understand the physics behind the arguments, and I used to shoot with medium and large format cameras so I know what I'm missing by using a tiny APS-C sensor. However, I can make 16"x24" prints from my Fuji X-T2 files on my Epson 3880 that are difficult to distinguish from what I could do with a full frame sensor and comparable quality lenses. I expect there would be visible differences of the type Stephen mentions were I to compare the same scene shot with my X-T2 and a GFX 50S. Would they be "significant" differences? At the largest size I've been printing, I'm skeptical.

To answer your thought question: If I had the money for one of those cameras, I'd probably get the Fuji for all the reasons Stephen mentions in his Part III review (previous post on TOP). But I'd only do that if I could have a good tilt-shift solution too (probably using Canon T/S lenses rather than a Cambo Actus). And then I'd have a really big, heavy and expensive camera system to lug around again... I switched from a full frame Sony camera with a sack of SMC Pentax-A 645 lenses to my X-T2 system to get the weight down while still having all the movements I like to use. Given that I most likely won't get into making massive prints, I think this would probably be a waste of money and energy.

But I'll never say never!

Many, many answers to questions in photography can begin with "It depends". Not this one for me; it's a yes. I wouldn't want a digital MF camera to make my photos better but to make me better in order for my product to keep up with its. Sorta kidding because photos work or don't regardless of gear. I just wouldn't want to make an obvious waste of potential.

I would seriously consider either the Fuji GFX or a Phase 1 system (not on your list). I have always liked Schneider lenses (which Phase 1 uses) as I have used them extensively in large format, but the small size of the Fuji system is compelling. I would love to have the comfortable means available where cost is no issue and the choice is down to simply what I like best.

Of course, no short answer ever seems possible in camera world !

If I had this budget, with the current products, I'd be agonizing to chose... and would still probably spend it on a cutting edge full frame mirrorless (A7rIII) with a ton of lenses.

I'm thrilled by the X1D body and concept but I'm somehow not attracted by its current lens line up : Hassy wants to keep its prime "compact" and thus we get not so fast lenses. I'd be willing to admit more compromised designs relying on software corrections if that would allow for smaller & faster lenses. Panasonic 20mm pancake is a textbook example, although heavy handed on corrections.
The Fuji is cool too.

As for other bigger options, when you start playing the silly equivalence game (of course that's ont all), they're too close to FF, it seems to me.

But the super high end is another, much more attractive story IMO.

I think so, if I could comfortably afford, yes, but not for pixel peeping and making giant prints. I’d get one because it’s fun to try different formats. What I’d love is a mirrorless digital medium format “twin lens” reflex, except it would have no need for the second lens, and it would not need to have super high megapixels, and would have a full sized sensor (maybe 6 x 6). Look down at a big, shaded display. Push a button and it switches from “classic” upside down view to right side up. That might be fun. But still, maybe not. I’m actually getting into film again. And I’m looking at using my K1 with pixel shift as a powerhouse “scanner” for negatives. We will see. In the real world, I could comfortably afford a medium format film camera.

Honestly, no. At the moment I'm mostly photographing my family and small products for our business. I don't need the resolution. I'd rather spend money going somewhere with people I love and doing something we all enjoy.

At one time yes .... but now .... no.

Maybe some time in the future... not anytime in the next few years.

Full frame, small mirrorless form factor, good autofocus and a few good lens.

Medium format causes me to slow down and shoot more like I did in the film days. It also begs a tripod. The result is better pictures (mostly landscapes). I bit the bullet on a CFV 50c for my Hassy V system, which I have thoroughly enjoyed getting back to using. I would love to try the X1d, but since I have the digital V system, that will likely not happen. I enjoy getting back to the more deliberate medium format shooting rather than the high speed “blast and cull” techniques of many current DSLR shooters (although just last weekend I was blasting away at the birds at Bosque del Apache with my DSLR).

Medium format has always been outside my price range but I've often wondered about replacing my m43 kit with a full frame kit, just as I often wondered about going medium format or larger back in my film days when I was shooting 35mm.

On every occasion I've decided against it because I keep reaching the same conclusion: I like shooting with a smallish, light weight camera that lets me work relatively quickly. I love the dream of the better image quality I might be able to achieve but I don't want to have to work with the restrictions such as using a tripod that I would have to accept in order to get the most from the larger format. I'm not prepared to go to those extremes in order to get the most that's theoretically possible from my current format so I wouldn't be prepared to go to those extremes with a larger format.

Would I want one? Yes. Which one? Probably the Fuji, I prefer EVFs to optical finders by now. And it's cheaper than the Hassy, which also has its charm.

But no leaf shutters in these lenses? And smallish sensors? Hmmm...

Short answer: Yes*
Medium answer: Hell yes!!
Longish answer: The Leica S looks pretty good in that clean sheet of paper German over engineered way, and I'd probably still jump at the chance to get a digital back attached to a Mamiya c330 or Hasselblad V series, but calling anything smaller that 56x56mm "medium format" seems a little , well , little. I'd get the leaf shutter on whatever camera, so that leaves out the Pentax and Fuji (oh look , a pun! )

What I'd really like , or the 30 year old me would like, is a digital medium format back with live view and a global electronic shutter. The 62 year old me is settling for the Sony A series backs. Oh they call them cameras, well whatever.

*Or si , that's even shorter. In Vietnamese ừ which is even shorter. ( I just happened to have a list of single letter words handy )

That's a new car for someone that always uses 2 bodies when on a trip.

Absolutely, without hesitation.

Although, for architectural work, I'd want the back and lens mounted onto a technical camera that affords movements, so that restricts the viable systems.

Yes I would like one!

But then as you know I have one. The Leica S and a few goodies.
I bought into the system when the amount of resolution allowed huge enlargements which I needed. I haven’t compared a print from a full frame camera of similar resolution to see if a modern full frame is as good, but I suspect the lenses of the Leica might be better anyway.

A better question is if I didn’t have a medium format would I want one and which one? Yes I still would. Understand that I do landscapes and architecture not sports. Medium format for sports is a challenge when auto focus is not as fast and long lenses are in short supply.

Then the question would be which one. I prefer an optical viewfinder and the Leica S viewfinder is wonderful. Everyone should look through it to see the difference. So a mirrorless solution is not for me. I haven’t compared the Pentax, but ergonomically it is not as nice as the Leica although much less in cost which I appreciated since it forced Leica to lower their prices for the S. While I expect more people will choose mirrorless in the future, that’s OK for them. So yes I would stay with the Leica S. But if I was just coming into a medium format vs full frame discussion, my head would be turned by higher resolutions even though I empirically know I have enough at the current level. Therefore Leica will be forced to offer higher resolution in the future to attract new buyers.

Not a chance. Too many other things would also have to be true (size, resale value, smaller file sizes) which would essentially convert it into the camera I already have..

No. I’m happy with my Fujifilm X-T2 and my Olympus E-M1 Mark II gear.

I was a Pentax 6X7 user for more than two decades for all the image quality reasons Stephen Scharf mentioned in Part III of his review of the Fujifilm GFX 50. But I find all of those same image qualities in my current digital gear and I would be spending my money foolishly if I bought medium format digital gear today.

I think, at times, we all want, dream to have, yearn for better, more, the best, etc. That seems to be a bit of human nature. That, in and of itself, is sometimes fun. But acting on those impulses sometimes brings a hollow victory as medium format, for 99% of us, will yield nothing more than our current cameras and lenses.

In the end, I’ll keep what I have, fully exploit it’s capabilities and work to produce the best images I can.

I don't think so. I have lately been enjoying the use of a used Leica S lens on my Leica SL, and have learned that the lenses for this kind of stratospheric world are really different and special. But I can't think of anything I do that requires all the extra mega pixels. I do sometimes make panoramas with lots of detail encompassed. But that sort of scene usually involves something that is holding still, so there is no need to capture it in a single exposure.

As an owner of a Hasselblad H6D-100c, I am interested in a future version of the X1D specifically because of the form-factor and user interface of that camera.

The only possible answer is yes. With the ongoing discussions about image quality and/or image properties and sensor size properties, it seems that in the digital world one needs only a smartphone camera for use on the web and medium format for the print. All bases covered -- especially since the difference between carrying two systems that are not so far apart like aps and m3/4, it seems logical to carry only the farthest apart properties ( I won't fall in the trap of calling it image quality) that one can conveniently carry. I think Fujifilm called it correctly by not going to full frame when you already have good aps -- not enough difference. I once thought that the best possible property differences were between m3/4 and full frame. But if I could afford it, it would be smartphone and medium format. Damn, I'm trying to justify the cost and there is no way that I can.

I traded my full on Canon kit for (eventually) a Fuji X100F. For the lightness and small size. I might like to play with a medium format camera, but probably wouldn't want all the weight/hassle.

From my point of view really an idle question. My backpack is in minimal configuration already 12kg photo equipment only. I hike with a tripod, but often keep the camera ready in one hand. For cities I deem FF conspicious enough. For landscapes I often use PC lenses, which I do not see for MF. So no, even though I could afford a MF system, it is not complete enough, heavy and too voluminous to consider it.

It would be wasted on the type of photography I do. But it would be tempting, especially the Hasselblad!

For bragging rights, only.

If I can't carry it in a belt pouch, like I do with my LX100, it will stay on the shelf and gather dust.

One of the reasons I am happy to continue using 'full-frame' Canon DSLRs is that I have tilt-shift lenses to go with them (17mm, 24mm, 90mm). If a similar range of tilt-shift lenses was available for the medium-format system, and if I could comfortably afford the whole caboodle, then I might be tempted.

But neither of those conditions is satisfied. I'm happy to continue enjoying the quality I can get from my present gear...

...Not to mention convenience, compared with life in the age of film. I can still remember what happened when I fumbled those 4x5 film holders...

Add the newest Phase One to the mix and the funds to get it and I'm in.

Short answer ... NO

Longer answer ... I'm very happy with the quality of both the 'full-frame' sensor camera that I own (Sony A7II) and the 'so-called' 1" sensor camera that I own (Sony RX10 III).

Yes, H-blad

I can, and I don't. I think these cameras are mostly for studio photographers where image sharpness is more important. I am more of a personal documentary photographer. What is more important to me is ease-of-use, and simplicity. I never thought that image sharpness was as important as framing or timing. For street/documentary photographers, I simply cannot imagine one of those guys wandering around the streets with one of these cameras around their neck.If image sharpness is important, there are many current DSLRs or mirrorless cameras which are capable of very sharp pictures which can be blown up to 20x30. If you want larger, software will do the rest.

Having a reasonably long history in photography, starting with a Leica IIIf in 1960, and using film cameras over many years, SLRs mainly, but the favorites were a Leica CL, unfortunately stolen and a Contax G2.
Then moved on to digital, and it has been mostly APC Canon reflex models.
A couple of years ago I picked up a Fuji X100, and then used the various X100 models extensively. It became an extension of myself.
Eventually, the 35mm perspective restriction grew on me, and I switched it out for an X-T1, since replaced with an X-T2.
With this history, would I consider an MFC if money was no object? The answer is no. If I am to realize some of the projects in the back of my mind, where the outmost in technical quality would be beneficial, then I would rent whatever needed.
The other tempting camera on the market now is the Sony A7 models, but the lenses are larger and more expensive.
One person who has influenced me in deciding on the size, when you want to be around people is my daughter. When I bring out a Canon 700 (APS) with the excellent 17-55mm/2,8 lens, she politely tells me to remove it. It does not fit normal social environments, like a discussion around a coffee table.
As for the image quality (and in my case I am looking to make prints), since the APS cameras reached about 16Mpx, that's plenty, if it is the image you are after (which is to be used in a normal room).
Some images you see today are actually non-flattering, because they reveal skin texture, that's better unseen.
Additional technical quality does not always add artistic value. BTW, who needs 400 and then some focus points to choose from? Not me (the customer), I switch to use a mere 90. The technical specifications are frequently driven by the competition, not the customers.
Telephone switches had to have 67 advanced features, or they were not worth considering. Well, the average user used about 4 (speed dialing, call forwarding, camp on busy, and then I forget).
The X-T2 produces a meter wide print. The Sony a meter and a half. The MFC 2 meters. Which is why I'd rent the MFC when the 2 meter result is required.

Absolutely not!

I love the compact size and minimal weight of my m43 gear. I've got enough pixels to make 16x20 prints.

That's all I need. For my needs, anything more would get in the way of my photography.

No, I wouldn't buy one even if I could afford it. I work on my own projects from which I intend to create books, so "image quality" and being able to print big doesn't matter to me. I just can't imagine that using such a camera will result in any tangible improvement of my work.

Want to know what I would do if was so affluent that I could easily afford medium format digital? Keep my current gear but change to part-time employment to have more time for photography and other fun stuff like reading etc.

Best, Thomas

I have been lucky enough to use a Phase One IQ system pretty extensively at a studio I used to assist and 2nd shoot at, as well as briefly trying out the Fuji and Pentax 645 more recently. Honestly I don't think any of them have the "look" I love about shooting film on my Hasselblad 500 c/m(at least for personal work). For commercial work I can see the appeal, but for most "art" photography these systems leave me kind of cold. Yeah the resolution is insane, but that hard to define subjective "look" just isn't there for me, and I was shooting on one with a 6x4.5 sized sensor, the biggest digital available! I suspect it's that lovely combination of sharpness yet relatively shallow DOF that any 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, etc or view camera has even at relatively small apertures, plus the lovely highlight retention and roll-off of negative film. As always your mileage may vary. So back to the original question, in theory I want a X1D or GFX, but in reality can't really just don't love them enough to drop that kind of money, if I was still shooting commercially, maybe would be a different story. Anyways, that's my rambling $0.02

I have little interest in digital cameras at all, at the moment, and if I had the money for a full GFX rig, I'd probably sink it on a RB67, a couple of backs, an 80mm lens, and a few hundred rolls of film, and get some real MF going.

If I had the money for a full Phase One rig... I'd probably do the same as with the GFX money, but maybe also throw in a Graphic View II and a few dozen boxes of 4x5.

I don't think it's a swan song. Some jewelry and other product photographers might really need a Phase. And some landscape pros might make good use of the GFX. But I wouldn't, and for my money, film is going to stay winning until it disappears from the market. I get too much enjoyment out of the whole film process, from shopping for cameras and film, deciding which camera/lens/film to shoot, the limited number of frames, the latency, the smell of the chemicals and the whole development process, the DSLR scanning and processing digital negatives...

Nothing against digital, and horses for courses and all, but I'm having too much fun with film, and for several years now.

And come to think of it, if I had money for a Phase rig, I'd build a darkroom and start printing. No question.

Nope. I am happy with my Fujifilm XT-10, and an odd collection of film cameras. Enuff is enuff.

With best regards,

Stephen

I wouldn't be able to do anything that I now do with my APS-C DSLRs, so I wouldn't want one. One of my cameras has 14.6 megapixels, the other has 24.

24MP is more than enough for anything I want to do, but it was the first camera I took out last weekend; it was enough.

If I was choosing a digital medium format camera it would be the Pentax, as are the cameras above. I wouldn't have to struggle with another way of doing things and could get on with taking photos.

The Leica is the most elegant digital camera so far and owning one would be rather wonderful but my budget and spine are better served by any of the 24mp APS cameras out there.
But since this is an "unlimited money" thought experiment look out for what's in the garage.

I would go for the Hasselblad, while hoping and not knowing if my vintage Hasselblad film lenses would fit via an adapter. I'm sure that someone will make an adapter for the FUJI as well to adapt vintage medium format glass. I would still go for the Hassy.

None. I don't want the weight. Perfectly happy with m4/3

That's a devilish question!
I mostly shoot landscapes and make prints as large as 24 x 72" so a medium format system is sorely tempting. The above named systems all promise to provide the stellar resolution, dynamic range and smooth tonality that suits what I like to photograph.
On the other hand, these systems feature larger, slower (both in terms of f-stop and focusing speed), über-expensive lenses compared to my current Canon system. Getting everything within acceptable depth of focus in a complex forest scene is that much harder with a larger sensor. And I have yet to break one of Canon's full frame SLR's despite several falls on rocks and multiple shoots in pouring rain. Don't think I'd want to try that with a removable electronic viewfinder. Finally, I love the extensive range of excellent glass available for Canon.
So, a reluctant 'no' for me.
But I would probably feel differently if I were a studio photographer.

To me, the size and weight just aren't worth it. I've found that, for my process at least, I put a heavy premium on portability.

In the rare occasion that I do grab something big, heavy, and expensive to shoot with, it's going to have to be something that's going to give me a significantly different process. Something that will push me in a way that my current kit doesn't (in other words, likely 120 or 4x5 film).

I would like 2:

- the Fuji GFX for landscape work and to satisfy my nerdiness by trying to use various lenses on it with an adapter (from what I've read, a lot of old Minolta 35mm lenses seem to work very well).

- the Hasselblad X1D for a street and carry-around medium format. It seems a lot of the inital problems of the camera have been addressed and it's quite usable now. I still think the controls and design of that camera are pure genious.

But both of them are still very far from my reach regarding price. I hope Sony could come up with a mirroless medium-format with the shape and size of the X1D and the capability to adapt lenses like the GFX. With the usually competitive Sony prices, I could maybe buy one of those second-hand.

I am probably getting too hung up on the phrase "comfortably afford". If I won the Powerball I would probably buy both the Pentax and Fuji cameras along with a bunch of lenses for each. However if we are talking about the real world I would probably not. Even if I was pretty well off, there is quite a long list of things I would rather spend money on.

Coming back for a second swing at this one...but in the form of a question for Mike and Stephen.

Stephen writes of the high qualities of the tonal range, detail and color from the GFX, but also says, "it's when you start to print at 24x36 or larger that you really start to see the benefits that a medium format camera brings compared to APS-C or full-frame."

Those things seem contradictory. Why wouldn't you see the same tonal, detail and color benefits (compared to FF and other formats) in an 11x14 print, say, rather than only larger than 24x36? Think about making a great 24x36, then getting a pair of scissors and cutting out an 11x14. Wouldn't the same benefits still be there?

I can't think of one of my images that would have been improved by a larger/more expensive camera.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit to lusting for a GFX, but my practical side would never allow it. I'm happy with my Mamiya MF gear and will direct my lust instead towards finding and feeding an 8x10.

I wouldn't carry 2 Nikon D750s if my employer had not given them to me. For my own work, I use the crop sensor Sonys. I probably wouldn't use the medium format cameras if they were given to me. Not worth the weight.

No. If I had that money I'd invest it in a larger-format (larger than 5x4, which I have) film camera and a really nice lens in preference or, if I could live with myself, a B/W digital camera (yes, that one). This is because I have a MF film system (Pentax 67ii) but I never use it: I use 35mm and LF instead. But in fact I probably would not do either.

Up until the GFX arrived on the scene I would have said no. But I really kind of want a GFX. The difference is that it's small and handy, hardly different in size than a normal DSLR of the more serious variety. Also while it's expensive it's more BMW expensive and not so much Bugatti expensive like the others. So yes GFX please - the others, I'd rather have a Sony A7.

I didn't think so, until I used a 645Z in the flesh for the first time. I just really bonded with it very quickly. Going to medium or large format is something that cannot be envied, it has to be experienced...

Pak

No, I don't think so, even though I am considering getting a medium format film camera (and not because I have any nostalgic love for film).

If I am not mistaken, none of those are true medium format compared to what was medium format with film. Thus we'd have to calculate "equivalents" again and the performance of the lenses on crop frame cameras would differ from a "full frame" medium format. This very rarely bothers me at all on m4/3 or APS-C but if I am paying that much I want everything, thanks.

The main reason would be that I doubt I would use it as much as I do smaller cameras. I would rarely have a need to lug all that around. But I suppose if I did have the money to buy one of those, even the Fuji (thank goodness no x-trans), I'd just have my servant carry it for me.

I can afford it and the answer is no. The limit on my photography is not my present equipment (Fuji X system and a cabinet full of superb old 35 mm film gear), it is due to issues of discipline and vision on my part. In the past I have been too focused on the gear and not focused enough on the art. I have moved in the opposite direction towards simpler smaller cameras. My arthritis has also pushed me in that direction. For the last few weeks I have walked around with an Olympus XA loaded with Tmax 400 in my pocket.

No, probably not. I have a Hasselblad medium format film system that's moderately extensive and suits my needs very well. Actually it's a small percentage of the available Hasselblad goodies, but the whole kit is more than I need to carry at any given time, so what I've got is "extensive enough".

It's a tricky business with the current sensor size and MP of the Fuji and Hasselblad. Like Mr Scharf, I rented a GFX for a long weekend and absolutely loved using it. I'm a former 4x5, film MF, D800E, now Fuji X T-2 photographer. I read extensively and learned from some pretty careful people such as Jim Kasson, that it's hard to tell GFX files from A7RII files unless printed large, as in 24x36 large. I also printed my GFX files along with the X T-2 files made along side the GFX. No question I could see a difference, but that was only by doing some careful pixel-peeping. At a "normal" viewing distance, at a "normal for me" print size, e.g. 13x20, it's challenging to see differences, and while visible, they're hardly significant. What I love about the GFX is the slower style, 4:3 aspect ration (I know I can crop 3:2 images), and the sense that you're using a precision instrument. I don't care what you iPhone people say, FIFTY MEGAPIXELS is cool, very cool. I don't like the price though it's probably fair for a low production camera. It's hard to get past the fact that the body costs as much as TWO D850's or TWO A7RII/III's. Having said all that, I'd really like to own one, it might shut me up for a while though probably not.

I’d really like to give the GFX a ahot, with the 32-64mm lens.

But.. I will likely keep shooting “old” cameras like the D800 for the forseeable future. $1000 for a good used camera with very good image quality and resolution.

Shows what camera companies are up against. Higher prices on a new gear due to a shrinking market versus a huge used inventory of reasonably priced cameras not all that much different than the latest and greatest in most ways.

No.

I once showed up at Tunnel View in Yosemite NP in the late afternoon when the place was lined with photogs and their big fancy cameras on their big tripods with their bags of big lenses and gear sitting below. In some ways it seemed more about the gear than the view. I was glad I just had my little unpretentious OMD, with no tripod (just my 5-axis IS) or other "stuff."

I want smaller, less conspicuous and more portable, with enough quality so that neither I nor anyone likely to view my photographs notices any technical deficiencies.

I'm reminded of a friend who has a very nice mid-80s 911SC. He finally decided to have it painted, with excellent results. A beautiful car. He no longer enjoys it. It grabs too much attention and he's too worried about damaging it in some way. He thinks of trading it for something less impressive but equally fun to drive.

And the story my old boss used to tell of a guy he knew who always had a gorgeous woman with him but then married someone much more plain and, when asked about that, said she brought him comfort.

Know when enough is enough.

Money no object? Sure, I'd get the Leica S. I'd wait on the Fuji technology until there's no EVF blackout. Once that's solved I'd want to compare it with the Leica.

I already own medium format (MF) digital cameras, and I will eventually own either the Fuji or the Hasselblad shown in your post, but which one, I do not know. I never buy first generation gear, and wait to see if major upgrades are necessary. In the meantime, I read lots of user experience before I buy.

I read posts that talk about the weight of MF gear, but it does not have to be heavy. If you want a lot of automation, that will add more weight. I gave up full frame DSLRs once I realized I did not want all THAT weight.

For comparison, here are snapshots of the weights of the two cameras I shoot the most: a X-Pro 2 with a Zeiss Touit 50mm lens (product shoots), and an ALPA TC with a 35mm Schneider lens and Hasselblad CFV50c digital back (landscapes). The X-Pro 2 would weigh more with a zoom lens, but I do not use them for various reasons, one being weight. The lenses I use on the TC are some of my favorites that stem from my 4x5” film days, just upgraded for digital backs and they weigh a lot less than DSLR lenses.


ALPA TC + Schneider 35 XL + Hasselblad CFV50c

My point is, the MF kit I use weighs less than a full frame DSLR, plus I am able to shoot film with it too.


ALPA TC + Schneider 35 XL + Hasselblad A12 Film Magazine

Here is a shot I made last weekend near my home with the TC, 35 XL lens, Hasselblad digital back plus a tripod (the sun was gone). The image squished to 470 pixels wide makes it look like crap, but printed to 30x40” it is beautiful.

MF is not for everyone. I believe seeing images is a lot like hearing music; not everyone can hear all the tones, just like not everyone can see all the tones. MF brings to photography a gradation of tones that once a photographer experiences, they may want to capture. If you do not see it, no big deal. Just keep shooting whatever it is that makes you happy.

For those digital "medium" formats, I'd say no. The 135 sensor is not much smaller and with the right lens could produce the intended image with much greater ease.
Now if one could get a digital 4x5, 8x10 or whole-plate camera.

No, because as good as they are, they can be better. My ideal camera is a modern 203FE with a 6x6 digital back that responds as quickly as the 203FE. I'd trade off auto focus for that.

Or a modern XPan II with 24mmx62mm digital back.

Or a modern digital M7. The M10 is coming close, but it needs to respond "immediately".

Give me one of those three and I would be as happy as a clam.

I'd pass up all of 'em. I don't require a sensor larger than FF 35mm.

If cost were no object or somebody gave me a brand new one without strings attached, I'd turn around and sell it.

If I had enough money to get one of these but my current amount of free time? No. My time is already oversubscribed, and I wouldn't get remotely enough use out of it to warrant owning one.

If I had enough money that I didn't have to work to keep my rent paid? Hell yes. My longtime thought is that if my occasional lottery ticket (like Mike has said previously, buying one occasionally is a dollar spent on the entertainment derived from imagining what one would do with the winnings) ever paid off, I'd get some big full-frame Nikon or Canon thing. Then the Sony FFs came out, and I thought that would be better. Now, the Fuji would be the "lottery dream" camera for me. I have no interest in lugging around a ginormous "traditional" medium format camera in any universe (if I wanted to go for something that inconvenient, I'd go whole hog and buy an 8" x 10" film camera), but a mirrorless one that's only about twice as big as my Oly m43 gear? That's something to dream about.

I would likely purchase a Pentax 645. I would want something that is vastly different from my Micro 4/3 walk around gear. I am OK with it being the bulkiest option of the bunch because that physical change in gear is something that will cause a mental change for me.

I would pack around a normal lens and a wide angle. If I were spending theoretical dollars instead of real ones that my wife might want to spend on a vacation or a new car, I would also throw in a 600mm for critters and unique landscapes.

Not really. I can make really lovely big prints, vastly bigger than I could make in the first 30 years of my photographic life with film, from my existing small easily-carried digital cameras. The benefits of the big cameras for what I care about are not clear to me.

If I had infinite money (and I guess I'd need infinite time, too) I'd love to have a Sony A7SII, an A7RII, an A9, a Nikon D5, and appropriate lenses (in addition to what I have now) to figure out what's actually best overall for what I do. Probably really needs two systems, probably, but not having the infinite money I ain't doing that. Low-light performance is much more important than resolution for me, and I do have considerable interest in video as well.

I'd love to have one. But as a luxury item - I could afford one if it meant enough to me, so therein may lie your answer. But if I had enough money that I'd feel no guilt over the expense, I would find it thoroughly enjoyable and I think it would obligate me (a kick in the pants) to take my photography a little more seriously. I'm not sure I'd do anything that justified in as far as requiring the file quality, but I'd get a lot of personal satisfaction out of the tools and the quality of the images. I've shot medium format with a Rollei TLR before and it was always an absolute joy. I never printed any bigger from it than I did from 35mm.

I don't know the "lay of the land" in MF very well so wouldn't know how to make an intelligent decision. That said, as a mainly Fuji X shooter, I would most likely opt for the GFX since it handles pretty similarly to my X-T2 and X70 from what little I've heard. I'm sure all candidates will make nice photos and for me it makes most sense to use something that will fit with my "muscle memory".

I wouldn't want to carry one, though I'd have to admit, they make for attractive paperweights.

I have no doubt that one if my first purchases if I won the lotto, would be the mirrorless Hassy. I've been lusting for it and the classic trio of primes ever since I heard of it. That and a good printer would make my print business possible.

It was an expensive lesson for me, but I don't need or even want a medium-format digital camera.

I know this to be true, because I happen to have a medium-format digital camera outfit (a Contax 645 / Phase One P30+ combo.)

What I didn't realize at first is that for the type of photography I do -- low-light, long-exposure, architectural-related photos taken late at night / early in the morning (https://audiidudii.aminus3.com/ for the curious) -- it was simply the wrong tool for the job.

Achieving sufficient DoF with its 44 x 33 sensor proved to be quite problematic. And stopping down the lens further meant increasing the exposure lengths by several stops, so I stood around a lot and often had to retake photos several times because it was difficult, if not outright impossible to do so without, say, a car driving through the scene, an airplane flying past overhead, or a person with a cell phone walking through it, leaving a bouncing light trail, etc.

It turned out that, for my purposes, cameras with smaller sensors are a much better choice and I'm very happy with the Sony A7R I finally settled on. For me, it offers the best compromise between qualty of image and practicality in use, regardless of how much I might be prepared to spend.

Remember how the choice for small, medium or large format film could be part of the concept and the briefing for an assignment?
I cannot imagine that this still happens with the different digital formats today.

While I suffer from GAS, this is where I would draw the line. Too big and heavy, would require a whole new set of lenses. Just too too much. And would rarely be used since i still favor my 35mm equivalent digital and 35mm film cameras.

I'd take the Fuji GFX in a heartbeat. It's slightly smaller and lighter than a FF DSLR, and it complements my other Fuji X gear. If it proved to be quick and responsive enough, I might even give up that other gear in favor of the GFX as my main camera.

Not for me. Not much difference from carrying a 35mm system, in terms of sensor size.

For me: yes. But I am a bit of a format junkie. I find that different formats make me see the world differently, quite apart from the question of pure resolution. I am trying to fill that rectangular frame with meaningful photons, and the ones that hit an 8x10 have always been different for me than 6x6, 6x7 or even 4x5. I have used and enjoyed film cameras from Minox spy cams to 8x10. The only thing that kept me from going to 11x14 back in the day was the cost of materials.

The other caveat is that my "yes" is premised on the affordability baked into the question. Acquiring the hypotethetical camera wouldn't make me jettison the gear that I already enjoy, just as the current accretion of gear was acquired over time. So if the little Olympus u4/3 is the right piece of gear for a day on the town, then getting an MF camera wouldn't change that decision. That's why "too heavy," "too big," or "can't be used to take pictures of birds," don't really signify for me as reasons not to work with a particular piece of gear. I don't take my 8x10 to do sports photography either.

BTW, a variation of this question is, "if you won the lottery, what gear would you buy?" In my case, I'd go large starting with constructing a dedicated photo studio and print shop, so I have no problem saying "yes" to this particular bit of kit. Heck, my question is: if you are going to take cost out of the equation, why stop with an MF camera and lenses? I'd go all Graham Nash on the thing . . .

I paid as much for my 1DS Mark III as I will be paying for a GFX in the not too distant future. The Xpan with a set of lenses, wasn't much different. I've never been able to "afford" them comfortably, but have always managed to acquire what I thought was the best tool for what I'm doing. One thing my father taught me that stuck. The GFX is definitely a Siren song for me-one to which I will capitulate.

Without a doubt I would buy the Fuji. I have been a Fuji user since 2014. Love the quality of the XT-2 and the Fuji lenses. I am a landscape/nature photographer. I would love to have the quality of the Fuji system in MF and think the results would be immediately apparent. The goal is to make the highest quality prints possible so I believe Fuji MF is the answer. Thanks for asking.

Can I answer after today's MRI on my neck?

The comments to this entry are closed.