Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?
1. No, I don't need one
2. Probably, for just considering a medium format camera.
For my next project I want to have the option of larger prints; 20 x30 or larger. The color needs to be exact and the image quality as good as it gets. I also want to include interior and exterior architecture images as well as standard and panorama landscape images.
I am looking at the Hasselbad H4D50.
This seems like a nice way to tilt/shift:
Should I just forget this and get an FX camera?
#1. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 0Fri 24-Sep-10 11:36 PM
That Blad is a beauty. It’s hard to say whether or not you should buy it or not. A six thousand dollar rebate is hard to resist. In the old days, it was my opinion (and still is) that the larger the format, the better the print, but that was before the nice glass that Nikon has made tor 35mm and full frame digital. There is no question in my mind that you are going to get finer quality, large prints, from a 2-1/4 than you would from a 35mm format. (Don’t even get me started about the debate over reach and ½ frame vs. full frame). Since you are entrenched in DX lenses, you may want to reconsider your decision, but I am sure that if you decide to make this leap that you will never be happy with DX again. On the other hand, maybe a D3S or a D3X would make more sense.
I sold my Blad for a song, but it was, by far, the nicest film camera that I had ever owned. As I had said, that was before Nikon made all of the pro glass.
I’m an amateur now, and have even purchased the new D3100, today, as my point and shoot, so my opinion probably carries very little value.
If you decide to buy that beauty, let us know how you like it.
#2. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 1Fri 24-Sep-10 11:59 PM | edited Sat 25-Sep-10 12:00 AM by bobpilot
Thank you for your comments; every opinion is valued at this point.
I am also looking at Phase One.
I read some reviews of the HD-40 series and one did not recommend hand holding it, while the other, shows a video of a pro hand holding. While heavier and bulkier than my DSLR, the image quality will make the effort worthwhile, and the exercise can't hurt.
This statement from a review concerns me:
"Likewise, many photographers are not aware of the fact that the larger format of the H System cameras provides a considerably shallower depth of field range, making it much easier to utilize selective focus to creative effect."
I want more depth of field, not less, or am I misunderstanding something? So, what is the rest of this story?
I just finished a two year project and while the project was a success, I want to do better next time, if I get another opportunity. I will wait to buy a new camera system until I get an opportunity to do another project.
Even if I get a medium format camera I will not give up my Nikon cameras. The D300 is just fine, if not perfect, for equestrian events and travel.
I am intrigued by Hasselblad's tilt/shift feature.
#3. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 2jrp Charter MemberSat 25-Sep-10 07:09 AM | edited Sat 25-Sep-10 07:11 AM by jrp
Yes, The Hassy has a certain appeal, except for the cooling effect of its price.
Also, it is by no means a portable camera and it is quite difficult to make decent images handholding.
We had the opportunity to see a dear friend, Mr. BI Mah (markins) testing the H4D-60 (60 Mpixels) expected to hit the shelves by mid October. Even if just watching his results on the LCD it was simply ravishing.
However, a simple kit like H4D-50 with an 80mm f/2.8 lens costs today 40K. For about 11% of that you can get a D3s and keep on using your existing lenses.
Attachment#1 (jpg file)
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#4. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 3Sat 25-Sep-10 08:42 AM | edited Sat 25-Sep-10 08:49 PM by bobpilot
While a Hasselblad video shows this camera being hand-held by a pro; your statement seems more accurate. The Hasselblad is losing it's appeal.
I am now looking at the Leica S2. No zoom lenses, however, the camera is appealing.
Still pondering the Hasselblad; I use a tripod most of the time.
I am troubled most by this: Am I good enough? It seems to me that I need a lot more practice and experience, and even then wont be good enough to get out of the Hasselblad what it is capable of.
#5. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 4Sun 26-Sep-10 02:25 AM
From the Hasselblad site:
". . . larger-format H System cameras provide a considerably shallower depth of field range, making it much easier to use selective focus for creative effect."
While this might be great for portrait work, I plan to use this camera, if I get one, for projects that involve landscapes, architecture, animals (slow moving critters due to shutter speed max of 1/800) and gardens.
Will this reduced depth of field be a problem? How much is the depth of field reduced? While this can be compensated for with a smaller aperture, the shutter speed will increase; I know I'm stating the obvious; I am making too much of this reduced depth of field?
Is the H4D-50 a camera that is not well suited for the type of photography I do?
#6. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 5walkerr Nikonian since 05th May 2002Sun 26-Sep-10 09:11 AM
While medium format cameras can be great, there are also many compromises as well. It's not a free lunch. They're not general purpose cameras and are not well suited to action. Before expending many tens of thousands of dollars on something new that will have its own learning curve, I would make sure you're maximizing the capabilities of what you currently have. Getting good color has more to do with good shooting and post-processing skills than the brand or size of camera. If you have problems today (and that's the implication), you'll have those same problems with a medium format camera. I have no problems making 20x30 prints that look great from my Nikon bodies, but again, that requires knowledge of how to prepare a print of that size. Regarding FX cameras, I'd still give the same advice: make sure you first know how to maximize what your current equipment can do.
#7. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 6Sun 26-Sep-10 11:05 AM
The project was successful and the books look great. The color of the printed images is fine. The images in the book received high praise and no negative comments. I just want to do better next time.
From what I read about MF cameras, there are compromises, I am glad you hear someone say this. I appreciate what you wrote.
I believe I am getting the most out of my equipment; that was not true in the beginning of the project. My post-processing skills improved, and I found that I often went back and re-worked images that I had worked in the beginning of the project. I also found that post processing thousands of images took more time than I imagined.
I got lured by the Hasselblad video on their web page which seemed to suggest that there is less post processing with their camera and mentioned accurate color. That is what I was after; accurate colors.
I hired some post processing work done and the color of his work was different than mine on the same image. The sky on the image I worked seemed to be a more accurate blue, and while his trees seemed to be a more accurate red/orange (fall scene), the sky seemed to be the wrong hue. It seemed that I must have been the only one to notice for no one mentioned this disparity. Which one was more accurate? So, when the Hasselblad video mentioned accurate color, they had my attention.
Comparisons of DX vs FX images shows that the FX image has more detail. This convinced me that FX could provide a better image, if properly done. I decided to use my D300 because the printed images were only 10 x 14.
But what if a large print is wanted? 20 x 30 is seems to be the limit and I'm not sure what the image will look like that large. I want to be prepared, on the next project, to state with confidence that the images I produce can be printed very large and look perfect. Perhaps that's the problem; I am seeking perfection.
When I saw FX compared to MF I was convinced that MF produces the better image; with the proper skills. And then I learned of some the compromises, as you mentioned. Lost of DoF, slower shutter speed, ISO not usable above 400 (opinion of a user). What compromises did you have in mind?
Preparing to print at a large size; this is unfamiliar territory for me. Where can I get some guidance on this?
My reason for considering a new format is that I want to produce a high quality image. Are my skills keeping me from that goal, or is it the equipment I use?
Before 'jumping out of the airplane' for the next project, I want to do just as you suggested: maximize the use of my current equipment.
#8. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 7walkerr Nikonian since 05th May 2002Sun 26-Sep-10 11:54 AM
Bob, there is no doubt that in the right hands and with a solid knowledge of the craft of photography, it's possible to get better results with an FX camera than with a DX camera, and with a medium format camera than an FX camera. Of course, it's also possible to get better results with a DX camera than an FX or medium format camera in situations where those aren't the best choices. How do you know what those situations are? Experience. Also realize that ultimate sharpness in a print isn't what most customers care about. They react much more strongly to composition, color, ideas and creativity - all the hard stuff. Wonderful 20x30 prints were made with low resolution Nikon D1's, but the photographers using them knew how to get every last bit out of them.
Regarding compromises with medium format, I would add significant size, weight, cost and loss of flexibility to the ones you mention. To a certain extent, the same is somewhat true with FX.
I hate to be blunt, but what I'm hearing in your posts is that you want to achieve perfection through purchases rather than devoting time to learning. Keep in mind that you've just stated that you don't even know what your current images will look like at large print sizes! Get some good books on photographic technique, post-processing and printing - there are an enormous number of them. Watch some tutorial videos on how to do this stuff. Take some classes or workshops. Most importantly, experiment and see what you can do. Make big prints and see how they look. When they don't align with your goals, change your approach after determining what went wrong. Pretend you don't have the option of buying new equipment and have no choice but to optimize results with what you have. Your total investment going this route will be much less than even purchasing a single lens for a Hasselblad.
Questions to ask yourself: Are you using a tripod religiously? Do you know exactly when you need to use mirror lock-up? Do you know how to optimize fine detail in a print vs. emphasizing shapes and forms? Do you know how to selectively alter color in different regions of an image? Do you know exactly how to selectively edit other aspects of an image? Are your color management skills rock-solid? All of this is out there in books and other media, but you won't have a firm handle on it until you extensively use it. You won't get this level of knowledge just posting questions here on this site, although it can be a great complement to the other methods of learning. When you're at the right stage to consider new equipment, you won't need to ask the questions in your posts. You'll already know the answers through experience.
Again, sorry if this sounds blunt, but I'm trying to help. Suggesting that you simply buy the most expensive gear on the planet before you understand the limits of your current equipment wouldn't be helping.
#9. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 8Nikon32250 Nikonian since 16th Mar 2004Sun 31-Oct-10 12:35 AM
I realize that this post is about 30 days old, but I would like to add my 2 cents if I may. While this may not be a direct response to Bob, I wanted to add that I own a Hasselblad 501 c/m. In terms of percentage of use it is certainly way lower than my Nikons. The reason I purchased it was to get a camera which was totally mechanical (which I could also have gotten with an older Nikon and will probably buy one again someday). I really love the huge waist level finder which is something that I don't think any 35mm can match. While I do not have many large prints made, I just think that the detail from the Medium Format negative is so much more detailed than 35mm film. I shoot just about everything from a tripod although I have gotten some nice hand held shots when I set the shutter speed at 1/500.
I can get totally lost when spending a day with my 'blad simply because it takes so much concentration on every aspect of the shot. I used to own both a Pentax and Mamiya auto-focus MF bodies, but they were too much like an SLR and so I sold them and just kept the Hassy.
Anyway, for what it's worth, those are the reasons I bought a Medium Format camera.
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#10. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 9Sun 31-Oct-10 02:55 PM
I too wanted more detail in my photos and thought going to a MF might help. Why your 'blad' takes more concentration? What do you need to do different?
I learned a few things in this thread. Enough that I am sure I will never have the need for a medium format camera.
As was pointed out:
"I hate to be blunt, but what I'm hearing in your posts is that you want to achieve perfection through purchases rather than devoting time to learning."
This comment seems true. However, the implication was that my motive was to bypass learning when in fact my goal was to produce better images. However, the statement is still valid; more equipment does not make better photos.
Until I learn a lot more and develop much more skill than I have, I will never advance beyond what I am now; whatever stage that is. I don't have enough time left.
This thread has caused me to re-evaluate how photography fits into my life. It was also suggested to me that I have other issues. I am beginning to not enjoy photography any more.
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#11. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 10Nikon32250 Nikonian since 16th Mar 2004Sun 31-Oct-10 05:06 PM
I try to abide by the motto of "Live and Let Live." What I mean is that, after all is said and done, only you can decide what is best for you. If you want to go for the digital Hasselblad then buy it. If you feel that it is too much of a camera for you, but still would like to give it a try then do so. (assuming of course that you're not mortgaging everything you own to do so )
If you get the digital 'blad and it proves to beyond you then you would probably be able to re-sell it for close to what you paid. Or, you could always buy one from a reputable seller that allows for returns with full refunds within 14 days or so. A third alternative would be to rent one. I actually prefer the last option best because I feel that it is a little unfair to the retailer if you have no intention of keeping it. If you truly believe that you are not quite ready for "prime time" with a $40K camera (or whatever it costs) then don't let that make you feel that you should leave photography altogether. I used to have lots of fun with a Panasonic film P&S.
From the sound of it you want to make better images and are looking for the best tools to get you there. My personal opinion is that getting great images is a combination of the talent of the photographer in visualizing the image and then seeing it come to fruition in print, combined with great lenses first, and body second. I am continually fine tuning my gear, and will probably never be fully satisfied. As time goes by I find that I am beginning to develop a sense of what I am trying to accomplish in my pictures and the tools I need to get there.
Hang in there, and don't give up on your photography yet whether it's with a P&S or that high tech Hasselblad. BTW, I saw one of those digital 'blads recently. The owner had to chase me away because he was afraid my drool was going to ruin his gear!
From St. Augustine, FL. "I like photographers, you don't ask questions." Ronald Reagan to White House Press Photogs
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#12. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 11Sun 31-Oct-10 05:40 PM | edited Sun 31-Oct-10 05:43 PM by jpFoto
FWIW, I have B&W prints all over my walls taken with my film Hasselblad that I never could have shot and enlarged with my 35mm Nikon F. But, as I noted in an earlier post above, that was before I owned the superior Nikkor glass available today. The majority of my shots were handheld at speeds as low as 1/30, and why not, there were no mirrors slapping. I have never touched a digital Hasselblad, so I don't know if it would be hard to handhold the new breed or not.
Bob, if you can afford the camera, and as Graham says, without mortgaging the house, then go for it. Nobody needs an $80,000.00 Mercdedes S series automobile when they can get by, in fine style, with a 40,000.00 Lexus, but you sure see alot of those S series on the road. If you find that you don't like it, sell it. You probaly will take a much smaller beating on the camera than you would on the car.
Just my $.02.
#13. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 12briantilley Nikonian since 26th Jan 2003Sun 31-Oct-10 05:55 PM
>The majority of my shots were handheld at speeds as
>low as 1/30, and why not, there were no mirrors slapping.
Most Hasselblad models since the 500C in the 1950's were/are SLR's, and thus have a reflex mirror. The XPan (a collaboration with Fuji) didn't, though.
#14. "RE: Should I get a medium format camera? Am I nuts?" | In response to Reply # 13Sun 31-Oct-10 06:03 PM | edited Mon 01-Nov-10 01:13 AM by jpFoto
You are right, of course. It was a long time ago, and as we both know, I can't check the EXIF data.
I drive a late model Honda. (5 speed-stick shift with steering wheel, clutch pedal, gas pedal, and brake pedal on the left side.)