U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | RE: Medium format digital

RE: Medium format digital


Kind of in the same boat.  Started using an 8x10 a few years ago solely because I wanted to do Platinum/Palladium prints. As hard as I tried I wasn't as fast or facile with the 8x10 as I was with my Rolleiflexes and Hasselblads.  I am going to sell the 8x10 gear now.

Made the decision to go with enlarged digital negatives (e.g. making negatives on Pictorico OHP, printed on an inkjet printer, from a file run through Photoshop). 

Two sources for the digital files here:  shoot digitally (I was eyeballing a Canon 5D or also buying one of the many backs available for my Hasselblad, and the dedicated Mamiya 645d system) or shoot on MF film and scan.

My issues with Digital Capture:   It just looks different than film.  And, for Hasselblad digital backs, you've got the crop factor working against you, so it makes it very tough to do a wide angle lens in the Hasselblad world.  My 40mm lens essentially becomes a 60?  The costs for the new MF digital systems is very high, too.  The H3DII kit starts at basically $25k with one lens. I will rent a high end, full frame digital SLR to see what it does for me, but for the time being:

Scanning Film:   I found a place in NYC that allows you to rent time by the hour on very high end film scanners. I'll be able to produce files that are about 4000dpi at 16" square from my Hasselblad and Rolleiflex negatives in 48bit RGB that will yield files of about 250MB.  I figure if I can do a conservative 6 scans an hour that will be roughly $10 per scan.  

I think I've got about 25 or so negatives that I want to treat this way right now.  In a good year, I might get 15 or so images that deserve to be enlarged and printed in platinum/palladium.  So, for me this looks to be much, much less expensive than buying a high end MF digital back or slr.  

Even if inexpensive digital scans aren't available in your area, a very high quality scan like described is at most a $50 investment.  For the maybe 10 scans I might do in a year, that's still a fraction of buying a camera that will be obsolete in a few years.  

I am willing to bet that a full frame Hasselblad digital back is in the future.  If I can get it for a couple thousand dollars eventually, I'd do that.

So, in your case, I'd look at the incredible deals to be had on all MF film gear.  I've seen beautiful RZs going for $750 with a couple of lenses on eBay and Craigslist. I've seen the 'value' of my Hasselblad system get cut in half in the last couple of years, and frequently see 500cm bodies go for a couple hundred bucks.  Lenses are cheap too, about half of what they were a couple years ago. 

And at the end of the day, if you're really happy using a Deardorff, high quality drum scanning 4x5 film will yield gorgeous files that you can print digitally in a lot of different ways, or create enlarged digital negatives for alt work. And, as illustrated above, you can buy a lot of high quality scans for the $25k+ entry price of a new MF digital system.  Good luck with whatever you do.

Neal Wilson

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> Date: Sun, 14 Sep 2008 14:16:11 -0500
> From: hansklemmer@mac.com
> Subject: Medium format digital
> To: alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca
> Friends,
> I'm looking to move from my 4x5 Deardorff to a medium format digital system and am weighing the merits of Hasselblad vs. Mamiya and their new digital cameras vs. putting a Leaf back onto one of the older film style cameras (the Mamiya RZ67, the Hasselblad 501, 503, or possibly even the Hassy Flexback ).I currently don't have a medium format camera aside from an old Rolle, so will have to pretty much start from scratch. Has anyone in the group experience or opinions on either of these? I'm wondering about sensor size in respect to the internal image projection size, the resolution of lenses made for digital imaging vs. those for film, costs of the cameras as well as parts availability (lenses and such). Predominantly, I'm an outdoor shooter currently working on a project of documenting dolmens and stone circles in Northern Ireland.
> I'd love to hear you all weigh in before I go out and make a wrong choice.
> Thanks in advance,
> Hans
> "I have discovered photography.  Now I can kill myself.  I have nothing else to learn."
> - Pablo Picasso