Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
kye

What is the medium format look?

Recommended Posts

Now we've heard the Fujifilm GFX 100MP 4K Medium Format camera announcement, it leads me to wonder what the medium format look really is?

Obviously the sensor size means that shallow depth of field is easier to get, and larger sensors gather more light (although MF sensors don't seem to be low light beasts), but what else is part of the look?

This sure looks nice though...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Well the image ratio is different, usually the sensor are 4:3, that the main difference.

You get shallow DOF, but you can usually get it shallower on full frame with super fast glass. ( 85mm 2.8 on 645 = 53mm 1.8 on full frame )

You tend to get a bit less distortion on lenses ( I guess longer focal are a bit more easy to manufacture), but I m not even sure it s true nowadays. 

I had a full 645 digital medium format ( mamiya ZD) and honestly the look is mostly in your head, the ratio is different and your distance to the subject is a bit different as well, so the look of the dof is marginally different.

For me medium format is more about resolution than look since you can get very shallow with fast glass on other formats.

Medium format digital use to have so advantages over full frame ( like 14 bits raw/superior resolution ) but that not really the case anymore, a a7rii vs a X1D create marginally different pictures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I shot 6x7 for a while... I found the look similar to a wide open Otus on FF, I'd guess? Good micro contrast, a surprising lack of aberrations, low amounts of grain (for film), shallow depth of field. Look for Hasselblad 500 photos on Flickr for reference. Or the Revenant has that look, but highly processed. I really liked it. The lenses split the difference between super sharp and vintage, and have a lot of depth and micro-contrast to their rendering. A lack of aberrations and very sharp (overall, not per given mm) but also good contrast and unfussy bokeh due to simpler designs with fewer air to glass surfaces and less exotic glass.

I found I needed much more light in order to get enough depth of field and to get the right shutter speed (on film I used the reciprocal rule, which doesn't quite hold up on digital, but which disadvantages longer focal lengths needed for the same FOV on MF). It's not great for photojournalism, better for studio work. Hasselblads were popular for fashion. Okay for landscape and architectural/real estate, but you really want a tech camera for that stuff to get lens movements and that gets $$$.

There's no magic to MF, though, particularly on digital where the sensors are much much smaller than they are on film, and barely larger than full frame. MFDB are often 33mmX44mm; by contrast, Fuji Rangefinders were nearly 60mmX90mm of film. Just think one step beyond FF but without a lot of lenses available. 

If you shoot a lot of fashion or high end portraiture, I think you'l like the look a lot. Another big advantage is the leaf shutter, which syncs to higher shutter speeds (I think, forget the details) and is also much lighter. So despite the massive film plane, the shutter has very little mass, like a rangefinder. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It isn't just shallower DoF, it's the way it transitions from focus to out of focus. The larger the format, the more three dimensional the transition -- if you've ever seen an 8x10 slide it feels like you can reach into the frame. I shoot 4x5 slide film and it feels different to look at compared to 35mm. 

But having worked with this current generation of APS-C, Full Frame, and both the Hasselblad and Phase One cameras, there's not always a lot in it. You can definitely tell the difference between APS-C to MF, but a D850 with a 50mp Phase XF? Not a lot in it for a lot of applications. But you can tell the difference with a higher megapixel sensor, so I'm very interested in the GXF100s. 

7 minutes ago, Mako Sports said:

larger sensors gather more light? Didn't know camera sensors work like black holes..

Larger individual pixel sites gather more light -- not the sensor size itself. Hence the GH5s has a 12mp chip vs the 20mp in the GH5.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It WOULD be easier to achieve shallow DOF with MF but only if you have the lenses available and currently, except for some very rare and very exotic (and very expensive no doubt) lenses for aerial photography, most MF lenses just are not that fast (compared to many available FF lenses).

The MF current digital camera sensors are also smaller compared to film MF.

A f0.95, f1 or 1.2 FF lens is  still going to give shallower DOF than a comparable f2 MF lens and I would think a 1.4 FF lens would be likely just a little shallower than a f2 MF lens  (on MF digital) as well (I stand to be corrected on that).

 

I would still love to get a MF back to adapt to my old Polaroid 600SE (it would need a digital back on a MF film adapter).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, androidlad said:

It's about FOV and perspective distortion. A 50mm lens on MF will have 50mm perspective distortion but equivalent of 35mm FOV, making things look "grand".

I knew this would eventually come up. Perspective distortion is only due to distance between camera and subject. Focal length has nothing to do with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Without going into the reason why, larger formats are different. FF is waxy, 6x7 is Plasticy and 8x10 is silky smooth. My fav look is 6x8, Maybe in 8years or so someone comes up with a sensor as large as that in a consumer camera.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone!

This is kind of a microcosm of my previous impressions about MF, most talk about it being scaled up but the same, a few talk about desirable aesthetic differences and then get refuted.

It's kind of why I asked the question. My brain says that the differences should be all engineering, but then I see images like the video in the first post and something within me stirs and says "I want that!!".

I guess we'll have to wait for the camera to come out and judge the footage for ourselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's full frame but 0.8x crop!

F1.2 = looks like F0.95 on full frame. But glass can be much cheaper (adapted). Canon FD 85mm F1.2L cost me 600 euro. It's a monster, no vignetting.

Bear in mind true medium format goes larger than the Fujifilm GFX 50S. My Hasselblad H3D-39II has a even larger sensor so adjust that 0.8x.

Medium format is also about resolution - both sensor and glass. You can still have a very shallow DOF stopped down at F4, with supreme sharpness compared to a fast lens wide open. On the sensor side, 100MP would be pretty noise on a full frame sensor, without some sort of technological breakthrough.

When the inevitable happens and we move to 8K, meanwhile medium format could have a significant dynamic range and high ISO advantage over full frame.

XT3A9214b.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Andrew Reid said:

It's full frame but 0.8x crop!

F1.2 = looks like F0.95 on full frame. But glass can be much cheaper (adapted). Canon FD 85mm F1.2L cost me 600 euro. It's a monster, no vignetting.

Bear in mind true medium format goes larger than the Fujifilm GFX 50S. My Hasselblad H3D-39II has a even larger sensor so adjust that 0.8x.

Medium format is also about resolution - both sensor and glass. You can still have a very shallow DOF stopped down at F4, with supreme sharpness compared to a fast lens wide open. On the sensor side, 100MP would be pretty noise on a full frame sensor, without some sort of technological breakthrough.

XT3A9214b.jpg

Regarding noise, it depends on how you look at the pixel count. On a 1:1 level, the 100MP sensor has identical noise performance as X-T3, it's the same 3.76um photosite architecture, the 100MP one is like four X-T3 sensor stitched together. If you normalise the images to standard 8MP (DxO "print" test method), the 100MP will have at least 3EV more DR in theory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say it is background compression and depth of field in relation to focal length.

e.g. 50 1.2 on ff and going for a upper body shot open wide you'll have fair bG separation still having a 1.8 would be boring.

on mf you could have the same depth of field but an even wider frame. This is something you usually don't see or can get easily on a smaller sensor...given subject distance etc...stays the same

Mf is lame I want sensors as big as my tablet aka large format

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we should discuss lenses and MF cameras separately.

In the same way that a MFT 25mm f2.8 lens gives the same viewing angle and DoF as a 50mm f5.6 lens, there are equivalent lenses on MF also.

My question is that given the two sensor sizes and two equivalent lenses (equivalent in both focal length and aperture) then are there any other differences?

The video I included looks absolutely gorgeous to me, but is that simply a combination of the lens resolution and characteristics, the colour science, the codec (IIRC that video was raw?), the source resolution, and the nice lighting and subject?

If so, then the engineering part of my brain understands that, and would also explain why lovely images can be also be taken with MFT, 1" cameras, or even smartphones and their borderline microscopic sensors.

I want to have a camera that is as small as possible, but if there's something magical about MF (which the images certainly hint that there might be) then I want to understand what it is and start working out how to get it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It must be said that video amplifies the difference between formats far more than in stills. Once you add camera movement and focus pulling, the advantages of a larger sensor become crystal clear. Watch any film shot on Alexa 65. There's more gentle falloff, less distortion in wide shots, crisper more intimate close-ups, more apparent depth and more detail but without clinical sharpness. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...