Jump to content

Is the future Medium Format?


Recommended Posts

From where I sit, as a GH5 owner noting the year-on-year absence of a GH6, combined with Hollywood types having their own FF fanboi crush on the new "LF" cinema cameras, the future looks potentially like larger sensor sizes.

In anticipating a FF future, and thinking of my love of vintage lenses, I had a period of a few days where I contemplated buying some FF lenses just to keep in case I'm forced to abandon MFT some years in the future.  During the tumble down that particular rabbit hole I wondered if I should jump straight to Medium Format lenses, as potentially they've escaped the FF-fad-inflation-factor, and it would also mitigate me against a take-over of Medium Format cameras.

I have since worked out that if that happens then I can just factor in the lenses to my system swap, and that with the plethora of new cheap fast glass coming from China, there will be acceptable options available when I make the change.  I also realised that the 'look' of vintage primes is mostly due to some combination of simpler optical recipes, lower manufacturing tolerances and less sophisticated coatings.  The fact that cheaper lenses typically have simpler optical recipes and lower manufacturing tolerances covers off those angles, and the less sophisticated coatings can be emulated with filters, which are widely available.  

This all made me curious...

What is the current state of MF video?  Resolutions, bitrates, bit-depths, codecs?

Do you think that MF will overtake FF?  

Before you say it's not possible because of sensor read speeds and sensor size for IBIS motors, consider that the GH5 was miles ahead of the FF video offerings when it was released but the current crop of FF cameras have made up most/all of that ground in the subsequent years.  I estimate this will continue and so having 6K120 and 5.5-stop IBIS on a Medium Format camera is simply a matter of time and market demand, not problems with the laws of physics.

I have absolutely LOVED the video I have seen from medium format cameras in the past, and I'm not sure if that's the lenses (which are ridiculously high-quality) or the larger sensor capturing more light or the shallower aperture or the fact that the colour science of a 5-figure camera is potentially better than CaNikon is famous for, but the images were moving in a way seldom seen from other cameras, and almost all MF video had that glorious feel.

Thoughts?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the gfx100s has a chance of big popularity considering it’s a day after the announcement of the Sony a1 at a similar price point, but honestly the difference between 35mm and these “medium format” digital sensors is kinda like the difference between apsc and full frame. You still need a “speed booster” to get the real look of the 645 lenses of yesteryear... I think the industry is better off with “open gate” 35mm sensors and anamorphics, even 1.33x has a look so similar to the alexa 65 that I think that’s where the “film look” will be for big time productions in the next 5 years. Between the s1h, the a7s3 or the fujifilm gfx that shoots 4k I will prefer full frame cameras as they have more lens options, less rolling shutter and full hdmi connections. The Z cam e2 f6 is the cheapest open gate full frame camera right now and it even has a plethora of lens mount options to play with whatever lens your heart desires (even m43).

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Super Members
5 hours ago, kye said:

Thoughts?

Fuji want everyone with an MFT or APS-C camera who is eyeing the move to FF to give it a miss and move straight to MF.

Its a good strategy as anyone making the move to FF is also having to factor in buying in to one of the four new mounts (E,L,RF and Z) three of which are far from being established and don't have a plethora of budget options available (although Sigma are rebalancing this a bit with their latest L mount releases).

So Fuji are offering a way to not only leapfrog the quality of FF but also, by being pretty much the only realistic player in the hybrid MF area, removing the uncertainty of which mount to go with.

It also offers the upgrade path to their X series owners to keep them onboard which Fuji would otherwise have to do by bringing out not only an FF camera but a whole new lens range to go with it.

There is an argument that the image bump from APS-C to FF or from FF to MF isn't particularly dramatic (although in the case of the GFX100 it is IMHO) but it certainly is a noticeable one from APS-C to MF.

And thats what upgrades should be about isn't it? Actual "wow, this is so much better" rather than simply "OK, this is better".

The GFX100S may not be the final destination for everyone but it is certainly the biggest signpost yet that there might be one.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, elgabogomez said:

I think the gfx100s has a chance of big popularity considering it’s a day after the announcement of the Sony a1 at a similar price point, but honestly the difference between 35mm and these “medium format” digital sensors is kinda like the difference between apsc and full frame. You still need a “speed booster” to get the real look of the 645 lenses of yesteryear... I think the industry is better off with “open gate” 35mm sensors and anamorphics, even 1.33x has a look so similar to the alexa 65 that I think that’s where the “film look” will be for big time productions in the next 5 years. Between the s1h, the a7s3 or the fujifilm gfx that shoots 4k I will prefer full frame cameras as they have more lens options, less rolling shutter and full hdmi connections. The Z cam e2 f6 is the cheapest open gate full frame camera right now and it even has a plethora of lens mount options to play with whatever lens your heart desires (even m43).

Yeah, FF to MF is one "step"...   just like MFT to APSC/S35 is 1.33, APSC/S35 to FF is 1.5, and FF to MF is either 1.27 or 1.56 depending on the sensor.

Adding to @BTM_Pix comments below, MFT -> FF is very similar to APSC -> MF, with 2x and 1.89x or 2.3x.

I just looked up 645 lenses and wow, I didn't realise that the 6x4.5 sensor has a crop factor of 0.58, which is even more extreme than the Phase One etc MF cameras.

You're right about anamorphics, essentially increasing the sensor size through optical compression/decompression techniques.  Although with the 'lesser' size increases in the MF cameras on offer, maybe we should be using those open-gate with anamorphic adapters on 645 lenses..  

4 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

Eventually yes, the bigger the better as they say. Size matters 😉

Why did I think of the Titanic when I read that?  Anyway, moving on!

34 minutes ago, BTM_Pix said:

Fuji want everyone with an MFT or APS-C camera who is eyeing the move to FF to give it a miss and move straight to MF.

Its a good strategy as anyone making the move to FF is also having to factor in buying in to one of the four new mounts (E,L,RF and Z) three of which are far from being established and don't have a plethora of budget options available (although Sigma are rebalancing this a bit with their latest L mount releases).

So Fuji are offering a way to not only leapfrog the quality of FF but also, by being pretty much the only realistic player in the hybrid MF area, removing the uncertainty of which mount to go with.

It also offers the upgrade path to their X series owners to keep them onboard which Fuji would otherwise have to do by bringing out not only an FF camera but a whole new lens range to go with it.

There is an argument that the image bump from APS-C to FF or from FF to MF isn't particularly dramatic (although in the case of the GFX100 it is IMHO) but it certainly is a noticeable one from APS-C to MF.

And thats what upgrades should be about isn't it? Actual "wow, this is so much better" rather than simply "OK, this is better".

The GFX100S may not be the final destination for everyone but it is certainly the biggest signpost yet that there might be one.

You're right about the wow factor and feeling like you should be getting something impressive after re-buying all your equipment.  Do we know what the new GFX100S image is likely to look like?

If MFT was abandoned and I switched systems then a compact MF camera with a decent 1080p mode would certainly tempt me to just skip FF.

Do you have any idea why MF should be fundamentally a nicer image than FF?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Medium format video will arrive in the mainstream soon. Arri got there first with the Alexa 65, which is of course a pricey and exclusive camera, but it amassed a huge and devoted following among cinematographers. I think that Red will get there next. They've been teasing a 645-sized sensor since day one. The existing Vistavision Monstro sensor is already pushing the FF boundary at 40.96mm horizontal.

I think that there needs to be a distinction drawn between the incorporation of medium format still sensor sizes and 65mm sensor sizes in video, because they represent two entirely different things. The various 120-film-based formats offer a much squarer frame and bring a history of association with portraiture and fine art photography. 65mm (52x23mm gate size) is a wide, panoramic format that brings to mind classics like Lawrence of Arabia or 2001: A Space Odyssey. It has the same nostalgic, instantly cinematic effect that draws people to shooting anamorphic. 

I personally love the look of medium format and never miss an opportunity to take some pictures with a Phase One or Hasselblad camera. When you point them at your figure, they instantly make the subject look iconic. It's an effect like shooting full frame at f1.3, but you don't have to be wide open to get it. An 80mm at f4 is actually preferable, just to get enough DOF to cover your subject's face. It's quite lovely, and I can't to explore this more when true medium format video cameras start coming down the pipe.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I may have come too strong “against” MF, let me digress: gfx100 had me researching 645 lenses to build a set with the kipon focal reducer to propose to a project. The new 100s is more affordable and closer in handling to the mirrorless ff cameras so it’s definitely an option. But if you consider the price and think video first, you could get a red Komodo, a Sony fx6 or a canon c70 and all 3 of them offer huge advantages for video/cinema work. The fact we can have MF in the conversation for a project is a milestone in itself, but you still have to consider lenses, codecs, nd filters, battery options, rigging, monitoring... you know?

Camera and sensor size/look is only the beginning.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A couple of things. 

MF maybe not so much for video though getting there.

Not all medium format cameras have the same size sensor and ones that truly match MF film cameras (which ALSO had variants) are larger in area than most of the recent MF cameras.

In good light at base ISO and with the best available lens, any of the MF digital cameras WILL produce a better picture when compared to the same with FF generally.

That said, you can NOT currently use MF for many things you can with FF in many cases just because the lenses are not there.     The FF lenses still work out more often to be faster than the MF lenses (while the smaller than FF sensor cameras do not usually beat out FF in the same vane).

Cost, size and speed of use will still be factors for MF for a while yet VS smaller formats.

I will keep using FF and a 1 inch sensor P&S for my needs.

I still have dreams about getting a MF digital back at some point for my old Polaroid 600SE interchangeable lens camera (essentially a Mamiya MF camera with a different back that takes polaroid film but can also take cut sheet film via an adapter but I have not tried that)....I think i can get a film adapter and then fit a digital back to that but it is a low priority and might be more work than worth the effort.... The 600SE and lenses still sell for ridiculous amounts even though film for them is pretty much non existent now. so a digital back might be the ONLY way i could use it now.

Link to post
Share on other sites

As dedicated cameras have become more niche and the market isn't as large, I suspect more companies will play around with MF. I think they will stay expensive because the volume will be so low.

I think we are going to be moving into the age of "I want my bokeh to be a real physical effect caused by combination of sensor, lens, focal length and aperture"  because I'm a purist and "digital bokeh is good enough for me". So maybe sensor size will be effectively digitized like everything else.

Video of course will most likely be the last hold out as faking the digital effects convincingly will be a computer power, time, and battery life issue. Here is where maybe MF can eek out an existence.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I found this an interesting video:

There's a few things about this that struck me.  First, it looks like an ad, which is odd.  The other things are that they shot the whole thing on the camera hand-held, that the lenses seemed to cover the basics (but weren't especially fast) and that it didn't look fundamentally different to a well-shot video from <insert nice cine camera here>.

@elgabogomez I agree that you have to consider the whole package in terms of codecs, tech features, battery life, ergos, etc etc.  I also agree about the relative new-ness of the format with lenses and other supporting factors as @noone says, but think about where FF was 3 or 5-years ago, without the frame rates, stabilisation, etc that FF now offers and is even considered a requirement rather than notable feature.  Your Polaroid 600SE might appreciate in value proportionately to the newer MF systems and you might be able to swap the Polaroid for a complete MF setup at some point in the future as more players enter the MF space and lens systems are built out etc.

I think it will be a very very long time before video can do fake DOF like you're suggesting @Video Hummus - as you say the effect has to be consistent across many frames and so considering the push for higher and higher increases in resolution, the bar is continually being raised about what level of quality the fake effect has to create.  I suspect that if you programmed the latest iPhones to take 24 Portrait-mode photos per second and downscaled the result to 640x480 the effect would be perfect, maybe it would hold up at higher resolutions than that even, but 4K?  Not a hope in hell.  Sensor technology might have to have an oversampling factor too, like you might need an optical and depth camera pair that operate at 5x the resolution of the output image for the result to be video-perfect, but as sensor resolution increases so does the expectation about distribution resolutions, so it might be an equation that won't be answered for some time.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Super Members
1 hour ago, kye said:

There's a few things about this that struck me.  First, it looks like an ad, which is odd.  The other things are that they shot the whole thing on the camera hand-held, that the lenses seemed to cover the basics (but weren't especially fast) and that it didn't look fundamentally different to a well-shot video from <insert nice cine camera here>.

With the sensor size not being the minimum of what is generally considered "true" medium format (645 and above) the difference will not be as stark (and has the potential to open a whole new strand of Oh No Not The Equivalence debate 😉 ) but the upside of it not being larger is that a lot of FF lenses will get very close to full coverage and in some cases achieve full coverage.

That increases the fast lens options considerably.

I'm sure @Andrew Reid has put up some examples of f1.4 and f1.2 FF lenses from his GFX100 on here to illustrate it.

Their hybrid credentials is what makes the GFX100 and GFX100s significant to me though.

The stills off it are impeccable to the point of being close to the pinnacle at any price point and if you have a look at image samples on flickr the detail when you zoom in is incredible. 

You can do the same with the comparison tool on DPReview and if you put it up against the FF high resolution cameras like the A7Riv and D850/Z7ii then the difference is stark. Incidentally, the only one that gets closer to it is the Sigma SD Quattro-H but thats a whole different kettle of pixels.

On the video side, the subsequent update from the time that film was made was the addition of ProResRAW which does move the story on in that respect.

The GFX100/100s cameras have the best video capability of any medium format camera bar none and by a considerable distance and also have the best stills capability of any video camera bar none and, again, by a considerable distance.

Not sure what more any of us need or expect in any hybrid than that.

Other than internal ND and a $5K price cut.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

With the sensor size not being the minimum of what is generally considered "true" medium format (645 and above) the difference will not be as stark (and has the potential to open a whole new strand of Oh No Not The Equivalence debate 😉 ) but the upside of it not being larger is that a lot of FF lenses will get very close to full coverage and in some cases achieve full coverage.

 

 

One reason I look for as cheap a MF camera as i can from time to time is that I see Canon EF tilt shift lenses being used on MF cameras and they work quite well.   It would mean my favourite 17mm TS gets a wider view which would be very useful sometimes without having to stitch.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

With the sensor size not being the minimum of what is generally considered "true" medium format (645 and above) the difference will not be as stark (and has the potential to open a whole new strand of Oh No Not The Equivalence debate 😉 ) but the upside of it not being larger is that a lot of FF lenses will get very close to full coverage and in some cases achieve full coverage.

That increases the fast lens options considerably.

I'm sure @Andrew Reid has put up some examples of f1.4 and f1.2 FF lenses from his GFX100 on here to illustrate it.

Their hybrid credentials is what makes the GFX100 and GFX100s significant to me though.

The stills off it are impeccable to the point of being close to the pinnacle at any price point and if you have a look at image samples on flickr the detail when you zoom in is incredible. 

You can do the same with the comparison tool on DPReview and if you put it up against the FF high resolution cameras like the A7Riv and D850/Z7ii then the difference is stark. Incidentally, the only one that gets closer to it is the Sigma SD Quattro-H but thats a whole different kettle of pixels.

On the video side, the subsequent update from the time that film was made was the addition of ProResRAW which does move the story on in that respect.

The GFX100/100s cameras have the best video capability of any medium format camera bar none and by a considerable distance and also have the best stills capability of any video camera bar none and, again, by a considerable distance.

Not sure what more any of us need or expect in any hybrid than that.

Other than internal ND and a $5K price cut.

 

Good info.  Interesting to hear it's great for both stills and video.  Are you saying that it's better than the Phase One and Hassleblad MF cameras?  Or are they in a different category in your eyes?

The addition of Prores RAW certainly gives it a serious shot in the arm for video, although that puts it more in cine-camera territory in terms of form-factor, compared to cameras like the P6K or A7S3 that can record to ferocious bitrates internally or to nicely compact USB-C drives.  It also gives a camera a big price shift in the wrong direction. I'm also a bit surprised that with a 100MP sensor that it's only 4K30 12-bit.  A P6K can do 6K60 internally.  Considering that MF is all about huge resolution it's a bit odd...

I did appreciate the composition in the video at 1:44 though!

How often are you utilising the full resolving power of the sensor in your still images?  I stopped taking stills when I got into video but recall the old "no-one needs more than X megapixels because the larger the print the further you view it from" adage, and although I disagreed with people asserting that the magic number was 2MP, 3MP or 5MP, my gut suggests that it's probably less than 100MP unless you're the FBI picking out terrorists from a crowd or whatever.

It's interesting that these are so close to FF, it means you can use FF lenses but it also means that any "Tom the DP" size advantage that it gives you (or @TomTheDP ) would be relatively minimal.

3 hours ago, noone said:

One reason I look for as cheap a MF camera as i can from time to time is that I see Canon EF tilt shift lenses being used on MF cameras and they work quite well.   It would mean my favourite 17mm TS gets a wider view which would be very useful sometimes without having to stitch.

It's interesting you mention that, because in one of the other Prores RAW videos I saw, I noticed a Canon TS lens pop in there..

Do they all cover larger sensors?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Super Members
2 hours ago, kye said:

Good info.  Interesting to hear it's great for both stills and video.  Are you saying that it's better than the Phase One and Hassleblad MF cameras?  Or are they in a different category in your eyes?

It gets very, very close to their IQ but is a significantly better camera when viewed in the round.

Size, weather sealing, IBIS, AF etc mean its an everyday camera. As with the Phase One and Hasselblad you are getting F1 performance but the difference is that you can also pop down to the shops in it.

2 hours ago, kye said:

The addition of Prores RAW certainly gives it a serious shot in the arm for video, although that puts it more in cine-camera territory in terms of form-factor, compared to cameras like the P6K or A7S3 that can record to ferocious bitrates internally or to nicely compact USB-C drives.

My point is of it being a hybrid so they are all going to be compromised but its a question of degree.

The P6K has a far, far more limited stills capability than the GFX100 has a limited video capability.

If you want RAW from the A7s3 then you'll need an external recorder as well so there's no difference there.

The biggest gripes I see about the P6K (aside from AF which I seem to remember someone has a plan for) is that is doesn't have an EVF or IBIS.

The biggest gripe about the A7s3 is that it can only do 12mp stills.

So the GFX100s kills the P6K on three very desirable features for shooting video and kills the A7s3 for photography and matches it in how you can aquire RAW with it.

And so it should for $6500 😉

2 hours ago, kye said:

It also gives a camera a big price shift in the wrong direction

Another $600 when you are already $6500 in isn't exactly chicken feed but considering the extra quality bump it will give you then there's no point spoiling the job for a ha'porth of tar.

Also, in my opinion, a lot of the negativity about having to use a Ninja V etc doesn't really give enough balance in terms of the additional monitoring features and media advantages it brings.

2 hours ago, kye said:

I'm also a bit surprised that with a 100MP sensor that it's only 4K30 12-bit.  A P6K can do 6K60 internally.  Considering that MF is all about huge resolution it's a bit odd..

Resolution isn't frame rate though so i'm not sure what you mean ?

2 hours ago, kye said:

How often are you utilising the full resolving power of the sensor in your still images?

In terms of aquisition then the simple answer is all the time and on every camera I've ever owned.

The advantages of having a much higher aquisition resolution than the target output resolution were vital to me in terms of cropping latitude and downsampling.

The images being put out on the wire might only have been the equivalent of 5-6mp but we were still shooting on 16 and 20mp cameras. 

And I would've bitten your hand off to have 100 megapixels!

2 hours ago, kye said:

It's interesting that these are so close to FF, it means you can use FF lenses but it also means that any "Tom the DP" size advantage that it gives you (or @TomTheDP ) would be relatively minimal.

It depends on the lens.

Very much like MFT lenses on the APS-C JVC LS300 which theoretically should have covered around 82% of rhe sensor but in practicse some of them could get much closer to 95 or even 100%.

But whilst some had that additional coverage some of the edge performance wasn't workable.

I seem to recall the Contax Zeiss 35-70mm that we put on @Andrew Reid GFX100 would vignette up to about 40mm.

But after that it was fine.

It was actually beyond fine and for whatever reason performed better on the GFX100 than I'd seen it on any other camera that I've put it on.

I think I got so excited that I almost declared that it had mojo.

Almost.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I mean I personally don’t see a use for medium format as you already can get super shallow depth of field easily with full frame. But I guess once it becomes affordable why not. There is being able to stop down and potentially get a sharper image without losing the shallow DOF factor. Roger Deacons has mentioned how he likes the LF image better than the Alexa Classic. Something about it looking richer overall. I’ve heard that a lot regarding the look of bigger vs smaller sensors. Some kind of subtle richness that is hard to explain. In terms of the new Fuji, Pixel binned or line skipped 4k is kind of a meh for video. At least when cheaper options exist that can do full frame downsampled. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Bigger sensors aren't just about shallow depth of field. They're about depth of field in general. Smaller sensors tend to feel flatter and two dimensional whereas FF and MF places your subject within and inside the image where near to infinity feels like a tangible space.

Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, mercer said:

Bigger sensors aren't just about shallow depth of field. They're about depth of field in general. Smaller sensors tend to feel flatter and two dimensional whereas FF and MF places your subject within and inside the image where near to infinity feels like a tangible space.

Not sure what you mean exactly. You can replicate DOF on a bigger sensor to a point until you run into lens limitations. Can't get past .95, which is pretty rare on lenses to begin with outside of M43. 

Of course M43 or S35 is much more ideal if you want a longer DOF. Was shooting between f16 and f22 today to get everything in focus on a 6D. Of course most big sensors have great high ISO performance so you can compensate for the light loss. Some S35 and M43 sensors these days are doing pretty well in that regard too though. 

 

3 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

 

Size, weather sealing, IBIS, AF etc mean its an everyday camera. As with the Phase One and Hasselblad you are getting F1 performance but the difference is that you can also pop down to the shops in it.

My point is of it being a hybrid so they are all going to be compromised but its a question of degree.

The P6K has a far, far more limited stills capability than the GFX100 has a limited video capability.

If you want RAW from the A7s3 then you'll need an external recorder as well so there's no difference there.

The biggest gripes I see about the P6K (aside from AF which I seem to remember someone has a plan for) is that is doesn't have an EVF or IBIS.

The biggest gripe about the A7s3 is that it can only do 12mp stills.

So the GFX100s kills the P6K on three very desirable features for shooting video and kills the A7s3 for photography and matches it in how you can aquire RAW with it.

And so it should for $6500 😉

Another $600 when you are already $6500 in isn't exactly chicken feed but considering the extra quality bump it will give you then there's no point spoiling the job for a ha'porth of tar.

 

 

I definitely see how the GFX could be appealing to the hybrid shooter. I am fortunate that I rarely do stills and when I do resolution isn't a factor. Right now the A7S3 is the most attractive camera for me outside of one single issue. The internal noise reduction. I'd probably end up using the internal recording more than external RAW(which bypasses the issue). As of now the internal recording on my Panasonic S1 is superior, more organic looking and better dynamic range with more resolution. 

That said for me if I am shooting in RAW I prefer 4k as its smaller files. The A7S3 also has very minimal rolling shutter which I put above resolution. It also has full frame recording at higher frame rates. If only Sony would allow for that damned noise reduction to be lowered. How hard of an ask is that??

My only real complaint on the S1 is the rolling shutter in full frame and the lack of high quality 120p. I hear the RED Komodo calling me haha 

Link to post
Share on other sites

For anything that demands high quality MF will be standard when cameras get good enough for video, the fuji is clearly almost there. This doesn't mean you can't shoot s35, m43 or FF, but when you want to go for the ultimate image it's the simplest thing to go with MF. If there were a 4x5 camera with good specs people would use that one for high quality. The larger the format, the larger the quaility, no matter how good your s35 lenses are they will never give the depth a large format camera can give.

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.

×
×
  • Create New...