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Is the future Medium Format?


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20 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

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.

Absolutely, and that's why I am even tangentially interested in the format.  My expectations of a camera are that the 'rig' is the camera body, an SD card, a lens, an on-camera mic and a wrist strap and then I put a couple of spare batteries and a couple of other lenses in my bag and I'm off for an 18-hour day, during which I shoot anything and every that that peaks my interest.  In those circumstances my phone would take better images than a Phase One because my phone would suit the conditions and the Phase One would be a PITA.

20 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

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.

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.

I'm looking at it from the perspective of video-only and also from the perspective of getting good-enough quality with a portable package.  For me, shooting with an external monitor / recorder is a downside as it means the rig is larger, heavier, requires more complexity in power solutions, has messy cables, and creates unwieldy file sizes.  The A7S3 internal codecs are good enough for me (actually they're radically more than what I'd need, but luckily they have high quality 1080p and ALL-I codecs).  

I just saw that the GFX100 can do 1080 at 400Mbps so I guess that's fine for my purposes.  In a sense the more integration that they build into these cameras the less they will make them usable with things like focus peaking and exposure tools etc, so that's not a good thing.  

Anyway, it's good to have the option of external RAW but keeping good internal quality should remain a high priority.

20 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

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

I meant that with a 100MP sensor it's odd that it can only do 4K.  Considering the hype has moved to 6K and 8K which are now settled as standards you'd think that offering these would be a 'home turf' advantage of MF.  If you think about MFT, doing 6K or 8K means having to work on new sensors and dealing with all kinds of new issues, but MF was already the king of high resolution, so you'd think that these things would be playing to the strengths it already has.

20 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

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!

Ok, that makes sense.  

20 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

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 guess I see the crop factor as being a strength and weakness.  It's great if it can use FF lenses, but that also means that the sensor isn't so much larger than FF.  Given a hypothetical 6x4.5 camera as a competitor, it wouldn't be able to use FF lenses, but would have a huge sensor size advantage over FF, so would be easily worth the trouble.  I guess that brings us to....

20 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

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.

For me, I see MFT as having the advantage of being what I already have lenses for.  FF as being the thing that is now good enough, has a larger sensor, and has heaps of lenses and overall support.  MF represents going away from what I already have, and where all the lenses are, but you'd do it for the mojo.  Considering that the GFX is only a little bit larger than FF, but is the best you've ever seen that lens and is also almost good enough to use the M-word, maybe a 645 sensor would be crazy good and worth all the 645 lens shenanigans that would be required.  

To me, a format that is only just a little bit better than FF seems to be skimping on the thing that it really has going for it.  Now, of course, there are limits - I'm not going to be lining up at the camera store to buy an 8x10 camera for shooting my travel films, but MF needs to offer something significant over FF to really make it worth the hassle of going through that transition.

16 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

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. 

@mercer is talking about a certain X-factor that can occur with larger sensor sizes.  I've been trying to chase down what this might be, and you're right that it's not FOV or DoF, but it's important to know that the math doesn't explain everything that's going on with sensors and lenses.

I've tested a lot of lenses in controlled conditions and when you do these tests you start to see differences that there are no readily available explanations for.  An example of this is the Takumar lenses, which render images that are noticeably flatter and less 3D-looking than other lenses, and this is under controlled conditions with everything else being equal.  Same focal lengths, apertures, same lighting, camera position, etc etc.  It's something that the Takumars are known for.  

The question is, if the background is the same level of blurriness, then how is the perception of 3D space different?  I've been looking at this question for years and haven't come up with anything, except that I've seen it myself enough times to know that something is going on.  Sensor size can have a similar effect, some things look more 3D than other things.  Not sure why, it just does.  

This is one of the attractions of larger sensors.  See @BTM_Pix comments above about the Contax lens being better than any other camera he's seen it on.  Why would this be the case?  Who knows.  I've played with things like this and these effects hold up even if you decrease the resolution, bitrate, and even colour depth and even if you make the images B&W, so I can't readily find an explanation for it.

9 minutes ago, TomTheDP said:

Its gonna take a while for Medium format to really catch on for video. The golden standard for Cinema is the Alexa LF, which is really just full frame. Arri doesn't put out new cameras too often. 

FF only took a few years to 'catch up' to where MFT was, and the MF cameras we're talking about aren't that far away from FF in terms of sensor size.  Certainly they're a lot closer to FF than FF was to MFT.  If there is market demand, which is debatable considering FF still has a lot of hype and many haven't moved from MFT or S35 to it yet, it could be that MF 'arrives' in a few years.

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1 hour ago, kye said:

 

Absolutely, and that's why I am even tangentially interested in the format.  My expectations of a camera are that the 'rig' is the camera body, an SD card, a lens, an on-camera mic and a wrist strap and then I put a couple of spare batteries and a couple of other lenses in my bag and I'm off for an 18-hour day, during which I shoot anything and every that that peaks my interest.  In those circumstances my phone would take better images than a Phase One because my phone would suit the conditions and the Phase One would be a PITA.

I'm looking at it from the perspective of video-only and also from the perspective of getting good-enough quality with a portable package.  For me, shooting with an external monitor / recorder is a downside as it means the rig is larger, heavier, requires more complexity in power solutions, has messy cables, and creates unwieldy file sizes.  The A7S3 internal codecs are good enough for me (actually they're radically more than what I'd need, but luckily they have high quality 1080p and ALL-I codecs).  

I just saw that the GFX100 can do 1080 at 400Mbps so I guess that's fine for my purposes.  In a sense the more integration that they build into these cameras the less they will make them usable with things like focus peaking and exposure tools etc, so that's not a good thing.  

Anyway, it's good to have the option of external RAW but keeping good internal quality should remain a high priority.

I meant that with a 100MP sensor it's odd that it can only do 4K.  Considering the hype has moved to 6K and 8K which are now settled as standards you'd think that offering these would be a 'home turf' advantage of MF.  If you think about MFT, doing 6K or 8K means having to work on new sensors and dealing with all kinds of new issues, but MF was already the king of high resolution, so you'd think that these things would be playing to the strengths it already has.

Ok, that makes sense.  

I guess I see the crop factor as being a strength and weakness.  It's great if it can use FF lenses, but that also means that the sensor isn't so much larger than FF.  Given a hypothetical 6x4.5 camera as a competitor, it wouldn't be able to use FF lenses, but would have a huge sensor size advantage over FF, so would be easily worth the trouble.  I guess that brings us to....

For me, I see MFT as having the advantage of being what I already have lenses for.  FF as being the thing that is now good enough, has a larger sensor, and has heaps of lenses and overall support.  MF represents going away from what I already have, and where all the lenses are, but you'd do it for the mojo.  Considering that the GFX is only a little bit larger than FF, but is the best you've ever seen that lens and is also almost good enough to use the M-word, maybe a 645 sensor would be crazy good and worth all the 645 lens shenanigans that would be required.  

To me, a format that is only just a little bit better than FF seems to be skimping on the thing that it really has going for it.  Now, of course, there are limits - I'm not going to be lining up at the camera store to buy an 8x10 camera for shooting my travel films, but MF needs to offer something significant over FF to really make it worth the hassle of going through that transition.

@mercer is talking about a certain X-factor that can occur with larger sensor sizes.  I've been trying to chase down what this might be, and you're right that it's not FOV or DoF, but it's important to know that the math doesn't explain everything that's going on with sensors and lenses.

I've tested a lot of lenses in controlled conditions and when you do these tests you start to see differences that there are no readily available explanations for.  An example of this is the Takumar lenses, which render images that are noticeably flatter and less 3D-looking than other lenses, and this is under controlled conditions with everything else being equal.  Same focal lengths, apertures, same lighting, camera position, etc etc.  It's something that the Takumars are known for.  

The question is, if the background is the same level of blurriness, then how is the perception of 3D space different?  I've been looking at this question for years and haven't come up with anything, except that I've seen it myself enough times to know that something is going on.  Sensor size can have a similar effect, some things look more 3D than other things.  Not sure why, it just does.  

This is one of the attractions of larger sensors.  See @BTM_Pix comments above about the Contax lens being better than any other camera he's seen it on.  Why would this be the case?  Who knows.  I've played with things like this and these effects hold up even if you decrease the resolution, bitrate, and even colour depth and even if you make the images B&W, so I can't readily find an explanation for it.

FF only took a few years to 'catch up' to where MFT was, and the MF cameras we're talking about aren't that far away from FF in terms of sensor size.  Certainly they're a lot closer to FF than FF was to MFT.  If there is market demand, which is debatable considering FF still has a lot of hype and many haven't moved from MFT or S35 to it yet, it could be that MF 'arrives' in a few years.

I think on the low end of the market the merge of photographers and video pushed full frame. Photographers were all accustomed to Full frame. The people who said S35 will always be the standard were people who had a background in solely video work. Not sure the exact same thing will happen with medium format as no one really uses medium format outside of a very niche market of people. Video people are all over the market with the sensor size though there is definitely a preference for full frame or Large format as Arri likes to call it. Full frame is such a nice marketing word. Anything else but Full is subpar, a crop sensor. The word medium format is confusing to your average user. Where do you go beyond full frame. No one is jumping on the MF wagon, that could definitely change but i don't see it happening like the full frame push has. Just my worthless opinion though. 

That said Its still Arri LF, Arri S35 <everything else.  been three years since the LF came out. Arri is putting out a new camera this year(rumored), though I think it's likely to be a smaller S35 camera with higher resolution. Hollywood is pretty slow to the trigger though. 

In terms of the magic vs math on the 3D look that certain lenses give, I think it of course is mathematical, we just aren't aware of whats going on. An engineer that designs or works on lenses could probably give some great input on that. 

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2 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

I think on the low end of the market the merge of photographers and video pushed full frame. Photographers were all accustomed to Full frame. The people who said S35 will always be the standard were people who had a background in solely video work. Not sure the exact same thing will happen with medium format as no one really uses medium format outside of a very niche market of people. Video people are all over the market with the sensor size though there is definitely a preference for full frame or Large format as Arri likes to call it. Full frame is such a nice marketing word. Anything else but Full is subpar, a crop sensor. The word medium format is confusing to your average user. Where do you go beyond full frame. No one is jumping on the MF wagon, that could definitely change but i don't see it happening like the full frame push has. Just my worthless opinion though. 

You're right that photographers were all about FF, but I think you have to remember that photographers lusted after Medium Format, but didn't buy it because it was far far too expensive, and was too slow with slow AF and slow burst rates (or no burst rates at all) etc.  The fact that we have a MF camera coming out that is HALF the price of what previous models of MF have been, and is usable in real-world conditions instead of just being a 'studio camera', well, that changes things.

I think photographers have more lust for megapixels and sharper lenses than they do for FF, so if they had to choose between FF and MF I think they'd choose MF in a heartbeat.  Of course, that involves changing systems, so that's not going to be something that will happen quickly, and the price may have to come down for the majority of the stills market to start thinking of it as an accessible option.

So yeah, I think people didn't talk about MF because it was viewed as unattainable, but now that's changing, we might see the lust start to emerge.

2 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

That said Its still Arri LF, Arri S35 <everything else.  been three years since the LF came out. Arri is putting out a new camera this year(rumored), though I think it's likely to be a smaller S35 camera with higher resolution. Hollywood is pretty slow to the trigger though. 

They are slow to change, and rightly so, if the image was the only thing that mattered then they'd change quickly, but as you know, it's not the most important thing on a film set, and it takes time to understand the new lenses and the new colour science and all that stuff.

Plus, it's not like shooting with an Alexa is a terrible place to be as your default option!

2 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

In terms of the magic vs math on the 3D look that certain lenses give, I think it of course is mathematical, we just aren't aware of whats going on. An engineer that designs or works on lenses could probably give some great input on that. 

I agree that it will be quantifiable, but we haven't quantified it yet, and i've dug pretty deep in this stuff.  I think people don't know.  It's probably some specific combination of things, which of course makes it that much more difficult to zero in on.

In the meantime we only have our aesthetic impressions to go from.  There are quite a lot of subjective accounts from highly respected people that larger sensor sizes and certain lenses or lens designs have a certain X-factor, which is really one of the main attractions of MF and the purpose of this thread.

My entire philosophy of image has changed over the last few years as i've gone on this journey. 

I started out with the philosophy of getting a neutral high-resolution high bitrate image shot with sharp lenses and then degrading it in post to give the aesthetic that is desired.  What I learned along the way is that:

  • resolution does matter and I want less of it, not more, so now I shoot 1080p
  • DoF has a much larger impact on aesthetic than I thought, so now I shoot with wider aperture lenses (sometimes but not always used at larger apertures)
  • bit-depth and bit-rate are highly important, so now I shoot 200Mbps 1080 at 10-bit in a 709 profile (not log)
  • halation, flares, and contrast can't be simulated very well in post, so now I try and have lenses with a less clinical presentation in these areas

In short, I worked out what is more important and what is less important, and I worked out what I can and cannot do convincingly in post.  Therefore, I moved these things to be done right in-camera.

If medium format becomes accessible for video (it's not in my price-range yet!) then that's another thing I'll be able to shift from trying to do in post (but not knowing how, like your comment about not knowing what is going on outlines) to doing things in-camera and then having it baked-in to begin with.

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8 hours ago, kye said:

I'm looking at it from the perspective of video-only and also from the perspective of getting good-enough quality with a portable package

I'm a photographer first and foremost so look at it the other way round.

That the stills side of it exists in such a useable package (particularly in the form reduced GFX100s) is amazing and the video side of it is more than acceptable for me considering the ProRes/ProRes RAW option is also there if I need it.

I brought up FF lenses primarily in respect of there not being ultra fast MF lenses being available in that they can also be used if required which means they can also help people transition into the system.

I see this as a practical advantage rather than a stick to beat it with in terms of its sensor size not being dramatically bigger than FF.

The native lenses is where the additional sensor size is exploited and just as you can use a speedbooster to bridge the APS-C to FF gap you can also do the same here with the Kipon Baveyes 0.7x adapter for "real" medium format lenses. This also gives those old lenses not only a boost in speed but also in sharpness.

So in being able to take in lenses from above and below as well as its own native lenses, the GFX is pretty versatile.

To be honest though, to return to the original question of MF being the future, then its likely not as a mainstream movement unless other manufacturers follow Fujifilm into the area.

A non-combustible Canon R5 would have been the absolute sweetspot for hybrids for a wider audience so its sat right there for Canon if they want it.

 

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If Canon, Panasonic and Sony embrace MF, then yes, it will become a thing.  However there's little evidence of that yet.  Fuji seem to avoid the fullframe area, probably because they feel it is oversaturated and they'll make less impact.  I've yet to embrace fullframe, mainly because I've yet to find a strong enough reason to go down the expensive route of upgrading.  Especially as I shoot very little photos, and therefore more video focused cameras have the greater appeal, where S35 tends to be favoured there.

I can understand the need to go down the MF route, mainly to help distinguish your footage from others.  However should it become more mainstream, that will not be such an advanatgage.

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3 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

I'm a photographer first and foremost so look at it the other way round.

That the stills side of it exists in such a useable package (particularly in the form reduced GFX100s) is amazing and the video side of it is more than acceptable for me considering the ProRes/ProRes RAW option is also there if I need it.

I brought up FF lenses primarily in respect of there not being ultra fast MF lenses being available in that they can also be used if required which means they can also help people transition into the system.

I see this as a practical advantage rather than a stick to beat it with in terms of its sensor size not being dramatically bigger than FF.

The native lenses is where the additional sensor size is exploited and just as you can use a speedbooster to bridge the APS-C to FF gap you can also do the same here with the Kipon Baveyes 0.7x adapter for "real" medium format lenses. This also gives those old lenses not only a boost in speed but also in sharpness.

So in being able to take in lenses from above and below as well as its own native lenses, the GFX is pretty versatile.

To be honest though, to return to the original question of MF being the future, then its likely not as a mainstream movement unless other manufacturers follow Fujifilm into the area.

A non-combustible Canon R5 would have been the absolute sweetspot for hybrids for a wider audience so its sat right there for Canon if they want it.

I agree with your summary from the perspective of a stills-first shooter.  You're right that FF lenses and the speed booster lend huge support to a new system, which is hugely important commercially.

It will be interesting to see if FF ends up being the sweet spot.  When you have something where bigger-is-better it tends to only be better because all the things you've seen are underneath the 'best' size, or it ends up that although the thing you're looking at keeps getting better with size, other things take over in importance.  No-one is going to carry around an 8x10 sensor camera even if the image was beyond belief, except on crazier projects, like that movies where they hand-held the IMAX film camera(!).

You're right that it will depend on the other manufacturers getting in on the act and collectively PR-ing people to death and making them upgrade.

1 hour ago, SteveV4D said:

If Canon, Panasonic and Sony embrace MF, then yes, it will become a thing.  However there's little evidence of that yet.  Fuji seem to avoid the fullframe area, probably because they feel it is oversaturated and they'll make less impact.  I've yet to embrace fullframe, mainly because I've yet to find a strong enough reason to go down the expensive route of upgrading.  Especially as I shoot very little photos, and therefore more video focused cameras have the greater appeal, where S35 tends to be favoured there.

I can understand the need to go down the MF route, mainly to help distinguish your footage from others.  However should it become more mainstream, that will not be such an advanatgage.

I can also understand Fuji using this as a strategy.

My question is really "if I have to change from MFT and bigger is better then why would I settle for FF if there are better options?"  If there was a MF camera with the features of the A7S3 and lenses available then I think the camera trendies would be plastering it all over YT.

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56 minutes ago, kye said:

If there was a MF camera with the features of the A7S3 and lenses available then I think the camera trendies would be plastering it all over YT.

I don't think it is as clear cut as that when it comes to YouTube channels.

If you were making money off affiliate links then the click through to purchase rate is going to be far higher for an A7Siii than something more niche than a GFX.

Making a video to direct someone to an evolutionary purchase of something they already own or have a comparatively similar product to is going to be far easier than it is to guide them towards a step change in systems.

Being in that niche also means there are less opportunities to make spin off content about comparisons with similar products, as once you've done the shock faced thumbnail holding the GFX and a Hasselblad X1D/907x or even the H6D-100C then there aren't many more places to go.

The commercial realities of producing that content and building a big enough following to moneitise it aren't always necessarily aligned with a product's performance, which is why Sigma's Foveon cameras or Z-Cam's offerings, for example, are almost criminally underrepresented on that platform.

There are a few exceptions but, in general terms, they are basically being the final nudge in selling people more or less the product they were going to buy anyway.

To reuse the Spinal Tap analogy from earlier in the thread, consumers are already at 10 and the role of the channel is to give them that extra push.

 

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8 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

I don't think it is as clear cut as that when it comes to YouTube channels.

If you were making money off affiliate links then the click through to purchase rate is going to be far higher for an A7Siii than something more niche than a GFX.

Yeah, I suppose.  I guess from the outside it just looks like they're all fawning over whatever looks cool at any given moment, with the guiding principles of 1) MORE=more, 2) MOAAR!!!!, 3) See #1, and 4) How high do you think I can count?

It seems odd to think that the hype would go against the more is more principle, but I guess the golden rule is the golden rule.

6 hours ago, Juank said:

 

Interesting, and makes sense.  I wonder what a setup with the 2X anamorphic adapter looks like, assuming the optical path will work?

I kind of liked the look of the ground glass..  it had way too many issues across the whole frame, but the texture in the centre was lovely.

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19 minutes ago, kye said:

It seems odd to think that the hype would go against the more is more principle, but I guess the golden rule is the golden rule.

It might be bleeping brighter on the radar after Fujfilm issued this statement about the GFX100s yesterday being a far bigger hit than they'd anticipated.

"The mirrorless digital camera “FUJIFILM GFX100S” scheduled to be released in late February has received more reservations than expected, and the number of preparations has exceeded.

Therefore, it may take some time before the ordered product is delivered."

Mind you, "more reservations than expected" might just mean they've sold seven but only expected to sell six 😉

Even if it has sold a load more relative to expectation, it will still be dwarfed by the other $6.5k camera released last week.

The embargo for publishing content made with the Alpha One expires on the 4th and judging by the videos already on YouTube of it being unboxed then that particular hype train is already being loaded up and readied to leave the station.

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Remember the hype about the first Fullframe digital cameras? In 2004 you could buy a phase one p25 with a respectable 48x36sensor or leaf equivalents with colors that make canon cmos look amateur. The price difference wasn't that high in the beginning until the 5d came along, but if you compare the hype... 

Still today, if I have to choose shooting with a modern CMOS or an old MF I would only use the CMOS if I needed fast AF and/or Iso above 200. That's some value for a digital product.

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