Thoughtfactory’s image-text blog

an experimental image-text blog based in the southern Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia

a granite photo session

The field  type of large format  camera photographed below --an old Linhof 5x4 Technika IV film camera --- is very much the opposite of the automation of the  modern,  medium format digital camera,  with their possibilities of auto image stacking, stitching, automatic perspective correction, and sharp lenses that go in the direction that folks call 'clinical'.   With the Linhof everything is manual.  Nothing is automatic. It is rudimentary equipment albeit (albeit over-engineered) and it's slow  photography.  

The Linhof  does  offer a different kind of photographic experience --a more contemplative one--as well as  a different aesthetic in that  it enables  the extended toe and shoulder of sheet film.

With the advances in  digital technology the world of medium format digital cameras has changed and, with  the   33x44mm cropped medium format 50 megapixels digital cameras --(eg.,  Pentax 645Z,  Fujifilm's GFX and Hasselblad 1XD),  are now within people's financial grasp.  These cameras, especially the Fujifilm GFX and the Hasselblad X1D, are attractive options as they avoid the need for the expensive digital back the Linhof Techno needs, have lightweight bodies, smallish lenses,  rich and full quality files, and are able to be carried  around in the field. They also avoid the pitfalls of second hand digital backs.  

The 100mp  CMOS  Sony sensor  versions  of these digital medium format cameras are expected around 2019. This basically means much better image quality and increased dynamic range.  Sony currently provides these  for the top of the line Phase One  and Hasselblad 53.4x40mm.cameras, but these  require a  $26,000-$40, 000 investment.  Despite the advances in sensor technology  these top of the line digital cameras still have a smaller image format than the square format of the old medium format film cameras. So we are talking about cropped digital medium format. 

What is starting to happen though is that people are now moving away from using  both their 5x4 film cameras like my  Linhof Technika   as well as upgrading from their 35mm DSLR's to digital medium format, for their product photography, fashion and architecture. Many are now willing to make the $15, 000 minimum investment that is required to acquire a medium format digital camera in spite of their  current limitations with respect to functionality (eg.,shallow DOF and low light performance).   They find the high level,  micro-contrast of the modern lenses attractive, whereas I still find them too clinical. 

My own step into 21st century technology is a  limited one.  I will update  my APS-C "35mm" digital Sony NEX-7 camera  (it has a crop factor 1.5 or 1.6) by investing in a full frame Sony --a Sony A7r111 coupled to a  Leica 35mm lens--- for my hand held, walk about photography. Even though large format is difficult to work with on location and cumbersome  to use,  I will continue to use both  medium and  large format film cameras for all  the tripod work.  I really have no need to invest in a medium format digital camera at this stage.