Thoughts on digital equivalent of square film

baypharm

Contributor
Original poster
Nov 15, 2007
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In the 70's, 80's, and 90's I had a studio. I remember engaged couples asking what kind of equipment I used for weddings. The girls would remark that they were looking for something "higher end" than 35mm. So I bought a Kowa Super 66 system which produces a 2 1/4 inch square film image. It paid for itself in about a month. My clients loved the higher quality from the larger film.

Then someone told me about the Mamiya 7II system. So I bought one of the those and sold my Kowa. My clients loved the even larger 6x7 image and the camera was an absolute joy on Earth to use. Whisper quiet, strong, yet lightweight. And the lenses were tack sharp. I would still be using it today if digital hadn't killed film. I paid about 5 grand for the M7II system, which would be about 9 grand in today dollars.

My question is what is the digital equivalent of the Mamiya 7II? I know Hassy makes a large format digital camera but it cost as much as a new Shelby GT 500. Is anything available in the 10K range - for the entire system (including lenses)?
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
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Mamiya still exist as part of Phase One. And make digital medium format cameras. As do Hassleblad (as you note, although this is medium rather than large format). Finally Pentax make the cheapest medium format digital system. Note that the cheaper stuff (as it was with file) is 645 rather then 6x6 or 6x7.

Unfortunately that doesn't quite get down to your price. It's $10k without a lens: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/739072-REG/Pentax_17971_645D_Digital_SLR_Camera.html

Edit: you can, of course, still shoot medium format film. I've only just started doing so!
 

Policar

macrumors 6502a
Nov 21, 2004
634
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Full frame digital has essentially replaced 6x7; the subjective quality is VERY similar (film has a bit more resolution, maybe, digital is crisper and far less grainy) if you use good, fast lenses. A 5D II/III or, better yet, D800 (in theory, haven't used one) and fast primes will get you the right look, just open up two stops more than you would on 6x7 for equivalent depth of field.

You might still miss the subjective warmth of color negative.

If you must have medium format, the Pentax 645 is about $10,000 and should be on par with the Hasselblad image-wise. But the sensor is just 33x44mm, which is signficantly bigger than 24X32 (you said you wanted closer to square images, so you'd have to crop full frame digital) but not huge. Image quality should be, subjectively, somewhere between 6x7 and large format, however.

Let me know if you want to sell that Mamiya 7, btw.... That's a really nice camera.
 

codymac

macrumors 6502
Jun 12, 2009
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You can get a 22Mp 645DF w/ 80/2.8 from B&H for just under $10k.

Former Mamiya 645 Pro shooter here - I sold all my Mamiya gear when I stopped shooting for money.

I shoot with a D800 now although I do still miss my Mamiya. If I were to step back up beyond a modern DSLR at this point, I'd go straight back to a 4x5 with a digital back. At that point, the back barely even factors into it for me - it's about the control a 4x5 allows.
 
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snberk103

macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
5,503
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An Island in the Salish Sea
Check out the PhaseOne pages, and then look at the Vistek.ca pages - go to the pro photography section at Vistek.

While the Vistek.ca pages are for Canada, it is a good place to start to see how bodies/backs/lenses are being priced out.

The PhaseOne system can include a PhaseOne camera body plus PhaseOne databack. Or you can match a PhaseOne databack to various other medium format camera bodies, including Mamiya camera bodies which are part of the PhaseOne group now, I believe. PhaseOne also promotes other makes of databanks, I believe - but of hand I can't remember.

Like anything else, source out the lenses too. I went with a PhaseOne camera/back because I already had a good collection of Mamiya 645 lenses.

Also.... it's not just about the resolution of the sensors. For instance, the p45+ PhaseOne back is a champ for low light situations. Better than other higher resolution backs (though at 39+ mega pixels it's no slouch). So figure out what kind of images you want to take, and then match the characteristics of the back and camera to those needs.

Not cheap, though. Not by a long shot. But if you shoot commercially, then your payoff may be fairly quick.

Luck.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,610
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Redondo Beach, California
In the 70's, 80's, and 90's I had a studio. I remember engaged couples asking what kind of equipment I used for weddings. The girls would remark that they were looking for something "higher end" than 35mm. So I bought a Kowa Super 66 system which produces a 2 1/4 inch square film image. It paid for itself in about a month. My clients loved the higher quality from the larger film.

Then someone told me about the Mamiya 7II system. So I bought one of the those and sold my Kowa. My clients loved the even larger 6x7 image and the camera was an absolute joy on Earth to use. Whisper quiet, strong, yet lightweight. And the lenses were tack sharp. I would still be using it today if digital hadn't killed film. I paid about 5 grand for the M7II system, which would be about 9 grand in today dollars.

My question is what is the digital equivalent of the Mamiya 7II? I know Hassy makes a large format digital camera but it cost as much as a new Shelby GT 500. Is anything available in the 10K range - for the entire system (including lenses)?
I used to shoot a Mamiya RB67. The thing was a beast but it had very good lenses and with leaf shutters it was quieter.

If you want that "look" today but a film camera and have the film scanned. OK so it costs a little per frame but your clients pay for that and you save the cost of a brand new digital system.

Scanned film actaully looks good. You would have an advantage over others.

A while back I got out some old slides I shot using Kodachrome and Valvia and used a real Kodak projector. Many of the people where to young to remember slides and the older people forgot about them. EVERYONE was impressed the quality of a 35mm slide just blows away a digital projector.

Few people today care about image quality. All they will do is post the image to Facebook and look at them on their cellphone
 

blanka

macrumors 68000
Jul 30, 2012
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The D800 is really shaking up MF at the moment. The IQ we get from it is on par with MF, yet the workflow is so much easier. Faster, more portable, making studio quality documentary style images without setting up studio lighting.
 

MacCruiskeen

macrumors 6502
Nov 9, 2011
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If you want that "look" today but a film camera and have the film scanned. OK so it costs a little per frame but your clients pay for that and you save the cost of a brand new digital system.
Yes, the digital equivalent of a Mamiya 7 is a Mamiya 7 + a scanner. Especially if you already have the Mamiya. Actually, the cost of film and processing is trivial compared to the cost of good scanning.

Hey Chris, I bought myself an RB67 last year. Dirt cheap. Walk around with in the street. It's awesome.
 

Edge100

macrumors 68000
May 14, 2002
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Where am I???
Yes, the digital equivalent of a Mamiya 7 is a Mamiya 7 + a scanner.
I was just going to say this.

If you already have the M7II and the lenses, then invest in a good 120 film scanner (you can pick up a Nikon CoolScan 9000 for about $3k on eBay, or wait to see how the new Plustek 135/120 scanner turns out later this year).

Then buy a whole bunch of Portra, and you're good to go. The DR you'll get from this system will be FAR better than any FF digital camera.
 

steveash

macrumors 6502
Aug 7, 2008
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UK
The D800 is really shaking up MF at the moment. The IQ we get from it is on par with MF, yet the workflow is so much easier. Faster, more portable, making studio quality documentary style images without setting up studio lighting.
I don't really agree with that. I don't think many people who would have bought a MF system will now get a D800 instead. The two systems are for different markets. As a commercial shooter quality is important but so are the other things that make MF special like leaf shutter lenses, 16 bit colour and big viewfinders. I can see the D800 might appeal to landscapers who don't want to carry the heavier gear around but personally it would take more than that to make me go back to a small format.
 

SimonUK5

macrumors 6502
Nov 26, 2010
476
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There is still definitely a place for both Digital Medium Format, as well as high-res 35mm Formats.

Apart from the obvious benefits of having a Larger Sensor. The Glass available for Hassy and the like, exceeds the quality of glass that you can put in front of a D800.

There is a place for both, and still will be for a long time.
 

Ruahrc

macrumors 65816
Jun 9, 2009
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I dunno, according to Lloyd Chambers, who has done testing of several medium format digital systems, Hassleblad glass is actually pretty marginal given the resolving power of their sensors. In this regard, some of the recent 35mm stuff actually gets close to or even surpasses the IQ you can get on MF digital, because the available selection of glass is much greater on the 35mm mounts (i.e. Zeiss lenses, Leicas w/adapters, etc).
 

bocomo

macrumors 6502
Jun 29, 2007
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New York
Interesting thread

I used to shoot 4x5 and MF with a mamiya rz. I'm not a commercial shooter, so i haven't gotten a digital MF system, but they are getting cheaper, although i don't think there are options for adding a digital back to th OP's 7II.

Surprised no one has mentioned dynamic range. The MF sensors have really large photosites, which means DRs of 14+ stops. Just something else to consider

Found this blog entry from a photog who switched to MF digital
http://zackarias.com/for-photographers/gear-gadgets/why-i-moved-to-medium-format-phase-one-iq140-review/
 
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lizardofwoz

macrumors regular
Aug 9, 2012
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Australia
6x7cm. The ideal medium format cameras.

It is worth remembering that 2 1/4 square was a flawed format from the beginning. All photographic printing papers are rectangular, not square. To get a print from a 2 1/4 square negative required cropping the negative... basically losing some of the extra size in both vertical and horizontal framing.

The Mamiya RB67 with its rotating film backs allowed for the full use of the negative. The backs provided portrait or landscape orientations on 6x7cm film. Nearly four times more negative than 35mm.

I have read that 12 megapixels is about the equivalent of 100 ASA 35mm film. A reasonably fine grained stock. To get an equivalent quality to 6x7cm film on digital cameras you are probably looking at resolutions in excess of 40 megapixels.

We are not there yet.

Feel free to correct my reasoning. I am NOT an expert on digital camera resolutions.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,610
408
Redondo Beach, California
It is worth remembering that 2 1/4 square was a flawed format from the beginning. All photographic printing papers are rectangular, not square. To get a print from a 2 1/4 square negative required cropping the negative... basically losing some of the extra size in both vertical and horizontal framing.

After a while when you shoot with a square format you start composing for square frames and making square prints. To this day I like square images and many time crop my dSLR images square. But I'm just as likely to crop them to very wide formats. I almost never leave them 2:3.

The advantage of square frames is you shoot so as to leave room for cropping to either horz or vertical and many times leave that decision to later.

The Mamiya RB67 with its rotating film backs allowed for the full use of the negative. The backs provided portrait or landscape orientations on 6x7cm film. Nearly four times more negative than 35mm.
I shot with an RB67 for a longtime. If I was carful and used a tripod and release cable and focused carefully and used fine grain film the film scans to 48 or 50 megapixels. This means that higher res scans provide no more details.

I think the RB67 captures about twice the details as a full frame 35mm camera but the images are "smother" maybe because there is no film grain in the prints.

The trouble with the RB67 was that it was hard to use for hand held shots. It really was a studio camera. But Hasselblad is made to be hand held.