Thoughts on digital equivalent of square film

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by baypharm, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. baypharm macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2007
    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)?
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    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:

    Edit: you can, of course, still shoot medium format film. I've only just started doing so!
  3. Policar macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    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.
  4. codymac, Aug 1, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2012

    codymac macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2009
    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.
  5. snberk103 macrumors 603

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

    While the 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.

  6. baypharm thread starter macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2007
    Thanks for all your comments/recommendations, guys!
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    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
  8. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    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.
  9. MacCruiskeen macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2011
    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.
  10. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
  11. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    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.
  12. steveash macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2008
    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.
  13. SimonUK5 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2010
    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.
  14. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    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).
  15. bocomo, Aug 18, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012

    bocomo macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    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
  16. lizardofwoz macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2012
    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.
  17. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

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