Arguments on crop factor – 35 mm or Medium Format

Nikon D800, Nikkor 105mm

Since full frame 35mm digital became affordable there have been arguments about format.  

MicroFourThirds and their size and weight advantages.  Increased depth of field; a pro and a con depending on the type of photographs you take.

DX crop against full frame, and now 35mm full frame against cropped medium format.  Over the last couple of years I have seen the argument growing.

Since the release of relatively cheap (and I mean relatively cheap) cropped medium format; I am now seeing arguments about full frame 35mm verses cropped medium format explode on the forums.

It is fascinating that the 35mm crowd are using the same arguments small factor crop proponents  used against them, to defend themselves against the proponents of cropped medium format.

Get the Light Close – edit completed

The question of whether to buy 35mm or medium format I find somewhat confusing, I don’t think of the different formats as competitors.  If you need the dynamic range and a file that can be edited, edited and edited again, then go medium format.  Also medium format and the lens have a certain look that 35mm cannot match.  Cameras like the Nikon D800, D850, Leica SL1, SL2 and lets not forget the high tech killer that is the Sony A7R IV a 61 MP monster, etc; come close in the dynamic range but they still do not have the look that medium format can give you and the endless editing that the files can take.

Hasselblad V Medium Format

If you need medium format buy it, if small format (35mm full frame) will do then use that.

Ultimately I think it comes down to cost and the key features you need.  I love medium format, but at the moment my medium format is film and an old PhaseOne 16 MP back. This is well outclassed by my Nikon D800.

Out of camera jpeg from a Fuji Film GFX 50S

The Fujifilm GFX 50mm and has a nice look to the files but while the sensor is 50 MP the tech is old compared to a Nikon D850 with its 47MP or a Leica SL2 with its 47MP sensor and not in the same league as the new Sony.

While sensor is important what about the glass?

The L mount glass from Leica designed to exceed 60 line pairs per millimetre at 50% contrast is simply unbeatable, but it still does not have the look of medium format.

For my studio work/portrait work I would still lean towards medium format but the Fuji has a flash sync of only 1/125 while the Nikon and Leica have 1/250 with the flash at full power. If your serious about flash then a Hasselblad with a leaf shutter giving you flash sync up to 1/2000. The question is cost. A second hand Nikon D800 and a high quality lens is hard to beat. A second hand Fuji or Hasselblad and portrait lens it going to cost at least three times that.

What are the features you need, what is the look you want, lens draw, depth of field, flash sync, handling, weather sealing, focal length and focus performance, lowlight ability.

I know of some photographers their field of photography means a simple Ricoh GR III is the camera of choice, others a high end PhaseOne. Draw up a budget, pick the focal lengths you need for your work and then look at what’s available, gives the image you want and feels good in the hand.

Remember that now the difference between the worst and best camera is very small and all are very very good.

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