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Go Large And Shoot Digital Medium Format

Big is beautiful as Will Cheung discovers when he checks out the potential of digital medium format with the help of MPB.

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Go Large And Shoot Digital Medium Format: Will Cheung with the Fujifilm GFX 50R and 45-100mm f/4 lensWill Cheung with the Fujifilm GFX 50R and 45-100mm f/4 lens

 

From the earliest days of the medium, photographers have had the choice of different camera formats, and that is still the case with digital photography.

Full-frame 35mm is the dominant format but the smaller formats, Micro Four Thirds and APS-C, remain rightly popular among image creators preferring less bulky kit or want to exploit the benefit of their respective crop factors; 2x in the case of MFT and 1.5x/1.6x with APS-C.

Image quality from all three formats is remarkably good and more than enough for professional use, but there is another option: medium format.

Go back a few years, and digital medium-format used to be way beyond the financial reach of enthusiasts with cameras costing as much as a new family car. Not only that, but their size and poor battery capacity didn’t make such cameras conducive to location use.

However, all that has changed thanks to Fujifilm, Hasselblad and Pentax, and shooting digital medium-format is within reach of keen photographers. Of course, it’s still not cheap but it is possible to buy a new medium-format camera for less than a top-end 35mm format camera.

Take the used route and we’re talking reasonably affordable, so if the pursuit of ultimate image quality appeals, this is a very realistic option.

Go Large And Shoot Digital Medium Format: Fujifilm GFX 50R

Checking on the MPB website, a Fujifilm GFX 50R body costs £1949, an excellent condition Pentax 645Z is £1809 and a Hasselblad X1D £1699. These are body-only prices, but it gives you an idea of the sort of budget you need to get you started in medium-format digital imaging.

I tried from MPB an excellent condition Fujifilm GFX 50R with a GF 45-100mm f/4 R LM OIS WR lens. Costing £1949 and £1449 respectively, that adds up to an outfit costing £3398, which is comparable to a full-frame body with a high-spec standard zoon.

Fujifilm’s GFX system is based on a sensor size of 33x44mm - the same format is used by Pentax and Hasselblad. Leica use 30x45mm and Phase one use 40x54mm.

 

Go Large And Shoot Digital Medium Format: 45-100mm f/4

 

The GFX 50R came out in Autumn 2018 and its launch price was £3999 body only, so the used price is over £2K less. It’s a 51-megapixel, rangefinder-style camera and weighs in at 775g. However, add the 45-100mm f/4 lens which is a hefty 1005g and the combination has serious heft. Its focal length range gives the equivalent of 36-79mm in the 35mm format, so it’s a modest but useful standard focal length range.

The camera is lovely to use with a straightforward control layout and menu system – for Fujifilm X-System users the menu will be very familiar.

Its AF is based on a contrast-detect system so it’s good, sensitive and quite quick. But it’s not as responsive as phase-detect systems and significantly slower than top-end cameras. Plus, it exhibits the usual trait of contrast-detect systems with the lens moving past the point of sharp focus and back again. That said, it works well enough in good light, and marginally less well in poor lighting. I used single-point AF using the camera’s joystick to manoeuvre the AF point around the screen and that suited the way I like to shoot.

 

Go Large And Shoot Digital Medium Format: Happisburgh groynes

Happisburgh groynes shot at 60secs and f/22 at ISO 50. The Fujifilm GFX 50R with 45-100mm f/4 lens was on a tripod and fitted with a 10EV ND filter. The RAW file was processed through Adobe Lightroom. © Will Cheung.

 

The GFX 50R has the choice of a mechanical or an electronic shutter. The electronic shutter suffers from rolling shutter so it’s best not used for handholding unless the shutter speed is high or you’re on a tripod. I kept with the mechanical shutter with electronic front-curtain and while this had some shutter shock, handholding at slowish shutter speeds was perfectly manageable and shutter noise wasn’t too obvious.

The camera does not have an in-body image stabiliser, so the lens’s integral 5EV benefit Optical Image Stabiliser is very handy. I was getting sharp handheld shots at 1/8sec, and that was impressive given the camera’s heft. For scenics, I shot tripod-mounted exposures for as long as four minutes with extreme ND filters. The camera’s large profile did mean that a gentle breeze could be an issue even with a full-sized Gitzo carbon-fibre tripod, but I soon learnt to shelter the camera with my body to skirt around the problem.

 

Go Large And Shoot Digital Medium Format: The dark holds no fears for the Fujifilm GFX 50R with 45-100mm f/4 lens. This was a handheld shot with an exposure 1/45sc at f/4.5 at ISO 12,800. Raw file processed through DxO PureRaw 3.

The dark holds no fears for the Fujifilm GFX 50R with 45-100mm f/4 lens. This was a handheld shot with an exposure of 1/45sec at f/4.5 at ISO 12,800. RAW file processed through DxO PureRaw 3. © Will Cheung.

 

I shot lossless compressed RAWs and files were in the range of 45-60MB. I put files through Adobe Lightroom and it was here that there was an extra benefit compared with smaller formats. There was more headroom in the files for heavy adjustments, so extreme highlights and deep shadows could be recovered without noise and artefacts. Also, the images were packed full of detail and no extra software sharpening was needed.

The 51-megapixel files opened up to 8256x6192 pixels so there was lots of potential for cropping if needed while still giving a big file image, and of course, there was plenty of potential for large prints with no need for software interpolation. I was really happy with the A3+ and A2 prints I made from the GFX 50R Raws.

In conclusion, shooting medium-format is not for everyone and it doesn’t suit every subject. But if you enjoy a more relaxed approach to your photography and like working to very high image quality levels, digital medium-format is more affordable than ever, especially if you like the used route, so check out MPB stocks.

 

Go Large And Shoot Digital Medium Format: Happisburgh lighthouse exposed at 60secs and f/11 at ISO 50. The Fujifilm GFX 50R with 45-100mm f/4 lens was on a tripod and fitted with a 10EV ND filter. The Raw file was  processed through Adobe Lightroom.

Happisburgh lighthouse exposed at 60secs and f/11 at ISO 50. The Fujifilm GFX 50R with 45-100mm f/4 lens was on a tripod and fitted with a 10EV ND filter. The RAW file was processed through Adobe Lightroom. © Will Cheung.

 

Welcome to the Class of 2023 - The five inductees to the MPB Photo and Video Kit Hall of Fame have been unveiled.

Go Large And Shoot Digital Medium Format:

 

MPB, the world's largest online platform for used photography and videography equipment, has revealed the five legendary pieces of kit that have won the public vote to be crowned The Photo and Video Kit Hall of Fame Class of 2023. Over 146,000 votes were cast from photographers and content creators from around the world.

Classic inductee: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV - Think of a Classic digital camera and it’s likely the silhouette of a Canon DSLR will spring to mind. The full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, with its exceptional image quality, all-round versatility and rugged build, must surely be considered an all-time Classic.

Game Changer inductee: DJI Mavic 3 Pro - The DJI Mavic 3 Pro took aerial photography to another level with its cutting-edge technology and image quality. It revolutionised the drone industry by introducing a larger sensor, enabling even more stunning imagery from the sky.

Iconic inductee: Leica M6 - Loved by street photographers in particular for its fully mechanical construction, in-built light meter, and timeless compact design, the Leica M6 is a well-deserved Iconic Inductee.

Road Tested inductee: Sony A7 IV - The Sony A7 IV fills photographers with confidence with its high-resolution full-frame sensor, reliable autofocus and robust image stabilisation. Released in 2021, this camera immediately earned everyone’s trust for capturing exceptional shots in any condition.

Trendsetter inductee: Fujifilm X100V - Pushing the boundaries of compact cameras, the Fujifilm X100V further improved on Fujifilm’s trendsetting blend of vintage design and modern tech. Now the camera is leading the resurging interest in compact cameras from young photographers across social media.

 

MPB Explained

You need kit to take photographs and produce videos, and taking the used route is a cost-effective way of making the most of your budget and keeping up with the latest developments in imaging technology.

MPB is one of the biggest used retailers with bases in the UK, Germany and the USA.

Trading with MPB the process is fair, safe, painless and incredibly easy.

Whether you have kit to sell, want to make a purchase or part exchange, start by going to the MPB website which is intuitive and straightforward to use.

If you have kit to trade, just start typing the name in and a list of suggestions from MPB’s huge database will appear. If a name on that list matches your product click on it and add its condition; if not, continue typing in the whole name and condition.

It’s worth bearing in mind that MPB’s database covers much more than cameras and lenses so if you have, for example, a photo backpack, tripod or filters to sell these can be shown as you type in their name too.

With all your kit listed, add contact details and a quote will appear in your inbox soon afterwards, although manually entered items will take one working day.

If you are happy with the quote, accept it and follow the instructions to get the kit ready for courier collection on a day to suit you. For higher-value deals, an MPB account manager will also be in touch, so you have a personal point of contact if you have any queries.

Once received by MPB, you will get a notification and after checking by its product specialists you will receive a final quote. This can vary from the original quote if there is a missing item – like a battery not being supplied - or your assessed condition differs from the actual condition.

A quote can go down, but it can also increase if the kit’s condition is better than your assessment.

The whole process doesn’t take long and MPB are in touch by e-mail at every step so you’re never in the dark, and only when you are totally happy with the deal, pass on your payment details or pay the balance in the case of part-exchange. Either way, the money or your new kit will be with you soon after.

Get A Quote From MPB Today

 

About MPB

  • MPB is the largest global platform to buy, sell and trade used photo and video kit.
  • MPB are the simple, safe and circular way to trade, upgrade and get paid.
  • MPB is not a marketplace, instead buying directly from visual storytellers and evaluating all items before reselling MPB-approved kit.
  • MPB's dynamic pricing engine provides the right price upfront for all items.
  • Circularity is at the centre of MPB, promoting sustainability, diversity and inclusion in everything they do.
  • MPB prioritises inclusive recruitment and supports employees with extensive training and development. They promote inclusive visual storytelling and an inclusive circular economy.
  • MPB's business model is 100% circular. All packaging is 100% plastic-free. Their cloud-based platform uses 100% renewable electricity.
  • MPB has served over 625,000 visual storytellers while recirculating more than 400,000 products annually
  • MPB provides first-class customer service. Customers can receive support through their Help Centre or by speaking directly with a kit expert.
  • MPB's product specialists are trusted by thousands of visual storytellers in the UK.
  • MPB is rated ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot with over 19,000 reviews.

 

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