D800 vs MF Film, not a standard question

Started Nov 7, 2012 | Discussions thread
John M Roberts Senior Member • Posts: 2,471
Re: MiraShootNikon

MiraShootsNikon wrote:

Luke, if the question is "what can you do with MF film that cannot be done with D800?

(1) DOF control and dimension. Systems like the Contax 645 and the Mamiya RZ67 include lenses that are, relative to sensor size, "faster" than what's possible with the D800's smaller 35mm sensor, and they're of much higher quality--they're sharp, sharp, sharp and contrasty wide open. Shooting the 110 f/2.8 Sekor on the Mamiya RZ67 is like shooting a 50mm f/.95 on a D800. And the "theoretical" 50mm f/0.95 wouldn't be very sharp, whereas the Sekor 110 is *razor* sharp wide open.

(2) Dynamic range. Film still blows digital away, here. And that has practical uses--the big one being that you can shoot against strong mid-day backlight and expose for shadows without blowing out the sky or highlights around your subjects. In fact, the more light you push into print film, the better this style gets. It's definitely something digital can't do, and it's *gorgeous* look. (It's why people pay film-shooting wedding togs like Jose Villa and Jonathan Canlas the big bucks. It's also why many cinematographers and directors--Paul Thomas Anderson, Christopher Nolan & Wally Pfister, Rian Johnson, Speilberg & Janusz Kaminski prefer to shoot movies on 65mm Kodak print film--this specific look.)

And if you shoot large format film, these two advantages just get more advantageous. Shooting big LF sheets gives you *unbelievable* dimension and DOF control, and it doubles-down on the dynamic range advantage.

Now, just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that medium / large format film is "better" than digital for these reasons--I'm only answering your specific question. These are two big reasons that shooting LF / MF film will give a very different look than you might achieve with a D800, in the same circumstance.


I'm assuming that you are speaking of negative film rather then transparencies. What LF film do you enjoy using for what type of subject matter? I have been used to the narrow range of transparencies and have little experience of the advantages LF neg. film would offer with landscape.


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