Basic questions - wannabe MF user

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Stan Disbrow Veteran Member • Posts: 5,137
Re: Basic questions - wannabe MF user


My MF these days is my third foray into it. The first was with film. I wanted to print larger than 8x10 and so my Nikon 135 format system was too limiting. So, I added a Mamiya 645. That did the trick. Much nicer 11x14 prints.

My second trip was with a Contax 645 and a 16 MP Kodak digital back. This was back in 2003 and my trial of the Canon 1Ds, the first 135 format full frame digital, left me feeling rather blah about the output. So, I used a 2 MP APS-C Hi ISO and a 6 MP APS-H Lo ISO pair for my Nikon lenses - and that C645 with 16 MP back.

In 2018 I moved to a Nikon Df. This worked better than all three of the others. Rather a One Camera to Rule them All, as it were.

Last Spring, I wanted to do a series of the North Carolina lighthouses. And I wanted to print 11x14-ish size on fabric with a specialty printer I already had. That needs 300 PPI and with the aspect ratio crop of the 3:2 image from the Df left me with fewer pixels to print than I wanted.

So, to boost that. My first thought was either a D850 or a Z7. So I rented both. And found that my all-older collection of Nikon glass was not up to the resolution of the new sensors. Bummer. And buying new glass was not in the budget. A new body barely was.

This is a business for me, the lighthouse project. The fabric prints form quilt blocks to be sold.

So, having to have new glass meant I was no longer locked into Nikon. Time to look around. And so one was Fuji MF, but that glass is too costly as well. And no used market to speak of. But, there was one medium format which was, literally, dirt cheap. Pentax.

So I picked up a 40 MP 645D for $1600 and a few lenses for $300 each or less, and got out there and shot the seven lighthouses. Now, that 40 MP is a CCD and that means good light. Which I always have given the subject. And it is a DSLR and it is big and heavy which means a tripod and not much good for a moving subject.

But, lighthouses don't move. Much. One did, Hatteras, in 2002, but it didn't mover far or fast and it's been still ever since. So, No Problem!

And so now with the 100s out and used prices falling I can look for either a P645z or a Fuji 50s as they have the same Sony 50 MP CMOS sensor. And I can do well with the Pentax glass on the Fuji via an adapter.

But, the key here is that MF fits my shooting needs. If I head to the race track I'll be using the Df for that. But, then, I won't be printing large from it. The lighthouses are popular enough that I added a new paper printer and am making 16x20 framed prints with it which are actually outselling the quilt blocks. Bonus!


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Amateur Photographer
Professional Electronics Development Engineer
Once you start down the DSLR path, forever will it dominate your destiny! Consume
your bank account, it will! Like mine, it did!

 Stan Disbrow's gear list:Stan Disbrow's gear list
Kodak DCS520 Kodak DCS760 Nikon D1H Pentax 645D Nikon Df +17 more
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