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06-29-2014, 11:25 AM   #1
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Medium Format Questions

I have been shooting with Pentax for about just over 2 years. This is my first ever foray into photography. I have a K-5 (soon to get a K-3)... my go to (main) lens lineup is: 15mm, 21mm, 31mm, 43mm, and a 70mm (probably soon to get a 77mm as I really like the FA Limited lenses).

Over time I have slowly gotten to where I am able to produce decent images, but of course I am far from being an expert. Long story short I am not a complete noob but I am still learning tons all the time. That all said I want to learn more about the differences of medium format shooting. Of course I don't own a medium format camera (yet), but I have a few questions...

Here is pretty much all I know...the sensor is much bigger and the megapixel count is much larger. From what I have read because of this lenses that are for medium format have a negative crop calculation to get back to that 35mm thing. For example a 75mm medium format lens will be roughly equivalent to a 50mm 'traditional' 35mm format film era calculation.

Going more in depth into that, 'crop factor' on my K-5... a 50mm lens still has the same magnification regardless of format, it's just that with a crop sensor one essentially has the FOV of a 75mm lens. This is essentially accomplished by the camera plucking out the center of the circle of light, but not by truly increasing the magnification. On a medium format though...how does this work?

Another question... are the lenses for Pentax medium format (I refer to prime lenses) anywhere near the Pentax Limited/FA Limited lens line up as to sharpness?

Does that gigantic sensor make a difference? Other than sheerly having more real estate for the image to rest on...which can result in substantially better resolution? What are the pros and cons?

Obviously no camera can create good lighting, select a good subject, or create good composition... but overall what are the other pros and cons of medium format shooting?

06-29-2014, 11:53 AM   #2
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Oh deer, well we shouldn't but then again, somehow we all want to know what one lens is compared to full frame format. So your 43mm lens on K-5 is almost like a 80mm lens on 645Z. And then never to talk about it again.

I took the 645D for a little tour in 2012 and look at the images: 645D images, 85 pictures
06-29-2014, 12:20 PM   #3
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Focal length is focal length and simply an optical distance.

Focal length plus sensor dimension determines angle of view.

Magnification is determined by focal length, not sensor size.

Sensor size regardless of pixel resolution determines depth of field.

The larger the format, the more efficient it becomes. While you can have differing format have the same pixel resolution, or increasing frequency, it is harder to achieve the same amplitude (sometimes referred to as micro contrast) with an increasing frequency. So yes, the real estate makes an impact on the image. However, there are other factors that change those things and there are more than pixel resolution and sensor size that contribute to pleasing images.
06-29-2014, 12:41 PM   #4
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My experience is that the 43 Limited, the 77 Limited, and the FA* 85/1.4 are sharper than the 45 and 75mm for the 645 when used on a 35mm(FF) body.....

06-29-2014, 12:44 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
Another question... are the lenses for Pentax medium format (I refer to prime lenses) anywhere near the Pentax Limited/FA Limited lens line up as to sharpness?
The new DFA/DA lenses are exceptionally good, yes. Many older FA and A lenses are also great, but refer to the lens reviews for more info on this.

QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
Obviously no camera can create good lighting, select a good subject, or create good composition... but overall what are the other pros and cons of medium format shooting?
The big advantage is image quality. Check out this page of our 645D vs D3x review for more: it compares APS-C to full-frame to the 645D. Even though newer cameras have been released since then, the difference in resolution should be about the same between the current high-res sensors (24MP APS-C, 36MP FF, 51MP 645Z):
Pentax 645D Review vs. Nikon D3x - Image Quality - PF Reviews

Cons include bigger physical size, slower burst shooting, and high cost. Medium format shines in the studio and for landscapes, but it certainly isn't a system for everyone.

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06-29-2014, 05:07 PM   #6
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One of the cons in going to medium format is cost, at least in the digital age. The new 645Z will cost a bundle. Since you have only been shooting two years, I suggest investigating the 645 film camera and the 67. The Pentax 67 has an image size of 55 X 70mm and is fairly cheap to own compared with the Z. If you find you don't like medium format, it is not a lot invested.
06-29-2014, 05:22 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
...
Another question... are the lenses for Pentax medium format (I refer to prime lenses) anywhere near the Pentax Limited/FA Limited lens line up as to sharpness?

Does that gigantic sensor make a difference? Other than sheerly having more real estate for the image to rest on...which can result in substantially better resolution? What are the pros and cons?
...
I really like my DA and FA limiteds on K-mount for their sharpness and rendering. I have been likewise pleased with most of the 645 and 67 lenses I have tried on my 645D. Some are real standouts in sharpness and overall IQ, IMO. I do miss being able to make the nice sunstars, such as those from the 15, 21, 31, 77 and others. Most of my medium format lenses are either 8-blade (8-pt stars), or 9-blade, but the 9-blade lenses are a challenge from which to coax a good star. That one characteristic is hardly a reason to choose a lens, IMO, but just pointing out one of the most obvious differences since adding the 645D kit.
When I first made 20x30" prints with the 645D, I laughed out loud at the extra detail I was able to see. You will be pleasantly surprised!
06-30-2014, 03:58 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by desertscape Quote
One of the cons in going to medium format is cost, at least in the digital age. The new 645Z will cost a bundle. Since you have only been shooting two years, I suggest investigating the 645 film camera and the 67. The Pentax 67 has an image size of 55 X 70mm and is fairly cheap to own compared with the Z. If you find you don't like medium format, it is not a lot invested.
Yes it will cost a bundle but is 15% less of a bundle than the D was on release, and that is before you take inflation into account.

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