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03-09-2016, 09:59 PM   #1
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Digital or Film MF

Well I know that MF camera is for professional photographers who really need more image quality from huge sensor. I know that it's still expansive since I'm a student in college. I did used Phase one MF cameras for several times it was stunning. The digital back was P45+ which is quite old but still provide great color tone and detail. The color tone itself made me surprise. Well, FF is still great tho. I'm thinking to get Pentax 645N or Nii for portrait shooting since people loved it so much. I have Pentax 67 with few lenses but I really don't think that I need that huge negatives.(But Pentax 67 is quite meaningful camera to me that I can't think to exchange from 67 to 645 for now.) After 2 years, I will be graduate from college and start working as a photographer. At least, I need a camera for my career which might be K-1 with film MF but will it be stupid to get and use 645D? Should I just stick with both K-1 and 645N later?

03-09-2016, 10:07 PM   #2
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I wouldn't say it would be dumb to pick up the 645D, but if you plan to shoot professionally I probably wouldn't invest more in medium format unless you eventually plan to upgrade to the current 645 model. If that won't be the case then full frame is the way to go.

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03-09-2016, 10:41 PM   #3
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Photographers in professional practice actually lease these big systems. It's cost effective in terms of tax/depreciation — getting something back for taking so much out. And there is an easy upgrade path at the end. This is for the modern digital systems — Pentax, Hasselblad among them. You would need to establish a cash flow to justify spending that sort of money of a 645Z. I wouldn't realistically take the plunge just because it looks 'favourable'. On the other hand, regarding the 6x7 / 67, The Pentax 67 is a cost effective foot in the door in the larger format and something to start with honing skills professionally. There is little to argue about with a large negative — better than the 645 and 400% better than the postage-stamp sized 35mm! Sure, the 6x7 / 67 bodies lack bells and whistles, but who says you need all that to make a quality photograph? Concentrate on the image making first and foremost, equipment second.
03-10-2016, 01:56 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by rlatjsrud Quote
After 2 years, I will be graduate from college and start working as a photographer. At least, I need a camera for my career which might be K-1 with film MF but will it be stupid to get and use 645D? Should I just stick with both K-1 and 645N later?
Good questions: First my story. When I was entering as a 5th year senior as an undergrad at UCLA Film School (1981), I agonized over two options. One: Buy a motion picture camera and get jobs with it while offering the camera for next to no rent. Two: Produce and direct my own 16mm film. All except one professor recommended that I make my mark as a director, market the film, establish myself through film festivals, competitions, agencies. My cinematography prof said I should buy the camera because directors may only get their projects every 1-3 years whereas a cinematographer can be working constantly. I ended up directing my own film and in retrospect, I know I made the wrong decision.

The decision left me in debt, but instead of giving up on the dream of being a cinematographer, I could still afford to buy still photographic equipment and hire myself out with it as a photographer. That plan worked and those cameras paid for themselves in 6 months.

So a few perspectives on what you're contemplating: Most commercial clients want immediate results. They don't have the patience for film processing, scanning, printing, etc. I still shoot MF film (645), but it is only for my fine art photography; personal and I'm not doing it to generate income. I love the slow linear process, the required vision and reflection, the large scanned files at a fraction of the cost for me to shoot with digital MF.

As a pro, your success and reputation is based on results and deadlines. Not getting the shot for any reason is not an option, even if there is equipment failure to no fault of your own. You and your reputation is only as good as your last job. You screw up once, and no one talks about all the times you succeeded; you're the guy that ruined someone's wedding, missed the deadline, etc. Years of a good rep can be ruined in one mistake, one accident, one text or post!

So the first rule is redundancy. Two cameras, two bodies, spare batteries, back up flash units, etc. You only really need one, but when something breaks, you can't stop working. This is why Canon, and to a lesser degree Nikon, are the big players in LA and NY. Easy access to rentals, loaners, or new equipment in stock. So if you're planning on going pro, you can do it with Pentax, but regardless, you have to have a backup for anything essential that could stop working.

So if you're not working for a studio or agency that provides equipment, but as an independent contractor, then I'd recommend planning on getting two of everything. The price almost doesn't matter. It's going to be a business expense for your income tax returns.

Scenario A: 2 K-1 bodies ($4000 w/ accessories), 3 lenses ($4000), computer hardware and photo editing software ($1500), plus a couple of flash units and tripod ($1500) total $11K.
Scenario B: Same as above but digital MF instead of FF total $21K.

If the FF system generates $50K/year and the MF generates $70K/year and you're making $20K more per year, then spending $10K more initially was a wise investment. Or looking at it the other way, saving $10K in scenario A just cost you $20K in income per year.

If it's a hobby, or a side job, then welcome back to Earth and don't go into debt. But if you're a pro, then you need the tools that will allow you to get the best results and make deadlines. Is your car going to generate income? If not, get a reliable and safe point A to B used vehicle for $10K and not a new vehicle for your ego at $20K.

So hope that gives you another perspective. Keep in mind that the path that worked in Ansel Adams' career would not have worked for Cindy Sherman. You have to find your own way, which usually means making mistakes and learning from them. Also recognizing when you've found the gold and not taking it for granted.

03-10-2016, 07:23 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Silent Street Quote
the postage-stamp sized 35mm
35mm is TWICE as big as a postage stamp!
03-10-2016, 07:51 AM   #6
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I might have missed it, what kind of pro photography do you want to do? This will help inform your gear. I love film mf cameras, you can't go too wrong having a few, but many aren't built for speed.
03-10-2016, 07:55 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
35mm is TWICE as big as a postage stamp!
Not if the stamp is a commemorative. They're typically 645 size. Regular stamps have a crop factor.
03-10-2016, 08:27 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by CDW Quote
Not if the stamp is a commemorative. They're typically 645 size. Regular stamps have a crop factor.
Who even uses postage? Junk mailers, that's who.

03-10-2016, 09:18 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
Good questions: First my story. When I was entering as a 5th year senior as an undergrad at UCLA Film School (1981), I agonized over two options. One: Buy a motion picture camera and get jobs with it while offering the camera for next to no rent. Two: Produce and direct my own 16mm film. All except one professor recommended that I make my mark as a director, market the film, establish myself through film festivals, competitions, agencies. My cinematography prof said I should buy the camera because directors may only get their projects every 1-3 years whereas a cinematographer can be working constantly. I ended up directing my own film and in retrospect, I know I made the wrong decision.

The decision left me in debt, but instead of giving up on the dream of being a cinematographer, I could still afford to buy still photographic equipment and hire myself out with it as a photographer. That plan worked and those cameras paid for themselves in 6 months.

So a few perspectives on what you're contemplating: Most commercial clients want immediate results. They don't have the patience for film processing, scanning, printing, etc. I still shoot MF film (645), but it is only for my fine art photography; personal and I'm not doing it to generate income. I love the slow linear process, the required vision and reflection, the large scanned files at a fraction of the cost for me to shoot with digital MF.

As a pro, your success and reputation is based on results and deadlines. Not getting the shot for any reason is not an option, even if there is equipment failure to no fault of your own. You and your reputation is only as good as your last job. You screw up once, and no one talks about all the times you succeeded; you're the guy that ruined someone's wedding, missed the deadline, etc. Years of a good rep can be ruined in one mistake, one accident, one text or post!

So the first rule is redundancy. Two cameras, two bodies, spare batteries, back up flash units, etc. You only really need one, but when something breaks, you can't stop working. This is why Canon, and to a lesser degree Nikon, are the big players in LA and NY. Easy access to rentals, loaners, or new equipment in stock. So if you're planning on going pro, you can do it with Pentax, but regardless, you have to have a backup for anything essential that could stop working.

So if you're not working for a studio or agency that provides equipment, but as an independent contractor, then I'd recommend planning on getting two of everything. The price almost doesn't matter. It's going to be a business expense for your income tax returns.

Scenario A: 2 K-1 bodies ($4000 w/ accessories), 3 lenses ($4000), computer hardware and photo editing software ($1500), plus a couple of flash units and tripod ($1500) total $11K.
Scenario B: Same as above but digital MF instead of FF total $21K.

If the FF system generates $50K/year and the MF generates $70K/year and you're making $20K more per year, then spending $10K more initially was a wise investment. Or looking at it the other way, saving $10K in scenario A just cost you $20K in income per year.

If it's a hobby, or a side job, then welcome back to Earth and don't go into debt. But if you're a pro, then you need the tools that will allow you to get the best results and make deadlines. Is your car going to generate income? If not, get a reliable and safe point A to B used vehicle for $10K and not a new vehicle for your ego at $20K.

So hope that gives you another perspective. Keep in mind that the path that worked in Ansel Adams' career would not have worked for Cindy Sherman. You have to find your own way, which usually means making mistakes and learning from them. Also recognizing when you've found the gold and not taking it for granted.
Very helpful infos. I'm just worry about the photography business by myself after I graduate from school. Budgets for equipments after I graduate is important...
03-10-2016, 09:47 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alex645 Quote
the path that worked in Ansel Adams' career would not have worked for Cindy Sherman.
I'm not sure either of these make great examples for someone embarking on a career in photography. Bear in mind that "professional" encompasses everything from news stringer, weddings, product, corporate, stock, to mall passport and kiddie portraits. Aspiring to the rarified world of fine art photography with international name recognition (as opposed to flogging 'giclee' prints on a web site) is a different animal, and equipment considerations are the least of it.
03-10-2016, 10:20 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by rlatjsrud Quote
I'm just worry about the photography business by myself after I graduate from school. Budgets for equipments after I graduate is important...
Yes, being worried is good if it prevents you from wasting time and money on wants and not needs. But if you commit yourself to wearing the photographer badge, my advice is don't do it timidly and conservatively. The competition doesn't care and will bully themselves and take away your opportunities. And I found that when I spent more on my equipment, I was highly, highly motivated to get it to pay for itself so that I would have no regrets. But I recommend to try not to multitask your life. Be in the zone and do whatever you're doing 100%. You have to believe in yourself more than anyone around you based on your potential, not your past. Good luck!

---------- Post added 03-10-16 at 10:51 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by dsmithhfx Quote
I'm not sure either of these make great examples for someone embarking on a career in photography. Bear in mind that "professional" encompasses everything from news stringer, weddings, product, corporate, stock, to mall passport and kiddie portraits. Aspiring to the rarified world of fine art photography with international name recognition (as opposed to flogging 'giclee' prints on a web site) is a different animal, and equipment considerations are the least of it.
Yes, I didn't mean to suggest he was aspiring to be the next Steven McCurry; I was using recognizable names instead of the name of a local wedding photographer or a lesser known Magnum photographer. But if he's getting a college degree, he's already invested thousands in education and a piece of paper. For me, for my first 10 years after college, the degree was and seemed to be a waste of time and money. When I turned 30, that degree was my ticket to a new career.

As a teacher, 99% of my students do not aspire to go pro, but I try to inspire the 1% that does to take the torch much higher than I did and a few of them are on their own paths now.

I grew up and went through the public school and university system, and learned the only thing truly holding me back was myself. Now that I teach at a high school that educated two world leaders (Sun Yat-sen and Barack Obama), both of which were not special in their youth, I recognize that potential is much more in our grasp than we think. Everyone has doubts, but the most successful let others doubt while they just boldly do their thing.

My main point is that I've seen the difference between the working pros and the wannabes is often commitment to equipment. One ex-student buys the top gear for surf photography and now travels the world as a pro photographer (with fins in the surf) shooting pro surfers. Another went halfway and upgraded his telephoto lenses and now joins the hundreds of other weekend wannabes on the shore and has two day jobs. The question for the OP: Is photography something he needs to do or is it just something he wants to do? That is often the difference between going pro or pursuing a hobby. I'm not judging one as better than the other; it's a personal decision.

If anyone is still reading...I have to share that in my youth, I was always frustrated by my father's lack of ever giving me a straight answer. But I knew I had finally become an adult the day I asked him, "Do you think I should marry her?" And in my Dad's typical way he responded, "If you have to ask me, the answer is no." And then I got it! You do something, especially something big, when you know it is something you need to do regardless of what anyone else thinks. I didn't marry her. Later I met someone else, and I didn't care what anyone thought, and we got married.
03-10-2016, 01:28 PM   #12
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Gosh.

03-10-2016, 01:29 PM   #13
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That's quite stupid.
03-10-2016, 01:41 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rlatjsrud Quote
That's quite stupid.
It got great reviews!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruthless_People#Reception
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