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01-12-2019, 01:13 AM - 1 Like   #1
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A study of photographs on flickr

Thinking about upgrading from full frame Pentax K1 to medium format (645z from Pentax, GFX50s from Fuji), I've been analyzing a lot of photographs taken from flickr groups.
Findings were not what I'd initially expected. What I observed was the following:
- medium format photographer likely put more efforts into each of their shots, the content of photographs is usually compelling, telling a story, people etc.

- full frame image groups display a higher quantity of photographs there is a lot of full frame content that moves our liking in the wrong direction, from Pentax K1 but that is even more the case from D850 with its higher frame rate... (more frame rate = more photographs that lacks anything interesting)

- medium format photographs are well exposed most of the time, subjects are generally well lit
- and also, especially in the Pentax K1 groups, a number of still photographs out not focused correctly (the subject doesn't move, there is no excuse for the photographer..)
- last but not least, medium format image quality distinguishes itself from even the high resolution full frame images... letting me believe that 30Mpixel about about all full frame can do.
- in a lot of full frame photographs, depth of field is too shallow relative to subject, leading to unsharp edges of subjects with depth (portraits etc), where a full frame user feel proud to take advantage of his fast lens at f1.4, the medium format photographer will stop down his lens to f/5.6 and the medium format image will show a subject that is well defined in the frame. The medium format photographer seems to be knowing exactly what aperture he needs to have good subject separation, while the full frame photographer seems to have fun exploring to corners of his camera/lens specifications, which doesn't necessary lead to good photographs.


Anyone noticed other difference between full frame and MF photography?, I'd be looking forward to increase my knowledge and understanding.

01-12-2019, 01:59 AM - 3 Likes   #2
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There's probably a relatively high percentage of "full frame" shooters who aren't particularly experienced or competent, but who happen to be able to afford one as their first camera. While medium format photographers are much more likely to have years of experience behind them, and to know what they are doing with their cameras and why. I can't imagine many people buying a 645Z as their first camera. Hence the much higher average standard among the medium format photos on Flickr.

I think your analysis is spot-on, and I'd be interested to know your thoughts about FF vs APS-C on Flickr too. Is the average quality of FF likely to be higher because experienced photographers have moved up from APS-C? Or could the average APS-C quality be higher because people who are more interested in "meaningful" photography than just testing gear haven't felt any need for FF?

I think this is going to be a fascinating thread.
01-12-2019, 02:26 AM - 3 Likes   #3
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Are Ferrari drivers better drivers than the others?

Well, yes and no. Because there are so many people driving normal cars, including many beginners and amateur (occasional) drivers, that it undoubtedly leads to statistic declination.

(What's the percentage of MF owners? I guess even smaller than Ferrari owners... )
01-12-2019, 02:40 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by zzeitg Quote
Are Ferrari drivers better drivers than the others?

I think Ferraris are statistically more likely to crash, because they trick people into thinking they must be great drivers simply because they can afford the car. Then their talent quickly runs out.

Perhaps it's the same with cameras: people think they must be great photographers because of the expensive gear they own, but actually that gear is just revealing the limits of their talents?

01-12-2019, 02:46 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
- medium format photographer likely put more efforts into each of their shots, the content of photographs is usually compelling, telling a story, people etc.
- medium format photographs are well exposed most of the time, subjects are generally well lit
- and also, especially in the Pentax K1 groups, a number of still photographs out not focused correctly (the subject doesn't move, there is no excuse for the photographer..)
I think most of your findings are more related to the group of photographers who own the camera and less to the sensor size of the camera itself.
Apart from the, as I suspect, much higher total number of full frame camera owners relative to medium format. You will find far more novice and amateur photographers whose equipment outperform their skill in the full frame section than with the medium format cameras, simply because of the premium price tag. I am certain there are some techies owning a 645Z too, whose skill level doesn't really justify such an investment, but I expect this group to be smaller relative to the more economical full frame sector.

QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
- (more frame rate = more photographs that lacks anything interesting)
Since a high frame rate primarily is important or usefull for sport or wildlife photography (you may find that boring ) and not photography in general, I expect the high quantitiy of 'bad' pictures has more to do with the higher quantitiy of people owning those cameras
01-12-2019, 02:55 AM - 4 Likes   #6
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I would also suggest that people don't all use Flickr the same way. Curating images and preserving a smaller number of works will skew results vs another person sharing their entire output.
01-12-2019, 03:04 AM - 2 Likes   #7
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I'm a terrible tog and I've managed to find myself a cool 645z. Maybe I should balance the arguments by uploading all my crappy shots!
01-12-2019, 03:09 AM   #8
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The same effect definitely occurred with me when I went from mostly 35mm film to the Pentax 67.

Some reasons were a bit different - the 67 is a slow camera to operate, setting shutter speeed, aperture and focus, and advancing the film, mahually all slow things don and makes you think more carefully about the shot. Also, shooting transparencies, the cost orked out at about 1 per exposure 15-20 years ago when most of my work was MF - another reason to slow down.

Things which are the same are that you (gererally) have to be serious about photography to invest not just the cash, but the energy in lugging the kit around.

My feeling is that a little of the former creeps in to modern MF use, although loer prices and mitrrorless might change this a little, and the latter comments remain true.

Which isto say that I don't think that a lot of camera developments are necessarily good for photography - more every photographer who gets a shot he might otherwise have lost, there are a whole bunch of others who don't perfect the skills you need to make really strong images.

01-12-2019, 03:25 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Thinking about upgrading from full frame Pentax K1 to medium format (645z from Pentax, GFX50s from Fuji), I've been analyzing a lot of photographs taken from flickr groups.
.
Interesting thought, BE, do you conclude anything looking at this forum's K-1 and MF Post Your Picture threads?

This is of course a hand grenade you've been given.



01-12-2019, 03:40 AM   #10
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Obviously, the big difference has to do with the skill of the photographers. My opinion from viewing the medium format thread here is that people who shoot medium format photos do have better skills -- they tend to have better framed images, nicely post processed images, and I suppose they also are quicker to delete images that don't satisfy them for whatever reason. Interestingly, those who shoot with both a K-1 and 645 have very similar images with both cameras -- at least at web sizes they look similar.

I suppose it all goes back to what I think you've said before, which is that when folks move from one format to another their photographs don't really change. That is to say if you are shooting with a K-1 and you buy a D850 or a Sony A9, your images will really look similar to what you shot before, you will just have a lot more of them due to the increased frame rates of those cameras. In order to get better photos, unfortunately, the best thing is to upgrade the photographer, not the camera.

That said, I do think medium format images tend to have really nice color depth. I also think that many of the lenses have a look that is difficult to quantify, but gives really smooth transitions from in focus to out of focus and just a nice, smooth overall rendering. I see similar things with the DFA *50, so maybe Pentax was going for that sort of goal there, but many other lenses don't quite have that.
01-12-2019, 03:45 AM   #11
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A lot of good points made here. Generally, medium format photographers have long experience with all aspects of photography, including really knowing every aspect of their equipment and how those things along with the external shooting conditions, will affect the resulting image.

Great equipment does not make up for bad technique, nor can it make up for lack of understanding and application of the shutter-aperture-ISO fundamentals. Finally, a learned or inherent "eye" for composition, and a willingness to try out any creative idea that crosses one's mind also go into creating a fantastic image.

There is a saying, "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast", if one takes the time to really learn all of the above, and apply the best of each before opening the shutter, one will probably get a very good image. As medium format cameras are larger, I think they require a bit less alacrity, they don't lend themselves to "snap-shot syndrome", taking a dozen pictures in the hopes of getting one good one.

I am no "manual-only" purist, but I do find that when I am in that mode, I am slower, but that slowness allows me to really consider the subject before me, the composition, the colors, the distracting background, the distracting foreground. Do I want a longer shutter or a wider aperture to make the most of this light and the subject? When I rely on auto-modes, I do fall into a "get the shot and move on" mode.


A neighbor has just inherited a Hasselblad medium format film system, and has offered to let me explore it with him. I am really looking forward to the experience, and maybe he'll eventually buy a digital back for it and we won't have to wait so long to see the results.
01-12-2019, 03:50 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
. That is to say if you are shooting with a K-1 and you buy a D850 or a Sony A9, your images will really look similar to what you shot before,
Agree totally, Rondec.

When someone posts here aggressively that they're jumping brands, and then put up some pics from their new gear, they're almost never pics that another Pentaxian couldn't have taken, or even they couldn't have taken with their old gear.

You wonder what all their posturing was about, they'll have lost money in the switch, I guess they do have a new toy, but novelty was never part of their 'See you, losers!' argument.





01-12-2019, 04:05 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Agree totally, Rondec.

When someone posts here aggressively that they're jumping brands, and then put up some pics from their new gear, they're almost never pics that another Pentaxian couldn't have taken, or even they couldn't have taken with their old gear.

You wonder what all their posturing was about, they'll have lost money in the switch, I guess they do have a new toy, but novelty was never part of their 'See you, losers!' argument.
There are totally reasons to switch brands. For instance, if you need a lens that isn't available in Pentax (600mm f4 or some tilt shift lens), if you need top end tracking auto focus or you just need faster frame rates than Pentax offers. But most people who jump brands aren't jumping because they have maxed out their gear. They are jumping because they have maxed out their skill level and hope that moving to a different brand will fill in the deficit in skill.

The problem is that what makes photos interesting really has nothing to do with the technical aspects of a camera (frame rate, number of auto focus points, megapixels, etc) and everything to do with our ability to see the image before we ever put a camera to our eyes and then to capture it and post process it in a way that makes it interesting to those who will view it later.
01-12-2019, 04:10 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
But most people who jump brands aren't jumping because they have maxed out their gear. They are jumping because they have maxed out their skill level and hope that moving to a different brand will fill in the deficit in skill.


Exactly, Vincent, from the pics I see it's alarming to see people trying to get better with their Visa cards, when someone like yourself puts passion and effort to get your outstanding pics.

You must be freezing in some of those dawn shoots.



01-12-2019, 04:11 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
Or could the average APS-C quality be higher because people who are more interested in "meaningful" photography than just testing gear haven't felt any need for FF?
I don't really see apsc images as being better or worse than in full frame image groups. I feel like the a number of the same people who were taking photos with their crop camera bought a full frame camera and now post their full frame images in different groups.

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Interesting thought, BE, do you conclude anything looking at this forum's K-1 and MF Post Your Picture threads?
The photographs posted here in the K1 section are great. The photographs posted here in the MF section are even greater, with some rare exceptions depending on the interest of the photographer.

---------- Post added 12-01-19 at 12:15 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
Obviously, the big difference has to do with the skill of the photographers. My opinion from viewing the medium format thread here is that people who shoot medium format photos do have better skills -- they tend to have better framed images, nicely post processed images, and I suppose they also are quicker to delete images that don't satisfy them for whatever reason. Interestingly, those who shoot with both a K-1 and 645 have very similar images with both cameras -- at least at web sizes they look similar.
I think the wow effect I'm seeing in the medium format images is a combination of factors that reinforces each other to produce the great images. The choice of subject, lighting and choice of camera settings and post processing are added up on top of the superior image quality of the camera. When all factors contribute, the result is a lot superior. My point is that we can get more out of our full frame cameras if we max out other elements of the shot, but if we do the same using an MF system we get even more impressive images. Obviously, no camera gear can compensation for a poor setup.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 01-12-2019 at 04:18 AM.
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