camera format/size for portraits

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by kylebybee, Feb 7, 2015.

  1. It seems that in reading what most portrait photographers use for their camera of choice is a medium format. I would like peoples thoughts on this and also thoughts on D810, and the new Canon 5Ds (50mp) vs a medium format body, pros and cons.
  2. Kyle:
    In my experience, megapixel count isn't part of the reason for using medium format for portraits and other studio work. Instead, the biggest feature is the viewfinder which makes it much easier to see (some would say "visualize") your subject. For several photographers I know - including myself - their vintage medium format gear with vintage digital back is the lowest pixel count camera they have, but it isn't the number of pixels.

    That being said, there are photographers - portrait or otherwise - who demand big pixel counts. They are very likely to be thrilled by these new cameras.
  3. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    All sorts of cameras are used for portraits, from phone cameras to large format. Is there an intended output size and usage?
  4. Who is most portrait photographers? Its not the camera its the photographer and what the photographer can afford to buy. Yes medium format is awesome but not necessary. If you are doing commercial work then it may make sense to invest but for most portrait photographers it is just a luxury.
  5. I am however all for high megapixel count as that will give you more flexibility and more cropping options with your images. It does not necessarily mean better pictures.
  6. Medium format makes a lot of sense on film. For digital I would try to get a big sensor with rather low pixel count, since the great flattering portrait lenses with nice bokeh tend to have rather low resolution. - Otherwise you might produce mainly data junk.
    Bigger megapixels are the better ones there. - I'd also look into color depth. More is better. - I'm no big fan of TheCameraStoreTV, but this seems one of their better clips: (D800 vs. Hasselblad)
    I don't know what kind of MF you are asking about. -High res 35mm Digital is much cheaper & easier to run than film MF. - DMF usually comes with slow AF lower high ISO capability slower glas and lack of OIS options, so usage is limited.
  7. Kyle,
    I'm not sure where you are reading this, but a whole gamut of equipment comes to mind when it comes to portraiture. Unless the equipment is specialized (underwater, sports, etc) any high end DSLR is capable....all is required is a good operator who has a clue. Allow me to reiterate, just because one may have a digi Hassy MF, it does not mean automatically that the photos that one takes are superb...some of that is in the edit.
    What can I say, the technique is often much more important than the equipment you've mentioned.
  8. I used to use Hasselblads and film 6x6 for everything. Now I use 90% Nikon DX format mostly D7100 bodies. Lighting
    and composition is very important in getting a good finished result.
  9. Pixel count has little to do with image quality. The more pixels there are the larger the native file size from the camera. This means you will be able to enlarge the image more without image degradation. There are many excellent images taken with 6mp cameras. Remember its only the last several years that cameras went beyond 12mp. Dynamic range, noise and proper lens selections are much more important unless you plan on printing billboard size images...
  10. My thoughts are the 5ds sounds great! I have been waiting for a higher megapixel for better post creative cropping work. I like the native file to be large enough to do panos in my 11x14 albums even after cropping in on the file. So for me it is all about flexibility and more options. I don't have $30K for a medium format system.
  11. I'm going to start a portrait studio that I want to be as professional as I can afford. I can't afford medium format to start, but upgrading to FF is the way I'm going to go. I've pretty much decided to go with the Nikon D750 even though the D810 would be a great body and some would say a better one for portrait work. Honestly since I asked the question I've come to the conclusion that I would not want the work flow that the D810 would require
  12. "It seems that in reading what most portrait photographers use for their camera of choice is a medium format."

    What you're reading is out of date. Back before digital, medium format was the standard for portrait photographers. Compared with 35mm, the larger negative had finer grain, which did two things -- it resulted in smoother skin tones that were more flattering to subjects, and it made it practical to sell large "wall portrait" prints that brought big prices. It also made it practical do retouching directly on the negative.

    Since digital took over, most photographers who I know who shoot portraits for a living have switched to DSLRs in 35mm format. Some use full-frame but many use crop-sensor cameras. There are photographers who use MF digital for studio work, particularly advertising and commercial and maybe high-end celebrity portraits for publication. But of the day-to-day portrait photographers I know and 95 percent of those I read about, not a single one uses medium format digital and none at all use film of any format.

    As others have said, just about any DSLR today is just fine for portrait work. Unlike sports or wildlife or macro/microphotography, it doesn't require specialized equipment. The quality of the work is determined much more by the photographer, particularly in the lighting and posing, than the gear. If you want to shoot medium format film, used gear is going for pennies on the dollar these days, but the cost of film, processing and scanning/printing is so high it is no longer a viable business model for most people.

    "I'm going to start a portrait studio that I want to be as professional as I can afford."

    With all do respect, if you are still asking what kind of camerra to buy, you are nowhere near ready to work professionally. You'll find lots of good advice here to help you get to the point where you are ready. But the most important is to never, ever take people's money until you know exactly what you're doing and can absolutely guarantee professional results.
  13. Before starting a portrait studio, take some time and seriously study the market and the direction that the portrait only studio is headed. Will it be weddings and portraits, or portraits only. What kinds of portrait will you be making and which markets do you intend to serve? Knowledge will bring you the power for success, but from your posts it seems like you need to gather more knowledge and experience before investing your money. Please take this statement at face value and not as a slam. It may sound a bit harsh to you, but it is based upon reality.
  14. I ditto what everyone is saying: digital has replaced film for a while now, especially in commercial work. Film is now a choice some fine art photographers use, and some portrait photographers, but it is slow, expensive and used mainly for niche applications. I worked with 35mm, medium format and large format for decades before digital came out. I am able to be more productive now with digital and get just as good, if not better results in most cases, than with film. I had a nice medium format (Bronica) set up at the time I purchased a Nikon D70 to see what digital was all about. It wasn't long before I sold the Bronica kit, my 4x5, and never looked back!
  15. Kyle, I've been photographing people for over twenty years. I started off with a cheap 35 mm I picked up at the local pawn shop and it served me well for the first year or so before I upgraded to medium format and a professional 35 mm camera. I can't tell you what equipment will be best for you but I can tell you's not the camera, it's the user that counts. I know a photographer that goes on location, shooting for high end clients such as Macy's with a Leica and one lens. It's how you work with the people you'll be photographing and how you control the light...the camera is only a tool. The best of luck on your portrait studio.
  16. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I'm going to start a portrait studio that I want to be as professional as I can afford.

    Then my advice is to invest in quality lighting.
    And then invest in learning how to use it.
  17. >>> Then my advice is to invest in quality lighting. And then invest in learning how to use it.

    Best advice here.
  18. Mostly medium size camera are using in wedding, fashion, and portrait photographers. Medium Format includes all cameras which accept 120 or 220 film sizes. Medium format camera through photographer can quickly reload camera when tight shooting situation or in runway assignments.
    Hasselblad 6x6cm medium format camera
  19. Today most photographers who use medium format use the digital version. There are still a few who use the old film cameras.
  20. I shoot corporate portraits and headshots for actors and models. I shoot with an old crop sensor DSLR with 14MP. I would love to shoot medium format. I was using a Kiev medium format camera up until last year for some of the portraits until the cheapest film lab stopped processing film :(
    The viewfinder is important for portraits but the most important part for me is to intimately know every aspect of my camera as well as the lenses I use for portraits. This only comes from shooting. I seriously started shooting portraits, firstly in studio and then outdoors in December 2013. I did 12 shoots with models before going pro. I am still learning every day. I read a lot in forums like these as well as watching youtube videos for technique. But, I also practise something as soon as I like a particular lighting setup.
    My advice would be, whatever you are shooting with, get yourself very well acquainted with the equipment.

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