MF film cameras and Nikon D800/E

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by iversonwhite, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. Any MF film shooters considering the Nikon D800/E?
  2. No.
    1. Can't afford it.
    2. Can't put film in it.
  3. Yes, if my coolscan 9000 breaks down and I can't get a reasonable replacement. Thankyou Nikon.
  4. lwg


    I've got the D800E on order. I don't expect it to completely replace MF or LF for me, but there are some things I just can't do with my Hasselblad or Mamiya. For those I have used DX Nikons, but I decided to go for an FX system.
  5. I will likely be replacing my D700 bodies with D800 variants next year. That said, I doubt that any camera with a 24 x
    36mm-ish sensor will achieve the resolution of my 6 x 7cm Mamya 7 II cameras.
  6. Medium format Photographers have always looked for that, 'edge,' in picture quality thats why they shoot with medium format. Going, and making things happen through medium format just doesn't happen, there are a variety of techniques that provide the ultimate result for making large prints. It's entirely reasonable to pay attention to the latest tool on the block. The digital platform provides the convenience of instant feedback, and an expedited workflow. I just returned from a Landscape trip with my Pentax 6711, and through sheer blindsided innocence was reminded of how much fun I was having. Is film some how painful for some? I haven't been able to connect as to why spending so much money for the latest, is so urgent particularly with in mind that medium format film image quality can't be beat. All camera's have a button to press. When I press the button, I want to know the best result is possible, thats why I continue to support medium format.
  7. I'm not married to film. If I'd won that $500M lottery the other day, I'd have given away my Mamiya cameras and would be standing at the counter in B&H Photo buying the most resolution-heavy Hasselblad system available.
    That not being the case though, making a 16 x 20-inch print, I can scan a piece of 100-speed film with my Nikon LS 8000 scanner, get a 500-plus-megabyte file and even crop with megabytes to burn. If one of the D800 variants allows me to print at 16 x 20 inches and 400 d.p.i., with the same or greater clarity as scanned film, I'll gladly sell my Mamiya kit. I'm just not holding my breath on that being the case.
  8. No but lenses not withstanding I think it will be close in performance to larger format MF. I find that my Canon 5DII is about the same performance as my Mamiya M645 scanned with a Nikon 9000. Obviously there are differences but IQ is very similar level. My Fuji GX680 still outperforms my 5DII by a noticeable amount - I suspect that a camera like the D800 will close this gap. Of course lens performance is still an issue and the Fuji has full front movement with all lenses. That said the D800 does not weigh 10 lbs and is much easier to use.
  9. I don't know if I can completely replace my Hasselblad system, but I'll probably get a D800E in a few months. I always said that 36mp was the threshold worth making the switch.
  10. From what I have seen, 645 is equivalent to about 40Mpx. Right where the D800 is (4Mpx makes no difference). It's like 35mm convenience but with MF resolution. Although if you're hand-holding, kiss some of that resolution good-bye! Not to mention that some slower films give you more than 40Mpx worth of detail. Qualities other than resolution come into play, of course, but that's another matter.
    FWIW I am soon to receive a Pentax 645 camera. The first exposures I make with it will be with Portra 400. And I'm starting to think - not now, but for the medium to long term - that I'd rather spend my money on a scanner than another digital camera. Wish me luck. :)
  11. Although if you're hand-holding, kiss some of that resolution good-bye!​
    That's irrelevant though as the same would be true if it was film.
  12. Well, in a way I did it. I still got my LF gear going, but MF is sitting in the shelf since I received my D800. I love film, but I don't have the
    time required to handle it properly. The D800 let me dig my good old primes out again, and shooting with those on a tripod using life view
    is perfect. Results are much better than anything I got out of my V700 so far (maybe my fault, not a MF problem), and workflow fits much
    better into my digital dark room. LF is different, this is true film, regardless of resolution LF handels in a way even my D800 can not
  13. Logically, from an endpoint of the quality of the final print, then all MF photogs should be looking at it. But, if you still like the process of film, and have confidence in modern scanners continuing, and you haven't $3500 to spare (I'm amazed how many seem to have this kind of spare cash lying around) then no.
    I have the Canon 5DmKII and I so much prefer using it and its results to my 'blad 500C/M its ridiculous, but I'm in a minority here.
  14. "Logically, from an endpoint of the quality of the final print, then all MF photogs should be looking at it. "

    The logic peculiar to the Digido, that is.
    Realistically, MF photographers laugh at that.
  15. But, if you still like the process of film, and have confidence in modern scanners continuing​
    I love the process of film but have no use for a scanner.
  16. "Not to mention that some slower films give you more than 40Mpx worth of detail."​
    Name one! Or better yet, show us or point us to the evidence.
    If you prefer to use film, that's fine. Nobody is twisting your arm to go digital. But please let's not claim that any scanned film (short of large format), which is a digitised second generation copy, can compete with the latest direct digital imaging equipment on resolution.
  17. Karim - I am not sure where you get 40 MP as being the equivalent of 645 film. Sure it can be scanned at that level - indeed my Nikon 9000 gives a scan of almost 58 MP from a 645 film. I find that the resolution and IQ however is much closer to my 21 MP Canon EOS 5DII. There are obviously differences and sensor (or film) size is still a big factor as my 18MP EOS 7D does not compete with the 5DII or 645 on IQ. Unlike Robin I do like film but still take about 90%+ of my shots digitally for ease of use, time saving and cost reasons. For me MF lenses still have they edge over 35mm lenses but the differences are subtle.
  18. Name one! Or better yet, show us or point us to the evidence.​
    See URLs below. If the same lens and same camera position were used, 6x4.5 resolves more than merely 40Mpx. If the FOV are the same, it's about 40Mpx, give or take:
    I find that the resolution and IQ however is much closer to my 21 MP Canon EOS 5DII.​
    I don't. :p In fact I find that DSLR on par with 8-perf (i.e. 35mm) Ektar 100 (and not massively better than Kodak 500T at EI 3200):
    6x4.5 will be better still.
    And an equivalent test (which is not well understood, judging by the comments, but it is legitimate):
    So, out of all the 35mm-based DSLRs, unless you're shooting a D800, you won't be out-resolving 35mm. And unless you're shooting 6x4.5 film, you won't be outresolving the D800, Leica S2 or Pentax 645D. And we're just talking about resolution, here.
  19. We have been told that digital betters film, in all formats, ever since the first 2 MP cameras were thrown upon us, and that mantra has been recited continuously ever since. No surprise that we hear it here again.<br>One day, it will be true. No doubt about it. But when?<br>The D800 and machines of its kind will definitely not be the ones to look for. Look at the Big Formats instead. Size counts, also in the Digiworld.
  20. Q.G., I don't shoot any 35mm film. My D700 FF bodies simply produce higher resolution than any 35mm film I would
    shoot and scan in my Nikon LS 8000 scanner at 4,000 d.p.i. This digital advantage becomes more pronounced at higher

    To me, the question isn't whether a 24x36mm piece of film will resolve as well as a 24x36mm sensor- it won't. The
    question is whether a 24x36mm sensor will ever be produced that will resolve as well as a 56x66mm piece of film. I
    doubt it- but we'll see as the D800 variants get put through their paces.
  21. Karim, Thanks for your hard work in proving the case.
    Q.G., Good question, When? Maybe not! Expense? How much more money can people spend on this digital experiment? Velvia 50, 120, is $5.69 a roll at Samy's.
  22. Karim's hard work? I don't think so! Linking to a couple of sites that have a film bias is hardly hard work. LOOK at the evidence of your own eyes, and in your own pictures. Not at some half-baked spurious stuff on the web, where not even the same lens has been used in "direct comparisons", nor any indication of reproduction scale or rigorous methodology given. Some of those pictures don't even appear to be in focus!
    Can a Minox or a frame of 16mm cine film show as much detail as a little 6mm x 8mm sensor sized 8 or 10 Mp compact camera - no! Definitely not. Can a 35mm frame routinely deliver the same IQ as a 14 to 16 Mp DX DSLR - no, it can't. The debate here is not about how badly some people can use a 4 year old DSLR to make it look worse than film, but about a newly-developed full-frame high-resolution DSLR competing with the IQ of MF film. To my eyes that competition was won ages ago by the sheer cleanliness and better colour depth of digital. Now the resolution crown will probably get easily taken as well.
    Below is a photomicrograph I took of film dye clouds ("grain" if you like) from a typical 100 ISO colour film. Each little fried-egg-like splodge of dye is 2 to 3 microns across - not much smaller than the 5 micron photosite pitch of the D800. You can see that the individual dye clouds tend to clump together in small groups, making each clump at least 6 microns across. This, together with the random nature of the dye clumping, make it a physical impossibility to capture or clearly see detail above around 80 cycles/millimetre. The D800 has a theoretical resolution limit of just over 100 cycles/mm.
    Resolution aside, there is no way that those crude single-colour dye blobs can show 16 million different colour shades in the same area that a single digital pixel can. You'd need to sample and average an area of film quite a few millimetres square to get anywhere near to that amount of colour information. But some of you have quite clearly made your minds up and closed them. So I'll just leave it there - with the proof staring you in the face that your precious film is clearly a lot more "digital" than you'd like it to be.
  23. there is no way that those crude single-colour dye blobs can show 16 million different colour shades in the same area that a single digital pixel can.​
    A single digital (sensor) pixel only represents one colour.
  24. Do any of you digital users make prints over 8x10?
    I've been a photographer for 40 years, and shot pro for about half of that. Mostly medium format and 4x5 film. So my requirements are high. I experimented with digital about 10 years ago adn decided i was too early. I didn't like the noisy, low DR prints.
    Today I've changed careers, have a hectic work schedule as a busy telecom professional, and donโ€™t have lots of time to shoot. Photography is a hobby. My goal is prints I can hang on my wall, not satisfying clients.
    My questions is, based on this simple math, are you folks getting quality prints bigger than 8x12? At 300 DPI (that's what my labs specs are for the photographic prints I buy) it looks like I need a 20 megapixel camera to make a 12x18. Simple math:
    I'm shooting 35mm Ektar 100. (great stuff. We never shot 35 in the studio and I'm amazed by this film) I get 12x18's I'm very happy with pretty easily. Could I get them with a 16 megapixel prosumer camera?
    I'm thinking about picking up a MF to make bigger prints. But I keep looking at my 12x18's from my little Contax and smile
  25. Not me. This is from a 645 400 ISO color neg, flatbed scan. Though the D800 is going to look cleaner @100% on a computer screen I know it can't give me the smooth creamy highlights that print film can. BTW this is shot with $450 dollars worth of camera and lens.
  26. Here's a 100% crop. Not bad for a "not" spending thousands of dollars on the latest camera. BTW these were handheld.
  27. That looks superb even at the low on screen resolution. A print must look great.
  28. Real nice Michael. So you can see why getting nice 12x18 with finer grain film is certainly feasible out of 35mm.
    So do people not print anymore? Can you really go beyond the size dictated by math at 300dpi?
    BTW for about $1000 I can find a nice Pentax 645n with 3 lenses. Will a 36 megapixel new Nikon print look as good at 20x30?
  29. Why is whether you can get a decent 12x18 from a decent 35mm film even a topic for discussion? I do it all the time.
    I have a 13x19 on my wall that I made using Plus-X, a 2800 PPI scanner and $35 worth of manual SLR and lens.
    Could have done the same thing with my DSLR. I was fishing at the time and the $35 rig has the advantage that if it's
    dropped in a stream I'm only out $35. I also enjoy shooting the old cameras and developing film, which is really the
    point when you're not shooting for money, isn't it?

    Settle down, guys. Does it actually matter to any of us whether a film scan or a digital capture has more detail when
    enlarged to sizes large than we actually print? Just use the camera you prefer.
  30. The Photo sample here is from a 35mm slide, and like the screen, looks the same as a 16x20 printed digitally, that doesn't look too much different from a 16x20 done 20 years ago in the wet darkroom.
  31. So do people not print anymore?​
    Surprisingly, no. On another forum someone asked that question and around half of the respondents claimed that they only looked at their pictures on their monitors or put them on websites. It was more or less the same group of people who obsessed over having the latest and greatest cameras with ever increasing resolution only to throw it all away by only ever using about 1 MP of resolution.
  32. Not sure what the point of all the arguments above is! Surely the main question as to film or digital is whether they can deliver the goods- say a great 20inch or larger print- and surely both are capable of doing so with sufficient resolution and with great tonality and colour. Whether or not this potential is actually achieved is up to the photographer.
    The question of equipment is surely a personal one as different photographers work better with some cameras than with others. Me- I have an all in one digital for hiking, a Nikon DSLR for general work and an RZ just for the sheer joy of using it as well as the kudos involved in knowing I can master it!
    Also when using the RZ I get to meet and chat to DSLR users who approach me just to see what this strange contraption is - that never happens with the Nikon!
  33. Surely the main question as to film or digital is whether they can deliver the goods- say a great 20inch or larger print- and surely both are capable of doing so with sufficient resolution and with great tonality and colour.​
    Yes. Both mediums are constrained by the laws of physics and I think they are now at a point where resolution is about the same for both at the same film/sensor format/size.
  34. Now the resolution crown will probably get easily taken as well.​
    Rodeo, you're only right if you're talking about certain films. Some colour 35mm films will resolve close to the D800. Some will not. So as I said, to out-resolve 35mm, you'll need a D800. But if you think that 40Mpx our-resolves 645, you're mistaken, as I have shown above. I own a DSLR and I like it. And there's nothing wrong with that.
  35. Of course both media are constrained by the laws of physics.<br>The question however is twofold: to what would these law constrain what could be had to, and what else besides the laws of physics is keeping either medium from delivering that.<br>The answer to the first part is simple: more than either format is capable of delivering. The answer to the second part is more complex, but the bottom line is that modern day sensors are still very much limited by self-imposed thingies, i.e. by their nature (for instance their dependance Bayer patterns to be able to capture colour info, or the soft focus filters they need to avoid producing artefacts).<br><br>Good colour films will still easily 'outresolve' any digital machine availble today, having no problem resolving up to 160 lp/mm. Black and white film goes over 200 lp/mm.<br>(If you want to find the limiting factor in film photography, it might be a better idea to start looking at the lenses rather than the recording medium.)<br><br>Still amusing to see the same old same old we have seen (as i mentioned before) since the first digital machines were introduced.<br>One day, it will be true. But though the digital technology has improved enormously since the first 2 MP machines, that day has yet to come.
  36. The original post was :Are you MF shooters trading your gear in for a D800. I can't see why, unless workflow is the issue.
    Everything is compromise. I make killer images with little Contax T2. Fit's in my briefcase. Great results. (again, I print. And bigger is better. Most people don't print anymore) IF I wanted more resolution and bigger prints I could buy MF. But I'd have less portability and DOF
  37. BTW I am not anti-digital. I can't wait until something the size of my iPhone can take images that rival my 4x5. It WILL happen.
    I keep researching digital cameras. MAYBE an NEX7 with the Zeiss 24mm lens can beat my Contax T2 for IQ and be ALMOST as portable. I don't see much else out there. Or a compelling reason to jump on the bandwagon since I'm interested in making images, not new toys.
  38. Of course both media are constrained by the laws of physics.​
    What I meant was that they are both advanced far enough that they are probably very close to what is physically possible in terms of resolution and that the laws of physics are now the constraints rather than a new technology constrained merely by lack of development.
    Just as we use larger sheets of film to increase resolution, I think any further advances in sensor technology will be in making larger sensors with a high enough ratio of good to bad parts to make it economic.
  39. Chip,
    The original post was, "Are MF film shooters considering the Nikon D800/E," not "Are you MF shooters trading your gear in for a D800." I have a Pentax 67II that I would never consider trading in. I also have a Nikon D300 and that I might trade in for a D800 because all of my lenses are full frame and I like big prints. In my mind it was not an either/or question. I probably should have asked if MF film shooters are thinking of adding the D800/E to their arsenal.
    I use the D300 at work and usually take out the Pentax 67II when I know I want a big print. Occasionally I'll capture a subject just by chance with the D300 and wish that I had shot it with a MF camera so that I could make a really big print. It could be my technique, but I find 20x30 inch prints from the D300 to be a little soft. I've made 16x20 prints, however, that appear fine.
    The D800/E interests me, among other reasons, because it's one of the lowest price MF digital cameras available and I already have the lenses for it.
  40. Whether the D800 variants eclipse various MF film configurations, digital continues to amaze me. Recently, I bought a Fuji X100, which
    is way smaller and lighter than my old Leica M6 with a 35mm f/2.0 lens. The other day I shot some Raw images at ISO 1600-2000, ran
    them through Neat Image and ran them through PhotoKit Sharpener for capture and final sharpening. I was able to make 8x12 inch
    prints at 350 d.p.i. I was pleasantly surprised that these 8x prints were brutally sharp and exhibited much finer grain than I could ever
    have achieved with any high-ISO 35mm film.
  41. In regards to the OP's question, in another way. Is the D-800E an attention getter? Certainly it is. Big time. I've yet to see real results yet. Of course the screen images are going to look good. Would be great to know that 24x30s can be punched out with tonal richness. I don't doubt it, I just haven't seen it. After all thats what medium format users really want. The confidence in knowing that a stellar capture will not be limited. This could be a game changer. We'll see.
  42. If one happens to like the 35mm aesthetic, then the Nikon D800 is currently the highest resolution digital version, soon to be followed by the same or even newer technology ... most likely from Sony for $500. less.
    Those that don't quite grasp the difference between the two formats view this as a digital medium format killer, and are selling their MF digital gear in favor of this relatively cheap high resolution digital solution. IMO, they never grasped the MF difference in look and feel in the first place, and bought into MFD because someone told them it was better.
    As far a pure resolution, 36 meg will deliver given better lenses are used. If used for producing large prints, photographers will have to employ the same shooting disciplines as MF uses have always had to use in order to realize that resolution, and focusing is a key one of those disciplines.
    As to the differences between film and digital, that discussion will never end because it is also an aesthetic subject. However, the differences between 35mm and MF still remain.
    RE: resolution ... Since people don't whip out a microscope at galleries and inspect the underlying structure of pixels and film grain, and the viewing experience of a well made print from either technology can NOT be simulated on the internet, there is no way of proving anything in these arguments here.
    Personally, I see a distinct difference between prints made from film and those made from digital. Given the same disciplines used and comparable optics, both have their own acuity ... yet to my eye, 6X7 analog film prints look just as detailed and tonally rich as the highest meg MFD back available (IQ180 at a mere $45,000.). In addition, the film based shot is often more aesthetically pleasing.
    So, the Nikon D800 is a nice addition to the 35mm world, and may indeed resolve to MF levels, but it isn't MF in look or feel.
  43. Any MF film shooters considering the Nikon D800/E?​
    As another poster said, "can't afford it." I shoot mostly black and white film and develop at home. My medium format setup cost me a fraction of the price of a Nikon D800. Selling it really wouldn't be worth it. You really don't get much for medium format gear these days. If I sold everything I would probably be able to afford one L lens. I have a Canon Digital Rebel and a couple of lenses for it. But the costs of acquiring primes and L zooms keeps me from expanding my collection.
    I work a lot so I don't see myself dropping $3K on a camera system let alone a single camera body. That to me is excessive. Digital cameras do not hold their value. I've gone through multiple digital Rebels. My medium format camera is over thirty years old and I know there won't be something that comes out six months from now that will knock $500 off it's price.
  44. Considering? Sure. I consider everything. But bottom line if I am working I give it the best I can and that's 67 MF film. But I shoot one offs and have complete control.
    If my business model / client list changed then I can see a FF DSLR as the way to go. For instance, the largest online retailer of men's underwear - millions of units- has a relatively small white cove in their warehouse with a six foot hex box and they shoot digital straight to their online catalog. The elegance and feel and nuance of film is pointless and completely wasted under those circumstances. If this is what I was shooting I'd pick up a 5d3 and the 67s would likely never see the light of day again.
    On a side note- I watched a video of two guys running the 5D3 and the 800 through their paces side by side with models and as sharp and detailed as they both were zooming in to eyelashes the skin looked dead a week. These were supposedly pros. I'll bet the Canon and Nikon ad executives are cringing.
  45. Well this time of the year I usually buy my Uncle Sam a new camera. That pretty much keeps me broke for a while.
  46. There are many factors at play and image size has a bit to do with IQ. Why else would commercial photographers still be trapsing around shooting 4x5 field cameras! Digital is closing the gap but 6x7, 6x9, 6x17, shot with top notch lenses, a light meter, and a Heidelberg scanner.... no digital camera can surpass this as of yet!
  47. This is true Joe. The digital marketeers have been extremely successful in creating a very big illusion and getting the public to subscribe to it. At the current time, unless you can afford an 80Mpx back, film is the superior picture taking medium. This is evident for anyone who requires prints larger than 30 inches. This is just fact, there's no debate I'm afraid.
    If I only ever printed to less than 24 or 30 inches, didn't require 10 stops of dynamic range and didn't enjoy the aesthetic and palette of various different films, I might consider buying (another) digital camera.
  48. I used to own a Mamiya 645 Pro and loved my Mamiya lenses. Progress on resolution and convenience of digital made me sell my entire Mamiya system so I could capture magic moments with a lighter bag in those National Parks.
    With the coming of the D800E and D800 (I own both) I rediscovered the quality of Medium format (I will not go into a technical comparative of specification numbers as I am only interested in the visual results). The focusing challenge of the D800/D800E requires again Medium format techniques:
    - tripod, mirror lock-up, remote trigger to avoid micro vibrations
    - super quality lenses to match the resolution: I use some Nikon primes, Leica and Zeiss ZF lenses
    - magnification of viewfinder: I use a hoodman loupe on rear LCD display and the magnify button of the camera to focus at 100% magnification
    A twist of fate made me rediscover the enjoyment of using Mamiya lenses adapted on Nikon DSLR using a Fotodiox Pro adapter. I repurchased what I consider the very best lenses from Mamiya 645 format:
    - Mamiya APO 200mm f/2.8, A 150mm f/2.8, Macro A 120mm f/4, 80mm f/2.8N, 55mm f/2.8N
    I find that these lenses give a more subtle and continuous tone than the more modern contrasty digital lenses. Adding contrast to a photo capture with MF lens is easy in post but recreating the subtle pastel tones of nature from a digital era lens is not possible.
    You can examine many samples of pictures taken with Mamiya lenses mounted on D800E. No regret at all selling film camera bodies and embracing digital world.
    This Stacked focus Macro photography of an orchid assembled from 27 digital photos taken with Mamiya A Macro 120/4 on Nikon D800E is a proof that digital allows us to go beyond the physical capability of film. And again, I am not interested in specification numbers being compared, I just judge the results.
  49. Interesting Eric. I recently tested my Mamiya 7 with Portra 400 against a D800 on a portrait shoot. Exactly the same shot on both cameras. The thing I noticed with the D800 was the severe lack of dynamic range and the colour palette is nowhere near as pleasing as Portra + Mamiya lenses. So my comparison and preferences have not much to do with resolution. Your results are superb, but to my eyes they do have a very digital look to them - again this is purely subjective and a personal preference.
  50. Hello Mike: I agree with you that Digital cameras do not have the film look and you would have to do some post processing to imitate the film look, just as we do it in video to mimic cinema look (desaturate colors, add noise or grain, soften slightly...).
    I believe that for nature/landscape photography which is my favorite field, digital gives much more flexibility and ultimately performs better than film, and not just in resolution: think about expanding dynamic range beyond the 14EV range of the D800E using HDR, or expanding Depth of field using focus stacking, increasing resolution using Panorama stitching, increasing or decreasing contrast and softness in post vs using screw in filters in lenses etc...
    For portraiture, which is the example you mentioned, the medium format sensor and Mamiya lenses excel for their smooth gradation tones, lack of harsh contrast and let's say it the size of the sensor helps very much like portraits done on FF cameras look better than those done on DX cameras. Also the film rendering beautifies the skin tones.
    This is where analog has still an edge over digital, like high end audio tubes have more warm musicality than digital electronics. But here your are talking to an exclusive club where less than 1% of people will notice the difference without proper training/education of the eye (or ear)....
    Here is below a portrait I took with the D800E and a Mamiya APO 200mm f/2.8 lens mounted on it. I think that it does not have such a strong digital look. the differences between film and digital - even in the area of portraiture in medium format - is narrowing.

Share This Page