Midweek musings: what's the most underrated MFD camera?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by Karim Ghantous, Jun 21, 2022.

  1. From what I know about MFD, I'd say that the most underrated MFD cameras are the Fujifilm GFX 50S and the Leica S 007. Agree? Disagree? I want to hear it.
  2. Who has £20,000/$25k to spend on a comparison of those cameras? And are you seriously thinking of buying either of them?

    To my mind the Leica S 007 makes no sense whatsoever at its ridiculous price point. A stupid 3:2 aspect ratio that simply offers a barely noticeable + 1.25 'crop factor' over a 24x36mm sensor, along with a crippled 37.5 megapixel count.

    So did you mean overrated, rather than underrated?

    The much more realistic price, pixel-count and 4:3 aspect ratio of the GFX 50S makes much more sense. But again, would you really notice the +1.375/1.22 sensor size increase? Because area-based claims of an increase of 156% to 168% in image size are just mathematical BS. It's linear dimensions that count - nothing more. And an increase of 1.25x or thereabouts is practically insignificant, in terms of noise, depth-of-field, or any other measurable parameter.

    A higher bit-depth A/D converter might just be beneficial, but has to be weighed against the reality of lens and body flare reducing the real world brightness range that can realistically be captured at the sensor.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2022
    Jochen likes this.
  3. No comparison is required - I was just wondering if anyone had a pick for the most underrated MFD camera. Some might have different answers.

    I am considering a GFX for the future to complement my Micro 4/3 kit. But that aside, I don't disagree that the S 007 has some drawbacks. OTOH, the thing is built like a tank and takes lovely pictures, as long as you don't stretch the ISO too much.

    The GFX is arguably the better value camera. It's mirrorless, and I'm sure you can use S lenses via an adapter. Being mirrorless, it has more lens options. The S can, however, use Hasselblad and Contax lenses with full functionality.

    But the S has its virtues, and is arguably the better choice for rugged environments. I wouldn't want it for commercial work though, as it has no focus bracketing (unlike the 50S). I don't think it even allows for single-shot HDR JPEGs. The S is an outdoor camera, not an indoor one.
  4. But not native lenses. A camera system isn't just about the body, it's the lenses and other options available for it. AF and image stabilisation are too useful to give up these days. Unfortunately, once you get outside of the mainstream of a 24x36mm sensor, there are very few lenses designed to cover a medium format (not!) sized sensor, and those that do cost a premium price that's probably not that well deserved.

    When, or if, sensor sizes can actually approach the 42x56mm size where true medium format starts, then such a camera might offer a visual improvement over 'full-frame'. Additionally, the format then has to be adopted across multiple brands to increase its affordability. Until then - Zzz zzz.
    Jochen likes this.
  5. Don't even consider the Leica. A 45, 50, or 60 MP, FF will be far superior and far cheaper. For that kind of money, and an interest in Hasselblad lenses PhaseOne, or Hasselblad, is the only way to go. Here the Leica is overrated.

    The GFX series is not under-rated at all from my research. It is a highly successful system. It is priced well for an albeit slightly smaller MF. It's just that through shifting/stitching using MF lenses and TS-E lenses, I can achieve the same, or better, results with my 50 MP FF.

    I have often shot APS-C alongside FF, so I can see the possibility of shooting M4/3 and MF, but FF does still offer more flexibility.

    P.S. I guess if you wanted to research under rated MF it would be the Pentax or Mamiya systems. I certainly do not see them discussed much. However, whether they are under rated, or just poor, I do not know. The same can be said of all the older used Leaf and PhaseOne systems.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2022
  6. I agree. But the 50S in particular is, IMHO, underrated. It is seen as outdated due to its 'hump' and lack of IBIS. It doesn't seem to sell as well on the secondhand market as the 50R does. But it's a hell of a deal.

    The Pentax 645Z is in some ways underrated, but it isn't on par with the Fuji or the Leica, and it is more expensive (from what I've seen) that the 50S. The 645D is fun if you get it at a good price and your applications do not stretch its limits. Older Phase One and Hasselblad DSLRs are great per se but not great value. They are clunky.
  7. Lack of ibis is good. When using a camera capable of high quality results, you do not want IS (in camera or lens) to react to what it thinks it should react to.
    Put the camera on a tripod, focus with care, and do not use IS.

    The older cameras mentioned are not just great, but indeed great value too.
    And you can keep them up to date adding up to date DBs to them.
    Though yes, the recent offerings of, for instance, Hasselblad are great too.

    Enough has been said about Leica. If you think their MF cameras are underrated, think that the lack of IBIS is a 'con', and that those oldies are not great value, you may not be looking at your own question from the right perspective.
  8. Lack of IBIS isn't a con. If it were, the 50S would not, IMHO, be a great deal. I think it's better to have it - one more advantage that digital cameras have over film cameras. It's not a deal breaker, but it's a real feature.

    The old, modular systems are great cameras but not great value. They are not fast, they are not discrete, they are large, and don't offer the same ruggedness as the Leica. And the S3 IMHO is not great value - it's just the 007 that is, although it's arguable. I'd rather use Contax 645 lenses on the Leica than on the Contax 645.
  9. Well, you either see (IB)IS as an advantage or you do not. What is it, Karim?
    You do not need that on a high quality camera, because you can, but are not going to, waste that quality you paid extra for by using it handheld hoping (IB)IS will save your do-and-so.

    But is a Fuji 50s really a MF camera? Just because the sensor is a bit bigger than 35 mm format? I don't think so.
    Talk about oldies: a Phase One P65+ behind one of those 'slow' Hasselblads or Mamiya/PhaseOne bodies. Those are MF cameras. You don't see those as great value because you think you should be using an expensive camera capable of producing high quality results as i it were a micro-4/3 pocketable thingy. You can't have high quality and a point-and-shoot happy-go-lucky way of doing things, Karim.
    So the most underrated MFD camera is one of the excellent cameras available (any of them) that has fallen in the hands of someone who thinks he can treat it as if it would show its quality despite being used as a cell phone.
  10. I already said: it's a real feature, and an advantage. But not a deal breaker, especially if your style involves a tripod or a gimbal. IBIS isn't a panacea, as I'm sure you will agree.

    As for value, look at the prices for 50S's and compare them to comparable Phase Ones. Both systems have all the focal lengths you'd want for those formats. But only the Fuji can accept a large variety of adapted lenses.

    The 50S absolutely is a MF camera. It does what a MF camera is supposed to do. The X1D, with the same sensor, delivers exactly what is expected of it, as seen here vs a Leica SL2 (I've cued it up so you only have to watch a few seconds):

  11. I think all that that video shows is that the Leica SL2 sensor is inferior and definitely not worth the asking price. Maybe also revealing that a small 'boutique' sensor manufacturer can't compete with a large multinational company's R&D budget and fabrication experience.

    Also, in-camera image processing is increasingly important in contributing to image quality. So two cameras using the identical model of sensor may well not deliver the same final IQ.

    IBIS? It can always be turned off, but you can't retrofit it into a camera built without it. So why wouldn't you opt for a camera that has it? It's always good to have options.
    Except give a noticeably shallower depth-of-field for the same subject distance, f-o-v and Aperture.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2022
  12. Karim, you can directly compare the GFX50S against a variety of full-frame and other cameras here.
    There's a variety of subject matter and ISO settings available, all taken under controlled and identical lighting. As near to a fair and 'apples-to-apples' comparison as you'll get on the Web IMO. And at better than YouTube video quality.

    Comparing the GFX50S to, say, Sony's A7Riv, I can see almost no clear cut and obvious advantage to the 50S. In fact the colour differentiation, especially between shades of yellow, orange and red, is better with the Sony in my view.

    Should you be desperate enough to need to push the ISO up to 102,400 then maybe the 50S gives a slightly less smudgy result... just maybe. In less extreme circumstances I doubt that a random collection of pictures from the two cameras could be sorted accurately by anyone. Taken with lenses of equivalent optical quality of course.
  13. That is not why people buy medium format cameras. Sure, a few people might, but generally, no, that is not anywhere near the primary consideration. I think the Internet is responsible for this weird obsession with shallow focus. Leica themselves are partly to blame, too. Even if you were right, focus is shallow enough wide-open on both the 50S and the S 007, if that really matters.

    Leica has used sensors from at least three different manufacturers, Sony included. They are not handicapped and they are not limited for choice.

    As for IBIS, I'll let you and q.g. debate that one...

    That Website you linked to is certainly useful, thank you. I wonder - those photos look like camera JPEGs, not exported ones? In any case, a direct comparison with RAW files at extreme exposures is more revealing. YouTube compression is not strong enough to hide the more obvious differences between sensors.
  14. Karim, there is no weird obsession with shallow depth of field. Depth of field is a creative parameter. The range of it has been seriously restricted by tiny formats (tiny sensors). You may not mind having your creative possibilities curtailed. But people who do find it a loss are not weird nor obsessed.

    There is nothing left to debate regarding IBIS. If it can be turned off, it does not get in the way, yes. If you will keep it turned off because it will only get in the way, it is not a real option that would be nice to have.
    Mike Gammill likes this.
  15. Q.G., yes it is weird. Especially when it is seen as 'more cinematic' or whatever. It's ridiculous and the hallmark of dilettantes. Some of my favourite photographers love shooting wide open, and they know what they are doing, and their creative preferences are not affectations.
  16. So some of your favourite photographers are ridiculous and dilletants?
    Now that is weird.
  17. They shoot that way because they like it. Not because it's fashionable - in fact they probably started the fashion, and the NPCs just copied them. I knew people who listened to Eminem, not because they liked his music, but because they needed to be seen liking his music. Same energy. It's not as bad as teal & orange though.
  18. You are the one who dragged fashion, obsession, weird, etc. into this.
    Of course they lime to use the creative use of an (unlimited) creative tool. There is nothing obsessive, weird, dilettantish about it.
    Perhaps, Karim, it is telling us about your obsessions?
  19. Once you see things, you can't unseen them.

    Edit: I absolutely have more obsessions than you. I wish I had more.
  20. And why, then, do people buy cameras with slightly-bigger-than-full-frame sensors? Because true medium format they ain't.

    Is it maybe that they're victims of the brand hype and fashion you seem to despise?
    Except by having to accommodate their legacy lenses, that have an unsuitable-for-digital lack of telecentricity.

    Leica have a double PhD in resting on their Laurels and milking their marque for all its worth, IMO.

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