Medium format digital photography now at excitations.

Medium format digital, or super high quality digital photography only at excitations.

For us I guess it’s kinda back to the future with the introduction of medium format digital cameras into our work flow. When we first started excitations we used film cameras. We use 35mm slr’s for candid and sports photography and some PR and press work. Then for our mainstream portraits and wedding photography we used medium format film cameras. In our case, that meant a set of Hassleblad roll film cameras. For high end commercial and advertising/product photography we used 4×5″ technical view cameras. Each system, had its place. Basically the bigger the piece of film in the camera the better the photo would be technically.

Then along came digital capture. Photographers started shooting digital for most everything. Although even today there is a lot of film still used by art and high end commercial advertising photographers. Generally though most photographers have gone with what is often referred to as DSLR or digital single lens reflex. They are fast to use, and relatively inexpensive. Coming in 3 classes , consumer DSLR’s the sort of thing that keen amateur photographers would buy. Prosumer DSLR’s a mid range camera, more bells and whistle, better build quality and generally better picture quality. Prosumer gear most often used by beginning professional photographers just starting their careers, or as back up cameras for photographers with Pro DSLR’s. Which is the last class. Pro DSLR, says it all really. Heavy, strong, built for the long haul and when the going gets tough they are the camera you would want in you hand. Funny thing about the pro grade DSLR’s. They have less features than the other two classes but cost a whole lot more.

So photographers have pretty much tried to make the DSLR, a one camera can do everything kind of machine. Which is kinda silly when you think back to film days when we used the camera best suited to the job rather than struggling to make do with just one camera. Even when shooting DSLR’s, some are made specifically to shoot sport, others are more suited to fashion while others are much better dressed up at a wedding. A lot of times as photographers we choose a camera that fits best with our shooting style. I’m told by photographers that don’t shoot weddings that I don’t need a camera that focuses at the speed of light, nor do I need one that can work in low light. Yet they are the two most important boxes a camera has to tick for me at a wedding.


So just what is medium format digital photography?

Where to start. Medium format digital is many things to many people, but I guess if you had to use just one word to describe medium format digital, it would be QUALITY. There are many reasons for this, in part it’s due to the size of the digital sensor. A medium format digital camera can have a sensor up to around 4-5 times larger than those found on DSLR cameras. That’s not the number of pixels but just the physical dimensions of the sensor. They of course also have more, in some case a big bunch more pixels than do their smaller rivals. Generally medium format digital record in true 16 bit mode, while most if not all current DSLR’s use 14 bit mode. Big deal you say…. well it is. 14 bit records approximately 16,000 colours per channel of colour while in 16 bit the number of colours recorded per channel jumps to around 65,000. Which means in layman’s terms the medium format digital camera is capable of rendering any scene in front of it with smoother colour and tonal gradations. Medium format digital is also very, very, very good, in high contrast situations.


So why did excitations go to medium format digital?

Simple really….. The WOW FACTOR. Seriously, we are always looking for ways to give our clients better choices when it comes to their photography. Medium format digital does just that. We won’t be using it for everything, cos frankly, there are lots of things it doesn’t do all that well. But when we think it is the tool to use,  you can bet it’ll be out and about. Other times we’ll continue to use our current crop of pro grade DSLR’s plus a couple of new ones currently on our shopping list for later in the year.

Low altitude photo of sand dunes photographed on medium format digital cameraFrom our cameras first hit out so to speak. We shot a series of low altitude landscapes last week using our new Mamiya Leaf medium format digital system. Web sized photos give you no idea of the detail available in this image. See the tracks in the lower right of the frame. They are made by humans, a couple of Emu’s and a dog (possibly a Fox) … seriously. I’m having trouble getting my head around the exciting possibilities for this camera. Once you’ve used  a medium format digital camera, it’s easy to see why photographers use them for fashion, high end prestige portraits and advertising shots of cars etc.


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