After playing around with my smaller cameras I thought I'd revisit some bigger files.

This is a file from the Phase One 40+ forty megapixel camera I shot with back in 2010.  It does some stuff really well.  The resolution is amazing and, with a $10,000 Schneider zoom lens, the sharpness and contrast are very good. Even at medium focal lengths the rapid change in depth of field is obvious and somewhat dramatic.  The trade off is that the camera is much slower to operate than my other cameras, doesn't focus nearly as quickly and, with a couple lenses, the package cost about $52,000 at the time.  The raw files were very big.  The high ISO was just okay (and we're talking ISO 800, max.)  For the most part the size and complexity of the camera caused it to be relegated (for me) mostly to studio work where I could use it on a tripod and with ample time to focus.  

Here's how the Phase One handled an assignment to document some architectural production.  You are looking at a file that has been reduced from a huge file (pixel count) to a file that is only 2100 pixels on the long side.  In the original file you can blow things up really large and still see lots of detail.  It's pretty wonderful but nothing that my ancient Hasselblad film camera with similar lenses and low ISO slide film can't come very close to.  The real secret to getting sharp and contrasty shots with good depth of field in medium format (or any format) is to put your $52,000 camera on a good tripod.

I also shot a number of studio portraits with the Phase One system.  It was very good and the files were nice to work with.  Again, I kept the heavy camera on a stout tripod and shot at lower ISOs.  Something like ISO 80 or 100.  So, since the files are amazing and big (raising the bar?)  do all pros shoot with these kinds of cameras?  Not at all.  The smart ones consider the final destination for their files and use the tools that will do the job.  Even an iPhone can work in a pinch.  The different tools exist for different applications.  And sometimes they exist because we want choices.  We want  to break from the formulaic.  That's what moves the vision thing forward.  


  1. Seems the Umpa Lumpas have also brought us music contests to determine who is the "best" musician.

    1. Just so Ken's comments don't seem ungrounded because I edited my original post wherein I referred to the contentious, mostly IT "professional" camera traditionalists who raged about my Olympus OMD blogs as "the Umpa Lumpas" of the technical world. I edited it in recognition that there might be a handful of Information Technology Workers who are also photographer who are not convinced that everything can be measured and quantified. A very small sliver of a Ven diagram, but plausible nonetheless.

    2. Argggh, and I really liked the Willy Wonka imagery in your original blog post.

    3. I thought it would be needlessly confrontational. Most overly technical people seem to understand, on some level, that they should engage the feeling, warm and fuzzy part of their brains from time to time.

    4. Mythbusters would have to say 'plausible' :-)


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