Digital medium format cameras hit the market in 1992, with Leaf’s release of the DCB. At the time, this 4mp back launched what would be a tremendous resurgence of medium format photography, primarily within commercial and portrait markets. But why? These systems cost anywhere from 4-10 times what flagship DSLRs cost. Are they really that much better?
I love Canon cameras, I really do and it was with great regret that I moved away from Canon last year after being an EOS system user my entire life. I started when I was 5 years old on my fathers EOS 300 film cameras and have then enjoyed every camera up to and including the 5D MK3, but there was a problem.
I’m sure it wasn’t just me, I’m sure a lot of other pros felt like Canon wasn’t listening. The fact that it felt like I had been abandoned by the system I’d bought ito throughout my career hadn’t come at a great time – I was at a crossroads in my career and wanted to make the jump into medium format, I couldn’t then still have my Canon cameras as they weren’t a viable backup with the vast difference in resolution – to me the only option looked to me to jump over to Nikon and use their D800 bodies as backups for my Mamiya Leaf & Credo system that I had bought into. I wasn’t the only people thinking about the switch, it was a conversation that was becoming more and more common when I caught up with other photographers, there seemed to be a general feeling of frustration at Canon.
I think that using a Mamiya lens is a stroke of genius for doing DIY tilt-shift lenses, mainly for two reasons: for one those lenses can be found on eBay for around 50-150 US Dollars and they provide superior quality for the price.
The second reason has to do with the optic qualities of large format lenses. A large format lens has to cover a large piece of film (or a large piece of sensor), as a result it casts a large image onto the film plane. This allows light to hit the sensor even if the image is tilted or shifted. But it gets better, the Flange Focal Distance – the distance a lens requires from its rear end to the film plane – is larger for medium format cameras so using a Mamiya lens allows having some bellows between the lens and body while still allowing non-macro photographs to be taken.[Read More…]