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Thread: MF same as LF? Really?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Los Angeles

    MF same as LF? Really?

    I've seen a series of declarations here that MF results are essentially the same as LF results up to print sizes of 16X20, 20X24, and most recently 20X30. I'm not being critical, but this just doesn't agree with my experience. I think I c an tell the difference in an 11X14. If you're one of those advocates of this eq uivalence, tell me briefly what film/developer combination you think gets you th ere and I'll try it/them. Thanks.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 1999

    MF same as LF? Really?

    I've always found it hard to believe that some claim MF can equal or better LF. I think everyone agrees that generally some MF lenses are shrper than LF lenses - and some people obviously equate this to an ability to make beter quality images. However, in my experience this doesn't mean that MF can match LF. MF lenses don't have the same degree of coverage as LF lenses and I for one CAN tell the difference between the MF and LF shots that I take! LF prints are far superior when it comes to overall quality. BTW, I regularly judge photographic society/club competitions here in the UK and it is clear in most cases, which entries have been taken with which format.

  3. #3

    MF same as LF? Really?

    Good Grief! What ever happened to that great feeling of looking at an image under the focusing cloth? What is that the equivalent to?

    What is the equivalent of the creative growth I experienced from taking extra time to study my images?

    There is no equivalent...Nothing matches anything!

    Some film and developer combinations will give you "better" results than others (but who knows what you're looking for besides you?) but I always wind up choosing the format that looks like it will yeild the most creative result - that could be a Holga, a veiw camera, or an OM1, but there's no way that one can be the equivalent of another.

    Great results can be had in any format, but I don't choose one because I want to be better than somebody else, I choose what I choose because I want to be the best I can be.

  4. #4

    MF same as LF? Really?

    As one who owns both medium-format and 4x5 view cameras, I have made this comparison a few times.

    It's been my experience that when the images are scanned and printed digitally, the difference in quality (using Provia 100F) is neglible up to maybe 16x24 (16x20 for 4x5) and certainly 12x18 (12x15). This may not hold true for other films and/or printing processes but IMO, it does hold true for images printed with Epson inkjet printers.

    Although shooting rollfilm does limit my option to have large prints made in the future, I've found the cost savings and ease of use more than make up for this. YMMV, of course...

  5. #5

    MF same as LF? Really?

    I think it is fair to say that MF can come close to matching 4x5 quality, but when you compare it to 8x10, the difference becomes more apparent.

  6. #6

    MF same as LF? Really?

    Gimme a break. A 2.25 negative englarged to 8x10 is grainier than an 8x10 contact print. It's the same film. The difference in size makes for a different degree of grain given an equivalent print size. -jb

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Tonopah, Nevada, USA

    MF same as LF? Really?

    If someone wants to strictly play armchair numbers games, there are a very few MF lenses that can surpass the resolution that large format lenses routinely achieve. Mamiya 7 rangefinders, and likely some fujinon MF lenses come to mind. However out in the real world those small gains are almost always compromised for depth of field. At f22 the gains are equalized by diffraction. Then it's a simple matter of pluses in the LF column gained by perspective control and a negative 4X larger. There's no rocket science needed to figure out why the LF negs can hold together past the 16X20 print sizes. There's a lot of ignorance too. People will pay the big bucks for lenses that can resolve 95 lines at f11, then fill the freezer with Tri-X and D76 and couldn't get 55 lines on the neg because of grain size. OTOH if someone needs a 3X4" magazine picture the camera I'm going to grab has a 5 letter name that starts and ends with N. Think right tool for the job, not mine's bigger than yours.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  8. #8

    MF same as LF? Really?

    In my humble opinion . . .

    Only the same is the same.

    Everything else is different.

  9. #9

    MF same as LF? Really?

    I think that in recent years,with advances in emulsions & optics,the gap has certainly narrowed.A 6x7 or 6x9 camera can now produce results that a few years ago would have required 4x5 negs!The next issue is that of enlarging 4x5 negs,unless the enlarger & lens are top quality,MF could have an edge here.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    MF same as LF? Really?

    Of course film emulsions have improved and that's good. But, those improvements also affected the film used in larger cameras - not just medium format cameras. So, we are back to square one. There is no equivalence and there was never intended to be any. Each is a tool for a certain job. Any film/chemical used in one format can just as easily be used in a larger format. Grain is grain. In a 4x5 print you won't see a difference. In a 16x20 print you will.


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