Ode on Medium Format

What is this fuss all about?

I am a pro … well, almost! I have a website or two, I’ve posted a few photos of benches and branches, I’ve annoyed some people in chatrooms and I have a very, very big zoom lens. This makes me a pro, doesn’t it? But there is one problem.  

I have always wanted this full-frame stuff. My Canikon friends make fun of me whenever they see me running around with my APS-C size sensor. I am not really sure what this loaded name means but it’s apparently not as good as full frame. Now I understand how Donald Trump felt when the “fake media” made fun of his small hands. Bigly!

I also know why my photography has been so crappy. Sure I have two backpacks full of gear … well OK I will be honest … I am still missing this must-have XF 100-400 zoom lens. If I only had this lens I would have no problem shooting a five-million-dollar, Andreas Gursky-style snap of a river (I even have a river on my doorstep) and I would go after all the Zacks and LaRoques of this world. I could even chase Jarvis to stardom.

And then when my piggy bank was almost full after years of saving all the pocket money I got from my parents, they came up with this luxe toy! What the hell is medium format? Why is this so Vancouver-like expensive? I haven’t even had a chance to google this and yet some of my rich Vancouver friends have already posted their selfies with this stuff. They even say that it has better “pop” than full frame. I cannot believe how stupid these kids are – even the name is a warning. Why I would pay so much money for something in the middle if I can go full frame? These Fuji guys are indeed a brilliant bunch. Instead of going after already-caught-with-their-pants-down Sony people, they came up with this medium stuff, which is not even full (frame), wrapped it up in white boxes to get Apple crazies excited and … it worked! Go figure! Is this the Goldilocks syndrome at work?

I admit, the sample images are jaw-dropping! I may even be willing to test this medium thing to prove how insane the world has become. However, I doubt they would trick me as they did those rich Vancouver kids. OK, OK, I admit it. I am intrigued and as nervous as a cat. What if I like this medium thing? Then I would need such a huge piggy bank it would not fit in my Vancouver, cannot-afford-it-anyway, 400 sq. ft. basement apartment.

@fujiguys, what have you done!?


For gear enthusiasts, yours truly is holding the one and only vintage 1967 Picture Story Fisher Price camera.


2017 © Oli Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.


8 thoughts on “Ode on Medium Format

  1. I can relate to your thoughts about APS-C. When I go out with my X-T1 or X100S, the “real” pros generally think I’m some idiot who must have snuck past security. When I take a Leica M, they think I’m a wanker as well as an idiot. When I take my Canon 7D-II to something that’s not motorsport or low-level aerobatics I get a pitiful look because I obviously couldn’t afford a 1DX, a 5D IV or a 5DS, or whatever the equivalents are in Nikon.

    I’m actually quite pleased about all that, because I can quietly go about taking my own photos my own way and sometimes, though by no means always, they come out just as well or even better than those of the guys wearing the CANON EOS or NIKON neckstraps and with a permanent droop to one shoulder from the weight of a 1DX-II sporting a big zoom.

    Back in the days of film, I almost developed my own “photographer’s lean” from carrying a Hasselblad, often with a telephoto lens, along with a bag full of stuff. These days, the same camera feels to me as heavy as a load of bricks, and it wasn’t even the weightiest of its genre. What I learnt from my time with the ‘blad is that medium format + tripod = amazing quality. Even today, when I shoot a roll of Portra 160, I’m astonished how well the scans hold up in the modern world of 50 MP backs, so the Fuji digital MF is of great interest to me. I have seen some prints, made taller than I am, and their impact is stunning, their resolution amazing. Like you, I’m intrigued and I like it.

    But I think I’m going to be able to hold myself back. I’ve become too used to the compact size and lightness of the Fujis; my Leica Ms seem heavy and I curse when I have to lug the Canon, for which I have only one lens, the weighty 100-400 Mk II. But the bottom line, for me, is that I’m not a billboard or mural photographer. The largest size a picture of mine is ever likely to be used is double-page A4, usually smaller. My Fujis can deliver superb images that meet this requirement. To misquote a well-known saying, less is enough. I tell myself this every time I see something about the GFX. So far, it’s working.

    1. Phil,

      I’m not being very original in saying that the GFX is a game changer, not only from the price point of view but also from initial image quality samples. Quite a disruption! Of course, my piece was a satire, as many people who don’t need medium format or don’t have the skills to shoot are jumping on the bandwagon.

      That said, I agree with the size and philosophy argument. I often think that my satisfaction and joy in photography will evaporate if I go into a large, highly technical camera system such as the GFX. Hopefully, I will be able to test the system shortly and make up my mind.

      Thank you so much for taking time to share your valuable points.

      All the best


  2. Thanks for posting your great photos Olaf. Any idea what’s the best way to process Fuji X-T20 RAW files without using Lightroom or Photoshop on a PC? Many thanks for any advice. Best, Mel Loynd

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