Smartphones vs digital cameras – January 2014
Medium / large format
Medium and large format cameras come in a variety of shape and sizes and serve multiple purposes. Some of them allow you to view through a lens (DSLR), others don’t, some use digital backs, other use film, etc. The most common formats (digital or film) are 6×4.5 cm, 6×6 cm and 6×7/6×9 cm. In the old days large film sheets were used for capturing the image, but these days medium and large format cameras use digital backs, which are essentially external sensors made by a third party company, that can be proprietary or compatible with many camera models. We are talking about cameras like Hasselblad H5D-60 or Mamiya 645DF, and digital backs like Phase One P45+ or P65+, Leaf Credo, etc. We are talking about huge sensors (45-60MP), with the best possible image quality and prices that can get up to 40-50000 Euros. This is the real pro’s area…
From the first days of photography, up to the modern era, there also exists another type of camera…the camera which started everything, and it is still used today in special cases. We are talking about the so called view cameras, meaning large format cameras with bellows. In the old days you would see large sheets of film (18x24cm) use with such cameras, but these days a digital back is all you need even for a view camera. This type of camera is used because the fact that it allows a very fine control over all aspects (perspective, focal plane, etc). The lens is mounted on a wooden or metal plate, and it is connected to the back side (where the sensor is) through a bellow. You can adjust the distance between the lens and the sensor, the angle between the lens plane and the sensor plane, basically everything can be fine tuned with utmost precision.
This type of camera is mainly used for product shots, landscapes and architecture, and names like Sinar, Linhof or Arca-Swiss are the key here. Of course, we are discussing about large cameras, which imply a more complicated shooting process.