Gear-related discussions are everywhere. They usually take the form of Camera A vs. Camera B. In recent weeks, with the announcement of some new medium format cameras, the debate turned into APS-C vs. Full Frame vs. Medium Format. When I started shooting with medium format cameras, I quickly realized that framing this discussion in terms of “versus” is a major mischaracterisation of the subject and most of the time leads to fallacious conclusions. I believe that the right way to approach this subject is with the word DIFFERENT. Medium Format is a tool which clearly differs from the APS-C and Full Frame tools. As such, it has its own advantages and disadvantages.
For me personally, one key advantage is something that’s difficult to describe especially in an era when your work is artificially compressed to fit the technical requirements of a social media frame.
Here is what is the most appealing to me when working with medium format. I can capture and depict light in multiple dimensions and with variety, which I was not able to do with my other cameras. A new, sort of grey area has appeared – 50 shades of it! Yes, this is the visual sphere which the cellphone crowd will not give a damn about but I do! I call them transition strokes when light changes, bends and submerges into coexisting elements in the image. In most cameras, this metamorphosis is rather abrupt and loud. In the medium-format camera, it takes the form of “melting” (I stole this word from Patrick La Roque :)) as if there was no border – no beginning or end. Your eyes wander without interruption between shadows and highlights. The light becomes liquid and perpetually spills over. This allows the photographer to blend light and shadow in a way that was not possible before. It reminds me of recording and listening to music.
There are musicians who can compose music in so many dimensions that the sound transcends the instruments. These recordings carry a spectrum of sounds such as background noises or even the singers’ breathing that elevate the listening experience quite dramatically.
In this month’s Medium Format Magazine our contributors present their views on the subject “Why Medium Format?” Each editorial presents unique and thought-provoking arguments in the use of medium format. What are your thoughts?