Originally Posted by jaibir
I don't think one can compare any of the Nikon/Canon DSLR's to a medium or large format film camera. The sensor sizes are simply too small to match the image quality. From what I understand, medium and large format cameras aren't about speed but about absolutely top notch image quality for taking large prints.
I am relying on these "top references". I may be wrong. Let me know if I'm indeed. Vs Medium Format
Canon has today tipped digital SLR resolution over the twenty megapixel barrier with the new EOS-1Ds Mark III. The much anticipated Mark III version of the full-frame EOS-1Ds delivers medium-format threatening resolution; 5616 x 3744 (21.1 million) pixels to be precise, in a portable and robust five frames per second Canon EOS body. From a built, function and usability point of view the EOS-1Ds Mark III is identical to the EOS-1D Mark III apart from the full frame (36 x 24 mm) sensor, (naturally) larger viewfinder and UDMA support (up to 45 MB/sec) for Compact Flash cards. At full tilt (at five frames per second) the Mark III is processing an mighty impressive 185 MB of data every second.
• Extraordinary image quality at ISO 100-1600.
• Fast, sophisticated AF.
• Built to pro tolerances and performance levels.
• Astronomical price.
• Heavy weight.
• No AF in live view or built-in wireless flash control.
Who's This For?
Studio photographers looking for medium-format image quality in a DSLR. nNature and underwater photographers who want maximum detail. Fine-art photographers with a serious budget.
Compared to Medium Format Systems
Can you get better image quality from any camera than from the 1Ds Mark III? Sure, but not in a camera that you would want to handhold all day. The realm of higher quality belongs to medium format digital backs, rolled into systems such as the Hasselblad H3D, the Leaf AFi, and the Sinar Hy6. These systems are intended for studio use, weigh even more than the 1Ds, and cost $30,000+. The medium format systems are designed to work with studio lighting and therefore may underperform the 1Ds at higher ISO settings.
If you have an extra $20,000, a tripod, and a lot of light, look into the medium format backs. These systems will get very interesting when a large square sensor is available, e.g., close to the 56x56mm full frame of 6x6 film camera. Currently the sensors are 36x48mm, which wastes a lot of the image circle and has all of the disadvantages of a rectangular format, e.g., figuring out a way to tilt the camera sideways or rotate the back. Vs Large Format
Elsa Dorfman uses a 20x24" Polaroid camera. We decided to see how a print made from an EOS 1Ds Mark III RAW file would compare to a 20x24" original. The images below were taken using ISO 50, available only after enabling extended ISO range from a custom function menu. This is slower than the native resolution of the camera and is probably slightly lower image quality than ISO 100, but it was useful because it enabled us to use an f/8 aperture with the powerful strobes in Elsa's studio.
We sent the RAW files to Pictopia and gave them no instructions other than "make the best 20x30 print that you can". In a side-by-side comparison with a few Polaroid originals, Elsa and three other viewers agreed that the 1Ds Mark III images had at least as much detail as the Polaroid. It was a little tough to compare because the Polaroid images have less depth of field and the papers were very different. The Polaroid paper is super thick and glossy; Pictopia's least expensive RA-4 paper has a matte finish and is much thinner. The digital image was much cleaner, while the Polaroid had a lot of waviness and character in the background. As an imaging system for making 20x30" prints, the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III combined with Pictopia was the clear victor. As artistic statements, the Polaroid images were more interesting.
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I agree that it is not all about speed. But someone might come up with a trump so hard to resist.