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Medium Format VS DSLR & Mirrorless In Architecture Photography

By Holly Roa on August 5th 2017

It wasn’t long ago that digital medium format was a mythic beast, out of reach for all but those who were wealthy enough to drop as much cash as they would for a new car on a new camera or photographers who were shooting jobs where they could bill the client for expensive rentals.

With the advent of more affordable medium format camera systems like the Fuji GFX 50S and Pentax 645Z putting medium format into the hands of more photographers, whether or not digital medium format is truly ‘better’ than a full frame DSLR or mirrorless camera becomes an important question for those who may be torn between the two.

Architecture photographer Usman Dawood has made an 18-minute comparison video to help photographers who may be on the fence see the real-world capabilities of the different camera types, comparing a 100mp Phase One camera to Canon 5DSR and a Sony A7RII. He has taken all of these cameras into the field and done controlled testing in an architecture environment, enlisting the help of Phase One specialists in order to make sure that everything on the medium format end is as good as it possibly can be for comparison purposes.

In the video, Dawood takes you on a pixel-peeping journey, comparing optics, resolution, and performance. Spoiler alert: the most expensive gear isn’t always the best. Check out the video to see the whole breakdown and conclusions.


For our readers who have experience with digital medium format, DSLR, and mirrorless cameras, which do you prefer and why? Or do you feel that there are situations where each excels over the the others?

Via: fstoppers

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Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Mircea Blanaru

    I think that this is endless discussion about the supremacy of full format in front of all other formats. It is like if you buy the exact brushes Van Gogh had use, the same colors and canvas as he used, you, as a painter you will already do the half of the job in creating a masterpiece like the Dutch did…

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  2. David Carrico

    I used an Aptus 75 on my Contax 645 for awhile. It had obvious benefits of gains in workflow efficiency, high resolution RAWs. It was an older digital back so the biggest downsides for me were lack of service options (if it had a malfunction), slow write times (2-3 seconds per frame), terrible display, mediocre battery life and expensive. Ultimately ended up selling it because of these reasons.

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