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Has using MF changed you as a photographer?


Hello everyone, I posed this question on the forum relating to my 503cx and Simon answered it every so graciously and with humble simplicity. If I may quote his response here and maybe we can start a new thread here.
Merry Christmas to all.

"I certainly believe that MF has helped me become a better amateur photographer - in a number of ways.

I also believe LF photography which I took up 2 - 3 years ago has added to that learning.

The ways I have improved due to MF have been in both technical as well as creative aspects of photography.

Shooting MF is much more of a contemplative / deliberate and exacting type of shooting. The one word that sums up MF is QUALITY - optics, mechanics, image output, media...... etc.. We take it up so that our finished output benefits from the relatively higher quality image that comes from making bigger images and using what is often more exacting equipment (logic being that MF is largely the domain of pros, thus the gear needs to satisfy their expectations - ceteris paribus of course).

Firstly 6x6 images and especially positive film is just such an eye opener to the first time MF shooter - not only is the "look" different to the "machine gun" 135 format "all-singing-and-all-dancing" electronic SLRs; one begins to see much more of an image's attributes.

It is to my mind a process of awareness and appreciation and taking the time (or, even being forced to!) for deeper consideration of all facets of what goes into making quality images.

Keep in mind I do NOT seek to denigrate any types of the 135 format here - different horses for different courses!! :)

Secondly, MF is by its very nature a more "contemplative" form of photography - LF therefore being the most extreme end of contemplative photography. The gear is bigger; slower (relatively of course) to operate; and often much more manual (like using a 503CW or 501CM).

Of course (I must generalise) the more recent 6x4.5 format AF electronic wizards that have emerged in the past 10 years have made MF a faster (or maybe just more convenient to some shooters) medium; but, it is nonetheless still more "contemplative" than 135 format. Sure the brilliant Hasselblad 200 family of cameras included many fantastic electro-mechanical features; but, they could hardly be described as being fast to work with in a 135 format context!

So in its more traditional iteration, MF photography requires one to plan what he is going to shoot; consider how he will shoot; carefully prepare and shoot..... These attributes are driven by the process (especially of the more mechanical MF equipment) - only 12 frames (6x6 120 film assuming just one magazine) to play with; larger cameras to handle, far slower firing rate, typically lower geared and larger lenses to operate; mechanical or electro-mechanical camera settings and operations.... etc..

BUT all this means deeper consideration of our creative intentions as we stare into that huge and wonderful 6x6 viewfinder!! :) Oh, what a joy that is!! :)

When I shoot 6x6, I truly feel that I am more engaged by my subject; my purpose is very clear - to make an appealing image from my subject (rather than being absorbed in or distracted by using the camera itself, which like I often feel happens when shooting a 135 SLR). I seem to automatically consider more carefully every part of the image frame. Even when under time constraints such as when the sun is setting on a landscape; or, when the outside light miraculously peeps in through a window onto a subject's face creating a perfect portrait moment. :)

As I write this I am visualising many such occasions and it amazes me that while I am a big fan of the MF kit I chose and the wonderful traits of the Hasselblad and Zeiss equipment, whenever I use my 6x6 kit, I am totally absorbed by the subject and my purpose! :)

Likewise even the operations of the camera and lens make me consider each technical element much more - for ex&le: much more considered use of aperture and DOF; very careful thought about the exposure values and the impact of all areas of the image on that; placement of the image's elements; and even the finishing touch (before I fire the shutter); and something I call "perfection" of the process: e.g. use of a cable and tripod, use of the mirror pre-release feature, etc..

"So, for me the impact of shooting MF is an absolute JOY, which began as a revelation and something of a new found passion - no longer a risk of good luck versus bad luck shooting that I found I was engaging in when using just a 135 SLR - "the more shots I fire away at 10 frames per second, the more likely I will get a good one!!"

Sure I may sometimes have a need to engage in some attempted fast action and les contemplative MF shooting too; but, when I do, I know why and the purpose is clear for that shoot.

Finally, the journey with MF from the beginning has driven me to learn more - technically and creatively - drive a thirst to have real expertise in the art itself and give myself some pleasure from the new things I have learnt and the images those learnings enable.

You have begun a wonderful journey that should give you huge pleasure for the rest of your life."

by Simon P Galbally (Simonpg)


New Member
MF did surely change the way i take photographs. It is not the better quality, the eventually better lenses (though the Zeiss glass renders somehow special) and it is not the greater resolution of the DBack - i do not care to much about that. If you look at some of the great pictures of the masters - they do have many technical weaknesses - but it does not harm. They are still great pictures - strong pictures. They would be strongly criticized on the forums these days. ;) I think a strong picture stays a strong picture even with some weaknesses - a poor picture wont be a good picture even if it is technically perfect.

But back to the point. I do like the way i have to work with my Hassi. The all mechanical operation, estimating the exposure, using old hardware along with newer one (DBack), the slow operation. If i am in a hurry i would use my F4 or my D2X - but otherwise is love to use my V.

And then there is the waist level finder. It did teach me a whole new world of seeing. It was like opening the eyes for me.




New Member
Working square for many people is uncomfortable.

I have always felt much more comfortable making portraits in the square, As for the camera, I have never liked holding the SLR or even my Ms series Leicas in front of my eyes when making portraits. Medium Format allows for the camera to be more easily moved away from the face, I'm not hunting, I'm collaborating when I make a portrait.

Trey Scott


More than changing me as a photographer, it formulated my whole approach to photography and set my standards. I started with a Rolleicord and moved on to Hasselblad and Mamiya 7 and later in and out of 6x12 with an Ebony LF. The expectation for image quality and equipment quality was set at the very beginning with the Rolleiflex. My composition was heavily influenced by users of the square and by use of it.

lt has changed in the past 4 years for me with the obligatory use of Photoshop and subsequently digital cameras. Whilst having had a big impact on my picture taking and processing, it's brought with it masses of confusion about which way to turn now. My next big decision is whether to buy a Leica M8, or a CFV back.

Almost all my valued images have been taken on film and on my 503Cx, but it is now getting almost zero use because of the 'convenience' of getting the image onto the hard drive compared to CF cards from my Canon. It costs $12,000 in the UK to overcome that little problem with a 'Blad and that's a lot of assignments to invest into something that is yet to be determined as a preferred way of working for me.



New Member
In many respects the way I approach shooting with a SLR MF really isn't much different than with 35 mm of the same type. For that reason I generally shoot with a Leica M when speed and weight are an issue, and with a 'Blad when more precise composition and a higher quality negative/transparency is desired. Though I commonly use my 'Blads on a tripod, I am not adverse to shooting-in-hand when exploring a subject as it tends to be less 'finicky' and often results in a better composition (as one--at least myself--trips the shutter when things look/feel 'right' in such instances. On that note, I am not adverse to mounting a Leica M on a tripod when warranted).

Now if I was shooting with a LF, then my comments would likely mirror Simon's to a larger degree. When shooting landscapes or other commonly contemplative subjects with a tripod-mounted camera, I often wonder why I just don't acquire a field camera and a geared head instead given the time it often takes to finalize a composition to one's satisfaction. But then, all that depends on the subject matter, terrain, and what one is willing/able to carry into the field.

In short, I don't ascribe any special spiritual qualities to camera types as that quality comes from how they are manipulated. Much as I would choose to use dry materials vs. paint, paper or board vs. canvas, watercolour vs. oils, it largely comes down to what I wish to achieve pictorially and what best suits the subject and final result desired. Of course those materials and the corresponding tools (brushes (e.g., flats vs. brights), pens, etc.) provide their own unique feel to a final piece, much as film type, focal length, negative size provide their unique signature to a photographic image. As such I primarily regard my cameras and lenses as a means-to-an-end, and photography as just another medium.


Active Member
How Medium Format work has impacted my photography has been to confirm my view that all cameras are just boxes for hanging lenses off one end and a capture medium off the other. Some are fixed in this respect, and some are not. The concept is the same.

Therefore the so called "electronic wonders" and the most basic mechanical cameras are all the same to me in the end. Some are more tactile feeling and rewarding to use ... but that's more about personal prejudicial joy as opposed to performance. As long as it does what it's told, I like the camera. If it fights me after disciplining myself with an individual camera, it goes away. I've never met a camera I didn't like for some reason. But, try as I might, I can't own them all, so some come and go, while others stay. The Hasselbald V is amongst the latter, the Canon 5D the former for ex&le.

I do not engage in highly contemplative work such as "Zen Landscape" vistas, and when it comes to such work I am a rank amateur compared to many who frequent this board. While I enjoy the fruits of their skilled labors, and appreciate the often stunning beauty portrayed, I have no passion for doing such work myself.

My forte' is the human landscape. The ever shifting vista of human emotions and insights into the way we are today ... captured in nano second slices of the ever rushing river of time that erodes and washes us all away in the end.

The idea that this sort of imagery is the sole domain of the smaller formats is one I have challenged for years. Yes, I "Lika my Leica" for this, but do not discriminate to the exclusion of using MF where a Leica M would be traditionally more "appropriate" ... and thus fall under the cliche' of "Horses for courses". I like riding a Clydesdale for a furlong : -)

So, it became clear to me that "easy" wasn't a good objective in photography. Maybe it was simply just another word for lazy. It wasn't easy to employ a Hasselblad to shoot roaringly quick paced wedding photography. Candid people photography with a V camera forces one to the drudgery of relentless discipline. Yet, "Lord be Praised", once mastered, and with continued practice, most anything can be accomplished.


Active Member
"Reserved Parking"

203FE with 50/2.8FE and CFV digital back. A work horse to shoot a workhorse ... ironic, huh? : -)

An amusing opportunity that caught my eye in the middle of a headlong rush to get all kinds of must have wedding shots. The Sikh Groom traditionally rides to the wedding site on an Elephant or bedecked horse. The step ladder is there to get him up on the massive horse. The attendant was just waiting and waiting because, as usual, no one was on time.

With MF, I like that I can print these to any size I deem desirable.



New Member
To Marc Williams (Fotografz)

Never thought of a ladder useful as a bench seat in a reserved parking zone. I like horses and like your photographic skills.

Redmond, Washington


Thanks everyone so far who has commented here. I personally find it very rewarding to talk about things like this. Typically I try to merely use a camera as an "extension" on my mind's eye. That is, to train my eye to see and frame and compose an image before I even hold a camera. I recently took two of my youngest children out and about around Sydney Harbour and the Botanical Gardens and endeavoured to teach them rather than just take a picture of everything to first look at basics like lighting, composition, interesting subjects, balance, proportion of foregrounds and backgrounds. To my surprise they both picked up on these very simple ideas and they produced some very interesting images.

MF photography has taught me to be patient, aware, and a willingness to look further than what I see with my naked eyes. It has awakened in me a newness of creativity with a new enthusiasm.

I'd love to hear from more people out there please?

New Years arriving very quickly.

p.s. ch&agne chilling
Having used all manner of cameras, both as an amateur and professional, I have run the gamut of film- digital-back to film; I have to say that, for me, to go back to 6X6 film, has been something of a relief. I just hope that the film manufacturers keep the supply up, and, more to the point, reversal processing ! I like nothing better than to go out early, on a reasonably fine day, with my hassy, tripod, and several rolls of film( Fuji velvia), and contemplate a particular scene in depth, knowing that I am Making a picture, not rushing it ! I remeber doing an airshow last year; on digital, jpegs, 400 images in six hours. Then the headaches that followed doing that lot on the computer, captioning, and scanning to disc, for a client who wanted them like yesterday- then just said yeah, they're fine, and forgot about it ! Digital is fast, and it is immediate, but there is no satisfaction iin production in this manner, for me at least.


New Member
Hi Jery,

Although you have enlarged the original thread a bit your experience clearly shows MF changes a photographer who was used to smaller formats.

Digital allows for a high output of images with the consquence that much more time is needed in post production.
Nothing will give better images than the necessity to do it right the first time.
It also saves a lot of time later when all these images need to be judged and selected.