Updated: Dec 12, 2020
WVAnalog on YouTube writes:
"So my impression from all your previous videos i get, is that you were always searching for “the digital camera” for landscape photography. Does the fact that you bought medium format mean that you’ve given up on finding that perfect digital landscape camera for now? How does all your 4x5 gear price wise stack up against just getting medium format Fujifilm camera? Or are you just shooting medium film for fun and the challenge? Just curious of your thought process."
I've spent the last 20 years chasing the perfect digital camera, or as I've come to realize now, trying to figure out which digital camera could replace film in my photographic pursuits.
The temptation to shoot digital was real, film is (seems) expensive, darkrooms are expensive and difficult to maintain if you can even carve out the room for one.
And creating one archivally processed decent fiber based traditional print can take hours upon hours of work.
But, as I realize now and have known for a long time, digital can only take you so far. About as far as film goes when the end result is scanned and then you make an inkjet print. As far as I know, there is no digital equivalent to the fiber based archivally processed black and white print which I personally regard as the pinnacle of the art,
and judging by the auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie's, so do a lot of other people who are willing to spend large amounts of money on traditional photographs as well.
As far as the perfect digital camera, I guess the Fuji XT3 or 4, is it, now that I have redefined my expectations for a digital camera. I can make a sharp 16x20 stills shot if I need to, and I can shoot 30 FPS 4k video. The lenses are small, well made and inexpensive. I have focal lengths from 10-200mm including a fisheye (15-300mm in FF terms, 45-900mm in 4x5 terms) And that's about as good as it gets.
I would recommend a 35 based system for anyone starting out in film photography
Though a starter 4x5 film outfit is not that expensive. You have to redefine a lot of your expectations though. If your used to everything all the time, 4x5 will disabuse you of that concept real fast. An Intrepid 4x5 will run you about $350USD. Add a 150mm f5.6 Nikkor normal lens for about $350, and 6 previously loved fidelity elite film holders for $20 a go off ebay (total $120) and so far so good. You need a changing bag for $25, a 10x loupe for focusing for $20 and some kind of meter which could be simple or expensive, $600 for the Sekonic 858 these days. A dark cloth for $35, and film, for about $2 a sheet for B&W, lets say $20.
Chemicals are about $30 and a tray for processing, though I'd HIGHLY recommend a Stearman processing tank for $99 it's worth it. I've tried most other methods of developing sheet film and the Stearman is reliable. And now you can process you film as well.
So lets say about $1000 for whats basically equal to a 170 mp camera (when scanned on a flatbed and maybe double that drum scanned.) For a little more than the price of a Fuji XE3 and kit lens you can shoot 4x5 B&W film and process the negatives yourself
with the same image quality that Ansel Adams used (probably better actually for most of his career he didn't have lenses as good as a modern Nikkor.)
For the cost of an XT4 and 3 lenses you could buy the camera and everything I've already
mentioned and kit out a complete darkroom to print museum quality archival fiber based prints.
For the cost of the most recent ultra MP Sony "FF" body alone, you could have everything you need to dry mount your fiber prints to Archival matboard and make complete prints that would make Ansel Adams proud... Maybe... If you do your part.
Well lets hope so anyways.