Medium Format Digital Camera Scanning

Hi, I wonder if anyone has used a Medium Format digital camera as the scanner? I have a load of 6x7 film to scan and am looking to streamline my workflow. I use an X1D as well and thought about using an older V system makro lens with an adapter.


Bumping this because I’m interested, too. I’ve been scanning my MF negs with a cropped sensor and missing the wonderful depth of MF. One possibility is stitching in photoshop, though it’s a lot more work. I’ve actually thought of buying an X1D as well for this purpose (not only for this, of course).

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Hey, thanks for commenting! I intend to get hold of a 120mm Hasselblad V system makro, and with extension tubes obtain a 1:1 image. One thing am unsure about is by using the electronic shutter there may be banding (depending on what light source I end up using). Like you, I want to preserve the dynamic range of my 6x7 film images.
I still shoot film, but the X1D is great for faster turnaround work, and smaller physically than other MF cameras. If you go for one, you won’t be disappointed.

The x1d has a 44x30mm sensor, while a 6x7 negative is 70x55mm. So if you use a 1:1 lens, at it’s closest (1:1) focus distance, you will not be able to get the entire negative. Sure, a lot closer, but not a true 1:1.

For me, shooting medium format is all about DOF and falloff from big lenses as well as the resolution. The DOF and falloff certainly come out when I scan on a crop sensor, you just loose out on resolution. That said I do think it’s pretty clear, even from a “low-res” crop sensor scan of a MF negative, how much information is lurking in there.

I’ve done a few 6x6 stitched scans which are quite satisfying but considering the time involved, and the mechanics of getting each part of the 1:1 images flat and in focus, the juice doesn’t seem quite worth the squeeze.

The speed of scanning with a DSLR is great, but the larger the negative, the more a flatbed scanner seems to be the right tool.



Thanks so much for this. As you say, at 1:1 the Hassy has a 1320 sq mm sensor facing a 3850 sq mm neg. At 1:3, they match up. It’d be interesting to see how much detail is actually lost.

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Let’s have a look at a little calculation under the assumption that the camera will be used to snap 6x7 negatives (only)

  • X1D has 50 Megapixels and a 4:3 (8:6) image ratio -> shooting 7:6 looses 1/8th of available pixels
    -> max. 43.75 Megapixels can be used if you don’t consider cropping off some for ease of use
  • 7R4 has 61 Megapixels and a 3:2 (9:6) image ratio -> loss with 7:6 is 2/9th of available pixels
    -> max 47.44 megapixels can be used if you don’t consider cropping off some for ease of use

As far as resolution goes, the Sony 7RIV looks like the better alternative to the Hassy. Owning and using a Hasselblad is much cooler though. As far as results go (in relation to reproduction ratios and crop factors) differences will be minor.

I tested shooting 645 negatives with FF vs. APSC and found that technical quality of the lens seems to be far more important than sensor size, given a comparable number of Megapixels. Moreover, the “MF look” is in the negatives and reproduction aims to NOT introduce further “character” anyway.

My conclusion:

  • If I had to invest for reproducing MF negatives, I’d go for the Sony and a modern macro lens.

Note: I shoot with Canon. I’d certainly love to have an X1D II + a Sony 7R4 + a few lenses though :wink:

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Thanks so much for this. I’m way over my head here, so forgive my ignorance. I know that # of mps generally correlates to level of detail. But I wonder if the very size of a sensor (not its mps density) is also important. The Hassy has a bigger (in size) sensor. Wouldn’t that result in less upsizing of the image? And, dynamic range often seems better in less dense sensors. That seems at least slightly to be the case when comparing the Hassy and the A7r4

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…true, the difference is about 1/3 of a stop: 11.98 vs 11.6 at 100 ISO.
Bildschirmfoto 2021-01-04 um 13.09.40

At close to 12 EV, we’re far away from the noise floor, moreover, negatives tend to have a limited dynamic range. The typical histogram of a negative leaves some room for ETTR as far as I’ve seen. I digitalize with a Canon EOS M6, which has a DR of 9.7 and found no issue with DR yet.

For a DR of 13 stops, get a Phase One camera, be it with 100 or 150 Megapixels. They can also get you gear like this:

More pixel density puts more onus on the resolving power of the lens. It’s not just a matter of pixels/negative area, but the quality of the lens that imaging it.

As an aside in the opposite direction, I’ve been playing around with the raspberry pi HQ camera that has a quite small 1/2.3" sensor with 12.3mp. This blows almost any C/CS mount lens out of the water, as they are usually meant for low resolution sensors.

For more comparison, I use a Fuji XT3 (APCS size sensor) with a Canon FD 3.5 macro and find the scans from 6x7 from a single image to be quite good. With two stitched photos you’re right there. Unless your printing big, whatever digital camera you have with a decent lens is usually enough.

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I use the X1D and xcd 120 macro. Prior to this I used a V mount 120 and 21mm tube. The xcd 120 doesnt quite get close enough but with a 16mm tube it does ok. Using a V mount lens limits you to the e shutter so the light source needs to be good. My V mount macro with tube and bellows is on sale at The Classic Camera in London if anyone wants to get one for copying. My main reason for changing to xcd was for focus stacking and using flash.

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I picked up a 120mm Makro, an adapter and found using 1x 55mm extension ring is perfect for the 6x7 film. I can get close enough that I don’t need to crop much more than the film border off. By using 2x 55mm extension tubes, this gets me the perfect distance from a 35mm neg or positive, again without having to crop much into the frame.

The dynamic range is what I wanted, as I shoot medium format for all my projects whether film or digital, I didn’t want to add a smaller system in and then have to stitch files together, which adds time to my workflow. Pretty happy so far, just need to get a decent copy stand now to move away from the tripod, which will speed up my set up and focusing times.

I appreciate everyones input, so thanks for all your comments so far. Keep em coming if anyone has anything to share.

Regards, Keith

I shoot mainly MF film (6x7 and 7x9) and had only a cropped sensor digital to use. I tried stitching but it was both a pain and (for me) not effective. When Fuji announced its GFX 100S, a lot of used 50 mps GFX S and R’s went up for sale, and I bought the R. I’ve paired it with a Mamiya 645 120 f/4 Macro, which extends to 1:1, and use it with a copy stand (tripods are actually steadier but are so awkward; I’m really glad I sprang for a copy stand). The work flow is very, very good and I enjoy using it. Plus, I have the Fuji as a camera to shoot with. It can take just about any lens; there’s even an adaptor for my Mamiya 7 glass! I’m not convinced there’s much visual difference in the scanning, since so far I’ve only made screen-sized images. And will probably send my best printable ones out for drum scanning.

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Great news on getting your GFX, I looked at the R and tested and considered, but were very few used on the market at that time. So went for the Blad, a mint 4116 version for less than 3k, paired up with a 45P lens. So, very happy I have a medium format for projects that need a quicker turnaround, and an old RB for any other projects. Could possibly combine them now I have Neg Lab Pro and a faster film - scan workflow.
Yes, I do find the tripod more awkward, and less steady at the moment due to me not having a tripod mounting lens collar, which I think will firm things up. A decent copy stand is definitely on the cards, as I want a desktop workflow rather than a makeshift bedside table workflow.
Over the next couple of days I am about to scan a project I shot a while ago, and scanned on a Flextight which I had access to through our local gallery, but with lockdown and restricted access to studios etc. meant I couldn’t scan, so I decided to go down the camera scan route as I already had the camera. Which does mean I don’t have to book time to scan!! So, this will be a good test to see how the scans compare for resolution and colour for printing.
I am sure that you won’t need to send your negs out for drum scans to make prints as your Fuji sensor combined with great glass will resolve enough and maintain sufficient dynamic range to make a very decent print.

Great for you on the Blad. I’ve lusted after that! And thanks for the encouragement with my Fuji!