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).

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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:

1 Like

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

1 Like

…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.