Thinking about "updating" my setup

Looking for some advice, or perhaps just for someone to talk some sense into me.

I’m contemplating buying a Fuji GFX medium format (unsure which model) camera for my scanning needs. I think basically there’s just a part of me that’s interested in shooting digital MF but can’t justify it completely as I won’t use it often, and is looking to justify it by thinking it may also improve my film scanning.

Rationally, I’m pretty sure any benefits would likely be small or downright invisible to my eyes. But conceptually I’m drawn to the idea of possible higher dynamic range and color gradations (?) shooting a 16bit file over my current 14bit files from my Nikon Z7II.

Also rationally, I know I currently shoot 95% 35mm film, and not anything larger. Although I have a fridge full of 120 stuff that I need to get around to eventually… And I fear that I will hardly ever use this medium format digital camera outside of scanning as I’m usually really minimal in my setups while traveling and doing photography etc.

My current set up is the Nikon Z7II and the excellent native Nikkor Z 105mm 2.8 macro. With the 45MP of this camera, and the edge to edge performance of this lens… resolution hasn’t been a limiting factor, especially for 35mm scans so the jump to 51 or 100MP or whatever those GFX cameras are is not a huge deciding factor but I suppose still a consideration. On the other hand, I feel that the native “macro” lens for the GFX series is just 1:2, so not a great option. Most people seem to adapt older lenses to their GFX cameras. Coming from my current lens I’d be leaving the comfort of knowing that my lens is certainly performant enough to not be the cause of any sort of scanning deficit, whereas with some other setup I might question if the lens is good enough or perhaps a limiting factor in my scanning pipeline.

All that said, I suppose my real question is simply what, if any, real world benefits one could expect from moving from a 45MP full frame Z7II to either a ~50MP or ~100MP Medium Format GFX camera?

Deep down, you already know the answer, don’t you? :wink: But here’s a fun idea: find a gig where you can scan a few thousand frames for someone who’d rather spend money than time. Not only will you have the perfect excuse and the cash to upgrade your setup, but you’ll also end up with a great story to tell. And trust me, we’ll all be eager to hear it!


Imo, the benefit of a GFX (or a micro 4/3) camera starts, when you also scan material that has a different aspect ratio from 3:2. I mostly scan 645 negatives and the lust for a GFX 100 has knocked on my door too.

Until now, I mostly scanned with APS-C and a manual 7Artisan macro lens or the venerable EOS 5D Mk3 and the EF100mm macro (the old one) and therefore with sensors that don’t really fit the 3:4 aspect ratio of the negatives. This reduces sensor usage by approx. 17% (20/24 Mpixel). I’m currently building a prototype of a rig that takes the flex out of the setup I used so far.

Going MF can get expensive, not only because of the slightly higher price of bigger sensors, but also because you might want or need extra gear to get the most out of the setup.

  • Use an old lens on new camera? It can work well, but you’ll need all kind of adapters, extension rings and/or bellows, so why not invest in a Novoflex BALPRO-1 bellows with fitted lens? (2000)
  • Considering the extra size and weight, the current setup might be just a tad too flimsy? Buy or build a better supporting infrastructure? (DIY: 200-500; Buy: 1000-2000)
  • What about workflow? Build a stable rig allowing repeatable positioning of the negatives or adjust the position for each take? (how much do you value time for “stupid” work?)
  • Stable vs. adjustable, e.g. with a geared tripod head?

Will building a MF rig be fun and interesting? Sure! Will it pay? Probably not…

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@Digitizer I think what you say about the need for all the extra equipment is the biggest reason for me to not go down this rabbit hole… It would be a bit easier and simpler, and therefore I’d be more likely to go that route if it was only a new camera with a new native lens… But new adapters, old lenses, bellows, tubes… whatever else… it all amounts to a more complex problem than I feel I want to solve at this time.

Thanks for the input!

Ah well, that would have been an interesting comparison! Pretty sure that I’ve read that the native Fuji Macro is not good for film ‘scanning’ so people go for something like the Pentax 120 or Makro-Digitar exotica but I don’t recall anyone posting their results from a Fuji GFX with Vlad’s test Target. Yes, you would need a pretty fancy setup and none of that comes cheap.

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IMHO, using the GFX system and not having a lens(macro) that does the correct job 1:1 it might be a waste of time and money. With average results. But if you’re not happy with Nikon, start searching the Pentax lens macro, and the ring adapter from Pentax to GFX. The lens it might take a little time to find an excellent and performant one. Just my opinion…

I would suggest that you first rent the camera and lens and compare the results with what you already have. A small expense to get answers.

You would only need 1 lens for scanning. If the new camera stays in the copy room, what other equipment is there to buy? Maybe you could add an extension tube to improve magnification or choose a wide angle lens and reverse mount it. I don’t know the availability of adaptors in the Med format world.

Reviews of the sensor you’re considering should be compared to dynamic range to your existing equipment. But remember that the digitized dynamic range will be limited to the film stock and camera used to capture the negative you’re scanning.

I have tried to increase dynamic range when scanning by using HDR, multiple exposures and blending. Usually there is little improvement for the effort.

Offhand, I don’t know the resolution of 35mm film vs that of the 35mm or medium format digital sensors. You can take comfort that using too much resolution just means you won’t lose any detail. Downside to that is increased storage and processing time.

I’m scanning old existing 35mm negatives from years and years ago. Using a Sony A7r3 (44mp), I have yet to need more resolution! There are DSLR cameras that can use pixel shifting or you could increase magnification and shoot multiple images of each negative, panorama style. This is even more cumbersome than HDR.

Good luck, I’d love to follow your experience with this.

To make it worthwhile using a medium format sensor it seems to me that an appropriate lens could be a Printing Nikkor 105mm. Of course obtaining one and mounting it would require some effort…

Fuji PN105

There is relatively simple setup to try with GFX with 44x33 mm sensor APO Rodagon (US$200) 75 mm D2x with 58-58 mm helicoid (US$30) - if flange distance allows for the all adapters needed. Optically it will be superb. If you can borrow pieces and try this out - you will know the answer.

I’m currently using A7r3 with a Sigma 105mm f2.8 DG DN 1:1 macro and scans are excellent. Over engineering the setup for 35mm and the occasional MF negative may not be noticeable.


That’s what I was alluding to with my previous post!

I also use the Sigma 105 Art DG DN and find it excellent, however, my scans are limited by my A7C and I am considering an A7Riii. Do you think going to the A7Rv might also be over-engineering?


I see the difference is A7r3 (42mp) vs A7r4 (61mp). Other than larger file sizes I don’t think you’ll see any benefit when scanning 35. If you do the MF negatives and have to crop it might be worth it. Also what is your output? Large prints?

(24mp), and didn’t see any noticeable difference in dynamic range that can be recovered from a 35 negative.
I use the A7r3 to get as much sharpness and detail as possible from the Sigma 105.
For me the A7r3 works because it’s what I have.

Who knows maybe the A7IV (33mp) is the best happy medium?

I’ve read from other posts that increased MP will exaggerate film grain and film defects without any other benefits.

Maybe some other members will chime in about that with their experiences.

Unless you’re cropping a lot you might be giving yourself a lot of extra workflow and post processing work?

Hope this helps


I haven’t used any Nikon Z cameras, so I can’t speak for the differences you will find. But you will certainly find a few, it’s not just about the resolution, the dynamic range is crazy, and the “3D” look is closer to medium format film cameras than any digital full frame in my experience. I have the GFX 50sII, I have it for both scanning and digital work. It’s amazing, yes it is slow and the evf or even the screen are unable to accurately reproduce the images it makes, but then you go to your gallery and see the results, like I said, closer to medium format film cameras lol. I have been rescanning my entire film catalog, I do see significant differences between what I get with the GFX vs what I got with a X-T3 and X-H2, not as much in regards to resolution, but dynamic range and color rendering.

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Would you mind to show us sample comparison? TIA!

Thanks @fwolff for the reply I might get a Sony A7Riii (7952x5304) for the extra resolution? I don’t suppose you have Vlad’s Test Target? It would be good to see it with a Sony A7Riii or later using a Sigma 105mm Macro DG DN Art Lens. See below with my Sony A7C (6000x4000) and Sigma 105.

Thanks also @Buganvilla86. In my film photography days I used a Fuji GX680iii (which I still have). I also used a Plaubel 4x5 view camera. There was certainly an improvement over 35mm film in colour rendition, sharpness and dynamic range especially for pics in architecture magazines, which the Fuji GFX100: 11648x8736 or Phase One back: 14204x10652 would be good for today. However, for digitising 35mm pics it may be a case of diminishing returns?

Having trouble uploading, pic resamples softening pixelation.

There are quite a few examples using Vlad’s Test Target from various cameras and lenses posted on the Facebook forum ‘Digitising film with a digital camera’ though from memory I’m not sure there is the A7RIII, certainly there is the A7RIV but that’s 61MP as you know. Any reason you have omitted the A7RII from your options?

Difficult to see as you say. Would you say that you are discerning vertical and horizontal bars for Group 0 Element 2, or even Element 3? How about the corners?