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Thread: 645 quality?

  1. #1
    Super Dooper Wammer rockmeister's Avatar
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    645 quality?

    Has anyone any real world experience with results from the digital Medium format cameras like Pentax's 645? Im asking just as a dream of how to spend my lottery win this weekend.
    I used to own a Bronica ETRS and potentially, I could see massive advantages, despite the bulk.
    still just watching clouds

  2. #2
    Wammer
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    No personal experience of medium format digital, although some of my contractors had started using it, but back in the days of film I used medium format and 5x4 far more than 35mm. The reasons for doing so were to do with the final usage which could include being enlarged to wall size as the backdrop for an exhibition stand or technical subjects where the reproduction of fine detail was paramount and camera movements to change the plane of focus necessary. For my own general use I stuck to 35mm and enjoyed the portability of the equipment.

    The only reasons I can think of for going to medium format digital are if your final viewing conditions demand it; how big are your prints going to be? If you are enthusiastic about the equipment and process in its own right than a larger format could be fun. As a professional it can be an advantage to be using equipment that is obviously "better" than your clients. Roll up to do a wedding on a "lesser" camera than the guests and your value may well be called into question. If you are into differential focus than there could be an advantage as the focal length of the lenses is longer for the same field of view compared with "35mm".

    The disadvantages are many. Obviously cost, particularly if you are buying a set of lenses, you may find a better computer needed to process those enormous files. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage is weight. My medium format outfit with a couple of Hasselblads, three lenses, four Metz flashguns, stands and tripod weighed close on 1/2 cwt - not good for the back! With larger formats comes more reliance on a decent and heavier tripod. That can be an advantage for static subjects, though, as a slowing down in the process of taking the photograph can lead to more thought and less shutter finger activity - often a good thing.

    I think there is a problem with the way we look at our digital images in programmes like PhotoShop, where when viewing at pixel for pixel we can get hung up on nuances of image quality that are not apparent when it comes to viewing the images in a practical situation, whether projected or as prints, unless you are into very big prints. It's a bit like hifi, we obsess over minuscule differences in sound which may not even exist and are in danger of not sitting back and enjoying the music as much as we should.

    Hope I've ameliorated your disappointment at not winning the lottery this week .

  3. #3
    Super Wammer tkimages's Avatar
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    I had a Bronica ETRs with a couple of Bronica lenses, and to be honest, I was really disappointed with the image quality. I fear it was the lenses, they were not sharp edge to edge even when stopped down. One of its uses was for photographing large groups (120+) and the edge softness always made the people there difficult to identify. The offending lens was returned to Bronica who tested it and returned it stating "......within tolerance." When compared to similar images taken with a Nikon FE and Nikon lenses, there was a difference but not a lot to shout home about up to 12 x 16. The weight and size often stopped me from using it and eventually I did just that - stopped using it. It got put in p/x against a digital camera, at least that got used, IQ not as good, but it got used.
    Tillman
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    Marj, my wife and best friend, says my passions are obsessions.

  4. #4
    Wammer
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    Interesting your comments, Tillman. I never used Bronica in anger but your experiences do conform with their reputation, which is not to say that some of their lenses weren't good but with a wider manufacturing tolerance it was a matter of luck in getting a good one.

    More so than "35mm" there is no cheap way into the larger formats. Finer manufacturing tolerances cost money. There is only any real benefit in going up in size if you choose equipment of commensurate quality. If the cost of going up to a larger format means going for a cheaper quality than any gains are likely to be wiped out.

  5. #5
    Super Wammer mikehit's Avatar
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    Don't forget upgrading computer specs to manage and process the photos.

  6. #6
    Super Dooper Wammer rockmeister's Avatar
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    The computer bit is OK, and I appreciate the Bronica comments (although we happened to have a decent one), it was simply that 'a bigger sensor size means better pics' is a simplistic but pertinent argument. My Bro in law has a D700, I have a D90. We snap the same shots, but viewed on his laptop in Lightroom, or printed, or however, the differences are clearly clear as day. I agree also that this does not make what he does 'better'. but all things being equal, I do like detail and sharpness in a decent print, especially since this means that textures (which I like) are resolved well and also that I can crop if I need to with little quality loss. I think I was just wondering if the jump from say D90 to D700 was repeated from D700 to 645.
    Its fine tho Malcolm, as you say, it's not going to happen!
    still just watching clouds

  7. #7
    Pac67
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    I've owned a Bronica nd it was superb (etrsi) as I did have a decent PE series lens. The lenses were hit and miss until Tamron bought them out. As for digital, the results from the mamiya 645 are stunning, simply superb. You could happily blow them up to 6x4................................feet! However, are they worth the £1000's more than a full frame 35? Not for mere mortals I suspect. Bigger may be better but they're bulkier handling and come into their own for superlative professional studio work.

  8. #8
    In the trade Wammer BobC's Avatar
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    If you win the lottery, don't mess around with the Pentax...far to cheap. You want to be looking at the Hassy or Leica S at a minimum.

  9. #9
    Cogito, ergo doleo. rabski's Avatar
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    In film days, I had a 'Blad for many years. With proper T* lenses, utterly unbeatable. The problem is that to transfer that quality to digital, you need a seriously good digital back, or you are going to lose what you gain.

    I did once try a Phase One back with a 'Blad that belonged to a pal. Results were out of this world, but so was the price. Haven't looked recently, but a couple of years ago a Phase One back for Hasselblad was over £20k. It's also extremely impractical. Charge doesn't last that long and the file size is massive, so even modern cards won't store many images. Landscape or studio only I'd have thought. Sensibly, it means shooting tied to a laptop at best. File transfer isn't quick and there's little buffer, so forget three frames a second. More like one frame a minute.

    Supreme image quality, seriously impractical.

    But wasn't it always so?
    I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but Iím not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant.

  10. #10
    Super Wammer macvisual's Avatar
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    I had fabulous results using a Mamiya C330s twin lens reflex in the late 1980's, a 6x6 neg, I shot a few weddings with it using Fuji Pro 160s, excellent vivid colours and lovely images.

    I would love to use one again!


    Oh memories.....

  11. #11
    Wammer
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    The Mamiyas were lovely cameras, apart from being a TLR rather than a SLR, at least until the wind on knob fell off.

  12. #12
    Pac67
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    Quote Originally Posted by macvisual View Post
    I had fabulous results using a Mamiya C330s twin lens reflex in the late 1980's, a 6x6 neg, I shot a few weddings with it using Fuji Pro 160s, excellent vivid colours and lovely images.

    I would love to use one again!

    Oh memories.....
    I still do! Have my trusty 1968 vintage C330F Professional and would never part with it. The Bronica went and I haven't missed it at all, but sell the C330? Never!

  13. #13
    Super Wammer tkimages's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pac67 View Post
    I still do! Have my trusty 1968 vintage C330F Professional and would never part with it. The Bronica went and I haven't missed it at all, but sell the C330? Never!
    In all the years that I have been doing photography (41!!) I have never used a TLR. I feel incomplete!
    Tillman
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    Marj, my wife and best friend, says my passions are obsessions.

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