Medium Format

fordy

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Anyone shooting medium format film cameras on here? Or somebody who did back in the day? It seems to be an old voodoo subject and I know nothing about it but when I go into all these vintage camera stores here they are loaded with MF goodies and the eye candy in those glass cases starts to tempt.

As an example I saw today a Pentax 645 with a couple of lenses for 300 quid. Lemon Sha in Ginza is just stuffed full of MF and 35mm of every variety. Especially Leica's and 'blads. Awesome to kick about in for half an hour and apart from usually daydreaming about romantically wandering around Tokyo with a Contax RTS and some Contax Zeiss lenses, I always walk away thinking film would be a pain in the arse really.

I did briefly shoot 35mm film when I first started years ago but that wasn't very long before the digital era so I have little film experience.

In some ways I like the idea of MF film just because I'm a sad geek that gets way too much pleasure out of old anachronistic toys but would this be just a really hard, expensive, frustrating and pointless whim?

Talk me out of it eh?

 

rockmeister

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If you develop your own, then 120 roll film is a tad tougher to load onto the developing reel than 35mm, but once you have the knack it's as easy as pie. Results, with a decent enlarger and lens are excellent, but costs are huge. To really see the difference over 35mm you need to be printing at 12 X 16" and upwards. Paper is expensive, so are chemicals, and a dark room will cost you a grand to set up no touble, and way over a pound a print in costs. You soon learn to be VERY choosy about when you press the shutter.

In use, I love it. You go right back to basics with something like a Mamiya or Bronica...hand held light metering and grey cards, peering at a fresnel screen trying to sort out focus, great clunking noises as you cock and fire the shutter....

Now digital MF...If you ever see a pentax 645 digital with 2 lenses for 300, I'll be putting a cheque in your post right there and then!

 

Chris-_007

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Carl,

I've shot with nearly every format up to 10 x 8" plate cameras, which are a complete pain in the arse to set up.

If you fancy giving it a go try the Bronica GS1 it's a proper medium format 6x7 cm film camera with waist level finders and pentaprisms available.

Get someone else to process first until you get used to it. You can practice spooling an old processed film in daylight until you get the hang of it.

If you'd like any advice, please give me shout.

 

Chris-_007

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Thinking about it a bit more Carl, Mamiya's 7 would be more up your street as it would suit your style of photography and it is a little more portable and can be used without a tripod.

 

f1eng

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I used Mamiya 7, Rolleiflex tlr and Rolleiflex 6008i in the film era, and tried a Hasselblad.

To get full benefit of the quality available a tripod is essential. One can get reasonable results handheld, but the shutter speeds needed need to be higher than with 35mm, and the much reduced depth of field in MF cameras means smaller apertures will almost always be needed.

IMHO digital FF cameras give better results than MF film already.

It can be fun, but it is an awful faff...

Developing B&W is not too bad, getting film and chemicals for colour could be something else again, though I haven't tried for many years.

 

fordy

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Hmmm, all good food for thought. Thanks for your comments all.

However, I can't see me developing film. No time or space in my current expat lifestyle. Maybe in the future. I quite like the size and weight of the Pentaxes though. They look to be quite useable in the field. I was looking at the 645D. That looks rather good too! Used 645D body can be had for as little at 3K now. Even at that it still seems quite a premium over something like a D800.

I need to suss out the scene here for getting 120 and 220 film developed and digitised. It's still quite popular and easily available so might not be anywhere near as expensive to develop as in the European labs.

 

HectorHughMunro

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I would actually suggest something different. Yashicamat 124 are light and discreet. IMO, the quality difference is a clear step above 35mm and it's pretty easy to scan. In use, it's a good bit lighter than a D800 and most people don't think they look like cameras.

I wouldn't bother with a darkroom; just get it commercially developed and scan it yourself or get dev & scan.

One of the advantages is that, because the neg is so much bigger, you have more latitude for error than with 35mm. If you shoot transparency, they're big enough to be lovely items in themselves. In B&W, of course, you get a lovely and very real grain.

 

rockmeister

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I would actually suggest something different. Yashicamat 124 are light and discreet. IMO, the quality difference is a clear step above 35mm and it's pretty easy to scan. In use, it's a good bit lighter than a D800 and most people don't think they look like cameras. I wouldn't bother with a darkroom; just get it commercially developed and scan it yourself or get dev & scan.

One of the advantages is that, because the neg is so much bigger, you have more latitude for error than with 35mm. If you shoot transparency, they're big enough to be lovely items in themselves. In B&W, of course, you get a lovely and very real grain.
a clear step above 35mm film? or do you mean it would make images to beat a d800?

 

Jerrykan

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I would actually suggest something different. Yashicamat 124 are light and discreet. IMO, the quality difference is a clear step above 35mm and it's pretty easy to scan. In use, it's a good bit lighter than a D800 and most people don't think they look like cameras. I wouldn't bother with a darkroom; just get it commercially developed and scan it yourself or get dev & scan.

One of the advantages is that, because the neg is so much bigger, you have more latitude for error than with 35mm. If you shoot transparency, they're big enough to be lovely items in themselves. In B&W, of course, you get a lovely and very real grain.
Excellent post Hector. I had a Mamiya C330 which was another TLR that gave good results.

However, can I suggest you spend just a little more and get a Hassleblad CM500 with an 80 mm Planar. I get the feeling you're a little like me Fordy in that you like 'the best' and that is exactly what the 'blad is. The 500 is a pleasure to use and the quality of the negatives is a world apart from 35 mm film, even Leica ( I also have an M2 so I speak from experience.

 

MrSmith

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"Professional Photographer Terence Donavon used this camera with superb results. "

and he used flash or a lot of HMI/Tungsten. no other way to deal with vibration from that huge mirror slapping up and down :)

 

tkimages

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a clear step above 35mm film? or do you mean it would make images to beat a d800?
It would be great to compare two A2 prints of the same subject but one from a top notch 6x6 ('blad) printed in the darkroom with top notch equipment and one from a top notch DSLR printed on a top notch printer. Both done by relevant highly skilled pros.

 

HectorHughMunro

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It would depend massively on the film but with average to good technique, even Tri-X will comfortably go to A2-ish on medium format, as does the D800. They'll be different pictures but that's in the nature of the two formats.

The mirror won't necessarily be slapping up and down. With many reflex medium format cameras, they just slap up and then it's wound down when you wind the film on - can't remember if this applies to the Hasselblad. With a TLR, there's no slap at all, just a discreet leaf shutter.

 

tkimages

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It would depend massively on the film but with average to good technique, even Tri-X will comfortably go to A2-ish on medium format, as does the D800. They'll be different pictures but that's in the nature of the two formats.
That's it, a lot depends on such factors as which film, which image editor, which lens, and the skill of the operator. Very difficult to say which format would be better? Different - yes.

 

paulf-2007

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I cut my teeth on proper "film photography" from around 30yrs ago.... Built a darkroom in our garage and self taught processing and printing, a brilliant learning curve alright......!I used these beauties in the past;

Toyo 45C -- Mamiya C330s -- Bronica SQ-A -- Mamiya RB67 Pro S -- Mamiya RZ67 -- Rolliecord TLR -- Yashicamat 124G TLR -- Nikon FM -- Nikon FM2N.

To be honest I'm struggling a little with digital photography.
you and me both although you wouldn't know it by your pics mate. With retirement not too many years away I may get to spend the time needed to get to grips with digital. Just not the time with other hobbies and work at present. I still won't be editing photos digitally ever, what comes out is what I keep just like film.

 

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