120 vs 35mm film

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by pbryld, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. pbryld

    pbryld Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Location:
    Denmark
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I've been looking for a MF RF for a little bit now. While there ARE some affordable ones, I can't help but think if I should just go for a 35mm RF.

    I've realised that I won't ever need (maybe even want) to blow the negs up to more than the size of a piece of A4 paper (8.27in × 11.69in).

    What I am looking for is sharpness, sharpness, sharpness...
    How noticeable will the difference be between an MF RF and a 35mm RF?

    If it's hardly (or maybe even not at all), a 35mm is definitely the way to go. In that case, what can I get for around $200?


    Thank you so much in advance!
     
  2. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,963
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    Melbourne, V
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I think an MF SLR is better, MF rangefinders tend to be large and heavy, you can get a nice light small 645 SLR for MF.

    Quality difference between something with 3x the area is going to be massive of course (35mm vs 645).

    Scanning is where you'll be let down with 35mm (well MF too), without even talking about the (lack of) resolution of a flatbed, the colour and image smoothness is dismal, noise is absolutely massive to the point my 6x7cm frames become much worse than whats actually on a 35mm neg.


    You need to find a good workflow option to preserve the quality of your neg rather than absolutely trash it, otherwise there's no point in looking for sharpness.



    To better answer your question with something suitable, what subject/kind of photography do you intend to do and what do you intend the output usage of your images to be? Flickr/Online galleries? Mainly physical prints under A4 and under?
     
  3. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The difference between medium format and 35mm at that print size is obvious. But 35mm can make very nice prints at that size if you use good processing every step of the way. And as you pointed out, it's somewhat cheaper.
     
  4. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,708
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Good Morning, Pbryld,

    Lenses for smaller formats such as 35mm tend to have superior sharpness (lines per inch) compared to lenses for larger formats. 8 x 10 or 11 x 14 prints form 35mm can be very sharp. Sharpness itself, however, is not the only factor. Prints from MF and LF tend to have a kind of "smoothness" or "richness" which is hard to match in 35mm. For me, going from 35mm to MF represents a significant jump in overall print quality, other things being equal. One of the other things, of course, is film choice. An 8 x 10 from, say T-100, can be very, very good, but a similar print from the same film in 120 will usually look a lot better. Another factor is the negative size you will get from MF. Jumping from 35mm to 6 x 7 makes a hugh difference; going from 35mm to 4.5 x 6 is still big, but slightly less so. Lens quality and film flatness are other factors. Basically, whatever leads to a final print goes back to the idea of everything involved being part of a system. You should be able to get a high-quality TLR for the price you mention. After you make a few prints from the 6 x 6 negatives, you should know whether you want to pursue MF or not. If not, you can probably still sell the TLR without much loss.

    Konical
     
  5. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,393
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    Location:
    florida
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Both work well. My personal preference is MF SLR. I mostly use B&W (Delta 400) and do my own printing in the darkroom. I also scan my negatives with an (old) Epson 4780 and get extremely sharp scans without noise. The MF negative is up to 4x larger than the 35mm so the amount of enlargement is less especially if you do any cropping. Good equipment and good technique will influence your sharpness with either format. You should try to borrow both and take a test roll to see which best fits your needs and budget.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com
     
  6. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    For that money I'd get an older Zeiss, Voigtlander, or Weltur folding MF RF. I made a similar decision about 7 years ago and never looked back. I also find 120 strangely easier to work with than 35mm because of it's size.
     
  7. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,962
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For sharpness stay with 35mm lenses. They'll blow your sox off when shooting Air Force Test charts. For a lot of other reasons that might matter consider MF.
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,420
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The older RF's mentioned by Klainmeister would be an excellent way to try MF.

    Many feel that the difference between 35 & MF is negligible at 8 or 11X but the difference is dramatic above that. Mainly in tonality and size of grain. Also though, the film you use will make a big difference too.
     
  9. ROL

    ROL Member

    Messages:
    792
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Location:
    California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If it's only sharpness you're after, the 35mm images will become so sharp the larger you blow them up that you will actually be able to see the grain at normal viewing distance! And you can forget all those nasty smooth tones that larger negs. will give you :D.
     
  10. agfarapid

    agfarapid Subscriber

    Messages:
    191
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Location:
    New England
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've used 35mm for many years but have been shooting mainly MF in 645 and 6x6 formats for the past 2 years. I've switched primarily because I like the larger viewing space--it aids my composition. If your enlargements are 8x10 or smaller, the difference between the two formats, when properly processed, are not that great; however MF does provide greater tonality that 35mm can't match. I originally purchased a Mamiya 645 slr and I also use a Fuji GS645 folder. I use the latter precisely because it is small and compact and gives great quality. Here are 2 examples, both taken with the Fuji. The next two are from a Leica IIIc 3ith 35 Summaron.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

    Messages:
    1,303
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For $200 you could possibly do both. There was an Olympus RC in the classifieds just a few days back for something like $65, if I recall correctly. A MF folder could be had for the remainder (depending on model/etc). Then you could do your own comparison.

    They are very different things to work with. I have a Canonet, for example. Much faster to work with than the Moscow IV folder I have (clone of an Ikonta 6x9). The lens on the canonet is considered to be excellent quality. I can shoot faster and more from a roll with it.

    For me, I like the MF negatives. If for nothing else, I have much less of an issue with dust. Any dust on a 35mm neg is enlarged 4x as much as dust on a MF neg.
     
  12. mbsmith

    mbsmith Member

    Messages:
    92
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Location:
    Utah, United
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You will find really nice lenses in both 35mm and MF and should make perfectly fine prints up to the size you mentioned.

    For me, the bigger issue is regarding aspect and utilizing the entire frame that the specific format allows. I love 6x6 and, while I could crop to a square from any format, it makes more sense (to me) to just go with a medium format system that fits that aspect.
     
  13. declark

    declark Subscriber

    Messages:
    246
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    So. Cal
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Can't speak to the RF, but I recently just shot a roll of 120 Tri-X in a Hasselblad vs Efke 25 in a Nikon F3. I only did this to see how well the slow speed film in 35 format compares to 400 speed 120. I'll try to print a couple of the best frames this weekend optically at 8x10 (and highly cropped 8x10's) to see if there is much difference. So far just viewing them on the enlarging board at high magnification looks like it could be a good contest. I know all things being roughly equal 120 will crush 35mm, but I was curious as to the difference of slow vs medium speed film. For the Nikon I normally shoot at F4 / 5.6 to be in the optimum sharpness range whereas on the Hasselblad I am usually at F8 - F16, so shutter speeds are pretty similar. No scanner will enter the equation except for scanning the optical prints; so the Epson vs Nikon vs Imacon vs drum scan craziness will not come into play.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. wblynch

    wblynch Member

    Messages:
    1,646
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Location:
    Mission Viejo
    Shooter:
    127 Format
    I think the medium format gives a different depth-of-field due to the increased focal length required for the same coverage.

    For example, if 80mm on 120 = 50mm on 35mm then you can imagine the difference in DOF.

    Typically MF lenses are slower than their 35mm equivalents so you have to compensate for that in shutter speed.

    I like the character of a MF photo more than 35mm but you can't beat 35mm for film choice, economy and portability.

    And, as said above, for pure sharpness then 35mm may be the better choice.
     
  16. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,483
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do all formats from Minox to 8x10.

    If you are asking about a 120 to 35mm comparison my experience has been that on a tripod with 'pro' equipment (no "Great Wall or Holga" camera) the 120 will always win. If you are hand-holding at less than 1/250 the differences will get less the slower you get.
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,035
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A 120 TLR may be able to give you the "sharpness" you need, at a price you are willing to spend.

    Prices on the used market have more to do with market forces than questions of relative qualities - way more good quality 35mm cameras were sold into the market than 120 cameras.
     
  18. maliha

    maliha Member

    Messages:
    62
    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm not too sure about a medium format RF never having used it myself, however, I have only recently started shooting with a medium format SLR and guiltily confess that I have been spoiled. This is my very personal opinion, but nothing beats medium format if you are a serious photographer. For street or quick shots I would suggest sticking to 35mm since they are less heavier and easier to carry around.

    I have a Konica 35mm RF which is a pretty decent (and cheap) 35mm RF camera and I'm rather happy with it for the quick and dirty shots. However, if I go on a photoshoot that requires time and thought for composition, I would grab a MF SLR any day of the week over a 35mm.
     
  19. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

    Messages:
    807
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When I need detail and high image quality, I use the larger format rangefinder with a cable release and a tripod.

    When I need to shoot quietly and quickly, I hand hold one of my smaller format rangefinders.


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11336821@N00/6085773891/
     

    Attached Files:

  20. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

    Messages:
    2,258
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Location:
    Warwickshire
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I used to have a medium format rangefinder and sold it as, like the OP, I print no bigger than 10x8 or so and it that size it was overkill.

    I have no instruments to measure 'sharpness' but if I hold a 10x8 print at the distance I would read a book I cannot tell if it was shot on 35mm or 120 film.
     
  21. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

    Messages:
    683
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2006
    Location:
    Oklahoma, US
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    "What I am looking for is sharpness, sharpness, sharpness...
    How noticeable will the difference be between an MF RF and a 35mm RF?

    If it's hardly (or maybe even not at all), a 35mm is definitely the way to go. In that case, what can I get for around $200?"


    Yes, you can tell the difference between Tri-X 135 and 120 images at 5x7 in. Stand back 3 feet and you probably can't see the difference 90% of the time.
    All things considered you normally can't tell the difference between an image shot with a SLR and RF.

    A Konica S2 or S3 is a low cost RF entry. They have their idiosyncrasies so do a Google. The Minolta CLE or Konica Hexar with 50mm would be a safer, more expensive choice.

    T-Max 400 in -135 has somewhat of a MF look at small enlargements (5x7). T-Max 100 in -135 may work with larger prints but I have not used it.

    My MF Bronica RF645 weights less with about the same volumn of a Nikon f4. The Fuji 645s are as small as the F4. Rollei TLRs are small and light.

    If your cost conscience and print from a darkroom the cost of MF enlarging equipment needs to be considered.

    A TLR Rollei MX-EVS, 75mm f/3.5 Tessar sells for about $200 to $350. The center sharpness will blow -135 away if in excellent condition and with aperture stopped down to f/8. You must use a lens hood and have proper exposure.

    Like the S2 or S3 buy right to avoid a CLA or other issues. Things to consider. The MX-EVS screen will likely be too dark for inside shots. TLR cameras perform best on a tripod. The camera has no meter. Not all folks enjoy the deliberate handling TLR with image reversed on the viewing screen. However, the Rollei results have great tonality and are sharp from a small/light weight camera.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 28, 2011
  22. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

    Messages:
    2,156
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I just returned from my first trip to Italy. I didn't carry my sheet film cameras because of various problems with security, limits on luggage, etc. I chose not to carry medium format for similar reasons and settled, much to my dismay, with 35mm.
    I have processed the film, but will not be printing any of it. Why? Lack of detail to make the images interesting. There is just not enough space on a 35mm negative to come close to giving me what I think is necessary in a good photograph.
     
  23. MDR

    MDR Member

    Messages:
    1,411
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Location:
    Austria
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    One of the older Zeiss Folders

    like the Super ikonta 531 (6 x 4.5cm) offers a good compromise between size and quality. 35mm Size and Medium Format Quality (tonality) and can be found for under $200. Russian Rangefinders can be found quiet cheap and the Jupiter 8 lens ist quiet sharp the Camera bodies are unfortunately not as good as the lenses, another option would be the Braun, Voss, Kodak, Voigtländer Rangefinder cameras of the 60's. The Voss Diax IIa & B, the Braun Super Paxette, the Kodak Retina IIIC and the Voigtlander Vitessa T have interchangeable lenses and the lenses are sharp even by todays standard.
     
  24. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

    Messages:
    2,561
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    If you're only enlarging to 8x10 35mm will give you plenty of sharpness. But, just make sure you really think about your decision. Is there a possibility you'll ever want to enlarge the photos more? This may be a serious possibility once you get a collection of great photos. And, you may want to do a show, or hang some on your wall or someone else's wall. If you think that is a possibly nothing will beat a MF RF. I have two Mamiya 6's and the Bronica RF645, and in the past owned a Mamiya 7. AMAZING cameras! You have to understand their limitations, but the negatives that come out of those machines will blow your socks off. I highly recommend a MF RF because it's easy to say now you'll only enlarge to 8x10, but you never know in the future. When in doubt, go with the larger negative! My Bronica RF645 is so compact, not much larger than a Leica. I'm sure the Fuji 645 RF's are similar size. I'd recommend one of those if you're trying to go lightweight.
     
  25. BrianL

    BrianL Member

    Messages:
    547
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Location:
    Toronto ON C
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Why not get both? Close to your budget get a Bronica ETR series such as the ETRs or ETRsi. Set up for MF it can be had in your price range and a 35mm normal or wide back maybe another $50. Lenses are very reasonable and acc'y are plentiful. There are a couple in the classified section for sale. I have been using one for several decades as both my MF and 35mm system and could not be happier. If you have never seen a mf transparency, it can blow our socks off.
     
  26. declark

    declark Subscriber

    Messages:
    246
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    Location:
    So. Cal
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    OK so this still doesn't have anything to do with rangefinders, but my curiosity of slow speed 35mm vs medium speed 120 got the better of me. I set up a comparison between 35mm Efke 25 vs 120 Tri-X 400. Here are all the parameters I have notes on:

    35mm: Nikon F3HP, 50mm f2 Ai @ f5.6 no filter, tripod, MLU, timer release. Efke 25 at EV 25, Rodinal 1:50.
    Printed optically with glass carrier full frame (sort of) 8x10 and a 8x10 crop from what would be a 20" wide enlargement. El-Nikkor 6 element at f8 & f5.6 respectively.

    120: Hasselblad 500CM, 80mm f2.8 @ f8, red filter, tripod, MLU, cable release. Tri-X 400 at EV 400 Xtol 1:1.
    Printed optically with glass carrier full frame and 8x10 crop from what would be a 20 x 20" enlargement. Rodenstock 80mm 6 element at f11 & f5.6 respectively.

    Conclusion: I need a better test setup and my framing was really poor, but the Efke 25 seems to enlarge quite nicely. I can still see an edge to 120 even in Tri-X. If I had used Efke 25 in 120 it would probably be no-contest. Also I should have used my polarizer on the Hasselblad and shot at EV 200 or 100 to get down into shutter speed range.

    Anyway, here's a link to the raw print scans at 300 dpi. Only rotated and cropped, no sharpening or any other adjustments applied.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/109299860992050931051/35mmEfke25Vs120TriX400?authkey=Gv1sRgCInS1Ye5_taQsQE
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2011