Best camera type for landscapes?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Graham_Martin, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

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    I just purchased a Fuji GA645Zi primarily to be used for landscape photography when we take a trip to Hawaii in December. I wanted a lightweight camera to take with me, However, I have since found a number of comments on various websites that Medium Format is less suited to landscapes due to its reduced depth of field. They all pretty much conclude that MF really shines for portraits.

    Is that a fair comment to make about MF cameras? If so would my Nikon F100 be better suited for landscapes when used with the appropriate lens? One of the reasons I bought the Fuji was to get greater detail in my landscape images. After all, Peter Lik uses a Medium Format for his landscapes. In the MF arena, would it make any difference if I were to get something like a Voigtlander 690 with its huge negatives?
     
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  2. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    I feel it's all about how you apply these cameras to a scene. Less depth of field? With my M7II and the 43mm, I can focus on something 1ft away to infinity and keep it sharp, so I don't know exactly what they're talking about (likewise with the Fuji GW690 and ye old Mamiya Press camera). For a similar scene, a LF system would probably be stopped down to f/64. Nevertheless, I found 6x9 best for landscape work, only second to a 4x5. The view camera has the advantage of really giving you a framed perspective on what the final image will look like. Other than that, the camera you have chosen will give great results depending on how you use it. Like any tool, it needs mastering, so maybe practice before you head out and find where the sweet spots with the lens and f/stops are. Remember, with an RF, sometimes its best to scale focus and ignore the split screen altogether. I do this all the time and it has yet to fail me.

    Just some thoughts for ya.
     
  3. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply. I have only run one roll through the Fuji and am waiting to get the negs back. I made some mistakes with the shots because I had not figured out some of the settings properly. I'm going to do some more landscapes this week and will stop down pretty small and use a tripod.
     
  4. Matt Quinn

    Matt Quinn Member

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    Personally I think not... Certainly for close-ups and medium close-ups the relatively narrow DOF which can be achieved allows good 'isolation'. And thus there are certainly advantages for portrait work... But MF and LF are obviously very capable of producing the most spectacular levels of detail in 'longer range' work... And very great DOF with the correct settings; if that's what you want to achieve... It's about technique surely?

    The bigger negative is the key for me. I do almost-no 35mm work these days. all my analogue work is Mamiya 645 or RB67; the latter being my 'Landscape' kit...
     
  5. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    How long is a piece of string?
    Russian photographer Oleg Novikov has made the 6x6 format using Hasselblad in landscapes famous from Beijing to the Russian Steppes. You can go your whole life on 35mm, or squirrel out to large format (how does 8x10++ sound?)


    "Comments on various websites...". on what format is best for which application. Are just that. At best, heresy. I want to know where the experience of these commentators are, and what they are basing their judgement on. In essence, what other people are using and find best is based on their experience (sometimes not even that), hopefully garnered and built up through experimenting until they find a format that suits them and (this is most important) their work. Further, it is bad judgement to base your needs on what others are using — there are thousands of variations. Your first task is to gain experience with the Fuji (I'm personally sure it is a good choice for landscapes, but it is not the only good choice).

    Peter Lik (based in Queensland here in Australia) has many years of experience with his large format cameras, at first dabbling in medium format, and he is very constrained in his approach — there is no wasted space in his composition, nothing there that shouldn't be and balance where it is needed. You could also observe what the late Tasmanian photographer Peter Dombrovskis achieved with a Linhof and 3 lenses. He, too, initally used 35mm (for abour 17 years), then medium format (6x6) and finally the Linhof. His early efforts with the Linhof were unremarkable. It's what came through years of studious precision and application that put him on the map. And he knew his subject — the landscape — extremely well.

    Go out with the Fuji and put it through its paces. I'm sure it is eminently up to the task. :smile:
     
  6. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Here are a few photos I took in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado last year with a couple of Fuji cameras, a GW670 II & a GSW690 III. I think who ever is giving out that info about MF cameras not good for landscape work doesn't really know what they are talking about.


    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showimage.php?i=59051&catid=member&imageuser=2072

    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showimage.php?i=59051&catid=member&imageuser=2072

    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showimage.php?i=59047&catid=member&imageuser=2072

    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showimage.php?i=59050&catid=member&imageuser=2072
     
  7. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    The best camera is the one you have when a photograph needs to be made. :smile:
     
  8. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

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    Those types of images are beautiful landscape shots. Do you find the GSW690 bulky and/or heavy to travel with? I am specifically thinking of carrying it on a plane and any extensive walking. (I am 65 years old, and my old legs ain't what they used to be. :sad: )
     
  9. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Graham... I just turned 60 and I don't find them too bulky. I usually carry both and a tripod, though those shots were all hand held. At the altitudes that I was hiking I felt the two Fujis were a better option than a full 4x5 kit with holders.
    I have to confess though that I work in a warehouse at a quite physical job and I also work out so I am able to lug around my camera equipment. And I have to waer a small brace on one knee... no ACL! :blink:
    As far as carrying the cameras on a plane, the two fit in a Domke bag that easily fits in the overhead space.
     
  10. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

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    Thanks Gene. It sounds like you are probably stronger than me, but that I should be able to manage. I too have a small brace on on knee for arthritis. (getting older ain't as much fun as I thought it would be). Do you have both the 670 and 690 so that you can have different film in each?
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    For the longer distance work one usually encounters with landscape work, depth of field considerations are usually much less important than with closer work.

    To give you some numbers to consider, the following is a comparison between two "standard" lenses shot at f/11 - a 50mm lens used with 135 film, and a 75mm lens used with 120 film in a 6x4.5 format camera.

    For the 135 film camera, the circle of confusion used is 0.03mm. For the 6x4.5 camera, the circle of confusion used is 0.045mm.

    For the 135 film camera: 50mm lens focussed at 25 feet - depth of field ranges between infinity at the farthest and 12.3 feet at the nearest.

    For the 6x4.5 film camera: 75mm lens focussed at 35 feet - depth of field ranges between infinity at the farthest and 18 feet at the nearest.

    If you focus the 75mm lens at 30 feet, depth of field ranges between 167 feet at the farthest and 16.5 feet at the nearest.

    When you work closer, the depth of field comparison is more pronounced.
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think the view camera is best for landscapes, since it lets you do things like control the position of the horizon and keep straight lines straight.

    My wife grew up in Hawai'i, so we go fairly regularly to visit the family.

    For Hawai'i, I think it's important to have a camera that stands up to the wind, so even though I prefer shooting landscapes on 8x10", I discovered that at least my ultralight 8x10" Gowland turns into a box kite in many of the shooting situations one encounters in Hawai'i, so I've usually brought my 4x5" Linhof, at least until we had a child, and then I started using a 2x3" Linhof, which has most of the same movements as the 4x5" but the whole kit is half the bulk of a 4x5" kit. I'll go back to 4x5" when he's big enough to carry the tripod.

    I've also been to Hawai'i with my Bronica S2a, and that worked well enough, but in an island landscape, there tend to be a lot of horizontal compositions, so rectangular formats work nicely. I think next time, I may bring the Noblex. I was seeing a lot of panoramics on my last trip.

    If you decide to go 35mm in Hawai'i, bring a long lens for surfers and birds. Otherwise, I think a larger format makes more sense.
     
  13. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    I have the same film type in each camera: the GW670 II has a "normal" 90mm lens where the GSW 690 III has the wide angle 65mm lens. So I carry both to give me at least two lens options. And the GSW690 with the wide angle & 6x9cm format gives me a slightly more panoramic format which I like.

    I hope this gives you a little more insight.
     
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  15. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

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    I will be bringing either my Nikon D3 or D300 with a 300mm f/4 as well as a MF camera. Matt, thanks for the DOF comparisons. I will be shooting landscapes that will be somewhat off in the distance, and so the MF camera should work fine.
     
  16. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Hi Graham,

    I find that as I scale up the film size, I can use faster film because the same size print needs less enlargement. So I use smaller f/stops than I would use for 35mm. This sort of cancels out the depth-of-field loss at longer focal length.

    Bigger film makes better landscapes in my opinion, as gene has shown MF delivers fine landscapes.

    Grab a tripod light enough that you will use it. There's nothing so unnerving as getting home from a trip, going over the shots of that beatiful valley where you were so excited you couldn't stop shooting long enough to setup a tripod... Then find each shot is a little soft and doesn't give you the clarity of the vision you held in mind.
     
  17. dnjl

    dnjl Member

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  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    its not the box, but the eyes behind it

    nice pix gene !

    - john
     
  19. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

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    +1 on those comments. Wow, that 680 weighs about 10 lbs (about 4.5kg?). My wife's not going to be happy lugging around the extra weight! :wub:
     
  20. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Take your 645 and don't be concerned with what other people and their opinions. The only thing that matters is what you see and feel about your camera. To thatend, shoot the dickens out of your MF and leave the dig at home.
     
  21. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

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    Thanks for your comments Rick. I guess the next question would be which film to use. I am going to start doing some research in that area. My inclination would be some fairly slow film (no faster than 160) and good use of my carbon fiber tripod. I am going to take a mix of B&W and Color. I have quite a bit of Fujicolor 160 on 220 rolls, plus several rolls of Kodak 400BW on 120 rolls (a little faster than I would like but still good).

    Maybe some folks could give me some film advice hear without me starting a new thread. One big question is whether to use my expired film or buy new to be on the safe side. I keep all my film refrigerated, not frozen, and the expiry dates are in the 2003 to 2008 range. So far, I have not had any problems with these films.
     
  22. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Most landscape photographers use the largest camera they can carry (in the words of Ansel Adams). I think he knew what he was talking about. Limited depth of field has never been a problem for me with medium format (although occasionally large format).
     
  23. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    The film you have on hand sounds good to me, especially if that's what you are comfortable shooting. Of course, you know you are about to get bombarded with everybody elses favorite film selection. When it comes to color film, I tend to shoot whatever is on sale for cheap(mostly Fuji) and I have a ton of Shanghai 120 B&W, Acros and Arista EDU Ultra. For color print film, I tend to overexpose slightly, and chromes I shoot box speed and trust my meter.

    Have a grand time, and show off the results upon return.
     
  24. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    If that was true, landscape photographers would be using Minox miniature cameras for the huge depth of field recorded on their 8mm x 11mm negatives rather than the medium and large format cameras which they seem to prefer.

    As you wanted a light, good quality travel camera, I think you made a good choice.


    Steve.
     
  25. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I think the end use of the images should dictate the camera to a certain extent. If all your going to do is share digital files then 35mm will work. If all your going to do is print note cards, 5x7's and 8x10's (maybe 11x14's) then a 645 will be fine. Once you get into the 16x20's then for sales I would upgrade to a 6x7 for better detail, but then the kit size increases and can fast become a load especially on longer hikes. David's recommendation above for a LF camera has justification for those that desire the best possible results (good lenses) at a pace that does not necessarily matter, per se'. The large format starts to become art for many.

    The Zi will probably be a light capable camera for your desire to record events on the vacation. The fun is experiencing the time there. The photographic results are the remembrance of the fact, unless you are a seeking sales. Then the choice becomes equipment that will get that job done.
    In film I prefer E6 for development costs and for scanning and color neg for wider latitude. I just shot a 120 roll of Acros 100 and developed it in Ilfosol 3 for grain-less results in 6x9, and I like Provia for cost. If your shooting filters take into consideration a film speed high enough to stop action. Nothing worse then blurry pictures while trying to get maximum dof at smaller apertures in winds and with overcast/shade.
     
  26. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Medium format with a 50mm lens stopped down works just fine for landscapes and so do longer lenses. It depends on the composition and where you are located in relation to it. I do use 4x5 as well but it is not as convenient to travel with. A tripod and cable release help especially when stopping down requires longer exposure times. Weight should not be a problem if carrying the equipment in a good backpack.

    I've got eleven more years than papagene (just came back from a two hour workout at the gym) and manage two Hasselblads, three lenses, a meter, some filters and plenty of film and rain gear in my Tamrac backpack plus a carbon-fiber tripod.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/