Has the ideal medium format macro camera been made?

Discussion in 'Macro Photography' started by Anupam Basu, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Reading a thread on barrel lenses on the LF forum, I got to thinking about macro photography using medium format (by that I mean 120 film - ideally 6x7, but any size 645 and up would qualify I suppose). I have aquired a bunch of enlarger lenses etc that would work fine for macro photography with MF but the problem is getting them into a shutter. So what would my dream MF macro camera need to have?

    1> Focal plane shutter - pacemaker graphics, Pentax 6x7 - what else?

    2> TTL viewing - ideally a waistlevel finder - so I guess it needs to be an SLR - can't figure out how else to focus and frame precisely at macro distances. I know Dan uses handheld pacemaker graphics so I am interested in his trick. GG focussing is possible but impractical in the field photographing live creatures.


    3> Generous bellows - I would not want to depend on tubes with such a camera - so eliminates the Pentax

    4> Movements - minimally tilt and swing - otherwise the move up from 35mm would not make much sense to me.

    The 2x3 pacemakers seem to fulfil all but #2 and crucially doesn't offer swing. The Mamiya RB 67 is an SLR with bellows but no #1 and the extension offered is minimal. Any other candidates? Does my dream camera exist?

    -Anupam
     
  2. naaldvoerder

    naaldvoerder Member

    Messages:
    646
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Sounds to me you are describing the Rolleiflex SL66

    Jaap Jan
     
  3. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,100
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The RZ67 camera will do macro photography just by racking out the bellows. Exposure compensation is automatic with the meter prism. Adding an extension tube or two will allow you to do some pretty neat things.

    PE
     
  4. Terence

    Terence Member

    Messages:
    1,346
    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Perfect cameras are like perfect women. You're better off settling for whatever comes your way, is affordable, and your friends don't want to steal. And if it happens to be a Swedish model built like a brick outhouse, so much the better.

    Sorry. Couldn't resist.
     
  5. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,516
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ..
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2007
  6. bennoj

    bennoj Member

    Messages:
    98
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There certainly are a number of medium format view cameras which offer full movements, alternatively you can just use a 4x5 with a roll-film back. Do you really want a focal-plane shutter for macro work with a bellows? It sounds like vibration city to me. With a bellows racked out for macro focusing and small apertures for the required DOF, you're going to have such long exposure times (including reciprocity, of course) that the old "take off the lens cap, keep an eye on the watch, put the lens cap back on" exposure method will probably work just fine.

    Although that reminds me that when I had my Rollei SL66, I took many extremely sharp macro shots with exposures up to 10-12 seconds triggering the shutter by hand. The cable-release connection on that camera was stripped and I never got around to having it fixed. Damn, that was one heavy camera!
     
  7. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I shoot insects - damselflies, hoverflies etc - in the field. So GG focussing is not an option. I need the focal plane shutter to easily use my enlarger lenses. The hat-on-lens trick will scare my subjects away and I cannot afford more than a couple of seconds of exposure in the field on most days. Any slower and I'll use flash.

    As for vibrations, most of the apparent vibration seems to come from the second curtain on my F3 (which has a prodigious "thwack" sound) and hence is irrelevant. Also for relatively long exposures - a second or more - the vibration issues become irrelevant.

    -Anupam
     
  8. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

    Messages:
    3,979
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Anupam, I'm sorry that I've given you the impression that I do macro work with a handheld Graphic. I shoot my Graphics closeup on tripod and 2-axis focusing rail. Sooner or later I'll get a little lab jack to get adjustability in 3 dimensions. Rotation in 3 dimensions would be nice too, but is impossible on my budget.

    I've thought about how to use my Graphics handheld. My best idea is a very old one. Magnification-specific focusing frame. I don't like it, set up with an adjustable camera seems too difficult.

    I'm puzzled by your desire for movements. Remember that swing and tilt are used in situations where it isn't practical to position the camera to make the film plane parallel to the desired plane of best focus. In macro work its usually possible to move the camera or subject to accomplish that. And swing and tilt -- but not rise and shift -- are pretty incompatible with shooting handheld.

    Without knowing the range of magnifications you want to work at its hard to suggest gear. I believe that your budget is limited, that will also limit your options.

    Enlarging lenses have to be stopped down manually before exposure, but focusing and composing are best done with the lens wide open. So you're going to have a hard time with mobile subjects if you shoot with an enlarging lens.

    Bellows are heavier and clumsier than extension tubes. Some MF cameras, e.g. the SL66 and RB/RZ as were mentioned earlier in this thread and Bronica S/S2/EC/ECTL as not mentioned yet, have built-in bellows so with them using tubes to get more or less the extension desired is compatible with getting exactly the magnification you want. Yes, the RB/RZ don't have focal plane shutters but there are good macro lenses for them, and I suspect that lenses in shutter can be adapted to them.

    About putting enlarging lenses in shutter. Depends on the lens. I have 100/5.6 Componon, 105/4.5 Comparon, and 105/5.6 Componon-S, all of whose cells will go directly into a #0 shutter. If you check, you'll find that Schneider and Rodenstock enlarging lenses' cells will usually go into a shutter. I also have a couple of Boyer Saphir BXs whose cells go into #1. This is a problem for reversing the things. Unfortunately I don't think that my Enlarging Pro Raptars' cells will go into shutter. But then I also have a 105/5.6 El Nikkor with all of the adapters needed to front mount it facing either way on a #1; any lens in M39 can be front mounted on a #1 fairly inexpensively. Many are the choices ...

    I've shot as high as 5:1 in the field with my Graphics. I don't recommend going much above 1:1. For me, the big advantage of the larger format is that it lets me put more in the frame without giving up fine detail. I can get the, um, big picture better and keep good detail in the main subject much better with 6x9 ISO 100 Ektachrome than with 135 KM. In fact, I have to work hard at resisting the temptation to fill the 6x9 frame with the main subject, as is often necessary when shooting 35 mm.

    Good luck, have fun, go back to the drawing board,

    Dan
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,100
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well, again the RZ offers everything but the focal plane shutter. It also has tilts and swings to a certain extent. I am not calling it ideal, but it is pretty good for this sort of thing. And, you don't have to use your enlarger lenses.

    PE
     
  10. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

    Messages:
    4,679
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Italia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Would this make flash a choice? TTL flash is nice for things like this.
     
  11. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nick, I am exploring flash but only manual muti-flash setups - TTL mostly isn't capable of very good results with closeup subjects for a variety of reasons, even with Nikon's extensive flash line.

    -Anupam
     
  12. glbeas

    glbeas Member

    Messages:
    3,307
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Location:
    Roswell, Ga.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm curious to know what those reasons are. Think you could post a quick article sometime explaining that and how you arrive at a good setup?
     
  13. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

    Messages:
    4,679
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Italia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm curious to. How close are we talking?
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How are you framing and focussing - ground glass?

    I am not looking to shoot handheld with MF. But as for movements, they will allow me to put the plane of focus as not parallel to the film plane. For example with damsels in 35mm, there is only one plane where the entire body will be in focus. If you want to try something different - like a 3/4 portrait, you have to choose one plane (usually the eye) to be in focus and then play with DOF. This is mostly sufficient, but I am not planning to move to MF for macro for the larger film - it'll only be attractive if it opens up new possibilites. For example, this might be a shot I'd have made differently with a camera with movements. I could have shot from a bit higher up and had the entire body and wings in focus.

    [​IMG]


    I actually enjoy working with enlarging lenses and have never yet forgotten to stop them down on the F3 or had critters fly away scared by the movement required to do so (though plenty fly away during my first approach with the camera/tripod) even with hoverflies with a working distance of an inch or so.


    Well, this might be too much work - if I do this it'll be for still objects on my Shen Hao.


    Finally, I am NOT looking to get a parallel MF system for macro - so buying macro lenses for Pentax, bronica etc is out.

    Just brainstorming about new possibilities for my existing stuff. For the conventional demands of macro photography my F3 based Nikon system is just about perfect and I've spent years suiting it to my needs. Just a little more tweaking with the flash setup and I'll have it exactly right with 35mm.

    -Anupam
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2007
  16. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nick, My reversed 50mms have a working distance of an inch and a half or so at about 2x-4x life size. The 28mm componon even less, but I haven't made any good in-the-field shots with it that I have scanned. But with enough bellows, I think I could get a little more WD with longer lenses.

    I am mainly looking at about half to maybe about 4x life size with MF, if I decide to try it out.

    -Anupam
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2007
  17. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    17,922
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Bronica S- or EC- series with the Type 2 bellows (full view camera movements on the front standard) has everything on your list. You can easily adapt enlarging or other lenses to it as well, since the classic Bronicas had a dual mounting system--Bronica bayonet mount and screw mount, to which you could have an adapter ring made. There is also a reversing ring, so you could adapt reversed lenses to that with step up rings to whatever filter thread your reversed lens has.

    Is this the perfect macro setup? For things that need an SLR, where you can view the subject up until the instant of exposure, it probably is. A view camera with a leaf shutter lens, though, will have less vibration.
     
  18. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Very simply the problems include background illumination and harsh shadows. If using multiple flash setups the additional problem of mutiple specular highlights occurs. With light falloff according to the inverse squares law, when the foreground subject is well lit, the light from a single TTL flash is not enough to light a background more than a few cms away, resulting in black unnatural looking backgrounds. With multiple manual flash setups, one can control the distribution of light much better. I have thus far avoided flash in macro shooting and am just testing out a setup that Dan helped me with on a few other threads.

    -Anupam
     
  19. JosBurke

    JosBurke Member

    Messages:
    464
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2004
    Location:
    KY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I happen to have a RolleiFlex SL66 with 80 mm, back, extension tubes, magnifying hood (along with the standard WLF)--perfect for macro---Looking for about $1K---Satisfaction Guaranteed !!
    josburke at bellsouth.net
     
  20. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

    Messages:
    504
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Is there a website which explains the Bronica system in some detail. I know of the SQ and ETRS lines but can find very little on how they relate to these older models. Mount, specs etc would be useful.

    Thanks,
    Anupam
     
  21. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    17,922
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    This is the site--

    http://medfmt.8k.com/bronica.html

    But it seems to be on some sort of public server these days, so some pages become inaccessible with bandwidth.

    The screw mount is 57x1mm and the flange to film distance is 101.7mm, but it is possible for lenses to protrude into the mirror box, thanks to the falling mirror design on the S-series and split mirror on the EC-series. Bronica used to sell screw caps that could be drilled like lensboards so press photographers could adapt their press lenses easily to the system. Today you would just have a simple threaded ring made.

    I have the Type 2 bellows, and I also have a Bronica-Canon FD (bayonet to bayonet) adapter, so I can use my Tamron SP 90 Macro and my FD 35/2.8 Macrophoto (and with that adapter, I have a Luminar I can use) on the Bronica. At macro distances they cover. I also have a LTM-FD adapter, so that lets me use enlarging lenses, and I can reverse mount them with a reverse adapter that mounts to the Bronica bayonet. It's a very handy thing.
     
  22. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,058
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You could mount an enlarging lens in something like a polaroid press shutter & not need the FP shutter. You would have much fewer vibration concerns. Or a Packard?
     
  23. 25asa

    25asa Member

    Messages:
    232
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    South Centra
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Has the ideal medium format macro camera been made?

    The answer is, "No".
     
  24. paul ewins

    paul ewins Subscriber

    Messages:
    418
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    There is a bellows available for both the Pentax 67 system and Pentax 645 system, but like all specialist equipment it is expensive:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/con...839&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation

    A better way to go might be to get a cheap 4x5 Monorail (like a Cambo\Calumet) and then replace the ground glass screen with an adapter to mount your camera (basically a 4x5 sheet of 1/8" aluminium with a short extension tube screwed to it). This gives you very long extensions (depending on the camera) as well as all the movements you might want.

    Here are a couple of shots of one I made for my 35mm Pentax gear using a Calumet 401CC. It's something any machine shop should be able to knock up in a spare hour (if that).
     

    Attached Files:

  25. vanspaendonck

    vanspaendonck Member

    Messages:
    132
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    Location:
    Amsterdam, T
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I second David Goldfarb's recommendation of the Bronica, though I would prefer the EC or ECTL. With acccessories, they have everything on your list. And, for some reason the bodies have become dirt cheap. I thought of selling one of my EC of ECTLs on eBay, but decided not to: at today's prices, it's just not worth the trouble.
     
  26. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

    Messages:
    3,979
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    PMFJI. I don't agree fully with the reasons that Anupam gave you. I see several problems with using auto-TTL flash closeup.

    It seems that some camera/flash combinations are badly, um, flustered by specular highlights.

    The camera can't be counted on to recognize the main subject and illuminate for it. This is exacerbated by falloff of illumination when the background is far behind the main subject.

    Intelligent use of a lens-specific flash rig that is calibrated for magnification avoids these problems. I have a flash rig for my wife's 55/3.5 MicroNikkor, another for my 105/2.8 MicroNikkor AIS. And I have two for use with my Graphics, one that attaches to the lens (conceptually very similar to the rigs I use on 35 mm) and is calibrated for a 105/5.6 El Nikkor and another that attaches to the camera body and is calibrated for a 100/6.3 Neupolar.

    Using a pre-calibrated flash rig is equivalent to metering incident. For unusually reflective subjects, stopping down a bit below the aperture indicated in the calibration table is helpful. Similarly, for unusually dark subjects opening up a little is helpful. If it isn't obvious, the problems with auto-TTL flash that I gave above are due to metering reflected light.

    I also sometimes use a single hand held variable-power flash (Vivitar 283 with VP-1) with my Graphics and do the GN arithmetic, including adjustment for magnification, in my head. No big deal.

    I don't understand why people make such a big fuss over using flash closeup. I made my first closeup flash rig in 1971, used part of a roll of film to calibrate it, and since then have had very few poorly exposed closeup shots. Ain't much to it.

    Anupam made the point, but not strongly enough, that on-camera flash makes underexposed backgrounds possible. Ponder my patented (yeah, sure) idea of "depth of illumination" and you'll see why. The only way to guarantee that the background will be illuminated as desired (as many, including no, stops down from the main subject) is to position a flash off camera to get the desired result. A pain, but doable.