How's it doin'?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Ed_Davor, Feb 4, 2006.

  1. Ed_Davor

    Ed_Davor Member

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    I was just wondering...

    What are your thoughts on the current state and future of medium format photography?

    How is medium format film photography holding up?
    Is it still being used in majority in the high-end commercial and fashion photography? Have the prices of equipment been moving either way?

    Also, as a small format user, I ask you:
    Is it worth entering the world of medium format film now?

    If I did such a thing, it would not be a small investment for me, but I'd be willing to do it If it lived for another 5 years in a state similar to present state.
     
  2. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Jump in... the water is fine. I have no worries as to supplies, with Ilford and J&C stating strong commitments to film based photography.
    And I still enjoy printing MF negs much more than 35mm, but I also shoot 4x5 & 5x7. Different tools for different photo opportunities.
    So Ed, what are you waiting for? It's still a blast! :D

    gene
     
  3. Ed_Davor

    Ed_Davor Member

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    Well, I'm sure BW will outlive color film, if not end up as the only survivor of the digital vs. film war. I'm worried about color film, because I mostly shoot in color

    "So Ed, what are you waiting for?"

    I'm waiting for about $1500-2000 to get me started.
    I know I can get used equipment for low prices, but If I'm going to enter MF, I plan to do it right, with the smell of a brand new camera, and all that...

    I know that if I could brake the ice of buying the equipment, the image making would be even cheaper than it is now. A roll of 120 film is cheaper than that of 135 (exept that you get less frames), the processing is the same, plus there is more satisfaction in watching MF slides (you don't even have to proof them)
     
  4. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    With the prices on very good used equipment being what they are, you can get some stunning bargains from KEH on some pretty sweet kit.

    It's worth a look.
     
  5. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Subscriber

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    So... get started with less expensive equipment. A nice Rolleiflex from the 50's will give you a great sense of what it is about medium format that you could love and it will cost you short money. A decent Bronica outfit won't set you back much either if you want to go that way. Go for it, but low budget. The expensive stuff will be even less expensive in a few months when 1) you decide whether MF really is worth it and 2) more of camera stores start to liquidate their MF gear to put glitzy new digicams in the cases.
     
  6. Ed_Davor

    Ed_Davor Member

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    And what kind of prices can I expect to find on old single lens Rolleiflex cameras (from 50's or so)?
     
  7. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    I bought a Mamiya body and 80mm lens and the next thing I knew I had a selection of lenses and accessories for a tiny fraction of their cost just a few years ago. I never pick up my 35mm gear anymore! The only problem is that I didn't stop there. I have started to shoot more and more 4x5 these days, and just picked up a 4x5 enlarger, and am looking at 8x10....

    - Randy
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    There's such a glut of MF gear out there now, you could get a really nice setup for not too much money. I'd say jump right in, but then again, I just bought a Super-8 camera, so maybe I'm just crazier than the rest.
     
  9. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    A guy from Kodak told me that MF film sales are terrible. But the stuff is still available in vast variety, so I'm happy. At the camera club and in the field I see more and more MF gear. It seems like people are abandoning 35 for both digital and MF/LF. All love the bigger film image and the easier to handle film. They like the slow film loading and expensive equipment a bit less, but are willing to accept the trade for the image.
     
  10. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    I would say its definitely worth it. I recently made the jump myself and picked up a Mamiya 645 system in great shape for a fraction of the new cost. The larger negative size is perfect for the size prints I usually make (11x14) and interchangeable backs is a huge benefit in the versatility department. With today's photographic marketplace, anything is a crapshoot (digital cameras as well) in terms of future compatability. With that in mind I think its safe to say you will get more than 5 years out of a MF system.
     
  11. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    "...a guy from Kodak..."

    I would be very careful what I take out of their mouths right now, for several reasons. First off, toeig of the party line. Secondly, it seems that Kodak could pay for all their employees toget a degree in both proctology AND geology and still collectively not know their asses from holes in the ground...
    Unlike some people's backwards analysis, it is Kodak, not its cutomers who are responsible for the self-fulfilling prophecy of the downfall of its film line up.
    But I digress.
    As to getting into MF - right now, you would be hard pressed to find a better deal than a RB67 outfit. Its absolutely the most camera for your $$$ right now, bar none. A system that was for a long time the sole domain of the professionals - and perhaps only the better paid of those, it can be yours now for about $300. And this is a system - one you can grow with, one with few limitations other than its bulky size. You can start off with a 90mm lens, wlf, and one back - and as you need them, buy accessorries as you go. Some of the lenses are still fairly pricey, but not when you look in terms of their quality and what you would have to pay for similar lenses for other MF systems. And I have yet to see someone conclusively prove that there is anything out there that outright beats the mamiya glass.

    You can also pick up a Yashica TLR if you want to go on the cheap - I have seen functional ones go for about $50 if you hunt patiently. The really cheap options, like Lubitels, etc., I find to be pretty difficult to get along with and may be discouraging to a newcomer (this is coming from a person who counts themselves among Lubitel owners and enthusiasts).

    Looking at film, I doubt there is any imminent threat of shortage. Perhaps some brands and types will disappear, but overall, you will have a decent amount of choice for a long time to come. Especially in B&W, but also in colour (Fuji). And that is before you count second hand supplies, people selling their freezer-loads, sotres getting rid off soon to be expired film, etc.

    No worries. Join in the fun.

    Peter.
     
  12. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

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    For about £3500 you could get a virtually unused Bronica SQ or ETRSi AND a LEAF digital back. That's how silly the prices are getting over here.

    As for cheap entry to try MF a Yashicamat or Mamiya TLR can be had very cheaply on e-bay and gnashings suggestion of a Lubitel is the really low cost alternative (about $20 to $30 with a light meter and film - no there is not a 0 missing) but it is a dog to use (some great pics though mine are not brilliant but [​IMG]
    gives an idea of what you can get with an incompetent such as me behind the lens)

    Go on try it - but be prepared to forget where your 35mm gear has gone because it won't come out to play so often :smile:
     
  13. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    There is very little sense of spending $1500 - $2000 to "get started", or to have the "new camera smell", when with todays prices, you can collect a complete system for that money. Having every lens you may need or want, as well as several backs and finders would be more valuable to me than a smell... but that's just me. Then again, dropping huge $$$ for a name alone is not unheard of here or anywhere else - but, if you are looking to just get into it, I would suggest that form follows function.

    And digiconvert... my turn: that photo looks familiar:wink:

    Peter.
     
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  15. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Ed I don't where you are from, but I thought I'd mention that if there was a possibility of a photo show coming around, you might check out a few different cameras and see what attracts your interest. It's a good way to pickup and handle the different brands. You don't have to necessairly buy, but you can have fun looking and you'll probably meet attendee's that can comment on the stuff your looking at.

    I mention the above as there was just a show down in Miami, the bigger of a couple that come around. I saw some good deals and some prices that showed me that not everyone is shopping Ebay, being that they were high. Show attendence was off but still there were alot of people buying, and since nowdays most of these shows are film equipment mostly, I could see that film is still viable in alot of peoples minds. Btw, there were quite a few young ones roaming around looking at 35mm equipment and buying.

    MF is viable and equipment pricing is very very good; Sometimes amazingly good. The reference to the Mamiya 6x7 above I concur with if you can carry a larger camera, Hassy and Rollei lenses are still higher priced; Accesssories can be bought at more reasonable prices then before tho. I believe better deals in MF can be found in 645 right now. TLR's, especially Rollei's are very popular and sought after.
     
  16. cao

    cao Member

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    I'll be bold and advocate that "doing it right" means buying used from a reliable source such as KEH and investing the savings from the price difference into film, paper, and chemistry. I doubt there will ever be a gallery showing of new camera smell.
     
  17. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Given the choice between the "new camera smell" and a couple of extra lenses and backs, I'll take the latter.
     
  18. Ed_Davor

    Ed_Davor Member

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    Well I'm not a pro, so I'm not buying camera equipment for other people, but for myself. So for me It's about enjoyment at the end of the day. And If I'm going to spend a lot of money on something, I'd at least like it to be new and not have to wonder all the time about its history, who cleaned it, how, who spilled what over it, who scratched it etc..

    I've bought a few used things in the past, the mental satisfaction is just not there.

    And unless you are making money from photography, it's all about mental satisfaction in the end
     
  19. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I have not bought a new, new camera for so many years, I really don't remember the experiance, I do know that even with the used gear I have purchased, the Mental Satisfaction is there at the end of every day, and I enjoy the fact that for the same amount of limited income I have, that I have been able to purchase the extras to exploit the format I am using, there are many, many used systems on the market, that have been viturally un-used, many over the years have purchased with the thought in mind I am going to keep this till the day I die and wear it out, in truth, most of the time that does not happen, and often times, they sit in the boxes, for shear usuability, I like to buy stuff that has been used a bit, and if there were bugs in it, has been worked out. I bought a new car once and after finding out how long I had to pay for it, decided that something a bit used and saving the money for the extras to make it mine went alot farther.

    What ever your choice, have fun, the format will be around for quite some time to come.

    Dave
     
  20. haris

    haris Guest

    I bought Mamya RB proS, 127mm f3,8 lens, 2x120 magazine, and polaroid magazine for 600 USD... I belive that is right entering into MF, for haf price you estimate Ed. Other half for films paper and chemistry. Just a thought...
     
  21. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I have a Mamiya M645J + 150mm lens that works very well. I just don't use it and any money I could make for it could be used better, such as getting a darkroom started. Let me know if your interested. Thank you.
     
  22. Ed_Davor

    Ed_Davor Member

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    I guess I'll have to try and enter through a smaller door..

    There is this man who is kinda family, that has an old Yashica medium format camera, he bought it new and was extreamly paranoid about its condition, and it was only used in studio for portraits. So it's in perfect condition.
    I'll have to call him to see the price and which model is it.

    But how gould would such a camera be for entry level medium format photography?

    How were the lenses on these old Yashicas?
    Can I expect optical image quality comparable at least to modern cheap SLR kit zooms?

    And how reliable are they? do they brake down often?
     
  23. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

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    Crazy? No way David, the look is something very special with that film:smile:.
    I would like to have a 16mm Bolex from Switzerland, but the negotiations with the "Boss" are though at the present, I`m facing big budget cuts:smile:.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/BOLEX-16mm-Movi...QcategoryZ4691QQcmdZViewItem#ebayphotohosting

    Cheers and have fun with the Super 8:smile:!

    André
     
  24. Will Whelan

    Will Whelan Member

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    The Yashicas are great. I've got one and I've been really happy with it. I recently bought a Hasselblad and I'm even happier with that...

    I would NOT buy a new camera. If personal satisfaction is about having a "new smelling camera" and not about making a photograph, then go ahead and spend the money. You'll be like the man who buys a Ferarri to smell the leather inside, and not actually drive the car. It's about making a photograph, or at least that's where the satisfaction should be. Used gear can be had for much less, you can get much more for your dollar, and if bought from the right place it can be in excellent condition.

    That said, enjoy MF. It'll be around for a while longer, and it's great fun. Hell, look at Super8; people are still messing around with it and it "died" ages ago.
     
  25. Ed_Davor

    Ed_Davor Member

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    It's not about the smell, I just don't want to be wondering when and if the thing is going to brake down. Let's face it, used good MF gear is almost as expensive as cheap new MF gear, and that's a lot of money, at least for me. So if I'm going to spend that much money, I'd like to think I did everything in my power to make it last. Buying used gear can be a russian rullet sometimes. Not because someone is trying to cheat you, but because things just have their time

    I've been looking at prices of new stuff again..

    and I've found a combination that is not so unrealistic for me to buy in the following year.
    Its Mamiya 645 pro TL body + Sekor C f2.8/80mm + 120 film back

    All that for about $1600, and I'd have to use the focusing screen for a while.
    Too bad I don't live in US, the same kind of combination costs even less in US (about $1200 at B/H) and importing would cost me even more than the local price

    This is the cheapest new combination that I could come up with

    In about a year I could buy that.

    But I might get a Yashica first to play with MF till then.


    I don't know, these things are just so darn expensive
     
  26. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I think if you read the replies in this thread... you will see that this statement is completely inaccurate. I think that is what most folks here were trying to tell you.
    Also, most MF gear is built to pro standards, used by pros who take good care of their equipment - I doubt you will see any relaibility issues with most of it.
    But, hey, its your purchase.