Is the Extra 50% Worth It?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by dancqu, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    The additional weight and bulk of a Mamiya RZ 67 over
    that of a Bronica ETRSi 6x4.5, or SQ for that matter:
    Does that additional weight and bulk justify when
    print quality is the standard?

    ALL things being equal a same scene printed 16x20 from
    the ET should appeare the same as a 20x24 from the RZ.
    The ET is though more capable. With it's one stop faster
    lens I can use a one stop slower film with it's finer grain
    and higher resolution.

    The choice is difficult. MY Mamiya lenses may be less sharp
    than my Bronica lenses at Near wide open aperatures. That
    be the case and working at near wide open the RZ's 50%
    additional negative means nothing, or worse.

    I'm sure others have wrestled with this problem.
    Which has won? Dan
     
  2. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I have owned and used a tlr for decades, and I had Kowa Sixes (also 6x6) for about 10 years. I also have a 645. When I added the RB67, it was more of a jump in format than you might think. If you are cropping 6x6 negs to the 16x20 or 20x24 aspect ratios you mentioned, you are really closer to using only the "645" portion of the negative. In this case the 6x7 gives you twice as much, not just 50% more.

    However, the proof is in your own satisfaction. If a 645 neg, or a 6x6 (even if cropped) is giving you the results you like, than a larger negative from a bigger and heavier camera will not be "better". And, other factors, such as different lenses, make direct comparisons tricky.
     
  3. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    It's the same old thing. I think a bigger negative is always better if it's possible. In the end, the only two things that will affect your decision are age and budget. If you are young enough to bench press an RB, then do you have enough money to buy it? If so, then try it.

    I am able to lug around 4x5 or a Pentax 67. However, I keep scheming for some way to get around it. I just bought a baby stroller at the advice of some here but have not received it yet. I recall those pictures of India showing a family of 5 and a refrigerator on a moped. That is the direction I am heading with camera gear.
     
  4. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    On 16x20s the 6x7 neg will have more detail and tonality. If you are shooting off a tripod you can use the same film in both.

    at 11x14 there is not much in it, although by 12x16 the larger neg starts being noticeable if fine grain and creamy tones are your goals.

    The argument (normally touted by 35mm users that do not shoot larger formats) that smaller formats have higher resolution, wider apertures mean finer grain etc offsetting the larger neg...this is not true at all. In my experience from 35mm to 10x8, the bigger neg wins every single time if fine grain, tonality and image detail are your goals. The only issue is getting there (handling compromises which can be critical), which may entail tripods, bigger tripods, etc.

    At near wide apertures, I suspect the extra neg real estate will bring the resolution to parity if the Mamiya lenses are less sharp, but still elave you with better tonality. also remember that the RZ has a 110 2.8 available and that, for example, a 110mm lens at f4 probably produces about the same aparrent DOF as a 75mm at 2.8, roughly. I found the RZ lenses plenty sharp enough when I owned one. If this is for studio use, then great, but for carrying about there are other factors to consider such as size, weight and handling!

    My Mamiya 7 produces 20x16s that are noticeably superior to my 645 negs from the RF645 according to the stated criteria.
     
  5. weasel

    weasel Member

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    Over the years I have shot every format from 8x10 on down. I recently picked up a 645 pentax, my first 645 camera.
    I have always been of the mind that bigger is better, but I am now rethinking things. I have been very surprised by the quality of images I am able to get from this thing.
    I did a test, where using a tripod, I shot the same scene with my p645, and with my p67, using fuji acros. At 11x14 size prints, no one could tell which was which. I cranked my d2 as high as it would go with a 100mm lens, and maybe I could see a difference.
    I have come to the conclusion that there are so many variables involved that one cannot make blanket statements about format size and image quality.
    In my experience, the jump from 35 to 645 in image quality is enough that I have for the most part replaced the 35 with the 645.
    The bump in image quality to 6x7 from 645 is not as clear cut.
    You have to factor in the film, how it is processed, technique, lens quality of the camera, condition of the camera and lens, tripods, lens quality and condition of the enlarger, enlarger alignment, subject movement, etc., etc....
    Way too many variables to give a simple answer.
     
  6. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    The RZ was the wedding standard for a long time and is very plentiful and inexpensive relative to a few years back. Check the large camera stores in your area to see if there are any rentals you could try. If you find one the store would probably make you a great deal just to replace it with something that they are currently selling.

    I have one still and liked it until I shot 4x5, then 8x10, then 7x17. Now I don't need to enlarge, but I am also one of those people Jerold referred to who has a baby jogger for camera and gear. Ultimately it is all about what feels and looks right to you. The blessing of choices is also the curse.

    John Powers
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Have to agree with the above to some extent. The big jump is 35mm to 646 or 6x6. I don't shoot 6x7 but I do shoot 6x9 and there is a noticeable difference between 645 & 6x9.

    Comparing print quality between a 645 or 6x7 with decent lenses is less than the difference between a 10x8/10x12 print, or as you suggest a 16x20 / 20x24, the 6x7 negative size is not that significantly larger. Of course there is a slight difference but you're trading less weight & greater flexibility/portability and faster lenses against a much heavier system. I prefer to stick to my 645's and use a 6x9 back on my 5x4 only when I need to conserve 5x4 film when out backpacking.

    Ian
     
  8. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    It may be unintelligible to anyone but myself, but I have an apug blog on this topic of ISO/format/grain etc. It was a first attempt to see how much tradeoff between format size and "detail per grain" there really is, based on some basic ideas about signal amplification. I would assert that you shoot ISO 200 because there is half the light that would allow you to shoot ISO 100, and thus shooting at ISO 200 represents a two-fold amplification of signal (and noise), etc.....

    As I recall, my basic conclusion was that quadrupling the film area achieves roughly the same increase in detail/grain as shooting one stop lower ISO in the smaller format. And so I consider that kind of format jump to be significant for this kind of lens-speed-versus-ISO argument.

    Do please do note that the blog was just a quick think-out-loud exercise....

    But the bottom line, without a doubt, will be that the gear which makes you feel more productive will be the one that you reach for, time and time again. So just be honest with yourself about which gear choice that is.
     
  9. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    So it was you. I remember reading about oddballs with large cameras and baby strollers. I am almost in the group, but just with a 4x5. I could not believe that a good baby stroller can cost $500. I managed to find a double baby stroller that is longer and it is wide, and comes with a lower basket near the wheels but otherwise is just an aluminum frame and ways 20 pounds. It is intended for snapping in car seats to the frame. It will hold up to 100 pounds. I will have to mod the frame a but, probably with webbing, velcro, and bungees. The wheels are not the large bicycle tires but the front wheels swivel. The best thing is that it cost ~$95 shipping included. Can't wait to get it.
     
  10. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Jerold,

    I am just one of the guilty parties. There are quite a few owners here and on the LF Forum. This is the one I got on eBay about three years ago when I was using a Technikardan 45. The eBay seller seller said his son had outgrown it. He politely asked about my child and was amused when I told him about baby Linhof.

    http://babyjogger.com/performancesingle.htm

    John
     
  11. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    I guess I am cornfused. You want to add a family of 5 and a fridge to your LF toting baby stroller? Then haul it with a moped? Are you crazy?

    tim in san jose
     
  12. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Sure, the difference between 6x7 and 645 printed to 20x16 is not epic, but it is there, especially with faster films. ...and depending on print size, film speed dev etc, you do get a point where the 645 image starts to break down tonality wise and the 6x7 image is still creamy. To say there is no real difference is to say that there is no real difference between a 16x12 and a 16x20 print on the wall. I find there to be a huge difference in 'presence' between these two print sizes and a 6x7 neg will give the same tonality at 20x16 as a 645 neg at 12x16 and with some images enlarging by a few extra inches makes the image somehow break down tonally. This might not matter a bit for some subjects, but it matters for others, depending on goals. If shooting street/gritty stuff, I would not bother with 6x7 particularly as I am happy to see some crisp grain, but for smooth landscapes that extra inch on the 6x7 neg is very welcome! I would still reach for the 35mm or RF645 for street work though....
     
  13. weasel

    weasel Member

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    All I can attest to is that side by side, with all my variables, it is virtually impossible to tell the 645 from the 67 prints. I have to jump to 4x5 to see any appreciable difference.
     
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  15. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Crazy is a given. He is in LF afterall. The fridge is new though.

    John
     
  16. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    I shoot way less roll film than sheet film but I wouldn't trade my RZs for anything else and I have 4 645s. I couldn't give up the rotating back and it handholds steady as a rock...EC
     
  17. weasel

    weasel Member

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    I can understand why you would like the RZ; but objectively, is the image quality that much better than the 645? Or is it other things about the camera you prefer?
     
  18. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    All else being equal, a bigger negative is always better. But your question is if it's worth it, and that's where the devil is. Nobody really knows except you.
     
  19. weasel

    weasel Member

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    But all never is equal, and there in lies the rub; I would argue that it is not correct to say a bigger negative is always better.
    Example- I shoot a fair amount of 4x5. I have a sharp lens on the camera, a sharp enlarger lens, in an enlarger that is properly aligned, using a big, solid tripod. I am shooting a modern emulsion, properly processed.
    Are my negatives going to be sharper than my 645?
    Quite possibly not. I am likely to be using smaller f stops to get the depth of field I desire, bringing diffraction issues to play; because I am using smaller f stops, I am likely using slower shutter speeds that bring subject movement to the fore front; film flatness in the holder is much more likely to be poor with a big negative than a smaller one.
    Shooting the same scene with a smaller format camera, I can use bigger f stops, limiting diffraction; because I am using bigger f stops I can use faster shutter speeds limiting subject movement; the pressure plate on my smaller negative is likely to be holding the film flatter than in a 4x5 holder.
    I don't know this to be fact, but I suspect that the resolving power of most modern emulsions is higher than most lenses power to resolve, making factors other than the film the limiting factor in sharpness.
    Now, if you are going to consider tonality, I think a better argument could be made for the bigger negative; and if you are talking about the need for camera movements, than yes the bigger camera is going to win.
    But that was not the original question- the question was is a 50% increase in negative size going from 645 to 67 worth the extra weight, size and general hassle? Do you get a 50% increase in image quality? In my experience no, you do not.
     
  20. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I was not speaking of comparing sheet film to roll film. ( The points you raise are valid, but usually made up for or exceeded by the sheer increase in negative size. As you point out there are indeed many factors.)

    I was speaking directly to 645 vs 67, and in that context, with equal film, lens, and technical execution, the larger negative will have more information. If that increase is enough to make a viewable difference is purely subjective at smaller print sizes. I'm certainly not a print sniffer, and would be the first to point out that the skill of the photographer is paramount over equipment, and also would defer that 645 is certainly capable of fine results, and there isn't any difference to my eye in 8x10 prints from either format. However, and again, by my eye, there is a visible difference at 20x24. YMMV. My advice to the OP would be to choose the system that fits his needs as a photographer in the field first, unless he truly intends to print 16x20 or larger on a regular basis.
     
  21. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Who is Brad?

    tim in san jose
     
  22. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    APUG username BradS.
     
  23. weasel

    weasel Member

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    I guess the only point I was trying to make is that there are no absolutes.
     
  24. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Both the 6x7 and 6x4.5 negatives are very close to the
    4x5 ratio. A 6x7 measuring 56mm x 70mm has an exact
    4x5 ratio. A 6x4.5 measuring 44mm x 55mm has an
    exact 4x5 ratio.

    My 6x7 negatives measure 56mm x 69mm and my
    6x4.5 negatives measure 42.5mm x 55mm. So, printing
    full negative the 6x7 has 66% more negative area, not
    100%. As said both have ratios very nearly 4x5. The
    square format actually does a little better as a full
    44mm is available. Dan
     
  25. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Two of my 645s are Mamiyas, a Pro TTL and an AFd. There is just more detail in the 6x7 negs, there is more detail in my 4x5 negs and more yet in my 8x10 negs. I would use 8x10 all the time if all factors allowed it. I work the best and fastest with 4x5 and have better control in the darkroom with individual sheets. It is also the other features which make my RZ my favorite roll film camera, a variety of finders, the rotating back and I can handhold a couple stops slower with it than I can my 645s or my Mamiya 7II...EC
     
  26. Morry Katz

    Morry Katz Member

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    See Page 235 of the B&H catalogue for a complete listing of carts - from lightweights to mamoth priced from under $50. Why do it the hard way?

    Morry Katz
    Lethbridge AB.