MF Format Choice

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Bruce Osgood, May 25, 2003.

  1. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    I've grown impatient with 35mm film - I waste a lot of negs on a 36 exp roll in dorder to finish the roll, and bulk load my own but to get 12 exp I must load 18 to accomodate the fore and aft leader. So I'm strongly considering a move to MF. I don't want to go to 4X5 because I would have to replace my enlarger; Beseler 23CII dichro which is supposed to take negs to 6X9cm.
    I know moving to 6X4.5 will be a dramatic jump from 35mm but why not go all the way to 6X9?
    Fuji makes a couple of 6X9 cameras but they are fixed focal lengths (90 or 65mm). Horseman makes a very expensive 6X9 that has interchangable lenses and tilt and shift but does not seem to be very popular, maybe because of the cost?
    Using 120 film and getting 8 negs per roll suits me just fine. I'm not looking for a camera that I have to put my head under cloth to focus. The Mamiya RB seems kinda right but is a lot to haul around, more than I would like for field work.
    Any insights appreciated
     
  2. Goldfarb

    Goldfarb Member

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    645 doesn't particularly appeal to me as a format, except as a compromise for someone who can't decide between 35mm and medium format, and only wants to have one system.

    6x9 has the same frame proportions as 35mm, so if you're comfortable with that, and your enlarger can handle it, go for it. The Fuji rangefinders are good cameras, if a rangefinder camera appeals to you.

    6x7 has approximately the same proportion as 4x5 or 8x10, so if you want to try to coordinate your frame size with the commonly available paper sizes, that is an attraction. If you're interested in the Fuji rangefinders, they also make 6x7 versions. There's lots of RB67 available cheap these days, and it's an easy system to rent equipment for.

    If you like to print square or having a camera that is always oriented the same way, and I do for some subjects, it's also worth considering 6x6.

    I have a 6x6 SLR, a 6x6 folder, and I sometimes use a 6x7 rollfilm back on my 4x5, either with groundglass or rangefinder focusing.
     
  3. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    Long ago, I did as you are doing. Not happy with 35mm so go to 2 1/4. Then I tried 4x5. Then 810, then 57, then back to 45. Then a big light went off in my head and I realized that one takes different kinds of pix with different kinds of cameras. 35mm is fast and fun, large format is slow and methodical, 2 1/4 is in between. So now I have some of each type of camera and use them all. Have fun.
     
  4. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Another "all-formatter" her, using 35mm, 6x4.5 (Bronica and folders), 6x6 (folder), 6x9(folder), 9x12(folder and LF), 4x5" and 5x7". They're all different, and I tend to see differently depending on which camera I'm using.
     
  5. Robert

    Robert Member

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    Grab a 6x9 folder and see if you like the format. The folder will be cheap. If you do then get a modern camera.
     
  6. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Bruce,

    The comments by Loose Gravel and OleTj are right on the mark. I started my photography using medium and large format and avoided 35mm for many years on the issue of grain and print quality. When I finally started to use 35mm about 10 years ago I realised just what I had missed all those years and now shoot mostly in 35mm because I have grown to love grain. I still have and use 4 x 5, 6 x 6, 6 x 4.5 and even an old whole plate camera with lens that have no shutter so it's caps off and wait around for hours when the lens is stopped down to f125.

    Back to your dilema, and the issue of 6 x 4.5 against 6 x 9. I went through a similar dilema a number of years ago when I upgraded to a single lens medium format from a fixed lens 6 x 6, Minolta Autocord a dear old friend that I still have. On the grounds of weight and cost I finally decided on a Mamiya 645 Pro and have never regretted that decision. I have picked up a full range of second hand lens and several backs at every reasonable cost. On the issue of quality, you need to sort out your film exposure and development details and you will, for I know you are methodical and determined. Prints made from my 6 x 4.5 negatives have often been mistaken for 4 x 5 negs so there is no need to worry about loss of qyality.
     
  7. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  8. docholliday

    docholliday Member

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    I started on 35 too...got tired of the small negs and the nasty grain. Then, came the C330, then the RB... I shot all over the country with my RB, I shot weddings, portraits, hiked all over the place with her...

    One thing larger formats teach you is how to nail an exposure the FIRST time around :smile:

    I loved the square, then adjusted to the 6x7's "perfect" proportions (perfect for matching an 8x10 piece of paper...). I tried 645 for about 2 weeks, but got tired of the rectangular shots. And, promptly got rid of it.

    Then, I had a Pentax 67II for 4 days before I threw the camera about 20 feet on asphalt (I hated that thing so much I actually got more satisfaction out of hearing the "crrrrasshhhhh....clank, clank, thunk" than I would of selling it!) And, back to the RB...then, I got an RZ...

    Then, I wanted more contrast that the Mamiya glass (it's actually quite good glass, but then I saw Zeiss glass...) and I wanted back into the square.

    Then, I got to shoot a Crown Graphic...then an 8x10 Wisner...then a Contax 645.

    Then, came the pinhole. Then, the Sinar F1. But, I hated the single/double shot method and the carrying around tons of gear needed with LF.

    So, I went back to the RB/RZ.

    Then, I bought a C-41 processor, ... and a RA-4 roller-transport processor, and I wanted more color saturation...so, I started searching again (and drooling over Zeiss glass)!

    Finally, I'm back to MF (and looking to stay here for a while). I got a full Hasselblad system, with a ton of lenses, backs, etc.

    I still love LF for product/still life/commercial work. And, for portraits, I love the RB, the negs are great for printing. The rest of the time, I use my beloved Hassy (named Holly...one of these days I'll publish a coffee-table book named "around the world, just me and Holly") Ok, ok...I know...

    I think that MF is the best "mean" between LF quality and SF convenience. I haven't used a SF camera in over 6 years now. And I don't think I ever will (well, the Contax TVSIII is looking kinda cool for a "keep on you for quick snaps" type of camera...)

    One of these days, though, I will take a shot or two off the Polaroid 20x24 (when I can justify the expense of renting the thing...geez) The funny thing is that I really haven't loss any money moving between all these systems (it's all about who you know (and where they work) :smile: )

    Yup, they're all tools. And, they all have their "optimal" uses, SF for speed and machine-gun frame rates, LF for quality and back-aches, MF for decent speed & portability with nice quality. Even digital has it's place too (not for me, but there are it's uses...)

    I think the 6x9 cameras are neat, but printing them can be a pain at times. The RB isn't as heavy of a camera as people make it out to be. There are so many things that the RB/RZ series has which makes it nice, like bellow focusing (precise and no need for extension tubes), rotating back (no need to flip the camera for horiz vs vert shots), cheap (especially right now with all the studios closing or changing to digital), and the big viewfinder is really nice to work with!

    A Fuji 690 is a neat RF camera. I've been thinking about one for vacation/travelling. Except for the 8 shots, though...

    I'd say that you go to your local camera shop, but a couple of rolls of film, and ask them to let you shoot around the store with different formats. Then, get the shots developed and see what format you seem to fit "into" the most.
     
  9. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I've owned 3 Hasselblads through the years. The one I have now is a 503Cxi, with 4 lenses. It's heavy, cost me a fortune, has no fancy features like autofocus or autoexposure. I wouldn't change a thing. I also wouldn't part with the camera for anything. Features are nice, but with Hasselblad you always get impeccable quality, a neglected commodity nowadays in any field of endeavour.

    Two of my lenses are nearly as old as I am. I was informed by the factory technician that as soon as the current inventory of parts runs out, they will not be able to replace them. That very fact says a great deal about the quality built into them. They work perfectly approximately 50 years after their manufacture and have never needed a single repair. I'll bet that current parts inventory will last quite a while.

    I hear people whining all the time about the poor resale value of Hasselblad equipment now that digital technology is killing their sales. They should be looking at that as a marvelous opportunity to own as fine a piece of photographic equipment as was ever made. If you want a camera you'll enjoy using until the day you die, get a Hasselblad.
     
  10. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I agree about the Hasselblads. I bought 3 new with lenses in 1976. I still own two of them. (I sold the other one with one of my studios). They are wonderful cameras. I have rebuilt the 150mm lenses about 5 times which cost only about $300. per time. I use them almost every day. The bodies and lenses and backs look almost new. They are the most remarkable piece of photographic equipment I've ever seen.

    I also agree every format has it's uses and every photographer has his preferences but in medium format this camera is a work of art in itself.

    Later,
     
  11. docholliday

    docholliday Member

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    Yup, luv my Hassy! I've used her in the rain, in extreme humidty, in -15F, in a snow storm, in the desert, and everywhere else. And guess what? Never a glitch! The nicest thing is the ability to add 645 backs when you want it and 6x6 too. I use my 503CXi the most, with a winder CW. The infrared remote is really handy in the studio and really comfortable to hold all day (through a 10 hour wedding) and I sling her over me' shoulder during vacation when I'm walking around.

    And, for those who want more frames per roll, the 645 backs give you *16*, not 15 shots!

    I plan on keeping my Hasselblads for quite a while! Plus, right now with everybody dumping their MF film equipment for digital, they are CHEAP!
     
  12. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I bought a used Rollei SL66. It uses lenses very similar to the Hassy - All Zeiss. The difference is the common lenses do not require a shutter and the investment is much less. The SL66 also has front rise and fall. I wouldn't confuse it with a view camera but it is often a life saver. I am completely satisfied with it for the money.
    Frank
     
  13. Guy

    Guy Member

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    I respectfully disagree. 645 is far more flexible than larger medium formats. Cameras are generally lighter, richer in features and faster to use, systems are usually more comprehensive than and the DOF issues that plague 6x7 or larger are not as pronounced.
    To me a 4x5 and a 645 are perfect companions. When the former is impractical, the latter will often get the shot. 6x6 is not everyone's cup of tea (and you usually end up with a 645'ish crop anyway), 6x7 and larger get very bulky and suffer greatly when extreme DOF is needed.
    If you're willing to deal with the bulk of 6x7, may as well go straight to 4x5. If you want flexibility but can't live with puny 35mm, 645 is the logical choice (and will still get you pretty nice 16x20s). Both together will cover you for most situations.

    Guy
     
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  15. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    I'd like to pipe in, in agreement with almost everyone and recomend the fuji 6x8 it's a bit heavy but amazingly versitle. I to am a multi format user from 35mm on up. I find the 6x8 I use 70% of the time. each camera has it's own personality as already stated here but I find the 6x8 tobe the most versitle. Course you could always try a holga!

    Tom
     
  16. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  17. Guy

    Guy Member

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    Aggie,
    I was not referring to rangefinders. A rangefinder will obviously be lighter, but as you mentioned yourself - is severely limited in selection of lenses, use of filters, close focusing, availability of acccessories (interchangeable finders, backs, power winders) etc. To me a rangefinder is always a compromise when various constraints dictate giving up some creature comforts.
    As for DOF - at any given angle of view, a shorter focal length will always give you smaller circles of confusion at a given aperture. Whether you agree or not - it's hard to argue against physics. I have shot 6x7 almost exclusively for over 2 years and a variety of other formats for over 14 years. When critical DOF is at stake - a fixed focus plane 6x7 with lenses that only stop down to f/22 is not the ideal tool.

    Guy
    http://scenicwild.com
     
  18. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Uh... not quite. The limiting factor here (reduced to a whole lot of simplicity) is diffraction. That is why short 35mm lenses rarely have apetures of less than f/16.
     
  19. MikeK

    MikeK Member

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    Diffraction has a degrading effect on all lenses no matter what format. All well and good having a 4x5 lens that stops down to f128..while you get great DOF the results look a little better that a pinhole.

    So if high quality imaging with really good depth a field calls for a camera with movements. Available in MF and LF but at the expense of lightness and portability.

    My most portable MF camera is a baby graphic with a 6x9 roll film back and a reversed front standard that allows the front to tilt downward rather than upward. Works a treat and even with three lenses is way lighter than my 6x6 outfit.

    Mike
     
  20. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I've gone down to f128 with my 19" Artar and the results look a LOT better than a pinhole. Sometimes movements just won't help.
     
  21. steve

    steve Member

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    Everybody always recommends their favorite camera - I've go no problem with that because you see very strong feelings about choice of format, camera operation, etc.

    I'm going to advocate that you sit down and actually make a formal list of what the "perfect" medium format camera would be for you - and then look at manufacturers and model - and see what gets closest to your ideal camera.

    Think about the type of work you plan on doing. Macro photography? That pretty much rules out rangefinders - so take the Mamiya 7 off the list.

    Backpacking with several lenses? Ok, that pretty much points you at the Mamiya 7 for least weight, smallest size. See what I mean?

    Camera that is not good for one application is perfect for another.

    I have a Hasselblad specifically because it's important for me to have interchangeable backs for some work, be able to hand hold it, carry a complete kit on an airline in the overhead compartment, etc. That rules out the RB / RZ 67 for me personally.

    I have a Plaubel Makina 670 because it is the smallest form factor medium format when it's collapsed making a hike with it no sweat. It also has a terrific lens, and maybe the most intuitive metering system I've ever used. I also don't mind that it doesn't have interchangeable lenses as I "see" its field-of-view as being "normal" for me. Some people couldn't live with the constraint of not being able to change lenses.

    Again, a personal choice and should be part of your shopping list.

    Just put your shopping list together and get the camera that is the best fit for your anticipated uses. You probably can't find a camera that will be 100% for every application. I can't, that's why I own many different cameras.
     
  22. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    I like 6x6 TLR cameras for their simplicity and light weight. But except for the Mamiya C cameras, you can forget about interchangeable lenses. For a really small light camera you can fit in the luggage or a pocket for trips, it can be hard to beat a folding camera, but let the buyer beware and again, forget about changing lenses. First maybe you need to decide if changeable lenses are what you need, and then pick a format. Or the reverse, pick a format and then whether you need multiple lenses. It is a matter of narrowing down the field. It can also help to make a list of features and functions you do NOT want. Don't go for bells and whistles, the general rule of thumb is get the more expensive simple camera rather than the cheaper do-everything camera. Generally, if you stick to known brands and models, it is hard to get a bad camera.
     
  23. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I've finally researchd "diffraction" using a very informative book from the past courses in physical optics: "What is Light", by A.C.S. van Heel and C.H.F. Velzel (translated from the Dutch by J.L.J. Roenfeld).

    I was trying to condense "diffraction effect" inot a bite size formula ... and I've had no such luck. Diffiration is the result of light waves "bending" around the edge of an opaque substance. It might help to note that *no* substance is perfectly opaque - all will be penetrated by, and refract light, to *some* extent.

    "Diffraction" as we know it, is a result of scattered light waves from an edge (one side of a camera diaphram) interfering with other similar scattered waves from the surface opposite. The effect is a result of the *phyiscal size* (actual size - not the relative size indicated by the term f/stop) and the wavelength of the light in question. This is a wavefront propagation and the total effect will be modified by distance from the diaphram.

    An "Aperture" of f/128, given a long focal length, say 19", is much larger in physical diameter than a f/128 aperture of a shorter focal length lens - say 10" - therefore diffraction errors are much less in the "long" system.

    As for the optical system itself - it is not entirely accurate to say the the lens has "*no* effect on diffraction - it does, but much less of an effect than the aperture diamter - wavelength - propagation length - combination.

    I had hoped for a simple formula - hah! The description and mathematics pertaining to diffraction are lengthy - and *invloved*, consuming many pages of the book.

    The only subject more complicated is "Polarization" - after intense study - and passing grades - I *still"* do not wholly understand what the hell is going on there.
     
  24. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I began with 35 mm and a couple of years thereafter moved into medium format. (Bronica Etrs). I still have that system today and haven't made an exposure in almost 12 years with that system. I have a complement of lenses from 40 mm to 500 mm. The advantage to a system such as this is the interchangeability of lenses, finders, and backs. Leaf shutters in the lenses allow sync speed flexibility. It is, to me, a super sized 35 mm system with some bells and whistles. The negative size is almost three times the size of 35 mm. For budgetary considerations, I felt it an attractive alternative to a 2 1/4 square system. Conventional enlarging paper would normally involve cropping some part off the square negative or off the paper. I have shot LF and ULF exclusively for some time now. However, I must admit, that I have thought of putting a 150 mm lens on the Bronica with a waist level finder and doing "street photography". Something about that sounds like a nice break for me.
     
  25. phampl

    phampl Member

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    Hi,
    my father had YashicaD TLR (6x6) and I've got as a small boy the russian bakelite Smena (=exchange,shift) for 24x36 (seems to me that still it had better lens than todays small Minolta which my son uses :O).

    At the high school I bought Pentacon SIX (6x6) from Eastern Germany with Karl Zeiss Jena lenses and later a 180mm Sonnar to it. My wife has an older Exakta 24x36 and I bought an interface between it and my PSIX lenses. It was cheap and the Exacta is more handy, but still I am returning to the heavy PSIX. Probably it is because of my father, but the MF square format looks better for me.
    The PSIX is not that good as Hasselblad or Mamyia, but the Zeiss lenses are pretty good and I am very satisfied with them. But for sure if I had possibility to try one of those other cameras, I would not hesitate at all :O)

    Pavel Hampl
     
  26. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I started with a Rolleicord and then moved over to the Mamiya m645 system. I would like to add a wide-angle and the russian fisheye and then it would be "complete" but lately I've actually just been using the rolleicord instead.