Moving from Digital to MF With Bronica ETRSi

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by IanBarber, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. IanBarber

    IanBarber Subscriber

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    I am new to Film and have been using digital for some time. I have been offered a Bronica ETRSi at a good price and thought that it was about time I tried my hand at analogue.

    I will be scanning the negatives with an Epson V750 when I order it.

    For those that have used or are still using both systems (Digital and Analogue) and scanning and printing negatives, I was wondering if you could tell me what it is about film captures that you personally like over Digital.

    I am unsure at this early stage as to what differences the film camera is going to give me over my Nikon D3s printed on my Epson R-3880.

    Thanks

    Ian
     
  2. horacekenneth

    horacekenneth Member

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  3. MDR

    MDR Member

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    First the V750 as good as it is will not get all the info out of the neg (film flatness etc...). The 6x4.5 neg should be able to outresolve your D3

    Second: What I like about film vs digital is easy film is organic digital is not take a look at a sensor curve and you will see that they lack character which is great if you want to fiddle for hours in the lightroom. Also since film is organic I see it as being closer to not only human perception but also to humanity with all it's flaws. Film is also much more versatile than digital at the picture taking stage furthermore each image looks the grain is randomized whereas the pixel in digital have the same arangement on every photo. Film gives therefore more unique images than digital.
    Film is archivl digital not so much or to quote Jeff Rotheberg ""Digital documents last forever—or five years, whichever comes first"

    But all in all I prefer Film's humanity
     
  4. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I don't like film better than digital - from others, when printed with inkjet.

    What I like about film is not technical at all, it is something that appeals to my sensory system. I have tried to like digital photography, having tried digital SLRs for extended periods of time, I have a V700 Epson, and owned a decent Epson R2400. But even though I was able to make nice print, I just didn't like the work flow. It was a boring method to me, where I never really wanted to use the digital equipment. Every time I did I yearned to be in the darkroom, making silver gelatin prints.

    The process of photographing using film is something that makes me think more about what I'm doing, because there's a cost and a bit more thinking involved with each exposure. Processing film is not something I'm very enthusiastic about, but it's a necessary evil to get to the point of printing, which is where most of my passion lies. I relish the challenge of understanding the whole process from beginning to end, to work with my film development until I have negatives that work well with my chosen printing materials. To spend time in the darkroom, fine tuning prints feels like a luxury every time, even though it's a physically rather uninviting section of my basement, with less than ideal temperature situation, and a bit smelly and funky.

    So I can't point to anything in the output of digital that I find objectionable compared to film. It is clearly different from film, but not better or worse, I think, especially color photography.

    Just jump in, have fun, and don't spent too much time reading on the internet. It's best to explore the capability of one emulsion and one developer, to the fullest extent, before exploring other materials. I recommend picking one single film and one developer, and not give up with it until you have good results. There is a lot more to learn from fully understanding a single emulsion than to try to discern differences between different films and developers. Please don't make the mistake I did years ago and start experimenting wildly without actually knowing what you're doing.

    Enjoy the ride! Hope it's a great adventure for you.
     
  5. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Although film can provide some technical advantages of digital in terms of resolution and colour range, it's not why I shoot film.

    I like film because of the feeling that I am pursuing a craft, and I'm learning about that craft every time I use film, and more recently every time I develop a negative.

    I also like film because often the cameras are beautiful, there are very few beautiful digital cameras.

    I like the simplicity too, the delayed gratification, the feeling of achievement when things go right, the feeling that I'll do things better when they go wrong.

    It would seem to me that film photography is a hobby I can enjoy, and digital isn't. They are obviously similar, but like swimming in the sea and swimming in a pool, one I'll happily do and the other just bores me.
     
  6. alienmeatsack

    alienmeatsack Member

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    I love my Bronica ETRS. The lenses are sharp as tacks and make some pretty darn nice crisp images.

    I don't know what kind of view system yours will have, if it has the waist level finder you might find it a bit odd to use at first coming from digital. But, the prism finders are easy and you should fall right into the fray without any problems.

    I'd say snap shots with the digital as you learn the camera and compare the two results as well.

    Have fun with the Bronica!
     
  7. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    Without wishing to directly contradict Thomas (whose counsel is worth listening to), it's worth saying that while this is excellent advice for someone who enjoys doing one thing until it is perfected, it can be a bit stultifying for someone who likes to try new things or is easily bored.

    If you feel like trying different films and developers, do go ahead. The down side of doing so of course that consistency is harder to come by.
     
  8. IanBarber

    IanBarber Subscriber

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    Very interesting comment MDR. The bit about the V750 does worry me slightly though. Are you saying that having gone to all the trouble of capturing an analogue file, I am going to be dissapointed with the results. I have read that people do use the better scanning holder but I do not like the idea of dropping another £100 on a holder.
     
  9. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    For me, [negative] film captures a bigger range of light and dark in photo than digital can, no blown highlights, etc like every shot is HDR without looking nasty... I also like the results from vintage equipment, lenses, etc as they were intended, not cobbled onto a digital camera, though there's nothing wrong with cobbling / macgyvering at all. I think photo equipment was at it's peak in the 40's/50's and has mostly gone down hill since only improving for speed, cheapening, technology integration, but rarely in improving actual results for single photos. With a little work, film and old equipment, we can do the same or better than the masters who have household names, but will we?

    The Epson 700/750 is a good scanner, but mostly for LF use. It's good for MF, but not high end. The Nikon 9000 is higher end, but not available. This isn't the forum to elaborate since it's analog only here.
     
  10. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    It's worth remembering that film was not designed to be processed digitally. It was designed to be wet-printed, and forcing it into the strait-jacket of a "digital workflow" is necessarily going to incur some compromises.
    However trying to prejudge whether you are going to be disappointed is difficult if not impossible.
    Perhaps it would be a good idea to find someone with some MF negatives and a 750 and seeing what the results look like for yourself?
     
  11. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Ian although this is the wrong forum for my answer I will give it anyway the 700/750 is a good scanner but the OEM filmholders are less than great if you want the best possible results from your setup you should get costum made aftermarket filmholders that are better at holding the film flat. Google is your friend.
    I also fully agree with the rest of jp498 post
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 3, 2013
  12. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Thegman pretty much said it for me. I would only add that I have been a programmer for over 30 years and found that I just couldn't stand any more of the behavior (sitting at a keyboard with my hand on a mouse) that digital requires.
     
  13. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I like the challenge. I owned an ETRSi and it's a great system. However, it's too modern for my tastes now. I'm mostly using pre-war cameras with uncoated lenses.


    Kent in SD
     
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  15. jerrybro

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    A couple weeks ago I was in my office when one of the young PhDs from upstairs popped in. While talking he noticed some BW prints I had hanging around and started going off on how he could tell these were film and not digital because of the dynamic range and detail in the highlights and shadows. I was flabbergasted. I never expected to here this from someone just a little older than the car I drive every day.
     
  16. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    What I love about shooting film is projecting a 645 frame transparency onto a large screen, with the dynamic range of a projected image (vs. the lesser dynamic range of ANY printed image!

    Digital is absolutely pathetic in this regard...HDTV is paltry 1920 x 1040, so the highest resolution digital projectors do no better than that. Even the 4K 'high resolution' digital cinema standard seen in movie theaters everywhere are unable to even equal the 5700 x 3800 resolution of a top dSLR, at best they project only 70% of the resolution of the captured image.
     
  17. hsandler

    hsandler Member

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    Welcome Ian. Well, I have the same camera and use a V750 scanner, without the Better Scanning holders. I like film because the cameras are fun. I particularly like the waist-level finder (although its less practical on an ETRS than a square format camera) because of the 3d look when composing with 2 eyes open. I like the feel of cranking to advance the film. I like the suspense of unrolling the negatives after developing to see how they came out. I like the look of the big colour transparencies held up to the window light. (Even though colour negative film generally scans better, it doesn't give the same thrill to look at). I like to shoot black and white infrared film, which I cant easily do with d****** unless I get the sensor hacked.

    That said, I have been doing the hybrid thing for a couple years now, and I don't find for my scanner and camera that I could not have gotten the same or better look with d****** except for a few cases. Scanning, unfortunately, is a real Pain, especially with film that curls. Experiment with the little variable height tabs on the Epson film holders to find the best of the three possible heights for your scanner. i hear the Better Scanning holders can do much better.
     
  18. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    The V750 will get you results on a par with your DSLR but not really any technical improvement except in the ability to capture greater dynamic range in a negative with less care spent metering, and that's WITH the fancy holders. Any good medium/slow film will resolve much more than you can extract with that scanner, but that's OK - you can go back and wet-print a couple special shots later (there are darkrooms for hire and some photo clubs have them that you can use for free as a member, etc... and all of the gear for your own basic B&W darkroom costs about 1/2 of what you paid for the scanner) or pay to have them drum-scanned, both of which will get everything out. However drum scanning is $$$$ and wet-printing is hugely time-consuming.

    As has been said, projected 645 and 6x6 slides are truly a sight to behold; they have a clarity and presence unmatched by any other medium. Larger slides are theoretically better, but 6x6 is the largest size you can get affordable (under $500) projectors for.

    Personally I wouldn't bother with 645 as the quality isn't much (or any!) increase over what you get from a flagship DSLR and you lose all the high-iso performance and camera stabilisation by going to film. However if you shoot 6x7 or large format with slow film, there are huge gains to be made in final print quality.

    The whole craft aspect is different to digital. A bit more tactile. A matter of personal preference as to which you prefer.
     
  19. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    The V700 and (northern hemisphere) V750 is OK but not a patch on high-end drum scanning (not as expensive as people think), which is preferred for exhibition quality prints. The V700 here rarely gets any use now because the lab prefers its own scanner and colourimetrics to clients and it does save time for both client and lab. I use both A and D, but print more from film than I do from digi. You might want to consider and appreciate the permanence of film over other media types, and of course nothing beats looking a beautiful transparency (or neg!) on the lightbox. Having said that, scanning is a lot of work compared to the quick, straight-forward, "it's all done for you" nature of digital; I enjoy and thrive with analogue because it is the thinking person's medium and requires foundation skill and judgement in photography.
     
  20. trythis

    trythis Subscriber

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    I use a V750 every week to scan film. Its better than what I get from a pro lab here in town that does a great business developing film. They don't check for colors they way I do, plus they crop too much. I get good control and can set up 8 shots at once (645) and go get something done while the scanner is churning away. I know I could go have something drum scanned, but I don't have galleries pounding on my door asking for prints, who does? If that happens, I will hand my negs over to a pro service and have them print the stuff 30 x 60, mounted, frames and all.

    To the OP: having been in the same spot recently I recommend this approach:

    Get the camera, shoot some film, have it developed and scanned at your lab.

    If you find yourself smitten* after a few rolls then get your scanner and use the OEM holders till you pixel peep yourself into a tizzy, then buy the other holders if you just cant stand it.

    Print from a lab that prints on photo paper; its cheap; you get great results and you get to skip the whole "Which ink jet should I buy?" business. If that turns out too simple; you want more? You want to go Whole Hog Analog? Then set up your dark room.

    *If you decide, "Meh, whatever..."; sell the gear to someone that will use it and skip the pricey scanner.

    One thing at a time basically.
     
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  21. hsandler

    hsandler Member

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    I agree with the advice of trythis. I just realized you didn't buy the scanner yet. Yes, get the camera only for now, and shoot some film to be developed and scanned by a lab. I would start with Ilford XP2 for black and white and Portra for colour because they scan well and are forgiving. Real black and white film is best developed yourself, because a lab won't easily customize to your film and exposure index. Use the lab's medium res scans, which are usually inexpensive, and then consider getting your own scanner when that is not enough.
     
  22. Nuff

    Nuff Member

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    I did pretty much what trythis and hsandler suggests. First I got a camera (after looking at my old photos and realising how great they are). Then I got film developed and some prints. I liked it, so I got a daylight developing tank/chemicals/changing bag and did my own BW development. I found it easy and straightforward. I got v700 scanner. I don't have room for darkroom in my apartment. But I can still do my own development.

    If I get a mind blowing photo that requires better quality, I will do what other suggested, either get better scans or hire a darkroom to do some wet printing, depending on the desired output. Take it one step at a time and enjoy it.
     
  23. bernard_L

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    I scan MF with a V700 and a betterscanning holder. IMO the betterscanning holder is worth the money. It's not just the holder, but a procedure to follow to ensure proper focus and optimum resolution. I think I can produce files from 645 plenty good enough for a 16x20 print.

    Short write-up.
    I bought two pieces of "anti-glare" glass that just fit in the width of the betterscanning grooves; a loose fit lengthwise. That is the ordinary anti-glare glass, not the pricey "museum" vacuum-coated glass. This is effectively anti-Newton glass. Betterscanning also sells AN glass, your decision.
    I tape the negative with the non-emulsion side against the underside of the glass, taping only the ends over the gaps. It helps if the camera exposes with wide gaps. Then lay the glass in the betterscanning holder. Taping + lateral ridges of holder + film natural curl result in film flat against glass plane.
    I found the optimum height of the adjustment screws by repeatedly scanning and saving in jpeg the same portion of an image with fine detail, and maximizing the size of the jpeg file.
    I apply an unsharp mask filter, with radius 1 and 100%. Sounds simple-minded, but actually the result of a systematic approach based on FTM; too long to explain here. ​

    I can send you a sample file if you'll PM me and provide your email.
     
  24. artobest

    artobest Member

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    Don't forget to pop over to DPUG if you want to pursue scanning seriously ...
     
  25. bernard_L

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    I meant 12x16. Sorry about that.
     
  26. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Not that it belongs here, but the V750 is GREATLY improved by the wet mount kit. The difference is quite large.