Picking a project camera (MF SLR or 35mm RF)

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by abhoan, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. abhoan

    abhoan Member

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    Hey!

    So I've to start working on a project soon which is basically shot as a documentary. I have been till now shooting on a Hasselblad 500c for most of my work but I find it a little slow to work on when it comes to any quick actioned, more impulsive work. So I got myself a Leica M3.

    Now the issue is that on this new project I can't carry too much gear, as I need to travel and the place I'm working is known for theft. So I need to choose either the Hasselblad or the Leica to work with. Because films are not available in that region so I'll also have to buy the films beforehand, so choosing the camera is a priority.

    I love what the hassey does but unless its a premeditated shot, its too slow. But the issue with 35mm is that I don't get the clarity and smooth tones which I really like with MF. So what should be done now?
     
  2. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Only you can decide if small size and speed of use outweighs technical resolution/quality.

    If you're up for buying new gear, look at Mamiya 7, best of both worlds.
     
  3. abhoan

    abhoan Member

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    I actually checked, I don't think I can afford a Mamiya RF. They are super expensive for me right now. My friend is selling one Mamiya 6 with three lenses for about 2,000$. But then its much too much for me.
     
  4. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Depends if you need the 3 lenses I guess. If you're OK with a fixed lens, there is the GF670, they can be had for about $1200 used, or $1699 new. If you want to go a lot cheaper, there is Rolleiflex. I think TLRs are an acquired taste, but if you like them, they're great value I think, and the lens is great on a Rollei.

    You could compromise on 6x4.5, then you've got Mamiya 645 or Pentax gear, all pretty cheap, and can be handheld like a big 35mm SLR. Might be a good in-between option, you get more shots per roll, but still get a big jump up on the resolution vs. 35mm.
     
  5. phirehouse

    phirehouse Subscriber

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    Plus 1
     
  6. Tony-S

    Tony-S Member

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    Yeah, the 6x4.6 SLRs, or if you want to stick with a rangefinder there's the Bronica RF645. It's a fab camera with superb optics.
     
  7. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    You said:
    Can't carry too much gear
    Need to travel a lot
    Theft is an issue
    Speed is important

    Why choose Hasselblad or Leica with these criteria?

    You said with 35mm, you can't get smooth tones but is it really so? I have been shooting Tmax 400 and Tmax 100 for a while. Especially with Tmax 100, the results are fantastic. Tmax 400 is pretty good in that department also but not to the degree of 100.

    How large do you need to print anyway? I have gone up to 11x14 and I have absolutely no complaints.

    With your criteria, I'd be picking two F100 (Nikon) and two semi-fast zooms - one for wide-mid and other for tele. If this is an important project and involve travelling, you really would not want to be without a backup gear....
     
  8. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Definitely go with a Mamiya 6. Sharper lenses than the Hassy and much quicker and lighter to shoot. RF645 is a good recommendation too, but not 6x6. If I had to choose one of the two you have I'd go with the Leica.
     
  9. xo-whiplock

    xo-whiplock Member

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    The 35mm is out because you already stated that it does not yield the results you want.
    The medium format camera does.
    Learn to be faster with the 500c and because it bigger, it will be harder for someone to take from you without knowing! LOL
    Or, a third option is to rent something that gives the speed you want along with the image quality that's insured! Um, digital would be about right... so you don't have to carry all that film around. LOL
    A compromise would be to borrow or rent a digital back for you MF camera.... just saying.
     
  10. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    A bunch of spare, preloaded backs makes things faster. Some of the new autofocus 645 SLRs would be faster than a Leica.

    35mm TMX and Acros are good for a 12x16" print in a pinch - is that big enough?
     
  11. KenR

    KenR Member

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    Mamiya 6 is a great camera, which allows for fairly quick film changes - I have even done it while walking along (not tripped yet). A big Fuji GS690 or GSW690 (6x9) yield amazing results, but are huge and a bit slower to handle with film changes every 8 frames. I had reliabilty issues with the Bronica, so I do not feel that it is built to the same standards as a Mamiya or a Fuji, both of which are built like tanks. With any medium format system you stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. Leica may be smaller, but all are know to be expensive so theft may be a problem. The Nikon solution may be the best one - you will look like just anyone else with a Nikon, not worth bothering with.
     
  12. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Smooth tones have nothing to do with format size. Stick with the Leica.
     
  13. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    So welcome to APUG.

    With regard to your question, I have a question; what film have you been using in the Lieca? (The one that can't get you the tones you want.)
     
  14. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Clive, Clive, Clive.

    "Print" tone smoothness, resolution, grain size, and sharpness are all affected by film size.

    A given film, say Delta 100, has a given resolution "per square inch" expressed as xxx line pairs per millimeter.

    35mm film has roughly 1.5 square inches of area, the Hassy has about 5 square inches. So assuming both the Lieca and the Hassy have the same film inside, the Hassy negative can hold over three times as much data.

    The Hassy negative can define a lot more points in the print.
     
  15. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    It depends on the enlargement, but how is print tone smoothness affected by format size?
     
  16. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    If you had ever seen Denis Reggie with a Hasselblad 20+ years ago, you would soon realize that a Hasselblad is NOT inherently slooow!
     
  17. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Simply put the larger film has more grains in relation to the scene and paper with which to define a tone change.

    The more steps you can define between any two points, the smother the transition (tone changes) can be between them.

    If you want a truly stark comparison of this idea, find somebody with say a 5x7 or 8x10 camera, use your Leica and the same film they use to take a photo of the same composition they do. Have them make a contact print and you print one at the same size.

    Even at 5x7 there will be a significant difference in the tonal changes, sharpness, detail, and grain.
     
  18. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Tmax 100 in 35mm used to yield excellent clarity and smoothness. I have not used the new formulation because I go to 8x10 now when I want those qualities :smile:

    You can get top of the line 35mm gear for less than $100. The last project I had involving travel I got a Nikon N75 with the 'kit' lens 28-80. For $35 I could have just left it at the scene when I was done.
     
  19. abhoan

    abhoan Member

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    With respect to the question of what film I'm using, I'm on Trix 400 and Tmax 400 or both the cameras. And yes wiltw, I am sure the camera is not the issue, its just that I can't work it quick yet..
     
  20. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Given that starting point, you have some interesting options.

    Simply switching to TMax 100 or FP4+ or even Pan F in your M3 could make a very significant difference in the clarity and smoothness of tones.

    I made a similar choice for my traditional b&w 35mm work.

    There are other good options too, XP2 Super and C41 color negative film. It is really fun to shoot actually because its flexibility.

    With C41 films, when you need an EI of 400 shoot it at 400. When you can go slower you can shoot it at EI 200, 100, or even 50, and that extra exposure actually reduces print grain.

    C41 films have a different look, tonality, you may or may not like it, but it is very much worth a try.

    C41 film development would be a change for you or that could be done by a lab.

    In printing, XP2 is designed to be used with normal b&w paper and I find that grade 3 settings on VC paper is normal for me instead of grade 2 for say FP4+.

    C41 color films can be printed on normal b&w papers too but it's hit and miss in my experience. The reason I mention them here is that even more than XP2, I find the sharpness and tones another step better. Whether they will work or not for you...?
     
  21. abhoan

    abhoan Member

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    Thank you so much everyone for their inputs. I guess making little adjustments like making sure that I use low ISO film with my Leica can really work. I don't think I can invest much in a lot of new equipment so I'll stick to the low iso idea.

    Thank you so much for the information. Apug rules!
     
  22. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Are you sure you really want to go into areas you describe with a valuable camera like Leica?? Sounds like you are going into crime ridden area. It can be stolen, or you could be mugged, right? You may be in a situation where someone wants your camera and your only choice is put it down and RUN. (or be hurt or killed protecting it)

    You could pickup a cheap Nikon and lens and it'll cost you maybe $100?

    By the way, Tmax400 is pretty darn smooth.... it's my standard film.
     
  23. fastw

    fastw Member

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    I am also doing a project (portraits) on film and decided to get a Pentax 6x7 with a 135 Macro. Bought both for about $300 and so far am very happy with results. Looks like with Tmax 400 and Epson V500 scanner can print up to A2, with a better scanner I'm sure I could easily go A1 with lots of detail. The P67 is much easier and quicker to shoot. Changing film is a bit quicker too.
    What's your project?