Shutter speed limitations

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by hoakin1981, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. hoakin1981

    hoakin1981 Member

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    I am considering various 645 models for my 1st MF buy. I am leaning towards a Mamiya 645 Pro since it seems to have the best value for money/specs/quality ratio.

    However, the more I snoop around the more new brands/models show up I did not know about with pretty good/lower than the Mamiya prices.

    Many have almost all necessary specs at least IMO (mirror locking, metering, changeable backs etc) but they seem to have one serious limitation, a low top shutter speed of 1/500 or even 1/400.

    I've been shooting digital for about 5 years now so with my D300s which has 1/8000 top shutter speed I never had such issues. With my old Pentax MX I can go up to 1/1000 which I trust it is fast enough for almost any situation, but 1/500 or 1/400 is a whole different case.

    So, I would like some feedback as to how actually limiting are such speeds on everyday use.

    Yes, there are various ways of overcoming this limitation on a brightly lit situation like stopping down or using a filter etc. but this might compromise image quality which voids the whole point of having a MF camera IMO.

    All thoughts on the matter most welcome with many thanks in advance. :wink:
     
  2. mauro35

    mauro35 Member

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    Medium format film, being significantly bigger than 35mm, has inherently shallower depth of field, meaning that, in general, MF lenses have maximum diafragm aperture ratios that are smaller than 35mm lenses. This usually leads to slower shutter speeds needed to gather the same amount of light. Therefore, unless using ISO 1600/3200 film in very sunny conditions I would not see top shutter speeds of 1/500th of a second to be very limiting in real life situations. In the very specific cases in which such shutter speeds are required, then it is possible to use neutral density filters.
     
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  3. R.Gould

    R.Gould Member

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    I have never found a low top speed in any way limiting, in fact many of my cameras, both 35mm and MF folders have prontor shuters with a top speed of 300, and only my Rolleis for MF have the old compur shutters with a top of 500, before that for many years I used a Bronica etrsi with a top speed of 500, these are all between lens shutters,and the great advantage is that you have flash sync at all shutter speed, great if you do any outside portraits or anything else using fill flash, and how often do you need these very fast shutter speeds, even with 400 films, and if you do a lot of landscape the you need slower speeds and more depth of field, with some MF with focal plane shutters you have 1000, I believe the mamiyas go to this, but even with my old pentax's I very rarely used a fast shutter speed, so I wouldn't worry about a faster shutter, just use what you have
     
  4. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    A few times I find the maximum shutter speed limiting, even with my maximum aperture only f/3.5. Sometimes even ISO 100 film does not help. As another person mentioned, f/3.5 is still pretty shallow DOF with medium format (especially my 6 x 7). In rare cases, I can see how one might need a neutral density filter.

    You can even shoot ISO50 if need be too.

    I would say that this shutter limitation is not too big a deal once you get used to it. All my cameras now shoot at best 1/700 sec.
     
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I don't think I have ever used a shutter speed higher than 1/250 on any camera of any format!

    I certainly wouldn't consider a top sped of 1/500 to be restrictive.


    Steve.
     
  6. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    That "whole different case" is only one stop. :blink:

    Perhaps a slower film? Put PanF in the camera and you'll have 1/400 at f5.6 in bright sun.
     
  7. jochen

    jochen Member

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    Hello,
    the shortest shutter time for MF shutters is mainly limited mechanically by the firmness of the materials used. Only very few horizontal 35 mm shutters with rubberized cloth blinds could reach 1/2000 sec. (OM-4, Leicaflex...), most only 1/1000 sec. The acceleration and the forces which act on the materials are even much higher with the longer way of the MF shutter. More modern shutters like the Copal Leitz shutter use the shorter 24 mm way and steel blades, the most modern types which run 1/4000 or 1/8000 sec., use aluminum, titanium foil or high strength high-tec polymers. A central shutter like the Compur comes to its limits with 1/500 sec., 1/1000 sec. with a central shutter is rare.
     
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    The Pentax 645N will give you 1/1000th but not interchangeable backs although you can load another insert and swop that at any time. You have to do a mid-roll rewind with the insert that is already there.

    While it is a hand-holdable camera it is essentially not a sports/ fast wildlife camera. For most pictures of birds in flight or motorcycle races I'd want the likes of a F100/F5 with a 300mm f2.8.

    Two comments: The lack of interchangeable backs may not prove to be the drawback you think they are and with the right lens such as a 200mm or 300mm( about 125mm/190mm equivalent in 35mm) and 1/1000th speed some fast action shots are perfectly possible

    pentaxuser
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    It's not a practical limitation. About the only situation where it could be would be shooting in bright sunlight with a fast film and a wide aperture. If you must do that, then you'll need to resort to a neutral density filter.

    Even for fast action, 500 is sufficient for most situations, you may not stop the white letters on the sidewalls of a race car, but if you're panning you'd still get a sharp photo of the car.
     
  10. momus

    momus Subscriber

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    They ARE limiting if you shoot fast film, even given MF has much less DOF than 35mm. Especially since w/ older cameras, 1/500 is usually only hitting an actual 1/350 on a good day, but more often than not its 1/300. I get around that by shooting Tri-X at 100 ISO and drop it another stop for the yellow filter. It's sorta compressed tonality but I like it. If you primarily shoot landscapes then the speeds are not an issue. Same w/ slow, fine grained film. So it really depends more on what film you like to shoot and what subjects.

    This limited shutter speed issue is why I finally sold my trusty Nikkormat FT2 and went to a Nikon N8008s w/ its top speed of 1/8000. It lets me be flexible w/ my Tri-X and get wide aperture shots in bright sun. I still have an EM and FG, but they have been sitting in a drawer for some time. I always grab the N8008s, and it's largely because of its faster shutter. If all you have is a max of 1/300 actual speed and you put a red filter on, you can be in trouble in some situations if you expect to hand hold it.
     
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  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Your friend is called 'neutral density filter'. Put Tri-X in the camera and a 3 stop neutral density filter. Remove it when it gets darker.
     
  12. edcculus

    edcculus Member

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    Also, if you get a MF camera that has removable backs, you will never be in a situatoin where you need to take pictures outside on a sunny day and you are stuck half way through a 36 exp roll of 3200 iso film. Therefore, if you ever find yourself in a situation where shutter speed is limiting you can do like others suggested and get ND filters, or you can get an extra back to load with PanF for those situations.
     
  13. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    The main reason dSLRs have such fast speeds is because you can use an iso of 12000 with many of them. That is not usually the case with MF. Most of the time, iso 100 to 400 is common and I've never used a speed faster than about 1/250 with my Pentax 645N. While I can use it handheld, it's on a tripod probably 75% of the time. Even the few rolls of 3200 I put through it were shot at speeds slower than 1/125.
     
  14. fretlessdavis

    fretlessdavis Member

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    It hasn't affected me. I rarely use the 1/1000 speed on my MX, as it's actually more like 1/800. I've shot plenty of 35mm cameras (old Spotmatics and Russian M42 cameras) with a 1/500 top speed, and it never really limited me. With my MF system, I find I'm usually 1-1.5 stops more closed down vs. 35mm for similar situations. I think I've only used the top 1/500 on my ETRS 5 or 6 times so far-- I'm usually hovering right around 125 or 250.

    The fastest film I currently shoot, though, is FP4+, so YMMV.
     
  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The Mamiya 645 Super, 645 Pro, 645 Pro Tl and 645e all offer 1/1000 of a second. All but the 645e offer everything else on your list.

    I do sometimes use 1/1000 of a second, when I want to minimize depth of field, but not usually. And 1/500 will usually serve as well.
     
  16. pixelrandy

    pixelrandy Subscriber

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    Ah, I was just going to suggest the same thing. I use a Pentax 67 (1000th, but fixed back) and a Mamiya ProTL 645. Metered prism available, motor drive grip, 1000th, etc. I have virtually zero complaints with my Mamiya. I'd say I have used 1000th just to keep shallow DOF in certain situations. However stopping down to f/4 from f/2.8 and shooting at 500th probably wouldn't have affected the look of the shot noticeably enough. I'd be perfectly content in fact if the Pro TL maxed out at 500th.

    Happy shooting!

    Randy
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi op

    it all depends on the type of photography you want to do ..
    portaits, landscapes, architectural or aeial, scientific / wildlife
    racecar, or photographing things which have quickness and are relatively close.
    while many of my cameras/ shutters go beyonf 4-500, others dont
    and it hasnt been trouble ,
    but then again i dont really do things where i am photographing fastthings

    good luck with your purchase
     
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  18. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    With MF and my genre of work, I very rarely go beyond 1/30 second and nowhere near the 1/1000 snitch of a heavy-hitting P67. The highest I've ever used is 1/2000 years ago with my EOS 1N and 85mm f1.2 (a once only event; the lens was then disposed of). It is unlikely you will need very high shutter speeds with medium format; it is not the format for high speed action e.g. sports, of which fast and nimble 35mm cameras are much better suited. Some portraiture requiring high flash sync speeds may call for a Tv of 1/250 to 1/500 (e.g. with leaf shutter lenses), but otherwise ... — ?

    Re this:

    Very high quality glass ND filters exist that do not compromise image quality (unless you deliberately invoke flare), but resin filters can impinge upon aspherical/apochromatic lenses and should be avoided in those circumstances. Consider matching the quality of the filter to the quality of the lens.
     
  19. mauro35

    mauro35 Member

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    I use an SLR, 35mm, and the top shutter speed is 1/2000. I think in about 3 years I have used 1/1000 about 4 or 5 times, when I find myself to have ISO 400 film and f1.8 on a sunny day for special effects. Now, it is true I live in Finland and the sunlight at such high latitude might not be as strong (I doubt it´s a very big difference, I still use sunny f-16 rule and I get good exposures), but I still cannot imagine needing higher speeds. Of course ISO 3200 film can be a creative tool to use in daylight if one likes the grain, but isn´t it meant to be used in available light situation in first place? I don´t even own an ND filter. Do you guys in the south have so strong sun? I must confess I envy you a little bit...:smile:
     
  20. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    1/400th does provide real limits for me, it has to do with subject speed.

    If the subject is fast like someone running or bicycling for example, their legs and arms may show significant blur.

    For me it also means that I if I want a large aperture I need to pick the film properly or be comfortable with a lower EI on the film in the camera, which in many cases is just fine.
     
  21. chrisaisenbrey

    chrisaisenbrey Subscriber

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    Just to make clear:

    Max shutter speed of 1/500 means quite often leaf shutter with full flash synchronization.

    Max shutter speed of 1/1000 or faster means most of the time focal plane shutter with a shorter flash synchronization time.

    Both concepts have different advantages and disadvantages. The Mamiya 645 is a focal plane shutter camera, but there are leaf shutter lenses for it.