Starting Medium Format

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by maddermaxx, Oct 24, 2007.

  1. maddermaxx

    maddermaxx Member

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    Hey guys! I currently shoot 35mm and I'm REALLY interested in starting with MF..

    I've picked out a Camera I like in my price range (Mamiya RB67)

    I'm going to start developing my own B&W film (already know how to do that)

    And I was wondering besides a camera outfit what else do I need? A light meter? What would be a good one for <100? My budget is about $600 (depends how much I get for my 18th!)

    And whats a good scanner for MF film? I was looking at the Epson 4490 since it's in pricerange (parents are offering for development/scanning supplies) but it only says 35mm at B&H..

    And any tips for a n00b to Medium Format?

    Thanks!
     
  2. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Wow! You have great parents. Make sure you keep them. LOL

    I don't know the Mamiya system so one question I have is, does it have a built in meter? If so then not hand held light meter required. If not an inexpensive sekonic would be a good start. You might get a used one for under $100.

    As for the 4490, go to the Epson website instead and get the technical details straight from the horses mouth. IIRC it can handle film sizes up to 4x5 so it should be able to scan MF film.

    Anyway good luck, you will really love using your new Mamiya.

    When I first got into MF I was in my late 20's and had only been shooting 35mm before. The square frame frustrated, challenged and enticed me. It takes some getting used to but in the end I love the format.

    Regards, Art
     
  3. maddermaxx

    maddermaxx Member

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    I just want a MF because I figure if I'm going to stick with 35mm (might happen if I can't afford a MF) might as well go digital, but since Photography is more of a Art/Hobby for me Medium seemed like a better choice.

    I'm pretty sure the RB67 doesn't have a meter. but that Mamiya system seemed to be best bang for the buck, and it's big and heavy which appeals to me aha.
     
  4. GeoffHill

    GeoffHill Member

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    I've only very recently started with MF as well, and haven't yet bought a light meter (waiting for the next pay day), but so far, I'vebeen using the light meter in my 35mm camera with no problems, other than its a lot of stuff to carry about.

    The MF negatives are fantastic compared to 35mm. I've fallen in love with themm
     
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    The only way to get a meter on an RB67 is with the metered prism.

    The RB67 usually comes with a waist level finder which, for me, works better than a prism finder.

    And yes, it is big and heavy. I find that an advantage as I like to use it handheld with the left hand grip and the weight adds inertia to it which helps prevent shake.



    Steve.
     
  6. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    The 4490 doesn't do 4x5 but does do MF up to 6x12.
    As stated, you will need a meter unless you happen to get a metered prism.
    Gossen Pilot meters go for 15 - 40 USD, are generally reliable, and don't require batteries. At 50 - 100 there are a multitude of good choices from Sekonic, Gossen, and others.
    RB's are huge, heavy and versatile, they are great cameras, and there are a lot of folks here who swear by them, a few who swear at them.
     
  7. matti

    matti Member

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    You can use your current 35 mm camera as light meter, if you don't find it too difficult to carry around two cameras.
    /matti
     
  8. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Subscriber

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    mm, I just started shooting MF myself about a month ago and haven't shot a frame of 35mm since. I purchased the 4490 for scanning. Works great, minus having to constantly clean off cat hair. I HIGHLY recommend heading over to Epson's site. I got mine from their clearance center, refurbished, for under $100 shipped. They still have that deal listed, here's the link: http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/consumer/consDetail.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=yes&oid=63060806

    As for a meter, I picked up a Gossen Luna Pro S on Ebay for $29. Needed to be calibrated but, after a couple rolls for calibrating, is spot on. The regular Luna Pro can be had on there all day for about $50 - $60. Have fun and I hope to see some of your shots :smile:

    Aaron
     
  9. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    What do you want to photograph? The RB67 is big and heavy and needs a lot of stamina if you want to haul it about as a landscape camera. It is also (big time) not waterproof. On the other hand it is great for macro, still life and general studio work, but the film advance and shutter cocking are separate, so don't expect rapid shooting.

    No it doesn't have a meter as standard, although there is a metered prism head available for it. I too tend to use a 35mm camera as a meter. It is also not square format: as the name suggests, it is 6 x 7. The lenses are pretty good and there is a good range, but it's hard to recomend a kit without knowing what you want to do.
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I recently got the Epson 4490 for $98 at the Epson website. Go to bargins on the right side of the page. Then look for the 4490. They are refurbished and shipping is free.

    Steve
     
  11. Removed Account

    Removed Account Member

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    It's great to see another young'un (I'm 22) interested in analogue! My progression has gone like this: 35mm-digi-4x5. Since only using 4x5 I've now added an RB to my collection (as of Monday) and to quote another member, I think it's the cat's ass! My perspective might be skewed coming from a 4x5 studio monorail, but the RB seems small and light to me! Most of the good film from 35mm is available in 120, and the bigger negative with the quality of the RB lenses should make a big difference.

    One thing I noticed when I shot 35mm and digi is that I tended to suffer from the Vacuum Cleaner Effect; this means that I took a photo of anything that looked like it could possibly make a good photo. I got some good ones, but was lucky if I got truly satisfactory shot from a roll of 36 frames. Learning 4x5 slowed me down a lot. In fact, I've taken 7 frames of my first 120 roll, and that includes bracketing! The slower pace of shooting had made 4x5, and now MF, much more affordable than I thought it would be. With the RB try to plan and think through your images more. This will be easier if you're tethered to a tripod. If you take your time with your shots and don't burn film too fast then I think you'll find yourself getting more good shots with the RB compared to the number taken, and keep your film costs reasonable. Another advantage is that with 10 frames per 120 roll you can experiment with different films more cheaply and easily than with larger formats. Seriously look at the tripod; it slows you down and helps your images stay sharper, especially when shooting in with the mirror locked up. Keep us posted on your progress!

    - Justin
     
  12. MP_Wayne

    MP_Wayne Member

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    Congratulations and welcome to the RB67 club! Like you I started in 35mm, then went to 4x5 monorail, and then on to the RB67. I love all three formats for different reasons, subjects and purposes. However, for sheer overlap of portability and quality, the RB67 is hands down my favourite.

    A previous post mentioned a square format. That is not entirely correct. The RB67 is a 6x7 format in its standard mode. However, you can get 6x4.5 film backs (and masks) and 6x6 film backs for the RB67. That's the beauty of the system - you are not locked into a particular format, unlike some other MF cameras.

    Now seems to be a golden age for buying RB67 lenses (with many pros dumping out to go digital). Watch/monitor eBay and other retailers like KEH and you can get lenses in good condition for as low as $100 or $1 per mm focal length, whichever is higher.

    Film backs, anywhere from $25 to $75 depending on condition. If they need new seals, it's an easy thing to do. Just order the materials for a few dollars from www.micro-tools.com, or if you don't want to cut the materials, then order the seals from Mamiya USA. You can get the felt darkslide seals/traps from Mamiya USA for a few dollars each. I have redone several of my 10 or so backs (I like to shoot lots of different films and formats) and each one takes about 40 minute to an hour. Best part is that they are like new when done.

    If buying lenses, hold out and purchase "C" lenses. It will have a green "C" in the lens mouth. These are later generation lenses and are multi-coated.

    For a field case, I use a LowePro Nature AW (the large one) and it holds a body, 6 lenses, 2 or 3 backs, both macro tubes (also cheap - as little as $50 each).

    For metering, I started LF (and use it with the MF too) with a used Pentax 1 degree spotmeter. You can probably get a used one for your budgeted $100 or perhaps a tad more. I have since moved on to a Sekonic 558, but I kept the Pentax as a backup because it is a great meter.

    Have a bunch of fun in your new adventures in Mamiya RB67-land!
     
  13. maddermaxx

    maddermaxx Member

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    Wow, thanks for the fast replies guys!

    I don't have the camera just yet though have to wait until after my birthday (3rd)

    I find myself not to have the "Vacuum effect" Took me close to 2 months to use a 36 exposure roll of 35mm >.<

    Whats better? A analog or digital light meter? Analog seems better for the nostalgia but I'd want one thats going to be accurate aha.

    I'm probably going to do still life/scenery/portraits with it.

    And the 4490 refurbished sounds like a good idea..

    Thanks for the replies guys!
     
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  15. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Either a digi or analog meter will be as accurate as you need, assuming the meter functions correctly.
    HOW you use it and things like calibrating your film speeds to your work methods is a greater determinate of accuracy than the display.
     
  16. MP_Wayne

    MP_Wayne Member

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    What he said... as long as the meter is functioning properly, either analog or digital is fine... then it is up to you the user.
     
  17. max_ebb

    max_ebb Member

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    Besides the metered prism finder for the RB, there's a metered magnifier finder that generally goes for around $100 on ebay. It's just like using a waste level finder with a magnifier, except that it has a meter and it's not collapsible like a WLF.

    I would take that a step farther and say hold out for the K/L lenses. Lately they've been going for about the same price, or just a little more than the C lenses on ebay. There aren't as many of them though, so you have to keep an eye out for them to come up.
     
  18. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    That's true but, if I remember correctly, the K/L lenses only fit the Pro SD model with the wider lens mount. Mamiya recommend fitting an adaptor ring to the C lenses when using them with a Pro SD.

    Mamiya have a frequently asked questions page here: http://www.mamiya.co.uk/index.php?content=FAQ&faq_id=39



    Steve.
     
  19. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Welcome from Middle England from another RB67 user. Great system. It looks like your questions have been answered, so I won't add to them except to say you may get greater help with the scanner issue from our sister site http://www.hybridphoto.com/forums/
     
  20. max_ebb

    max_ebb Member

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    Oh no, that's not the case at all, they fit the regular RB pro, and the Pro S. The K/L lenses came with the adapter ring included because the Pro SD bodies were on the shelves when the K/L lenses came out (I had an adapter ring that came with a K/L lens and I sold it). There are actually only 2 lenses that only fit the Pro SD, one is a 500mm, and the other is a shift/tilt lens (both are outrageously expensive).
     
  21. MP_Wayne

    MP_Wayne Member

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    One comment on the metered prism finder for the RB67. I have an RZ67ii also, with the FE701 AE prism finder and that combination works MUCH better than the PD metered prism finder I have on my RB. The PD prism finder is just not nearly as accurate or responsive as the FE701 is on the RZ67ii. Also, the PD prism finder, when working, only tells you what to set on the RB67. You still have to set the aperature and shutter speed, and compensate for filter factors, etc (as it is not integrated like on the RZ67ii).

    SO, if you are on a budget (or you would rather use those funds to buy lenses), skip getting a metered prism finder for your RB and get a good, more accurate and reliable spot meter. You will not regret having a good spot meter. If you want a prism finder still, rather than a waist level type, just get an unmetered one (they are very reasonable on eBay).
     
  22. maddermaxx

    maddermaxx Member

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    Well, I like the waist-level so I'm probably going to end up getting a spot meter and calibrating it to one of my 35mm SLR's.
     
  23. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I like the metering prism on my rb, I think I've taken it off maybe once since I got it... but everyone feels differently about this. I like it because I do a fair amount of closeup and macro with the rb and with the metering prism, I don't have to think about bellows factor.

    A couple of rb goodies...

    * motorized 6x8 back. I think this is a major bonus of the rb system. Even though you can't see the full composition on your ground glass, it does come in handy, and most of the rb lenses cover it very well (the only exceptions of which I am personally aware are the fisheye and the 50). That extra few millimeters really helps, in my opinion.

    *if you are serious about shooting slide then it pays to get a polaroid back; the fuji films are quite inexpensive and beside giving you a good exposure proof for slide film, they are also damn good print material in themselves and you can make very nice emulsion lifts. I also still have some polaroid 665, look for some of that if you can, it is the smaller version of the famed polaroid pos/neg type 55 and it still exists here and there. Somebody told me about that a few years ago and that was one of the best tips I ever got in photography. Awesome negatives. Expensive but worth every penny.

    *an epson 4990 instead of a 4490. I had the 4490 and had difficulties scanning velvia. Now I use vuescan (cheap) with a refurbed 4990 from epson and it's great. Watch for refurb deals at epson. Free shipping.

    You will need a pretty robust tripod and mount, the rb is quite a thing. The tripod and mount that I use is rated for 10 lbs and that is a basic requirement. I actually broke a lesser tripod with my rb.

    Take note of the lens deals at robertwhite in the UK, you can get some brand new apo KL lenses for a song. Take special note of the 65mm, the 127, and the 210, in my opinion those are the superstars in the rb lineup. I am not saying that the other lenses are inferior per se, but those three are the really shining ones, in my experience. I am somewhat less enamored with the 50, the 150 SF, and the 180. Anyway, all the lenses are good, even the oldies without the fancy coatings. But do get proper screw-in hoods for whatever lenses you have, they do help, even if they do somewhat resemble toilet plungers.

    Take note, pretty much all the lenses have 77mm filter rings, but if you look on the backside of some of the lenses you can fit a much smaller filter there. I mention this because a 77mm multicoated filter is pretty expensive. I have resorted to taping on filters to the backsides of lenses to get around that.
     
  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Would you please be more explict about the problems you had with Velvia on the Epson4490?

    PM me if you feel that is too out of line for this form.

    Steve
     
  25. max_ebb

    max_ebb Member

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    I didn't have a PD prism but I did have a CDS metered prism and found it to be very accurate when compared against my RZ AE prism (I also have the FE701), and against my digital Pentax spot meter. I liked the CDS magnifier (chimney) finder better though. I found both the CDS prism and the CDS magnifier finder to be easy to calibrate myself just by removing the dial and repositioning the plate inside (I recalibrated both of them to be accurate with a brite screen I was using, and then recalibrated them back for the regular screen when I sold my RB gear).

    Yes, you still have to set the aperture and shutter speed when using a metered finder on an RB, but you don't have to compensate for filter factors or bellows/extension tube factors because you're still metering through the lens.

    For normal photography, I agree 100%. I much prefer using a spot meter for shooting landscapes (even with compensating for filter factors). For super close macro work though (when the lens is really close to the subject), a spot meter isn't very useful in my experience. The camera is in the way, so you have to move it out of the way to get the correct position and angle for the spot meter, and then you have to compensate for the bellows, extension tube(s), and filter factors.
     
  26. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    lol Steve I don't think it's out of line to discuss scanners in this forum, we are allowed to post transparency scans, and people do use scanners to get printed work online... :wink: My apologies to the OP if this is regarded as straying too far off topic.

    Anyway... when scanning transparencies, the 4990 achieves something like one stop more in Dmax than the 4490. And in my opinion, after using both with multipass techniques, I definitely did see the difference. When you scan something like velvia, which can go almost pitch black, you need every dribble of Dmax you can get. For my b&w negs, the differences between the 4490 and 4990 were zero, but velvia was a different story. I didn't get satisfactory scans from velvia with the 4490 unless I deliberately overexposed, and that's a shame.

    N.b. I have had a few drumscans made from velvia slides and even the 4990 still isn't quite that good, but it is very close and certainly good enough for most velvia slides from MF up. Now the only reason I have for drumming is the flatness issue with some MF slides and the folks who run the drum seem to have a real knack for matching the colours in certain difficult slides.