thinking of taking the med format plunge for product shots. What do I want?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by 777funk, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. 777funk

    777funk Member

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    I'm a bit confused here. I have been reading that the 645 and the RB67 are both 120 film. BUT I also read that the negative on the 67 is a lot bigger.

    Sorry if this is a dumb question. But what's the difference if they are both 120?

    thanks for the clarification.

    Beyond that, the question in my thread. I'm considering going from digital to medium format. I'd like the best images for the web (build musical instruments). I'm currently using a Nikon D40 and my initial thought was buy a full frame sensor camera. But with a little prompting from my wallet, from Ken Rockwell's site and just flipping through some film scans on the web, I've decided that maybe Medium Format is what I'm looking for. So... for 1600 on the long side sized images with striking quality what do I want? I realize that 645, 67, 4X5 and a bunch of other options are out there. But I don't know where to start.

    I'd love some experienced advice!
    thanks,
    Nick

    EDIT: after a bit more searching (I guess I wasn't looking in the right places) I think I found the answer. 67 is 6x7cm and 645 is 6x4.5cm. But I still don't get how the film is the same. I guess the frame size and how much is advanced with each film exposure and advance?
     
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  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Medium format film isn't divided into frames before it is exposed, so the frame can be as large as the film gate in the camera--whatever it may be--limited by the actual width of the film, which is 6cm, so you can have 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, 6x12, 6x18, or even 6x24, and then there are a few unusual formats in between.
     
  3. agphotography

    agphotography Member

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    I have to be honest with you here. Though medium format cameras are ideal for studio and product photography (and to answer your question, The Mamiya RB67 or RZ67 should be right at the top of your list based on your purpose)

    For only web images you're going to go through a lot of hassle to have to shoot, process and scan film for only 1600px? My iPhone can meet those requirements.

    Now in all fairness, the D40 is a great beginner camera, but now you're talking about jumping into a whole different world of photography equipment and techniques. I don't want to discourage you from pursuing medium format, especially because I firmly believe it is a wonderful thing that everyone should experience. I just wonder if for your stated intentions if it is indeed the best option for you...
     
  4. CGW

    CGW Member

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    With respect, I'd look into a used D300 or even D200. You're looking at hybrid workflow(film capture/scanning/manipulation/output). Unless you have a quality lab nearby capable of doing solid C-41 and E6, are willing to pay for it, and accept the learning curve for scanning, then I'd say forget it. For b&w, MF could work but for colour, digital allows you a good deal more flexibility in terms of lighting, speed, and freedom from scanning. There's a reason why product shooters were among the first to ditch film for digital.
     
  5. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Terrible advice here regarding sticking with digital cameras.

    Check out the Mamiya RB67 and the Mamiya 645.
     
  6. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Why? Because it might be practical for the OP's needs and somehow heretical to say so? Get real.
     
  7. 777funk

    777funk Member

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    I agree with you tomalophicon. And with all due respect to the others... I'm not an idiot. I have been shooting my product shots for 6 years now and am making steady progress. Am I a pro? Depends on what pro means. But do I have a decent understanding of cameras and equipment? Yes and I'm learning more so every day. Just because I have a beginner's DSLR in that I have a D40 doesn't mean I'm a hack, simply a small budget. I can't afford a 5D or D3 etc. I've had SLRs since I was old enough to know what they were. I've never had Medium Format. I'm breaking ground as I reach it.

    But I figured I'd ask. I really am concerned about quality and I would NEVER post anything on my site that was shot with an iPhone. Sure it can take the size I mentioned but that's not what I'm after. I want something that has good feel and conveys the emotion of what I'm selling. I'm not currently getting that with my D40. I thought about spending on a better digital but I honestly feel I may find it in film and save money in the process.

    I do have a Canon 35mm SLR and a f2.5 50mm macro that I'm sure would work well other than the small negative. I have an Epson Perfection series scanner on the way. I'm serious about this. I don't have a huge budget but I want to build a system that will give the results I'm after.
     
  8. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Yep, exactly. This isn't the real world, it's APUG.
     
  9. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Right. Selling the idea of the earth as round can be a challenge around here.
     
  10. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Try DPUG.
     
  11. Alan W

    Alan W Subscriber

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    Right on.We have to assume that the O.P. came here to get some info on film cameras.Why send him/her somewhere else?I use Mamiya and Pentax-6x6,6x7 and 6x4.5,all great,but the deals on RB's and RZ's can't be beat right now.Look 'em up-take your time.
     
  12. LyleB

    LyleB Member

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    I shoot both film and digital. D40, D5100, D90, F100, Fm2n, etc. I also have shot MF, Pentax 645n and Yashca D. The medium format shots are head and shoulders above the digital (at least what I can afford), or the 35mm. Even simple snapshots on the 645 have a superior look.

    I can highly recommend the Pentax 645 series. They are simple to use and offer a nice selection of lenses. Just a big SLR, like you are already used to.

    The Yashica (twin lens reflex) take some getting used to, but are also great. Try to get a Yashica 124 or 124G if you go this route, they have the higher quality Yashinon lens as opposed to the Yashikor lens. My understanding is that it will be sharper to the edges - something that will probably be important to you.

    Obviously, there are other cameras out there, but these are the ones I'm personally familiar with.

    If the man comes on here to ask about film and particularly Medium Format, I think we should answer his questions. He is already familiar with digital, and has decided to give this a try. Best of luck.
     
  13. 777funk

    777funk Member

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    Quote Originally Posted by CGW View Post
    Right. Selling the idea of the earth as round can be a challenge around here.


    You guys are hilarious :smile: This is a great place. Glad I found it.
     
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  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    We can always say, "well, why bother with film?" but APUG is a place for people who have made that consideration can say, "yes, I know I can do it with digital, but if I want to try doing with traditional techniques, how do I do it?" and they should be able to get an answer without facing the ridicule they can expect on most other photo forums on the internet.

    So to answer the question, 6x6 and 6x7 have traditionally been very popular for product shoots. They are flexible systems, suited to studio work, and rollfilm is less costly to process than sheet film. 6x7 is suited to many common print formats, so think about your output and work backward to decide whether it is advantageous to shoot a rectangular format. You might also think about the Fuji GX680 system, which offers view camera movements with a rectangular rollfilm format--very attractive for tabletop work. Medium format equipment in general is very affordable these days.

    Medium and large format have been attractive for advertising work not only for the quality, but because the big transparencies looked good on a light table, and that helped to sell the images. Photo editors don't work that way so much any more, but if you have the opportunity to present some big transparencies in presentation mats with a portable light pad to an editor or art director who hasn't looked at any recently, they might be impressed, even if they think it's a bit quixotic to be doing commercial work on film except at the very high end.

    Scanning is for the most part an off topic subject for APUG, but on topic for DPUG.org, so you might want to join DPUG, if you haven't already done so to discuss that part of your workflow.
     
  16. 777funk

    777funk Member

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    I can get a 645 1000S for $250 with a few extras and a lens or a RB67 for about the same.

    In either case, portability is not a priority. Sounds like I may be better to do 6x7.
     
  17. agphotography

    agphotography Member

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    Well I meant no offense in my post I was just considering practicality. If you are willing to adopt the workflow and cost of shooting medium format then I'm all for it! The RB67 would deliver some amazing quality and a supremely reasonable price. In partial to the RZ67 myself but that just because I used to previously own and work with that system and would again if my needs were as such. The RB is largely the same thing so you can't go wrong with either one.

    I wasn't trying to steer you away from film or even medium format I was just trying to better gauge what your needs were based upon your original post.

    Now that I have more of an understanding, by all means, go for it!
     
  18. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    It is a fair observation to suggest that if the OP intends to use the results for at least some digital purposes, it would be wise that he/she check into the availability to him/her of good processing and scanning options. At the very least it would be a good idea to have knowledge about the costs associated before proceeding.

    I live in an area where there are good resources still available. If the OP either has local resources available, or can work with send-out and return resources, or can equip him/herself to do it themselves, then it's worthwhile examining the advantages.

    I'll give you an example of what is available to me - I shot a roll of 220 Portra two weekends ago using my Mamiya 645 equipment. I had the 30 shots developed at my local pro lab and received "colour-corrected" medium resolution scans (2796 x 2048 pixels) and one set of 4x5 proofs. The cost was $5.50 for the developing, $24.95 for the scans and $17.70 for the 30 proofs, plus the 12% sales tax. At B & H, the film would cost $10.79 plus shipping to replace.

    In my black and white work, I like the negatives I get from my Mamiya 645 equipment, and love the negatives I get from my Mamiya 67 equipment. I hate doing scans from them though.
     
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  19. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Despite the predictable knee-jerk snark from the crew here, you all might consider the OP has posted elsewhere about difficulty finding local processing, especially 120 and E6.
     
  20. 777funk

    777funk Member

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    No offense taken. I figured with 6 posts I'd probably get some reality check type responses. So understood there =)

    As far as reality check, I don't know for sure that I know what I'm looking for. That I have to admit. And that's why I'm asking here. I may not need to go film. I've never experienced the differences (in my work) between the D40, 35mm (just picked one up after years of digital and never bothered to compare), and Medium Format.

    I am just learning as far as where to have the film developed and then what to do with it. I bought an Epson V300 (which may have to go back now) and found that it only scans 35mm negatives/slides. But then again, 35mm may be good enough. I really don't know since I haven't done the comparisons. I wish there was more that I could see for myself in examples.

    As cost saving as I thought this may be, I'm starting to get the reality that scanning will get expensive whether I do it myself (high upfront cost) or have it done.

    What got me started in all of this is a few 35mm prints I scanned about 6 years ago of my 1 year old (my first son who's now age 7) taken with an old manual focus Pentax MV that looked great. I've always thought there was something special about those scans. They were done on some cheap flatbed scanner but just had a feel to them that I liked compared to the past several years of digital.
     
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  21. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    No, it's just that your idea of round is rather more cynical than a lot of others'.
     
  22. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I think if you are really into high quality product shots you should be looking at view camera for the movements. The cheapest way is probably a monorail 4x5 camera with a medium format back on it. That way you get the low cost of medium format film and the movements from.

    If that isn't your thing, then an RZ67 is a great medium format system. The 140mm macro lens is fantastic for closeup work. I sold my RZ67 (still have some lens to sell off) because it's as heavy as my 4x5 setup and the only thing I really used it for was the excellent macro lens. For studio work that shouldn't matter at all.

    I've never used the Fuji 6x8 system, but it's got movements like a view camera and takes 120 roll film. They are larger than the already large RZ67. So that's another system to consider.

    As far as digital goes, I would say it depends on the the volume and the turn around time needed. Sounds like you have few shots to make, but want high quality. That's a perfect combo for film shooting and scanning.
     
  23. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    If you want to scan, you need a real scanner, not a flatbed. There are those who will tell you a V700 is OK, but it's not if you're doing this commercially; think more along the lines of a Nikon 8000/9000. I can get about 90MP from a 6x7 (RZ67) frame using my 8000. And a real scanner will *cost* you (think $1000-2500) so keep that in mind if you think you've found a good camera deal. You also talk about "1600 on the long side", which is crazy-low resolution and sutiable only for web publishing. It's not enough for a magazine spread, while a 6x7 chrome can be pushed out to 80" or more; go see an Annie Leibovitz exhibition in person sometime to get an idea of what an RZ can do in skilled hands.

    The other option (if not doing this commercially) is to shoot colour neg (cheaper chemistry!) and print to RA4 (same paper as for digital printing; very cheap) using an enlarger. You can then scan an 8x10 print using a cheap flatbed and get decent resolution, plus you have prints to show people. But prints are very time consuming too...

    There's processing costs - typically $5-12/roll at labs on top of the film costs ($5/roll; 10 frames/roll at 6x7) if you're shooting chromes. You can process at home for $2.50/roll if you have access to chemistry with no shipping costs, but then you need to invest $500-1000 in a processor to keep the chemicals at the right temperature. And the time spent doing it is crazy (an hour to process ~5 rolls).

    Think very carefully if you're doing this for business reasons. While I love shooting 6x7 chromes and developing them myself (I souped 10 rolls last night from a trip around the world; the results are unbeatable), there is no way that it is economical to do so if you want to do product shoots commercially - if you run the numbers you'll see that there's a very good reason no one does it any more and RZ67s are selling for 10% of their list prices.

    If your wallet wants to make an investment in product shots and you expect the investment to pay off, put it into high quality studio lighting. That will make more difference than any choice of format or camera.
     
  24. 777funk

    777funk Member

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    Excellent post. Answered a lot of my questions. I don't think I realized ALL of the costs involved. I wonder if there's a way to get good scans on a CD from a film processor reasonably. I really only need a few good photos of my main models. A 5D would be a cheap way out if what you said is the only way to do this. I hope it's not! lol

    ALSO, you're 100% right in the lighting statement. I have some lighting (triggers, Nikon Speedlights, Novatron Powerpack and lights, and of course the diffusion to go with all of that).

    My current plan is to shoot in Digital for the instant gratification and shoot film along side. That way I have what I need right away and also have the high quality (assuming that it proves to be better) to go along with it.

    And you're 100% right, I don't have tons of shots to take. For customer photos, digital is plenty good. But for the website I'd like to get it right.

    I'll see if I can add my web link to my username in the CP if anyone is curious what I'm shooting. EDIT: added it in. Go easy on me if anyone does view my photos ( ;
     
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  25. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Suspect what you call cynical, I call experienced. They're actually not substitutes. I'm all for chasing rainbows, especially when it's on someone else's dime.
     
  26. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    That statement tells me that you "get" what it is about film that keeps people like us using it.

    BTW, welcome.