Why did half frame die?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by ajuk, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. ajuk

    ajuk Member

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    I just got a Pen EE-3
    If anything has become abundantly clear in the last few years it was that, especially in the compact market, 35mm was better quality than it needed to be. People were obviously willing to trade quantity over quality which is fair enough. I'm actually looking at the moment to buy my third digital compact, but it wasn't just for some of their photography but for all of it.
    This even seems to be the case in the high end film compact market, I genuinely didn't expect the likes of Leica and Ricoh to stop making film compacts so soon. IMAO it's only in recent times since the APS-C sized MILC cameras have come out we've seen the image quality significantly improve in the digital compact realm IMAO, but they're still a quite a bit bigger heavier. Anyway I digress, if that is the case, how come there were no half frame cameras in the '80s and '90s. I know that cameras like the XA and Rollei and Later Stylus Epic could show that very small FF cameras could be made, but come on 72 frames per film that's a lot of happy snapping, also near to APS-C size format, and unlike APS you can use pretty much any film you like? I tell you what I'd love to get a modern Half frame, but in mean time I'm going to love my Pen EE-3 almost to a level that might be inappropriate for a grown adult.
     
  2. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    no one had the time to print 72 negs.
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I used half frame for a few years, I still have an Olympus but I much preferred my Canon Demi which a friend borrowed - he dropped it and broke the meter I ended up with the Olympus instead.

    It's the hassle of prints. I can see a use though making enlarged contacts, poetic sequences, maybe it's my hippy roots :D

    Ian
     
  4. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Many labs regarded them as a PITA to print. Mini-labs were usually baffled by them.

    Look for MILC like the Sony NEX 5n and NEX 7 to pummel DSLRs, especially when they roll out a FF model--what the hell, Sony makes most of the sensors!
     
  5. ajuk

    ajuk Member

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    Yes I guess having lots of photos isn't always a good thing, I would have thought a lot of people would have just had CDs made.
     
  6. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    Film wasn't that good back in the seventies, you could really tell the difference in quality. Having worked in the photo finishing area at that time though, the main reason that people didn't like them wasn't a quality issue, but it simply took too long for them to finish a roll....remembering that a lot of folks thought that 12 exposures were too many! Also, 72 prints made a big hole in the weekly budget.
    Still, there is a lot to like about the cameras, especially those from Olympus as you have found. I have a Pen D,the EE3 like you and the lovely Pen F with a few lenses. The pen F has, of course been re-birthed as a Digital, so popular was it's design.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    One of the attractions of half frame was that it halved your film costs.

    By the 1980s, print and slide film was relatively cheap.

    In addition, when half-frame cameras were relatively prominent, "full-frame" SLRs were more of a specialty item and fairly expensive.

    By the late 1970s/early 1980s, very capable "full-frame" 35mm SLRs were much more easily found and much more reasonably priced (e.g. Canon AE1).

    And slide films were still very popular, but half-frame slides tended to disappoint.

    In addition, 35mm rangefinders and point-and-shoot cameras were well advanced.
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Just think...SIX Christmases on one roll!
     
  9. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    :D... :laugh::laugh::laugh:...

    Ken
     
  10. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    As a recent purchaser of an Oly Pen I have to agreed how pleasantly surprised I was by the quality. I scan most of my negs with a Nikon 9000 and the layout of 2 frames per "35mm" frame is so easy to scan. I love it and am possibly looking to expand the lens collection from the sole 38mm I got with the camera.
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i think it died because leica never came out with a half frame camera ...
    i love half frame and think its a great orphaned format ...
     
  12. John Austin

    John Austin Member

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    Oooops, I think a neuron is firing up a memory of reference to a pre WWII half frame Leica body - Perhaps a Leica aficionado will confirm or deny this

    But more seriously, I doubt if the lack of a mass produced half frame Leica (single frame, meaning 4 sprocket pull down) really made a lot of difference, I feel it was because 35mm still photography was well established by the time the half frame 18x24mm format was introduced - What would life have been like if half frame, standard 35mm motion pic' format, had been the first mass produced one?

    Anyway, a half frame with a moderately wide angle lens would be very useful to me at the moment, or find a working Minox 35mm, as a notebook for my LF work - Yes, I know the compact digi' argument, but I have logical reasons for wanting a tiny film camera
     
  13. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    Yeah, 72 framea was clearly overkill. IMO.

    Just look at me, I'm killing myself in the darkroom for 6 month now printing 20 36 exposure films from my last project. Killing and I mean it. But I'm after perfection and I print my best ones @16x20 and even 20x24. Imagine my place with such prints laying around drying. Some on the floor, on all the tables, on all surfaces.

    Yes, my keeper rate is high. Now
    Imagine a crazy nut like myself having to go through 72 frames x 20, 30 or 40 every 3,4 or 6 months.
    And since I love grain and the tonality from 35mm negs, I guess I'd love my half-frame shots even more.

    I was on the fence many times to buy half-frame cameras but i didn't because of that.

    I can't
     
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  15. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Yes you can.

    Do it.

    Do it.
     
  16. jon koss

    jon koss Subscriber

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    Hi John - Hope this does not send you spiraling into the 7th circle of GAS, but have a peekie-poo at the middle window on this otherwise unassuming IIIa! Just what do we suppose is going on here!?

    J

     

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  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    oh crap .. :smile:

    its nice to be wrong
    thanks jon + grumpy old man

    at least we know half frame didn't die because of ... leica :tongue:
    john
     
  18. DesertNate

    DesertNate Member

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    If Kodak had been able to produce something like the New Portra in 1970, it would have made a tremendous difference for half-frame. As it was, the emulsions of the time were great for snapshots, but amateurs couldn't get the great results they were used to on the format, because of the photo-processors not having the capability and because emulsions just weren't good enough. Ironically, because emulsions are so much better now than they were then, the Pen series film cameras are a fantastic deal.
    You get APS-C level quality in a tiny package, and get 48-72 photos per roll. For those who process and scan their own negatives, quite good results can be had from a Pen, and while film savings are negligible, process and chemical savings are not negligible. For a PEN, I would shoot Portra 160, 400, 800, Velvia 50 and 100, and Ilford film through it for maximum image detail. It's nice for portraits, as it has a comfortable portrait orientation. Depth of field is deeper than you're used to for 35mm, but it's very usable. It's better than 110, better than those horrible disk cameras Kodak built, and you hardly have to carry any film, as one 36 exposure roll will last a whole day of tourism for the average photographer, or half a portrait shoot for the pro. No motor, so you're going to have some thumb exercise.
     
  19. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Half frame is dead???? Oh crap!
     
  20. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I understand that with some work you can modify one of those trendy APS / half-frame digital things to run genuine film through it. I haven't tried the modification myself yet, though.
     
  21. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Its funny, but half frame is an actual full movie frame, 35mm is a double frame of that. So technically half frame cameras are full frame, and 35mm cameras are double frame then! lol

    I really do like my Canon Demi S, its the only half frame camera I have. Its nice for sequences 2-3 frames wide. But at times its challenging to print. I use an adjustable glass neg carrier to fit them, and many times you have to block out a frame when doing a sequence and apply different times and dodge/burns. Then lens on it is ok, but large enlargements are impossible, just not enough information to print big with.

    Also like others have pointed out, 72 frames can take awhile, esp when you are stuck on the same film speed or a small range of film speeds like 100-200, or 400-800.

    I would like to get another half fame camera, either one like a older version such as a Mercury or a version like the Pen F/FT. Those would seem fun to use.

    I think the downfall is that smaller full frame 35mm cameras were invented that were smaller and better than these half frame cousins. The Olympus RC I have is about the size of the Demi, but its much easier to use, with lots of upgrades, and most importantly the lens on it is very good, much more so than the demi. The focusing is much more accurate as well, rangefinder patch vs zone.

    Now, time to get back and finally finish my 72 frames lol, its the only camera I have to use a bit of tape to write on the loading date, and film type/speed im shooting at.
     
  22. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    It gets better: at this very moment, Camera West has a half frame M4-P in stock, for a mere $22,995. Save those pennies... :smile:
     
  23. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

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    The half frame died because Olympus killed it with the OM1

    Not much bigger than the Pen FT and an awesome viewfinder

    David
     
  24. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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  25. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I started thinking maybe the Kodak Instamatic, Pocket Instamatic and Disc cameras took market share from the people who would have shot half-frame.

    But then I hit on something.

    It must not feel right to shoot verticals. Now I'm not saying it's wrong to make a camera with a natural portrait orientation. I know the mark of a professional is a good variety of portrait and landscape shots that would make it easier for the Art Director laying out magazines. Not every shot can be a double-truck.

    But if half-frame cameras had been made to comfortably shoot in horizontal orientation, it might have taken off.

    It might have been exciting to be able to mount motion-picture lenses on your still camera and get essentially the same shots the cinematographers were taking.

    Think about it, nobody makes a vertically-oriented d camera... even though there's no mechanical constraint.
     
  26. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    There's been some argument that d cameras should have square sensors but too many peeps are used to standard 35mm shaped horizontals.