Why did you choose MF?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by PamelaHL, Jun 20, 2004.

  1. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

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    I think I'm going to purchase a 6x6 MF (Hasselblad 503CW) this week, though I'm a tad nervous at the investment (I feel a bit too inexperienced to own a MF). I am wondering why y'all chose MF for yourelves?

    Thanks! I am so looking forward to the replies ...
     
  2. wiseowl

    wiseowl Member

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    Bigger negative, pure and simple.
     
  3. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Interesting question. I was in one of those 'moods' shall we say. I looked at my life at the ripe old age of 30 and wondered where all my talents had gone. At that time I was a very corporate person and was quite successful at it too.

    But I had 'lost' all my artistic abilities. I used to play the sax, so I went out and bought a sax and now I play every now and then at local places. I used to be quite a potter, so I now I go at least once a week and create tea pots and bowls and mugs for my friends and family - and my reports at work for their Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, etc.. and my admin for her special days - like her wedding for example. I was quite the athlete too and got back into the sports I liked - and others I never tried like SCUBA.

    And I use to take pictures - a lot. When I was 12 my dad gave me a Pentax ME for my birthday. I used to take pics for the school paper and university I freelanced for local papers. So 8 years after university I wondered, where did my passion for photography, like all my other passions go? Surely the corporate world didn't suck all that up?

    So I cleaned up my Nikon F4e, bought a new 28-70mm zoom for it, and then went to Calumet in Chicago one day to get a polarizer filter. Well, passing by the Hasselblad display and seeing the 'toys' made me wonder. Looking through the display model and holding that wonderful piece of engineering in my hands, sealed the deal for that sales guy.

    The square format has unlocked my passion again. I just love taking pics with my Hassey. Add to that my rediscovery of films, like Scala and infra-red and my new style of photographing beautiful women - you could say I was hooked.

    Art.
     
  4. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    Hello Pamela,
    Good questions are hard to answer easily. Every camera format has its charms. Years ago I used to have a Mamiya 645 and sold it/ traded it in for a Leica M. Never regretted it but.....not so long ago I dug out the old 120 negs again and found they were easy to print. Also the subjects I took pictures of were different..as if more thinking had got into them. MF slows you down a bit and that can be a good thing in certain situations.
    Drawbacks? Yes, plenty: more weight, you'll have to have a handheld meter etc. Anyway I acquired a Pentax 645 and glad I did.
    If you're nervous about the amount you are about to fork out...wait awhile..with the digital revolution in full frenzy all things analogue can only become cheaper.
    Once you have really decided full-heartedly you won't regret it. Looking back will only land you on the shrink's couch anyway :smile:
    Good luck
    Hans
     
  5. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I bought one (Mamiya 645) on an auction site real cheap... Can't remember what made me bid, but am happy I did. My camera is a real beater but works and I've since added a couple of lenses, also cheap... I'd like a camera with changable backs so always on the lookout for something suitable (not Hassy though... can't afford the lenses!). The larger negs are much nicer to work with.
     
  6. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Pamela, the basic reason for a MF is the image size and consequent increase in information recording capability that goes along with it.

    If you are unsure about this purchase, consider renting a camera and trying it out that way.

    Another less expensive way to "get your feet wet" is to buy a good used Hassleblad or a twin lens reflex (Yashica, Minolta, Rolleiflex, Rolleicord, etc). Bruce Barnbaum got into B&W photography with a Yashica TLR.

    If you choose the "used" route, find a good, reliable MF camera repair person to check out any cameras you are interested in.
     
  7. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I love the larger negatives. The thought of winding another 35mm roll onto one of those dang blasted *$^%#@& reels *&+#@$ kinks &%^$@$# doesn't fit right #%#@&^$ in the dark &$#^@#%& bends *%^@&&%$@ sticks together in the tank *^@$#^%$ hate them.

    My Mamiya 7II feels like a pregnant 35mm to hold, but weighs nearly the same. I love it and the ease of using it. It doesn't have interchangeable backs, but to me that is the only down side of the camera.
     
  8. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    Oh, yes no interchangeable back, the old story. Rubbish! Once you have found something interesting to take/make a picture of....what's a roll when things are rocking?
     
  9. ThomHarrop

    ThomHarrop Member

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    Bigger negative. Greater system versatility. I can go from 45mm to 300mm with my Pentax in a few seconds. This gives me a greatly enhanced range of angles and "looks" for my shot. I can also make 12 images in the time it would take to set up my 4x5 (even though I use a speed graphic). There are a few good reasons to use large format still (individual zone placement, large negative for alternative process) but with modern films medium format is the way to go otherwise.
     
  10. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Pamela,
    I have to say pretty much the same as everyone else - bigger negative, easier to print. But what actually got me to make the jump was a friend placing a old Rollieflex in my hands and then when I looked down at the focusing screen, I was hooked!
    Couldn't afford a Rollie so I got a Yashica MAt 124G. Shooting and printing those bigger negs was such a dream.
    I now have a couple of Fuji rangefinders and love using them.
    If you are tentative on the Hassy price, used Bronica SQ-A's are very affordable these days. Good luck with your decision.
    gene
     
  11. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Pamela,
    Same as everyone else, though I wish the negative was still larger. I have a Mamiya 645 (original, non-remmoveable back) and wish I could switch backs. Also, JDEF is right on (I think he is using an RB or RZ 67) which has a rotating back - only one with that feature I think - anyone? Have started working with a Crown Graphic, 4x5, and really love the big negative. So, before you make the jump, looking into one of these you can get a roll film back for it. The prices are falling so don't limit yourself - if you can get your hands on several different kinds of cameras do so. Also, consider the darkroom side of things - enlarger, etc.

    Good luck and enjoy..
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Why did I first get into MF from 35mm?--Bigger neg and richer tonality.

    Why do I keep my MF system now that I shoot large format?--Functionality of an SLR with a bigger neg than 35mm. I also have a couple of MF folders that I like for their portability and classic lenses, as well as a TLR that I like for its lens and the fact that it's quieter and less obtrusive than an SLR.
     
  13. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Why? It's what I started with and it just feels right. 35mm was a second choice that replaced medium format film for a long time for cost and convenience reasons but as soon as I could afford it I went back to 2 1/4 film. And with my eyesight getting worse the large negs are a pretty nice thing to look at!
     
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  15. Grady O

    Grady O Member

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    My main reson is bigger a negative. It gives much better quality than 35mm, but still has the flexibility of being hand held and using roll film (compared to 4x5).
     
  16. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Because I wanted people to ask me if that was a Hasselblad, no one ever did. They all asked me what kind of digital camera was that. Of course, as soon as I pulled out the Linhof 4x5, they all asked me if it was a Hasselblad...... :smile:

    Joking aside, I found the Hassleblad to fit, I loved the lenses, and as was mentioned before, when I am in the mood for snapshots, it delivers quality from a handheld camera.
     
  17. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Pamela,

    As many above have noted, the biggest reason is the improved print quality from the larger negative.

    Actually, I started with a Ricohflex TLR when I was doing yearbook photography in high school. Unfortunately, I had no darkroom then and did no printing. After college, I bought a new 35mm SLR (that style was "in" then) and used it happily until I set up a darkroom several years later. I was greatly disappointed by the print quality from 35mm negatives; of course, Tri-X was big then, but so was the grain it produced in prints. Plus-X was bearable, but I never could come to like it. (Where was T-Max when I needed it?)

    In a photo store one day, I bought, on impluse, an old Ansco Speedex folding camera. After printing the first 120 negatives, I knew that MF was for me. I went on to other TLR's, a Mamiya Super 23, a miniature Speed Graphic, the Koni-Omega system I still use, and, recently a Fuji 6 x 7 rangefinder. Overall, my preference in MF is 6 x 7 or larger. Naturally, all this soon led also to 4 x 5 . . .

    It all comes down to print quality. Getting a good print from 35mm is work; the larger negatives make everything a lot easier.

    Konical
     
  18. Doug Bennett

    Doug Bennett Member

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    Bigger negatives, for sure. The allure of some of the old folding cameras. However, as another poster noted, when I looked down into the viewfinder of a Yashica Mat, I was hooked.

    An unexpected plus: the pleasure of working with leaf shutters. They're quiet, no mirror slapping around, and they open up a whole new world of possibilities when using a flash!

    Doug
     
  19. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

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    Thanks for the wealth of responses and for sharing your stories, experiences, thoughts, advice, reasons ...

    I did rent a Hasselblad 503CW this weekend. Unfortunately, it had the winder and prism, but it gave me a good idea. It definitely required me to slow things down a bit, I often use the wrong number (from my new-to-me Luna Pro S light meter -- I'd use the light meter reading rather than the EV), I forgot to change the ASA on the prism, so figuring out DOF was crazy ... But there was something awesome (as in inspiring awe) about it; I felt quite serious! I was more careful about choosing each shot. I'll look forward to seeing the results & then will know for sure. Either way, I appreciate your stories and look forward to hearing more!
     
  20. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    I got into MF in quite a roundabout way. When I started photography when I was about 17 I used the darkroom at the photographic society I joined. The 35mm enlargers were not very good so I used to work with a little used Opemus 6. Although the large negative carrier was easy to use with 35mm the sheer size of it intrigued me. A few months later I was passing my local camera store and saw a Yashicmat for sale at a very reasonable price. I bought it and after a few films was hooked. It mattered not that I could not change lenses or had to use a separate light meter. In fact the single lens forced me to look critically at composistion and making the best of what I had and the separate light meter made me think more carefully about exposure. But what really made an impression was the shear quality of the negatives both in terms of sharpness and tonality. I must admit that it took me many years before my vision matured sufficiently to fully appreciate, what I consider to be the superior tonality of the larger negative but the apparent improvement in sharpness was immediately apparent. Ironically although most of my medium format cameras have been 6x6 I never made square prints. This is something I intent to explore in the future (albeit some 30 years after starting with MF)
     
  21. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    MF negatives properly exposed and processed will enable you to make reasonably sized prints that approach the quality of LF. In addition some offer the flexiblity of having individual interchangable backs for normal, plus and minus devlelopment, a big bonus IMO. I have 5 backs for my Mamiya 645 just in case I need to deal with extreme contrast and have to give more than one stop plus or minus development. Consider carefully your intention to buy Hasselblad, IMO they are grossly over rated and very over priced.
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Les makes some good points. I also use 5 backs, and that's part of the reason I use a Bronica S2A--used backs are around $80 a piece and they take both 120 and 220. This would get really prohibitive with a Hassy.

    If cost is a concern, then you might ask yourself whether you can take better photographs with a smaller Hassy system or a larger system of some other brand. My Bronica system with 9 lenses, 5 backs, prism, 2 bodies, grips, tilt-shift bellows, extension tubes, and other accessories cost me about as much as a Hassy with three basic lenses and two backs, including what I spent to overhaul both bodies and a few of the backs. I figure I can take better photos with, say, the 40mm or 500mm lens in my bag than the one I can only dream of.
     
  23. harveyje

    harveyje Subscriber

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    If you enjoy using true quality equipment then the Hasselblad has no equal. It seems to inspire you to live up to that quality and take the time to do things right. (At least IMHO.)
     
  24. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    I have to agree here with respect to Hasselblad. One doesn't have to buy a Aston Martin car or a Louis Vuiton hand bag or any other luxury item. But, people do. Buying a Hasselblad is like the purchase of a photographic muse in your hands. For me it is.

    Art.
     
  25. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

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    This is a delightful discussion!

    My lab technician is on vacation and the person who was to process film this week couldn't make it. So I won't get my 120 film back until next week. I don't trust it to anybody else. I had hoped to see the results and make a decision before I head to the Rainforest next week.

    Any thoughts on whether I will forever regret being in the rainforest with only a 35 mm, having waited an extra week on the MF?

    About the Mamiya's, etc. ... I want a 6x6, and from what I understand, only Hasselblad and Bronica make 6x6's of any repute. Rollei makes a TLR, but I understand that is a rather involved contraption to manage. I'd like to be able to use the MF to shoot children, for instance, so I need to hand-hold and be able to change settings easily.

    Again, I thank you for sharing your thoughts with me so generously!
     
  26. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    The thing about MF is that it will slow you down, as you discovered. Almost like savoring a creme brulee versus chomping on a chicken wing! So I'm not sure you'd regret not having your Ferrari of cameras in the rain forest. Now I take my Hassey everywhere I go - even on vacation - so, I'd go to any jungle with it.

    It just depends on your level of passion in photography. If you want to 'feel' that picture being taken, then you will regret it. On the other hand if just see so many monkeys and such and wish you could spray and pray, maybe a 35 mm with a motor drive would be best - even, dare I say it - a digital camera!

    Art.