Has the ideal medium format macro camera been made?
Reading a thread on barrel lenses on the LF forum, I got to thinking about macro photography using medium format (by that I mean 120 film - ideally 6x7, but any size 645 and up would qualify I suppose). I have aquired a bunch of enlarger lenses etc that would work fine for macro photography with MF but the problem is getting them into a shutter. So what would my dream MF macro camera need to have?
1> Focal plane shutter - pacemaker graphics, Pentax 6x7 - what else?
2> TTL viewing - ideally a waistlevel finder - so I guess it needs to be an SLR - can't figure out how else to focus and frame precisely at macro distances. I know Dan uses handheld pacemaker graphics so I am interested in his trick. GG focussing is possible but impractical in the field photographing live creatures.
3> Generous bellows - I would not want to depend on tubes with such a camera - so eliminates the Pentax
4> Movements - minimally tilt and swing - otherwise the move up from 35mm would not make much sense to me.
The 2x3 pacemakers seem to fulfil all but #2 and crucially doesn't offer swing. The Mamiya RB 67 is an SLR with bellows but no #1 and the extension offered is minimal. Any other candidates? Does my dream camera exist?
Sounds to me you are describing the Rolleiflex SL66
The RZ67 camera will do macro photography just by racking out the bellows. Exposure compensation is automatic with the meter prism. Adding an extension tube or two will allow you to do some pretty neat things.
Perfect cameras are like perfect women. You're better off settling for whatever comes your way, is affordable, and your friends don't want to steal. And if it happens to be a Swedish model built like a brick outhouse, so much the better.
Sorry. Couldn't resist.
Last edited by David Brown; 03-05-2007 at 06:15 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: sorry - re-read the OP and I was wrong ...
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There certainly are a number of medium format view cameras which offer full movements, alternatively you can just use a 4x5 with a roll-film back. Do you really want a focal-plane shutter for macro work with a bellows? It sounds like vibration city to me. With a bellows racked out for macro focusing and small apertures for the required DOF, you're going to have such long exposure times (including reciprocity, of course) that the old "take off the lens cap, keep an eye on the watch, put the lens cap back on" exposure method will probably work just fine.
Although that reminds me that when I had my Rollei SL66, I took many extremely sharp macro shots with exposures up to 10-12 seconds triggering the shutter by hand. The cable-release connection on that camera was stripped and I never got around to having it fixed. Damn, that was one heavy camera!
I shoot insects - damselflies, hoverflies etc - in the field. So GG focussing is not an option. I need the focal plane shutter to easily use my enlarger lenses. The hat-on-lens trick will scare my subjects away and I cannot afford more than a couple of seconds of exposure in the field on most days. Any slower and I'll use flash.
Originally Posted by bennoj
As for vibrations, most of the apparent vibration seems to come from the second curtain on my F3 (which has a prodigious "thwack" sound) and hence is irrelevant. Also for relatively long exposures - a second or more - the vibration issues become irrelevant.
Anupam, I'm sorry that I've given you the impression that I do macro work with a handheld Graphic. I shoot my Graphics closeup on tripod and 2-axis focusing rail. Sooner or later I'll get a little lab jack to get adjustability in 3 dimensions. Rotation in 3 dimensions would be nice too, but is impossible on my budget.
I've thought about how to use my Graphics handheld. My best idea is a very old one. Magnification-specific focusing frame. I don't like it, set up with an adjustable camera seems too difficult.
I'm puzzled by your desire for movements. Remember that swing and tilt are used in situations where it isn't practical to position the camera to make the film plane parallel to the desired plane of best focus. In macro work its usually possible to move the camera or subject to accomplish that. And swing and tilt -- but not rise and shift -- are pretty incompatible with shooting handheld.
Without knowing the range of magnifications you want to work at its hard to suggest gear. I believe that your budget is limited, that will also limit your options.
Enlarging lenses have to be stopped down manually before exposure, but focusing and composing are best done with the lens wide open. So you're going to have a hard time with mobile subjects if you shoot with an enlarging lens.
Bellows are heavier and clumsier than extension tubes. Some MF cameras, e.g. the SL66 and RB/RZ as were mentioned earlier in this thread and Bronica S/S2/EC/ECTL as not mentioned yet, have built-in bellows so with them using tubes to get more or less the extension desired is compatible with getting exactly the magnification you want. Yes, the RB/RZ don't have focal plane shutters but there are good macro lenses for them, and I suspect that lenses in shutter can be adapted to them.
About putting enlarging lenses in shutter. Depends on the lens. I have 100/5.6 Componon, 105/4.5 Comparon, and 105/5.6 Componon-S, all of whose cells will go directly into a #0 shutter. If you check, you'll find that Schneider and Rodenstock enlarging lenses' cells will usually go into a shutter. I also have a couple of Boyer Saphir BXs whose cells go into #1. This is a problem for reversing the things. Unfortunately I don't think that my Enlarging Pro Raptars' cells will go into shutter. But then I also have a 105/5.6 El Nikkor with all of the adapters needed to front mount it facing either way on a #1; any lens in M39 can be front mounted on a #1 fairly inexpensively. Many are the choices ...
I've shot as high as 5:1 in the field with my Graphics. I don't recommend going much above 1:1. For me, the big advantage of the larger format is that it lets me put more in the frame without giving up fine detail. I can get the, um, big picture better and keep good detail in the main subject much better with 6x9 ISO 100 Ektachrome than with 135 KM. In fact, I have to work hard at resisting the temptation to fill the 6x9 frame with the main subject, as is often necessary when shooting 35 mm.
Good luck, have fun, go back to the drawing board,
Well, again the RZ offers everything but the focal plane shutter. It also has tilts and swings to a certain extent. I am not calling it ideal, but it is pretty good for this sort of thing. And, you don't have to use your enlarger lenses.
Would this make flash a choice? TTL flash is nice for things like this.
Originally Posted by Anupam Basu