Hello Texas Leica!!!
I finally won an auction for a medium format film camera - a Fuji GSW 690II SW for $445. I am particularly excited because I had honed in on the Fuji line of MF cameras but was always outbid. This was a little more than I was willing to pay (wanted to keep it sub $400) but my sense is, assuming this camera is in good condition, this is a decent price.
I've used strictly DSLR (Nikon D40 and now a D90) as a hobbyist but my wife started getting into film as part of formal photography classes. I researched a bit into film and was blown away by the quality larger format cameras are capable of capturing. In general, the Fuji line seemed to be the most compact and accessible and, not the least of which, far more affordable.
Unfortunately, the shipper is doing what I think is parcel post so it may take upwards of a month to get here LOL. In the meantime I wanted to do as much research as I could.
Some questions I had if anybody could provide some guidance:
1) Light metering
I understand this line of cameras has no light meter. I know I could use the meter in my DSLR set to manual but I foresee my using the MF in times when I might not even carry around the DSLR. Any recommendations on an affordable / entry level light meter?
Any recommendations on color and BW film for the Fuji GSW 690II SW? I will likely use 120s equally for the price and the forced discipline of fewer exposures per roll. (Wow this is going to be such a change from my DSLR!!)
If possible I would like to minimize the cost of developing film. I would anticipate having colored film developed at a lab given how involved it is. However, I would consider developing BW at home. Any issues I should consider?
I definitely would consider scanning negatives at home and saving them as TIFF (which I understand preserves the greatest amount of range in the shot). For this, I've been eyeing the CanoScan 9000F. I've read that the Nikon Coolscan scanners are of particularly great quality but just way outside of my price range. From the TIFFs, I plan to export to JPG for online publishing or print to photo paper using an Epson Artisan 710. Again, any recommendations on this setup would be appreciated.
How do you folks carry this brick? LOL
Welcome to APUG. I am sure you will get plenty good advice.
Meters either measure reflected light (some measure small spot) or light falling on the scene (incident). It is easier to get a correct light meter reading with incident meters. But spotmeters give you more information to study (and possibly mis-interpret). I generally do not feel confident when metering with an averaging reflected light meter.
Yes, use black and white or color film. Here the choice is all yours.
Developing, I'd recommend stainless steel tank that can hold two reels. Everyone raves about "Hewes" reels, so look for a pair of those. Black and white developing seems easy to me. I find color complicated, but have heard it is very easy these days.
Scanning, While I don't pass judgment on people who choose to scan (aside from going "ick"), talking about it here is expressly discouraged. APUG is special because it remains a place where discussions are geared towards using Analog processes all the way to print. You will find this part of your discussions are encouraged at sister site DPUG, just a click away from APUG.
Bag, I just carry large cameras in a backpack, or when shooting - in the crook of my elbow.
Hello and welcome the.ronin, I will recommend the Sekonic L-208 meter, got mine for Christmas. I have had a Sekonic L-428 for years, and wanted something smaller and lighter. The 208 is plastic but with that in mind it should be as durable as the metal L-428.
For developing Im happy with my plastic Paterson tank and reels for 35 and 120 film.
“In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took,
but how many moments took your breath away.”
― Shing Xiong
Welcome to the film world. Most of us here began in film, many never ventured to digital. I shoot both, but 90% of my stuff is B&W film.
1. Light meters can be found for a song on Ebay. I recently replaced an old meter with a still old, but younger Gossen Luna Pro (converted to newer batteries) for about $80. This is just one of the many great meters that can be found for little money. It is not digital (analog meter), but does the job well and you can get accessories for very little money too.
2. Film, my favorite films were discontinued awhile back, Kodak Plus X and Panatomic X, so I moved over to Tri X, which I have also year (decades) of experience shooting. But, do not limit yourself, play with different films to see what you like. Small grain, large grain, low contrast, high contrast, etc. A great place to look for film and darkroom supplies is Freestyle. They carry the best selection of film I have seen. http://www.freestylephoto.biz/c40-Black-and-White-Film I do not shoot much color film (that is what digital is for), because processing is so-so unless you get lucky. Others here will correctly point out that color negatives can be processed at home and scanned, but I am one of those that believes scanning should only be done to post something on the internet. My photos in my house are all wet processed. That is why I only shoot B&W film, I cannot process color prints at home.
3. As said, developing is a snap for B&W negatives, and not hard for color negatives either. Printing B&W at home is also a snap, and a few hundred dollars (again Ebay is your friend) can get you a nice starter darkroom setup. Mine is nothing special, it is in the basement under the stairs. I do not have running water there (would be nice), so I have to drop my prints in a bucket and carry them upstairs for washing. My carpets are proof of this, you can see the stains on them, but I tell my wife the dog did it.
4. Scanning, well I have a scanner, actually two. A Canon 8800f and a Plustek. The Plustek does a good job with B&W, so-so with color. The Canon does so-so with both, but does not have the resolution of the Plustek. That said, I feel if I scan an image I may as well have shot it with digital as well. That is why neither scanners get much use.
5. Carrying any camera is a hassle if it is big. I have a Hasselblad 501 and Mamiya C330F, plus a Leica M6 that I keep with me in the car most of the time. They are in a single camera bag, along with film and meter. If I am going to shoot something I take the camera out that I want to use and carry it in a much smaller camera bag. I hate dragging all that stuff around unless I need it.
Again, welcome, and lets see some photos from your work.
I think that was one of the auctions I was watching... Congratulations. The GSW's go for a bit more than the GW's, so I think you got a good deal (assuming it's in good shape). I just won a GW, a few days ago. Coming from Japan so it will be awhile...
One of the things you'll have to get used to is using a rangefinder. It's a bit different than the DSLR you're used to, but shouldn't take long to figure out. As TOTC said, meters can be had for a song. Sunny 16 will also get you started.
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Thank you everyone for your very insightful feedback!
Bill, yes, of what I've researched, I plan to stick to BW because of what some claim is a more involved, bigger error margin process to develop color. Also, I apologize, I should've known better than to bring up scanning in an analog forum. Thank you for the heads up on the tank - I had a single reel tank on my checklist.
one90guy, this is not the first that the Sekonic was recommended. Specifically the 608 and 208 as you also recommended. Thank you for your confirmation on this.
Too old, you may be the first I've come across to say that color developing is not too hard in comparison to BW. I've actually not done much more research into color developing once I came across what I had thought until now was a unanimous claim that color was too involved. I will be looking into this for sure. Thanks for responding to the scanner question as well. Your statement about shooting digital rather than scanning is something I've struggled with in this decision to jump into film. I am going ahead with a scanner (partly due to affordability and equally due to my impatience in waiting for the photo lab). It could very well be that I end up in the same place as you.
eddie, I'm sorry about the auction. I say that because I was in your shoes for at least 3 prior auctions on similar MF film cameras. For what it's worth, and if you were the one I got into a bidding war with during the last seconds, you drove me well past my (read: wife's) budget LOL! Although I will likely go with a meter, I definitely need to read up on the Sunny 16 rule.
Thanks again everyone and apologies for introducing digital post development into my first post. And along the same vein, I'd love to share my photos but they are all digital. I will most definitely share my MF photos once I am comfortable ... just ignore the likelihood that it was digitally scanned please.
P.S. Just got confirmation from the seller that he had shipped the GSW690II and I should get it in less than 10 days rather than a month. So stoked.
I didn't bid against you, on that one...
+1 on the L208 meter. Nice entry-level one that can be had new. The battery lasts forever. An off-the-wall alternative idea is, watch auctions on goodwill.com or even eBay for random photographic things, such as old film SLRs. You'll sometimes see pretty good vintage meters (Weston Master, etc.) thrown in with them. I have received 2 or 3 1950s/1960s meters this way accidentally with cameras. You could instead view it the other way round, as getting a meter for less than the new price of the L208 (about USD 100), with a film camera accidentally obtained in the process.
Getting into film happens in steps, and none of it is hard. You can develop without a darkroom, and I find that color is just as easy as B&W. Water temperature (and chemical temp) is everything, remember that. And because this happens in steps, scanning at first is easier than setting up a darkroom, so I'll pipe in on that one. I have a Canon 9000f and love it. But you should also get better scanning software, like VueScan or Silverlight. It makes a great deal of difference. And then when you have the funds, time and space, build a darkroom and find out why everyone here prefers prints made this way, it'll blow your mind.
I shoot a GL690 and it is awesome. Occasionally I put a roll of black and white through it but I bought for slide film and that is what I use 90% of the time. Its a bit expensive but GOODNESS, they are GORGEOUS. I toss em up on my light table and drool all over them. If you are going to shoot this camera you just gotta try some Fuji Velvia! Your eyes will never recover.