Where does Medium Format Fit in?
I have a bit of a conundrum lately-
Mainly about gear. I find myself shooting around 3 formats for a shoot, which works for me. Last shoot it was 4x5, Digital, and some polaroids. But I have so much stuff I want to try making images with, and I can't use it all at once. I've been thinking of really considering unloading some, or at least clearly defining it's strengths.
However, I have a hard time finding a place for Medium format. I love it, I love shooting it, but I don't shoot it as often as I should.
I have a plethora of equipment by many standards. My camera of choice lately has been my Graflex Super D 4x5 SLR. I can shoot it handheld, and the images it makes are beautiful. And when I need something faster, or more agile, I can use my Nikon F or F6.
I really want to fall in love with my Hasselblad Kit, but apart from travel where the 4x5 would be impractical, i'm not sure where medium format fits in. I don't do a whole lot of travel, so I don't really use my MF kit... I have a Yashica Mat, which is by far, hands down, my favorite camera for IR photography due to separate taking and viewing lenses, but for portraiture i'd rather have the 500CM and my 80 or 150.
Am I missing something? MF is great if you can't shoot LF on the fly, but is there a point of a system that is slower than 35mm to use, and less IQ than LF, without much advantage in speed of use? The only advantage I can think of is size of negative compared to size of camera, or the amount of images easially carried preloaded, in which case the Hasselblad wins for both size and daylight-loadable film. but for low light, 35mm wins, and for high quality (or in my case, I love the way optics of larger formats look), LF wins.
Are there people out there who can successfully shoot 35mm up to 8x10 as I do, without feeling burdened by too much gear cluttering the process?
Well, i got into MF purely as a step-up from 35mm, and for me it has its place.
Started with aps-c DSLR, didn't go FF digital like i always presumed i would, instead I went 35mm Film so I could re-use my lenses I already had. From there I branched a bit, got 35mm Rangefinders for extreme portability when hiking (ie, camera in one hand, bottle of water in the other, car keys and phone in pockets, nothing else). It's slower than my (d)SLRs, but that's made up for in weight.
The other way I went is MF, pentacon 6 and hasselbladski, and mamiya 645af. The 6x6s are 'semi automatic', lightmeter on prisms, then manually adjust shutter speed and aperture. The 645 is even more auto, just point, focus, aperture priority, shoot. The 645 is not as fast as the 35mm, but IQ is better. The 6x6s are slower again but the negatives are a touch bigger, not having to tilt my hands to shoot 'portrait' with the 645 is enough to make it worthwhile (and IQ is exactly the same, I just use my 6x6 lenses on 645 with adapter).
I've just bought into 4x5 (yes, another Travelwide-convert). I'm certain that I will get much higher IQ than any of those systems just from the huge negatives/slides. I'm also well aware that I'll lose TTL metering, which every other camera of mine has (except a fixed-lens rangefinder with selenium around the lens). So that means light-meter and external viewfinder. Focussing will also just be a hyperfocal kludge, or an add-on rangefinder too.
So for me, there's a direct link between IQ, portability, and speed of use, and I'll take my horses to whatever courses demand it. Hiking long distances: Bessa and Velvia. Sports: 7D (maybe EOS3). Street: Bessa or EOS3. Driving and walking <100m: MF. Lowlight concerts: EOS3 (and f/1.2-1.4 lenses with 800 film) or MF (120/2.8 or 180/2.8 and Delta3200). Fun: whatever camera I haven't used in a while. Where the Travelwide(s) fit in I'll just wait and see, maybe it'll do Long hikes, maybe Short walks, maybe Street (personally i can't imagine street without Av and TTL, but I know a lot of people do, so maybe I'll learn). The trade-off there is going to be cost added into the equation too. MF costs maybe $1-2 a frame developed, 35mm 50c-$1. 4x5 will be closer to $10 a frame (my aussie prices for buying new Velvia and lab-developing, ymmv). So (at least to start with), LF is going to be a bit of a specialty, <5 shots on an outing, and I'll probably carry it alongside another camera for the more 'throwaway' shots.
I think you've already summed up where your hassy would fit, where you want more IQ than your F6 and can't carry an LF (and that includes enough holders for whatever you want to shoot). You sound like you're very adept at your LF camera, if you can use it almost as fast as your hassy, then you either need to learn to use the hassy faster, or just take ease-of-use out of the equation and focus on IQ vs Portability. Not sure if you're a pro when you say "my last shoot", if you're getting paid for this then cost is less of an issue, but for us hobbyists with day-jobs and mortgages, I just can't ignore cost-per-frame (i wish I could).
Last edited by Dr Croubie; 04-30-2013 at 08:08 PM. Click to view previous post history.
An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.
Not all medium format cameras are the same. Some like your Hasselblad may be slow to use. I personally use a Rollei 6008i with built in metering and motor winder. It can be set on full auto except for focusing. There are a couple of more expensive models that have auto focus. If you are shooting a Hy6 at the same speed as a 4x5 purely because of the mechanics of the camera something is very wrong.
Originally Posted by EASmithV
A lot of this stuff boils down to personal choice. The image quality jump from 35mm to MF is so big I only use 35mm nowadays for special situations (E-6 for mounting, emulsions not available in other formats, etc). I have a DSLR so I can capture plenty of nice pictures with a speedy camera. Unlike some people on this forum I have no animosity towards digital. I use it on occasion. I've just been focusing on film because I've been changing film and developers so I need to really experiment more and see where things settle out on the film end. Anyway if you are happy with the image quality of 35mm then there is no need to have MF in the line up. That's a personal choice. Some people are satisfied with images taken with plastic lenses. If someone is happy with an image from a plastic lens why tell them to get a $500 lens?
What I wonder about though is I shoot very differently when I move up in formats. I shoot far less with film than digital. And I make even fewer shots when I shoot MF. With large format I can't imagine I would shoot much at all. I have aspirations to move up to LF but I can't see myself ditching my MF gear if that were to happen. I have a 645 back for my Rollei with which I can squeeze 16 images onto a roll. I just don't see myself shooting 16 4x5 images in an afternoon. That just seems way expensive... or I should say unaffordable. And again there are fewer emulsions in LF. I can't see myself writing off all the emulsions available exclusively to nonLF cameras.
its not really about having a "place" for a MF camera ...
its just about enjoying what you have ...
I have basically standardized on 6x6. Orginally shot 35mm and shot that for a long time. Then when I was getting more into shooting I got a hasselblad. I love that camera. Then I got a 4x5 enlarger so i had to get a 4x5 camera. I really enjoyed shooting 4x5, I loved everything about it. Movements, neg, handling, I really loved everything but it could not be my only camera. Thats where I get back to the hasselblad. I have found through focusing techniques I can almost do the same pictures with a non-movement camera that I did with the 4x5. And I can also use it as a grab shot camera, then put it on a tripod and shoot landscapes, I can then go into the woods and shoot wildlife. I have just found the hasselblad to be my do everything camera. It will be going up to Alaska with me this year while I guide fishing trips and will be my do all camera up there also.
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I learned to use my Hasselblads (nearly) as quickly as my 35mm SLRs on the street. The larger neg, interchangeable backs, and (relatively) compact size make it a life saver when I want to shoot rapidly, but maintain a certain image quality. My Leicas are faster by far, but they fulfill a very different roll than the Hasselblads.
It really always boils down to the fact that the Hasselblad is the do it all camera. Nearly everyone ultimately finally comes to that inescapablel conclusion and they are right. I have a room full of cameras and the only one that nearly comes close in any way is the Rollei SL66. And, yes I do have a Hasselblad, too.
I'm not familiar with the experience of shooting 4x5 handheld, even though I do have an old Graflex 4x5. But I'm not sure that MF is any slower to use than 35mm, other than having to change film more often. In particular I'm thinking of my MF rangefinder systems like the Mamiya 6 and the Fuji GF670. These are very compact, agile, easy to use and of course the IQ blows 35mm away.
But I guess the bottom line is, you use what you want to use. Of course if the bulk of your photography is professional work then factors like practicality, efficiency and overhead may come into play. Fortunately for me it is purely a hobby!
Medium format fits very nicely in my enlarger, and my slide projector, and my freezer and fridge.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
I think if someone told me I had to give up all but one format, that one would be medium format with my Hasselblad system. 35mm looks good and has that certain PJ look to it, 4x5 is flat out stunning if you can avoid the pre-exposure dust but 120 film just really has it all.