Shutter speed limitations
I am considering various 645 models for my 1st MF buy. I am leaning towards a Mamiya 645 Pro since it seems to have the best value for money/specs/quality ratio.
However, the more I snoop around the more new brands/models show up I did not know about with pretty good/lower than the Mamiya prices.
Many have almost all necessary specs at least IMO (mirror locking, metering, changeable backs etc) but they seem to have one serious limitation, a low top shutter speed of 1/500 or even 1/400.
I've been shooting digital for about 5 years now so with my D300s which has 1/8000 top shutter speed I never had such issues. With my old Pentax MX I can go up to 1/1000 which I trust it is fast enough for almost any situation, but 1/500 or 1/400 is a whole different case.
So, I would like some feedback as to how actually limiting are such speeds on everyday use.
Yes, there are various ways of overcoming this limitation on a brightly lit situation like stopping down or using a filter etc. but this might compromise image quality which voids the whole point of having a MF camera IMO.
All thoughts on the matter most welcome with many thanks in advance.
Medium format film, being significantly bigger than 35mm, has inherently shallower depth of field, meaning that, in general, MF lenses have maximum diafragm aperture ratios that are smaller than 35mm lenses. This usually leads to slower shutter speeds needed to gather the same amount of light. Therefore, unless using ISO 1600/3200 film in very sunny conditions I would not see top shutter speeds of 1/500th of a second to be very limiting in real life situations. In the very specific cases in which such shutter speeds are required, then it is possible to use neutral density filters.
Last edited by mauro35; 03-06-2014 at 05:30 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I have never found a low top speed in any way limiting, in fact many of my cameras, both 35mm and MF folders have prontor shuters with a top speed of 300, and only my Rolleis for MF have the old compur shutters with a top of 500, before that for many years I used a Bronica etrsi with a top speed of 500, these are all between lens shutters,and the great advantage is that you have flash sync at all shutter speed, great if you do any outside portraits or anything else using fill flash, and how often do you need these very fast shutter speeds, even with 400 films, and if you do a lot of landscape the you need slower speeds and more depth of field, with some MF with focal plane shutters you have 1000, I believe the mamiyas go to this, but even with my old pentax's I very rarely used a fast shutter speed, so I wouldn't worry about a faster shutter, just use what you have
A few times I find the maximum shutter speed limiting, even with my maximum aperture only f/3.5. Sometimes even ISO 100 film does not help. As another person mentioned, f/3.5 is still pretty shallow DOF with medium format (especially my 6 x 7). In rare cases, I can see how one might need a neutral density filter.
You can even shoot ISO50 if need be too.
I would say that this shutter limitation is not too big a deal once you get used to it. All my cameras now shoot at best 1/700 sec.
I don't think I have ever used a shutter speed higher than 1/250 on any camera of any format!
I certainly wouldn't consider a top sped of 1/500 to be restrictive.
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
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That "whole different case" is only one stop.
Originally Posted by hoakin1981
Perhaps a slower film? Put PanF in the camera and you'll have 1/400 at f5.6 in bright sun.
the shortest shutter time for MF shutters is mainly limited mechanically by the firmness of the materials used. Only very few horizontal 35 mm shutters with rubberized cloth blinds could reach 1/2000 sec. (OM-4, Leicaflex...), most only 1/1000 sec. The acceleration and the forces which act on the materials are even much higher with the longer way of the MF shutter. More modern shutters like the Copal Leitz shutter use the shorter 24 mm way and steel blades, the most modern types which run 1/4000 or 1/8000 sec., use aluminum, titanium foil or high strength high-tec polymers. A central shutter like the Compur comes to its limits with 1/500 sec., 1/1000 sec. with a central shutter is rare.
The Pentax 645N will give you 1/1000th but not interchangeable backs although you can load another insert and swop that at any time. You have to do a mid-roll rewind with the insert that is already there.
While it is a hand-holdable camera it is essentially not a sports/ fast wildlife camera. For most pictures of birds in flight or motorcycle races I'd want the likes of a F100/F5 with a 300mm f2.8.
Two comments: The lack of interchangeable backs may not prove to be the drawback you think they are and with the right lens such as a 200mm or 300mm( about 125mm/190mm equivalent in 35mm) and 1/1000th speed some fast action shots are perfectly possible
It's not a practical limitation. About the only situation where it could be would be shooting in bright sunlight with a fast film and a wide aperture. If you must do that, then you'll need to resort to a neutral density filter.
Even for fast action, 500 is sufficient for most situations, you may not stop the white letters on the sidewalls of a race car, but if you're panning you'd still get a sharp photo of the car.
They ARE limiting if you shoot fast film, even given MF has much less DOF than 35mm. Especially since w/ older cameras, 1/500 is usually only hitting an actual 1/350 on a good day, but more often than not its 1/300. I get around that by shooting Tri-X at 100 ISO and drop it another stop for the yellow filter. It's sorta compressed tonality but I like it. If you primarily shoot landscapes then the speeds are not an issue. Same w/ slow, fine grained film. So it really depends more on what film you like to shoot and what subjects.
This limited shutter speed issue is why I finally sold my trusty Nikkormat FT2 and went to a Nikon N8008s w/ its top speed of 1/8000. It lets me be flexible w/ my Tri-X and get wide aperture shots in bright sun. I still have an EM and FG, but they have been sitting in a drawer for some time. I always grab the N8008s, and it's largely because of its faster shutter. If all you have is a max of 1/300 actual speed and you put a red filter on, you can be in trouble in some situations if you expect to hand hold it.
Last edited by momus; 03-06-2014 at 07:42 AM. Click to view previous post history.