A medium format SLR is great for quick handheld snapshots, candids, over-the-head shots with a waist-level finder, dynamic or informal studio portraits, and all kinds of situations where an 8x10" camera with groundglass viewing can be impractical. Sure you lose some image quality with medium format, but sometimes it's the only way to get the shot. I'd say go for it!
I have a friend that shoots a D100, shoots weddings, portraits etc. We had a conversation not that long ago about the merits of digital vs film in relation to selling, prices from competitors, and most importantly the customers wants, pocket book and their discernable nature towards photography. What we were both agreeable on, was that most customers can't tell the difference between a D photo or a F photo and that they sure as hell can't tell a good photo from a bad one most of the time. As long as they look good, well that is what matters. In fact there are a hell of alot of bad photographers out there turning out work that quite frankly is below par, but they are good salespeople and survive. So, if you want to nitpick a photograph for the best resolution, lack of grain, etc, buy larger. MF format and LF done right will outshine a small format every time. As long as you look at it when you pass by it on the wall. Otherwise it's the content that usually matters. Put another way, don't believe that you always need the bigger and better. Sometimes it just turns out to be a rat race.
This is a grey area issue: the context for MF vs 35mm is scanning the film.
The key is scanning, the issue is not about PRINTING MF or 35, it's about SCANNING it.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
FWIW, I work with everything from 35mm to 4x5 and have only one regret; that I didn't buy my Pentax 67 sooner.
Even before I printed my work door-size, the difference in image quality between a 35mm and 6x7cm image was apparent. I can only say that over time, it is more likely that you will become increasingly critical of your image quality, rather than less critical. Crummy, grainy appearances can be a creative tool, but most of the time, it is a downer. Of all my cameras, the 67 remains my "go-to" tool. Easy to use, great optics, really, the only downsides I saw to the format was the difference in depth-of-field between the 35mm system and the 67, slower optics and no intermediate shutter speeds (a problem solved with the 67II). Otherwise, it is a slam dunk. Speaking of which, mine has taken a bath twice and still is working.
Don't you know nothin'?! Man, check out luminous landscrapes - its there in black and white: 6x7 is crap, we should all move on
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"1. If you are not using Silverfast to run your scanner, you are losing at least half the data the negatives have due to poor focussing."
I am using Silverfast
"2. If you are stopping your lenses down to f/16, you are losing most of the data you could be getting due to diffraction. F/64 on an 8x10 is like f/8 in 35. DON'T stop down more than necessary, it KILLS the image."
I agree and try to shoot at two stops over fastest F/stop most of the time if depth of field isn't an issue. I also had heard that depth of field in medium format requires further stopping down the lens in comparison to 35mm. I also like shooting macro which I imagine is more difficult with medium format.
"3. If you aren't using a tripod, you are losing at least half of the data you could be getting."
I do use tripod if not fast shutter speeds and I have a couple of IS lenses as well as a nice sharp 50mm 1.8
"4. If you are not locking the mirror up ( a problem on all SLRs, 35 or 120 ) you are losing data"
I use the self timer which locks up mirror prior to shutter release.
"5. If you are not using chromagenic films, you are running into anti-aliasing issues. You can't image traditional B&W grain, even TriX & Rodinal, on a scanner that costs less than.. well, a whole lot ! Shoot C-41, it scans better, and easier."
I like the character of chromogenic films for skin tones when shooting portraits...maybe the grainless look of it makes skin looks creamy or something. I do think it seems to lack dmax or something when compared to traditional B& W films. When I scan at 5400 dpi I can see the grain in the film. What did you mean by anti-aliasing issues?
"6. Are you scanning TIF files or JPG ? JPG, you throw out all the shadow information. Scan 16 bit TIF files."
I always save as a TIFF which gives me about a 30 meg file for black and whites and 110 meg file for color.
"BTW, if you shoot a slow color neg like Kodak Portra NC or Fuji Pro 160, you get a ton of information, and can filter as you feel like to make your B&W images."
I shoot Reala 100 Kodak 400 UC for color and EFKE 25, APX 100, Tri-x, and TMAX 3200. I have a 13" x 19" of some aspen trees shot on TMAX 3200 and the grain is beautiful. Do desaturated color film images really look as good as scanned traditional B&W film?
I'm glad my ? created some interesting responses for all to read. I think until I get divorced or win the lottery I will have to work with what I have which is a complete 35mm outfit including film scanner and a nice printer.
It seems funny that people take offense with part of my workflow being digital. People even make comments like "it's not like digital where you just press a button" when talking about print making. Being skilled at Photoshop takes time and is a very powerful tool with great control. It's kind of like saying making great photos is as easy as pointing a camera and pressing a button. I have respect for those who have mastered the craft of traditional printing...I can't do it, but I have gotten some great prints using the tools I have. There may be a need for a forum for those of us that shoot film and scan then inkjet print!
I think digital can look sterile at times. I may buy a digital body at some point to replace color film and also get the added benefit of the cropping/multiplication factor for telephoto and macro shooting. I don't think digital can give me the look I want to replace B & W film!
There is NO mulitiplication factor with digital, there is a perceived view, which is simply the same focal distance with less image area, but a digital camera does not multiply any more than a film camera, you just have the same field of view as you would with a longer lens, but 500mm is still 500mm and 50mm is still 50mm..the multiplication factor is a myth. If you put a 200mm lens on a digital camera with an APS sized sensor, you still have a 200mm lens, that is showing the same field of view as a 300mm lens, but it is still a 200mm lens.
The reason you see responces about the digital part of your work flo is because this is an analog site that aknowledges that in order to display on the web requires scanning, and scanning gives you a pale comparison to the actual print, but again, the front page does state APUG analog Photography Users Group, devoted to analog photography. When you come here and start talking about your digital work flo, there is bound to be comments made about it, the mass majority of us strive to show what our analog prints look like and represent. Your question was a good one, and invoked some interesting responces.
It has been my humble experience that the area where digital B&W loses the most is in the so called print. I have looked at various B&W digital attempts, and frankly, there is little difference to my eye between scanned film and all digital - ok, let me rephrase, they may look different, but both look equally sterile and artificial, as long as the output is from an inkjet.
Originally Posted by bigdog
I am not trying to shoot down your methods, although I am sure you can guess where I stand on the issue, but instead I am trying to make a constructive suggestion: try silver printing, you may find that difference to really blow you away - I know I do! You may also find it very, very much easier on your wallet. I understand that there is a perception (which has kept me from processing my own for years - so I do not exclude myself from being under mistaken impressions), that a traditional dark room is very time consuming, expensive, and logistically speaking a nightmare. Well, that is simply not so. I won't even speak of prices, but suffice it to say, you can have a really, really nice set up for a lot less than you spend on ink in a year. Time consuming? I gather from your posts that you are not a casual photoshop user but rather someone who either already has, or strives to learn his tools in order to work to some high and very exacting standards. As such, there will be a learning curve, but the time involved will not be any different than learning any other process thoroughly. As far as the logistics? I print in an apratment that a few years ago I would not deem fit for human habitation. The whole set up is put up and torn down every time I use it, and it takes me maybe a half hour to complete the process. With any, and I mean any semblence of permanence, that would be even less time-consuming. And as far as the film itself, well... I think you have to do your own unless you're really wealthy and can dictate completely custom terms to a lab. Things that I don't think twice about doing are very difficult and costly to get from a lab - and that side of it is truly cheap and can be contained in a sink and changing bag. Just some suggestions - there is one I overlooked: its magic, and I guarantee you will love it!
PS. Dave (Satinsnow) am I ever glad you chimed in on that "multiplication" issue. It is one of the most common (and feverishly perpetuated by the digital crowd) misconceptions. If I had lenses that fit a MF camera and a 35mm, I would have a multiplication factor too - and NO one talks of moving down to 35mm to get more out of their lenses
Last edited by gnashings; 03-16-2006 at 02:25 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: I forgot to add...
Originally Posted by df cardwell
It does, and thanks very much, Don. I tried Silverfast years ago when I first got a scanner and did not see much advantage to it. Oh, it was better than the Epson or Polaroid (SS4000) software, but still did not give me better results than Vuescan, which I have now used for years. I suspect that perhaps I was not using the latest version of SF, and so maybe it is worth another look.
Thanks again for the clarification.
With a few adapters (which I have) and some pencil marks on the GG (which a previous owner made) I can use 6.5x9cm film in my 24x30cm camera. Now that is a crop factor! I'm not going to make a 35mm adapter, though...
Originally Posted by gnashings
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist