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  1. #1

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    New to medium format.

    Hello, i shoot a lot of 35mm, and know nothing of Medium Format photography. I really want to stat doing portraiture, and was wondering, if medium format is good for that, knowing that i don't want to start large format. Here are a few general questions i have.
    What kind of camera would you recommend for a starter? (Student budget in mind.)

    what film do most of you use?

    what size film do you use?

    what film is easiest to get?

    What is the cost of film?

    how do you get your film processed?

    Do professional labs still print it?

    If i have a regular 35mm enlarger, can i get a new lens, and negative carrier to print my own?

    What is the cost of film?

    Thanks a lot for helping someone new to medium format

    nlochner
    Where is the art in digital photography?..

  2. #2

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    the 6x4.5 is probably the best and I like the Mamiya super/pro models. They are similar to 35mm SLR's in size and handling. Plus mamiya has a zoom lens for it. This 120 flm is plentiful (support our supporters!) can be processed by anyone and is 3-4 times bigger than 35mm. Buy 5 packs and they come out to about $3.50 or less a roll. ...forgot the other questions....

  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    You can search any of the major suppliers and find out how much film costs, and check with the lab in your area or a mail order lab like A&I to find out about processing. You don't say whether you want to shoot color, B&W, slides, or negs, so it's hard to advise on that.

    Personally, I don't find 645 a very compelling format. It's better than 35mm for sure, but as I see it, you're getting the bulk of a 6x6 system without a sufficiently bigger neg than 35mm. I like to print square from 6x6, but even if you like to crop to 645, you can choose where to crop from 6x6, so it's like having shift or rise/fall, like on a view camera.

    You need a medium format or larger enlarger and a lens in the 75-105mm range (depending on format) to print medium format. What model enlarger do you have?

    There are lots of good values in medium format cameras right now. An SLR would be ideal for portraits--easiest to manage close focusing. Good bargains are to be had right now with the Mamiya RB67 system, Bronica, and basic Hasselblad systems like a 500C/M with one back, WLF, and one lens.

    Check out Bob Monaghan's extensive MF website for info on lots of different cameras--

    http://medfmt.8k.com/
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  4. #4

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    Hello david, thanks for the advice, and you had a few questions for me about my preferences, and equiment.

    I shoot both color and black and white, but lately, ive been more into black and white then color, so i was wondering how much mf black and white film was.

    You also asked what model enlarger i had, well i have two.

    Beseler printmaker 45, and Beseler 67s dichroic.

    Can i simply buy a new lens, and negative carrier for either of those enlargers, to print mf?

    nlochner
    Where is the art in digital photography?..

  5. #5
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Yes, it sounds like you've got a 35mm enlarger (shouldn't that be "Printmaker 35"--or is it a 4x5" enlarger? I thought only the 35mm was called the "Printmaker") and a 6x7 enlarger. A new neg carrier for your new format in the 67s, and a lens of appropriate focal length (80mm or 90mm) should be just fine.

    Depending on the B&W film you like and how much you purchase and where you get it, there are films in the range of about $1.25-3.75 a roll of 120. A 120 roll gives you 16 shots on 645, 12 on 6x6, and 10 on 6x7 (and presumably you won't be going larger, unless you have a bigger enlarger). Most of the films available in medium format are very capable films, and which you prefer is largely a matter of taste.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  6. #6
    AZLF's Avatar
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    120 is a great format for portraits. I have cameras in both the 6x6 format as well as 6x4.5 and of late I prefer the 6x4.5 for the reasons stated earlier in this thread. My Mamiya is handles very much like a 35mm slr and I really like the results I get with the 150mm lens. However I only get 15 shots per roll using b&w and I usually only shoot 14 when I shoot chromes. The lab I use puts a big staple in what would be frame number one.
    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=10716
    http://home.comcast.net/~rem700a/westviews.html

  7. #7
    MattKing's Avatar
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    On the student budget issue, you could look at TLRs. I am a long term user of a Mamiya C330. It, or a Mamiya C220 and a couple of lenses can be very reasonable.

    I have recently been seduced by the Mamiya 645 cameras too, and prices are very reasonable on the used market.

    6x7 is slightly less common, at least in easily hand held choices, but there is a plethora of Mamiya RB67 equipment available. Many people have also had great success with the Pentax 67 line. I've been exploring Koni-Omega in this format - the cameras are older, and service and parts are harder to come by, but I think that if I get everything working the way I want it, it will be a great piece of kit, obtained at very reasonable cost.

    This is a great time to experiment. Equipment that even 6 years ago was totally out of my price range (assuming reality) is now incredibly reasonable.

    You might want to consider standardizing on one of your enlargers though. Accessories for the Beseler 67 series are reasonably plentiful on e-bay, it is a good enlarger (I've had mine for 30 years) and there is a real advantage to using the same light source and equipment across platforms.

    One caution though - it is addictive. You probably want fewer cameras and less in the way of lenses and accessories than I have, unless of course you have that storage goal of mine - the three storey basement!

    Matt

  8. #8

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    Go 6X6 for starters.
    A cheap TLR is one (or a lot) good option(s) could be rolleicord, Yashica Mat 124 or Minolta Autocord. All of these are fixed lens cameras but many people never use anything but the standard lens in MF even for portraits. An option in the SLR range is the Bronica SQ-A and SQ-Ai which look and behave a bit like the Hasselblad but at a lower price. Optics are great the camera feels sturdy.
    Most of the enlargers I have seen will do 6X6 as well as 24X36 not many are 24X36 only but thats here in europe and you may have one of the latter. 6X7 requires a bigger enlarger and though they may be commone in the US you will have to get yet another enlarger and so forth.
    I am without a real darkroom but the B&W I do shoot I develop myself.
    I shoot Fuji Neopan 400 and process in Rodinal 1/50.
    Easiest film to get ? Hmm you have to find out for yourself.
    It could be Kodak Tri-X, Ilford HP5+ or FP4+ or Fuji or something else. Just pick the one you can get and stick to it untill you really know it. Not all highsteet labs process MF film but you should be able to find one that does.
    If you buy outdated B&W film cost will be low, if you buy the fresh Pro-line film price could be high. There are cheap film from Efke(Adox) and a lot of options from china some of which are quite good.
    Cheers Søren
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    Technology distinquishable from magic is insufficiently developed

    Søren Nielsen
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by nlochner
    What kind of camera would you recommend for a starter? (Student budget in mind.
    This is one of those questions where you can ask 20 people and get 20 responses.

    I'll certainly second 6x6 for budget -- there's plenty of choice -- but I'd also suggest that 6x7 (or bigger) is the answer for quality: possibly a Graflex XL (which I have) or a Koni-Omega (which I don't). If you can afford it, a Mamiya RB67 is good but be aware that some have been worn out in professional use: try to find an ex-amateur camera.

    Personally, I find 645 a miserable little format, a sort of 'super 35mm'. Yes, it gives significantly better results than 35mm, because it sort of 'tips the balance': where 35mm is marginal, 645 is easy. But 6x7 is better still.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

  10. #10
    Marco Gilardetti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nlochner
    Beseler printmaker 45, and Beseler 67s dichroic.

    Can i simply buy a new lens, and negative carrier for either of those enlargers, to print mf?
    It seems that still nobody answered to this. Well, the general answer is no.

    I did some search for the printmaker 45 and it doesn't seem to exist. Do I have to assume it is the 35 instead? This is a condenser-type enlarger, and you need to purchase an appropriate condenser for mid-format as well. The printmaker 35 can be upgraded up to 6x7 format with a converting kit, you may probably want to buy one of those.

    The 67 dichroic should be a diffused light enlarger. The name itself implies that it can work or can be upgreded up to 6x7. But again, you have to check if the mirror box and diffuser are wide enough to light up a medium format negative. Otherwise, you'd have to purchase the appropriate mirror box and diffuser.
    I know a chap who does excellent portraits. The chap is a camera.
    (Tristan Tzara, 1922)

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