I've grown impatient with 35mm film - I waste a lot of negs on a 36 exp roll in dorder to finish the roll, and bulk load my own but to get 12 exp I must load 18 to accomodate the fore and aft leader. So I'm strongly considering a move to MF. I don't want to go to 4X5 because I would have to replace my enlarger; Beseler 23CII dichro which is supposed to take negs to 6X9cm.
I know moving to 6X4.5 will be a dramatic jump from 35mm but why not go all the way to 6X9?
Fuji makes a couple of 6X9 cameras but they are fixed focal lengths (90 or 65mm). Horseman makes a very expensive 6X9 that has interchangable lenses and tilt and shift but does not seem to be very popular, maybe because of the cost?
Using 120 film and getting 8 negs per roll suits me just fine. I'm not looking for a camera that I have to put my head under cloth to focus. The Mamiya RB seems kinda right but is a lot to haul around, more than I would like for field work.
Any insights appreciated
645 doesn't particularly appeal to me as a format, except as a compromise for someone who can't decide between 35mm and medium format, and only wants to have one system.
6x9 has the same frame proportions as 35mm, so if you're comfortable with that, and your enlarger can handle it, go for it. The Fuji rangefinders are good cameras, if a rangefinder camera appeals to you.
6x7 has approximately the same proportion as 4x5 or 8x10, so if you want to try to coordinate your frame size with the commonly available paper sizes, that is an attraction. If you're interested in the Fuji rangefinders, they also make 6x7 versions. There's lots of RB67 available cheap these days, and it's an easy system to rent equipment for.
If you like to print square or having a camera that is always oriented the same way, and I do for some subjects, it's also worth considering 6x6.
I have a 6x6 SLR, a 6x6 folder, and I sometimes use a 6x7 rollfilm back on my 4x5, either with groundglass or rangefinder focusing.
Long ago, I did as you are doing. Not happy with 35mm so go to 2 1/4. Then I tried 4x5. Then 810, then 57, then back to 45. Then a big light went off in my head and I realized that one takes different kinds of pix with different kinds of cameras. 35mm is fast and fun, large format is slow and methodical, 2 1/4 is in between. So now I have some of each type of camera and use them all. Have fun.
Another "all-formatter" her, using 35mm, 6x4.5 (Bronica and folders), 6x6 (folder), 6x9(folder), 9x12(folder and LF), 4x5" and 5x7". They're all different, and I tend to see differently depending on which camera I'm using.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Grab a 6x9 folder and see if you like the format. The folder will be cheap. If you do then get a modern camera.
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The comments by Loose Gravel and OleTj are right on the mark. I started my photography using medium and large format and avoided 35mm for many years on the issue of grain and print quality. When I finally started to use 35mm about 10 years ago I realised just what I had missed all those years and now shoot mostly in 35mm because I have grown to love grain. I still have and use 4 x 5, 6 x 6, 6 x 4.5 and even an old whole plate camera with lens that have no shutter so it's caps off and wait around for hours when the lens is stopped down to f125.
Back to your dilema, and the issue of 6 x 4.5 against 6 x 9. I went through a similar dilema a number of years ago when I upgraded to a single lens medium format from a fixed lens 6 x 6, Minolta Autocord a dear old friend that I still have. On the grounds of weight and cost I finally decided on a Mamiya 645 Pro and have never regretted that decision. I have picked up a full range of second hand lens and several backs at every reasonable cost. On the issue of quality, you need to sort out your film exposure and development details and you will, for I know you are methodical and determined. Prints made from my 6 x 4.5 negatives have often been mistaken for 4 x 5 negs so there is no need to worry about loss of qyality.
I started on 35 too...got tired of the small negs and the nasty grain. Then, came the C330, then the RB... I shot all over the country with my RB, I shot weddings, portraits, hiked all over the place with her...
One thing larger formats teach you is how to nail an exposure the FIRST time around
I loved the square, then adjusted to the 6x7's "perfect" proportions (perfect for matching an 8x10 piece of paper...). I tried 645 for about 2 weeks, but got tired of the rectangular shots. And, promptly got rid of it.
Then, I had a Pentax 67II for 4 days before I threw the camera about 20 feet on asphalt (I hated that thing so much I actually got more satisfaction out of hearing the "crrrrasshhhhh....clank, clank, thunk" than I would of selling it!) And, back to the RB...then, I got an RZ...
Then, I wanted more contrast that the Mamiya glass (it's actually quite good glass, but then I saw Zeiss glass...) and I wanted back into the square.
Then, I got to shoot a Crown Graphic...then an 8x10 Wisner...then a Contax 645.
Then, came the pinhole. Then, the Sinar F1. But, I hated the single/double shot method and the carrying around tons of gear needed with LF.
So, I went back to the RB/RZ.
Then, I bought a C-41 processor, ... and a RA-4 roller-transport processor, and I wanted more color saturation...so, I started searching again (and drooling over Zeiss glass)!
Finally, I'm back to MF (and looking to stay here for a while). I got a full Hasselblad system, with a ton of lenses, backs, etc.
I still love LF for product/still life/commercial work. And, for portraits, I love the RB, the negs are great for printing. The rest of the time, I use my beloved Hassy (named Holly...one of these days I'll publish a coffee-table book named "around the world, just me and Holly") Ok, ok...I know...
I think that MF is the best "mean" between LF quality and SF convenience. I haven't used a SF camera in over 6 years now. And I don't think I ever will (well, the Contax TVSIII is looking kinda cool for a "keep on you for quick snaps" type of camera...)
One of these days, though, I will take a shot or two off the Polaroid 20x24 (when I can justify the expense of renting the thing...geez) The funny thing is that I really haven't loss any money moving between all these systems (it's all about who you know (and where they work) )
Yup, they're all tools. And, they all have their "optimal" uses, SF for speed and machine-gun frame rates, LF for quality and back-aches, MF for decent speed & portability with nice quality. Even digital has it's place too (not for me, but there are it's uses...)
I think the 6x9 cameras are neat, but printing them can be a pain at times. The RB isn't as heavy of a camera as people make it out to be. There are so many things that the RB/RZ series has which makes it nice, like bellow focusing (precise and no need for extension tubes), rotating back (no need to flip the camera for horiz vs vert shots), cheap (especially right now with all the studios closing or changing to digital), and the big viewfinder is really nice to work with!
A Fuji 690 is a neat RF camera. I've been thinking about one for vacation/travelling. Except for the 8 shots, though...
I'd say that you go to your local camera shop, but a couple of rolls of film, and ask them to let you shoot around the store with different formats. Then, get the shots developed and see what format you seem to fit "into" the most.
I've owned 3 Hasselblads through the years. The one I have now is a 503Cxi, with 4 lenses. It's heavy, cost me a fortune, has no fancy features like autofocus or autoexposure. I wouldn't change a thing. I also wouldn't part with the camera for anything. Features are nice, but with Hasselblad you always get impeccable quality, a neglected commodity nowadays in any field of endeavour.
Two of my lenses are nearly as old as I am. I was informed by the factory technician that as soon as the current inventory of parts runs out, they will not be able to replace them. That very fact says a great deal about the quality built into them. They work perfectly approximately 50 years after their manufacture and have never needed a single repair. I'll bet that current parts inventory will last quite a while.
I hear people whining all the time about the poor resale value of Hasselblad equipment now that digital technology is killing their sales. They should be looking at that as a marvelous opportunity to own as fine a piece of photographic equipment as was ever made. If you want a camera you'll enjoy using until the day you die, get a Hasselblad.
I agree about the Hasselblads. I bought 3 new with lenses in 1976. I still own two of them. (I sold the other one with one of my studios). They are wonderful cameras. I have rebuilt the 150mm lenses about 5 times which cost only about $300. per time. I use them almost every day. The bodies and lenses and backs look almost new. They are the most remarkable piece of photographic equipment I've ever seen.
I also agree every format has it's uses and every photographer has his preferences but in medium format this camera is a work of art in itself.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.