Stick with what works, for your work.
But I love MF for my personal images, and occasionally 'work' work too (I work at a newspaper).
Bronica, as well as other manufacturers, offer accessories to make shooting a lot quicker and more like 35mm work -- I'm thinking of the winder and eye-level prism for my Bronica SQ-Ai. With those on, I can hold, wind and look through the camera in a way very similar to the 35mm I started my career with.
I started MF with a Mamiya Super 23 and have used several MF cameras over the years. At times I've noticed that at times, people seem to view a good sharp, well exposed medium format image more often on the web. Some of my web pictures that really get more views, are most often medium format, sometimes more than 10 times the views. Overall, 35mm is easier to use and get a sharp well exposed photo, and the modern lenses are great for a variety of situations, but format is more difficult and offers fewer exposure, but when it works, it really works well.
Last edited by geoferrell; 01-18-2009 at 03:29 PM. Click to view previous post history.
If it were me, I'd stick with the F5 for the dogs. Years ago I tried replacing 35mm with MF for photographing moving people... just was not worth the tradeoff.
Originally Posted by ted_smith
For landscapes and macro, have you thought of visiting the LF forum?
With no offence intended, if by your own admission, you are a "luddite photographer", then it is no doubt best to stick with 35mm and work through all the options it has over a long period of time, including, if financial factors allow, investing in a perspective control lens to learn about and introduce some effects and "hand-down" techniques from large format, as opposed to the less popular medium format. I used 6x6 for 4 months last year but didn't like the results or the handling of the camera (ex-pro Bronica ETRS): personal quirk; "one man's tonic is another man's poison...".
Consider also what gains you are looking at, and if they are real. If you only print/enlarge economically to say 30x45cm, the gain of medium format, and even some large format, resolution gain will be modest. Razor sharp images are not the holy grail of photography: confidence and reach with your equipment, creative expression, visual literacy and production quality are. You must exhaust the myriad possibilities and capacities of 35mm first and never think you cannot use it again for work or play (other forum threads recently touched on this, especially one inspired post from JBrunner).
Working with 35mm for decades, I have achieved beautiful Ciba enlargements from Velvia since 1997 to 30x45cm — any bigger and the cost of Ciba prints and museum-grade conservation framing escalates (that is, I work and produce within financial limitations). I suspect medium format filmstock will be the first to go in this digi era while 35mm will be around for a bit longer. I bought a Toyo 45 AII to explore the Zone System in greater detail, not for its resolution (it's actually more expensive to use than 35mm!).
I don't think of it as 'moving UP' from 35mm to medium format. I think of it as moving sideways. A medium format camera is not better than a 35mm. It's different.
35mm cameras allow you to shoot a lot of hand held and spontaneous shots. With your F5 you can easily grasp the moment, even if you operate it manually. It's a great camera, and don't get rid of it when you get into medium format, because you may regret it.
Medium format cameras are often used on a tripod, they slow you down somewhat, and that can be both good and bad.
There are three solutions for getting into medium format:
1. Rangefinder. There are Bronica, Fuji, Mamiya, and older folding cameras. They are fairly light, they handle much more like your Nikon than a Hasselblad or Contax medium format camera. Most of these cameras handle very nicely, and can be hand held and used spontaneously with great success!
2. Twin-Lens reflex. These have one viewing lens and one taking lens. These can also be hand held with great success, especially since the shutter mechanism is so smooth and nice. It's also a good way to shoot 'inconspicuously', because few people expect you to look down into a camera to make a shot, they expect you to look 'through' it.
3. SLR. This is the Hasselblads, the Mamiya RB/RZ67 and 645, Pentax 645/67, Contax 645, etc - and in my opinion the ones that most often require tripod mounting, mainly because they're large and somewhat bulky. With that said, I love hand holding my Hasselblad. It works really well after you get used to it. But it's nowhere near as fast as a Nikon F5.
All three categories are fantastic solutions. I've used Fuji range finders and love them. A friend has a Mamiya 6, and that's just an awesome camera. I have owned and used Yashica and Rolleiflex TLRs, and I loved those dearly, but regretted not being able to switch lenses (the Mamiya C330 has interchangeable lenses, by the way, and it's a TLR). Then I've also used, and still use, SLRs. I've had a Mamiya 645 which was an excellent camera with kick-a$$ lenses, but I love the square, so I use a Hasselblad almost exclusively these days.
You have a lot to think about. All I can say is choose wisely. I've had many cameras that were great, but few that completely suit my way of working. The Hasselblad is the ultimate camera for me, it may be something different for you. I like it, because it's the same format as my Holga, Agfa folder, and ZeroImage pinhole cameras - and that helps a great deal when I make prints.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
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Last year I got my first serious camera, a Canon entry level DSLR (XTi). A friend of mine who has been shooting film and d*****l for decades saw where I was going with my work, and loaned me a Mamiya C330. He spent a couple of hours with me over pints showing me how it work and how to use a hand held light meter. I certainly made a lot of errors with the first 2 or 3 rolls of film, but it gradually became second nature. Now the DSLR stays home most of the time. I now own 3 film cameras (one of them a 35mm SLR, the other a 35mm clamshell). If I know I'm going to have daylight or shaded daylight, I'll usually bring the TLR with me.
It has made me a better photographer! How? It forces me to slow down, consider my composition. I pay more attention to my exposure now. What's in the foreground? The background? When you know that you only have 12 shots before you have to sit down and change film, and there is more of a dollar figure that can be assigned to every shot, you tend to pay attention more.
Since the TLR became my primary camera, I've noticed that I take far fewer pictures now. Even with my DSLR! But this is not a bad thing. Far more of my images are now "keepers" because I'm not firing away with wild abandon. I'm lining things up, waiting for "the moment".
I love my C330 (and yes, it is "mine" now, no longer on loan!) and tend to prefer it. But it might be a bit of a leap for you. You might want to look at a MF SLR as your first MF camera. Maybe a nice 645 from Bronica, Mamiya, or Pentax? You can get into a decent Bronica 645 setup for $200-$300 easily.
For dog photography, 8 FPS and smoking fast AF is tough to beat, so 35mm has the edge here. Also for event photography, there no longer exists the natural advantage to MF with fast color films and it's smaller grain size with less enlargement, as this work for some years now has been severely trounced by the high ISO advantages of digital sensors--which is why wedding photographers are jettisoning this equipment en masse. MF tele and macro lenses add bulk and expense over 35mm without there always being clear advantages.
That all said, there are some astounding bargains out there and some wonderful niche uses where MF equipment yet reigns supreme. My Pentax 645N and 35mm f/3.5 were purchased last spring for little more than what your Nikkor 20mm alone would have cost me, and the camera weighs less than my F5 with a 17-35mm AFS. Great professional camera with superb matrix and spot metering, it's as quick to deploy as any 35mm SLR. Handholdable at f/11 and 1/15th sec with tack sharp results, it's actually more ergonomic, and has a better VF than any 35mm I've ever used (and that's going back 30+ years). The neg is nearly 3X the size of 35mm, more when printing and cropping for normal paper sizes is considered, which translates into no longer being grain-limited in resolving power with slow-speed transparency films. Newer formulation slow-speed MF E6 color transparency film is still widely available and relatively cheap.
My 17-35mm now more or less resides permanently on my D200 (as a PJ lens) and not my F5 (as my landscape lens).
i think that you might be a bit better photographer than you're letting on here...grin. i had a look at your website and i reckon a fuji GA645 (6x4.5cm) would be a perfect adjunct to your 35mm kit. i would use 35mm for action and the fuji for headshots and static portraits. the fuji's not much more than a glorified point and shoot with a quality lens....i think there is one model with a shortish zoom that would be perfect for your purposes. BTW you DON'T need a motor drive for canine portraits. you seem to have a good eye and i reckon you'd easily achieve a saleable image shooting single frame....and...gee...think of that big, rich, gloriously detailed print you'd be able to achieve out of a mf neg....there's no way in the world you'll get THAT with 35mm
I think it's a case of "horses for courses." No contest when it comes to shooting fast moving subjects like dogs, your F5 is a hands-down winner.
MF is not better, just different and a different experience. After using a variety of MF systems over the years I recently traded a Speedlight for a mint Rolleiflex TLR -- you can read the story and see picture examples on my blog.
I am as happy as the proverbial pig in mud.
I like the fact that I am limited to one lens and must therefore concentrate only on the picture. I like the fact that it is a square format and that I don't have to turn the camera on its side ever. I like the fact that there are only 12 exposures. This forces me to slow down and be absolutely sure everything is right before I press the shutter release. The result is 80% keepers or better.
I like the fact that there is no "blackout" when I press the shutter release and finally, as another poster said, it is inconspicuous for street photography.
I do not think you should consider it an "either/or" situation. Use and enjoy both. Good luck.
i kind of describe it like this to friends not familiar with photography
35mm is like a semi or full auto riffle (depending on which 35 we are talking) i can have it out and fire off a roll f 24 or 36 in just a few minutes. i generaly carry it around with me most of the time. for things that catch my eye or if i just want to burn through some film.
Mf (isolette or vigilant or Shanghi TRL) like a shot gun i make plans to take it out spend more time planning my shot i generaly have at least a general purpose to use it. but the final trophy if you will is bigger ie neg size so to me more worth the time.
LF (4x5) more like a muzzle loader or bow and arrow i take it out after careful planning and have chosen a subject or location takes more time to set up and take the shot. again the size of the prize makes all the extra effort worth it.
i live in the US midwest so this analogy works well with most of the people here.
just my 2cents
Last edited by ford prefect; 01-29-2009 at 02:14 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: forgot to add the trl