Among my favourites is our own Nicole Boenig McGrade. I believe she uses a variety of cameras; she does manage a Hassy quite well. Seems to me, I've seen her work with a WLF as opposed to a prism finder. (or am I imaginging that?) Anyway, if you are comfortable composing that way, a WLF is a great way to shoot. The camera is easy to handle, and your subjects hardly notice you, because you are not staring at them. Also, the lower camera postion with a WLF is great for kids.
Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada
Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points
system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...
I do some kids photography with a Canon 35mm system and a Hasselblad. I have no problem using the Hasselblad (very similar to the Bronica you have, which I also owned before buying the Hasselblad), you just need to realise which shots will work with it. I tend to use the Canon and the AF for fast running around shots. With the Hasselblad I'll move in once the kids settle down, playing/drawing or doing stuff generally sat down.
I love the 6x6 and waist level finder for these kind of shots as I can maintain eye contact and it lets me shoot closer to the floor. I have also considered getting a 645 system to use instead of the Canon, purely for the speed. Not for AF (which I think is still very slow) but for the convenience of the prism viewfinder and the rectangular format+more shots per film. But everytime I get the prints back from the lab, I remind myself that the Canon is still very good.
In any case, any camera can be used for photographing kids, you just need to use the right camera for the right situation. So decide what scenario you think you'll be using the medium format camera for and then you can decide which one to buy.
By the way, a couple of photographers who do family photography with film are Jose Villa and Johnathan Canlas. They use a Contax 645, Holgas and Canon/Nikon 35mm systems. Canlas also uses a Fuji GF670. Incidentally, I've read on interviews that they both manually focus the Contax all the time. Don't know if it is a coincidence or they simply find the AF slow enough to not make a different to MF or something else (I also hear the Contax eats batteries quickly with AF).
There is also Richard Israel who uses Nikon, Mamiya 645, an Olympus OM and other things for family photography. And Elisabeth Messina (Contax). Generally look for wedding film photographers and you'll find the family ones too.
I use a Bronica etrsi with prism and grip to photograph children, mixing in the 35mm if they are feeling particularly energetic. Honestly, you should manage with practice. The trick I have found is to try and slow things down. Instead of chasing the child, I'll move to where the light is best, and let them come to me. Prefocusing roughly with the camera away from my face, and making the finer adjustments while quickly composing, I tend not to miss too many shots. I'll work with two loaded backs, take light readings in advance, and not bother changing lenses.
The Bronica is great, but I am on the lookout for a Contax... just because I want it to wind on automatically, and the viewfinder on my Bronica is a bit dull. The Contax should be brighter.
I use my Bronica ETRS with speed grip and AE prism and it's light and fast. Focusing manually with my two year old is rather difficult, my then again, I am used to using a Canon 5D MkII ... it's a learning curve for me. I find the WLF on my Hasselblad near impossible to use with him moving.
I've made a few shots of my now 8 1/2 month old with my Pentax 645N (about a month ago). I don't think I used AF and I know it was manual everything else. I had him sitting and sorta occupied so I didn't have to worry too much about him moving. I would recommend flash to stop action or iso 400 film though.
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Whatever medium format camera you choose, a prism finder is a big help to follow action with.
Yes, Nicole is a great photographer. Take a look on her website.
She's working often in B&W with her Hasselblad (6x6).
I am working with a Mamiya 645 pro, also easy in handling. But 6x4,5. Indeed a prism finder is working pretty good with this camera.
Hey, thanks for the nice mentions! And yes, I use an RZ67 and the Mamiya 7 (rarely at the same time, though!) both hand held. It just takes some practice to get used to them with kids running around, and believe me, I get frustrated at times, and miss a few, too. But with persistence and practice, I can make some great pictures, and I have these big beautiful negatives to print. Totally worth the effort because the results are hands down so much more interesting than your everyday slr or dslr with the same lenses that umpteen million other photographers use!! Just saying...
Oh, and welcome to APUG!! We'll get you into the darkroom in no time!!
Thank you also for the nice mentions Robert, Tom and Gene!
Michelle, there's no such thing as a silly question, so feel free to ask. I photograph children primarily with a Hasselblad 501cm (with a WLF) and a Pentax 645NII. The more you photograph with MF manual cameras, the quicker you get. I use manual, prime lenses only, shoot on TriX400 and develop my film in Xtol (and occasionally in Tmax). My lens is mostly wide open as I often work in very low light conditions. Tripods are too cumbersome and slow for me. I much perfer MF to 35mm, but if I do need to use a 35mm camera - I have a trusty Nikon F100 (again with manual lens), which is a wonderful tool. The less bells and whistles the best - in my humble opinion. Less distractions = less stress and more freedom.
Michelle, the right tools for you depend on your own best fit. I highly recommend you rent/hire different cameras for a few days each. Try before you buy to find the right tools for you.
Suzanne Revy has beautiful (MF) work. I recommend you drop in at http://www.suzannerevy.com/
A warm welcome to APUG! Whereabouts are you?
Last edited by Nicole; 10-27-2010 at 12:01 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I am so amazed at all the kind and helpful responses to my questions! Thanks everyone! I feel much more confident in following my heart into medium format now.
I love all the photographs posted and the wonderful links to amazing photographers.
One comment made me realise that I don't need to stick to one system, that I can use whichever camera suits the moment. I'm not typically a chase the kids photographer, but occasionally I come across a hyperactive 2 yr old that won't keep still! Sometimes its good to let them get it out their system and then pull put the camera. I can see certain situations where a 35mm would be useful and I think it would be useful to have.
Another comment got me wondering about bellows. I don't know which cameras have these and how they help with focusing?
Nicole - I am in the UK - There doesn't seem to be anywhere that I can try the medium format cameras I want, so thats why I'm trying to make the most informed decision I can, but I know I won't truly know until I have the camera in my hand!