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  1. #1

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    When to choose Medium Format.

    Ever since I ended up with so many cameras that I started spending (well more like wasting) time considering which camera to take with me, I think it must've been when I got my Mamiya 645 package - I've turned away from wondering what camera will let you take the technically best picture, to thinking about how to premeditate what you're trying to shoot and when to pick the camera that let's you do that while at the same time not getting in the way of experimenting.

    The 645 system taught me two things.

    1. The MF folding camera I already had was way more amazing than I thought it was (considering I got it really cheap)

    and (as somewhat of a contradictory statement to the first one)...

    2. The SLR viewfinder is one of the greatest things to have on a portable camera (I.e. smaller cameras than large format) for composition, and not just because it's a modular system.

    Because the thing is, even though I often try to put the Mamiya system to good use, there's just something about it that can make it slightly challenging as far as weight and size is concerned - and even though the folding camera is great, I still think that the SLR is the real "artists" tool as opposed to RF seeing as an SLR offers much more than just avoiding parallax, it also gives a larger better view of what you're taking a picture of as well as it's easier to get the focus right if you're working with manual focus (and seeing as this is analog photography, manual focus is pretty much what most people will have to deal with) - real compositional factors that I think matter more for the artistic control freak.

    Now I've just recently discovered there's even a possibility for making money shooting analog MF for stock ( http://www.istockphoto.com/file_sear...&userID=359175 ) and even by sticking to black and white - something I'm considering trying for myself with a bit of practise being a bit nicer to my negatives and all that, but by that I find I need to find those motifs and situations when you can chose the medium format over smaller cameras.

    So I'm asking: when do you shoot medium format? And I'm not just thinking of some simplified answer like: MF for studio and rangefinder MF for walkaround etc...
    I'm thinking, how do you set yourself up for shooting medium format, how do you visualize a medium format picture - how do you manage to haul around a bigger camera that still allows you to see what you're doing without the size of it getting in your way?

  2. #2

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    MF is 'standard' for me.
    Other formats only when absolutely needed.

    Which means, i guess, it's MF all of the time.

    Visualising, getting creative, etc. is all 'basic photography', and is the same whatever format you choose.

    Big cameras are a pain in the rear because they are big. A solution to that is use a smaller camera.
    Small formats don't deliver enough quality. A solution to that is to move up a format.
    And then you end up with MF: the perfect solution. Small enough (most, but not all) and delivering quality images.

    The point is somewhat defeated when you begin to use MF cameras as big and heavy as LF camera, or 35 mm cameras as big and heavy as MF cameras.
    So it's not just a film format thing.

  3. #3

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    I have two choices of format: 135, 645. I print 35mm negs at 5x7 on 10x8 paper and I print 645 negs at 10x8 on 10x8 paper. So the only difference is really the size of the border.

    My main camera is a 35mm P&S. Given this, a 35mm SLR is step up in terms of lugging weight and 645 is even more so. In order to justify the hassle and discomfort of carrying heavy stuff (bear in mind I hate carrying anything) I've got to have something in mind. My logic is usually like this:

    Speculative shooting (carry everywhere camera): P&S
    Something interesting will probably happen (nice light, you never know your luck): SLR
    I'm going to shoot something specific that will be printed (I'm going to do a portrait session): 645
    Steve.

  4. #4

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    I agree with medium format adding to resolution, different DOF qualities, aspect ratio variations as well of as having an all over different "feel" to it - yet still, seeing how film has changed since the fifties, and with examples like "The Afgan Girl" (being taken with a Nikon FM2 and a third party lens) I don't really see it as that black and white (no pun intended) with medium format being the "only" professionals choice of format.

    Yet still, I would like to try and see if I can really get that different medium format quality by going up in format size, even though I still very much enjoy the spontaneity and feel of 35mm manual focus SLRs.

    Maybe it's just that - while playing with film photography, and how you can get all sorts of great equipment so cheap, it's hard not to end up too gearheaded - maybe I should go back to more basic aspects of visual arts like drawing, or just shooting more randomly for a while and see where that takes me, it's just that working with something for a while, you kind of notice the monotony of what you're doing and want to go for some more interesting subject matter - but that can also hold you back seeing as getting more afraid of shooting hoping to save the shots for something better keeps one (by one I mean me of course) away from just working/playing with taking pictures.

  5. #5
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    Many modern "Miniature"cameras are as big and heavy as M/F cameras http://www.jafaphotography.com/images/eq/f6hs.jpg, if you read photographic literature from the 1930s M/F was considered to be a miniature format in those days, IMO the bottom line is if you want the photo-technical quality that 120 film is capable of you have to "Suffer for your Art" and lug the stuff about.
    Ben

  6. #6
    lxdude's Avatar
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    Top-Cat,
    I do believe "Afghan Girl" was taken with a 105mm/2.5 Nikkor.
    Last edited by lxdude; 11-19-2010 at 05:08 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
    When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.

  7. #7
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benjiboy View Post
    Many modern "Miniature"cameras are as big and heavy as M/F cameras
    I was shocked the first time I saw a Nikon F4. It was hard to believe that it created images on the film just a little bit bigger than postage stamps.


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  8. #8

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    No more than a couple times a year do I use any of my F's, F3, or EL2. Almost never use the Hassy kit now that I have a Koni-Omega 100 ( it is 1,000 times easier to focus than the hassy even with its accumatte (sp) split image screen). If I'm taking a camera (not near as often as I'd like) it's the Zone VI 4x5.

    I guess I burn more film through the Koni, but carry the Zone VI more often. The Koni's rangefinder is a dream to focus.

    I do have a 35mm Ricoh something with a couple lens we take to the NC beach every other summer to use in the surf.

    Wife always has a little Olympus zoom point and shoot in her purse for snaps of the grand kid.

    Mike

  9. #9
    Rick A's Avatar
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    My preferrence is for square format first and formost, followed by 4x5. I rarely pick up a 35mm these days. My twelve year old daughter loves 35mm, and 4x5, lately she has been eye-balling my Mamiya C-220 and asking many questions about using it,I caught her burning a roll of CHS-25 I had loaded in my C-330(portraits of mom and sis). I guess what I'm saying here is to shoot what you love most, and not be too overly concerned with the rest(unless you have a specific project planned for one format).
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by lxdude View Post
    Top-Cat,
    I do believe "Afghan Girl" was taken with a 105mm/2.5 Nikkor.
    You're probably right, I checked the article again and saw that they said the same (that it was a nikkor lens) - I must have misread as I thought I saw the word "soligor" in there somewhere, but it still doesn't change the fact that it was a 35mm camera, which goes to show (among a whole lot of other important photographs) that the 35mm format isn't as "amateur" as people like to have it - the artists choice of tools vary, not necessarily according to strict technical detail (I mean, people who work in a creative field are primarily creative, not necessarily scientists), but according to what gets the job done the way they like it.

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