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  1. #1
    shnitz's Avatar
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    Got an RZ67, love it! (Plus questions)

    I broke down and bought one! It was in decent condition, and for the price that it was selling for, I really couldn't pass it up. It doesn't help that two good friends of mine are on their own little film safari in northern California, with their medium and large format setups. I know, this is more of a studio camera, but I feel that for the things that I would be using medium format for, I wouldn't mind trekking with it. At first I was unsure about how to go about learning it, but I feel that I've now exhaustively gone through and understand everything on the camera. It close enough to a 4x5 that I feel alright (it's just easier to set up!)

    I am in the process of selling off my OM-1 system to fund it. I still shot film through it often enough, but digital has been enough more convenient that I usually just grab the DSLR with a modern-design zoom.

    I didn't know much about medium format when I went to buy it, so I was kind of overwhelmed, but now that I've really sat down with it, it seems that I have all RB lenses. Is the shutter still electronically actuated, even if I am using these mechanical Sekors instead of the Sekor Z's? Would I see any improvement in my photos if I sold off my current lenses (90mm and 180mm Sekor C's) and re-invested in Sekor Z glass? If the only benefit is adjusting the camera's dial, instead of the lens' dial, then I really don't care.

    Does anyone here subcontract themselves to make some money out of their hobby? I was thinking about it when playing with this camera. I mean, I'm already invested in the equipment. In addition to it being my hobby, I've taken film classes and worked for a newspaper in college. I walk around so often and see that the "photographer" at events is some bozo who doesn't understand even the basics of photography. They're shooting with some intro-level digital SLR and $200 plastic lens from Wal-mart. So, often, I've thought to myself, "I can do better than this!" In fact, a few years ago, being known as "the photographer" in my circle, I was asked if I would shoot a friend's wedding. I told him that I would be willing to, but that my equipment wouldn't give him the quality that he deserved. Fast forward to the wedding, and sure enough, some woman is shooting the wedding with a digital camera, mid-grade flash attached to a bracket, and a superzoom consumer lens! I couldn't believe it.

  2. #2
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Welcome to APUG.

    The rb lenses have mechanically actuated shutters; that doesn't change when they're on the rz body. The rz lenses are electronic. There are some arguments for one or the other; personally I prefer to go without a battery whenever possible. But I use both, on rb and rz bodies.

    If you have rb lenses and are happy with them... why not keep them. You will probably want to pick up some others, eventually. Note that there are some rz lenses for which there is no rb equivalent, e.g. the 50 uld and the 110/2.8. As for which lenses are better, well that is always a hotly debated topic! It's a matter of taste. My collection is a mix. I think I would advise you to try a 110/2.8, simply because it is so much faster than any others and is very useful all 'round.... and it is inexpensive.

    And yes, many aim to make some money off their gear and their ability to use it well; you'll find many colleagues here. Go for it! Just bear in mind that you'll need a business plan, and simply having a pro-grade medium format camera is seldom enough. You need to determine what you can supply and at what price it will sell.

    Enjoy the camera, it's a gem!
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

    [APUG Portfolio] [APUG Blog] [Website]

  3. #3
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Mechanical shutters can drift, electronic won't. If you get an AE prism, it obviously can't AE with RB lenses. If you don't get a 110/2.8 (get the W-N), you are missing out. If you buy the 50/4.5, make sure it's the ULD because the non-floating version loses so much corner sharpness that you might as well shoot 35mm. I love my 65/4 M-LA but the bokeh is pretty crap so I generally use for the 110 for shallow-DOF shots. The 180/4.5 is cheap and sharp and has nice bokeh; it's a no-brainer buy if you shoot portraits (but it looks like you already have one so that's OK). Some of the KL-class RB lenses are as good as the entry-level Z's but the really special ones (50 ULD, 110/2.8) are only available for RZ.

    Sure the batteries can run out, but a 4SR44 lasts for hundreds of rolls (I still have the battery my RZ came with, I don't know how many rolls it shot before I got it but I've done ~150 since then) and it costs about $5 to have multiple spare 4LR44s in your bag.

    Yes, you can probably do better than the bottom couple quartiles of the "pros" out there. But that's got nothing to do with the gear they're using and you should never assume that pro-grade gear will make up for experience and "the eye" or that consumer-grade equipment will hold back a skilled pro. Entry-level consumer grade stuff is now as good (in terms of sharpness, functionality, practicality, metering/focusing accuracy) as mcuh of what pro might have used without embarrassment even a decade ago, so don't sneer at it too hard because the meat behind the viewfinder is the limiting factor.

    I occasionaly do paid jobs with the RZ but frankly they have to be the damn special ones where the buyer definitely wants a Big Sharp Fine Art Mono Print because of the labour involved in wet printing. Vast majority of people just want a CD with jpegs good enough for 8x12 and the RZ is overkill for that, nor do people want to pay you to sit in the darkroom for a few hours and you have to include that time in your business plan. In my limited experience, customers generally are going to want to see good work from you on the cheap and/or a spectacular portfolio in exactly the style they seek before forking out the labour costs for a quality analogue production.

    As you discovered with your friend's wedding, most people have lower technical standards than someone who buys an RZ, though the hired photographer may have been artistically excellent and that is the more important metric.

    Sorry about the rant.

  4. #4

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    I have a healthy dose of respect for people who can produce amazing results from simple equipment. I have nothing against excellent gears but I'm often humbled by those who know what to use when. I aspire to be one of them, rather than buying more stuff.

    I just attended a wedding for a colleague's daughter. As this was a budget wedding, photographer wasn't a top-tier pro. I know for fact, she is just starting her business. She had a mid range body, consumer zoom and a prime. She carried herself professionally. I know the family was very pleased.

    Gears don't make photograph an art - photographer does. I have to remind myself of this from time to time.

    By the way, I don't do paid work. In fact, I refuse to be paid except for occasionally accepting a small token of thanks. This is coming from someone who turned every hobby into profession in the past. It's just not the same when money, deadline, and someone else's expectation gets into the equation. Photography is my hobby and I intend to keep it that way.
    Last edited by tkamiya; 03-09-2011 at 03:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  5. #5
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Anyway, back to the topic of lovely lovely RZ67s You will want to have a look at KEH; they generally have a good selection of excellent RZ lenses. They also have at the moment a big clearance on new (yes, new-old-stock) RB gear, including a lot of lenses, at frighteningly low prices. Which means that it's almost certainly not worth selling your RB lenses right now as they're practically worthless but it might be worth picking up a couple of other new lenses if the mechanical shutters don't bother you (it would bother me but I'm not you).

    Oh yeah, and you will need light. Lots and lots and lots of light - if you're used to shooting ISO400 f/8 on 35mm, try getting used to ISO100 (you bought 6x7 for the resolution, right?) and f/16 (for the same DOF). That's 4 stops (16x) more light required right there, which means that even the gruntiest hot-shoe flashes (which are very easy to use on an RZ) are marginal for anything other than direct fill. You can shoot by natural light, but expect to have really shallow DOF even in relatively bright places like open shade because you can't go slower than 1/125 and expect to get sharp results.

    What all that waffle is saying is that you'll probably soon make the discovery I did: medium format cameras are disgustingly cheap but the flashes required to do good portraiture with them soon gets very expensive. Even worse if you want portable gear like Lumedyne. The cool thing though is that you can sync at full speed (1/400) so once you have good flashes, it's easier to overpower daylight by using a short exposure.

  6. #6
    shnitz's Avatar
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    I didn't mean to berate those that use "lesser" equipment. In fact, the best pictures at that wedding were taken by a dentist friend with a digital point and shoot, because he was framing the pictures correctly, and getting in and taking shots instead of asking people to stop what they were doing and pose for a picture. One of my older photo professors (well, actually he was technically the darkroom tech, but that's because he was signed on with another school at the time) used to shoot for National Geographic, Time, etc. and in his current state, for his published work he used an "obsolete" Olympus point and shoot digital. What I meant by that comment is that there are often people that go buy a camera for more than they have ever spent on one, take a couple snapshots in full auto mode, see the quality of a SLR, and decide that they're suddenly Dorothea Lange and that they deserve to be paid for their work.

    Of course, the converse is also true, in that many times people with a lot of disposable income buy a full-pro SLR setup worth $20,000+, and again, they think if they're using the same gear they see on the sidelines at ESPN or in the field during a National Geographic safari, then they must be pros too. I guess my real rant is people using their equipment as a crutch to make up for their ignorance about how to make a good photograph.

    I don't mind if RZ lenses cause additional drain on the battery, as that is an extra $7 and a trip to the store to have insurance that you don't have to shoot in emergency 1/400 sec. I think I'll consider adding those RZ lenses once these don't do enough for me. The shutters all work fine, according to my home tests, but I might as well use the electronic control of the RZ.

    polyglot: Thanks for the new-old stock links. I'll definitely check them out. Are you sure that Medium format has less depth of field? I am almost sure, from my old optics classes, that a larger film would produce a smaller depth of field for the same angle of view, primarily given that you're using a longer focal length to achieve the same shot. That also backs up my experience. I took some polaroids with the RZ, and at 180mm, I was only shooting moderate telephoto compared to 645 and 35mm. But, the depth of field was killer thin compared to how the shots would have been framed with the smaller formats.

  7. #7
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Yes, medium format has less (narrower/shallower) depth of field than 35mm for a given field of view and f-number. Like you say in your latter sentences - it's killer thin if you're not careful. That means that if you want the same DOF as you'd get from a 35mm system, you need the aperture to be two stops smaller (e.g. shoot at f/16 instead of f/8), which means you need 4x as much light. And since you're probably using the 6x7 for high-quality reasons, you may not want to go for a high-ISO film, so suddenly you're looking at needing a massive flash or long exposures. Or crazy-thin DOF, i.e. too thin to get both eyes in focus unless the person is staring directly at the lens.

    PS: get a prism if you intend to shoot portraits. I used the WLF for too long, which means photos of chins unless you plan to obtain a higher vantage-point ahead of time (bring a 15" step to portrait sessions!), which makes it really hard to wander amongst a crowd.

  8. #8
    michaelbsc's Avatar
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    The photographer is not inside the camera.

    Quote Originally Posted by shnitz View Post
    ...In fact, the best pictures at that wedding were taken by a dentist friend with a digital point and shoot, because he was framing the pictures correctly, and getting in and taking shots instead of asking people to stop what they were doing and pose for a picture.....
    30-some years ago I knew a guy who was commanding $20K a pop for weddings, and working almost every weekend.

    One of the most important lessons in photography I ever got was from him when he told me, "stand over here instead," one day. The guy could get higher quality work from a cardboard disposable than most people (ME!) can get from {you-name-it} miracle camera.

    The lesson that day was, "The photographer is not inside the camera."

    That's not to say that good equipment doesn't improve the work or make the work easier. But amateur equipment in the hands of a skilled craftsman will produce better work than professional equipment in the hands of an amateur. The single most important factor in the results is the photographer, not the equipment.
    Michael Batchelor
    Industrial Informatics, Inc.
    www.industrialinformatics.com

    The camera catches light. The photographer catches life.



 

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