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  1. #1

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    35mm or medium format (for me)?

    Now this is a cross forum post really so Ive posted it here and also in medium format as I expect the answers or at least the bias to vary.

    Im new to photography, 6 months in almost and 6000 photos so as you can probably guess Im a digi user. BUT i want to try out film. Initially it was as an experiment and something to dabble in before i go back to uni in september but even in the course of my searching its taken on a life of its own and im now looking for something long term (although i havent actually taken a film shot yet)

    So im looking at a nikon 35mm FM2n manual camera with 85mm f2 lens or a cheap medium format set up possibly a bronica. I know each forum will have its own ideas about what i need but im also guessing some of you have 35mm and medium format.

    Im thinking of using it in different application to my digi SLR which is always with me for low light or interesting stuff where i might rattle off a few shots to find 1 or none are worth keeping. Instead it would be a sort of portrait camera not in a strictly posed sense but a camera where i can garner a lot more texture and feel than with my digi camera. Confusing? My flickr is here for an idea of what i like to do. Favourites may show more clearly what i would like to do.

    Cost is an issue but id be looking to self develop by the end of the summer and hopefully use darkroom etc at uni. Potential repairs are a possible issue. Portability-can i lug around a medium format or indeed would i want to. Interchange of lenses-with the nikon i can use lenses i have for my digi.

    Anyway through in your tuppence/cents worth as to which you feel is a better plan.

  2. #2

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    Most MF are very luggable. Some are tiny even. This isn't really an issue. You'll find some 35mm are actually heavier then the lighter MF cameras.

  3. #3
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fontmoss View Post
    Portability-can i lug around a medium format or indeed would i want to.
    For me. at least, that is the key issue.

    Your digital kit covers speed, spontaneity, experimenting and is relatively lightweight as well, so medium format would be a good complement to it.

    You seem to like one lens only, so that along with a 6x6 or smaller format camera might make the weight acceptable. Ultimately though, how much weight you feel like lugging around is something only you can answer.
    In my case, the thought of carrying around my Pentax 6x7 with 3 lenses makes me immediately reach for my lightest 35mm kit 95% of the time...
    YMMV
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  4. #4

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    I use D700 Nikon digi and a FE2 so I can use the same lenses.

    Film is not magicly better than digi. You will get the same image.

    To pick up very fine detail, a larger neg or sensor is required. Your images are not the type that would benefit.

    Digi is a great learning tool because you get an immediate image. You have a lot of practice to do and the machine gun approach does not work well with film. You need to be able to predict what the image will look like, Ansel Adams called it visualization. Until you can do this, you are just snapping away and hoping.

  5. #5

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    You have a lot of practice to do and the machine gun approach does not work well with film. You need to be able to predict what the image will look like, Ansel Adams called it visualization. Until you can do this, you are just snapping away and hoping.
    i understand what you mean here but perhaps i am misrepresenting myself. I meant that in low light situations where people are talking and moving and the light is changing i may take a lot of shots in order to get one where for that fleeting moment i get what i want. I can visualise that moment but when timing is so brief i like to take a few shots to make sure i get it.

    I intend to use a film camera in a different way, it would be a far more considered and thought out process.

  6. #6
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fontmoss View Post
    I intend to use a film camera in a different way, it would be a far more considered and thought out process.
    If you are truly going the way you describe, a sheet film camera, like a 4x5, opens up a world of possibilities that roll-film cameras can normally only dream of.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  7. #7
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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    If you can really live with one lens, then a MF folder, TLR (Q.C.: Please don't both correcting me by saying that TLRs have two lenses) or rangefinder might fit the bill very well indeed.
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  8. #8

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    1 lens isnt an issue really (at least thus far!) and i think im coming to see if cost wasnt a factor then id get a MF but money is an issue. I gues sin many ways im asking if 35mm can still capture the textures and qualities* that MF has in buckets and which, i feel, digital lacks.

    *qualities as in feel, texture etc not asking for a troll re. which is superior

  9. #9
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    I think you will find that 35mm cameras are going to feel and act a lot more like your digital camera. Try MF if you want the slower, contemplative approach. Take a look at a Mamiya RB67. You can probably get an older used body with a waist-level finder and one back, plus a 150mm or 180mm lens, for not a lot of money (insert plug for KEH Camera here). The RB is a camera some use hand-held, but you may find that you prefer it on a tripod (I certainly do!). There is lots of info about the RB67 and RZ67 cameras on this forum. Welcome to APUG!

    PS - The difference between 35mm and 6x7 is immediately obvious in a larger print, if detail and texture are important to you.
    Last edited by rthomas; 05-23-2009 at 08:35 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: added something!

  10. #10

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    For what you're describing, don't aim low.

    Medium format is ideal for less candid material, and in terms of 'feel', MF (and large format) is where film really begins to shine. 35mm is a fine format, and would have the advantage, if you're shooting Nikon for example, that the lenses will interchange with your digital equipment. But in my opinion, while it's cheaper, it won't touch a well-executed medium format photograph in terms of tonality

    Personally, I love the 6x6 format, and consequently I am happy as a clam shooting either my Rolleiflex TLR(s) or Hasselblad. The latter is a lot more involved, but partly thanks to the proliferation of pros going digital, increasingly cheap, offering unparalleled bang for the buck. You should be able to pick up a 500 series body, an 80mm f/2.8 Planar and a back or two for not too heavy an outlay. If you can find a much cheaper Bronica, fine and dandy – they're excellent cameras – but given the choice of a Bronica system for (say) $400 and a Hasselblad system for $500, I'd make a plan and spring for the Hassy.

    If you're on a really tight budget, pick up a beater 35mm camera, shoot your heart out, and save up for MF. Nobody said you can't have both, and Gear Acquisition Syndrome is a healthy, normal thing for a photographer.

    Hope this helps!

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