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  1. #1
    Dave Wooten's Avatar
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    leica vs mf 645/67-print comparison

    Leica and medium format users-how do you compare the "look" of the end result, the print, from the best of your leica 35 mm optics compared to your medium format optics i.e. Contax, Mamiya, Bronica, Fugi, etc.

    Happy Holidays
    Dave in Vegas

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    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    I have a Mamiya 7, and recently bought a Leica M4P. I love the Mamiya, the prints I've made from the negatives enlarge beautifully. I shoot a lot of portraits of children, and found the medium format a little too slow, and with only ten frames per roll, I had to stop too frequently to change the film. So I figured, I could maybe get similar optics with a 35mm rangefinder, and indeed I do. I am amazed at the negatives I've gotten from the Leica, and they enlarge very well. I think with these two cameras I have the best of both worlds, and can use each for the type of shooting that suits it best. There are examples from both cameras in my gallery, as well as from a Nikon F100, which I find I'm using less and less!

  3. #3
    Dave Wooten's Avatar
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    Thanks Suzzanne,

    I looked at your gallery, nice! T.R. and Blinky, are lovely. How do the leica images hold up at 11 x 14, do you dare 16 x 20?

    Again thanks so much for your informed input.

    Dave in Vegas

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    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Although I haven't printed either T.R. or Miss Binky to 11x14, I have printed one other shot with the Leica that held up very well. I haven't printed anything 16x20, but I recently acquired a 16x20 easel from a local lab that closed their darkroom, so I'll be giving that a shot soon. I expect the 6x7, (like my little ghosts in the woods) will look great that big. I'm just not sure that a tight portrait at 16x20 will work, but it'll be interesting to see if I can get those negs that big.

  5. #5

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    I think the issue here relates less to optics than film size. Any half decent MF camera will produce images that look far smoother and have miles more detail than a print of the same size fom 35mm. My comparisons come from Rollecicord/RZ67/120 back on 5x4 shot negs compared to Canon Eos lenses and my Ricoh GRl (which as you probably know has a lens good enough to be indistinguishable from a very expensive german prime lens at one stop down and is avilable in M mount). This however, is not the point. The 35mm negs enlarged to the same size look grainier, have coarser granularity and far less detail. However, this look is often very appealing and is sometimes preferable to the (at times less atmostpheric and more sterile) creamy reality look of MF.

    The bottom line is that my best 35mm does not come close to approaching my ancient Rolleicord Va in terms of detail and tonality. Nor would I want it to.......Portraits of children in 35mm (esp if lith printed) have a unique quality for example (Cheryl Jacobs might agree) that would disappear with a 6x7 neg and slow film. ANother issue I think often forgotten is the conditions of the shot. A leica 35mm shot at f5.6 and 1/60 hand held is not going to look any sharper than that shot on lesser optics, let alone one on MF. I think they are completely different beasts which cannot really be compared. For those shooting on HP5 and TriX, optical benefits are lost as the films are relatively coarse, though contrast may be superior with the Zeiss/Leica optics. I have all but stopped using sslow films with 35mm, as if I want tonality and detail, I go straight to a bigger format assuming it is practical to use. I use faster films (HP5, Neopan 1600) and sometimes print on a condenser with 35mm to get sharp gritty grain. I would love to own a leica (but not to pay for it), but with HP5 my Eos kit produces great results. I would want a Leica for its size, unobtrusiveness, quietness and mechanical reliabiliy.....but would not be loading it with Acros developed in perceptol!

    Tom

    Tom

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    clay's Avatar
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    With a medium speed film like FP-4 or Fuji Acros souped in a high acutance developer like FX-39, I can coax 16x20s from my Leica that fool most people into believing that they are from medium format. I rarely print bigger than 8x13, though, and at that size the portability and ease of use of 35mm will trump medium format every time, with very little if any difference in print quality.

  7. #7
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    I've done some 20 X 30 poster prints from an old M5 I use to own and they were surprisingly nice. I used the newer 35mm Aspherical and that thing was deadly.
    "EVERY film and paper is good .......... for something"
    Phil Davis

  8. #8
    Sean's Avatar
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    I went from an M6 to a Mamiya 645 Super and find the prints I'm making from the mamiya are quite 4x5 looking at 8x10 size, and the M6 were close to MF looking at 8x10 size. But when I went shooting with the M6 it was the cam around my neck and a hip bag, and the MF is a full on backpack with a lot of weight.

  9. #9
    bjorke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stanworth
    For those shooting on HP5 and TriX, optical benefits are lost as the films are relatively coarse, though contrast may be superior with the Zeiss/Leica optics.
    Yes, and I could see it on the negs with the naked eye when I pulled my first roll from my Contax, compared to my Canon gear (which was already very good).

    Smaller cameras are all about fluidity. Seems to have worked for many people for a long time. Just be aware that it's different from MF and accept both for their strengths.

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KBPhotoRantPhotoPermitAPUG flickr Robot

  10. #10
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    Hi There

    I agree with Suzzane Revey, Mamiya 7 ( Texas Leica ) and Leica negatives are always evident , when I print them.
    I also like the Fuji 6x9 and Contax G2 negatives for sharpness.

    I absolutely hate printing negatives from a zoom lens, reminds me of pin hole or holga work.

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