For $200 you could possibly do both. There was an Olympus RC in the classifieds just a few days back for something like $65, if I recall correctly. A MF folder could be had for the remainder (depending on model/etc). Then you could do your own comparison.
Originally Posted by pbryld
They are very different things to work with. I have a Canonet, for example. Much faster to work with than the Moscow IV folder I have (clone of an Ikonta 6x9). The lens on the canonet is considered to be excellent quality. I can shoot faster and more from a roll with it.
For me, I like the MF negatives. If for nothing else, I have much less of an issue with dust. Any dust on a 35mm neg is enlarged 4x as much as dust on a MF neg.
You will find really nice lenses in both 35mm and MF and should make perfectly fine prints up to the size you mentioned.
For me, the bigger issue is regarding aspect and utilizing the entire frame that the specific format allows. I love 6x6 and, while I could crop to a square from any format, it makes more sense (to me) to just go with a medium format system that fits that aspect.
Can't speak to the RF, but I recently just shot a roll of 120 Tri-X in a Hasselblad vs Efke 25 in a Nikon F3. I only did this to see how well the slow speed film in 35 format compares to 400 speed 120. I'll try to print a couple of the best frames this weekend optically at 8x10 (and highly cropped 8x10's) to see if there is much difference. So far just viewing them on the enlarging board at high magnification looks like it could be a good contest. I know all things being roughly equal 120 will crush 35mm, but I was curious as to the difference of slow vs medium speed film. For the Nikon I normally shoot at F4 / 5.6 to be in the optimum sharpness range whereas on the Hasselblad I am usually at F8 - F16, so shutter speeds are pretty similar. No scanner will enter the equation except for scanning the optical prints; so the Epson vs Nikon vs Imacon vs drum scan craziness will not come into play.
I think the medium format gives a different depth-of-field due to the increased focal length required for the same coverage.
For example, if 80mm on 120 = 50mm on 35mm then you can imagine the difference in DOF.
Typically MF lenses are slower than their 35mm equivalents so you have to compensate for that in shutter speed.
I like the character of a MF photo more than 35mm but you can't beat 35mm for film choice, economy and portability.
And, as said above, for pure sharpness then 35mm may be the better choice.
I do all formats from Minox to 8x10.
If you are asking about a 120 to 35mm comparison my experience has been that on a tripod with 'pro' equipment (no "Great Wall or Holga" camera) the 120 will always win. If you are hand-holding at less than 1/250 the differences will get less the slower you get.
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A 120 TLR may be able to give you the "sharpness" you need, at a price you are willing to spend.
Prices on the used market have more to do with market forces than questions of relative qualities - way more good quality 35mm cameras were sold into the market than 120 cameras.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
I'm not too sure about a medium format RF never having used it myself, however, I have only recently started shooting with a medium format SLR and guiltily confess that I have been spoiled. This is my very personal opinion, but nothing beats medium format if you are a serious photographer. For street or quick shots I would suggest sticking to 35mm since they are less heavier and easier to carry around.
I have a Konica 35mm RF which is a pretty decent (and cheap) 35mm RF camera and I'm rather happy with it for the quick and dirty shots. However, if I go on a photoshoot that requires time and thought for composition, I would grab a MF SLR any day of the week over a 35mm.
When I need detail and high image quality, I use the larger format rangefinder with a cable release and a tripod.
When I need to shoot quietly and quickly, I hand hold one of my smaller format rangefinders.
I used to have a medium format rangefinder and sold it as, like the OP, I print no bigger than 10x8 or so and it that size it was overkill.
I have no instruments to measure 'sharpness' but if I hold a 10x8 print at the distance I would read a book I cannot tell if it was shot on 35mm or 120 film.
"What I am looking for is sharpness, sharpness, sharpness...
How noticeable will the difference be between an MF RF and a 35mm RF?
If it's hardly (or maybe even not at all), a 35mm is definitely the way to go. In that case, what can I get for around $200?"
Yes, you can tell the difference between Tri-X 135 and 120 images at 5x7 in. Stand back 3 feet and you probably can't see the difference 90% of the time.
All things considered you normally can't tell the difference between an image shot with a SLR and RF.
A Konica S2 or S3 is a low cost RF entry. They have their idiosyncrasies so do a Google. The Minolta CLE or Konica Hexar with 50mm would be a safer, more expensive choice.
T-Max 400 in -135 has somewhat of a MF look at small enlargements (5x7). T-Max 100 in -135 may work with larger prints but I have not used it.
My MF Bronica RF645 weights less with about the same volumn of a Nikon f4. The Fuji 645s are as small as the F4. Rollei TLRs are small and light.
If your cost conscience and print from a darkroom the cost of MF enlarging equipment needs to be considered.
A TLR Rollei MX-EVS, 75mm f/3.5 Tessar sells for about $200 to $350. The center sharpness will blow -135 away if in excellent condition and with aperture stopped down to f/8. You must use a lens hood and have proper exposure.
Like the S2 or S3 buy right to avoid a CLA or other issues. Things to consider. The MX-EVS screen will likely be too dark for inside shots. TLR cameras perform best on a tripod. The camera has no meter. Not all folks enjoy the deliberate handling TLR with image reversed on the viewing screen. However, the Rollei results have great tonality and are sharp from a small/light weight camera.
Last edited by Richard Jepsen; 08-28-2011 at 12:37 PM. Click to view previous post history.