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Medium Format & Large Format Cameras Digital and Film.

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  #1  
Old January 20th, 2012, 07:29 PM
ron_hiner ron_hiner is offline
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Default MF curious... where do I start?

Title says it all... I feel like I have to know whats there.. I don't know where to begin.
Ron
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  #2  
Old January 20th, 2012, 07:48 PM
charlie chipman charlie chipman is offline
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Like most things in photography the answer to this question will depend on your needs, your priorities, and your budget.

What is your budget?
What is your primary subject matter?
Do you want a smaller camera like a 645 rangefinder or a larger studio camera like an RZ67?
Which format do you prefer, 645, 6x6, 6x7, etc?
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  #3  
Old January 20th, 2012, 11:13 PM
ron_hiner ron_hiner is offline
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Budget: don't really have one. David Hobby got a setup for $10k. Is that realistic for a used setup that is upgradable? I guess my budget is maybe 10-20k tops. Lower is better.
Here is Hobby's blog post....
http://strobist.blogspot.com/2012/01...-nikon-d4.html

I guess my first bid decison (based primarily on ignorance) is the platform choice of Phaseone vs. Hassy.

People ask me all the time.. "Aare Nikons or Canons better?" My response is always the same... "both are excellent -- go see what feels better in your hands"

I'd use this setup primarily for fashion/glam & landscape. I'll keep my Nikons for everything else.

Thanks for your help!
Ron
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  #4  
Old January 20th, 2012, 11:48 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ron_hiner View Post
Budget: don't really have one. David Hobby got a setup for $10k. Is that realistic for a used setup that is upgradable? I guess my budget is maybe 10-20k tops.

That is a small budget. What you could do is:
-buy a film medium format. They sell for a song used, count 200-300$ and realize that you will resell it for the same price whenever you want. It is basically free rent.
-buy the Pentax 645D new. It is bar far the cheapest option and not less able than the competition. You will also be able to resell with very little loss within a year.

I would not buy a used digital medium format, they are too expensive compared to the new Pentax.
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  #5  
Old January 21st, 2012, 10:36 AM
CD Holden CD Holden is offline
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I'll echo Jerome's first suggestion just because I'm a fan of film. MF covers many formats. While I prefer 6x9 for medium format landscapes, I like the 6x6 frame for general shooting because there is no portrait/landscape decision to be made at the time of exposure. If so, I can do it later, cropping in post-processing and not miss the shot with the camera in my hand. Spend a couple/few hundred bucks on a decent inexpensive TLR (Yashicamat or Minoltacord) and see if you like the negatives. If you want digital, scan it. This is still cheaper than buying digital MF just to see if it fits your workflow. If it doesn't work out for you, you can probably sell the camera for about what you paid for it and be out little or no money. Depending on the deal, you might even make a few bucks.
Get your feet wet before jumping in the deep end. You can always spend more later.
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  #6  
Old January 21st, 2012, 10:53 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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I'd suggest as Bronica 6x6 or 6x7 as they are dirt cheap and the PS glass is wonderful. Look at KEH.com. Their "bargain" rated gear is still excellent! As Jerome says, you'll get back pretty much what you paid. Don't spend thousands and then you can afford film and an epson 750 scanner. You'll easily enlarge to any size you likely need.

Asher
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  #7  
Old January 21st, 2012, 11:25 AM
CD Holden CD Holden is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Look at KEH.com. Their "bargain" rated gear is still excellent!
To add to that, I find glass is always better from them when it includes caps. If you have the option, spend the extra money and get the lenses that already have caps and you'll have fewer, if any scratches. They do have an excellent return policy though.
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  #8  
Old January 21st, 2012, 11:27 AM
ron_hiner ron_hiner is offline
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Interesting... I hadn't thought about the film. I don't miss film at all. I think the driving force behind my MF curiosity is largely the incredible dynamic range I see from PhaseOne backs. I'm sure the right film will do that and better. The last local film lab around home closed a couple years ago... I know I won't get the instant gratification as with digital. It's another thought to add to the mix.
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  #9  
Old January 21st, 2012, 11:39 AM
Charles L Webster Charles L Webster is offline
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Because I do studio product photography, I have looked longingly at MF for quite a while and have discovered the following:

* MF digital cameras/backs are far too expensive for my use
* MF film cameras and lenses are reasonably priced, especially used
* Shooting MF film requires additional resources as follows:
A local pro lab capable of processing MF film
A high-quality, high-resolution MF film scanner
More computer drive and memory space for the huge files (300MB TIFF files out of scanner)

All just to provide a larger, higher resolution file to my clients.

My personal conclusion is that I don't need digital MF, and until my clients are willing to pay extra for all those megapixels I'll stay where I am.

My $0.02 worth. These conclusions apply to me and my work/clients only.
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  #10  
Old January 21st, 2012, 02:35 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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As to film processing, I should probably point out that it is relatively easy to process B&W film at home. Color reversal can be done with special amateur kits relatively easily as well and even C41 (color negative) is doable if one has a temperature stabilized bath.

Although, from personal experience, I would only consider color negative if I really could not find a lab...
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  #11  
Old January 22nd, 2012, 12:48 AM
Charles L Webster Charles L Webster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
As to film processing, I should probably point out that it is relatively easy to process B&W film at home. Color reversal can be done with special amateur kits relatively easily as well and even C41 (color negative) is doable if one has a temperature stabilized bath.

Although, from personal experience, I would only consider color negative if I really could not find a lab...
Having struggled with C-41 processing some years ago, I'm not in any hurry to try it again, especially with client images. Experimentation is fine if you aren't working on client images, but for clients, I wouldn't trust anyone but a good pro lab.

And if it weren't for client work, I wouldn't be interested in MF in the first place. I learned photography on MF, a 6X6 TLR, so I don't need to revisit the format as a learning experience.
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  #12  
Old January 22nd, 2012, 01:29 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles L Webster View Post
Experimentation is fine if you aren't working on client images, but for clients, I wouldn't trust anyone but a good pro lab.

Certainly. I just wanted to point out that, especially for B&W, one does not necessary have to wait for a week when a mail order lab is the only commercial choice.
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  #13  
Old January 22nd, 2012, 11:01 AM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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Hello
an interesting review of the Pentax 645D. Scroll down for a comparison with film camera…
Ici en français
Google English translation
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  #14  
Old January 25th, 2012, 04:49 AM
Geoff Goldberg Geoff Goldberg is offline
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The gentle advice offered is to save you difficulty later. MFDB are quite demanding, expensive and alluring. You can get most of their pleasure (but not all) from film - which also gives you the advantage of a bigger viewing area. I'm partial to 6x6, and Rollei TLR as a great way in, else Hassy V cameras are nice too. A good scan off a good neg can really blow you away.

There are ways to get into MFDB for the rough budget you have, but its like buying a house in construction: the final cost isn't quite what they told you: you want a driveway too? Oh....

The impact of MFDB on the whole work flow is not insignificant: HD start multiplying like gerbels. Computer processing.... printer quality. I hope you don't fall in love with piezography...

But, OK, lets say you are hooked (spoken by the fish already on the line): you can get into a used 22 mp back for about 5k, and a system for another 5k, so it can work. But you have to pick your approach very carefully - with lots of shopping. I'm partial to the Rollei world, but that is a very specific small little sector of folks, who chose it for a very set group of reasons. $10k gets you in, can get you going but ask a few questions:

1) do you need more than one lens?
2) handheld or tripod (and handheld here means handheld for now, tripod will follow).
3) is WLF important?
4) can you deal with manual focus
5) how demanding are you?
6) what kind of light do you like?

For example, if you pick a Hassy V, a 16 mp sq back, and a 50 or 80 mm lens... that's your budget. To get top quality from that (and you can), you'll probably have to be on a tripod for many shots, and good light for any others. The newer backs (maybe 1.5-2x the price) give you a couple more stops to play with, and some of the newer cameras give mirror dampening that gives another stop....

the packages (hassy, phase, pentax) give you the best bang for the buck, and maybe that will do the trick. Just be on guard: its a demanding and ultimately rewarding path. I often find a number of shots just don't come out, or work, but the ones that do are worth it. And not interested in shooting anything else anymore....

Hope this helps.
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  #15  
Old January 25th, 2012, 07:30 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Goldberg View Post
you can get into a used 22 mp back for about 5k, and a system for another 5k
Which I why I advised against it. You can get a new Pentax 645D for that price...
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  #16  
Old March 20th, 2013, 02:19 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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Revisiting an old thread, I would like to add that the situation has changed and that the price of used digital MF has gone down by about a factor 2.
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  #17  
Old March 20th, 2013, 03:24 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Revisiting an old thread, I would like to add that the situation has changed and that the price of used digital MF has gone down by about a factor 2.
Jerome, that's true. But the price of the Pentax 645D has dropped too! It's now just [/url=http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=cart_accessories&A=details&Q=&sku=739072&is =REG&bundleId=739072REG]$8796[/url] and they throw in a free 55mm autofocus lens Pentax Pentax-D FA 645 55mm f/2.8 AL[IF] SDM AW Lens.

furthermore, in the more expensive, $4500-$5,000 realm of MF lenses, there's now $500 off the 25mm and also the very unique, 90mm f/2.8 D FA 645 Macro ED AW SR Lens with image stabilization, LOL

Asher
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  #18  
Old March 20th, 2013, 03:44 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is offline
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You are right to note that the price of the Pentax has gone down as well.
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  #19  
Old March 24th, 2013, 10:29 AM
Theodoros Fotometria Theodoros Fotometria is offline
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My contribution to this, is originated by the following: 1. If I was to do it again, I would do it the same way (I am very satisfied out of my choice) 2. I am always concerned with costs and believe in long term decisions.
I started MF photography with Bronica ETRS during the 80's... The replacement to Contax 645 was decided at 2005 for 2 reasons... A. The digital era and the compatibility to MFDBs, B. The collection of lenses available. Because, I am very careful with costs, I decided with a focal plane shutter system that would give me a wide choice of lenses... staying with leaf shutter, the choice could only be limited with the maker... Soooo, I started with a basic kit and added all 6 CJZ (Carl Zeiss Jena - P6 mount) lenses on it via adapters... the cost was very affordable (I had money left from trading my 10 lens Bronica system) and the addition of a Sinarback emotion 22 back (S/H - very affordable) was what gave me the continuation to the digital age. Now, I still own the Contax and although I have all dedicated lenses but the 350 and 3 bodies, I still own the CZJ.... the back has been replaced with an Imacon 528c in the mean time which can do 16x multishot shooting... Other than that, I have added a Fuji GX680 and added a Contax adapter onto it, this allows me to use my MFDB with both cameras having the same fit (and having the ability of 16x with both cameras, retaining the movements of the GX)... I also had more money left from trading my Sinar P2 system and lenses for the GX... but the abilities and the solutions I had by my choice..., I hardly believe I could have matched by having chosen different! ....I suggest the same to any new comer. Regards, Theodoros.
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  #20  
Old March 24th, 2013, 11:28 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theodoros Fotometria View Post
My contribution to this, is originated by the following: 1. If I was to do it again, I would do it the same way (I am very satisfied out of my choice) 2. I am always concerned with costs and believe in long term decisions.
I started MF photography with Bronica ETRS during the 80's... The replacement to Contax 645 was decided at 2005 for 2 reasons... A. The digital era and the compatibility to MFDBs, B. The collection of lenses available. Because, I am very careful with costs, I decided with a focal plane shutter system that would give me a wide choice of lenses... staying with leaf shutter, the choice could only be limited with the maker... Soooo, I started with a basic kit and added all 6 CJZ (Carl Zeiss Jena - P6 mount) lenses on it via adapters... the cost was very affordable
Theodoros,

Welcome to OPF! Oτην ευχάριστη θέση να σας έχουμε εδώ!

It's sort of absurd that having done very well with a Bronica Sq at 6x6 cm and a Pentax Spotmatic I became spoiled by Eos autofocus! The truth is that MF is slower but more accurate. We've had our technique degraded by microsecond pretty accurate focus for sports, that we forget that MF at events like weddings was normal for many years.

The only drawback to the con tax is service of the camera. However, there must be a lot of private repair shops. Can Zeiss repair them?

Asher
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  #21  
Old March 24th, 2013, 12:21 PM
Theodoros Fotometria Theodoros Fotometria is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
Theodoros,

Welcome to OPF! Oτην ευχάριστη θέση να σας έχουμε εδώ!

It's sort of absurd that having done very well with a Bronica Sq at 6x6 cm and a Pentax Spotmatic I became spoiled by Eos autofocus! The truth is that MF is slower but more accurate. We've had our technique degraded by microsecond pretty accurate focus for sports, that we forget that MF at events like weddings was normal for many years.

The only drawback to the con tax is service of the camera. However, there must be a lot of private repair shops. Can Zeiss repair them?

Asher
Thanks for your welcome Asher... Thanks for your your excellent use of my mother language too...
Asher, my opinion is that photographic needs change according to tech development, MF was never in my opinion to replace FF... I now do (perhaps not 100% up to the level, but well enough) many things that I used to do with my Contax and MFDB, using my D800E... but never the less, this only refers to IQ... I can't have the flexibility of MF by using my Nikon(s) instead of the Fuji, nor I can have the multishot (the most financially providing out of all my equipment's abilities) using FF... OTOH, I can't have the LL performance that I get through my FF's or the workflow, or the speed of use... Photography has always being like that, the image area is shrinking, because the IQ is advancing... IMO, MF makers are committing suicide at the moment, they are trying to make "larger image area DSLRs" that beat DSLRs only in sharpness, neglecting the advancement on giving solutions to the most important aspect of MF photography, like "true color" (multishot - I mainly do art reproduction), movements (architectural - still life) or tech camera support. My suggestion, (although the answer to your question on support is yes - within the limits that you've spotted) doesn't only apply to Contax, one could choose a S/H Mamiya AFD instead (even today) and still follow the same path and have the same solutions... My choice of the Contax (I could have chosen AFD instead - and AFD fit on my Fuji GX) was strictly personal taste. Never the less I would never choose a Pentax or a Leica S or another system that the only thing different from a DSLR is image area and sharpness... I am not a "sharpness junkie" nor I will ever be one... Thanks once more for your welcome... Theodoros.

Last edited by Theodoros Fotometria; March 24th, 2013 at 05:23 PM.
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  #22  
Old March 24th, 2013, 01:03 PM
Theodoros Fotometria Theodoros Fotometria is offline
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If I may add to the above... the choice of a focal plane shutter 6x4.5 system (Contax 645 or Mamyia AFD) has the extra benefit that there is an existing very wide basis of compatible 6X6 leaf shutter lenses of superb quality that can be used via adapters (by opening the shutter of course), while at the same time, provide high compatibility to MFDBs... Imagine for example a Hass V user that decides on a more flexible, lighter body... why would he have to rush and invest on new lenses? ...he decided on his system because of the lenses in the first place ...no?
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