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FORUMS Other Digital Cameras Medium Format Digital Cameras and Backs
Thread started 05 Dec 2014 (Friday) 21:30
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What made you make the switch to medium format?

 
the ­ flying ­ moose
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Dec 05, 2014 21:30 |  #1

I find myself more taking photos in a studio environment. I am starting to explore the wonderful world of medium format and wonder if that might be an option down the road. Have a medium format set up for the studio and keep some of the Canon gear for sports and weddings. I literally know nothing about this and recently picked up a medium format film camera to play around with, just to switch it up and become inspired again.

I guess I am looking for good reads so I can research more and see if this might be a step that would be worth taking in the next couple of years. And if anyone has any other comments or suggestions, I'd love to hear those too.




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Wilt
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Post has been edited over 3 years ago by Wilt.
Dec 06, 2014 01:04 |  #2

It used to be that 135 format photographers looking for less grain, better tonality, better color gradations, and ability to retouch negatives before printing would flock to medium format. It provided much more film area for the same subject content, resulting in all of the above advantages. I moved to medium format film about 24 years ago, and totally abandoned my 135 format usage, with the sole exception of shooting in low available light (without flash), due to the fast apertures of 135 format lenses. Back two decades ago, you might expect to spend 2x for a medium format body compared to 135 body.

Fast forward to today...going to medium format digital is only like jumping from 135 format to 645 format, at best. A very modest benefit, compared to jumping from 135 film to 6x7 film. And you spend a small fortune for 645 format equivalent sensors...$35000; less money means a smaller medium format sensor...$14000 for a medium format 'crop' body (even smaller than 645 format)! Spend a staggering $35000 (6x-7x the price of a top FF dSLR) nets you 3x the pixel count or about 70% more in each axis; with film even the small 645 format netted 75% improvement at only 2x the cost for medium format film equipment! The cost:benefit of digital medium format just makes it a hard purchase to justify; many pros lease rather than buy, trying to avoid rapid technical obsolecence and drop in value that we have experienced with APS-C and FF dSLRs.

Where I moved to medium format film because I found 135 inadequate in so many circumstances, I find that APS-C digital quite satisfactory, and seldom pull out FF digital because I find my lens selection so well suited for APS-C and not available in equivalent lenses for FF! (Can you find me something covering 27-88mm in an f/2.8 IS lens for FF?!)


Medium format film is plagued by elimination of many emulsion types, compared to 20 years ago. My favorite emulsions are no longer made!
Finding film processing services is getting difficult, with the closure of many pro film labs.
So it is increasingly difficult to justify medium format, leading to a plummeting of equipment values...you now pay $300 for what cost $3000 new!


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Canon dSLR system, Olympus OM 35mm system, Bronica ETRSi 645 system, Horseman LS 4x5 system, Metz flashes, Dynalite studio lighting, and too many accessories to mention

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Tareq
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Dec 07, 2014 14:55 |  #3

I didn't switch to medium format, but i gave it a go and happy with it even i regret the waste of money without anything back much to justify it.

I started film medium format only in 2010 just after i came back from my vacation from USA in 2009 with enough film to expose, and because of digital medium format i decided to go with film medium format, because i read a lot how film DR and resolution of MF/LF if done properly, and i was amazed and stunned with digital MF itself, but i didn't do LF much yet, and happy with film MF and i wish to have a drum scanner or at least a dedicated film scanner that is affordable than Nikon ones, but i really want to have a drum scanner then i will shoot with LF most of the time when possible.

If i will shoot portraits in studio only or some outdoor with monolights then my digital medium format will be my always first choice, i don't have much lenses, but i can go with 3 lenses and still have high quality and i can crop and still have plenty of resolution to play with compared with cropped full frame 35mm sensor even with 36mp, assuming i have 40mp and above DMF.


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the ­ flying ­ moose
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Dec 07, 2014 20:38 |  #4

Thanks for the responses. Kind of what I had expected to hear. I will just use the medium format film as a fun project then.




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pyrojim
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Post has been edited over 2 years ago by pyrojim.
Dec 08, 2014 01:24 |  #5

the flying moose wrote in post #17315113external link
I find myself more taking photos in a studio environment. I am starting to explore the wonderful world of medium format and wonder if that might be an option down the road. Have a medium format set up for the studio and keep some of the Canon gear for sports and weddings. I literally know nothing about this and recently picked up a medium format film camera to play around with, just to switch it up and become inspired again.

I guess I am looking for good reads so I can research more and see if this might be a step that would be worth taking in the next couple of years. And if anyone has any other comments or suggestions, I'd love to hear those too.


I had the opportunity to buy a phase one H25 digital back for $2000 over at Digital Transitions. At the time I already had a Mamiya RZ67 and an adapter plate.The image quality that is delivered by medium format digital is entirely unmatched in the 35mm format as of today (and likely for a few days in the future too...). Even with a 22mp digital back, raw files are 50-60 megs a piece, and a studio session can produce several hundred...


Its best to know what your current setup in medium format is. There are a few million different setups, ok not quite that many, but a LOT of possible setups. Different mounts, adapters, backs, leaf shutter lenses, blah blah blah.

If you go down the route of medium format digital, you would best served by tethering the back while in studio.

Then there is the whole discussion of lighting. but lets not have that talk quite now...

So, I suppose the question is what do you currently use for medium format, and what do you want to move into?


PhaseOne H25
Camera agnostic

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chris_holtmeier
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Dec 08, 2014 08:33 |  #6

I shot MF film for a very short while before switching to MF digital.

The cost of film and processing made digital a good economic choice for me.



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the ­ flying ­ moose
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Dec 08, 2014 16:18 |  #7

pyrojim wrote in post #17319795external link
I had the opportunity to buy a phase one H25 digital back for $2000 over at Digital Transitions. At the time I already had a Mamiya RZ67 and an adapter plate.The image quality that is delivered by medium format digital is entirely unmatched in the 35mm format as of today (and likely for a few days in the future too...). Even with a 22mp digital back, raw files are 50-60 megs a piece, and a studio session can produce several hundred...

Its best to know what your current setup in medium format is. There are a few million different setups, ok not quite that many, but a LOT of possible setups. Different mounts, adapters, backs, leaf shutter lenses, blah blah blah.

If you go down the route of medium format digital, you would best served by tethering the back while in studio.

Then there is the whole discussion of lighting. but lets not have that talk quite now...

So, I suppose the question is what do you currently use for medium format, and what do you want to move into?

I don't currently use it for anything. I recently purchased a Mamiya RB67 Pro S with 90mm lens and 120 film back.

I am only inquiring because I wanted to see if it made a difference in studio or not and to see people's experiences with it. It doesn't sound like moving into a different system would be very cost effective for me. I do like the idea of tethering though and will be experimenting more with that with my current set up.




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Kolor-Pikker
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Dec 09, 2014 05:37 |  #8

I was always interested in having something like a scaled-up DSLR, and medium format seemed like the ticket in many areas, except for low-light and live view. Been waiting 6 years with my 5D2 for a CMOS-based MF camera, and got excited when Sony rolled out their sensor tech for MF, as it simplified my options down to which manufacturer I'd go with.
Phase and Hasselblad were tempting options, but quite expensive and their camera bodies aren't that nice, while Leica disappointed with the S 007, and Sony isn't in the MF game yet, and probably won't be at least for a couple of years.
Just then I've had a friend give me his 645D and three lenses to sell for him overseas, so I figured I'd buy the glass myself, but get a 645Z instead, and so far it's been a blast, whether it be shooting in the studio or outside, handheld and in low light.


5DmkII | 24-70 f/2.8L II | Pentax 645Z | 55/2.8 SDM | 120/4 Macro | 150/2.8 IF
I acquired an expensive camera so I can hang out in forums, annoy wedding photographers during formals and look down on P&S users... all the while telling people it's the photographer, not the camera.

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Isca
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Dec 15, 2014 14:58 |  #9

Ironically, I spent a few years with a Canon 5D Mk2 and hten switched to the Olympus EM-1 thinking that size was an issue to me and that the extra reach in a lightweight set up would benefit my photography. It didn't. I was terribly unimpressed by the Olympus files and considered a 5D Mk3 but still had a beat up Mk2. I would not have gone with medium format if it hadn't been for the 645Z as it offered a price point that I could justify to myself. Additionally, the older lenses were very inexpensive and while I yearn for a $4500 28-45, it can wait.

Talking of weight.....I considered the size and heft a positive as I wanted a camera that made me feel like making a photograph was an event, not just a snapshot opportunity.

File quality, dynamic range are the big winners here. I've also shot a Leica M8 and M9 and frankly, I prefer the 30 year old $200 Pentax lens with that sensor over what Leica is pushing out.




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KirkS518
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Post has been edited over 2 years ago by KirkS518.
Dec 25, 2014 09:43 |  #10

I'll join in.

As most, I started with 35mm, and while I do (did) enjoy it, and as much as there are amazing images being made with the small formats, whenever in image really hit me as outstanding, 99x out of 100, it was shot in MF or LF. Something about what is produced by the larger format just has a look that IMO can't be matched. Honestly, I can't really say what it is, but in my mind I can see the difference.

I also went back to film earlier this year, and develop my own B&W. This added something to the enjoyment of the hobby for me that was missing with digital.

Since I had this new found enjoyment, I decided I would get myself a 120 camera. First I went inexpensive, with a Franka Rollfix 6x9, but found the overall quality was lacking (no surprise). I then picked up an Ikoflex 6x6 (1934), and even with a less-then-perfect lens, I was finding that 'look' I wanted, and was prepared to make it my MF camera.

Then I got a phone call. My local lab knows I buy/sell camera stuff to support my hobby, and they referred a lady to me that had (in there words) 'a Minolta, I think, that is like new'. When I got the phone call, the lady corrected them, and said it was a Mamiya RB67 Pro-S with 'a bunch of extras'. Hmm. :)

So I meet the lady, and what she had was an RB67 Pro-SD, 90mm, 180mm, 3 WLF's, Prism Finder 2, 120 back, Mamiya/Polaroid Back (never used), hoods, caps, paperwork/manuals/cata​logues, gadget bagk and hard case, and a few other odds and ends. The entire kit was bought new in '93 by her daughter, who unfortunately broke her wrist 2 months after buying the equipment ($6300), and it was put in a closet for 20+ years, and nothing has even the slightest indication of use.

We agreed on a price that in all honesty was too low, but that's because I based it on a Pro-S like she said, (I didn't even realize it was a Pro-SD until the next day), and it was the price she was asking.

I also picked up a Yashicamat 124G as my 6x6, as I decided I needed to sell the Ikoflex to fund the Mamiya, but still wanted the 6x6 format available. The Ikoflex has collector value as well as 'equipment' value, so it will pay for the Mamiya.

So that's kind of the how I got into MF. The why is because of the quality it produces versus the smaller formats.

Will I move into MF digital? Not anytime in the near future. The cost is completely unjustifiable to me as a hobbyist, but I would love to.

Since getting the RB67, I've added another 120 back, a 220 back, a 250mm, and a Kenko 2x TC for it, swivel grip, and Op-Tech neckstrap. I've committed myself to MF film, and to my local Insane Asylum. But I'm lovin' it!


If steroids are illegal for athletes, should PS be illegal for models?
Digital - 50D, 20D IR Conv, 9 Lenses from 8mm to 300mm
Analog - Mamiya RB67 Pro-SD, Canon A-1, Nikon F4S, YashicaMat 124G, Rollei 35S, QL17 GIII, Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex 1st Version, and and entire room full of lenses and other stuff

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electronpusher
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Post has been edited over 2 years ago by electronpusher.
Jan 23, 2015 00:41 as a reply to KirkS518's post |  #11

Interesting thread...I owned an RB67 30 years ago. I shot mostly Ektrachrome and did my own processing and printing directly to Cibachrome paper. 16x20s were stunning from 6x7 negs. It eventually sat in a closet after I bought my Contax RTS, so the RB went to a local portrait studio. A few years ago I got back into the hobby and went digital for the first time with a 5D MK II. Very cool having any ISO I wanted at my fingertips, and 800 raws without changing 36 exp film cassettes.

But I still missed the RB, and I found they're dirt cheap on ebay these days, so I just bought a body and a few lenses. I didn't really need it, I wanted it. And it's still the beautiful piece of kit and lenses I remembered. I'm going to take it outside when winter's over and spend some time with a tripod Ansel Adamsing some shots in B&W. I still have all my processing reels and tanks, and a nice 6x7 Chromega enlarger, so I'm looking forward to going a bit retro. I'm still wondering if having the negs scanned at the highest available resolution and printing them will exceed the quality of prints from my 5D II at the same size...should be a fun experiment, and just getting out and taking my time framing some nature shots should be relaxing.


Canon 5D mkII (gripped) | Canon 1D mkIII | 24-70mm f/2.8 L | 70-200mm f/2.8 II L | 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 L | 17-40mm f/4 L |100mm f/2.8 L Macro | 50mm f/1.8 II | Kenko 1.4x Teleplus Pro 300 DGX | 600EX-RT
Contax RTS
| Zeiss T* 18mm f/4 | T* 35mm f/2.8 | T* 50mm f/1.4 | T* 85mm f/1.4 | T* 135mm f/2.8 | T* 200mm f/3.5 | Fotodiox chipped adapters, Contax/Canon

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SamFrench
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Jan 23, 2015 09:36 as a reply to electronpusher's post |  #12

electronpusher,
Your story brings back memories........... I'm going to have to monitor this thread and hopefully you'll keep us updated on your new "old" journey......
Best wishes.




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the ­ flying ­ moose
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Jan 23, 2015 21:26 |  #13

electronpusher wrote in post #17395746external link
Interesting thread...I owned an RB67 30 years ago. I shot mostly Ektrachrome and did my own processing and printing directly to Cibachrome paper. 16x20s were stunning from 6x7 negs. It eventually sat in a closet after I bought my Contax RTS, so the RB went to a local portrait studio. A few years ago I got back into the hobby and went digital for the first time with a 5D MK II. Very cool having any ISO I wanted at my fingertips, and 800 raws without changing 36 exp film cassettes.

But I still missed the RB, and I found they're dirt cheap on ebay these days, so I just bought a body and a few lenses. I didn't really need it, I wanted it. And it's still the beautiful piece of kit and lenses I remembered. I'm going to take it outside when winter's over and spend some time with a tripod Ansel Adamsing some shots in B&W. I still have all my processing reels and tanks, and a nice 6x7 Chromega enlarger, so I'm looking forward to going a bit retro. I'm still wondering if having the negs scanned at the highest available resolution and printing them will exceed the quality of prints from my 5D II at the same size...should be a fun experiment, and just getting out and taking my time framing some nature shots should be relaxing.

That's awesome. I wish I had the time/money/space to learn how to develop my own film.




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KirkS518
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Mar 14, 2015 20:45 |  #14

the flying moose wrote in post #17397127external link
That's awesome. I wish I had the time/money/space to learn how to develop my own film.

I started developing my own B&W about a year ago, and just recently started to develop color (C-41). All three of your concerns (excuses? ;-)a ) are negligible. Not including drying time, it takes less then 30 minutes to develop as many rolls as can fit in your developing tank. Time to learn is about 15 minutes by watching a couple of youtube videos. My cost to start with developing (processing tank, developer, fixer, changing bag, thermometer, and a couple of 2L bottles) was probably around $75. And as for space, I do my B&W at the kitchen sink, using about 2 sq ft of counter space, and color I do on the floor of my bathroom with a small tub for temp control (long story why I'm on the floor).

But seriously, if you have any desire to develop your own, it's really easy, and very inexpensive. To develop one roll of 120 costs me less then 75 cents for B&W, and about $1.50 for color I'd guess. And it's quite rewarding I must add.

Be careful though, it can be addicting. I've barely touch my digital stuff since I started doing film.


If steroids are illegal for athletes, should PS be illegal for models?
Digital - 50D, 20D IR Conv, 9 Lenses from 8mm to 300mm
Analog - Mamiya RB67 Pro-SD, Canon A-1, Nikon F4S, YashicaMat 124G, Rollei 35S, QL17 GIII, Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex 1st Version, and and entire room full of lenses and other stuff

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the ­ flying ­ moose
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Post has been edited over 2 years ago by the flying moose.
Mar 14, 2015 22:41 |  #15

KirkS518 wrote in post #17475281external link
I started developing my own B&W about a year ago, and just recently started to develop color (C-41). All three of your concerns (excuses? ;-)a ) are negligible. Not including drying time, it takes less then 30 minutes to develop as many rolls as can fit in your developing tank. Time to learn is about 15 minutes by watching a couple of youtube videos. My cost to start with developing (processing tank, developer, fixer, changing bag, thermometer, and a couple of 2L bottles) was probably around $75. And as for space, I do my B&W at the kitchen sink, using about 2 sq ft of counter space, and color I do on the floor of my bathroom with a small tub for temp control (long story why I'm on the floor).

But seriously, if you have any desire to develop your own, it's really easy, and very inexpensive. To develop one roll of 120 costs me less then 75 cents for B&W, and about $1.50 for color I'd guess. And it's quite rewarding I must add.

Be careful though, it can be addicting. I've barely touch my digital stuff since I started doing film.

Thanks for the reply.

I am in Canada so get chemicals is a lot harder/more expensive. None of the companies in the USA such as B&H will ship cross border and the only places I can find in Canada that actually deal with that are very expensive. Last time I checked it would have been close to $400 just to get started. I currently don't have $400 laying around just to play with. I might have to do some more research because if I can get started for under $100 I'd be all over it.

EDIT: Would you mind posting up what you use? I see so many different suggestions online and it would be nice to be able to hear from someone about what actually works for them.




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