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Old 13th of May 2005 (Fri)   #1
awp
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Default 35mm or med format?

Fellow photographers, I need advice. I am currently shooting digital ( 20D), I would also like to shoot film. My thinking is to get a Canon film camera that I can use with my existing lenses. However, a friend advised me to go Med Format. Presently I am shooting existing light, outdoor, minimal studio and indoor. I keep weddings to a minimum, although I love doing Bridal and engagement shoots. My future plans do indeed include a studio, senior portraits dance school students and my own dark room for black & white.
I would appreciate any advise.
Alisha Williams
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Old 13th of May 2005 (Fri)   #2
lostdoggy
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

Saw in market place a nice deal on a mamiya!!!
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Old 13th of May 2005 (Fri)   #3
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

You could do both... horses for courses.

Elans are cheap... When you get an enlarger, get one for MF and upgrade and build a system.
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Old 13th of May 2005 (Fri)   #4
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

I was in the same boat as you in that I was shooting exclusively in digital, but wanted to explore film. I considered, and still do, getting an Elan. But it only took one test shoot with a Mamiya RB67 to fall in love with medium format. When I got my transperancies back I was hooked.

If you are really serious about doing portrait work intended for larger prints (i.e. corporate, wedding or engagement portraits) then I think that MF is the way to play. Shooting is a bit more expensive. But the result is more valuable in terms of depth of beauty and cash. Now having said this I think that there is an Elan in my near future because I really want to explore IR portraiture and there is only one commercially available 120 IR film I can find and it costs too much. So I am thinking 35mm for IR.

Of course event photography is still digital for me. The action happens too fast for me to do film.

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Old 13th of May 2005 (Fri)   #5
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

If my 1v HS every breaks, or get stolen. Medium format is where I will go. there is nothing that can give so much joy when looking at your 120/220 negatives/slides.

I would recommend going Medium format as well.
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Old 14th of May 2005 (Sat)   #6
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

Quote:
Originally Posted by awp
Fellow photographers, I need advice. I am currently shooting digital ( 20D), I would also like to shoot film. My thinking is to get a Canon film camera that I can use with my existing lenses. However, a friend advised me to go Med Format. Presently I am shooting existing light, outdoor, minimal studio and indoor. I keep weddings to a minimum, although I love doing Bridal and engagement shoots. My future plans do indeed include a studio, senior portraits dance school students and my own dark room for black & white.
I would appreciate any advise.
Alisha Williams
Stay away from film. It's dead and you'll be sending good money after bad. Your 20D will be very close to film quality even MF quality right now. In just a few years - when the capabilities of the S Mark II drift down to the 40D level cameras - you will far exceed them.

Besides it's not just about the quality of the sensor/film. The Fuji S3 is arguably better than the 20D in end quality. But Fuji's way of doing things produces a 25 meg RAW file in the camera. That means click, click, click and then wait 13 seconds for the buffer to clear. How do you shoot a wedding with that? In a studio setting you can check to see that your hairlight fired and that there was no spill onto the subjet's face. Sure you could shoot a Polaroid (at lest until they stop selling P film) but it's incredibly expensive.

Why then would you want to shoot a wedding with slow short prime lenses? I've grown to love my fast, long and super wide Canon zooms. Being locked into a prime lens in a siutaion where you don't have time to switch lenses is not acceptable to me any more.

There is also the fail safe aspect of digital. I KNOW that I've got it. I look at the review screen and I see that my flash fired. Or more importantly that it didn't. Do you think that you'll enjoy that wait until your proofs come back?

As near as I can tell the biggest possible problem that could come frm digital photography would be having a corrupt card. I assume that if you are seeing images on your review screen then it can't be all that corruped. If you aren't seeing them then common sense suggests a change of card. But I do see if the flash fired. I do see that my camera bag is in the shot. I can see that I've blown out the exposure. On and on I SEE what I've done, and the solution to any failure is to try again right away.

There are no such thing as originals any more. One "zero" or one "one" is a good as any other, so when I send a disk into a lab I have no fear anymore that it might get lost. If it does I make them another one. Try THAT with film!

A friend of mine recently dodged a bullet. He was using a Mamiya C330 and a 135mm lens. He had been using it all winter in his studio with strobes and had gotten great results. Then he did a location shot where he used mostly available light. Everything was badly underexpsosed. It turned out that his lens was stuck on 1/500 of a second. With a leaf shutter this was fine with flash but when he changed it too 1/60 it stayed at 1/500.

The next weekend he had his first wedding of the spring and he would have used this lens extensively that day. Instead the day after the failure he went shopping for a digital camera.

By the way I have a complete Mamiya Pro-TL system with three backs, motordrive and six lenses. The last time I used it was last September for my last film wedding - ever.
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Old 14th of May 2005 (Sat)   #7
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

Quote:
I would also like to shoot film.
LIKE to? Not NEED to for a client? Sorry to hear that you've been infected! Hope you get well soon!
OK, I think I got that out of my system

Random thoughts:
Large format film can look stunning! Depending on the subjects you're interested in, so can digital.
http://www.tawbaware.com/maxlyons/detail.htm

I've shot 35mm up to 8X10" & have never been so happy to get out of the darkroom & see results right away. I can make complex changes in PS in 15 minutes that would take a week using film. If you integrate a lot of film work into your workflow, you may find that there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to get done. Welcome to what was my world! You will save some money as you can kiss goodbye that weekend away with the wife/GF!

I suggest that you get a used cam, maybe in 2-1/4 X 2-3/4 format & see how it works out for you. If/when you get tired of the workflow, you can always sell it at no loss.
Re B&W: Big advantage is that it's (sort of) easy to process your own & you get just the effect that you want. The best custom labs in my area, & they are very good, could never make the prints just the way I wanted them, even with detailed instructions on a lay-out.
I'd suggest that you get a used enlarger, too. You'll never be able to sell it a few years from now!

Good luck, whatever you decide!
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Old 14th of May 2005 (Sat)   #8
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveG
Stay away from film. It's dead and you'll be sending good money after bad. Your 20D will be very close to film quality even MF quality right now.
I just don't know how it is that a 1.6x, 8 meg sensor enlargement could ever be compared to a 6x7 MF enlargement.

Now would a digital back for my RB67 be nice? Well of course. But 20+ megapixel backs are pricey. So for now a Polaroid back, a good light meter, 120 film and a little patience produce images that drawf anything but the 12 and 16 megapixek DSLR's. This is really just a matter of the right tool for the right job.

35mm DSLR's have a place and perform many aspects of photography better than any medium or large format can. But by the same token there are things that medium and large format cameras do that small format just are not as suited for.

I hate to see any photographer make as unreasonable statement as "film is dead" or "digital is low quality". There is more than enough room in the photography world for both. And, IMO, smart and talented photographers are those that are able to determine which tool is the right one. So I applaud all photographers that explore the boundaries of both mediums.

But I do agree that maybe a smaller MF is a good way to explore the arena. Plus, since there are some pretty good deals on MF cameras in the used market. If you can find a good shop you can get into the format for a reasonable price.

Once you begin to limit your horizon in terms of format then you are effectively limiting your range of deliverables to your clients and ultimately your client list.

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Last edited by Digital Prophet : 14th of May 2005 (Sat) at 09:41.
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Old 17th of May 2005 (Tue)   #9
rdenney
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

It would appear from the responses that film=darkroom. That is not, of course, the case.

For much less than the cost of a medium-format digital back, you can buy a medium-format film scanner and a whole used camera kit. If you choose well the lenses will also serve a digital camera. (hint: Pentax.)

Information is information and it is measured in square millimeters. Format is king. Digital sensor allow us to step up a format and maintain the same quality, but beyond that we run into other limitations. My 10D might match a 35mm camera, and a 1DsII might match a 645 (in some ways), but neither will ever match 6x7, 6x9, or large format. For example, I can scan a 645 frame using a Minolta Multi Pro and get an image with a pixel density of 126 pixels/mm (similar to a 10D), but about 39 million of them. Even with the generational loss of going through film, the image quality is superb. 20x24 prints easily supported, etc. And smaller prints will have a look to them that smaller formats (of whatever quality) won't have.

I don't think a photographer is really complete without having at least some experience with larger formats. With film in your repertoire, you can buy some of the scandalously cheap used medium-format stuff currently on the market, and you can build pretty cheaply (by comparison) a view camera setup that will accept roll film. That will give you capabilities you'll never have with a small format camera.

Whether or not it's commercially defensible is a whole other matter, but you did use the word "want".

Rick "who has never lost a negative due to a computer crash" Denney
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Old 17th of May 2005 (Tue)   #10
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Prophet

I hate to see any photographer make as unreasonable statement as "film is dead" or "digital is low quality". There is more than enough room in the photography world for both. And, IMO, smart and talented photographers are those that are able to determine which tool is the right one. So I applaud all photographers that explore the boundaries of both mediums.

- Digital Prophet -
I meant dead from the perspective that in five years it will be difficult to even BUY film. How long do you think that 220 film will be made? Another year perhaps? Kodak and the Fuji film division are having some very tough times and lets face it the amateur colour neg part of those companies carried their pro divisions for years. And that amateur side of things is going quickly! Once they have no resources to support the pro side of things, it's over, at least the way we know it.

Do you remember LP albums? Remember how many turntables and media existed? Do you also remember how quickly records and then recorded cassettes went away? That is the fate of film.

There were those who were convinced that analog sound from an LP record was better than a CD, just like MF is said to be better than 6-8MP digital. Well on the first play that LP might have sounded better but the hiss and pops of a used record put the lie to that. With film - even MF - I can see the grain that I don't see in digital. I don't have to spend hours spotting images the way I did with scanned negs, and I don't have the expense and trouble of getting the film bought and processed.

Kodak would discontinue some weird and very rare film and there would be a firestorm of protest. I expect Kodak to discontinue ALL of their 5x7 film any day now and with about 90% of ALL their large format film to come within months. The B&W film lines excepting perhaps the T-Max films will be right behind them in all formats. Research will stop on new films if it hasn't already and the supply will trickle to an end. Kodak may well sell off its B&W line to a small boutique, but that'll be the end of it.

Which medium format manufacturers do you have your money on? Hassleblad has discontinued their 500 series film cameras and Mamiya are trying to get their 22MP cameras out of the door so they can survive. Bronica, Contax and Fuji are done and gone in MF. I can't imagine ANY MF company coming out with a new film camera ever again. So why would a film company keep a product that has no future market?

Of course you will still be able to get film for years to come in the same way that you can buy vinyl records or horse saddles for that matter. Just be prepared for very limited variety, high prices and long waits for supply and processing. But as a practical media, film is dead.
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Old 17th of May 2005 (Tue)   #11
rdenney
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveG
I meant dead from the perspective that in five years it will be difficult to even BUY film. How long do you think that 220 film will be made? Another year perhaps? Kodak and the Fuji film division are having some very tough times and lets face it the amateur colour neg part of those companies carried their pro divisions for years. And that amateur side of things is going quickly!
I would agree with this if we were only talking about the first world. But in the second and third worlds, there is no infrastructure for people to handle digital files, and film is still dominant. After all, in addition to the expensive (for what you get) camera, you also have to have an expensive computer to save the images.

For this reason, I think film will be available for longer than you suggest, but I agree that it will end up a small, niche market. But there are still made fine turntables for those vinyl LP's. Nobody said it would be cheap, heh, heh.

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Old 17th of May 2005 (Tue)   #12
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveG
Of course you will still be able to get film for years to come in the same way that you can buy vinyl records or horse saddles for that matter. Just be prepared for very limited variety, high prices and long waits for supply and processing. But as a practical media, film is dead.
Why is it that some of our clients have asked us to shoot BOTH digital and Med/Large format instead of just digital? I have seen this as a trend as of late from other photographers than I in our area. I have my own oppinions on why this is but will leave them out for now.

As was mentioned earlier, each format, digital or film, has its place and use. Some based on preference and some based on technical limitations.

Film WILL become an "art" over time, just like the "LP junkies".
So people into the "art of film" will continue to use it. I being one of them.
Most of the time, when I'm shooting 35mm, I'll bring both bodies - digi and film. Depending on whats happenin' I'll switch out between shots so I get the best of both worlds.

Leaving the neutral-zone however, there is something about a bad-ass shot on a chrome. The look, the feel.... Still to this day, I have not seen a digital shot that can compare to a drum scanned 6x6, 6x7.

Period.

When we purchase our Tango drum scanner, we got about $50,000 worth of Hasselblad equipment for $2000 because the guy was "goin' digital".
Man did we score!
Anyway, after using Canon digital for sometime he said to us that he made the biggest mistake he had ever made selling us the Hasselblad equipment.
This guy has exhibited in the Smithsonian twice......
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Old 18th of May 2005 (Wed)   #13
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

Though of a task where film is far superior.

Long duration time exposures.
Digi can not even touch film with a 43-foot pole held by Stretch Armstrong as far as this goes.
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Old 18th of May 2005 (Wed)   #14
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

Quote:
Long duration time exposures.
I think negative film works better for long exposure blurs, too. Here's an example of about a 1/2 sec blur that came out exceptionally well:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg F1-blur_02.jpg (42.8 KB, 155 views)
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Old 18th of May 2005 (Wed)   #15
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Default Re: 35mm or med format?

I donít shoot digital but MF film.

Itís true that MF is cheap right now, however you must understand what your post-process is going to be. Are you going to do your own darkroom work? If so, then yes, I would recommend you get into MF. If your wanting to do your own scanning then you may be looking at buying a film scanner which can run 2k. Sure you can buy a used Nikon 8000 for 1k, if you donít mind buying used digital equipment (I donít). You can also opt to get a epson 4990 flatbed, although you wonít be able to pull everything out of your negative which is why your shooting MF right?

What Iím saying is that while MF cameras are cheap and abundant little regard is given to the cost of post-production work. If you opt to shoot chromes you are looking at development costs of $5-$10 a roll and drum scans/prints of $30.00. If your willing to pony up the cash for prints over 13x19 then MF may be for you. Since I usually print 11x11 or so using a hasselblad Iím considering digital as I donít think MF has much advantage over digital at this size.
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