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06-05-2011, 12:12 PM   #1
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Thinking of going MF

Hello all. I hoping to get some advice from you good Medium Formaters. I have been enjoying shooting with my Pentax dSLRs the last 2 years but recently have begun to consider branching out in to film medium format, either staying with Pentax or possibly a getting a TLR camera.

I have a few questions:

How easy/difficult is it to develop negatives on your own for a newbie? I seems like doing this doesn't require a lot of expense but are the results as good as sending your film off to a lab?

Can you recommend a good scanner that is not so complex to use that will do justice to the image quality that a good lens will yield? I figure $250 to $500 for a scanner is doable for me.

Is additional software such as VueScan recommended?

Any other things I should keep in mind or be aware of coming from the digital world to the film world?


Thanks in advance, Doug.
Any comments and/or thoughts are very much appreciated!

06-05-2011, 01:54 PM   #2
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Why not go with the proven Pentax 67? I suggest trying slide film and see if it suits you. If not, try the various print films (negative) out there. I prefer slide film but then again, I'm a nature shooter. What you shoot will drive what film you select. If you shoot people, print film is a better choice.
06-05-2011, 05:39 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Desertscape. I will look into the 67. What do you consder it's strong points to be vs the 645? I hadn't even considered slide vs print. Hmmm, I've got a lot to learn. I expect most of my shooting would be nature. I live a few footsteps away from Acadia National Park.

Do you your own slides? If so would you consider it fairly straight forward and easy to learn? Also do you scan your slides and work on them in digital form? If so what scanner do your use and would your recommend it for someone starting out?

Thanks again
06-05-2011, 06:09 PM   #4
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The only reservation I have about the pentax 67II is that those cameras can be a real pain to load film. Other than that the Pentax 67II should be exactly what you are looking for. Developing 67 film and printing from MF film is a really enjoyable process - the negatives aren't as fiddly as 35mm. and you can cram much more tonal range into your images than what is possible with 35mm. I'm not a huge fan of colour films these days - digital does far better at colour photography. But B&W is the one area where digital struggles to compete with film - I would suggest T-max 100 for finest grain and high resolution, but you can easily get away with using T-max 400 with the 67 format.

06-06-2011, 05:10 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DougLee Quote
Hello all. I hoping to get some advice from you good Medium Formaters. I have been enjoying shooting with my Pentax dSLRs the last 2 years but recently have begun to consider branching out in to film medium format, either staying with Pentax or possibly a getting a TLR camera.
In my opinion, you don't want anything with a moving mirror when shooting MF and I am not a huge fan of the Pentax MF lineup. The 645 yields negatives that are too small and the 67, while using the nice 6x7 format, is obscenely heavy and conspicuous. It's like taking photos with a mortar. My 6x7 gets basically no use at all.

Instead, consider a Rolleicord IV with a Schneider Xenar lens. You lose the ability to change lenses but you get in return the wonderful 6x6 square format and the quietest and most discreet camera in the world. It's also going to be cheaper than any Pentax system and on occasions has allowed me to take a shot that would have been impossible with any camera featuring a mirror slap.

QuoteOriginally posted by DougLee Quote
How easy/difficult is it to develop negatives on your own for a newbie? I seems like doing this doesn't require a lot of expense but are the results as good as sending your film off to a lab?
It's really easy. With B&W film, the results are as good as any professional lab could deliver them but you get the benefit of getting to chose your own developer and development method. Get the Samigon tank and reels. There are no reels, plastic or metal, that are as easy to spool and sturdy as the Samigon ones.

QuoteOriginally posted by DougLee Quote
Can you recommend a good scanner that is not so complex to use that will do justice to the image quality that a good lens will yield? I figure $250 to $500 for a scanner is doable for me.
In that case, get an Epson V700. It exceeds your budget by around $25 but you will have some spare money by choosing a TLR over Pentax MF. :-) It gives you pretty much everything the V750 will give you minus wet-mounting which I've never considered necessary. The V500 would be significantly cheaper but it wont handle anything bigger than 6x12 and you shouldn't rule out the possibility of shooting LF some day.

Note that for MF format negatives you will need custom film holders with the anti-newton glass or else the negatives wont be flat enough in the scanner. LF negatives don't have that problem since they never curl.

QuoteOriginally posted by DougLee Quote
Is additional software such as VueScan recommended?
Probably not. The V700 would come with a basic version of SilverFast which is however pretty good and what I am using. I've several times contemplated upgrading to one of the more advanced versions but then always looked at my scans and concluded that they are actually very good already. There's also the big debate between SilverFast and VueScan users. I've tried a demo of the latter once and was totally disgusted by its bizarre interface.

QuoteOriginally posted by DougLee Quote
Any other things I should keep in mind or be aware of coming from the digital world to the film world?
Not off the top of my head. But my route was different: I went from DSLR to 35mm first, then MF and now LF. The 35mm process is in many ways much easier and this being a Pentax forum, I can finally counteract my unkind words about their MF line of cameras by saying that 35mm is where Pentax really shines. I also see on ebay a Pentax MX with a modest M 50mm f/2 for just under $75 right now. That's very little for one of their greatest bodies.

Cheers,
Tassilo
06-06-2011, 07:17 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by vparseval Quote
Instead, consider a Rolleicord IV with a Schneider Xenar lens. You lose the ability to change lenses but you get in return the wonderful 6x6 square format and the quietest and most discreet camera in the world. It's also going to be cheaper than any Pentax system and on occasions has allowed me to take a shot that would have been impossible with any camera featuring a mirror slap.
Another option is the superb mamiya 7II MF 67 format rangefinder camera which has a excellent sektor 43mm f/4.5 lens the sektor 65mm f/4 is also extremely good. The Mamiya 7II uses leaf shutter lenses and has a superb range finder mechanism, which means quicker focusing and ability to hand hold at low shutter speeds. I'm not normally a fan of mamiya cameras, but the Mamiya 7II is one camera where they got it right.... I admit I have never worked with a TLR.
06-06-2011, 09:06 AM   #7
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The Fuji GF670 is another option. Fixed lens. B&H has it new. Much cheaper than a Mamiya 7. Gotta be careful with those Mamiya RF's as they need frequent alignment. But a beautiful camera design.
06-06-2011, 09:55 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by vparseval Quote
...
the 67, while using the nice 6x7 format, is obscenely heavy and conspicuous. It's like taking photos with a mortar. My 6x7 gets basically no use at all.
...

Cheers,
Tassilo
The Pentax 67/6x7 with a WLF and 90mm lens weighs the same as a Hasselblad 500C/M with WLF, 80mm lens and a spare back. I've yet to hear anyone complaining about the weight of a 500C/M.

06-06-2011, 10:25 AM   #9
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I'm nodding in agreement with Tassilo about most of what he says... only thing I'd note is that evenually you'll end up with many of the extras, but you certainly will get fine results without them.

The Rollei TLR isn't the only possibility - there's Minolta Autocord, Ricoh Diacord, Ikoflex, Yashica Mat... each of which will give you good service, and many that you can get for well under $100. The TLR is a light weight, convenient way to learn MF.

I'd also recommend vintage folders, though ones with the focus aids tend to cost a bit more. Again, light in weight and an easy way to get into MF. You might take a look at this site:
Certo6 - Vintage Folding Cameras

The Pentax 645 is a low cost way to get into MF, the frame size isn't THAT bad - you can still out-do a 35mm camera - but the lenses other than the 75 are expensive these days due to a certain digital body. The other 645 systems I think remain cheaper in the lens dept, by and large.

One thing with MF is the running costs - there are no drug store minilabs that do 120 film, so for color you'll need to do mail. You don't get 24 or 36 photos per roll, instead somewhere between 8 (6x9) to 12 (6x6) or 15/16 (6x4.5). This is where home developing becomes a real economical thing. I find 120 is easier to handle (using the Samigon reels) and scan (I use an Epson 4490) than 35mm. People do end up developing color at home and it doesn't seem to be very difficult either.

With slides you do get what many consider the best quality possible - however the running costs go way up.

QuoteOriginally posted by DougLee Quote
Any other things I should keep in mind or be aware of coming from the digital world to the film world?
Doug, the effect of a larger 'sensor' size will necessitate you learning new rules for DOF - the geometry is such that with the same size subject (and a normal lens for each format) you'll get a lot less of it with MF
06-06-2011, 10:27 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
The Pentax 67/6x7 with a WLF and 90mm lens weighs the same as a Hasselblad 500C/M with WLF, 80mm lens and a spare back. I've yet to hear anyone complaining about the weight of a 500C/M.
sorry I can't resist: The Pentax 6x7 and a Roleicord, with elephant included for both, have a negligible weight and bulk difference
06-06-2011, 10:27 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
The Pentax 67/6x7 with a WLF and 90mm lens weighs the same as a Hasselblad 500C/M with WLF, 80mm lens and a spare back. I've yet to hear anyone complaining about the weight of a 500C/M.
Yes, with a waist-level finder, and why would I have a spare back attached to the body of a 500? Thing is that you are assuming the lightest possible configuration for a 6x7. It is not a good waist-level camera due to the positioning of the shutter button and film advance crank.

It's a camera that was designed with the conventional SLR layout in mind but for that it's too heavy. The TTL finder is almost as heavy as a 500C/M body. Bringing this thing up to eye-level for purpose of framing and focusing is not something I enjoy for more than two minutes.

In its WLF configuration it's much less strenuous to use but it's clear that a Hasselblad or a TLR are better at that.

Cheers,
Tassilo
06-06-2011, 10:33 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by vparseval Quote
Yes, with a waist-level finder, and why would I have a spare back attached to the body of a 500? Thing is that you are assuming the lightest possible configuration for a 6x7. It is not a good waist-level camera due to the positioning of the shutter button and film advance crank.


Cheers,
Tassilo
If the weight of a spare back is the straw that breaks the camel's back, then so be it. I just noted that so you'd know how little difference there is.

I shoot my P6x7 exclusively with a WLF and as well as my 500C/M for years. I can tell you the P6x7 makes a fine WLF camera. IMHO, it is picking the fly crap out of the pepper to argue differently.
06-06-2011, 11:20 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
sorry I can't resist: The Pentax 6x7 and a Roleicord, with elephant included for both, have a negligible weight and bulk difference
Ha, given the elephant is 10 orders of magnitude more in weight, yeah!

Talking about hard to load film, my Rolleicord IV is way harder to load than my 6x7. So the 6x7 is not the champion in hard to load MF cameras.

Last edited by tuco; 06-06-2011 at 11:28 AM.
06-06-2011, 11:30 AM - 1 Like   #14
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Medium-format offers the greatest choice of formats and cameras types. You want to make sure that the camera take 120 film. The good thing is it is the most common length. Some cameras require/have a specific back for 220 film and 120 cannot be used in it.

What format do you want? 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, 6x10, 6x12, 6x17, or 6x24 just to name a few.

Camera type? There are plenty of manufactures, all good. Get a type that reflects the way you work (even one with a mirror--the Pentax 67 is a fine camera):

TLR

Rollie
Mamiya
Yashica
Seagull

SLR

Pentax
Bronica
Hasselblad
Rollei
Fuji
Practica
Mamiya
Contax

Rangefinder/Viewfinder

Bronica
Mamiya
Fuji
Plaubel/Makina
Brooks Veriwide
Horseman
Holga

View camera

Horseman
Linhof
(Any 4x5 can take roll film backs as well)

Panoramic cameras

Horseman
Linhof
Noblex
Seitz
Fotoman
Art Panorama

Not a complete list, but you get the picture.

Home processing can be as good or better than a lab. Color is not that difficult either.

Ditto of the Epson V700/V750 for a scanner.

A separate handheld meter is important. A Gossen Luna Pro SBC would be excellent. But any incident/reflective meter can be good.

Have fun and shoot lots. Practice makes perfect.
06-06-2011, 11:33 AM   #15
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+1 on that post, yamanobori
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