I'm buying a camera: which format???

Discussion in 'Medium Format & Large Format' started by apertureman, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. apertureman

    apertureman TPF Noob!

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    Hey guys,

    I am at a point that I want to get more equipment. I have never owned a medium or large format camera, but always wanted to explore that. I don't have too much money to spend, so what would you suggest: buying a medium format and a lens or two, or buying more glass for my 35mm?

    I really like the idea of getting higher resolution and quality with a larger format system, but I already have a 35mm SLR, so..... I'm between a rock and a hard place.

    Suggestions? please :)
     
  2. Buckster

    Buckster Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What's your budget?

    What type of photography do you mostly do?

    What's your goal with buying new equipment, other than to buy new equipment?

    What's your priority - medium format or more glass for your 35mm, and why?

    What glass do you already have for the 35mm, and what glass do you feel you need?
     
  3. apertureman

    apertureman TPF Noob!

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    My budget is $2000 (but can wait and save more)

    I have a Nikon FM10 manual SLR, 25-80mm zoom and a 80-300mm zoom lenses, both of which are cheaper variable aperture, which kinda sucks sometimes.

    The goal of buying more lenses: I would like a wider-angle (ie 18mm or 16mm) to expand the possibilities for creative composition when shooting landscapes and portraits. I also like shooting in low light and getting only f5.6 on the long end is really a pain, a steady f2.8 would be an obvious improvement, I would hate to use 800 film.
    I am satisfied with 300mm since I don't shoot wildlife.

    I want to explore medium or large format, because I would love to shoot more landscapes, nature and portraits, and I am impressed with how much resolution can be achieved using a larger format, but on the other hand it can end up costing me a lot more than $2000, providing I don't have any medium format cameras or lenses at all.

    Would I like my pictures to make it to magazines and calendars and large prints later? Absolutely. But I don't know if 35mm will get me there.

    I also want to shoot more weddings, but I am under the impression that it's becoming almost exclusively a digital photographer's avenue (correct if wrong). In this case, I would definitely need to upgrade my camera body to be able to shoot in bursts... and I am not sure 35mm will give me enough resolution to qualify as a good wedding photographer.

    Note: I am only starting to pursue photography seriously. I have little hands-on experience and no impressive gallery to show yet. Most of what I know I read in books, bios, magazines, Flickr, and sites like these.
     
  4. Actor

    Actor TPF Noob!

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    With $2000 I'd buy a large format lens. Then I'd build a wooden box (with a lid) and mount the lens in one end of it. Paint the inside of the box black. Tape sheet film to the opposite end of the box (in the dark). I'd build the box with a length that would focus at hyperfocal distance. Viola, I've got a start in large format photography.
     
  5. Soocom1

    Soocom1 TPF Noob!

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    First: As a shooter of all formats from micro to ULF I can tell you this.. You need to learn how to crawl before you can walk.
    Get a med. Format set up first. It is closer to a 35mm system, and will give far far superior results, as well as get digital backs later on. I recommend a Mamiya 645, or RB/RZ 67 system. They are cheap enough to get, and the glass is about the same as the glass for Nikon.
    Second: LF, VLF and ULF require some serious patience. You have to learn how to use a LF before using it properly. The systems shoot much differently than a SF, or MF.
    Third: LF systems get expensive fast. Film is still the most common, unless you’re lucky enough to scam a good dig. back on a MF system. (But that defeats the purpose of LF) LF digital backs do exist in 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10. But you will pay very serious money for them. Even the old used units sell for around 2K-200K depending.
    Forth: LF lenses are a much diff. beast.
    I fully encourage you to explore ALL of them, but be prepared to go long especially on the LF stuff.. It gets heavy, and requires alot of time to use.
     
  6. Buckster

    Buckster Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You can pick up a MF camera and lens to get started for less than $300. Add another $100 if you need a meter.

    That should leave plenty to get you some glass for the 35mm.

    Not likely. 35mm is pretty limited in terms of resolution, especially by today's standards.

    How many have you shot so far?

    Quite right. The capabilities of digital cameras to be able to deal with a wide range of conditions, as well as be able to shoot bursts, have made it the wedding photographers tool choice, for the most part, according to the wedding shooters I've talked to and read about.

    35mm is not recommended for weddings.

    Maybe you should spend the money on a course in photography, rather than on gear.
     
  7. apertureman

    apertureman TPF Noob!

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    Thank you for valuable input, Buckster!

    Where can I purchase a MF for this much? Would that be Mamiya 645?

    One. With a borrowed DSLR, and I was glad at that point that I didn't have to crank the lever before every shot... shot over a thousand frames.

    So you mean a MF camera with digital back, then, right? Or do you think a DSLR can compete with that?

    I was considering that, though I still do want to save some money in case I want to upgrade as I learn more about photography.

    Thank you!
     
  8. Buckster

    Buckster Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You're very welcome.

    Ebay, for one. I just got a Mamiya RB67 for $157.75 that way. 645s are also readily available, as are a variety of TLRs and other medium format cameras. Have a look at KEH.com as well. A little pricey-er, but they have good gear, accurately described. Adorama and B&H have used gear as well. The point really, is that it's all over the place, and not terribly expensive.

    And did this experience teach you anything about what kind of camera you should be using for a wedding?

    All the wedding photographers that I've talked to are presently using high end DSLRs. Medium format with digital back is VERY expensive (like $20k), and is still a relatively slow system best suited for studio work and landscapes.

    You're welcome.
     
  9. Actor

    Actor TPF Noob!

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    If you want to submit your work to magazines you need to submit in digital, but it has nothing to do with resolution. It has to do with magazines being set up to print digitally and digital photography melds seamlessly with their gear, i.e., their people do less work, which in turn means their costs are less and their profits are higher. With the possible exception of National Geographic and a few others, the resolution of photographs published in magazines sucks and is well within the capabilities of 35mm.
    Why not? I mean, who is making this recommendation? Or rather, not making this recommendation? To me it sounds like a pitch by a photographer who already has his money invested in digital equipment. If it were my daughter's wedding I'd try to find someone who shoots film.
     
  10. Buckster

    Buckster Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I suppose if we're talking "snapshot of the month", or in crap-tastic low quality mags, then yeah, I agree. I thought we were talking about feature photographs in quality magazines.

    Even product photography that will take up much less than a full page is done with medium or large format gear, for the most part. Glamor and fashion: Same thing. Landscapes: Same thing. I've read the submission requirements for quite a few magazines that specify resolution requirements.

    Certainly, there's always the exception to the rule, but in general, 35mm is not recommended if feature photos, fashion, glamor or products in magazines is the market you want to push into.

    It's just been my observation from talking with wedding photographers and reading what they have to say, and I've already stated why not based on those conversations and observations.

    Maybe you're right though. Let's find out.
     
  11. Actor

    Actor TPF Noob!

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    I was talking about why publications want digital, viz., because it interfaces with their equipment. The reason for their resolution requirements is also just to make their job easier. By automatically throwing out any submissions on film, or less than a certain number of megapixels, they reduce the number of photos they have to sift through. Of course if the photographer has something really valuable, like the Zapruder film, they'll bend over backwards to accommodate him.

    OK. My comments about the quality of magazine photos obscured my point. Sorry about that. I'm writing a post for an internet forum, not an article for Annen der Physik, and I'm not going to revise it to death.
    The responses to your "Let's find out" thread only prove that wedding photographers do not recommend 35mm. That was not the issue. Rather, I asked "Why not?" and then proceeded to offer my own possible answer, i.e., it's economic. Those same responses support my thesis. They don't like 35mm (or film in general) because digital is better for their bottom line. One of them says "Also...the files look better coming out of the camera and that means less time editing." Translation: "I make more money."
     
  12. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Put weddings on the way-back burner for now. When the economy gets better you can start thinking about breaking into it but right now you can go broke quicker than batting an eye. If you are set on this, you'll want to start with a Nikon 700 or a Canon 5.

    On the film front though, have you looked into a Graflex Speed Graphic? It's a 4x5 with enough of the movements to be useful. It can use either a shuttered lens or a barrel lens ( Speed Graphic/Press/View Lenses ). It can also use a roll back for 120 film. The RH- types are better.

    So, if you went this way, for under a grand you could have a system that can shoot 4x5 and 6x7 with short, med and long (ish) lenses and the gear and chem to develop B&W.
     

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