Please Educate me on Medium format and slide film.

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by Remi M., Jul 12, 2007.

  1. Remi M.

    Remi M. TPF Noob!

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    I have never owned a film camera. I have very limited knowledge of film of any kind. I shoot everything with my DSLR.

    Over time I have picked up snippets of info about medium format.
    There are allot of things that intrigue me about it. Large resolution (sorry I can't help but think in terms of digital). The way it handles contrast. The supposed greater dynamic range.

    Recently I watched a documentary called "Manufactured Landscapes".
    http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/Introduction/Manufactured_Landscapes.html
    The photographer was using a medium format film camera. I noticed that the film was a positive and rather large.
    I read somewhere about scanning in slide film. Does this all mean that I can take a shot with a medium format camera and just scan it into my computer? Without developing anything in a darkroom?

    If thats true I would be very interested. I am so used to the non-destructive nature of Photoshop that it would be very hard for me to get into darkroom processing. I also don't want to bother with taking my shots to a pro lab.

    Whats is the cost of Medium format equipment and film?
    Is my best bet to buy a used mamiya on ebay?
    Are there new Medium format film camera's made today?
    How hard is it to find slide film?
    I prefer to shoot in monochrome, how big of a difference does that make in cost of film?
    How much does it cost per exposure?
    What kind of scanner would be best for this?
    I take it SLR lenses are incompatible with medium format due to large difference in "sensor,film" area?
    I am very used to shooting in manual and have no problem going without allot of "auto" DSLR features, but do medium format cameras have built in metering?

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. selmerdave

    selmerdave TPF Noob!

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    Positive film needs to be processed just like negative film. The difference is once it's processed what you see is the actual image and not a negative that needs to be inverted. Either can be scanned with equal success. Processing colour film is a relatively no-nonsense affair and other than concerns about poor handling by employees I don't really know why one wouldn't get that done at a lab. I think my lab is relatively typical in that processing is usually <2hrs. for E6 (positive) and a little longer for C41, with $5 for 120 and $10 for 220. Pretty cheap and easy.

    As far as all of the MF camera questions, there is no one answer for any of them. Now is a particularly good time to buy as the prices are rediculously low. There are plenty of new ones available, check out www.bandhphoto.com or something to see what's out there, but unfortunately for the manufacturers the used market is so good I think you'd need a pretty good reason to justify the price difference for a new camera. MF cameras can be SLR's just like 35mm or DSLR's, although as you guessed the lenses are not the same. B&W is generally a little cheaper than similar colour film. Cost per frame? A 120 roll might cost you $3.50 for 12 6x6 exposures, plus $5 for processing, so you're looking at $0.71/frame before you've scanned it. You'll need a scanner that scans MF, which means unless you are independently wealthy it will be a flatbed.

    Oh, and you'll want to check here:

    http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=77

    Dave
     
  3. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There are still some MF cameras made today but they are expensive. Buying used is probably a better value as you can get cheap, good quality, secondhand cameras. Hasselblad, Mamiya and Rollei for example still produce MF cameras.

    Slide films are really easy to find. Have a look on the Internet.

    35mm SLR lenses won't work on MF cameras. Their image circles are to small to cover the larger film.

    Some MF cameras have built in light meters but some don't. Most MF SLR cameras (Bronica SQA, Hasselblad 500CM for example) come with a waist level viewfinder without light meter but you can replace this with a metered viewfinder.
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I don't know if they were from that documentary, but I've seen some clips of Edward Burtynsky working, and he was using what looked to me like a 4x5 Super Speed Graphic, which would be large format sheet film.
     
  5. Remi M.

    Remi M. TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all of the info.

    Whats the difference between 120 and 220 film?
    What is E6 and C41?
    What is sheet film?

    What I saw Edward Burtynsky use was some kind of polaroid type process. He pulled out images on paper from the camera.
    How does all of that work?
     
  6. selmerdave

    selmerdave TPF Noob!

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    120 = 12 6x6cm exposures
    220 = 24 6x6cm exposures (a bigger roll of the same film)

    Exposure count varies accordingly with different format (4.5x6, 6x7)

    E6 is the developing process for positive (aka slide) film, with the one exception being Kodachrome which uses the K14 process which is only done one place on the planet.

    C41 is the developing process for negative (aka print) film.

    Sheet film is for large format cameras, one sheet for one exposure. LF can be 4"x5", 8"x10" and a whole host of others.

    Dave
     
  7. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    Find a book. Use google. Use wikipedia.

    As a last resort, post in the beginner's section.

    This is just lazy.
     
  8. Remi M.

    Remi M. TPF Noob!

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    MaxBloom:

    I'm sorry I'm forcing you to read and reply to my lazy post. I apologize. All of my questions were film questions so I posted in the film forum, it was stupid of me. Your right, it's really lazy of me to ask photography questions in a photography forum. Thats not what forums are for, I guess.

    Selmerdave:

    Thank you for the answers.
     
  9. Alpha

    Alpha Troll Extraordinaire

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    I don't mean to be a jerk, really. I'm more than happy to respond to all sort of posts by people curious about film. However, your post was more or less a list of very basic topics regarding film. I thought it would be both more appropriate and more informative for you to seek answers to such questions elsewhere, where there are concise and accurate guides.
     
  10. j_mcquillen

    j_mcquillen TPF Noob!

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    Also 120 roll film has backing paper, often with frame numbers printed on the rear (which are used with manual film-advance cameras). 220 roll film is un-backed, so you can get more frames on a roll of the same thickness. Seperate film backs or inserts are usually required for use of 120 / 220 film - the different thicknesses mean different pressure-plates are required to hold the film in the correct place.

    If he was using medium-format, then he would probably have attached a polaroid back. This allows the photographer to check things like composition, lighting, exposure etc on a polaroid print before attaching a film back and taking the final shot (rather like checking the screen on your D-SLR after taking a shot) .
     
  11. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    wow. . . people actually gave good advice . . . nothing left to say really except that max is kind of right about you would learn more if you found it on your own.

    i'll say, i started on 35mm film, went digital, and recently got into medium format . . . and truly wish i could exclusively use it, or even 4x5 now. you will love medium format photography! I don't know anyone who doesn't . . . unless they are just to lazy to go through the extra steps of dealing with film or have a legitimate need for smaller cameras.
     
  12. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    was the movie good?
     

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