Please explain MF to me

Discussion in 'Medium Format & Large Format' started by Iron Flatline, Feb 25, 2007.

  1. Hi all.

    Could you please summarize your fascination with Medium Format photography. I've never done much with it (except shooting rolls of 120 in my Diana Clone) and I'd like to understand what (if anything) I'm missing out on. I always enjoy new hardwre to play with, and if MF is so affordable now, I wouldn't want to miss out on it.
     
  2. Jazz

    Jazz TPF Noob!

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    Big neg.

    That’s it. But that’s a lot, as it looks so smooth. If the ultimate is contact prints of a large format neg, then mf is one step closer to the ultimate.
     
  3. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Back in the 70's, I was very fortunate to make friends with a veteran photographer. Shortly before I shot my first wedding, he invited me to his home, sat me down at the kitchen table, and reviewed everything I needed to do as a wedding photographer. The first thing he told me was, "You need a bigger camera." Of course, many advances in film photographer have occurred since then.

    In those days, retouching was done directly on the negative. 35mm is just too small to do this efficiently. The guideline used to be a head size (on the neg) at least the size of a dime. Of course, the lager the neg, the better the work possible.

    Printing just 8x10 showed a vast improvement over 35mm. Anything larger just didn't look professional.

    Cropping an image was pretty much out of the question too... unless you were making custom prints. Using negative masks for a multi-printer allows more choice for roll film users without the added expense.

    There was a time when film choice came into play too. Some pro films were not available on 35mm. Sometimes it went the other way. When Kodak introduced their 110 cameras along with a "new" fine grain film, they limited production to armature sizes only.

    In my situation, I have to shoot digital now. I went kicking and screaming with my heels dug in. I waited as long as I could... maybe a year or two too late. It wouldn't be practical for me to shoot film now... with the added cost and increased delivery time.

    But, back to your question... to get results that were up to par with other studios, it was necessary to use roll film. 35mm was reserved for making slides and photojournalism.

    I still believe roll film is necessary to make quality wall prints.

    Pete
     
  4. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Aside from the big neg already mentioned, I really like the mechanics of many MF cameras. I'm a geek, and I love old cameras.
     
  5. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Film size is something like adding megapixels to digital. Larger film captures more detail and, hence, produces better image quality. Here's an example. This shot was made with my Mamiya 645 and the normal 80mm lens. Look in the building across the street that you can see through the arch. About 1/2 way up the arch on the left side you can see a round thing in that building. It is a clock and the time of 9:45 is as clear as a bell on an 8X10 print of the image. It's hard to see on a 72dpi jpeg viewed on a computer screen but it is clear as a bell on a print. Digital can't do that, let alone 35mm. Well maybe medium format digital can. Personally, I don't know.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Majik Imaje

    Majik Imaje TPF Noob!

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    .. .. .. each and every time, I changed formats.. 35 mm was incredible fascintaing world over 110 cameras and photos looked so much more "believeable" and realistic. But when I went from 35mm up to 6 x 7 cm. that "STEP" was phoneminal ! WowoW ! what a difference, my sharpest 35 mm prints, could not come close, to the "razor sharp" images I was now creating, and looking at in sheer amazement. My 35 mm prints (my best) were pushed aside and archived. but thwn I jumped to 4 x 5.. I experienced the exact same things hapening.. My 6 x7 prints were no longer sharp and held no COMPARISON to the 4 x 5 images!

    4 x 5 film & larger IMPART a detail "sharpness" level and texture definition that is unsurpassed in anything you can possiblly achieve using other formats. you can "feel" the textures.. you can walk into the image and spend hours seeking looking finding things.. I once got on top of my house in my neighboor hood, with a 4 x 5 view camera. and took a pic of the entire neighborhood. When that 16 x 20 image was processsed in our darkroom. We sure laughed when we finally found our daughters skate board a block away in someone's back yard under the swing set!

    F 64 .. was the name of an exclusive "club" that Ansel Adams & Edward Weston beonged to. i FOUND OUT that day.. why they always choose to use that F-stop! the results were just so dramatic.

    I have to say this in all honesty. with larger format cameras. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT SUBJECT MATTER you choose.. it is going to look SO REAL! dont pass up the opportunity to see the SPECTACULAR results that are achieved!
     
  7. Sold!
     
  8. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    I knew it would happen!:lol:
     
  9. Majik Imaje

    Majik Imaje TPF Noob!

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    use.. depth of field to show the incrediblel difference. F 64 is a whole new world!

    Couple that with IMAGINATION .. .. ! I have a print here.. "The wrong directon" of the roof top shoot I describe eariler, (I move around way too much).. and end up loosing lots. This scanned print CANNOT possibly show all the detail that is missing on the computer screen as "fmw" stated eariler in this post. in the forground the "empty section" of fence has a string running along the tops of all the finished from the far left to the far right, and in the photograph,, you can see the "threads" of the "twine" ! razor sharp EV 15 100 ISO 1/4 SEC @ f 64 1980
    This print, THE CLOSE UP looks as though, that if you placed your hand on it and moved your hand.. .. you might get splinters.. that is how "real" the wood texture appears.! 4 x 5 or 8 x 10 ? it is much easier to invest in a 4 x 5 enlarger. The 8x 10 model was always a "dream" for me. but DIGITAL has arrived and "spoiled" all of the many hard years of study in the darkroom is all now surpased by just one click! well maybe a few!

    [​IMG]
     
  10. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    We'll be looking out for an equpment review from you.
     
  11. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You're one of us now...or will be soon. :twisted:

    Looking forward to hearing what you end up with, and seeing the first shots!
     
  12. Good God, it will be a while. I just got a new Leica and several lenses. The stuff cost more than my first three cars combined.... which admitedly were pretty cheap crappy cars, but nonetheless.

    There's an annual gallery exhibition (read: Art Market) here in LA called Photo LA. I saw a piece there that blew my mind. I am extremely interested in very large prints. This was a 2m x 2m (6ft x 6ft) large print of an extremely dense underbrush in some northern European forest in spring time. You may have gathered at this point that I'm not the tree-mountain-eagle-sunsrise landscape shooter, but this was so surrealistic, in large part because of the extreme amount of detail... it was otherworldy. I tried to go shoot something like that on a boring Sunday in Berlin in the forest. Took my trusty 5D, a nice 24-70 L lens, a sturdy tripod, and set everything to f/22 with a long exposure. When I got back to process the shots all I had was some big sticks, and a mess of brown and green in the background that was definitely NOT detailed.

    I get big neg. Believe me.
     

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