The need for medium format?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by ajmall, Dec 4, 2005.

  1. ajmall

    ajmall TPF Noob!

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    For a while now medium and large format photography has been of interest to me but I have never even picked up a format camera! I am currently a student and doing a lot shoots for free, which I am happy with because most of them are friends in bands etc so they don't really have much to pay with anyway.

    As a thought for the future with regards to photography, I am very aware of how competitive and difficult it is to make a good living just from photography and have always said unless i get that break a million others are after, it will always be something I do on the side. Most of the pros I have spoken to said they use medium or large format 99% of the time in their work. With that in mind I am curious as to whether medium and large format photography would be a worthy investment in learning? Also, 35mm I have pretty much taught myself and read up a lot about, is medium/large format photography just as easy to pick up?

    I realise most of what I said is all to do with personal preference etc. but has anyone been the same or similar situation either recently or a few years ago? Any advice is appreciated.
     
  2. Kent Frost

    Kent Frost TPF Noob!

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    Digital, 35mm, Medium, and Large Formats are all wonderful subjects to familiarize yourself if you're considering making money from your work. I, for one, shoot 100% digital, however I have in the past shot 35mm and medium format, and would LOVE the opportunity to be able to get into medium format again. As far as the differences between how to shoot medium format versus 35mm, the rules are all the same, and the only differences that are really there are the fact that you'll have to get used to 120 and 220 film, the way the film is loaded, and that the number for the focal length of the lenses are different. For example, when shooting 645 medium format, an 80mm lens is similar to a 50mm lens when shooting 35mm film.

    What I would recommend, however, would not be to jump right into a medium format camera unless you are already being paid decently and frequently for your work, otherwise the purchase may not be justified. If anything else, get into a good 35mm film camera and see how well you do with that endeavor. If it works out for you, then perhaps you could upgrade to a larger format. The films in 35mm are very crisp these days. They just keep improving on them just as they do with digital, so most people won't be able to tell the difference....especially if most of the prints they order from you are smaller than, say, 8x10 or 11x14.
     
  3. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    50mm on 135 film is about 80mm on MF (6*6) and is about 150mm on 4*5 I didn't shoot large format so far, so I wouldn't really know. When you switch from 35mm to MF, it's hard to compose because you have a square instead of a rectangle. (if you choose 6*6 of course) Then there's 6*7, 645 and 6*9 and some other oddities I don't concern myself with.
     
  4. Willc73

    Willc73 TPF Noob!

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    Education is the largest part of becoming a professional photographer. Do you know what kind of photography you plan to pursue? Commercial, Editorial, People, Still life?
    Each format has a different Work flow and look.
    Make friends in the community, start assisting and getting familiar with the different formats. I do not suggest you just go buy what you think you need, unless you really want to.
     
  5. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You will love the quality of the images you get with medium format. If this is something that has interested you, then do some research and give it a try!

    It's fun to make some money from your photography, but if you do it first for the sheer love of it, it will never disappoint you. :D
     
  6. shell23

    shell23 TPF Noob!

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    I felt the exact same way about medium format several years ago. Because a "good" medium format is obscenely expensive, I would suggest starting with a cheaper version. I have a Holga and a Seagull. Neither are considered "professional" quality due to various quirks such as light leaks and lens distortions....but I really love both those cameras alot!!!

    The Holga is a plastic camera that ranges from $12 to about $80. It is delicate, you usually have to tape it up to avoid light leaks and keep it together, but the results are exciting and unpredictable. The Holga has become kind of a cult camera, it's really popular with students as well as several well known photographers that use it as their primary camera. You can modify your Holga in varous ways to personalize it. It is not akin to owning a Hasselblad or a Mamiya, but it is an excellent cheap way to introduce yourself to 120mm film.

    My Seagull is a real camera (as opposed to plastic). I have a twin lens, which is slightly difficult to use because of the viewfinder. It took me awhile to feel comfortable with this camera but now I love it. The quality is much better than I thought it would be considering how cheap it was. Again it does not compare to the high-end Med. formats, but it's much closer than the Holga.
     
  7. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    Seagull is overpriced. He'd be better off picking up a yashicaMAT.
     
  8. photoboy15

    photoboy15 TPF Noob!

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    I shoot with Yashica for years and did some nice work with it. I moved on to the RZ which is and extremely nice camera to work with, but it is a bit large if you like doing a lot of hand held work. But what it all comes down to is what are you looking to shoot for a living?
     
  9. KMac

    KMac TPF Noob!

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    As already mentioned, medium format is not very different than 35mm if you understand manual exposure settings. The big advantage is the detail that the larger format can record. This detail is most noticeable when you make big enlargements. Instead of seeing a green tree in your photograph, you can see every leaf and all the wrinkles in the bark. I'll second the recommendation for a YashicaMat. Its not hard to get used to using the TLR and its an inexpensive way to get into medium format.

    Large format is another big step up in terms of the detail the film can record but the biggest advantage of large format is the perspective and focus field control that you gain with most cameras. Its a whole other world of photography that is only a distant cousin of 35mm. Its not necessarily difficult, just different, heavier and it takes much more time to make a photograph.

    Best regards,
    Kevin
     
  10. photoboy15

    photoboy15 TPF Noob!

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    One big thing that most med format and large format have are leaf shutter.
     
  11. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Ten bucks says you will love medium format. 35mm is basically the size of a postage stamp. The larger neg affords a huge jump in quality. 35mm is a convenient format. It depends on the camera etc, but do not expect things like seeing the image right side up or in camera light meters. Again 4x5 or cameras with lens and film movements is a whole other story. Check out the local pawnshops and camera stores. You may be able to get a decent TLR for a reasonable price.
     
  12. ShutteredEye

    ShutteredEye TPF Noob!

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    I'll third the reccomendation for a Yashicamat. I have a 124G and it is my favorite camera of those I own--and that includes a dSLR, a 35mm SLR, and a Pentacon 6 MF. Go for it man!
     

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