thinking of getting into medium format

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by jdkeck, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. jdkeck

    jdkeck TPF Noob!

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    ok, so i am a digital shooter (sony a700 upgraded from minolta 5d) and have had my interest peaked by medium format. i have passed on a couple of good deals on mamiya rz67's (one went for $380 on fleebay). i know nothing about mf photography, and do not have any of the gear, but was looking into getting an rz67 pro or pro II if i can find one cheap enough. but then i was looking, and saw the broncia's are they any good? for the price it seems you cant beat the deals, i know they do not make them any more, but if it is just something to throw cash at, it might as well be as little cash as possible. on the other hand, i dont want to throw my money down the drain eithor.
    what about the fuji gx680's? i understand they are a 6x8, which would be even better for larger prints, but what about the availability of equipment and film for these beasts? i mostly do landscape photography, which is what this would be for, maybe portraits.

    so who shoots mf and what are your opinions?:mrgreen:
     
  2. Soocom1

    Soocom1 TPF Noob!

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    In times past, the top players on the MF front were: Hasselblad, Mamiya, BONICA, Concina, and a few others.

    MF is by far a more superior image than anything small format can produce. The big problem is the overall cost. MF Does get expensive. Also, unless you have a modern MF digital or AF camera, you will have to invest into a solid tripod.
    The RB/RZ 67 are 6x7 cm format. The Bronica’s are 645, meaning 6x4.5 cm. They all produce excellent imaging with their lenses. But I would strongly suggest reading up on the platform before you buy.
    The Mamiyas are very heavy, and a lot of up-front cost is involved. The big thing is that digital backs ARE available and for not too bad of price if you want to start in the 6Mp. Range.
    The Fuji’s are hard to get parts and Accessories for. The RB/RZ are a dime a dozen. (Relatively speaking).
    The big thing in MF is that the 85mm is the equivalent of a 50mm in small format.

    They are famous for portraiture, and perfect for landscape. Just take your time with them.
    If you keep going this direction, you may wind up in the LF arena soon… (I did.)
     
  3. randerson07

    randerson07 TPF Noob!

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    Medium format is a joy to work with if your used to 35mm.

    Check out KEH.com

    If your willing to haul it around the RB/RZ67's are fantastic tools, and the lens for them are very affordable and fantastic. I have an rb67 with a prism and its a heavy beast but I will haul out in chicago, or wherever if I know Im going to use it.

    Mamiya also has a nice line of 6x4.5 cameras that handle like a large 35mm/dslr and you can score them pretty cheap usually on craigslist.

    Bronicas are nice as well and slightly cheaper normally. I think they have a 6x7, a 6x6, and a 6x4.5 line. Ive seen the 6x4.5's go for less than 200 on craigslist.
     
  4. jdkeck

    jdkeck TPF Noob!

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    soocom1, yes, i have already looked at a few large format rigs, my thing about getting into mf, is that if i can get a complete setup (body, back, lens, maybe even a polaroid back) for around $400 for an rz67, or less for broncia, them i might get into it as more of a try and see if i like it thing. also, i see a lot of stuff referanceing color negative slides and such, i have NO clue about the processing end of it, and that end will not be done by me as i have no room for a darkroom nor the experience with such. as far as digital backs, yeh, that would be cool, but WAY out of my price range. i am a "prosumer" in the fact that i have a more advanced slr than the entry level ones, and use only manual settings (except focus) and have a bit more invested then the entery level shooters (dont even want to think about how much i have in my current setup right now). i also have tried to use the same techniques as film shooting with digital. i.e. use a filter instead of software, shoot bracketed instead of software... i also do shoot in raw so that if i need to adjust things, i can do it with better resaults. this will only be for play and curiousity. but i am interested in all you have to tell me about large format, i am just really interested in the process of photography. here is my site, so you can see some of what i shoot and get a better idea of my shooting style

    photographybyjackkeck.com
     
  5. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You will probably have a great time with MF. All of the brands mentioned are worthy. Google the names of various bodies and read as much as you can, to get a sense of what is being offered and gain the benefit from other people's experiences. You should be able to get bargain basement prices on gear that was only affordable by pros only a few years ago - it's a great time to make a purchase!

    Once you have run a few rolls through, you'll probably get bitten by the desire to shoot B&W film and learn to process that home. No darkroom required for film processing. ;) It will open up a whole new world! btw, you'll be shooting 120 film and it's widely available - no worries.

    Have fun with the search!
     
  6. Soocom1

    Soocom1 TPF Noob!

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    soocom1, yes, i have already looked at a few large format rigs, my thing about getting into mf, is that if i can get a complete setup (body, back, lens, maybe even a polaroid back) for around $400 for an rz67, or less for broncia, them i might get into it as more of a try and see if i like it thing.
    You defiantly will. Trust me on that.. lol.
    also, i see a lot of stuff referanceing color negative slides and such, i have NO clue about the processing end of it, and that end will not be done by me as i have no room for a darkroom nor the experience with such.
    Color negative processing is the same as for 35mm, in so much as it is done/ the C41 format. Color positive processing is diff. B&W Negative is standard D-76 stuff, and B&W Positive is a bit diff. Each has their advantages.
    as far as digital backs, yeh, that would be cool, but WAY out of my price range.
    Several Megavision systems are out there, and several older Kodak systems work well. The Bronica Digital is a bit harder to find but usually cheaper.. Sometimes as low as 200-300.
    The higher end stuff is still being used by pros, that why it’s still so expensive.
    i am a "prosumer" in the fact that i have a more advanced slr than the entry level ones, and use only manual settings (except focus) and have a bit more invested then the entery level shooters (dont even want to think about how much i have in my current setup right now). i also have tried to use the same techniques as film shooting with digital.
    You’d be surprised how much I spent on my systems. Just lost 4000 worth in theft. Now had to start over w/ a diff. system. GET INSURANCE!!! As for technique, digital or film it’s still the same thing. But your aware of what you’re doing, and that half the battle.
    i.e. use a filter instead of software, shoot bracketed instead of software... i also do shoot in raw so that if i need to adjust things, i can do it with better resaults. this will only be for play and curiousity.
    You’ll get hooked.. lol
    but i am interested in all you have to tell me about large format, i am just really interested in the process of photography.
    Large format is much, much SLOWER, but essentially the same thing.
     
  7. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    There were also 6x6 Bronicas. The Bronica SQ-A line were good. The earlier focal plane shuttered Bronicas, all 6x6 format, are now rather ancient and only the last few models in the series were particularily reliable. The ancient one did have good lenses, most being Nikkors.
     
  8. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    If you don't intend to do your own darkroom work you may find MF an expensive proposition in the long run unless you only intend to do a few rolls a year. But be forewarned, it is highly addictive :D You can't take 120 film to the corner drugstore and I've never seen great B&W prints coming from a commercial lab. Setting up a color darkroom is more complicated than a B&W one because you need much more rigorous temperature control.

    LF, which I'm thinking about getting into again, has a very nice advantage darkroom wise. If you go to an 8x10 camera, you don't need an enlarger. You do a contact print and there is nothing so sweet as a contact print. That makes setting up a darkroom quite easy especially if you stick to B&W. You have one set of trays that you can use to develop both your films and prints :D

    Darkroom work is not that hard to learn, btw.
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You will pay TOP DOLLAR for used medium format if you shop at any of the Big Five on-line retailers. While KEH.com does have good equipment, their prices are, as I said, TOP dollar prices. For example, last summer I bought a near-MINT Bronica SQ-A with a 120 rollfilm back, waist-level finder, 50mm PS wide-angle lens and 80mm f/2.8 normal lens at a brick and mortar camera store in my medium-sized city. Price out that stuff at KEH.com or Adorama or B&H....you will find that the price of the 50 Pro Series wide-angle is as much as I payed for the entire,complete two-lens setup,which was $299.

    Today, KEH.com wants $275 for a 50mm PS lens in Excellent condition, while mine was significantly better, at Mint. "Excellent" does not mean what many think it does--excellent can mean as low as 80 percent of original finish.

    Right now KEH.com is asking $509 for an SQ-A with waist-level finder,120 back, and standard 80mm f/2.8 (the pre PS model), plus $275 for the 50mm f/3.5 PS. That is $784 for what I payed $299 for, and I got mine in much better condition.

    Medium Format gear is worth a LOT ,lot less in actual camera stores all across the USA than what it is priced at by the Big 5 retailers with huge websites....buy a copy of Shutterbug magazine,and call around or check the web sites of smaller dealers who are not in New York...you will find some very,very depressed prices on both Bronica and Mamiya gear. Smaller brick and mortar photo stores that have medium format gear in their used departments can barely sell it-this is a total BUYER's market, so do not ever pay full price for used medium format gear. With this sucky economy and the disinterest in MF gear, always make an offer well below the asking price,because frankly, your offer will probably be the only one the seller has received....seriously.

    Just as an aside the Bronica SQ-A series bodies (SQ, SQ-A, SQ-Ai,and SQ-AM or motorized) are very robust and very affordable, and can accept 120 6x6 backs and 220 6x6 backs, which use inserts which you can pre-load for more-rapid changes. Thy can also accept 645 "tall" backs, and 35mm as well as 35mm panormic-format backs,all on the same body. They are also light,and each lens has a electronically timed Seiko shutter in it. The SQ series is a very easy-to-handle camera; the RB-67 and RZ-67 by contrast are almost exclusively tripod-mounted behemoths that are a PITA to shoot for more than a few minutes hand-held. The RB and RZ have poor ergonomics for hand-held use,and were designed as tripod-mounted cameras.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
  10. jdkeck

    jdkeck TPF Noob!

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    ok, so, my "toy budget" is on hold right now, but i want to get all the information i can, so that when it is off hold, i can move on something. i saw some images that were scanned in and posted on another forum i frequent, they were absolutly beautiful!! they were taken with a yashica mat 124g tlr. i never payed much attention to the tlr's thinking that they were more of a toy than anything else, but if they can take pictures that great, what can a bronica or mamiya do? i think if i go for the bronica, i will look for an sq-ai or sq-a camera, those seen to be the latest, and are supposed to support 6x6, 6x7, 6x4.5, and some 35mm varients all depending on what back you have. i would like one that i can hand hold, that is where the tlr may have the advantage, but are they really good serious cameras?
     
  11. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you can handle the costs, you'll love MF. You might want to reconsider your adversion to developing... you don't need a dark room, just a changing bag to load the deveopment reels, and a scanner to scan the negatives after. Developing 120 is expensive, your savings would be able to pay for all of your processing equipment after about a dozen rolls.

    It's hard to find a bad MF camera, as they've always been considered prosumer or pro cameras. I own a yashica TLR and mamiya 645 tl and they're both fantastic.
     
  12. jdkeck

    jdkeck TPF Noob!

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    ok, i was looking at a yoshica and a bronica, i am a little confused as to the meter listed in the yoshica, does it have a built in exposure meter, where as the bronica you have to have a metered prism or you do not have a meter? i dont have a light meter now, i depend on the one in my camera, and although i would love to get into developing film, i have no room and have two 2 year olds at home, dont want a lot of chemicals around, and i may only shoot a few rolls a year once i learn the camera. a scanner is definitly a must though i can see that, so how do you meter with a bronica that does not have a meter prism, or is there one in the body?
     

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