Wanting to get into MF...

Discussion in 'Medium Format & Large Format' started by Josh66, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I've been wanting to get into medium format, but I don't really know much about it. My budget (about $300) pretty much limits me to TLRs, so that's what I'll be looking for. A MF SLR + lenses is just going to be way too expensive for me, plus I think a TLR would be fun anyway.

    I was thinking of the Seagull GC-109, but after doing some searching on here I'm not sure if that is the best idea. Most of the recommendations seem to be to get a used Rollei or Mamiya. I really don't know anything about those.

    Looking at the Rollei TLR page on KEH, there are a bunch in my price range - but I don't know which one I should be looking for. I'd like 6x6, not sure if all of them are 6x6 or just some of them.

    I considered a Holga (just to "break into" MF)... But I want more control than that - I think if I got a Holga I'd still be wanting a TLR. I want a real camera, not a toy.

    I'll need a light meter too, right? There probably won't be room in my budget for that right now (but I will be getting one as soon as I have the money), so I'll be using another camera as a meter until I get one.

    Which model Rollei's should I be looking for? I am a little worried about buying a used camera and finding out it needs repairs right away, or soon after arriving (the main reason I was looking at the Seagull - it's new so I know it won't be broken when I buy it (although some of the posts I've seen on here suggest that it might be, lol)). How likely would that be? ...Not sure how long they last before needing work.

    Thanks for any help you guys can give.
     
  2. Hawaii Five-O

    Hawaii Five-O My alter-egos have been banned. :( Now I must be

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    When I save up some money, I would like to get a Mamyia RB67. You might wan t to check into those on Ebay, they sell around $350.
     
  3. ruaslacker2

    ruaslacker2 TPF Noob!

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    Why not try a Yashica TLR ? You can find a Mat-124G that has a light meter built in well within your $300.00. Just a thought...

    Jerry
     
  4. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Thanks for the suggestion! I just checked on KEH (I don't do the eBay thing...), they're a lot cheaper than I thought a medium format SLR would be, even with a lens. I might have to save a little more and hold out for one of those.

    All of them are in Excellent or better condition, starting around $400. Kinda strange that they're all EX or EX+ though (not complaining, it just seems a little weird)...
     
  5. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Thanks. Like I said, I know almost nothing about these cameras - so I'm open to any suggestions. A built in light meter would be great, I just didn't think I'd be able to find anything in my price range that had one. It doesn't help that I don't really know what I should be looking for either...
     
  6. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    what do you plan to shot and do with film, do you have a scanner that will handle roll film
     
  7. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    As far as subjects go - a pretty wide range; people, landscapes, still life, pretty much anything else. (Not sure if that's what you meant... did you mean what film will I be using? If so - not sure yet.) Or are you asking why I want to get into MF...? I guess I just want to learn something new. I've never shot medium or large format before and it's always been something I wanted to try.

    I want to start developing my own B&W film soon too, but at first I'll be sending it out for processing. I don't have a negative scanner right now, but that's on the wish list too. Once I'm developing my own film I'll look into making my own prints. I don't have any darkroom/printing equipment (or experience) right now, so this will probably be a long term project. (Plus I have to convince the wife that I "need" all that stuff... ;))

    Will 6x6 or 6x7 negative be large enough that I would be able to tell which ones I want printed just by looking at them (never handled MF negs before, so I don't really know what to expect - not sure how much detail you can see with the unaided eye)? To start (till I get a scanner) I'll be either getting prints of all of them or just processing them, then getting prints of some of them.
     
  8. epatsellis

    epatsellis TPF Noob!

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    Josh, most of the people I know that buy from KEH buy BGN grade, not neccesarily perfect, but everything I've ever gotten from them looked better than EXC from adorama and ebay. (a lot cheaper too...)


    erie
     
  9. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There are fewer and fewer small labs these days that work with MF film. Less than tree years ago there where three good mom & pop labs near me with mom & pop pricing. They’re all gone now. The few labs that remain are more commercials art labs. The lab I use has fair pricing on development but is very high on prints.

    You need to thing about workflow options. Will you have a lab do all the work, or developing the film and making prints yourself in a darkroom, or digital hybrid mix of the work and will you need a scanner?

    A 6x6 should be large enough to tell if you have a good negative.
     
  10. epatsellis

    epatsellis TPF Noob!

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    Jeff,
    square inches are like horsepower, you can never have enough...;)

    Seriously, I shoot alot of my work in both MF and LF, typically about 60% 6x7, 35% 4x5 and 5% 8x10. If I'm lucky I shoot maybe 30 or so rolls of 35mm a year, so I won't even include it in the above numbers, it's probably 1 or 2% of what I shoot in a year.

    Is there a difference? You bet.

    Will the average person see it? Quite likely, if they know what to look for.

    Having said all that, 6x7 is the sweet spot for quality/effort. If you can process b&w film, you can process your own color. Scanning can be done, an Epson 700 or 750 I'm told is pretty good, I use an older Umax Powerlook or Lino Opal Ultra for my work, only because I already have them.
     
  11. ksmattfish

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

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    Before you go mail ordering any medium format SLR you should handle one in person. Personally I think the Mamiya 67s are too big. Whenever I see one I think "Sheesh, why not just go 4x5 if yer gonna haul that much camera?"

    Seagulls are made using the old Yashica factory gear, except they are a lot more expensive, and the quality control sucks. I've never seen a new Seagull I wouldn't gladly trade for a used Yashica. Yashicas rock. Get one and start shooting. Do some research (there are plenty of websites about Yashica TLRs) so you know which models to look for.

    All photos look sharp when they are the size of a baseball card or smaller. Then you enlarge them to 16"x20" and all the flaws stand up and wave. ;) A loupe and light table helps.
     
  12. epatsellis

    epatsellis TPF Noob!

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    if you start with the typical visual acuity of 4 lp/mm, it's easy to do the math. a 16x20 from a 6x7 negative would need to be enlarged approx 8 times, so minimun sharpness needed is 32 lp/mm.

    For reference, Chris Perez did some lens testing of MF lenses, (http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/MF_testing.html) the Hassy 80 CF planar peaks at 107 lp/mm in the center of the frame around f8, the very revered 150 f4 Sonnar peaks at around 85 lp/mm. The RZ 180 (same optics as the RB) peaks at around 68 in the center, at f 5.6. From personal experience, I can tell you that the 150 Sonnar and the 180 RB lens both deliver fantastic images, equally razor sharp. (I have and use both ) 16x20 isn't nearly large enough to show the differences, unless there's something really wrong with a particular lens, 24x30, maybe.

    Like other things in life, there comes a point where good enough is, well, good enough. The point of diminishing returns kicks in. are the Hassy lenses better, testing says yes, visual comparison says maybe, but you can't see the sharpness difference in the print. Other issues are more important, things like using a compendium shade, proper metering, etc. Any errors in these areas far exceed the difference in sharpness. The point being that any of the better quality MF systems out there are more than capapble of creating a quality print.

    One of the advantages to the RB is that the mirror is so well damped that mirror induced vibration is a non issue, and when hand holding doesn't affect final image sharpness. Another is that, yes it's a heavy camera, but the upside is that it takes more energy to move a heavier object, and handheld, it's less prone to shake. At ~5.5 lbs, with a it's no feather weight, but the image quality is second to none.
    By comparison, I was playing with a friends D3 last weekend, with a 135 f2 on it (one of my all time favorite lenses) it's a pound or two lighter with the 180 2.8, it's a draw, though the D3 feels heavier, as you're holding all the weight with your wrist, MF cameras in general have a different approach to holding the camera, and it does make it easier to hold. (though I prefer the grip for the RB when I use it handheld)

    ksmattfish is aboslolutely correct, you need to find somebody in your neck of the woods to hold one, and if you can shoot a roll or two with it, I think you'll appreciate the heft after a while, if an old guy like me can handle shooting one, I'm sure you can. :)
     

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