Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?
1st, I love my Nikon camera & lenses, but I'm thinking that if I wanted to get a great landscape shot that I really wanted to blow up & hang up on the wall, then a medium format is the way to go. There is no beating Nikon for sports, wild life, hiking, street shots, but I suspect that the big negative of the med format cannot be beat for large prints.
I understand the different size negatives: 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7,...
What is the difference in cameras & lenses for different brands:
Bronica, Contax, Fuji, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Pentax, & Rollei?
I understand that some brands and / or models do not have meters, nor auto-focus, & some are also rangefinders, but if having a good internal spot & averaging meter & seeing thru the lens & filters was important, then how would any of you decide what to buy?
Seems like Hasselblad is considered the best. Why?
Are the Hasselblad Zeiss lenses that much better than the Rollei Zeiss or Schneider lenses or the Contax Zeiss lenses?
How do the other brands: Bronica, Fuji, Mamiya, or Pentax lenses stack up vs the Hasselblad, Contax, & Rollei Zeiss & Schneider lenses?
JRP, I've noticed from your profile that you also have a couple of Hasselblad cameras. I suspect you use them for landscapes. Why Hasselblad?
What made you choose the 500 body & Zeiss lenses?
How does one narrow down the choices & then go try them out to find one that feels good?
Thanks for any education you can give me & / or any pointers to some good resources for understanding in advance.
#1. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 0photobri Basic MemberMon 24-Sep-01 07:50 AM
How big do you want to go? I have 16x20's on my wall taken with my N80...
Having a Mamiya also, I feel the true advantage to medium format is mainly cropping the negative. There is so much more to work with that you don't need to come close to filling your frame... 35mm film has taken huge strides..
Fine Art Wedding Photojournalism
#2. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 0Merlin Basic MemberMon 24-Sep-01 10:06 AM
LAST EDITED ON Sep-24-01 AT 02:15 PM (GMT)
>1st, I love my Nikon camera
>& lenses, but I'm thinking
>that if I wanted to
>get a great landscape shot
>that I really wanted to
>blow up & hang up
>on the wall, then a
>medium format is the way
You're right up to a point: bigger negs will give you better prints, all other thing being equal. But Brian's right, too - working carefully you can get superb results from your 35mm equipment.
There is no
>beating Nikon for sports, wild
>life, hiking, street shots,
Again, you've just pointed out a big plus of 35mm: less weight to lug around often means more spontaneous photos. What the bigger negatives do give you, though, is a far greater tonal range for prints that, purely on a technical level, appear of higher quality.
>What is the difference in cameras
>& lenses for different brands:
>Bronica, Contax, Fuji, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Pentax,
They're all good. It's mostly a matter of personal preference. Some folks swear by their Hasselblads, others swear at them! Personally I find them VERY clumsy to use in a hurry or change lenses. Rollei's MF SLRs are good, too, but overpriced. Haven't used Pentax's MF, but I ran a Mamiya M645 1000-S for about 15 years - good value for money, but a slow sync speed.
Of course, there are several different TYPES of MF camera. Twin Lens Reflexes, like the Rolleiflex and discontinued Mamiya C330, Single Lens Reflexes like the Hasselblad and Mamiya, and Rangefinders like the Fuji. Each has plus and minus points...
>I understand that some brands and
>/ or models do not
>have meters, nor auto-focus…..
You’ve reached the point where you’ll need to decide which “features” you’re likely to “need” most. What would you like to use a medium format camera for? Can you work comfortably with a hand-held light meter? Frankly, and this is only my opinion, putting autofocus and high-speed motors on a medium format camera is ridiculous. You only get a maximum of 15 shots on a roll with 645, and 12 with most others. Using a MF camera for fast action photography would be like using a Royal Navy Destroyer to tow water skiers – it can do its 40 plus knots, too, but a regular Johnson-powered speedboat might be a bit more economical and a tad easier to manoever!
>Seems like Hasselblad is considered the
Lots of people wait for years to buy a Rolls-Royce. Most of the same arguments apply: extremely high build quality, very nice, exclusive car! But whether it’s REALLY worth six times the price of a similar-sized GM …
>Are the Hasselblad Zeiss lenses that
>much better than the Rollei
>Zeiss or Schneider lenses or
>the Contax Zeiss lenses?
No. They’re ALL good. There’s a lot of snobbery at play, here – just like with that Rolls…
>How do the other brands: Bronica,
>Fuji, Mamiya, or Pentax lenses
>stack up vs the Hasselblad,
>Contax, & Rollei Zeiss &
No clear winner. All are pro-quality MF cameras.
>JRP, I've noticed from your profile
>that you also have a
>couple of Hasselblad cameras. I
>suspect you use them for
>landscapes. Why Hasselblad?
>What made you choose the 500
>body & Zeiss lenses?
JRP can answer this one himself!
>How does one narrow down the
>choices & then go try
>them out to find one
>that feels good?
That’s easy. Pick a day other than Saturday, and spend some time at a serious photo dealer, preferably one that also has used equipment. Explain that you’re thinking about moving to MF, and that you’d like to try out some different types of camera. There are many factors at play here: what kind of MF fits your particular kind of photography? How important is the weight factor – some of these MF systems are monsters! The Mamiya RB67 is almost as heavy as a car battery, but a Rolleiflex TLR weighs less than a Nikon F5. I can’t stress how important it is for you to actually get a chance to play with different kinds of MF cameras before you part with money!
>Thanks for any education you can
>give me & / or
>any pointers to some good
>resources for understanding in advance.
Personally I’ve found TLRs to suit me best. An entry-level TLR, chosen wisely, might be all the MF equipment you’ll ever need. But you might feel completely differently…
I have some more info on my own site below. Hope this helps you a bit!
#3. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 2Mon 24-Sep-01 12:59 PM
thanks for the responses & help.
I totally agree that if I decide to get a medium format camera, then my Nikon will still get the bulk of time for pictures because of size, ease of use, telephoto lenses. The quality of the pictures taken w my Nikon are certainly great to at least 10x12. I've enlarged a lot of shots to 8x12 & I am usually very pleased. The only photo that I've enlarged bigger than that must have been underexposed, because the grain starts showing up & I used FUJI REALA 100 which should be pretty good. I've also croped action pictures & blown them up to 8x10 w FUJI NPH 400 which are not bad, but the grain is very evident. I have tended to shoot prints because of shooting soccer games & giving away shots, as well as, giving away to the family, & easier to see.
When I know that I am shooting just for me & I am trying to learn, I use slides. I've also started scanning my print negatives & can see what I actually shot versus what the print shop (Fuji) decided I wanted to see.
I am NOT considering medium format for action, street, hiking, or wild life, but then again having a reasonable sized one for hiking may not be bad as long as I'm not hiking all day.
I am not looking for a high speed motor at all & I do not think that I want auto-focus, but I will need to be able to use my glasses (which I do not w my F100) & still see the whole frame. I do want an internal meter. I am not comfortable w a hand held meter although I am sure that I could w practice.
I know that the feel is important & I am very used to my Nikon & I'm not sure how long it would take to get used to a different feel. I did check out a Hasselblad at my local camera shop & it was certainly very different, especially having the image mirrored.
Not looking to buy anything immediately. Just trying to get educated so that I can decide if I want to eventially get into medium format, underestand the tradeoffs of the different types & brands, & be able to grow as a photographer.
Of course the more the camera feels & works like my Nikon, then the easier it would be. I'd like it to be a SLR type camera so that what I see is what I get, including w filters.
I assume that expensive cameras & lenses are not just expensive because of their names, but I am sure that some of the expense comes from there. If I decide to get a medium format, I don't want to go cheap & then be eventually disappointed w the quality as I learn.
Thanks again for the education & I'm looking for more opinions & info.
#4. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 3jrp Charter MemberMon 24-Sep-01 02:32 PM
Just to have a larger negative is already quite an advantage for enlargements.
I can produce quality enlargements with my 35mm Nikon but the medium format really goes beyond. So if you are into poster sized enlargements, by all means get a medium format.
I was enamored of the format because I really started out using that format, with a great Rolleicord TLR.
But today ..... Which one? And why? Hum ..... I may need 3 sleepless nights to ponder on the subject if I were to do it all over again now.
However, then I chose Hasselblad simply because they were the best medium format cameras of the time; just like I chose Nikon for being the best in 35mm then and now, for my personal budget and tastes.
Why the 500CM? because that was the top model of the time. No winders nor integrated TTL meters then. That model today is the least expensive of the line.
You may take a look at the FAQ´s section on the subject, although maybe not enough to make a huge investment, there is enough enticement there to seriously consider doing it.
One thing to remember is that one has not fully exploited the possibilities of 35mm until one has pro lenses, good pro film and sturdy tripods. I am quite happy with them right now and I seldom use the Hassy´s because my typical models (family) have no patience to pose and wait for me to get ready, plus they are less convenient to carry everywhere (the cameras, not the relatives, of course).
Have a great time
JRP (Nikonian at the north-eastern Mexican desert) My profile, My Gallery
Previous photographic journey, before Nikonians: A Brief Love Story
Have a great time :-)
JRP (Founder & Administrator. Mainly at the north-eastern Mexican desert) Gallery, Brief Love Story
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#7. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 4Mon 08-Oct-01 10:22 PM
Well, I found a very old Rolliecord III TLR (1,17x,xxx serial number vintage - camera is in my car) at a swap meet yesterday at a pretty reasonable price w a few extras: lens hood, a case, filter, wide angle adapter, & a manual. I had the owner of my local camera shop check it out & it is in great shape, especially for the age (older than me & I was born in 54). Recorded all the real shutter speeds which were not too far off so that I know how to compensate.
This should be fun. I guess I'm going to really learn how to take pictures. Bought some reala 100 120 so that I don't get too disappointed w my abilities. Once prints look good, then I'll switch to slides.
What a difference from my f100 where basically everything can be auto.
Thanks for your help & advice! Decided that I was too early in my photography development to spring lots of $ for a nice medium format. Maybe sometime in the future when I really know what I'm doing.
#8. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 7Tue 09-Oct-01 01:09 PM
Kim, I'm jealous. This past weekend I had a Mamiya C330 (TLR) in my hands. I wanted to take it home with me! I'm sure your new purchase will be fun to use. Yes, it will be a world of a difference from your F100. You gotta do everything yourself with this one!
The only advice I can give about TLR's in general is that they suffer from parallax error. In certain situations, it is not a big deal. In others, it is something to take into consideration. What I mean is that it isn't a true TTL view. You look out one lens and the other lens takes the photo. The difference in distance can throw off your shots to a certain degree. In the worse case scenario, you will have to raise your camera up an inch or two after you check that your framing is good.
Good luck with your new toy!
"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confuciuscolor>
#9. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 8Tue 09-Oct-01 04:17 PM
Thanks, I'm looking forward to taking some pictures & seeing how they turn out. Right now, I'm reading thru the manual & getting familiar w my new toy. Maybe this weekend or later this week I'll have a chance to take some pictures.
I bought a p&s rangefinder a few months back & I understand that I have no clue how do do closeups w a non-slr camera. I also found out that just because I am seeing lots of flair, it does not mean that it actually showing up on my film. I find it really strange to not use a slr. I like the p&s because I can have it w me all the time & it is real easy for quick spur of the moment pictures & they come out great!
I'll 1st tackle more distant pictures such as some landscapes & see what I get before I try to figure out more challenging non-slr situations.
I also bought a hand held meter for situations like snow scenes a few months ago, but have not used it yet. I guess, I'm going to get real familiar with it now.
#10. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 9Wed 10-Oct-01 09:09 AM
The parallax error can show up with shots in the medium distance range. What happens is the relationships between objects in the frame change between your viewing lens and your picture taking lens. What you can do is experiment a little and see at what range parallax is noticable. If you can get your hands on Ansel Adams's 'The Camera', he shows it in one of the chapters. Take a trip to Barnes and Noble or Borders to have a look at it. It is a short chapter.
As for light meters in regards to TLRs, 'yeah, that is the accessory you have to buy to work with it". At the price of 120/220 film and developing, you certainly don't want to run around with the sunny 16 rule all the time.
Want to make your medium format habit a little cheaper? Learn to like B&W and develop your own film.
"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confuciuscolor>
#11. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 10Wed 10-Oct-01 02:47 PM
thanks for the tip. I'll look up "the Camera".
I don't think I'm going to get into developing my own though. no time & I don't really have a dark room anywhere in the house. My daughter knows how already from her photography classes, but I think I'll just spend the $ until I get a new house (not in the near future).
#13. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 11Thu 11-Oct-01 09:42 AM
You don't need to have a darkroom in the house to do your own. You can develop your own negatives at home and then rent a darkroom when you want to do prints (that is currently my setup). If you scan, all you gotta do is develop your negatives and then scan. Not only is it cheaper to do but you also have control over the whole entire process.
When you recover from the sticker shock of having 120/220 prints and slides processed, come on over to the B&W forum and hang out with Merlin, myself and the other people who soup their own.
"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." -Confuciuscolor>
#5. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 0
LAST EDITED ON Sep-25-01 AT 05:15 PM (GMT)
I've been going over the same thoughts as you for a few years. Despite what some people claim for 35mm, the difference between an enlargement from 35mm and one from medium format is quite obvious even without huge enlargements. 35mm is a compromise format - and for versatility there's nothing comparable. But if you long for a big, sharp landscape, 35mm is bound to disappoint compared to shots made with the basic advantage of bigger film.
There are so many excellent medium format cameras out there, it's very difficult to choose. You need to sort out the basics before comparing brands. SLR, TLR, rangefinder? You can even consider a medium format view camera. Once you sort out the kind of camera, then compare features, performance and prices.
I finally made a choice for my medium format camera. Guess what, it uses 35mm film! The kind of landscape I've always wanted to create are high quality panoramas. I decided that I really didn't want to get into a full medium format system and deal with hard to find roll film in addition to 35mm film. I took the plunge and bought a Hasselblad Xpan instead.
It hit me that the Xpan would probably do what I wanted at a lower cost and more conveniently than any roll film camera. An Xpan panorama frame has roughly the same long dimension as a 6x7 medium format image. I'm still learning to live with some of the quirks and significant limitations, but I've found the 45mm lens to be very sharp. There's just no comparison between an enlargement from a double-wide Xpan image and one made from a panoramic crop of a cropped 35mm frame. At least for a while, I've found a tool to fill my desire for quality landscapes without taking a bigger plunge.
#6. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 0
I love my Nikons too, but I use a Rolleiflex for 6 x 6 and a Mamiya Super 23 for big stuff.
The Rollei is great, but has only one lens, it does take 35mm, so that's handy.
The Mamiya is big and heavy, but can be had for a very reasonable price. It has great lenses from 50mm to 250mm, interchangable backs including a ground glass and sheet film holders. Of course 6 x 9 sheet film is pretty limited. It also has a moveable back; not a lot but it will straighten up a building, or allow the Schimflug effect. Besides, I own it, so I don't have to spend any more money.
#12. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 6NikF2AS Basic MemberThu 11-Oct-01 12:43 AM
I have a Mamiya C330 and a Rolleiflex 2.8 TLR which i'm ashamed to say are no seeing enough action at the moment.They are great as street photography tool as you can approach the subject discreetly and shoot them standing sideway with the waist level finder.The shutter noise is more quiet than the much vaunted Leica M camera.Get over the idiosyncrasies of a TLR and you essentially have a good and cheap tool which can excellent result only limited by the photographer/lack of lens choice.
A few samples of street stuff from the Rolleiflex from a while back and scanned from 6x6 print.Nothing to shout home about but hopefully will illustrate one aspect of its potential use.I used Reala 100 and found the focusing can be a hit and miss thing with the WLF and slow film.I think 400 speed B&W /colour would be more tolerant of non critical focusing with handheld street stuff.
p/s-The biggest enlargement i did with the Rolleiflex was up to 12x16 inch with B&W portrait.The tone gradation is smooth and the grain is a non issue at this size.You have to take my word for it though
#14. "RE: Where does anyone learn about Med Format Cameras / Lenses?" | In response to Reply # 12pshinkaw Basic MemberFri 12-Oct-01 09:57 AM
The most telling "plus" of medium format for me was when I found that my darkroom time was cut in half or more when I was enlarging 6X4.5 or 6X6 B&W negatives over 35mm. Those little things like dust and scratches that are enormous problems in 35 are almost insignificant on the larger negative.
When my darkroom turned in to the children's bathroom and I went exclusively to color, I found that bad composition was the main limitation with my Mamiya C33. Most of the affordable medium format cameras seem clunky, but it's hard to argue with the results.