Do pros still use these?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by brandon_andreadakis, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. Hello,
    I have recently returned to shooting 35mm film as I enjoy black and white fine art photography nowadays. After doing some reading, I learned that medium format is much better for sharpness of enlargements and am interested in getting a medium format camera. I know that Hasselblad used to be the "gold standard" for photography and am wondering if this is still the case. I must admit there seems to be something really elegant about seeing someone shooting a Hasselblad. Also, their cameras seem to hold their value well (on eBay, etc...) but I can't find any information saying if pros still use them or not. Theoretically, I would think that a nice Hasselblad with a digital back would be better than any 35mm SLR on the market, right? Am I thinking behind the times? I came across a pro photographer's youtube video where he said that his Hasselblad has not been shot in years and that he uses a Nikon SLR. Is it possible to get better quality prints with a digital 35mm SLR nowadays? I really don't want to spend $6,000 on a Hasselblad if I am simply joining an obscure group of traditionalists, the image quality really isn't any better, and I will have to carry around a very basic "box". I guess what I am asking is this: by buying a Hasselblad am I just joining a dying breed? Do pro fine art photographers still shoot film? What about medium format? If you had to choose the best system for fine art b/w photography what would it be (Digital? Film? 35mm? Medium Format? Hasselblad? Nikon?)
  2. Let's see. Will a negative 5x as large as 35mm produce an image with less grain and better tonality? Is film better today than, say, 40 years ago? What characteristics are considered "best"?
    A larger negative will generally hold more detail than a smaller one. However an 8x10" camera (or even a medium format camera) can't compete with a 35mm (or digital) camera for the needs of most journalists. A Jeep runs better than a Ferrari across parking lot dividers or slickrock trails.
    For high-quality landscapes, closeups and architecture, an Hasselblad represents a good compromise between image quality and portability. A 6x7 SLR is still reasonably portable and a 6x7 rangefinder very portable (but less versatile than an SLR). However, small-format cameras have a much wider range of lenses and are very portable (and cost about 1/3rd as much to operate).
  3. Depends what the pros are doing. The ones doing fine art B&W are - look at what's showing up in publications and galleries. Most pros aren't spending most of their time doing fine art shooting, and a DSLR is great for sports, weddings, PJ, etc.
    With careful raw processing you can get good results doing B&W from a DSLR, but there are some characteristics inherent to the larger film that you can't duplicate, like the shallow DOF you can get because your focal length is longer, and the larger the film the larger the print you can do without losing sharpness. With a good scanner or a real enlarger you can get a huge amount of detail out of a 120 frame.
    Does it have to be a 'Blad? There are a ton of very nice Mamiya, Pentax, etc., cameras out there that are almost as good at a much lower price. Then all you need is some B&W film and a 120 spool for your universal tank. You do have a universal tank, yes? :)
  4. A Hasselblad with a digital back would be more than good enough to meet any commercial needs. The DSLRs, at the higher end of pricing, will be called for in some commercial situations. Alamy, the stock agency, for instance, specifies that they only want images from certain types of camera models, and will not accept scanned films.
    That said, for fine art work, I would imagine you could use any tools you want. I was blessed with securing a generous grant contract some time ago; all of the work that secured that contract was shot with a Pentax 645 and a Pentax K1000. I recently saw a museum exhibit done with a Holga. Half of that was shot in HP5+.
    On the viewer's side of things, I believe the final image appearance is part of what drives their decision. Film does carry a certain weight with some viewers and purchasers. Larger companies that buy images will be inclined to top-end, latest equipment in digital. In face to face dealings with people, they ask about film; I see that they want mastery. If you've mastered film to a reasonable degree, that's a point in your favor.
    Sometimes people will be inclined to be interested in film photography because it has more of an aura of finality about it. Yet, what I think the viewers who inquire are looking for is skill. Skill demonstrated in terms that they understand. Skill in terms that you can explain to them; and, often, purchasing decisions about what camera or media it was, those won't go over too well. It won't be about: I bought this camera, therefore, I made that picture. Instead, their questions will be more about, What can you do? What are you doing? How did you do this?
    Like for the project contract, I noted what was used for what image, but I was never really asked directly "What camera?" I was asked about process; I had to answer other questions about other processes; I felt, overall, people want to know that they're making an investment in a person who is pretty much stable and proficient in what they are doing. They want to know the object is well made, durable, has some reasonable value to its structure.
    So, for the camera choice in the arts applications, I would say, ground your investment in media that you have used successfully in the past. Continue to grow your tools and skills. When I purchased equipment over the past year, the purchases were mostly (I'd say at 80%) on film equipment and related supplies. However, in there, I also purchased a DSLR. At the time, I felt pushed and pressured and didn't like it. The people who cared about me basically told me that I was over-specializing, and that I needed to get at least some of the newer technologies, so I did. Months later, even though I use the DSLR infrequently, it is still helping me to communicate.
    For example, there's an instructional aspect to my project; by including some DSLR based examples, I will be able to show people more how some of my project ideas can apply to what they may have on hand. In that respect, I was kind of able to turn the situation around. Once things were more exploratory and constructive, that's when I got more interested.
    So, there are many ways this can play out. What's going to happen is that whatever it is, you will have to use it; use it a good deal; carry the projects through to completion, to those viewers. And, you're going to have to pick what you are going to use to get you there.
    Few people ask what paintbrush a master painter used. With cameras, it's a little bit different; but, I think it's fair to say that you are going to encounter a fair number, probably a majority, of viewers who will not know and will not care what brand of camera that photo was made with. They'll want to know it was made well, but I doubt they'll be picky about the nameplate.
  5. I kind of feel that was a wishy-washy answer about the tools; but, comparatively, it seems like any one of the CanNikons is, by itself, putting out as many kinds of camera models as they entire market seemed to have in it 30 years ago. The market is just flooded with a massive number of good tool choices. So, in there, part of it becomes, You just have to pick.
  6. The answer depends also on where you want to spend your time. With a Hasselblad, which I use, I enjoy photography a lot, having control of almost everything, but spending a lot of time on processing, scanning, retouching and adjusting colour-balances etc. With a digital SLR, like Canon EOS D5 or up, it is so easy and fast to get the shots out to prints or costumers. And much easier to control colours from the moment of exposure. Below you have at shot made with Hasselblad, scanned (Imacon) and lots of adjustments afterwards, since the light was a mixture of daylight, flourescents and halogen.
    Best regards and good luck
  7. John O'Keefe-Odom wrote:
    "Alamy, the stock agency, for instance, specifies that they only want images from certain types of camera models, and will not accept scanned films."​
    For the record, Alamy most definitely does accept scanned films.
  8. In many cases the decision professional photographers made which digital system they were going to use was not based on IQ but on economics.
    MF digital demands a large amount of money. That sum needs to be earned back in a much shorter time because digital equipment is becoming obsolete much faster than film.
    For instance there is no more service and spares for Kodak's Pro back.
    Even batteries are hard to find now.
    That investment in MF digital is only possible with larger volumes.
    There are 35 mm based digital cameras that have a higher MP count than quite a number of MF digital systems.
    Still these MF digital systems provide better IQ.
    It is not only the number of MP but lenses, software and post production have a large influence on IQ as well.
    Except for high ISO values MF beats 35 mm based DSLR cameras anytime, no doubt about it.
  9. Hi Brandon,
    First of all if you are shooting " Fine Art " you should be shooting film on Medium format. File sizes can be generated to suit the finished print size, if you have a 10 20 mb file and you look to increase that the data that is put into the file is " Padding " and as such any resultant image will not or ever be genuine.
    As regards cameras Bronica are a good step forward, they have an excellent range of accessories some of which are difficult to get hold of and many people are not aware that certain items actually exist. If you want to look at the top end MF then the FUJI GX680II is an excellent choice.
    Good Luck,
    Adrian Wilson.
  10. For the record, Alamy most definitely does accept scanned films.​
    I was wondering about that too. I almost went to their website to check!
  11. One great thing about medium format is, you don't have to worry about the cost of keeping up with the latest technology anymore.

    Instead of having to buy a new DSLR every 1-2 years to keep up with your buddies, you can simply relax in the confidence that your MF investment is at its pinnacle - it doesn't get any better than this.

    At the same time, you can take advantage of improvements in film emulsions, developing chemistry, scanner technology and outsourced scanning services at a fraction of the price. These improvements still happen quietly and at a steady pace, despite the decline of film.

    If you feel like it, you can rescan your old negatives anytime in the future to get the then-latest image quality. On the DSLR side, images are final. Once shot, you will be stuck with their resolution and quality forever.

    I have recently scanned a 40-year old 6x6 negative shot with a primitive Kodak P&S and it simply looks terrific with incredible detail. On the other hand, the images made by my first digital camera in 2000 suck by today's standards, and I can't do a thing about it.
  12. In weighing the advantages and disadvantages of medium format film versus digital photography in DX, FX or MF, factor in the ease and expense of film development and printing either film or digital images. In your case, in which you may be already set up to do processing and printing in b&w (except for a medium format enlarger??), the MF film could give you a maximum amount of control for fine arts work at minimum expense. The more steps in the process that someone else does, the more expensive and the less control you will have over the finished product. Assume shipping costs to and from distant labs to increase regularly in the future.
  13. . . .just get one of these for b&w work
  14. If IQ is your main concern then MF film will definitely give you better quality than shooting the equivalent film in 35mm. But if you're asking whether MF film is better than FF 35mm digital then the answer depends on how you have the film scanned. If you just plan on scanning your MF film on a typical flatbed then the answer will be "no," but if you can afford the best drum scans, which are very expensive, then the answer is "maybe" for 645/6x6 and "probably" for 6x7/6x9. Also the dynamic range will tend to be better with B&W and color neg film than with digital, especially if you get it scanned at 16 bits/color. But, of course, this ups the cost even more. So ultimately the key to your question is how much money you are willing to invest in this.
  15. ". . . I was wondering about that too. I almost went to their website to check!"
    I saw this directly on their website. I cannot find it there now. I remember seeing this because I was shocked. They had a specific list of cameras, and there was one sentence there, before they listed the cameras that specifically said that they would no longer accept scanned film.
    I know I saw this, and other people did, too; because there was some discussion about it; the list of acceptable cameras was narrow and inconsistent. I may be wrong about something, but I know I saw this. It ticked me off immediately.
    Now as I look at those web pages, I see a longer list of "acceptable" cameras, and just an avoidance of a mention of film. I don't know why this is so, but I know I saw that reference. The way they worded it was, a little rude; my reaction was unprintable here.
  16. FWIW, the day I saw this was on June 11, 2009.
  17. Well, they're still accepting my scanned film images. My understanding was that they don't care what camera you use as long as the image quality meets their criteria. Maybe this policy has changed recently.
  18. Easy way to answer that question: post the web site link, e.g.
    It includes sections on digital cameras and scanners, and the digital camera list is a "recommended" list, not a requirement.
  19. Hi Brandon! You have asked a question to which you will NEVER receive a simple answer. YOU have to decide for yourself what works best for YOUR needs. I know, I've been there before. I can't tell you how many countless nights I spent wondering which camera I should purchase. However, once I made my decision there has never been any regret, no looking back, and I couldn't be happier. Think about your needs and your wants. I'm sorry, but in my humble opinion it doesn't matter what you use to take your photographs. Just get out there and shoot! Take as many photos as you can and look at as many photos as you can. After all (and we've all learned this at some point) it doesn't matter what camera you use!!! Again, it doesn't matter what camera you use. It's all in how you use what you have. I'm sorry, and again this is my humble opinion,but if anyone is asking you what equipment you used to take a particular photo then they don't really care about your photography. I would never think of asking someone such details if their work were hanging up somewhere in a gallery. What matters is the inherent beauty found in the photo itself. There is a time and place to discuss technical qualities and equipment, but I'm not going to do that once the photo itself is presented.
    With that said, I use a medium format camera along with film. I process and print all of my black and white. My color is sent to Chrome Imaging in D.C. I work from hard copies and have started to scan some of my prints for presentation on the Internet and some other ideas that I have regarding what I enjoy doing. At the same time, though, I have a small point and shoot digital camera that I love to use when I want to capture various memories and events. I could care less if my camera will hold its value. I have lived long enough to know that the only thing that holds its value is gold. :) That feeling allows me to NOT worry about my equipment and its condition. Otherwise I would be a mess always worrying about a scratch here and a ding there. Good prices on good equipment can be had at KEH. They are wonderful to work with.
    Good luck in your decision making process. I feel for you because I've been there before!
  20. Thanks for all of the responses thus far!!! I got a Holga the other day just to play around with medium format a little bit. I REALLY enjoy the 120 roll just feels so pro. I must clarify that I do not intend to sell many prints, this is just a serious, serious hobby for me. I would like to maybe sell some nice b/w prints at restaurants, etc. but my focus is on photography as a hobby. For this reason, quality takes priority over speed for me. I also really enjoy my time spent in my new temporary darkroom/bathroom (though I have been having some frustrations with light leaks, etc...) so the increased time of film over digital is not a problem. One concern I am having is with the expense of developer. I heard that once a working solution is mixed, it is only good for 24 hours. So that means that even though my TMax film developer is good for multiple uses, if I only have a couple of rolls to develop, I am just throwing it out anyway. I seem to be going thru a lot of developer because of this. Is there a better/cheaper alternative or is the working solution really good for longer periods of time? I guess that is a question for another thread though... Back to my post here: So the Holga is OK for what it is. I really like the size of the negatives with medium format, however I never realized how easy it is to load 35mm onto a developing reel until I tried with the MF. It took forever and resulted in much cussing, but I think I figured it out now. Oh, and what is that blue stuff that pours out when I pre-wet my MF film? I have never seen it with same emulsion (TX400) 35mm. It normally takes 1 or 2 tank fulls for the water to run clear before I pour in developer with MF. Back to the camera: So I'm 99% sure that I would like to plunge into MF. I am kind of torn between how I want to proceed. On one hand I want to get a completely classic, "old school" Hassselblad for the elegant look and amazing image quality. On the other hand, the Pentax 645N and the like are extremely tempting b/c I could shoot action shots with the included autofocus and they have good metering. I guess that ideally an H model Hasselblad would be my best bet, but I can't really afford it and I would loose the look of the classic Hasselblad body anyway. Any suggestions? Also, with regards to the Hasselblad, I noticed that Hasselblad made a fairly automated camera (205FCC) that seems to have more features than their current production 503CW. Why did they do this? Which camera is better? Do they still make the 205FCC and it is just not on their website? Regardless, I am sure it is out of my price range. I have about $2000 allocated if I decide to dive into MF. I am guessing I should go with the Pentax 645N for now and see what happens later. Any thoughts?
  21. Andrew, I reviewed that page. It does not look like the one I saw. The QC guidelines I am referring to were posted in their fora, by an Alamy administrator, and it was specific. Maybe they changed, or had some kind of hiccup as they changed things around. But, it was clear; it had specifically stated, "no longer accept scanned film." And, the cameras listed was a much shorter list; it did not say the cameras were recommended, it said, they would only accept images from, and then their list. It was a very short list, and the DSLRs were pretty much the more expensive ones.
    I remember this not only because it ticked me off, but also because it was conditional guidance; in management, giving conditional guidance to people without outlining a goal is usually bad news. All of this guidance was about the camera, and there was no information in there about the image itself, not even suggested data to size information (so many pixels by so many pixels yielding a file size of such and such, for example). It was a short list of expensive cameras, and that's what they were going to take. It wasn't worded as a recommendation then; it was, do this, or forget it.
    Perhaps they have revised. Yet, even if they have schmoozed over their presentation, I feel like I was looking directly at what they really thought when they put that up there.
    I cannot find that thread in their fora to show you; for some reason the search function is not working, and I've spent some time going through there looking for it. I'll leave all that alone for now; my point is, I believe that they and others will be inclined to refuse film work; but, that is not as much the case with the individual, smaller buyers. Sorry, I didn't mean to have my ire towards them over that point clog up the discussion or anything.
  22. "I noticed that Hasselblad made a fairly automated camera (205FCC) that seems to have more features than their current production 503CW. Why did they do this? Which camera is better? Do they still make the 205FCC and it is just not on their website?"
    They made the automated cameras (the 203 FE with average meter was much more popular than the spot meter only 205 FCC), because people had been complaining for ages that they wanted exposure automation.
    But automation is highly overrated. And the 203 and 205 cameras were highly overpriced. So they were discontinued (yes, they are no longer made. Haven't been for a long time).
    The all-mechanical, no automation, leaf shutter 500 series remained popular. And it was continued. It still is today, though struggling in this digital, "my user manual is 465 pages thicker than yours, so there!" days of digital mayhem.
    You can't say which one is better, since both 205 and 503 do what they are supposed to do equally well.
    For US$ 2000, you can get a nice Hasselblad 500 set too.
  23. I randomly came across a video of a Mamiya 645-AFD III. It looks really nice but is a littler bit large for my use and out of my price range. The features on it seem to be what I would like though. Is this camera a lot better than the Pentax 645N?
    Also, what kind of Hasselblad setup could I get for $2k? Which body? Lens? Etc...
  24. Oh, and if I go in the Hasselblad direction are there any options for TTL metering? I really don't want to have to carry a handheld meter everywhere I go and meter every single shot. I think I saw an optional viewfinder for the 500 series that had a metering option. How does this work? Do you input f-stop and film speed and it gives you shutter speed?
  25. 'I really don't want to spend $6,000 on a Hasselblad if I am simply joining an obscure group of traditionalists, the image quality really isn't any better, and I will have to carry around a very basic "box".'
    For about $6,500 over a two year period I purchased a Hasselblad 503 CX, a CF 50mm lens, a CF 80mm lens, a CF 150mm lens, a CF 250 mm lens, a 2x extender, close rings and the most expensive item a Hasselblad 903 SWC with the 38mm lens. That is still less that than the top of the line Canons or Nikons. For $1,500 you could pick up at CM, an CF 80mm lens, two backs and a 45 degree prism with a built in light meter.
    Check out or for prices. These dealers are very reliable.
    Think of how much film you could shoot for the cost of a $30,0000 to $50,000 new digital back that will be obsolete in two years! Later if you want to shoot digital with a Hasselblad you can buy a digital back and shoot film or digital.
    Developer and other chemicals last more than 24 hours. Kodak XTOL, a fine grain developer last at least six months undiluted. There are others that last longer. Stop bath is long lasting. Hypo goes bad about two months after it is mixed.
    "Oh, and if I go in the Hasselblad direction are there any options for TTL metering? I really don't want to have to carry a handheld meter everywhere I go and meter every single shot. I think I saw an optional viewfinder for the 500 series that had a metering option. How does this work? Do you input f-stop and film speed and it gives you shutter speed?"
    Check out the PME prisms. The light meters give the EV [Exposure Value] and you set the EV on the lens, then you can move the shutter speed and the aperture rings together to select the shutter and aperture that you want to use for that light reading.
    I hope that this helped.
  26. The 50,100,120,and 180,latest versions,are considered the best lenses,along with the 38 mm on the SWC.
  27. What is the difference between the 500C and the 500CM. Both seem to be in my price range with lens and basic waistlevel finder.
  28. But don't get hung up on that "considered the best lenses" thingy.
    The other lenses are not far behind, if at all. Base a choice on focal length, not what people might consider to be better.
    For instance, the 80 mm Planar standard lens is one of the best, yet people seem to think it not so, just because it is the standard lens, and believe the 100 mm Planar mentioned above is much better.
    As long as you do not do photogrammetry, it isn't. And the 'lowely', very easy to find, cheapish 80 mm lens makes an absolutely great choice for a first lens.
    Yet the 100 mm is mentioned in lists like the one above, while the 80 mm isn't.
  29. "What is the difference between the 500C and the 500CM"
    The 500 C/M has user interchangeable focussing screens. You just let the screen drop out (after pushing the retaining tabs aside, of course), and drop in the new one.
    In the 500 C, the screen can be changed, but needs adjusting for correct focus. Doable without fancy equipment, but a lengthy process, and not something you'd want to do very often.
  30. so what did the 501CM add?
  31. Does anyone have a complete comparison chart of all of the Hasselblad bodies? I found one at B&H but it is very incomplete.
  32. The 501 CM is a 501 C (which in turn is a 500 C/M) with larger mirror.
    Look here.
  33. Fine art black and white photography using film is my preferred shooting for artistic purposes. For B&W, I still shoot film, 35mm and 6x6 cm. Certainly a "blad" or a 6x7 cm format would be wonderful because of their large negatives just as a larger format (4x5", 8x10" even 11x14") would be superior to that. One of my pals swears by his 11x14" Deardorff. However, do you have the budget for a medium format camera and are you doing your own printing? A digital back for a Hasselblad is very costly to purchase. Use film and fibre-base baryta type photographic papers for fine art photography. You can still scan the print (or negative) if you want to work in the digital domain later.
    I use an Olympus e3 DSLR for most of my colour photography now, and I have a couple of Oly OM-1 bodies and a set of prime lenses from 21mm and up as well as an old Yashicamat 124 that works nicely. I use a range of B&W film types ranging from Technical pan and Tmax 100 to Kodak HIE Infrared, Tri-X and even Recording RE film. How much longer will film be made, well Kodak announced recently that they will cease Kodachrome shortly so I can't answer that. But as fine art imaging goes, my preference is film and I don't know that getting a larger format is necessary in your situation. Good luck shooting.
  34. Brandon, my used Hasselblad 500CM with 80mm lens cost around $1,500 and the price included some "extras" such as an eye-level prism and a couple of magazines. Perhaps I was thinking of getting a digital back at some point but realized from shooting the Hasselblad that I still love film.
    Like you, I had qualms about using a handheld meter--one more thing to cart around and keep track of--until I purchased a knob meter. It fits on the camera, doubling as reflective/incident meter (detaching from and re-attaching to the camera easily) and knob for winding film. It also uses no batteries. It's worked fine for me but, depending on what you need, you may want a more accurate meter.
    A bigger problem for me was using a tripod. But, considering the pictures the Hasselblad allows me to take (which I couldn't with 35mm), using and lugging a tripod is a small price to pay.

    I like using the Hasselblad, I like the pictures I take with it. Am I member of "an obscure group of traditionalists"? Do I care?
  35. Thank you, Andrew Lynn. That link to the guide on Alamy's website is great. It gives you a complete set of instructions on how to end up with a nice big digital file for fine art photography, and is packed with tips on what to do and not to do. Brilliant. Its a great example of workflow made simple.
  36. Brandon,if you haven't made the desision to go Hasselblad yet you might take a look at the Mamiya RB67. very nice camera, i used one through the 70s and still miss it. looking on ebay I see a used kit with TWO LENSES for ONLY $850 USD!!! (I would buy it if i didn't just blow the budget on the Nikon D300)!!!
  37. Hasselblads have great build quality and optics, but don't overlook the 645 format. I always thought that the square negative format essentially wasted a lot of film, as most photos are enlarged in a rectangular format. Having said that, both the Contax 645 and the Mamiya 645 have excellent systems that make a 6cm by 4.5cm negative. The Contax even has a digital back available. The Mamiya RB67 also makes rectangular negatives (6 X 7cm) but I never liked the extra weight and expense of that system.
  38. i feel that with a Hasselblad, you will take different types of images than with something like a Leica. Whether that suits your style is something that only you can answer. i shoot with some of the finest glass available in 35mm, but even the tonality of medium format shots taken with a Holga reminds me that film real estate is key.
  39. Even though I have respect for the Hasselblads and their amazing lenses, it's not a camera that I would use as a regular shooter. For instance, I'm often shooting in dark situations, using long exposure, shooting quickly, needing to change film in the dark or needing to change quickly, etc. The 'Blad with a prism finder is quite a large and heavy camera. Lenses, even used, are expensive. A 35mm camera such as the Nikon F4s, F5 and F6 are much more suited to my needs.
    If I were shooting in a studio, on a tripod, and not in a big rush, I'd love to have a 'Blad.
  40. If you had to choose the best system for fine art b/w photography what would it be (Digital? Film? 35mm? Medium Format? Hasselblad? Nikon?)
    First choice: A lightweight (relatively speaking) but sturdy 8x10 view camera. A Chamonix, for example.
    Second choice: A Mamiya 7 (or 7 II) or a Pentax 67 (or 67 II). Portable, good lenses, easy to use, much larger then 35mm. I would avoid the 6x6 Hasselblads because I'm not a fan of square picture.
    Third choice: A 4x5 or 5x7 view camera. More portable than the 8x10. Better lens selection. Not really big enough for contact prints, so maybe not worth the extra work (which is why I rated the 6x7 systems higher).
    Runner up: A 35mm film camera with GOOD LENSES. Emphasis on GOOD LENSES. A Leica, for instance, or an AF Nikon body (N80, N90s, F100, F4s, F6) with the latest AF/AFS/G lenses. You need great lenses if you want to make quality enlargements from 35mm film.
    I have yet to see a digital photo that looks like a real black and white print, but maybe some of you can surprise me. IMHO, digital is for COLOR.
  41. Any fine are photographer worthy of the name can make prize winners using Tri-X in a Minox!
  42. That old horse again...
    That would depend very much on what the photographer and the viewer are looking for, and is by no means generally true.
    Now tell us Walter, do you only use a Minox and Tri-X?
    Why ever not???
  43. Well sure but even a really good photographer can't make low grain large prints from Tri-X and a Minox. Choice of camera can be important, depending on what you're trying to do.
  44. I strongly recommend a Pentax 67II for both value and quality. It's been my main landscape camera for eight years. I also had a Hassleblad 503CW but didn't care for the 6x6 aspect ratio. The Pentax lenses are very good as well!
    Pentax 67II
  45. Brandon -- regarding the developer. If you care to invest in a Jobo processor, you only use a small amount of developer at once, and it's no problem to just discard it afterwards. Otherwise, you can re-use your developer a number of times, and certainly store it more than 24 hours; it's just that after a certain number of uses, you should adjust your development time. I don't know if it's still true, but Kodak used to have all sorts of information about this on its website.
  46. A final word on Alamy. They do not discourage scanned film: they do describe what kind of scanners will meet their requirements. (What kind, not what brand). They also say the rebate (dark edge) must not be visible. They do not rcommend scanned prints.
    I just read all this.
  47. No question, you will get outstanding image quality with MF film given equipment of this calibre and good technique. When I first started shooting MF (Pentax 67, Mamiya 7), my photos attracted many more compliments than they had when I shot 35mm, and I could honestly say that it was the equipment, not me! Tonal depth and detail are are another level entirely and the longer lenses and big format film give photos a "you-are-there" impression that can't be duplicated with the smaller film. (The Mamiya 7 lenses have outstanding contrast, essentially zero distortion and are sharp to the edge; photos just have this arrestingly natural look that must be seen to be appreciated.) That said, I've switched to digital and haven't looked back. The instant feedback and post-processing flexibility of digital was a dramatic inflection point in my evolution as a photographer, much more significant than a move to pro formats and lenses. But the look and benefits of the equipment are different. The best of my MF shots have qualities which I don't see with my digital outfit, but that's OK, because I get 10x as many strong images with digital than I did with MF.
  48. Brandon -- I've explored this and am still doing so. In late 70's I bought a Blad, and took a few terrific pictures with it. I still display the prints, and I'm about to scan the negatives and print them again. The 45 degree prism finder I found most pleasant to use. But, before you make the leap, carry a Hasselblad kit around for a while, a shooting rig and a second lens, and see how it feels. For me, the 35mm went with me and the Blad stayed home. I sold the Blad after ten years for most of what I paid.
    (However, notice that today the prices are down to half. Glad I sold then. Film gear feels cheap now, but will it hold value?)
    Today, I've decided to try for detail and tonality better than a DSLR, that 6x9 is what it will take, and I'm assembling a 6x9 rig. Why 6x9? Everyone has their own assessments, but I think digital with APSC is about on a par with 35mm and a Coolscan V or 5000. Then full size DSLR might match 645 film today with good scans. I decided it would take 6x9 to get a difference that's worthwhile. A MF digital setup is beyond my investment range. It's a hobby for me.
    Another route for fine art, with stationary subjects, is multiple exposure stitching. Shooting a Cape Cod home, I easily made a 100MPx image that's absolutely amazing printed 58" wide.
    Also, for what it's worth, my film vs. APSC digital experiments showed me that film has some great qualities and I'd forgotten how much fun it is to shoot. Film has higher res and different tonality, digital has much less noise. I'll be shooting some 35mm film along with my (mostly) digital. Just for fun, here's a comparison between D100 and Fuji 200. Cheers Pub Spring 2009: Fuji 200, Coolscan V and D100 and Actual pixels
    Have fun shooting!
  49. There's a great book on the Hasselblad system by Ernst Wildi which is good to get if you are seriously contemplating purchase and invaluable if you actually marry into it.
    PS: Nobody mentioned this, so let me bring it up. The Hasselbad makes an incomparable kur-phloff sound when you release the shutter and the mirror swings back. Make sure you experience it yourself before making a decision. It's enough to make you forgive a thousand little inconveniences that come with the system.
  50. I shoot digital with a 5DII (probably Canon's best current sensor) and MF with Mamiya 645 and Fuji GX680 IIIs. I scan with the Nikon 9000 which delivers very good results and I shoot Fuji Velvia and B&W in the main. The Canon and Mamiya deliver very similar quality results - I prefer the colours of Velvia and like the viewfinder of the Mamiya better. However in terms of IQ there is nothing to choose between them in the real world. The Canon is quick, easy and portable - scanning MF film is a slow process. The GX680 gives better results than the Canon but not by much - most viewers cannot tell the difference. The big advantages of the Fuji are;
    The lens performance is much better as the bigger image allows them more latitude - in addition some of these Fuji lenses (e.g. the 180 F3.2) are as good as it gets
    The handling of the camera makes you slow down and think - the DSLR encourages sloppy technique
    The Fuji has substantial front element movement (tilt, shift and swing) which a DSLR cannot compete with
    That said the Fuji weighs over 10lbs, has to be shot from a tripod in MLU with a remote and takes a while to focus. In addition the Raw scan of a single image can be up to 650MB.
    For studio use a tethered pc to a live view DSLR produces very good results. the PC screen allows you to compose shots.
  51. "Any fine are photographer worthy of the name can make prize winners using Tri-X in a Minox!"
    Check out Moriyama Daido who shot half-frame (35mm too clean-looking for him) B&W and did large enlargements of it. Really interesting photgrapher and Phaidon has some of his work available in print.
  52. 'Do Pro's still use these?'
    Well, this one does! One of the great things about the cameras and film I use for my commissioned, personal and fine art photography is the mechanical, non battery-dependent advantage I have in using Hasselblad and Fuji mf cameras.
    There are some good points raised in the posts above, both in favour of and against using film. From a purely commercial perspective the strongest case lies with digital for most applications, but film capture is reliable and simple.
    The question of which is best is really a non-starter. High-end dslr's and all mf digital backs are more than a match for mf film in terms of image 'quality' but they all require a considerable capital outlay. Medium format film incurs rapidly increasing processing costs and (for me) scanning time and will ultimately become obsolete.
    For the present, we still have a choice!
  53. Fine art photography may not rely on equipment by default. If the photographer's expressive force is strong enough, the result will be independent of the tool. That said, and provided the discussion is about B&W exclusively, you should perhaps consider a couple of other things. Is, by your standards, tonality of the final print controlled effectively enough with RAW processing as is controlled with traditional zone system exposure measurements and chemical processing and printing? Also, do you intend to enlarge to almost poster-size?
    As for the kind of equipment you consider in your post, you can find a decent 501CM plus 80/2.8 C or CB kit for around $1500; but you may also attempt a go with Bronica ETRSi kit. Prices will be less than a third the Hassey's. You won't be disappointed with the Bronica either. Mind though, there are already digital backs for any 500 Series body. but it's doubtful Bronica will ever get one. However, if you are both a film lover and satisfied with prints of say 8x12, your choice of excellence is Leica M--you will never wonder whether you could have made a better choice and there exist both film and digital bodies to house the lenses.
  54. For 35mm I use a Pentax K1000.
    For medium format I use a Yashica Mat 124G.
    I am very happy with my Pentax because itโ€™s an all manual camera and simple to use. My Yashica is also a manual camera (hence I like manual cameras) and I am happy with this camera for its easy to use crank advance system. They compared this camera to a Rolleiflex camera and the pictures were almost identical. (Lens makes a big difference) Both the Pentax and the Yashica have a built in light meter and they are very affordable. I bought the Pentax K1000 for about $98 and I bought the Yashica Mat 124G recently for about $160. (New Yashica's would be around $300 or so) The Pentax was completely brand new while the Yashica was used with minor wear on paint but functioned well.

    In the darkroom I would rather print medium format since there is no grain (I print 11x14) but if I am going to print 8x10, 5x7, 5x4, etc then either would be fine. I have only tried B&W photography and the results were absolutely amazing.
  55. Used Hasselblad gear seems ridiculously cheap at You can build a one-lens (60 or 80mm) outfit very cheaply; under $1k. You can probably sell it for near what you bought it for if you don't end up using it much.
    Lots of film MF stuff seems to be widely available at a low price.
    If you don't want to drop the cash on a Hassy, get a Mamiya C-system (I love the C220, myself) twin-lens, then a bunch of the interchangeable lenses for it as you can buy them. It's all dirt cheap now that the former primary users of this stuff are swapping to digital. Same with the Pentax 6x7 if you prefer the format and style of camera.
    Or an old Rolleiflex, Autocord, or Yashicamat. Or even a new Seagull TLR. These fixed-lens cameras give great images and are a great entry into quality (non-Holga/Diana) MF work.
    All that said, this is only if you want to try or prefer to shoot MF. Don't think you need to shoot it just to consider yourself "serious."
  56. The answer to your basic question is difficult. This is a shot made on a tripod with the Hassy 503CW,100/3.5 Planar CF, Fuji Acros, developed in Prescysol EF and scanned on CS 9000, in other words, you can hardly get any better quality from a 6x6 negative, you could easily blow it to 1x1 meter size with good result:
    But is it any more "fine art" than this one, made with the Zeiss Ikon and 28/2.8 Biogon on Tri X, wide open and shot hand held at 1/8th of a second? :
    So it is you who has to decide what makes you tick. Anyway, for the final impact, the technical quality counts up to a point, it is more important to know what kind of picture you want to make. I have 3 Hasselblads and 11 lenses, and I wish I could use them every day, they are so rewarding.

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