Is only reason to buy MF just to get large prints?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by graham_martin|2, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. I have noticed on several occasions when someone starts asking a question about what brand or model MF camera to buy that invariably some people respond by saying that unless you are going to have large prints made that you might just as well stay with a 35mm camera.
    I don't share that view. I very rarely get large prints made. Instead I enjoy the format for the discipline it places on me plus the very fine detail and overall "look" one gets. To me it is pure enjoyment to use my Hasselblad 500 c/m. I know it gets a little expensive to get a roll developed and scanned, but waiting to get that CD back is such wonderful anticipation. Just looking though that WLF with a huge magnifier opens up new worlds that 35mm doesn't offer. That's not to say that I don't enjoy 35mm negative film. I do use that format especially when I need to work faster.
    What other reasons do MF users have for this type of equipment other than lager prints?
  2. You are not alone. Michael Kenna shoots 2+1/4 and his exhibition prints are 6 inches square. In fact i think that the images reproduced in some of his books are larger than his actual prints.
  3. For me, it is several reasons.
    1) I have better glass in MF. It doesn't matter what format you shoot, you need good glass.
    2) Film and scanning costs me little. A 5 pack of TMY is only $21 locally. The screwing around stuff (lucky) is about 1.50 a roll. Foma100 (my fav) is a little over $2. Ektar 5 pack is about $27 locally. That's not expensive. I develop and scan my own.
    3) Quality. It's not about the dots. A bigger neg just looks better.
  4. Graham, for me, it's all of the reasons you stated, except I do get larger prints of 'my keepers'.
    Thankfully, (for my wallet), my skills are lacking enough that there aren't that many keepers.
    The state of Montana is known as 'Big Sky Country'.
    Trying to explain that to someone who's never been to Montana is difficult. You have to see it for yourself.
    To me, images from medium format are like that Montana sky.
    Some people see the difference, some don't...I do!
  5. I have excellent glass and cameras in 35mm format, but i'm preferring MF for the huge ground glass it offers. It's big! It's heavy! It's quirky! (sounds a LOT like me!!!). I also have a Minolta Autocord TLR that's just so interesting to use (and again the big ground glass is very nice to use).
    I'm also wanting to slow my photography wayyy down. I *can* do this with 35mm, but my MF format of choice really shines (and pretty much requires) when on a tripod. Yes, i can use a tripod with my 35mm format, but then the sheer volume of area on the ground glass and 6x7 negative makes the experience/results so much more *interesting*.
    I like the WLF method alot. It's way cool and again, so much more real estate than the viewfinder on my 35mm kit (though the viewfinders on my 35mm cameras are marvelously bright).
    Honestly, i like fiddling around with the gear more. I like the how modular the MF SLR kits are.
    If i've gotta scan to get my uploadable results anyway, i may as well scan something HUGE!!! I have a dedicated 35mm neg scanner (Minolta Scan Dual III) which i suspect will outresolve my lowly Epson V500, but if i want to print some with high quality, i can always have a hi res scan done for me.
    For me, MF is the largest i want to go because of film handling convenience (i don't live in a country with many options). Besides, i can always shoot b&w can get easy scannable results w/o a wet darkroom (i'm a husband and father and simply don't have a large enough place for a dedicated darkroom).
  6. I moved to MF purely for the quality, both in terms of resolution of detail and smoother tonality. Even then, I rarely print above 10 x 8. I use mainly Mamiya TLRs, but also the RB67. I made some 16x12 prints from a partial neg shot on a Mamiya C220 - the detail and tonality are superb.
  7. The MF is versatile. It works well for small or large prints.
  8. For all of the above-mentioned issues of quality from the MF negative, in addition, my Hasselbad outfit has grown to include bellows for macro work and all the trappings that follow. It's just a comfortable sized bundle of gear to handle, and there's not much I can't do with it.
    For landscape and architecture works, I often compose with waist level finder, then fine focus with a chimney finder with diopter adjustment.
    But it is a little narcotic I fear, .. I mean the larger negative for it's aesthetic benefit. Because seeing the value of 6x6 over 35mm in modest enlargements like in the region of 10x12 inch is enjoyable enough. A 4x5 inch neg to the same size print is something to behold. Well, I have 5x7" in the plans, and will get the enlarger some time next year. I don't especially want to print bigger than 16x20 inch even then. And contact prints from LF negs are stunning.
    I love the results obtained from PMK Pyro development on some films. You can head over to the appropriate forum for more on this.
  9. I love 6x6, it's my favorite. I used Bronica SQa system for about ten years now I've had my Hasselblads since about 1997. The only problem is ME. I can't seem to get to developing my film or making prints and my darkroom is all pulled apart, I have to re-do my whole basement and work area... It never ends. I love the way the 100mm CF Zeiss draws, it's an incredible lens. I'm just as happy looking at 5x5 proofing as bigger prints.
  10. I used to shoot with various Mamiya 645 cameras for many years. Now exclusively with Canon EOS 5D, 5DII, and 7D. I get better results (to my taste) with the Canon gear compared to old MF Cibachrome enlargements (up to 30x40 or so). I think the EOS camera and lenses weigh about the same as equivalent Mamiya gear, maybe with exception of the bulky Mamiya shift lens. If the question is between 35 mm film and MF film, I agree that MF film is superior even at small print or scan sizes.
  11. In closeup/macro work MF lets the photographer cram more in the frame without giving up fine detail in the main subject. One doesn't have to give up fine detail in, say, a flower to get its setting in the frame. That's why I went from 35 mm to 2x3 for flowers and such.
  12. Graham,
    I use a Mamiya 6MF, purchased intentionally to slow down my photography and improve my composition. With a 3-lens kit it lightened my load as well! Also, I wanted the larger negative (vs. 35mm) for scanning more detail. Additionally, what I've found is the MF has gotten me excited about black-and-white, which I never really was interested in with 35mm.
    Comparing my MF scans to comparable digital images I make, there just seems to be more image "there" in the MF. It's subjective, I realize, but as the photographer when I'm happy then the world is good, right?
  13. Basically, you pick the equipment that will do the job you need to do with it. I don't know that MF film is any better than my dSLR in many cases, but sometimes it is just what I feel will best do the job I want to do. I choose LF for the same reason. Aside from the glass, format or whatever, people don't give enough credence to just the mental part of it all, you use what makes you feel you can actually do what you want to do. You don't want to be thinking about your equipment or what would have been better, you just want to be thinking of the work you are doing.
  14. In closeup/macro work MF lets the photographer cram more in the frame without giving up fine detail in the main subject. One doesn't have to give up fine detail in, say, a flower to get its setting in the frame. That's why I went from 35 mm to 2x3 for flowers and such.​
    That is the same at any scale. MF captures more detail.
    And you will see it in small prints too.
    Better tonality too.
    Still portable (many 35 mm film and dslr cameras are bigger and heavier than many MF cameras).
    There are enough reasons to use MF.
  15. Crop sensor Canon 40D + 50mm 1.4 + hood
    next to
    Mamiya 7II (6x7) + 80mm + hood
  16. Certainly if you want more control of DoF, then there are a lot of reasons to go to medium format...
  17. Same 40D first (linearly upsampled without distortion to match the 6x7 scan), 6x7 TMAX second:
  18. Crop sensor Canon 40D + 50mm 1.4 + hood
    next to
    Mamiya 7II (6x7) + 80mm + hood
    Look Ma, no Menus!​
  19. No to answer how the would look on prints that are not huge, (whether there is a difference or not); print them like this at home:
    360 dpi -> 24x30 print size equivalent
    720 dpi -> 12x15 size equivalent
  20. Aside of that, the viewfinder of my RZ67 and the vast arrange of film option/characteristics available are the main reason why I shoot MF even when large prints are not needed.
  21. The 40D has a 60mm macro instead.
  22. Graham, where do you get your roll developed and scanned, and what is the scanning resolution (dpi)? I have been using a canoscan flatbed scanner ewith MF negative adapter but the results are not that great; and I spend too much time with dust-removal etc. Thanks.
  23. Nimesh, I am basically a lazy guy and don't do any of the processing myself (plus my wife wouldn't be too happy about me setting up a darkroom in the bathroom. I live in Florida and have found a lab in Daytona Beach that also burns a CD for me. The scans are are only 4 mps (2,000 x 2,000) for which they charge $15.00. I could get higher resolution, and the next time I'm there I'm going to ask them what the cost would be, and what their scanning resolution is.
  24. There is no replacement for displacement. I have five medium format cameras and love them all.
  25. You don't have to make big prints from medium format, but it's nice to know you can.
    On the other hand, if using a retro camera gives you a tingle up your leg, it's hard to put a price on that (assuming it's not incontinence). That's a reason, if not justification, for spending three times as much on materials and infrastructure as for 35mm.
  26. MF ie 120 started off life as a children's format over 100 years ago; ie sub 12 year olds was the target.
    The Bronica Camera was named from a contraction of Brownie Camera; since 120's first camera was the childrens Brownie camera; named after the childrens character "Brownie".
    For over 1/2 century or more 120 film was called Brownie film.
    120 started life as a childs format; with a paper camera with a single element that shot 2x3 " negatives. Later better amateur cameras came out; then pros used MF.
    Pro usage of MF has already peaked; thus today MF has gone back to being mostly a amateur format again.
    In the beginning 100 + years ago; MF was because it gave 2x3" contact prints; big enough for a 12 year old.
  27. The larger you go in terms of film surface area seems to improve the tonal range; at least that's what I'm seeing. And the higher resolution, yes, definitely.
  28. One very practical benefit of using MF is the ability to use higher speed film. For instance while taking portraits in shade, the typical exposure is about 1/60 @ 5.6 for 400 iso. This will yield an acceptably sharp portrait with just enough field depth. However, with 35mm, in order to achieve the same sharpness and grain, you'd have to use something much slower, which would cause either camera or subject motion, or too little depth of field.
  29. Here is an image that made a believer out of me. This resolution is 1600 x 1200, which is about 1/5 the scanned resolution.
  30. image quality doesn't just refer to sharpness, or resolution, or tonality, so there's no good getting a medium format camera if you're after something small, unobtrusive, and unintimidating. If you're mf camera is too slow to capture that moment, you can't focus in the dim light, or your subjects aren't relaxed, then it doesn't matter how sharp the neg is. for me, i can't getaway with only medium format, and i use tiny little 35mm rangefinders in addtion to my rb67/rolleiflex. i'd love to be able to dump the rangefinder, minimalise my gear, and pocket the cash, but there are so many situations where i need those small little cameras with fast glass, loaded with tri-x.
    having said that though, printing is so much easier with mf, little to no retouching, and stunning prints at 8x10 compared to the 135, all things being equal - which they rarely are. scanning is harder for me, I have the Nikon Coolscan V, couldn't afford the 9000 so I scan my mf on a Canon 8800f. Anything that i really want digital that looks good on the 8800f, I send to the lab to scan. That's a PITA, but here in Australia, the Coolscan is something like $5000.
  31. One very practical benefit of using MF is the ability to use higher speed film. For instance while taking portraits in shade, the typical exposure is about 1/60 @ 5.6 for 400 iso. This will yield an acceptably sharp portrait with just enough field depth. However, with 35mm, in order to achieve the same sharpness and grain, you'd have to use something much slower, which would cause either camera or subject motion, or too little depth of field.
    I wasn't aware of this phenomena. Could someone explain it to me?​
  32. uk


    Quite amazing that the difference in 35mm and MF is apparent in a 900x900 pixel web image. We take a 50 mb scan, trash 49.5 mb and it still seems to be possible to identify the MF image compared to a 900x900 image from a 50mb 35mm file.
    Surely, there's little logic to that ?
  33. The main reason to get medium format is to get professional looking tonal quality in your smaller (5x7 to 11x14) prints.

    The other reason is to give yourself a larger margain for error and still wring a decent print from a sub optimal negative.
  34. Shuttle Discovery on Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center Sept. 21, 2010. Hasselblad 501 C/M, 80mm lens, ISO 400
  35. Surely, there's little logic to that ?​
    There is. You know the "Garbage in - garbage out" saying?
    You can get rid of a lot of quality and still have some left. When there is no quality to begin with...
    "Professional" looking tonal quality? ;-)
  36. Gary,
    You are over stressing it when you say "Surely, there's little logic to that ?". There is no logic to it, it is not true. Take a good 135 sized digital capture and a good MF capture reduce them to 900 pixels and you can't tell the difference, nobody can, hell MF couldn't out perform a cellphone at that reproduction size.
    Q.G. de Bakker,
    MF can be just as much garbage! If you can take a good MF image you can take a good 135 sized digital image.
    Anybody that thinks they can see a difference in 12"x16" prints is kidding themselves, or hasn't got the best out of one format or the other.
  37. Scott,
    Anyone who believes that is not in a kidding mood, but seriously delusional.
  38. Er no, but then I make the mistake of just using the cameras rather than pontificating over developer formulas. If you don't believe me then just think about the physics for a minute or two. A 4 mp cell phone will reproduce a perfect 900x900 image, in fact it is throwing away over 3/4 of the information it captured.
    A pixel, unlike a grain on film, is an unemotive, finite, square block of colour. That is it, you can "see" no more in it than that. It is irrelevant that you captured more tiles for your mosaic, the mosaic is made up of 800,000 single, solid coloured, tiles.
    MF has its place (I still use 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7 and 6x9), as does LF above it, but stop kidding yourselves, for the vast majority of work, and print sizes, digital works just as well.
  39. Well, Scott, even forgetting about the 12" x 16" print thing you said, you're still not correct.
    A pixel isn't a pixel. Lots depends on its pedigree.
    And you can indeed see that an image was made using MF in a 900 x 900 pixel image.
    That has nothing to do with "pontificating over developer formulas". Not even with your branch of sport: venerating pixels while ignoring anything else involved in making images.
    It's just the way it is.
  40. Oh you meant the small print. Sorry. Well again, you can use any scanning resolution you want, when you reproduce to 12x16, your printer is going to use 24.8 million colour, or B&W, tiles. That is it. Indeed for the B&W image it only has a choice of 255 different shaded tiles.
    "A pixel isn't a pixel. Lots depends on its pedigree." I sincerely hope your tongue is firmly in your cheek! A pixel, my friend, is, as I said, just an unemotive square of colour, the printer/computer/screen does not care where it came from or what colour it is, how it was captured, or indeed, if it was captured. It resolves no more detail than that one square.
    Now I will agree that a completely wet processed MF image printed out to 12x16, can show more detail and tonality than its digital cousin, if the printer is very good. But I have yet to see a MF film scanned and digitally printed image that shows a clean pair of heels to a high mp captured native digital image. Oh, and unfortunately for you, I am not the only one.
    There are very good reasons to use MF and LF equipment if you want, or need, to. Please stop perpetuating the fallacy that more detail in small digital prints is one of them, it is not. Concentrate on the true advantages MF has, pride of ownership and work, ultimate quality if wet printed in smaller sizes, higher dynamic range, the ability to hold a MF slide (you have to love that one however digitally orientated you are :) ) etc etc.
    I venerate nothing, particularly the provenance of a pixel.
  41. A pixel, my friend, contains the result of an entire image capturing process.
    The printer or computer screen does indeed not care. But since when do we care about whether something that cannot even care 'cares' about something?
    What are you smoking! ;-)
    You don't have to be very good at printing to produce a 12x16" print from MF negatives that 'beats the socks off' anything a 35 mm based digital capture device manages to produce.
    And despite your experience, even a scanned MF negative also delivers more quality than your "high mp captured native digital image".
    Your fallacy, Scott, is (as you demonstrate here again) thinking in terms of pixel count, and pixel count only.
    For instance that higher dynamic range you mention yourself shines through even when scanned and reduced to a 900 x 900 pixel image.
    But this thread is about the advantage of MF.
    It isn't restricted to what you would like to reduce it to: pixels which you incorrectly dismiss as "all created equal".
  42. Hokum utter hokum.
    You are welcome to your opinion. Now explain to me, a mere 32 year veteran of MF film use, how a 900x900 pixel image can contain anything more than 810,000 squares of information with 256 different variations of brightness.
    However emotive YOU might be over the results, however much you might venerate a pixel produced from scanning a piece of film over another method, I am pragmatic enough to accept they are just mosaic tiles. If you never reduce your film image to a digital mosaic you can, potentially, realise better results.
    The thread is a question of whether MF's only advantage is large prints. It then made some completely ridiculous claims.
    My take on the original post, for what it is worth. If you are going to make wet prints from your MF film captures then there are quality advantages even in small prints. If you are going to scan your work then there is no advantage over smaller film or native digital captures until you print large.
    My opinion of some of the opinions expressed, they are just emotive hokum.
  43. Scott,
    Would you really say that an image made by a leaky camera using a cheap plastic lens would look as good as one made using a decent camera and a good lens would in a 900x900 scan?
    But yes, you obviously would, since you already have done so.
    And that is the "pure hokum" in this thread: your fixiation with pixels, ignoring how they are produced and what they contain.
    That's not "pragmatic". That is, as was said before, seriously delusional.
  44. Q.G. de Bakker,
    No I would not say that, and I didn't say that.
    If that is the kind of interpretation you take from my comments then that is the measure of you as a person, I doubt if many people who read them would draw the same inferences. If you are getting snitty about the phone comment then get ready for a reality check.
    I particularly like the way you completely avoided actually trying to answer my question and chose to just totally misrepresent what I said.
    But now, please, explain to me how a 900x900 pixel image can contain anything more than 810,000 squares of information with 256 different variations of brightness. The amount of information captured is close to irrelevant once they are all reduced to that size.
    Or have another go at rewriting what I said, up to you.
  45. Scott,
    How many times do you have to be told that the fact that something is a container says nothing about the quality of what it contains, before you begin to understand?
    Often, that's for sure.
  46. How many times do you need to be told that if the container only contains 256 different tones (assuming B&W) how can you get better tonality out of it?
    A negative and a wet print have the capacity for an infinite amount of tones between black and white, any digital interpretation does not.
  47. You are still having difficulties understanding, i see.
    I'll let you figure it out though. Good luck trying!
  48. Thanks, I knew you wouldn't have an actual answer. Hokum my friend, utter hokum.
  49. There we have trhe full measure of you. ;-)
    The answer has been given several times already. But your fixation on pixels makes you seeing blind.
    Which is why you have to figure it out yourself. You can lead a horse to water...
  50. Where is this answer? Point me to the comment within this post, or any other. Refute the two videos I have linked to, explain how you, and your film scanning, can get more resolution and tonality out of a 900x900 pixel on screen image. How can you take those 900 pixels in a line and give me more than the 256 shades, or more detail than 900 pixels can resolve? Stop playing semantics, and trying to play me for the fool. Link to an image, any image on the internet, that is no more than 900 pixels wide and was shot with MF film that could not have been done with a smaller digital camera and shown every bit as much resolution and tonality.
    Or just come back with another non reply. You haven't lead me anywhere, you think you are sitting on a lake that was once an ocean, my friend, it dried up long ago, just look beneath you.
  51. Simon,
    An 8-bit file has 256 possible levels/channel. That doesn't infer that any image must every conceivable level to demonstrate good tonality. Moreover, it is unlikely that any image, regardless of size, has all possible combinations (16.7 million for an 8-bit RGB file) unless contrived that way for demonstration purposes.
    That said, one image may have better tonality (or other qualities) than another, clearly visible in a 900x900 pixel image. This may have some relationship to the original type and size of the medium and quality of the equipment. More often, it is related to the skill of the photographer.
    About the only thing masked by a low resolution image is any differences in resolution of the original images, as long as the original is three or four times better than the reduced version.
  52. Edward,
    Thank you, but my name is Scott :). Your point about 256 possible levels per channel is well made, now show me a histogram of a full toned and well exposed image that does not have pixels on every one of those 256 levels. We are in full agreement about resolution, we just have to lead Q.G. a bit further then he can have a drink!
  53. No Scott. It's really you who is floundering. Let go your fixation on pixels, your very mistaken belief that anything that gets packaged in pixels is as good as anything else packaged in pixels, and you may begin to see how ludicrous that idea is.
    But you are not going to. That's clear. And you know that horse that was lead to water, but refused to drink? You'll also know that it will not do much good if we keep flogging it.
  54. No Q.G., what is now clear is that despite having such strong opinions, you don't have the slightest idea how to back them up. I have linked to videos and relevant pages from highly respected professionals, MF users and testers that have the same opinion as me. You have done nothing but sit on your opinion and shown nothing. Is it really so hard to link to an image or refer me to a page? For you, obviously, yes, for me it was easy.
    My friend, it is past hokum, you are clearly in denial.
  55. If I shoot a a scene in a snowfield, on a bright day, with bright clouds, then a Nikon D3 is likely to be out of its depths. So I use a MF Mamiya RB67, take the shot, get huge dynamic range. I also take the same shot with my D3, blown highlights and all. If I then reduce the image to 600x600, the shot taken with the Mamiya is still going to look better. I might not see a difference with the tonal grads, but I should see better colour, and still retain the dynamic range I had with the original neg. Doesn't matter what size I scale my D3 shot to, up or down, my highlights are still blown...can't change that.
  56. Ty,
    In that case learn to use your D3 properly and expose for the capturing medium, plenty of Olympic sports photographer can. Besides, I did specifically say a full toned and well exposed image. I can blow Velvia just as easily as digital, I can also expose it for printing or projecting, well I used to be able to. I also said film can have a wider usable dynamic range than digital. What is your point? A badly exposed digital image does not have the detail a well exposed MF film one does?
  57. Scott,
    with due respect, "properly exposing" cannot help you capture a scene with a wide dynamic range that goes beyond the limits of a digital camera.
    For example, this TMAX shot would not have been possible with a DSLR. You would have traded the smooth reflection for blocked white, or have no detail in the shadows:
  58. A few more examples:
  59. Look how in the leaf example, even TMAX reaches complete white at the full specular point, but the transition is smooth and glowy.
  60. Digital was not and option. And for film, even at 16x20 it is possible to see an edge for MF over 35mm (although small) - no need to print 30x40 to see the differences.
  61. Mauro,
    Several points.
    I agree, to an extent, but I don't know why you think those three shots are beyond the range of digital, as I demonstrated in our last discourse, digital is way better than most of you guys think it is. The worst one is the middle one and I would expect digital to fail just the same, the blocking below the chair could hardly be described as smooth! The top chair and leaf, sure digital could do that, slide style, expose for the highlights and revel in the detail you can pull out of the shadows, noise reduction algorithms introduced in the last few months make shadow noise a non issue most of the time. I have said digital has less dynamic range than B&W negative films, but, it has way more than my beloved Velvia.
    Reproduction sizes, my suggestion had been that there is no discernible difference in 12"x16" prints between 135 sized digital and MF film scanned. Again, we are in agreement, with you suggesting a 16"x20" size to start seeing "an edge". 135 digital is way better than 135 film in almost every respect, the crops I posted in the previous thread surprised more than a few film users, I believe, you were one.
    Take care, Scott.
  62. My experience is that digital's dynamic range is better than Velvia but very short of negatives (more so B&W than color of course).
    Not sure why you think that 135 digital is way better than 135 film in almost every respect - not my experience either. But no benefit in showing you otherwise since you seem pretty happy with the results you obtain from digital.
    I enjoy good wine a lot, and sadly over the years I have become very picky and selective. When a friend enjoys a glass of wine that I see flawed, I see no benefit in trying to stop his enjoyment. I almost envy it.
  63. As I have said to you before, I printed 135 film to 20"x30" regularly and 24"x36" to special order, the digital prints from the same sized sensor are better. That is why I think it is better, I based my opinion on empirical results! As a caveat, the majority of my big prints were from Velvia and Provia slides and I rarely printed B&W from film large and don't think I have ever printed digital converted to B&W to those sizes.
  64. When did you replace Velvia for your DSLR for large prints (what year and DSLR model)?
    How were you scanning the film?
  65. Two years ago was the full time swap over, Canon 1Ds MkIII, I have two 1VHS's, one with less than 100 rolls of film through it. I have owned a Canon 1D (4.2MP) for five or six years and used that for non critical work and playing, it is still plenty good enough for small prints and newspaper work, I got it because I saw the writing on the wall and didn't want to fall too far behind the times, it is surprisingly capable, I was shocked. My slides are now in storage in the UK. I am currently in Florida and I live in the Caribbean, logistics were not a major factor in my swap, but they have been a very welcome benefit.
    I never scanned film, at the time I worked with a pro lab in the UK and another in LA (since closed), they either printed direct from the slide or did in house scans.
  66. I asked because often times people do not have control on their scans and/or prints and assume a limitation on their film that is not correct. What scanner did you commit your work to be scanned with, do you have a sample?
    With just two years having equipment to make large prints from digital, the majority of your experience and work must be on film. It may be worth considering the investment on a scanner and printer...
  67. I was a mediocre B&W printer and never really worked with colour. Whilst I take your point, I relied on two very good printers to do the majority of my printing, they were consistent and their output very similar. I really couldn't tell you what they used, I judged them by the prints, I know the oldest were direct wet prints, then they went to scanning and wet prints with way better equipment than I could have hoped to use, invest in or master.
    My work has a very short shelf life, often one year, max of four years. I am not looking to complicate my workflow for such a diminishing return. However, next year I am setting up a small satellite office (I am a small part of a bigger organisation), I intend to get a large format printer then.
    Before, you offered to scan a few slides for me, I will take you up on that once the office is up and running if that is OK, I'll gladly supply you with some pretty nice digital files in return if you like :)
  68. Very good. If you send me a few slides you like (and have already printed large by a lab) , I will scan them and send you a tube with the prints made by me for you evaluation.
  69. Scott,
    The files the lab gave you most likely contain the information of the scanner they used. You can right click, select properties, and then details.
  70. Why does nearly every thread turn into digital versus film battle? Go back and read the very first post. The word "digital" does NOT appear. Both are just tools. I've seen cell phone and coffee can photos that made me envious. I use 35mm film and digital as well as 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 and 4x5. Each has its places. For "ME": if I'm going to shoot motion, or sports, I'll likely reach for my digital camera. For color work, it depends. For much of MY work but especially black and white, I prefer film with 6x6 or 6x7. If I'm shooting buildings or landscapes, I'll likely use the 4x5 with either 4x5 holders or a 6x9 back. Besides, shooting in Times Square with a 4x5 is a heck of a lot of fun and a great way to meet people. But you can do amazing things with Photoshop. I can't wait for a digital 4x5. :)
    What do the larger formats given me? In response I will COMPLETELY IGNORE THE QUALITY ISSUE OF FILM VS DIGITAL as it is mostly irrelevant. The larger formats FORCE me to slow down. Slowing down and shooting on a tripod does more to improve the artistic output of most photographers than anything else they could possibly do. I've gone shooting with other photo students in my university classes and they've shoot a whole roll of handheld 35mm while I'm still on the first half of my 12 exposure roll of 120. Can you guess who in the group is the only one to have exhibited more than once this year, in fact a dozen times?
    Slow is where it is at. Now back to digital versus film; or even, 35mm verses 4x5. It is hardly important. It is the image that counts, not what it is taken with. I attended a lecture by a very successful and very wealthy fine art photographer. His favorite camera? A 1970's era 35mm McDonald's French Fry toy camera. Seriously. He has had major New York gallery and museum shows with images taken with that toy. That camera made him rich.
  71. Mauro,
    I don't have any scans. Any scanning was done in house by the printers just for the prints needed for each project. I really do wish I could help more.
    Thank you again for your offer, I'll be in touch, Scott.
  72. Hi, remember me? I am the OP. It is truly amazing how this thread has taken on a life of its own including some very spirited debate with some of it bordering on acrimonious. I am glad to see that Scott went back to re-read my first post. I really do believe that using an older all manual MF camera makes one a better photographer because it does make you slow down and really try very hard to make each shot count. I wonder if one gets the same satisfaction from a digital MF camera? I saw someone using a Hasselblad Digital the other night. I had never seen one up close and personal before. I guess I was in awe for a bit until the next day when I took out my 500 C/M, and then I remembered all over again why I love that old camera so much. When I saw the scanned negs a few days later I totally forgot my camera lust for the DigiBlad.
    I think it just boils down to what you yourself find most satisfying. When I don't have a lot of time to create the picture in my mind then either my 35mm film or DSLR gets the nod. But when I do have the time then the MF camera gets chosen every time. At one time I also owned a Mamiya 645 AFD, which is a great camera, but I felt like I was just shooting with a very large 35mm SLR. Just not quite the same satisfaction level as my old 'blad.
  73. Graham,
    Couldn't agree more. I often just take my G10 P&S with me, gets me images I just wouldn't be bothered with any other way. I only got involved as a counterpoint to some of the sillyness that so often gets perpetuated. For a well respected, long time poster and PN hero, to suggest you can't get a decent 150kb image from a DSLR was too much, sorry if I rose to the bait, but I really enjoy some of the rambling threads too :)
    Take care, and keep shooting whatever makes you happy, Scott.
  74. Graham, Although I like to shoot 35mm film when it feels right, I seek opportunities to break out my Pentax 67, usually for landscapes. I like the feeling of being on a focused project, making each frame count. I like the aspect ratio of 6x7 better than that of 35mm for landscapes. I like having 10 frames on a roll of 120, rather than 36. I am also nostalgic I admit, and like the equipment, but the overall compelling reason over 35mm is the large negative or chrome. I have to tell myself that as there I go again, hauling the beast and four lenses and the big tripod several miles up the side of Mount Rainier. But it was a blast, and it felt like the real thing when I hit 8000 ft and looked through that pretty darn good viewfinder and brought Rainier into focus. There is the added benefit that I'll be ready for ski season after hauling the beast up and down the mountains.
    Here is a recent link on the same subject:
  75. Marc, here is that Montana sky that we grew up under, shot with the Pentax 67. Add a good Morgan horse for local transportation of course.
  76. Graham,
    I love the experience of using film and i like the look I can get out of the camera without having to use photoshop. Here in Europe universities use film for much of photography degree course because they hold the belief that over time it produces a better result in terms of compositional and photographic skills. The thread wandered into digital versus film but in the end its the photographer who makes the photograph , i see many film and digital people both making passionate arguments about which is better when really they are nowhere close to getting the best out of either medium so for me its a non starter.
    I just like thinking things through as often as I can with film so that my photographic mind is well exercised when I pick up a digital camera. Not having the instant feedback of digital is for me in a training context very useful .. I have had many dissapointing days on a light table looking at rolls of nonsense or stuff that didnt work ..but I can tell you that I learned more about light looking at those than i ever did with the notion of " fiddle with the settings " untill the digital produces something that I like. Thus photographs I like are less of an "accident" and I can produce that level more consistantly. I shoot an average of 20 rolls a week but have access to practically free developing. I watched a behind the scenes video of a photoshoot where the photographer was using lots of big lights and expensive cameras and freely admitted during the course of his photoshoot as arranging a very important looking softbox that he " didnt have a clue how this was working or what would happen " and honestly to me you could see that in the end result ,, nice PP but not a photograph I would ever let see the light of day.. that given my personal makeup is a trap i wish to avoid.
    I think also in a more artistic sense film teaches me more, there is also a growing trend i think towards film so some might want to be in front of it. That is based on reports from Kodak and Fuji finding it hard to meet demand at times here in Europe, some development places i have used on holidays around europe reported to me that they are seeing an increase in film development also, last year the biggest shop in Lisbon was doing 30 rolls a day now they do 250 or more , so i dont feel that Im part of a dying thing any more but do worry that the options for film will thin out over time.
  77. Back in the day, when I used to shoot film, I too, much preferred medium format. So much easier to work with in the darkroom, and it would make such fine images. Just for kicks, I once shot an image on 35mm Ektar 25 and made a 16x20 print from it. Compared to my 16x20 MF prints, you truly couldn't tell the difference! Of course, you were limited to a very slow ISO with that film.

    But yes, I loved MF, but it all just got too costly for me. And I must admit, I like the speed of using digital. I do understand what you are saying though.
  78. I am an amateur when it comes to assessing the technical differences between MF and digital. I have no real technical background to use to compare the two. What I do have is a load of experience shooting MF at weddings and for other commercial purposes (for money) both color and Black and White. I never knew the origin of the name Bronica until I read this thread. I had a real array of Bronica bodies, lenses and backs. I printed both in B&W(lots of TMax) and RA4. It was hard sweaty work in my darkroom particularly printing B&W under wedding deadlines as I could not find a good B&W printer in my area. I printed and developed lots of TMax for the paper I worked for. I thought my Bronica gear was great. I was good with it. I changed to digital in 2002. I, at times, yearn to have my MF gear back. Well then, why don't I go buy some? It's cheap these days. The reason I don't is because, simply put, I can make my digital prints better in Lightroom and PS in one tenth the time or less than it would take in my former darkroom with RA4. I think scanning is a pain in the butt. I have scanned some old Velvia slides and they have come great but no better in my opinion than what I can print digitally. Technically I don't know and don't care which is better as I have had good results from both. I don't often hang for exhibition but I have sold pictures on their merit and could not tell from two feet which is better on a 16x20 print. I agree that I put more time in taking MF pictures and my hit ratio was higher but today I don't pay for film. I agree that I could control my Vivitar 283s better than I do ETTL today. That's a good reason for me in favor of MF. I confess to taking great satisfaction out of a well done MF wedding set. I certainly don't thnk my 5D is any better in quality. It is just the baggage like scanning, loading endless film backs, outside processors screwing up my weddings, delays in developing(I could not have kept my business going while doing all my own processing, the B&W was enough) etc. As someone said whatever floats your boat. I still think, as someone said, it is the photographer not the hardware. Would I take some pictures if I had my old Bronica gear back? Sure. I had that Bronica gear for twelve years and it was still functioning well. How's that in the digital age where camera model life is not much longer that the human gestation period. That's a reason for owning MF.
  79. I like the shallow depth of field and wide perspective I can get with 6x7, shooting at f/4 with a 65mm or 80mm lens. There's a natural graciousness to the look which draws me in. I can approach but cannot duplicate the look with the Canon 5d2 and a fast wide-angle lens. It's the main thing I miss from MF.
  80. Graham, following on from comment by John Walsh:
    I think also in a more artistic sense film teaches me more, ...​
    I agree totally, and also in an artistic sense, I enjoy using my darkroom skills more. Everything about working in MF, from handling the camera, through the processing of film and making the print, whether a gelatin silver print or copperplate photogravure, is something about photographic art with more room to move than I feel with smaller formats. Mind you, the Leica M3 has it's place too and has served me well. The combination of MF magic, and Leica rangefinder technique is available with cameras like the Mamiya 7II, and it just seems to make a lot of sense (as an addition to, not a replacement for the Hasselblad) ... to have one. As I mentioned in my first post up near the top of the thread, the draw towards larger and larger format is the temptation now, for all the reasons stated by in the thread, ... multiplied by a factor of:
  81. Sorry about the strange formatting above. The quote thingy simply wouldn't do what I asked it to do ... (Think I'll get back to the canvas I'm working on. No control problems in that department ;-)
  82. A couple of points...
    Nothing in a D3 manual says that you must overexpose and blow highlights. If you have bright snow on a sunny day, and want detail in the snow, then expose appropriately. The shadows will take care of themselves. If you blow highlights with a D3, the problem originates about 3-1/2 inches behind the sensor (depending on your hat size) ;-)
    Secondly, you can't post an image, taken with B&W or otherwise, and argue with good conscience that the picture demonstrates how film works and digital capture doesn't. The post is itself digital. This relates to the previous paragraph, in that while it is easier to overexpose digital than B&W, it is not inevitable that you do so.
  83. The shadows will take care of themselves​
    That old chestnuss hey! Dynamic range is dynamic range, and no one can argue with good conscience that a D3 can approach Kodak Ektar or Fuji 160 Pro in that department. Some people want detail in the shadows too.
  84. Ty,
    I agree, nobody would try. But, Edwards point was that to expose digital to maintain maximum detail you expose it just like slides, blowing it out is easy and final, but digital holds way more detail in the shadows than slide film. To realise the best dynamic range and detail for digital exposures, expose for the highlights, you can pull a huge amount of information out of the shadows, that is just a basic technique, not an old chestnut. Algorithms are improving all the time too, revisiting old digital images with current software realises much more detail in the shadows than previously. Would you expose slides the same as B&W film? No, well why assume the D3 doesn't need help for snow scenes.
  85. Medium format to me is a whole different animal. I think a hell of a lot differently when I have a Rolleiflex in my hand that I only have 12exp per roll and there is no battery in the camera than when I am even shooting a Canon AE-1 Program. It's a whole different feeling and on top of the different shooting style, you have a larger negative which gives you more information. You also have the option of the square formats. The film is more fun to handle. The cameras are usually always built well. The images can be breathtaking when compared to smaller formats. The whole feel and mindset that it puts me into along with outstanding quality results is what does it for me.
  86. Op, another great thing about MF (some like my RZ) is the ability to easily change the film/sensor by swapping backs. With 35mm film you can rewind and re advance rolls but it is a lot less convenient.
    You can also rotate the back without touching the camera or affecting composition.
    You may use the same film in two different backs (e.g. TMX) and dedicate one to high contrast midtones and the other to expanded dynamic range (say 15+ stops).
  87. Additionally, if you print at 16x20 (or smaller), a MF prime lens can be used as a zoom. You may use only the center portion of the frame for the shot, and all the way to the entire frame.
    It will hold from end to end plenty of detail for your print.
  88. Additionally, if you print at 16x20 (or smaller), a MF prime lens can be used as a zoom. You may use only the center portion of the frame for the shot, and all the way to the entire frame.
    It will hold from end to end plenty of detail for your print.​
    I never thought of that. What a great idea!
  89. uk


    Take any 36x24mm crop from a 56x56mm MF film and you'll get equivalent quality to a film image from a 35mm camera. Indeed to get similar resolution, it needs to be matched focal length and not 'standard' focal lengths. This is generally understated and a 50mm capture on 35mm will never match the 80mm on a Hasselblad, say.
    So matching an 80mm Hass with a 75mm Leica will show what a good lens the Leica is, but the capture will be a fraction of the size of the MF. In digital terms, you'd need to stitch 6 35mm images to match what is available from an MF file.
    Accepting what Scott says about 900x900 pixels being the same regardless of source; 810,000 black pixels with be exactly the same regardless; I do observe higher quality in images sourced from MF. I'm clear on that; so can only assume that the sheer quality of the original capture provides for better downsizing, less sharpening etc.
    Personally, I'm becoming tired of the volume of images created using a dslr and am concentrating on securing fewer, higher quality images. That's not a function of 35mm dslr per se, but is such an easy trap to fall into. We've moved towards a newspaper journalist/sports shooting style, rather than a considered landscape/portrait model. MF will silently encourage the latter, IMO.
  90. Personally, I'm becoming tired of the volume of images created using a dslr and am concentrating on securing fewer, higher quality images.​
    Gary, I agree with you 100% on this although I am very guilty of taking way more images than I need to at an event just because I can do so at no extra cost and don't have to worry about "running out of film" with its incremental cost. I too am trying to slow down the pace by being more careful about the shots I take with my DSLR.
  91. Like the rest of you, I'm enjoying MF because of slowing down and the greater care it encourages. For whatever reason I have more "keepers" in the MF arena than in the 35 or smaller cameras. That said, there are reasons and purposes for each - and for the poetic snap, there are lots of easier and better solutions.
    Yet MF seems to allow me to get the texture and grain that holds up under viewing. Somehow, the urge to capture what you see gets translated better - that is, if you see fine grain in the distance landscape, MF captures that (like LF does even better), and this is slightly lost in the lesser gear. Its not that the lesser gear (and I have a bunch of it as well) isn't good - there are many things that all that other stuff is far better at. I have shot birds with Rollei gear along my son's Canon setup (details can be provided) and as I am a bit limited in lens length, his longer reach, faster setup wins all day long.
    Given a landscape, something with detail that can make the image "hold up" that much more, MF takes the day. I wouldn't want to sell it to anyone who doesn't want it - its like the last 2%.... if you don't need it, lucky you. Your life is easier. After some 40 years of shooting, one's passions take one in certain directions. Such is life.
    I also enjoy the WLF in MF setup - and believe that the constant "compose and recompose" on that glass is a significant benefit, oftern not recognized. Operatively, one can achieve composition in a camera held up the eye, so technically it has only modest advantages....except that I don't take the same care in a camera held up to the eye. Maybe its the WLF, maybe its the size of the screen. I tried a Contax once, and it just didn't work at all.
    Seeing images "on the glass" gives one a bit of cognitive distance, and (IMHO) is the reason that one keeps working on making the better composition. Its a page from the LF ground glass guys, and I'm happy to use it. What you see on the glass looks like a composed image, and you rework it to make it better. The bringing the camera up to eye feels to me more like seeing a reality, not an image, and you move to capture that. Its a great thrill, but not the one I'm seeking. Rather, I prefer the compositional. Again, its a subtle point, and if brickbats start to fly over this, I'll pass on the discussion.
    Both film and MFDB have been used, with the same kind of gear and setup. Some of the results from the newer digital backs (on the Rollei lenses) have me staggered - the tonal range is rightup there, and the DR with color and highlights really is making me think it surpasses film. And I really like film. But processing, handling, scanning.... PITA. Archiving? Fantastic for film. The ease of retrieval from film is vastly underestimated.
    Sure there are better smaller packages than MF gear - but I look at it differently - that the MF is really LF gear you can carry around. So rather than feeling like a heavyweight in the 35 DSLR battlefield, I feel like a lean 4x5. We each have our own fictions, yes?
    One thing scanning showed me is that my wonderful film shots weren't so sharp after all - camera movement was an issue back then, and with digital, is a very serious issue. So above all else, I'd recommend care in the shot taking. Whether that's a well lubed Rollei D shutter, or a brace against a wall while shooting.
  92. Is only reason to buy MF just to get large prints?​
    Here are some other reasons why I like MF - I don't think these have been mentioned yet:
    - Waist-level & chimney finders on most reflex cameras: makes life so much easier for tripod-mounted shots with the camera tilted upwards (e.g. astrophotography). The maginfication and light transmission are also higher than with a prism finder, so you can see more detail, and focus better.
    - More controls & more accessible controls: to take one example, my old M645 1000s has reversible mirror lock up, depth of field preview, variable self timer, and multiple exposure - all available directly on the body as dedicated levers and switches. I can set them in the darkness of night without even seeing them. Few 35mm film cameras or DSLRs offer all these controls, and when they do, they tend to be buried in LCD menus accessed by several pushes of tiny multifunction buttons.
    - Wider, richer field of view with a given optic. Say you have a special optic like a fine telescope, or a classic medium/large format/aerial lens. If you can attach a MF camera to it, you capture more of its abilities and character than if you attach a smaller format camera to it.
    - Greater light collection for astrophotography. Photography teaches us that focal ratio alone determines the focal plane brightness of extended objects - people, landscapes, and so on. So changing formats doesn't change sensitivity - a 50/2.8 shot on 35mm requires the same exposure as a 100/2.8 shot on 6x7cm. But this rule does not apply to unresolved (point) objects - like stars. The absolute aperture of the entrance pupil is what matters in this case. The 100/2.8 lens has 2x the linear aperture of the 50/2.8, and 4x the area aperture. It collects 4x more light and will therefore reveal stars which are 4x fainter (or somewhat less in a sky which is not perfectly dark).

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