Want to get into Medium Format from 35mm digital

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by dan_k|6, Oct 9, 2010.

  1. I am intrigued by the quality of medium format photography. I just wanted to know if you knew of a book that would be the best choice for learning about the benefits of medium format over 35mm. I see a few on Amazon but I wanted to know which you would recommend.
  2. Dan,
    I'm not sure you need to buy a book to explain the benefits--just wait a little while for plenty of answers. Alternatively, look up both "Hasselblad" and any 35mm system on flickr and compare the results. With MF you simply get more fine detail and less grain. There are a few other benefits: less field depth, 1/500 flash sync (with leaf shutters), less critical scanning method.
    Don't assume, though, that you will suddenly have better or sharper photos from MF than you got with digital. I have plenty of 6mp digital photos that, at smaller enlargements, make me wonder "and the reason I lug around this beast is because.....?"
    This particular photo is a good example of the kind of effect I can't get with digital or 35mm film: a wide angle shot with a very limited field depth:
  3. Are you interested in MF digital or film?
  4. If nothing else, the stuff is fun to shoot. I'd recommend just trying it. No need to be too ambitious to start - a 6x6 TLR that takes 120 film is not expensive or complicated, like a Mamiya C series (C220 for example) or a Yashica Mat.
  5. There are several good books about MF shooting. But if it's an overall film education you seek,try Ansel Adams tomes ,the Camera, The Print,& The Negative.These 3 books are a masters study program. If I were you, I would throw caution to the wind and just buy a camera, and order some film. Prices are ridiculous cheap right now.
    If you are used to an SLR, than I would suggest a used 645 SLR. And steer clear of the TLR's. The reversed image thing can drive a new MF shooter insane. The various MF rangefinders are all sweet shooters, but prices are high.
    A 645 SLR body and lens can be had for under $200 these days. You can't go wrong with a clean Mamiya or Pentax 645. If you find it's not your cup of tea, you can quickly get your money back with MF gear. But when you see some MF chromes on a light table , you could be hooked.
    Keep in mind unless you have a wet darkroom. You'll need a nice scanner to obtain the bigger film's benefits. Or: most labs will make huge files from your MF negs or slides. But this is never cheap.
  6. Hi John, I am interest in MF film.
  7. Dan, great answers above - if you fancy experimenting, the outlay at present is so minimal that you really can't go wrong. Steve Levine is right though, you may find yourself hooked in no time as I was a couple of years ago, after which it could get a little painful as you buy a decent film scanner and lenses etc.. A great journey nevertheless.
    Another great starter system would be a Bronica ETRSi with 75mm standard lens.
    Have fun.
  8. Apart from some treatment in Adam's The Camera, the only book that addresses MF camera issues that I have used is the Hove Pro-Guide by Bob Shell, "Mamiya Medium Format Systems" (ISBN 0-906447-76-3) on the varied Mamiya MF systems, mainly equipment related (the other aspects of film photography can be found in any number of texts). Although it is a bit dated (1992), it gives a good idea of, or introduction to, equivalent type MF cameras (SLR, TLR, RF), whatever their make, although it is prior to the Mamiya 7 RF and digital Mamiyas.
  9. Yup, Bronica, Pentax, or Mamiya is the best system for you. It will make more equipment available for us Hasselblad photographers. I like to suggest that you look at the portfolios of those recommending equipment, and see if the images are similar to what you want to do. It isn't definitive, but that's how I make decisions about lenses. I can see if the lenses for the system are up to the standards I'm looking for. I often search on Flickr (or you can search people's portfolios here) for the equipment you are looking for. Just a suggestion.
  10. I recently got into MF also Dan. I first went to the library and read up on the various camera types commonly used. But frankly, the information although interesting didn't tell me much about what it would be like to use camera x, y or z. Since new kits are a major investment, I decided that my strategy would be to try commonly available used kits which I could get for reasonably low prices, and be able to re-sell if I didn't like them.
    I got a Yashica-A TLR, then a Zeiss Ikonta folder, then a Yashica-MAT, then a Zeiss Super Ikonta, then a Bronica SQ-Ai. Using each type of camera was a real revelation to me. When you shoot a few rolls of film through a camera, you really then "know" something about how it fits your style and your priorities. For instance, I did not like the TLRs because I had trouble focusing them, and for my style of shooting they felt bulky and awkward to use. (Emphasis on MY style - many people LOVE these!).
    I found the Inkonta Nettar totally charming and fun to use, and so I stepped up to a higher-end Ikonta folder. I absolutely love the 6 x 6 format, which renders what I refer to as massive negatives that are easy to scan and get fantastic results.
    I have only just recently got the Bronica kit, and am yet to decide about it. It is AWFULLY heavy when dressed up, but it also feels good in the hands and I can focus it quite well. Verdict is out on that one. I would absolutely love to try a Mamiya 6 Rangefinder because I love 35mm rangefinders and I like what rangefinders do. But, that Mamiya isn't a casual purchase - it's a big one for me, so I will have to wait and hold it now as a future "wish list" to my MF kits.
    So far, nothing has really cost me any money. I sold the ones I didn't like for at least what I paid, so, it was a free trial - in so many words. Looking back on the last few months of trying these cameras, I don't think any book could have imparted to me what I learned by using the camera. I mean, as an example, I actually had no idea that on those old folder cameras one has to actually cock the shutter separately from rolling the film advance. I also learned things like my Luna Pro meter uses the "normal" f-stop and speed scale we are all used to, but the old folders and TLRs use a scale based on 100 such as 10, 25, 50, 100, 200. Some cameras didn't even have double exposure safety locks - how quaint! (I like that one anyway!). Someone else mentioned the "reverse" presentation you see in a waist finder of a TLR. Yeah, that was interesting to experience. (BTW, using these MF cameras also had the benefit that I learned how to use a an external exposure meter as the cameras I was using had no meters.)
    So, none of that may work for you - I don't know. But, you can spend just a few dollars and test drive some cameras before sinking a major investment into a camera system. These camera genres in MF are really quite radically different from each other. You see much greater difference between cameras than you see between a Brand X dSLR and a Brand Y dSLR. It is a lot of fun to experiment with. I have some digital cameras, but I don't think they will ever be nearly as interesting or fun to me as those 6 x 6 negatives! Good luck!
  11. As starter, I would suggest Medium and Large Format Photography by Hicks and Schultz. Readily available used in UK, but I don't know about elsewhere.
    There is also Matanle's Collecting and Using Classic Cameras: it has some interesting sections on older mf equipment.
    As has been already intimated, there's tons of stuff on the web. My approach has always been to try to educate myself generally on an area, then look for material - including books - that is more specific.
  12. Dan, are you familiar with Abebooks.com? Here are two book titles that I own that are available used online through Abebooks. Search Abebooks for other titles.
    Hicks & Schultz, as mentioned:
    Lief Eriksenn:

  13. I would also recommend the Eriksenn book (even if he does have a Rollei bias)
  14. Dan,
    For me, reading books about MF was nice but even nicer was reading the enthusiastic comments from MF users on forums such as this one. I also borrowed one from a friend to play with to see how it felt. It was exciting. Once I made up my mind (RZ67) I purchased it one piece at time. I took about 6 months to put the pieces together but it didn't strain my budget as much as if I'd purchased the system at once.
  15. I'm not sure I would agree with Eric about buying piecemeal. I've studied the market very carefully before I've bought.
    I first purchased an exc++ ETRSi outfit from a dealer with a very good warranty for modest amount. I was then able to add to that with further lenses etc when top quality ones came along at the right prices.
    Later, I purchased a Mamiya RBSD outfit - near mint - incredibly cheaply on ebay. I've now, similarly, added to that in the same way.
    It is possible that in the USA there are far more "pieces" available than in the UK and that could make a difference. However, in my view, you are more likely to get better value by buying a complete camera in very good condition.
  16. Mervyn,
    I agree with your point below, however, I chose to purchase mine piece by piece because I didn't have a lump sum of cash to invest on something that I wasn't even certain I would stick with.
    It is possible that in the USA there are far more "pieces" available than in the UK and that could make a difference. However, in my view, you are more likely to get better value by buying a complete camera in very good condition.It is possible that in the USA there are far more "pieces" available than in the UK and that could make a difference. However, in my view, you are more likely to get better value by buying a complete camera in very good condition.​
  17. Hello Eric,
    We all must have regard to our personal circumstances. However, with sufficient research - perhaps over several weeks, I have usually got to a point of good confidence about where I was going. That, I think, is the key. If funds were short, I would probably then save-up until the right complete camera came along, but, as I say, we are not all in the same position.
    I've just decided on my next dslr - after much research and thought. I now have to confront the funding.........
  18. Mervyn,
    You may be right. However, for me, if I'd saved $500 I would foregone buying a MF camera would and spend that money on something of a higher priority. If my wife found out I spent $500 on yet another camera that I didn't need I'd have a lot of explaining to do. If she found out I was spending $50-100 on a purchase each month, that would have been no big deal. I purchased mine piece by piece so I could commit to buying it with minimum pain to the wallet. Now if you gave me your credit card or savings I would go out and buy an entire system. To each his own.
  19. Eric,
    Tactics with wives is way off topic. However, the best strategy is to approach the matter in a circuitous way that results in your wife saying it would be a mistake to miss such a bargain. It does take quite a few years of practice though.........
  20. Yeah. You're right. My wife is now gone. How about you giving me your credit card so I can do it your way.
  21. Regardless of what camera you decide, know that your "photographic pace" will slooooooooooow tremendously with MF. You will need to adjust your paradigm and understand that you'll be moving into a system that operates in, say, 20 minutes per short rather than 20 shots per minute. Think of MF as being more like shooting a "one shot, one kill" sniper rifle as opposed to blasting away with a machine gun.

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