What is the main reason you shoot film under medium format?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by RaymondC, Jul 1, 2017.

  1. Other than dabbling with the family's entry film SLR and going to the chemist, my first photography experience was a digital SLR, then 2006 it was a 35mm film more seriously, and for a year or so now medium format film.

    It is nice that I can access these cameras now because they are so affordable but when I go out for photography I don't have this mindset I am going out to shoot film because I want the film look. 98% of the time I am equally happy if they were taken with a film or a digital camera. Then I look at the amount I have spent related to film photography I could have bought a used medium format digital back. It goes without saying, the Epson scanner probably won't out do the MFDB, I do have plans but in these 10yrs I haven't got any film professionally scanned yet.

    Quite winded statements. Like your view. I guess I have experienced film but at the end of the day it was fun to learn new equipment etc but to me after it's shot, film is processed, I put them online and the very few I print them out. Which is the same as digital. I don't have the privilege of a darkroom to print so everything is thru a scanner (flatbed) thru Adobe and thru my inkjet. With the amount I have spent perhaps maybe I could have got a MFDB preowned unit instead. Unlike the flatbed I could appreciate the resolution.
  2. Occasionally when I shot black and white film and I'm not so much a color negative film shooter nor portraits but I guess those two are maybe when film might be of more use. I do mainly landscapes and travel with slide film however.
  3. You asked why I would shoot MF film? - "To put it into my enlarger (or my projector)."
    • There are no digital back adapters for my cameras (besides maybe the Technika). Affordable digital backs have too small sensors to permit shooting a 4x5" reducable to 6x7 with OVF & coupled range meter to make any sense there. My Kardan Bi doesn't provide the geared precision movements desirable with a digital back either. It was built to work with 13x18 or 4x5".
    • I'm no fan of the film scanning hybrid workflow, when it isn't intended as a a show of muscles to get something out of an otherwise unprintable negative. The other approach, to shoot a high res screen on photo paper makes way more sense in my eyes. - I haven't dabbled with it yet though.
    • I don't mind giving inkjet or laser printing out of house. I don't need enough, to justify the ink wasted on flushing routines.
    I read Ansel Adams too often and film photography used to be fun; so why shouldn't it be anymore?
    Digital MF sucks IMHO. - Don't get me wrong, it surely provides superior results with studio (like) photography. But for a spontaneous hand held quick cheap dirty approach the tiny FF digitals seem better suited. MF's AF sucks, there is no OIS yet. Depending on the back you 'll get, you might even have to shoot tethered. A majority of DMF gear doesn't lend itself to shooting at cranked up ISO.

    Upon subjects: Planned landscape shots seem ideal for film, LF at least. Portraits? - Depends: When a sitter is ultra compliant film might work, but you 'll probably end cranking 3 to 5 rolls through your camera(s) to nail different facial expressions. I recommend digital for warming up and especially for learning your lights. I also fear that digital should be much more convenient for TFP deals. People are no longer happy with one or 3 prints after 36+x clicks. - They tend to want everything. - Is scanning entire rolls for them really fun? - I doubt.
    For travel slides (as the desired result) I seriously recommend 35mm. - I've never seen any projection screen outside a movie theater being in perfect focus. With 12 frames per roll it is pretty expensive to get an evening filling awesome slide show together.
  4. The main reason I shoot medium format film is the quality and rendering it delivers.
  5. I shoot medium-format for a variety of reasons:
    - Sentimental reasons (my first own camera was a vintage TLR, got it for my 10th birthday about 35 years ago)
    - I like the variety of different formats, some subjects are calling to be framed in a square
    - looking through and framing with the big viewfinder image of a SLR or TLR is something every photographer should have tried in my opinion
    - working with fairly large negatives (or slides) is more fun than working with 35mm-film, but more simple than handling sheet-film
  6. I've been primarily a 35mm shooter since I got into photography in a serious way back in the early 1980s. But shortly after, I got the urge to try my hand with the larger negative. So, being on a limited budget, my first medium format camera was a Yashica Mat 124G, which I bought new back in 1985. I was quite impressed with the format from my very first roll (of Tri-X). And ever since I've tried to keep one sort of medium format camera or another in my possession. Currently, I have the best assortment I've ever owned. Several years ago, when medium format gear prices were at their nadir, I was looking for a 6x6 system outfit. Couldn't really afford Hassy, even though back then you could get into a basic Hassy outfit for pretty cheap -- it was still more than I could afford. I was hoping to find an affordable Bronica SQ system. Well, as I was looking around, I fell into a deal on a Bronica ETRSi system for dirt cheap. I had mixed feelings about 645, but this outfit was so cheap, I couldn't resist. So I went for it. Well, perhaps not much to my surprise, the ETRSi handled things brilliantly. Outstanding image quality, plus I had the advantage of owning a true system camera. And I put together a basic setup for it, including three lenses, a few backs, a grip with film advance, and even a SCA300 adapter for my Metz 45 flash, providing me with TTL flash exposure.

    I've used my ETRSi for a variety of tasks, from bridal portraiture to photographing a Civil War reenactment. Slides, C-41, B&W -- it handles all very well.

    My other MF cameras are another Yashica Mat -- a plain 124 this time. A Zeiss Super Ikonta BX with the late Syncrho Compur shutter and coated lens, and an Agfa Isolette III. Oh, and I bought for cheap a Russian knock-off of the Super Ikonta C -- a Moskva 5. They all do a great job, but my favorite of the lot of old cameras is the Super Ikonta. I love the Super Ikonta B.

    I don't have access to a darkroom anymore, so I run a "hybrid" setup. I develop my film in a tank, but then I dupe the slides and negs with my digital camera -- for 35mm. For MF I use my Epson 4990 scanner, scanning the images at 2400 ppi, which gives very nice images. For prints, I take the digital files down to Costco and have them print them out on their giant Epson printer. It does a very good job.

    Frankly, I don't care how supposedly great digital cameras are. I just like the look and the warmth I get with film, and MF provides me with both the quality and flexibility that can't be easily achieved with anything else.
    philip_dygeus|2 likes this.
  7. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I don't shoot medium format nowadays, but I did for quite a few years and this is why.

    1. I wanted to make larger prints than I could comfortably get from 35mm cameras. The projects I was working on 15 years ago required prints up to about 24" sq.

    2. The biggest and best Photo libraries would then accept only medium format transparencies which they would have drum scanned , sometimes at their own expense.

    Neither of these factors apply today- partly as a function of changes in the market, partly because materials to make "prints from slides" haven't really been available for many years now. The advent and improvement of Dslrs has mean that I can do what I need from those cameras which offer large increases in convenience and cost to use. No way can I make the same size prints from a Dslr than I used to from drum scanned or Imacon scanned 6x6 slides. But then I don't need to either. and I'm saving huge amounts of money each year.
  8. Because I want to.
    For me it is simple as that.

    There is a certain "feeling" that goes with using a MF film camera.
    Just like driving an antique car, or typing on a typewriter, or using a fountain pen, or . . .
  9. That's the best answer I can think of. I don't type on a typewriter regularly, but I also use fountain pens. An antique car isn't my daily driver, but I still put a few thousand miles a year on mine...BTW often times LF architecture and my antique car go hand in hand :) .

    I enjoy shooting 35mm and it's easy to go nuts with all the great bodies I could never afford when they were current. I love shooting LF, but it's also expensive and a whole lot of work. MF is, to me, a sweet spot between the two-the image quality is much better than 35mm, but it's still a lot easier to handle than LF.

    I also enjoy getting in the darkroom and playing around, and yes that includes wet printing.

    BTW, even 35mm is still fun. I went to a wedding last weekend that was held at farm my great grandfather owned. I spent a while photographing the house and the farm(both of which look better than they have in a long time) and burned up a couple of rolls of 35mm Velvia and Ektar there. I have an open invitation from my cousin(the one who got married) to go out to the house any time, but that was a great chance to see everything really at its best.

    I'm not set up to print color, so everything will get scanned. Even so, I dumped all my slides in a couple of Carousel trays, and spent some time with my mom looking at them. Yes, I can look at them faster and better on a light table with a loupe, but there's something enjoyable about seeing Velvia slides projected. I also had a chance to try out the Buhle lens that I paid $10 for a few weeks back(there's no comparison between it and the cheap Kodak lenses).
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  10. it


    I don't care about the "feel" of shooting MF, I just like the results.
  11. Garret

    Garret amateur wannabe

    I'm a wannabe amateur. I shoot 645 and 690 primarily because of the enlargement quality potential: 'hard to beat those huge negatives for resolution. Canvas/gallery-mounted wall art (24x36 or so) is what I aim for in using medium format. Also, I like shooting double and triple exposures.

    That said, I'm relatively new to MF having sold a lot of nice digital Canon gear a few years ago. Digital had gotten sterile to me and I simply no longer enjoyed screwing around with menu-driven cameras that didn't deliver the detail or color saturation/resolution I wanted without post processing.. That, and the quality of my gear was WAY beyond what little talent I had for using it. It's easy to out-run your headlights buying stuff. . .and I did. Lots happier now shooting MF. & 35mm. It's a hobby, after all..

    Mamiya 645 1000S, Pentax 645 Nii and Fuji GW690iii (Texas Leica), Sekonic L398 meter and a Canon A-1.. I don't think I've got $2000 invested in all my film gear. But still, I'd really love a Mamiya 7ii but they're just way too much money. So, I've been looking at the Pentax 6x7 monsters.
  12. You, me, and everyone else.

    I think it's telling that the 6 and 7 both are among the few pieces of MF gear that have held their value well in the digital age.
  13. I shoot film because I have a Mamiya 6 and a Rolleiflex 2.8e.
  14. Probably my highest priority is the larger "canvas" my 6x6 uses. But for sure, some of us are shooting film because we like things that worked fine and that we have an affinity to. I too gravitate to vintage cars, mechanical wrist watches, analog audio equipment and coincidentally my first job was fixing typewriters for IBM. :)

    I could say that I shoot MF because with my advancing age and declining hearing, I like to hear when the shutter fires. ;)
  15. A Rolleiflex is quieter than a Leica :)
  16. I have a Pentax 67II with several SMC lenses. Most of the lenses yield impeccable image perception. With the right light, Velvia 50, or Ektar, and the right lens for the subject, the rich look of the images are amazing. I also like Film as the RAW file backup concept. I have film stored properly that has survived 30 years! That in itself justifies keeping the edge with a film camera. Just got back from a trip where after scratching the digital itch, I pulled the Pentax 67 out of the case to give it a spin and it was a tremendous pleasure re living the method, the mode. I'll keep the Pentax 67II going as long as I can, It could very well out last me, or keep me in shape a little longer. In this picture the lighting conditions are a departure from what I usually shoot in. I'm a believer in diffuse light with Velvia, but I broke with tradition and went with the flow and it was the last frame in the camera and the last frame of the day.
    Point lobos, Carmel Bay.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
    paul ron likes this.
  17. Just not my Rolleiflex SL66… ;-)

    The TLRs and some Rangefinders (some Fujis, Mamiya) are really quiet.
  18. I shoot film because I like it. I have several 35mm bodies and an RB 67 outfit. The RB with the 180 is a perfect portrait setup, one of the best I've ever used. So is the 105/2.5 Nikkor on an F2 or an F4S or anything else you can put it on. I too have gotten quite bored with digital in that part of what I've always enjoyed in photography is working in the darkroom and I still do. I can't walk away from digital but it isn't the ultimate solution so many make it out to be.

    Rick H.
    jerry_wilson|3 likes this.
  19. I enjoy it more then other camera types that I have owned.
  20. Thanks all. Some of you mentioned you simply like it and maybe the feel and using a diff style of camera.

    When I began those are the things that I enjoyed and over time it has become less. I am maybe more result driven. Diff cameras and stuff to me are just different tools. I don't have this emotional attachment with it. Some car enthusiasts have a thing with car, but I am more than happy with a relative modern 2L sedan that gets me from A to B comfortably. I don't necessarily mind either way if it is film or digital. B/W film has a different look and so does colour negative but I don't really shoot colour negative. Yeah .. for people or portrait film, I find those that I know just want a really quick photo and want them all posted on Facebook. I guess what I do mostly it's with scenery and with slide film it is a bit more the digital look than if I was using b/w or C41.

    Occasionally I shoot film, maybe even CineStill 800T for that particular look and it is C41. Other times occasionally I may shoot some 400 speed b/w film pushed to 3200 just for that look I am after specifically but generally speaking for most of the time I am shooting slide film with scenery or buildings that kinda gives more the digital daylight balanced look althou there is still a bit of that film texture that comes with it.

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