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

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

  1. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    The enlarger I kept, and the cameras I kept " The Day the Music" Died are all 35mm,.
  2. Medium format film has only about half the amount of grain for the same enlargement as 35 mm film. It is virtually invisible in a 16x20" print, using ISO 400 negative film. Subjectively, MF film has better shadow detail, possibly the thinner base and distributed grain compared to 35 mm. The only drawback is the cost, about $20 per roll with processing, no prints. Scanning is time consuming, and color balance can be elusive with negative film. That's too much to swallow in comparison to a modern DSLR, which has better color, wider dynamic range, better resolution, and virtually zero incremental cost per exposure.
  3. A lot of the common films are the same price per roll as 135-36 or maybe even a bit less expensive(I think the last Velvia I ordered a few months ago was about $1.50/roll less). Granted for the common formats you're getting 10-15 frames as opposed to 36+. I don't use commercial labs for B&W and only use them about half the time for 120 E-6. My local lab charges $4.50 for C41 and $10.50 for E6 regardless of the format or length(they do charge me $1 more a roll when I dig out 220).
  4. I would not even shoot film if it cost a great deal. I shoot mostly Arista 400 in 120 format and I develop, scan and print at home. Maybe $5.00 a roll total cost for film and chemicals. Printing is extra. I think it's an inexpensive hobby really and I shoot less then 1 roll a week usually.
  5. Even my preferred Tri-X still only runs me $7 or so a roll including film and chemistry. I too usually scan, although I prefer to wet print. Still, even good quality Ilford paper isn't that expensive, albeit I usually waste a sheet or two getting the exposure and contrast dialed in.
  6. Tri-X is great film for sure. I just ordered 5 rolls of it yesterday but will use it sparingly. I would say about $6.00 a roll without printing. I print on my inkjet and it costs quite a bit to feed it so I am picky about what actually is printed. Mostly family photos in 4x6. I do not have a purpose for larger prints very often but I did make an 8x10 the other day for my daughter. It was a shot of my Grandson. Ink and paper was probably a dollar and I bought a frame at Target for $13.00. It looks good. Actually I took the shot with a digital camera but don't tell anyone.
  7. The key to economical use of film is home processing.

    Black & White is certainly cheaper than color and relatively easy to develop at home. The chemicals are inexpensive and last a long time. My favorite was D-76. diluted 1:1 for use then tossed. The master solution would last 2 months or more, unless I used it up first.

    I'm not averse to developing color, and have done it many times. However I have not been pleased with the results using the most readily available chemistry, Tetenal. The combination of bleach and fixer, called "blix" doesn't clear silver from the film as well as separate solutions, leaving a cloudiness which increases grain, reduces contrast, and adversely affects color balance. I would use C-41 if it were available, but what I find is designed for use in a minilab machine with continual replenishment. It is not hard to mix bleach, and the dry chemicals are not designated HAZMAT, unlike the solution (an oxidizer). After bleaching, ordinary Kodak Rapid Fix can be used. The final solution was hardener, which contained a now-banned chemical, formaldehyde. Photoflo in distilled water will have to do.

    Mostly what I'm short of is time and patience. After a decade of using an Hasselblad, the price on digital backs dropped to an achievable level, giving me another 9 years. Romantic appeal and nostalgia notwithstanding, I'm not likely to go back to film. I've tried a couple of times, but the quality is not there by comparison. With small-format resolution approaching that of MF, with lenses to match, even MF digital is not all that attractive.
  8. Being a chemist has its advantages, and that's one of them.

    The final rinse I use for color is Photoflo 1:200 with .1% formaldehyde in deionized water.
  9. Only Fun at this point. Image quality of my 6x7 can no longer match my DSLR.
    But it is fun and I find the 6x6 format magical and try to find reasons to use it now and then.
    Just make sure that you own a top notch film scanner that handles 120 or all bets are off.
  10. In theory, I shoot MF for the large negatives so I can use my enlarger and print them. I have a Rolleicord III, a Fujifilm GA645zi, a Pentax 645 and 645NII, a Mamiya RB67, and a Fuji GW690II. In reality I shoot and scan. Still, I do plan to wet print a few of the better shots. Some day.
  11. I still get a lot of thrill seeing a print "come up" in the darkroom.

    Even at sizes as small at 8x10, the difference between MF and 35mm is still noticeable-I have to look for it in a print from an MF Tri-X negative, while it will hit you in the face in 35mm.
  12. When I like larger prints (8x10 and up) I do go with 645 format or 6x6, although a slow film and tripod mounted 35mm still makes an acceptable 8x10 (for my tastes). Develop both formats in darkroom. I think of black & white photography and processing as the ultimate fun in oxidation-reduction.
  13. Actually I am educated as a chemist, but a long way (and time) from a chemical storeroom. I do see that I can buy 37% Formalin (formaldehyde in water) through Amazon. Formaldehyde denatures protein, in this case the gelatin emulsion, rendering it heat and moisture resistant.
  14. Thanks again. To me it is the result and digital seems just much cheaper and easier. Esp if it was a travel trip away. With my flatbed it is not as sharp as my digital but I guess that is expected, I do intend to get 2 or so Imacon scanned and pay for it just to see how it is is like.

    Overall, I think it is a bit like, occasionally I may shoot off a roll be it b/w or color but it's probably not and for me shouldn't be like be, oh I have a trip coming up, let's just shoot off 10-20 rolls of color slides and have a pro lab process all those rolls, pay that and then get a good few professionally scanned and pay for that also.
  15. You can "scan" film by copying it with a digital camera, with far better and faster results than using a flatbed scanner. Reversal (slide) film is easiest, because what you see is what you get. Negative film must be inverted to obtain a positive image. Color negative film also has an orange mask which must be removed. You need a macro lens, capable of focusing to 1:1 magnification for 35 mm, less (obviously) for medium format film. You also need a means to hold the film for copying and provide a light source.

    A 24 MP camera has a short side resolution of 4000 pixels, which is on a par with a Nikon scanner for 35 mm film, and about half the resolution for MF film you would get with a dedicated scanner (e.g., 8300x8300 pixels on an LS-8000). IMO, this is adequate for MF film, but more resolution would be welcome. In comparison, a 50 MP sensor for medium format would be 6000x8000 pixels, with much higher acutance than MF film. A Nikon scanner gives grain-sharp results, but an image on film is not even close to grain-sharp.
  16. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    MF is a 'next step' up from the postage stamp size of 35mm, but only at such point you have exhausted the possibilities of 35mm (so very, very many have never done so).
    I am a thinking person who has done all deliberations and assessments of a scene with the grey matter between the ears, not handing it over to an all-singing, all-dancing electronic wunderkind that today has every kid on the block by the short 'n curlies. All of my production work is made with cameras that between them are 92 years old (excluding modern day bare-bones pinhole cameras), and I've used larger format cameras dating from 1910. I began my career in 1977 when a Kodak 127 and later an Olympus XA and OM 10 (to this day I still own 2 XA cameras). I print larger than most people even dream of printing (around 1 metre+ with 6x7 — I am looking for another large format printer than can do bigger sizes). I don't think there is a feel to medium format, though many people become instantly smitten by it. It, like any other film format, requires foundation knowledge in photography, experience in execution and a thorough knowledge of the subject chosen (e.g. landscape This is the way I do it and I see no reason to change, certainly not with the silly toys called "digital cameras".
  17. I never understood this kind of point of view. If you have such a good digital camera, why not use it to shoot the pictures with it instead of using it to scan film. OK, I understand that one may want to digitize old slides or negs, and not bother buying a scanner especially for doing it.

    But when you shoot film, and either enlarge it in a "wet lab", or scan it with a dedicated scanner or a digital camera, the light always goes successively through two lenses, whereas if you shoot directly with your digital camera,it goes only through one lens. So it should be better ?

    I do film (especially BW, and enlarge "the wet way") for fun only, and anyway, I am not a sharpness freak. The mine pictures I like most were not sharp.
  18. I have the cameras and lenses.
    I am used to handle the equipment.
    I like film.
    No client would pay the extra for a digital back.
    I usually print at 120 x 80 cm for clients (roughly 3 x 4.5 foot) and larger.
    I don't need batteries except for the light meter.
    I don't need a laptop and memory cards.
    There are qualified experts in the lab who develop my film (slide and negative), so I don't have to mess with RAW converters.
    I can view my film on a light table or against a window without having to boot a computer.
    I can use my cameras in any climate.
    The lenses are distortion free.
    Nothing beats a rangefinder or a ground glass with an optical image.
    I can make images at night without having to wait for ages to let the camera remove the sensor noise.
    MF uses only the sweet spot of my LF lenses.
    My dedicated film scanner delivers breathtaking files.
    Storage of film is simpler than making copies from one HD to another every year.
    I can re-scan film if the software improves.
    I have an original which I can touch, not virtual pixel trash.
    I want to enjoy my life and profession.
    Hm, maybe there will be more reasons if I would think more about the topic...
  19. I enjoy wet printing as well but I no longer process color because of cost and the difficulty of finding R4a chemistry (not to forget about disposal).
    Scanning prints that you or a lab processed or shooting those prints with a DSLR will not produce optimum results. Negatives must be scanned at the highest resolution possible using software that will remove dust and scratches. You can settle for a $750 flat bed that will scan your negatives at 3600dpi or spend thousands for a drum scanner, and of course have a lab scan them for $10/frame (high res) which is no fun at all. My Nikon scanner will scan at 4000dpi, I send that file to the pro lab that I used for 30 years and they do a very nice job. They get about $15 for a 16x20 and I no longer have to waste enlarging paper because I missed a few specks of dust or wrong exposure. I only wet print with virgin negatives that are free of defects.
    I try to get out at least once a week with one of my MF cameras, I usually shoot TMY2, Ektar 100, or Portra 400. The grain is almost invisible in a 16x20.
    Hope your all enjoying your cameras!
  20. Exactly! I recover old film images that accumulated over the years because scanning takes too much time and desk space. New images are laid down with digital

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