Jump to content

Help with my first medium format camera


Recommended Posts

I have wanted to get into medium format for quite some time, but the

cost has held me back. I have a holga 120, which i love, but its not

enough to fill my medium format needs obvioulsy. I have been looking

for cameras and have come across two cameras i am interested in, they

don't cost too much and i really like the image quality and look of

both cameras.


-the Seagull tlr


-the Lubitel 166B tlr

both of these are for sale at www.lomography.com


I was also wondering what different ways i could get negatives/prints

of these, right now with my 35mm stuff i get negatives devolped and

scan them. i get a nice look and its very cheap. I use a regular flat

bed scanner, a epson perfection 1260. Which has attachments for 35mm

film and slides, but nothing for 120 or 220. I have been able to scan

110 film with the 35mm atachments, but thats just cause its smaller. I

was wondering whether or not there is anyway i could scan medium

format film, and or get cheaper negative and print devolpment. i

realize that i might have to get a speacil scanner for medium format

so i was would like to know what i would need to devolp the film alone

and then get prints of what shots i want, instead of having to pay for

that as well.

I would really like some help with this, and im really interested in

getting into medium format.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Questions similar to yours come up every few days. Look in the search

box for Seagull and Lubitel and you'll get piles of comments on them. (In

the meantime: the consensus seems to be that you'd be better off buying

some unglamorous and used Japanese alternative.) You develop 120 film

pretty much the same way as you develop 35mm film. Lots of scanners

are available for 120 film; if you want a special-purpose 120 scanner it

will cost a small fortune, if something multipurpose (though not as good

for 120) then less.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you search the archives, you will find lots of complaints about Seagulls longevity (usually it's the shutter that dies). The lens is fine but I think you'll be better off buying Rolleiflex, Rolleicord, Minolta Autocord, Ricoh Diacord (or Ricohmatic), Yashica or Mamiya TLR. Those are known for excellent image quality and they are built to last.


I kinda like the Ljubitel, but again, you can have better camera for reasonable amount of money (you do not say what your budget is).


Generally, the prices of the MF equipment are in free fall, so figure out your budget and look around before you spend money. Five years ago most of the major MF brand were out of reach, today you can have most of the major brands quite cheap.


Scanning: I use Epson 3170 for MF negatives and slides. I think it costs around $150 now. It comes with MF adapter but Doug Fisher's (third party) adapter is much better (unlike the Epson adapter, Doug's adapter allows you to scan up to three 6x6 frames at once (very convenient).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jack, you probably work hard for your money. Both of these cameras are barely better than junk. The only reason I can see buying either of these is that if you wanted to continue with the out-of-focus image that the Holga produces.


Otherwise, your money would be better spent on Japanese or West Germany gear. First thing you need to figure out is how much you want to spend. Next, decide which format you want: 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9.


Once you have that settled, then decide how much automation you want. Do you want a built-in exposure meter? Do you want interchangeable lenses? Do you want a 35mm style camera? Waist-level viewfinder?


Do you want new or used?


Then look at what's available and what's affordable. Medium format covers an incredible variety of cameras: everything from 1930s up to the present day.


But I think most people will dissuade you from the Seagull. And because you don't know if you'll get great user or junk with the Lubitel, why risk having to buy multiple cameras to get just one that works. If you spend your money wisely the first time, you only have to do it once -- even if it costs more than the "bargain" you spot online or in a store.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would look for one of the Mamiya TLRs - C220, C330, C3, etc. They

have interchangable lenses and a very healthy bellows draw. Probably

one of the most flexible camera systems for the price. The Chinese

and Russian cameras are certainly a step up from the Holga, but I

think you can find better systems.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also use a 1260 Photo with a self-made mask and scan my 120 slides in glassmounts. Works better than 35mm, but not as good as with the larger epsons. I would not recomment printing the resulting files from the 1260 scanning negatives and slides, but for the web the results are fine (check my folder for some examples). For printing I give them away. For color I found it easier to shoot slides and then print from selected slides than using negatives. For BW one can do this as well but my lab charges only EUR 6 for developing and printing a roll so I usually let them do the prints.


As for the camera I would recommend a higher quality camera like an older Rolleiflex Automat, a Yashicamat or a Minolta over any Lubitel/Seagull. My '38 flex with an uncoated Tessar produces results I really like - both BW & slides. Expect to pay between 100 and 150 EUR/USD for a good user and working example - these will usually live much longer than a new Lubitel or Seagull.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the Yashica D is a good bet. Widely available, relatively untainted by lens freaks (unlike the Yashicamat 124G) price-wise and pretty dependable. Get as new as you can find. The Yashinon or Yashikor lens is supposed to be best, but I am not sure it really matters versus a Holga.


Develop your own 120 film. Use TriX and Diafine or TriX and HC-110 - both are good combinations and pretty economical and easy. Buy a metal (Kaiser or Hewes) tank (probably the 4 reel size,) metal reels (Hewes) thermometer, changing bag or tent, stopwatch, some beakers, bottles, etc. and the Film Developing Cookbook by Anchell and Troop. Do your 35mm as well - all black & white mind you. Color is a bit more tricky.


I use an Epson 4870 and like it. Costs more than the above scanners, but it will grow with your scanning needs, especially if you move from 6x6 to 6x9 and/or large format. Don't buy the Pro-package model - get the cheaper regular model without the unnecessary software. You can scan medium format and then take your digital files to most photo places now on CD and get decent prints made, all the way up to Fuji Crystal Archive prints and other such.


Or you can get an inkjet printer - Epson, Canon and HP make some that do a pretty good job (check the digital darkroom forum.) Your life will become an ongoing wrestling match with color management, ink and paper types though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In case you're not convinced yet, let me repeat, the Lubitel is junk, the Seagull is fragile. I have many MF cameras but probably the most robust and best value is an old Yashica-mat (1950s heavy metal version, before they prettied it up with built-in meters and plastic bits). I also have a Moskva 5 (6x9 folder) which cost even less than the Yashie and gives a killer image but it's a little more difficult to use. Good hunting.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi I agree with Jorn..I have a YashicaMat EM I got off of ebay for 45.00 with a non working meter. Yashinon lens. (that is apparently the best one). Takes awsome pic's! I also have a Mamiya M645 with an 80/2.8 std lens. Hard time telling difference between the Yashica and the Mamiya . Only after opening up the f stop does the Mamiya have an advantage over the Mat. Get a Yashica and a hand held meter, you will probably be into MF for $125 or so, and you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner! By the way, KEH.com Mamiya complete M645 can be done for around $250.00 (or cheaper) if you get bargain grade stuff. Welcome to us MF'ers! (no pun intended) Mark
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jack, my first MF camera was a Yashica-C, which I bought for less than a nice dinner for two from a seller on that auction site. If your Holga isn't producing nice images, I think virtually ANY medium-format camera with a half-decent lens will blow it away, and will also blow away almost any 35mm gear. TLRs can be a real bargain! I've got a 500C/M now, but when I look at earlier negatives, for stuff I shot in decent light at a moderate aperture, I can't be sure which were from the Yashica and which were from the Hassy. (Though the Hassy is MUCH better in tougher conditions, and is much more pleasing to use besides.) For scanners, you might look at the Epson 2450, which is (I think) pretty reasonable, used. I've never done serious comparisons, but I've got some 8x10s of the same scene, in which the color was shot on 35mm and the B&W on 120, and the 120 is just *stunningly* more clear and sharp and beautiful. I hope this helps a bit! --Ken in Raleigh
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...