Thinking about diving into medium format
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ir0nma1den
Registered: Jan 25, 2010
Total Posts: 110
Country: United States

I primarily do fashion and studio work with strobes and have been eyeing the Mamiya RZ67 for a while. I found a good deal on it, but I am wondering if it will be worth it.

I currently shoot with a D300. Will shooting medium format provide enough advantages over digital to make it worthwhile? I would be scanning with an Epson V600.



cineski
Registered: Oct 22, 2004
Total Posts: 4219
Country: United States

Be prepared for a lot more work and expense than what you're used to. However, medium format film provides an amazing look that simply cannot be duplicated shooting digital. What I'd suggest doing is to get the RZ if you can get a good price on it and just experiment a bit. I shoot a ton of mf for clients and am constantly frustrated by the logistics of shooting it. But then I look at the final product and am amazed how beautiful it is. One thing's for sure, shooting film really ups the ante when it comes to being a photographer. The challenges and visualization it takes is so much fun.



ir0nma1den
Registered: Jan 25, 2010
Total Posts: 110
Country: United States

It's funny, when I went on flickr and mulled over the photos with the 'Mamiya RZ67" tags, I noticed that the overall quality of the photos were much better than the average. It is obvious that when using film, you do put more thought into each frame, which is why MF is appealing along with the technical advantages.

I was also surprised in the cost of consumable goods. I can develope C41 on my own for cheap, and a 5 pack of Kodak Portra is only $25-30. In the end that probably will come out to $7/roll.



Micky Bill
Registered: Nov 25, 2006
Total Posts: 2566
Country: N/A

The price of an RZ can't be beat these days, but as far as cost per frame, it's not cheap.
$7 per roll = 70 per exposure if you don't shoot Polaroids. But after the first time you get back film with disasterous user or mechanical error results you probably will use polaroids...

To get the most out of it a drum scan is the way to go.

Of all the medium format cameras I have had (C330, Bronica, Hassy C/M and EL/M, Pentax 67, Diana) the RZ ranks up there with Hasseblad



Brit-007
Registered: Jul 22, 2004
Total Posts: 2196
Country: United States

I would certainly consider going medium format except going digital. If you do a search, you can find a complete basic system for about 5k that is workable. It will be an older back and require to shoot tethered but it will give you outstanding images.

You could also pick up an RZ outfit, get an adaptor plate for $1400 and then a digital back for around 4k.

Once you see the images from medium format, how sharp they are, the colour range with 16 bit colour. Bad thing is the file size. A 22mp back will produce around 48MP RAW files.



Greg Campbell
Registered: Jan 10, 2004
Total Posts: 1196
Country: United States

The costs of MF hardware, film, and even processing are not really that great, assuming you 'revert' to thoughtful, deliberate shooting.

IMO, the biggest PITA is digitizing the resultant negatives. A $200 flatbed will give you decent images, but will not begin capture all the available detail and tonality. Your local pro lab will be happy to scan your stuff with a drum or high-end flatbed, but the cost will be steep. If you really get 'into' MF, you'll likely want to find something like a Nikon 8000 or 9000 series dedicated MF film scanner. This level of scanner will cost a cool grand or so... Maybe there's a MF group in your area that allow members to share a medium-high end scanner?

Another option is to digitize the negative with a DSLR + Macro lens, and stitch the shots together. This can supposedly work quite well, although getting the color conversion for C41 film correct might require specialized software.



lukeb
Registered: Nov 13, 2010
Total Posts: 1775
Country: United States

Get the IID - I can tell you first hand - you won't be sorry



Micky Bill
Registered: Nov 25, 2006
Total Posts: 2566
Country: N/A

It depends a bit on your desired output, are you going to make optical prints directly from the neg or are you going to scan the trans or neg and make digital prints? For high quality prints you will need a high quality scan.
If you are using the images online for a website, etc then a cheapo scanner is ok, I haven never digitized a MF piece of film with a DSLR, but it might work fine in a pinch.

The scanning guru around here is Peter Figen, do a search here on FM



Peter Figen
Registered: Apr 28, 2007
Total Posts: 2864
Country: United States

Guru Don't know about that. But I do own a couple of RZ67 and a handful of lenses, so I know just how great these cameras and lenses are. What I don't know is if it makes any kind of sense today to jump into shooting film for commercial jobs. I think film is still viable for a whole range of images, but it's also a pain in the ass in a lot of ways, and if you've only got a relatively inexpensive Epson flatbed to scan your RZ images, you're going to be missing out on a good portion of what you bought the camera for in the first place. You might be able to get away with that setup if you're only shooting color neg and making small scans, but you're always going to be wondering how much more was in the film or how much better a really great scan would look.

I'm probably the last person in the world to discourage someone from shooting film, but I'm not sure, in this case, that it's the right thing to do - at least not at first on paying jobs. There's a definite learning curve to shooting with an RZ, and if you're used to shooting digital, it can be a rough slap in the face having to change film after every ten shots (twenty for 220, but that's a whole 'nuther ball...) I tend to use my film cameras theses days for personal projects or for black and white, but paying jobs are, and have been for the last ten years, almost exclusively digital.

All that being said, I've got really great looking 30x40's from Mamiya RZs in my studio, but they were scanned on a high end drum scanner, recording virtually everything on the film. A low end flatbed is going to miss so much of that, and contrary to what a lot of people say, you can see the difference even with web images.

I guess my advice would be to get the camera if it's a really good deal, spend some time getting to know it, and then decide if it's something that can work in your own situation to add that special something that no one else in your area is offering.



Peter Figen
Registered: Apr 28, 2007
Total Posts: 2864
Country: United States

Guru Don't know about that. But I do own a couple of RZ67 and a handful of lenses, so I know just how great these cameras and lenses are. What I don't know is if it makes any kind of sense today to jump into shooting film for commercial jobs. I think film is still viable for a whole range of images, but it's also a pain in the ass in a lot of ways, and if you've only got a relatively inexpensive Epson flatbed to scan your RZ images, you're going to be missing out on a good portion of what you bought the camera for in the first place. You might be able to get away with that setup if you're only shooting color neg and making small scans, but you're always going to be wondering how much more was in the film or how much better a really great scan would look.

I'm probably the last person in the world to discourage someone from shooting film, but I'm not sure, in this case, that it's the right thing to do - at least not at first on paying jobs. There's a definite learning curve to shooting with an RZ, and if you're used to shooting digital, it can be a rough slap in the face having to change film after every ten shots (twenty for 220, but that's a whole 'nuther ball...) I tend to use my film cameras theses days for personal projects or for black and white, but paying jobs are, and have been for the last ten years, almost exclusively digital.

All that being said, I've got really great looking 30x40's from Mamiya RZs in my studio, but they were scanned on a high end drum scanner, recording virtually everything on the film. A low end flatbed is going to miss so much of that, and contrary to what a lot of people say, you can see the difference even with web images.

I guess my advice would be to get the camera if it's a really good deal, spend some time getting to know it, and then decide if it's something that can work in your own situation to add that special something that no one else in your area is offering.



Peter Figen
Registered: Apr 28, 2007
Total Posts: 2864
Country: United States

I have no idea where that frown faced non-smiley came from, because I didn't put it there. Sorry about that.



fastw
Registered: May 20, 2009
Total Posts: 166
Country: Australia

Personal work, yes, but paid work, definitely not. Unless a client wants you to shoot film and is prepared to pay for it. This is what i do.



cineski
Registered: Oct 22, 2004
Total Posts: 4219
Country: United States

You are severely underestimating the cost of shooting MF film. Nikon 9000 for $1000?! Where? I'll buy two.

Greg Campbell wrote:
The costs of MF hardware, film, and even processing are not really that great, assuming you 'revert' to thoughtful, deliberate shooting.

IMO, the biggest PITA is digitizing the resultant negatives. A $200 flatbed will give you decent images, but will not begin capture all the available detail and tonality. Your local pro lab will be happy to scan your stuff with a drum or high-end flatbed, but the cost will be steep. If you really get 'into' MF, you'll likely want to find something like a Nikon 8000 or 9000 series dedicated MF film scanner. This level of scanner will cost a cool grand or so... Maybe there's a MF group in your area that allow members to share a medium-high end scanner?

Another option is to digitize the negative with a DSLR + Macro lens, and stitch the shots together. This can supposedly work quite well, although getting the color conversion for C41 film correct might require specialized software.



dmacmillan
Registered: Nov 03, 2007
Total Posts: 4488
Country: United States

ir0nma1den wrote:
I can develope C41 on my own for cheap...

Not at professional quality in any capacity. Color film processing is completely different from B&W, the tolerences are much closer. Even with modern C-41, you should be within 1/2 degree of processing temp at least for the developer. Vary too much with temp and you'll get crossover, which in simple terms means there is one color bias in the shadows and another in the highlights. Think blue shadows and yellow highlights. In the old days there was no correction for this.

I have recently scanned in som old 6x6 and 6x7 negatives with good results. Even if you clean your negatives and your scanner, carefully you'll still have to dust spot, which is time consuming and annoying.

I'm not sure what kind of professional work you plan to do with this, but it will be expensive and slow. I shot professionally with RB67's for years and years, exposing thousands of rolls. If you do very low volume and are just looking to fart around, go for it. If your intent is to actually make money with photography, I don't think film is the way to go anymore.



Micky Bill
Registered: Nov 25, 2006
Total Posts: 2566
Country: N/A

dmacmillan wrote:
ir0nma1den wrote:
I can develope C41 on my own for cheap...

Even with modern C-41, you should be within 1/2 degree of processing temp at least for the developer. Vary too much with temp and you'll get crossover, which in simple terms means there is one color bias in the shadows and another in the highlights. Think blue shadows and yellow highlights. In the old days there was no correction for .



These days people pay extra for that



dmacmillan
Registered: Nov 03, 2007
Total Posts: 4488
Country: United States

Micky Bill wrote:
dmacmillan wrote:
ir0nma1den wrote:
I can develope C41 on my own for cheap...

Even with modern C-41, you should be within 1/2 degree of processing temp at least for the developer. Vary too much with temp and you'll get crossover, which in simple terms means there is one color bias in the shadows and another in the highlights. Think blue shadows and yellow highlights. In the old days there was no correction for .



These days people pay extra for that

I was thinking that as I typed.

A lot of the B&W done with VSCO filters look like either safelight fog or someone hadn't grasped the concept of printing thin negs on a higher grade paper.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11962
Country: United States

Peter Figen wrote:
I have no idea where that frown faced non-smiley came from, because I didn't put it there. Sorry about that.


Three ? ? ? marks (without spaces between them) =

A little subconscious finger tapping maybe.



RDKirk
Registered: Apr 11, 2004
Total Posts: 8976
Country: United States

Not at professional quality in any capacity. Color film processing is completely different from B&W, the tolerences are much closer. Even with modern C-41, you should be within 1/2 degree of processing temp at least for the developer. Vary too much with temp and you'll get crossover, which in simple terms means there is one color bias in the shadows and another in the highlights. Think blue shadows and yellow highlights. In the old days there was no correction for this.

I don't think there is anything more tedious than hand processing C-41. The most boring thing in the world, yet you have to pay the utmost attention to detail while doing it. Worse than numbering polka dots.



Micky Bill
Registered: Nov 25, 2006
Total Posts: 2566
Country: N/A

A friend of mine had one of those Jobo processors, are they still in bizness?



dmacmillan
Registered: Nov 03, 2007
Total Posts: 4488
Country: United States

Micky Bill wrote:
A friend of mine had one of those Jobo processors, are they still in bizness?

I still have a JOBO 4x5 drum in the basement. I imagine JOBO is long gone.



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