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Medium Format Film in 2023?

  
 
el.mediocre
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


Some backstory: I learned on 35mm film while in school, then took an extended hiatus from photography when I couldnít afford the hobby outside of a subsidized scholastic environment. Caught the bug again in 2019 and picked up a mirrorless kit, then found myself missing the challenge and chaos of film enough to throw 135 back in the mix in early 2022.

And now Iím three film bodies deep and considering a fourth for medium format. Iím especially interested in something for portraits and am leaning towards the Hasselblad/Mamiya class. But all of the bodies Iím interested in go for insane money these days and weíre not even counting the added costs of film and processing.

For those of you who are shooting MF these daysÖ what are your thoughts on the state of things? Would you hop into the format today, or would you choose otherwise?



Edited on Mar 13, 2023 at 10:40 AM · View previous versions



Mar 13, 2023 at 12:35 AM
panos.v
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


Medium format prices today are INSANE. Hasselblads go for £2000+ easily when you could pick one up for £1k maybe 5 years back. Etc etc. I do not know the causes but I'm guessing an ever diminishing supply and more interest by people. Given the smaller pool (vs 135) to begin with you see where it leads.

Back to your question. What is the Hasselblad/Mamiya class? The 500 series? The H1/H2? The Mamiya 645 super or the AFD? The RZ/RB? The C TLRs? 645 vs 6x6 vs 6x7? TLR or SLR? The only overlapping Hasselblad/Mamiya line is 645. If you have money for the H2F then you don't need to worry about film costs

Also, in addition to the purchase cost, consider how you will get the camera (whichever one it is) serviced....because you will need to get it serviced at some point. All those Contax 645 people were going gaga for 10 years ago...they are not far off becoming very expensive paperweights.

Personally, having owned 3 Hasselblads (501, 553, H2F) I never really liked using them (great results, great to look at). Hypothetically speaking I'd go with a Rollei 2.8 or a Mamiya RZ/RB67. Very different cameras but they are the two I enjoyed most using. The Rollei 2.8FX and the RB67 ProSD I had are the two cameras I most regret selling, especially as getting the 2.8FX again is now practically impossible.

If you want to get in cheap (is there such a thing today?), maybe look at a Bronica SQ or Mamiya C220/330 series camera. They are great cameras, just not as refined as the far more expensive ones.

Or embrace the cost and inconvenience and go 4x5

Edited on Mar 13, 2023 at 06:44 AM · View previous versions



Mar 13, 2023 at 05:15 AM
retrofocus
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


Agree that prices for medium format film cameras from brands like Hasselblad and Mamiya have gone through the roof. I am currently using both the Hasselblad 500 C/M and less often the Mamiya RZ67 Pro. The Mamiya is bulky and heavy but allows 6x7 format whereas the Hasselblad shoots 6x6 (or smaller square size depending on used 120 cartridge). Bought the Mamiya used several years back with lens for $500; the Hasselblad used in very good condition with two lenses for $1500 in 2018. Used prices started to climb up there but were more reasonable before the pandemic.

Main con of the Mamiya RZ67 series is that the lenses have no focus - focus is only achieved by the in-camera bellow system. I never liked this since I am not able to adapt the optically very good Mamiya lenses on any other camera for this reason. The Hasselblad system is different here - the lenses are full manual focus SLR-like lenses. I can easily adapt these on any mirrorless camera with adapter ring, too. Con of Hasselblad-Zeiss V-series lenses is the limit of 8 aperture lens blades which cause often a very distinct lens bokeh which is never circular when stopped down. There are many other little pros and cons of each system which would go too far here to go into more detail.

There is currently no work-around film medium format to create the same shallow DoF in this frame size. Modern digital "medium" format cameras have a sensor just a bit bigger than full frame or are very expensive in Phase 1 cameras about 2.5x the sensor size in full frame cameras. Film is and will remain in a foreseeable future the only option to shoot 6x6 or 6x7.

Since I am shooting less often portraits, I revert to my film medium format cameras mostly for landscape photography. I do it because I love the film workflow but regarding resolution, I could do the similar with a higher MP FF sensor these days (and cropping for the respective film medium format aspect ratios).



Mar 13, 2023 at 06:10 AM
bjhurley
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


I am quite happy with digital but have been tempted to try out 120 film for specific projects; when I shot film I only used 35mm. I have my eyes on the Plaubel Makina 67 or 670 (the 670 also shoots 220 film but I don't think anyone's making it anymore). This is a medium-format rangefinder camera with an 80mm Nikon lens attached (equivalent to 40mm field of view, nice for environmental portraits). They're not the sturdiest cameras in the world but I love the images I've seen from them and I would really just use it for fun or for specific projects. I like that you only have 10 frames per roll, which forces you to take your time and not waste shots.

The Plaubels are not cheap in good condition, but you have to remember you're getting a great lens in addition to the camera. The downside of course is you only have one lens to work with but I like the enforced simplicity.



Mar 13, 2023 at 06:38 AM
retrofocus
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


bjhurley wrote:
I am quite happy with digital but have been tempted to try out 120 film for specific projects; when I shot film I only used 35mm. I have my eyes on the Plaubel Makina 67 or 670 (the 670 also shoots 220 film but I don't think anyone's making it anymore). This is a medium-format rangefinder camera with an 80mm Nikon lens attached (equivalent to 40mm field of view, nice for environmental portraits). They're not the sturdiest cameras in the world but I love the images I've seen from them and I would really just use it for fun or
...Show more

220 film is unfortunately no longer made. However older 220 cartridges can still be used either with older well stored 220 films or - what I am using it for - for using 35 mm film in wide format with homemade adapters in such cartridge. With Hasselblad cartridges, it is better to use the 35 mm film with 220 cartridges since the 220 films have no paper backing - the newer 120 cartridges take this thickness difference into account and therefore shift the focus plate a tiny bit. However this focus difference between 220 and 120 cartridges is marginal and when shooting at f/8 or f/11 likely invisible.



Mar 13, 2023 at 06:50 AM
MAubrey
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


If you want a cheap MF film camera, the Mamiya Press rangefinders have a lovely set of lenses (especially the 50mm f/6.3 biogon-design wide and the 100mm f/2.8).


Mar 13, 2023 at 07:28 AM
fjablo
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


Imo the best value MF film cameras at the moment are TLRs - you can even get Rolleiflexes for a reasonable amount of money if you don't insist on f2.8. Mamiya C330 is another option. However, depending on the style of portraits you want to do TLRs may not be ideal (limited close-focus ability, often no eye-level finder etc)

Personally I wouldn't invest in a Hasselblad 500 series or Pentax / Mamiya 6x7 system at current prices. At these price points there are even some digital MF options, including older backs with big sensors like the Phase One P45+ and some Hasselblad H3D / H4D bodies. And of course used prices of Fuji GFX cameras might also make them attractive



Mar 13, 2023 at 08:06 AM
panos.v
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


fjablo wrote:
Imo the best value MF film cameras at the moment are TLRs - you can even get Rolleiflexes for a reasonable amount of money if you don't insist on f2.8. Mamiya C330 is another option. However, depending on the style of portraits you want to do TLRs may not be ideal (limited close-focus ability, often no eye-level finder etc)

Personally I wouldn't invest in a Hasselblad 500 series or Pentax / Mamiya 6x7 system at current prices. At these price points there are even some digital MF options, including older backs with big sensors like the Phase One P45+ and some
...Show more

The Mamiya C series will focus very close as they have bellows focusing.

However for anyone made of money there's always this:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/304282741406?mkcid=16&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-127632-2357-0&ssspo=kd179by9RIC&sssrc=2047675&ssuid=9xoAF8r2SnC&widget_ver=artemis&media=COPY



Mar 13, 2023 at 08:22 AM
Desmolicious
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


el.mediocre wrote:
Some backstory: I learned on 35mm film while in school, then took an extended hiatus from photography when I couldnít afford the hobby outside of a subsidized scholastic environment. Caught the bug again in 2019 and picked up a mirrorless kit, then found myself missing the challenge and chaos of film enough to throw 135 back in the mix in early 2022.

And now Iím three film bodies deep and considering a fourth for medium format. Iím especially interested in something for portraits and am leaning towards the Hasselblad/Mamiya class. But all of the bodies Iím interested in go for
...Show more

First off, to save costs develop film yourself. Black and white is super easy - and Cinestill DF96 Monobath makes it even easier.

What is your budget for a mf film camera? "Insane money" can mean different things to different people.

The Mamiya 645 series 6x4.5 cameras are not too pricey. The best deals though would be in lesser known TLR cameras, like some models from Yashica, Ricoh etc. You can still get a really decent Rolleiflex for under $1k, and Rolleicords are a lot cheaper.



Mar 13, 2023 at 01:32 PM
Desmolicious
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


FYI Igor is an excellent seller:

http://www.igorcamera.com/classic_medium_format.htm



Mar 13, 2023 at 01:39 PM
 


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el.mediocre
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


panos.v wrote:
What is the Hasselblad/Mamiya class? The 500 series? The H1/H2? The Mamiya 645 super or the AFD? The RZ/RB? The C TLRs? 645 vs 6x6 vs 6x7? TLR or SLR? The only overlapping Hasselblad/Mamiya line is 645. If you have money for the H2F then you don't need to worry about film costs


Good questions. For Hasselblads Iíve been looking in the 500 series. I have an acquaintance with a 503CX who might be talked into selling as it doesnít see a whole lot of use. As far as Mamiyas go, Iíve been looking at the 6/6MF/7 bodies because I am a stupid fancy person. Weight is a concern as I have a bad back, but not in the ďEDC/hiking companionĒ sense. Iím thinking of this choice for portraits on film, but also intend to take the camera into the world for general shooting at times. I want some mobility and donít want to feel tethered to a tripod all the time.

panos.v wrote:
Also, in addition to the purchase cost, consider how you will get the camera (whichever one it is) serviced....because you will need to get it serviced at some point. All those Contax 645 people were going gaga for 10 years ago...they are not far off becoming very expensive paperweights.


Noted, and Iíve given this some consideration as well.

panos.v wrote:
Personally, having owned 3 Hasselblads (501, 553, H2F) I never really liked using them (great results, great to look at). Hypothetically speaking I'd go with a Rollei 2.8 or a Mamiya RZ/RB67. Very different cameras but they are the two I enjoyed most using. The Rollei 2.8FX and the RB67 ProSD I had are the two cameras I most regret selling, especially as getting the 2.8FX again is now practically impossible.


Iíve considered TLRs - theyíre not among the front runners, but I havenít ruled them out yet. Depends on where the budget lands.



Mar 13, 2023 at 02:39 PM
panos.v
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


el.mediocre wrote:
Good questions. For Hasselblads Iíve been looking in the 500 series. I have an acquaintance with a 503CX who might be talked into selling as it doesnít see a whole lot of use. As far as Mamiyas go, Iíve been looking at the 6/6MF/7 bodies because I am a stupid fancy person. Weight is a concern as I have a bad back, but not in the ďEDC/hiking companionĒ sense. Iím thinking of this choice for portraits on film, but also intend to take the camera into the world for general shooting at times. I want some mobility and donít want
...Show more

Couple of points. I had a Mamiya 6. The lens is a 75/3.5 focusing at 1m. You basically get zero background separation like this, so consider it an environmental portrait type camera. It is a great camera, portable and fast to use. But understand what it can do. Mine developed a problem with the film advance so got rid of it in the end. The look is super sharp and contrasty.

TLRs can be great, I had a C330S, it can be front heavy when focusing close (as it extends a lot) but with a prism you can get nice eye level shots.

The Rollei 2.8 is the fastest to operate and most portable. It won't focus under 0.9m (like a Hasselblad) and you're stuck with the 80/2.8 but a rolleinar filter is great to get a bit closer.

If you're into Hasselblads, I've done a little write up on how to choose one, maybe it helps maybe it doesn't.



Mar 13, 2023 at 03:15 PM
OregonSun
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


The original Pentax 645 is still reasonably priced, as are most of the large collection of lenses for the system (which includes all the Pentax 67 lenses with an adapter).

Pentax 645 with the 75mm f/2.8 on Velvia 50 and T-Max 100 - from 1994






















Mar 13, 2023 at 06:54 PM
DougVaughn
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


I second this and have bought from Igor 2-3 times.

Desmolicious wrote:
FYI Igor is an excellent seller:

http://www.igorcamera.com/classic_medium_format.htm





Mar 13, 2023 at 07:43 PM
DougVaughn
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


As others have said, some TLRs are still available at reasonable* prices. Some of the old folders are also decent options. I recently bought a completely overhauled Zeiss Ikoflex TLR for about $200 and a restored Afga Isolette III folder for about $175. Both produce excellent results.


* "Reasonable" is defined differently by various folks.



Mar 13, 2023 at 07:46 PM
Oldwino
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


The Mamiya 645 cameras are solidly built, not insanely priced, and have good lenses. I can particularly recommend the 110 f2.8.
For more money, the Rolleiflex cameras have a great look and are wonderful to use. Expensive to repair, though. As are the Hasselblads.
Iíve been using a Bronica RF645 lately, one of the last film cameras made before the digital asteroid hit. It is remarkably sharp, maybe second only to be Mamiya 7 lenses.

Iíll be the dissent on Igor - Iíve never been totally happy with anything Iíve bought from him. His prices are good, but everything seems to need a CLA to make it match his ratings. Maybe Iíve just been unluckyÖ



Mar 13, 2023 at 07:56 PM
el.mediocre
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


Wow, huge thanks to everyone for their responses so far!

Desmolicious wrote:
What is your budget for a mf film camera? "Insane money" can mean different things to different people.


Honest answer is that I truthfully don't know just yet. I will say that I've been mentally shopping to max out in the $2k-ish range but am pretty sure that that's not enough to get what I truly want. Gotta get on the other side of a couple of pending bills to see whether the budget can extend any further than that.

panos.v wrote:
Couple of points. I had a Mamiya 6. The lens is a 75/3.5 focusing at 1m. You basically get zero background separation like this, so consider it an environmental portrait type camera. It is a great camera, portable and fast to use. But understand what it can do. Mine developed a problem with the film advance so got rid of it in the end. The look is super sharp and contrasty.


Duly noted. I've been fortunate enough to put hands on both the Mamiya 6/7 to see what the minimum focus distance really feels like. Neither struck me as go-to options for portraits, but I wasn't surprised at that as I have a couple of rangefinders and know the score.

My current assessment of the Mamiya/Hasselblad front runners is that one is okay at portraits and great for everything else while the other is great for portraits and good at everything else. The latter is the most appealing solution at the moment.

panos.v wrote:
If you're into Hasselblads, I've done a little write up on how to choose one, maybe it helps maybe it doesn't.


I actually stumbled across your guide a while back! Thanks for pointing it out as I need to go through it again.




Mar 14, 2023 at 01:49 AM
el.mediocre
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


Oldwino wrote:
The Mamiya 645 cameras are solidly built, not insanely priced, and have good lenses. I can particularly recommend the 110 f2.8.
For more money, the Rolleiflex cameras have a great look and are wonderful to use. Expensive to repair, though. As are the Hasselblads.
Iíve been using a Bronica RF645 lately, one of the last film cameras made before the digital asteroid hit. It is remarkably sharp, maybe second only to be Mamiya 7 lenses.


Hmm. TLRs are worth some consideration. I held one at a shop semi-recently and found it confusing, but I only spent a minute or two with it. Plus, I am inclined to chalk most of that feeling up to not wanting to break the thing.

Coincidentally, I also ran across a RF645 in a different shop some months ago. The frame advance on this particular unit worried me, but the grip felt nice and the camera felt very capable overall. Don't know that I can personally adjust to vertical viewfinders, though.



Mar 14, 2023 at 02:07 AM
el.mediocre
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


I initially started this thread with an "in or out" question because I can also choose to stick with 135 and stay out of medium format altogether. Most of my shooting over the last few months has been with a Leica M6 or a M10R with some CV glass, and I've been very happy with those two options for street/EDC. There's a not-so-quiet voice in the back of my mind that constantly tells me to invest in some Leica glass instead.


Mar 14, 2023 at 02:20 AM
panos.v
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Medium Format Film in 2023?


To me, it looks like you have the same problem everyone going into MF from 135 has: no idea where to start. You *think* you have some requirements but you do not know how the cameras handle and what they can do. It is not a simple equivalence from 135 lenses to MF and the type of shooting you do.

In my experience, with MF you can get a lot more done with a standard lens. While in 135 you want a 28 and a 35 and a 50 and a longer thing you'll find that in MF you get by with a wide and a standard. Or even just a standard. Especially if you go for square, the aspect ratio changes how you work. A modest wide angle in square takes far more than in 135, you get a lot of pavement and sky with a 50 in 6x6 vs a 28mm in 135 (sorry...too many numbers I know).

I would suggest that you get started with something cheap, say a Yashica 124 or a Bronica SQB. One is a TLR, the other an SLR. Think of it like having a Rollei and a Hasselblad for the price of the Rollei alone.

I "graduated" from the SQB to a 501CM. Yes, it is wow when you pick up the 501CM, there is nothing rattling and everything sounds so nice and is smooth. But the SQB gave me a usable handgrip and a prism, making it work like a large 135 camera. The Hasselblad just doesn't have that. The Mamiya C330 with a prism and grip (or even the pistol grip) can be a very capable camera that will do your portraits, your landscapes and your macro too with just a couple of lenses. The 105DS lens is superb.

I'm talking myself back to 120 now...I'm gonna go look at some Mamiya C and RZ listings and then go have a lie down...



Mar 14, 2023 at 02:24 AM
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