Medium and Large Format Photography

Discussion in 'Picture Gallery' started by bunnspecial, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    Kentucky
    #1
    I'm just curious if there's anyone else here with an interest in traditional(film) medium and large format photography.

    For my part, I've been shooting 6x6 on and off for years with both a Rolleicord and Rolleiflex. I added a Bronica SQ-A(and 80mm lens) to my stable a few years ago. Back when I started, 90% of what I did was on transparency film(mostly Provia, although I also shot a fair bit of Velvia 50-my favorite film of all time). More recently, increasing processing costs and an appreciation has led me to shooting a lot more B&W. Back when I started, Plus-X quickly became my film of choice. With Plus-X now gone, I've transitioned mostly to Ilford FP4+, although I have some 35mm Plus-X in the freezer. Needless to say, I've also burned my fair share of Tri-X.

    I've also just recently taken the plunge and am getting set-up to start at-home E6 processing. Freestyle Photo(under their Arista brand) offers a VERY attractively priced 3-bath E6 kit, and I have a 1 quart kit sitting here waiting for me to get the courage to try it. Color has always scared me due to the need to hold it at higher temperatures as well as how unforgiving E6 is. With zero semi-local labs offering sheet film processing and 120 E-6 now running close to $10 a roll, along with California labs charging $5 a sheet, a $40 kit that can do 8 rolls of 120 or 32 sheets of 4x5 is very attractive.

    So far, I'm very much in the teething stages of large format. I bought a Speed Graphic about a month back. All I have is the standard 137mm Opteron lens(which I'm told is actually an excellent lens when stopped down) and so far have only made a couple of less than stellar exposures on FP4+. I have some new Velvia 100 in the freezer next to some expired Velvia 50, but obviously want to really get to know the camera before I start burning film that runs $3-4 a sheet.

    In any case, with all my rambling here are some photos. These were scanned on an Epson V700. As anyone who has scanned knows, dust is a constant enemy, and some of these have not been worked over to get rid of the worst of the dust. I'm also fighting contrast-this particular site is a favorite of mine, but I need to visit in the morning as the sun angle basically kills contrast in the afternoon, especially with some of the older lenses I'm using. I've also not been completely happy with the contrast I've been getting from FP4+-I may need to start developing it in straight D76 rather than using it 1:1 as I have been.

    Now that I'm also not at the mercy of my parents and having to sneak in developing at night in an upstairs bathroom(I did use the argument that some people smoke in the bathroom to try and hide it, and developing film is a lot less benign than that, but that argument didn't fly :) ) , I'm planning on getting set up to wet print. Good enlargers are basically free now if you watch Craigslist and are willing to go get them.

    Also, I don't really "do" social media, but someone saw me dust spotting images at work and asked me if I was preparing Instagram images. I wasn't aware of the fact that square is apparently the new "thing" with the popularity of Instagram. To me, square is just what you do in medium format(although I know 645 and 6x7 are certainly around).

    frame 1ed.jpg frame 6.jpg frame 8.jpg frame 14.jpg
     
  2. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #2
    No other interest?

    Here's a frame from probably 10 years ago, once again taken in my trusty Rolleiflex. This is a wet scan, and one of the first where I've been moderately happy with the results although bubbles are the eternal enemy.

    frame 28 copy.jpg
     
  3. Destroysall macrumors 65816

    Destroysall

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    #3
    Beautiful images.

    I wish I could say I've used Medium and Large Format film. I have been interested in it for quite some time when I began learning Photography. All of my film photos were taken on 35mm with a Pentax K1000.

    Here's an old "I don't what I was doing" 35mm photo (Ilford HP5+) from when I was still learning how to use a film camera and the basics of photography.

    [​IMG]

    I haven't touched my Pentax in a long time and have actually considered doing more photography with it as of recent.
     
  4. righteye macrumors 6502

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    London
    #4
    If one could still by Velvia for 5x4 i would have a go at it, i was thinking about and then came the news that production was going to be stopped i gave up on the idea. Sadly the convenience (and cost) of Digital always wins out and i haven't shot on film for over 10 years. Not sure why but i feel completely different about my slides as opposed to digital i guess its the same why Vinyl has a following still and is even on the increase.
     
  5. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #5

    I can't speak for the UK, but at least in the US Velvia 100 is available in 4x5 and 8x10. It's not cheap(around $80/20 for 4x5) but is there. I bought a box not even a month ago with a 2018 expiration date.

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/16010382-Fuji-Fujichrome-Velvia-100-ISO-4x5-20-Sheets-RVP

    In Japan, Fuji still sells Velvia 50 in 4x5 and 8x10. They might even do 5x7-I'm not positive and looking is enough trouble that I'm not going to check now. There's a guy on the Large Format Photography forum who does a small business shipping Japanese-market films all over the world for only a small mark-up over their retail price. Amazingly enough, Fuji still actually makes some color negative 220 film for the Japanese market(I thought 220 was a dead format).

    Of course, there's also expired film. There are reputable sellers on Ebay who sell cold stored film, and I've had good luck with them. Most LF shooters are VERY particular about cold storing film, so it's usually safe(buying random lots of 35mm can be more dangerous).

    IMG_4039.jpg
     
  6. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

    Joined:
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    #6
    One other thought-

    I am interested to see where the re-introduced Ektachrome goes.

    Even back in the waning days of Kodak slide film, I was never a huge fan of their products. E100G was certainly a solid emulsion-it was predictable, forgiving, and fine grained, and scanned well. The last point is important these days, and in fact Kodak's recent color negative films have been specifically targeted for it(the Portra line and Ektar 100 are great in this regard). It seemed to lack the "character" of the Fuji products though. As you can see, the above was on Provia, and it's still pleasantly "punchy". There was never an Ektachrome emulsion that absolutely wowed me the way Fujichromes do, however(before someone mentions Kodachrome, can we have some real-world reflection on how dull and flat it looks next to even Ektachromes?).

    The initial Ektachrome offering(s) are stated to be in 35mm only. I hate to be blunt, and I still shoot a lot of 35mm, but to me it's mostly dead. I'm certainly not ready or willing to give up my Tri-X in 35mm. Also, a well-exposed 35mm chrome projected is an amazing sight-I think a lot of folks have forgotten with digital projectors now being ubiquitous combined with memories of boring family vacation slide shows just how good they can be.

    The new Ektachrome would have me a lot more excited were it available in 120 and 4x5, though. Considering that Ektar pretty rapidly made the transition there(actually all the way up to 8x10), I think that if market response is positive it will end up there. To that end, I will buy and shoot some of it as I like to support any new emulsion coming to the market.
     
  7. righteye, Mar 7, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017

    righteye macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Thanks for the info although thats not the Velvia i was using back in the day but it would still be worth a go.I still have some 35mm in the fridge!
     
  8. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #8
    What Velvia were you using back in the day?

    The original Velvia(RVP) as I show a few boxes of in my freezer was discontinued in 2006 as the emulsion used an older type base that Fuji said they could no longer justify making. The demand/outcry was enough that they reformulated the emulsion for a current base. The new film is edge coded(in 35mm/120) as RVP50 and is marked Velvia 50 on the box(as opposed to simply Velvia)

    When it first came out in 2008, I shot it against some original Velvia(RVP) that was still reasonably in date and I could not discern any difference between RVP and RVP50.

    Velvia 100F was a terrible film that mercifully is long gone.

    Velvia 100 is actually quite similar in characteristics to Velvia 50, although the reds and yellows are a very tiny bit less warm than on 50. You have to look closely to see the difference, but overall it's quite a good film.

    If you want Velvia 50, grab some in 35mm and 120 and go to town. You won't notice a different from the film you loved back in the 90s and early 2000s.

    Grab some Velvia 100 also and see what you think-you may be pleasantly surprised and then you can go at it in 4x5 without going the Japan route.
     
  9. organicCPU macrumors 6502

    organicCPU

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2016
    #9
    Your post inspires to look out for a good offer of a medium format camera... Thumbs up!
     
  10. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

    Joined:
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    #10
    Okay, I hate to make this about equipment, but I've made a couple of planned and impulse buys the past couple of days.

    The first was a visit yesterday to a local used camera shop. I'd intended to go in and buy an enlarger(Beseler 23C). I did a bit of haggling plus some playing around with lenses to get a 75mm fitted onto it. While I was there, I quite literally tripped over this

    IMG_4076.jpg

    It's a Rolleiflex Automat II. It's early postwar and has a coated Schneider Xenar. A quick inquiry as to price and some audible lens testing :) had me agreeing to buy it. I have an Automat II that has served me well for many years and probably miles of film(including some photos posted in this thread) but I was happy to get this one.

    I ran a roll of FP4+ through it, and it at least functioned correctly(film feeler, etc). I'll develop the roll tonight and see how the shutter speeds and indexing are.

    I had to make a trip back today to pick up the enlarger. I was digging around for filters, and once again quite literally tripped over something else-a Nikon F Photomic. I'm not a Nikon guy and don't need more 35mm equipment, but I've always loved the Nikon F and the early metering prisms are just too fun to pass up. This one had a 50mm 1.4.

    I decided to put it on lay-a-way, and figured I might as well throw some more on. I picked out a nice wooden Burke and James View Camera. I'd thought I would buy a monorail, but this B&J was too nice to pass up. It folds up small and is lightweight(lighter than my Speed Graphic) so should serve me well as a field camera-what I really wanted all along. It has a 7.5"(190mm) f5.6 Wollenstock Raptar, which I think is a Tessar type lens. From what I can find, it's not known for being particularly sharp. Even so, I may pick up a 150mm or so "modern" lens to play with.
     
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    The Far Horizon
    #11
    The Pentax K1000 is a legend; beautiful camera, you should use it.

    My very first SLR was beautiful little Pentax ME Super - a sweet and utterly reliable camera - and - on matters related to Pentax - a distant cousin had a Pentax K1000 which he demonstrated to me on a fleeting visit once.
     
  12. bhtwo macrumors 6502a

    bhtwo

    Joined:
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    Oxford UK
    #12
    Excellent...my first 'proper' SLR was a Pentax MX... cracking camera. Went to the dark side (Nikon).
     
  13. righteye macrumors 6502

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    London
    #13
    Just checked the date on the box 2005 10. I bought the Canon 20d and then went partially digital then bought the 1Ds Mk2 and then i never took another film based image after that. I will give Velvia 100 a go if you think its that close and 1 full stop faster :)
     
  14. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #14
    Like I said, unless you REALLY know the film(which if you shot it a lot you do) or are looking at them side by side then you won't see the difference. 100 is good stuff.

    That's in contrast to 100F. Maybe I never nailed the exposure, but I always thought it looked "muddy" and lacked the wow that I associate with Velvia. I was looking at some MF transparencies just yesterday that are probably 10 years old, and even the Provia shot the same day and in the same camera looks better to my eye.

    One minor advantage of Velvia 100 vs. 50 is that if a white person sneaks into the frame, they don't end up looking like they've been lying on the beach with no sunscreen for a week. Not too long ago, I was looking at some 35mm Velvia 50s that have people in them(only one body with me and the only film I had loaded). I'm still friends with many of the people in those photos, and to this day they've never seen them. I should scan and show them, but probably only after they've been converted to B&W :) . Velvia 100 still isn't exactly an ideal film for caucasian people, but at least they don't turn into beets if you do have to use it.

    Unfortunately, now that Astia is gone, there really aren't any outstanding transparency films for caucasians, although Ektachrome may fix that. Kodachrome-for all its ills-was great at that!
     
  15. righteye macrumors 6502

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    #15
    I had both MX & LX but my car was broken into and stolen and from that point went Canon. I loved my LX had auto metering for 125 seconds, not sure why all modern cameras top out at 30 seconds, interchangeable view finder focusing screens and mechanical back up from 1/2000th to 1/75th second the MX was all mechanical shutter speeds.Writing this i feel i should find a second and one!
     
  16. bunnspecial, Apr 15, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017

    bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #16
    Like I said, I hate to post too much about equipment, but I've made a few recent acquisitions that I wanted to show off.

    The first is a Burke and James field camera in 4x5. When I started in 4x5, I really wanted a field camera, but they have held their value better than most other LF stuff and also don't seem to sell up used all that often. The shop where I bought this swore up and down that they didn't have a field camera, but I found this tucked in a corner...and apparently what I meant by field camera. Basically, I wanted a wooden camera with a decent number of movements that folds up relatively small. This fits the bill.

    IMG_4207.jpg

    These get dragged through the mud on the internet, but mine is sturdy enough. With a view camera of any type, sturdiness(balances of course with size/weight and available movements) is the most important since pretty much any lens will fit on any camera. The current lens board on this is wood, so it shouldn't be too difficult to make my own boards as needed even if finding a premade one is "needle in a haystack." Supposedly, these also are made of nice maple under the gray paint. The lens on it now is a 7.5"(190mm) Ilex Paragon. These are supposed to be good enough lenses for their era, and honestly it's hard to mess up a Tessar-type lens. 190mm is slightly longer than a normal(150mm) lens-it's about like an 80 or 85mm on a 35mm camera. I've exposed a few frames with it to test the basic operation(mostly with some ancient Kodak Ektapan that I was given), but they're nothing work taking the time to scan and post.

    Of slight interest is the fact that I can't find too many references online to this particular camera in 4x5. They seem to be a lot more common in 5x7 and 8x10. At this point, I don't want to mess with 5x7 as film selection is limited(even more so than 4x5) and I'm not at all set up to process it. 8x10 is $$$ to shoot, but is actually more available than 5x7.

    I also jumped on the chance to buy a complete Bronica S2a system. These are actually sort of oddball cameras-they are 6x6 but came well before the popular SQ series that I love. Unlike Hasselbad and Hasselblad-like cameras(I'm including the SQ in that category) the S series has instant return mirrors and a focal plane shutters. The mirror flips down rather than up-this allows lenses to extend deeper than in a conventional SLR. The lenses don't have their own focusing helical, but rather one for all lenses stays attached to the camera. This makes the lenses themselves fairly light and compact at least as medium format goes.

    They are described as a "nightmare" to repair. Hasselblads and their clones have a lot to do when the shutter is tripped, as the mirror flips up, the lens stops down, the shutter(in the lens) closes and then opens and closes again for the prescribed amount of time. Mirror return, opening the aperture, re-cocking the shutter, and opening it up for viewing all happens on film advance. On the S2 and related, the mirror drops down and then there are two "baffles" that slide in to place to cover it and the focusing screen in order to prevent extra light from entering and bouncing around. The focal plane shutter then fires(after stopping down the lens). The instant return mirror means that all of this has to get undone as soon as the exposure is finished. The only thing the film advance does(in addition to the obvious of advancing the film) is re-cock the focal plane shutter.

    Also, most MF SLRs have "idiot proof" interlocks, but the S2 is a paperweight unless there's film loaded in it. Fortunately, since I develop at home, I have plenty of backing paper lying around and was able to "trick" the camera into thinking that there was film loaded by just respooling some backing paper in order to check the operation. I then shot a roll of expired Tri-X to check light tightnes, shutter operation, and film advance.

    These are heavy beasts at about 5 or 6lbs, but they do look great and have features that make putting up with the quirks worthwhile. In particular, I like that the backs only require flipping a switch to go from 120 to 220(albeit with Fuji having discontinued the last 220 film last month, this isn't so much of a big deal) and also very few MF SLRs can shoot at 1/1000 of a second. All the optics are Nikkor, and are superb. In fact,these were the first SLRl lenses that Nikon made. Interestingly enough, the 135mm(13,5 cm) Nikkor was actually meant for Nikon rangefinders, but has a big enough image circle to cover 6x6.

    Here's the beauty, with a 150mm Nikkor mounted.

    IMG_4219.jpg

    I was fortunate to get a complete system for next to nothing. By complete system, I mean that it came with a 50mm, 75mm(x2), 135mm, and 150mm along with a set of extension tube, a 45º prism, a few other viewfinders, a couple of inserts, and a few other odds and ends(like the macro bellows with tilt-shift capability). There is even a Bronica C body, which is a stripped down version without a removable film back and only going to 1/500th. The interchangeable back thing is moot since I don't have a dark slide to remove the back currently on the S2a(someone in Serbia makes darkslides inexpensively).

    IMG_4188.jpg IMG_4187.jpg
     
  17. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    Kentucky
    #17
    My scanning and E6 processing are seriously behind, so once again I'm going to ramble a bit more on equipment.

    First of all, I'm a dyed in the wool 6x6 guy, but have been lusting after an RB67 for a while. So, earlier this week, I made a deal on the LFP forum for an RB67 Pro SD(the newest, and depending on who you ask you ask is either still in production or was only discontinued a few years ago) plus two backs and a waist level.

    I called my favorite local camera shop, and he had a 127mm lens for a great price. That's a bit longer than I like, but all Mamiya lenses are superb and I figure I'll supplement it with a wide angle down the road. I asked him to hold it back for me, and went in today.

    I was also on another mission on today's trip. Not too long ago, I was given a 127mm Ektar in a completely dead Graphex shutter. The lens is decent enough, and since I have a Speed Graphic the lack of a shutter isn't an issue(I can use the camera shutter).

    That's where things get interesting. I asked the owner if he could find me a lens board, and he said no, but that I was welcome to find one :) . He directed me to one of the "do not open" cabinets where he thought there was a box of boards. I found a box that was labeled "good stuff", opened it, and found an RB67 body with a metered prism. I set that aside, then found the box of lens boards.

    After some dickering, he sold me the RB67, prism, the 127mm lens, and a 645 back for $200-a more than fair price.

    My lens board search was partially fruitless, but not totally in vain. He had a bunch of Pacemaker Graphic board, although most were drilled too large for the lens I was trying to fit. I did, however, find a "blank" board with only the 1" pilot hole in the center, and a second that was just a tiny bit too small. I bought both, and should be able to enlarge the close one enough to fit the lens.

    I also found another prize-a board that will fit my B&J field camera(pictured above) but drilled for a BIG shutter. With some time in the shop, I should be able to adapt it so that I can fit a Pacemaker Graphex board in it. That's perfect for me, since it means that I can I can mount any future lenses in a Pacemaker Graphic board(which is a unique design, but also plentiful both used and new) and still be able to mount them to my other camera.

    Finally, I didn't exchange any money on this one, but I made a gentleman's agreement to buy a Leica outfit. It's a IIIc(LTM) with a 35mm and 50mm(3.5) collapsible, the accessory 35mm viewfinder, and a 135mm lens plus some other odds and ends. The 50mm is hazy, but that's not a huge concern to me since I have a Canon 50mm 1.8 in LTM. I will probably send the 50mm for service along with the IIIc body, and I'll be interested to compare the Canon and Leica 50mms.
     
  18. bunnspecial thread starter macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

    Joined:
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    Kentucky
    #18
    Here's a photo I took a month or two ago, but only got around to developing yesterday.

    4x5 Velvia frame 2 copy.jpg

    This was near dusk with a storm on the horizon. That's where the "low key" look comes from, and the purplish cast is from the prevailing light(note that the mercury vapor lights are rendered correctly). I rather like how it turned out.

    For the nitty gritty:

    Speed Graphic w/135mm Wollstock Raptar. f/22 and about 1/2º of forward tilt to keep the car in focus. Velvia 50 that expired in 1996 :)
     

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