Medium Format Film Query

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Alexander.Of.Oz, Apr 18, 2014.

  1. Alexander.Of.Oz macrumors 68000

    Alexander.Of.Oz

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    #1
    Just wondering if some of you kind folks could help me out with a query or two about using medium format film.

    I am looking at this as a monochromatic option for my architectural and landscape imagery. I can get a 120 film camera and some good lenses for relatively cheap (AU $1500.)

    In regard of developing, I have no idea what's involved or the possible expense either. I can not find a communal type shared facility here that I could lease a slice of for a half day a week, or the like. I have found a place that will develop and output photographs for me and they have a good reputation around town.

    There is a photography course I could do, part time, that would give me weekly access to a darkroom for the couple of years it takes to complete it. Apparently, once you are a student there, you can have access to the darkroom/lab more often, but, only whilst a student there. After that, I would need my own space and set-up.

    Is it a ludicrously expensive folly, aiming to get my own developing and printing gear? Is scanning developed film an option? As in, I scan it and work on it digitally, then send it off for printing? Or is a scanner of a good enough capability an expensive purchase and thus a folly?

    Thanks in advance for any assistance offered.
    Alex
     
  2. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #2
    B&W print and color E6 film can be done in the kitchen or a bathroom, then scanned with a MF film scanner or (worse option) flatbed scanner. All you need is a tank and reels, a washing-up sized tub and an aquarium heater to keep the temperature right and a couple of graduated beakers for measuring liquids. A light-tight bag for loading the film onto the reels and putting them in the tank is very useful, or a very dark bathroom or closet at night with no light leaks (such as a room in a basement.)

    Paul
     
  3. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #3
    Is there a particular reason you want to go with film? Most consider it dead except for a few special use situations. I stuck with film longer than I should have and that was a few years ago.

    Medium format digital is pricey as are digital backs for view cameras. If your final destination is digital (via scanning) skip the conversion and start with digital. A full frame camera will have better resolution than a scanned negative from 120 film.
     
  4. TheReef macrumors 68000

    TheReef

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    #4
    Decent flatbed scanners are very hard to find in Aus for decent prices.
    Epson v500s are at cheapest around $380 (which is quite ridiculous, given what they sell for in the US).

    I'm not sure for architectural and landscape work MF will offer you many advantages over your current full frame digital, you're going to need a good scanner (better than a v500 or v700) to extract that level of detail.

    Dedicated Nikon coolscans are even harder to find down here, a new option from Plustek for around 2k :)eek:) has surfaced though:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/890953-REG/Plustek_783064365642_Optic_Film_120_Scanner.html

    It's really fun though, and nothing beats composing through a huge bright viewfinder :)

    Makes portraits a lot more interesting too, slap a 150mm f/2.8 on there and the DOF is great.
     
  5. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #5
  6. Alexander.Of.Oz thread starter macrumors 68000

    Alexander.Of.Oz

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    #6
    Thanks, Paul. I was hoping there would be an easy solution for a space limited home, what with three tall teenage boys who are almost permanently horizontal... they take up so much less room when they are vertical... :rolleyes:

    ----------

    Feel, look, tonality, etc...

    ----------

    Bugga! And ouch, when I checked out prices!

    It's more an exploration/experimentation and familiarising my self with film before going to large format eventually.

    ^^^ This! :cool:

    ----------

    I looked at that a while ago and the mirror box in my fullframe DSLR makes it a complete folly! The advantage gained over my tilt-shift lens is so minimal, it's not worth it. But, thanks for the thought glen.
     
  7. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #7
    Having come from a rather extensive background in darkroom, I'll be candid and say that if budget is a concern, then film (cameras) is really not the way to go for top end work.

    If you do occasional pro work, you might consider renting medium format digital equipment instead or a view camera with an adapter plate on the back and use a medium format digital back. Then again, some FF digital cameras are quite impressive with tilt/shift quality lenses.

    While I may miss using film, developing and printing, one can get impressive results with digital as well. My darkroom printing was specialized in archival black and white along with Cibachrome printing from transparencies. I admit to being mostly a Rodinal junky for b/w film developing along with Diaphine (for some pushed ASA/ISO work) and techniques in double developing in soft and standard print developers along with a final Selenium toning. Life was fun then.
     
  8. Alexander.Of.Oz thread starter macrumors 68000

    Alexander.Of.Oz

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    #8
    Thanks, phredd. I am an amateur, just wanting to explore a little.
     
  9. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #9
    I remember processing b&w film, back in the Dark(room) Ages. Yeah, if you're only developing the film, but not enlarging, you don't need much gear. I had a complete darkroom, including enlarger, in an 8 ft. x 4 ft. basement bathroom.

    But... if you're looking for "feel, look, tonality..." you can lose all of that and more if your darkroom work is sub-par. It's chemistry lab work - careful measurement, close attention to time and temperature, contamination/freshness/dilution/exhaustion of processing chemicals, careful cleaning of all tools, light leakage, errant fingerprints, water that's neither too hard or too soft, reticulated emulsion, a relatively dust-free spot to hang the negatives to dry... There's a long list of things that can go wrong compared to the "qualities" you might get right (and you save on the price of the filters).

    I've seen plenty of gorgeous digital b&w work. There are so many advantages. At the top of my list? Applying "Wratten filters" in the darkroom (color channels in Photoshop), instead of when you're shooting. It's hard to imagine b&w photography without them, and it's so much easier to get it right when you do it in post-production.

    I was doing video and motion picture work in the '80s. Lots of debate over "film look" vs. "video look." Bottom line for me? If something shot on film still looked like film after a film-to-videotape transfer (and it did)? Then it's not about the recording medium nearly as much as it is about technique - lighting, depth-of-focus, and such.
     
  10. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #10
    Give it a try and enjoy. I am waiting for the day when they stop calling them "film cameras" and refer to them as analogue cameras (grin). If you have the patience, it really is quite rewarding to develop your own negatives and also print. As another pointed out, be careful with temperatures and as best possible dust free environment. Many people I know who have simple home set ups (back then) would hang their film to dry in a bathroom (usually the shower or bathtub area).
     
  11. Alexander.Of.Oz thread starter macrumors 68000

    Alexander.Of.Oz

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    #11
    Thanks, ApfelKuchen. You have presented some interesting things to take into consideration. I definitely will enrol in the photography course to learn as much as possible about film and its required techniques.
     
  12. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #12
    Alas, the glory days of Rollei and Hasselblad are nought but a memory from a past dewy with nostalgia. :(
     
  13. steveash macrumors 6502

    steveash

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    #13
    I'd love to play around with medium format film and making my own prints if I had the time. I don't see much point if you care just going to scan it though.

    If you like the feel of film and more traditional cameras but want the results on your computer then take a look at older 'fat pixel' medium format digital backs. The prices are starting to go up again as they are quite sort-after but the results are very film-like.
     
  14. MacRy macrumors 68040

    MacRy

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    #14
    AceArchie is probably a good bloke to ask as doesn't he have a Hasselblad that he recently said he shot with?
     
  15. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #15
    That seems incorrect to me.
    Scanned 120mm film should be about equivalent to 80megpix.
    The DR of even the best DSLRs like the D800E, D610 or A7r is still nowhere near Medium Format film.

    Unless you earn your living with photography or you are very, very rich then shooting film is the only way to get into medium format.

    ----------

    Old digital backs are still very expensive and not as good as film.
     
  16. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

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    #16
  17. Alexander.Of.Oz, Apr 20, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014

    Alexander.Of.Oz thread starter macrumors 68000

    Alexander.Of.Oz

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    #17
    Wow! That will definitely overcome the mirrorbox issue! Getting tilt, swing and rise/fall is a bit complicated and convoluted to think out though for both ends of the bellows however. Or is it simply designed to replace an old Graflok back? Allowing you all those movements still? It's a tad unclear on their site with the images they have used. I wouldn't want to add too much weight and pressure through the DSLR body to the Graflok frame.

    Perfectly timed though, thanks, Laird Knox. I made the progression up to searching out and investigating large format yesterday.

    EDIT:
    Scratch my concerns above, I now see that they have used panoramic heads on both planes to achieve the free movement on those two planes! Rise and fall of the front end would be achieved as per normal. I was confused about that somehow!?
     
  18. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #18
    For a high end scanner you're correct but such scanners are over $2,000. With a cheaper scanner he might only get in the 30 to 40 megapixel range which is getting into FF territory.

    I still think that using film to get to digital is the wrong way. Too much opportunity for conversion errors to affect the results.
     
  19. Meister, Apr 21, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014

    Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #19
    I have no recent experience with scanning film. I remember that when I did it 10 years ago the results seemed to surpass anything that we even have today. I did not count pixels back then though.

    The Canon 9000F Mark II claims a resolution of 9600 x 9600 dpi for film scans.
    Here it costs 200€. For 6x6 negatives you would get 500 megapixels resolution. Even if it only delivers 4800x4800dpi you would still get 125 megapixels.

    You can get a used Hasselblad 500cm for 1000 - 1500€. A mamiya for 500€ all inclusive. I dont see how you would get anything medium format digital for that price.
     
  20. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #20
    If they're "very film-like", then why bother? Just shoot film.

    And why don't you see the point if you're "just going to scan it through"? You understand that a hybrid workflow is now commonplace, and retains virtually all of the characteristics of the source film?

    ----------

    The 9000F doesn't give anywhere near 4800 dpi of true resolution. The actual resolution is closer to 1700dpi (I owned one for about 2 years).

    No flatbed will do justice to the information contained on a piece of film.

    ----------

    ...as though MEGAPIXELS!!!! were the be all and end all of photography.
     
  21. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #21
    Could you tell me about your experience with the 9000f? I had the same idea as the OP and I was looking at the 9000f.
    It is advertised with 9600x9600 for photos and film.
     
  22. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #22
    This is correct. Both mathematically and from my own experience with scanned 120 film. The problem is getting a GOOD scanner and being very careful with using a tripod, focus, exposure and processing. If all that is done well you will get about 80MP from a 6x6

    the median format is about roughly 4x the surface area of a full from 35mm camera. Pixel counts scale with surface area. A flu farm 35mm svn can be up to 20mp if you are very, very carful and use slow film with fine grain. for 80mp from the same 120 film is possible.

    The scanner is important. But now days we can no multi-scanes, two or three pass scanning can of like "HDR" and gt good result from ahiugh-end flatbed.
     
  23. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #23
    The 9000F is a decent mid-range flatbed. It can produce scans of sufficient quality to make excellent 12x12 inch prints from a 6x6 negative, and I've gone as large as 13x19 on the sharpest chrome scans.

    Do not even consider the 9000F for 35mm, where quality isn't sufficient for anything >4x6.

    The true optical resolution of the 9000F is 1700-1800 dpi; 9600dpi is ludicrous. This is not unique to the 9000F; the Epson V700/V750 is rated at 6400dpi, but will produce no more than 2200-2300 TRUE dpi. Above this is just wasted disk space. Contrast this to a dedicated film scanner like the Nikon 9000ED or Polaroid SprintScan 120, which will produce a true 4000dpi.
     
  24. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #24
    As though the size of silver halide crystals were the be-all and end-all of photochemical photography. Or the properties of a particular half-tone screen were the be-all and end-all of graphic arts reproduction.

    No, they're all just one of several variables involved in their respective processes. They all define resolving-power. They don't define dynamic range. They don't define linearity. So yeah, none of them are the be-all and end-all.

    Arguably, the most important characteristic printed on a film package (other than brand/product line) is ISO/ASA (sensitivity), while the most important characteristic on the packaging of a digital camera (other than brand) is megapixels (resolution). So there is a bit of a disconnect in emphasis between film and digital, but neither tells the whole story. I think it's a measure of what was most important going all the way back to the beginning of each medium.

    In photochemical photography, it was the need for speed - freezing motion. Characteristics like grain took a back seat - grain was adequate, more or less from the start - just make the plate large (which wasn't hard to do).

    In digital photography, speed was more or less adequate from the start. The problem was resolving power - matching or exceeding the resolution of film. Hence the pixel wars.
     
  25. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

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    #25
    Yes, it simply replaces the ground glass. My thought is to use the ground glass to focus then swap in the Fotodiox. Not sure if it will require a second round of focusing but the movements shouldn't change.
     

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