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Tuesday, 01 December 2009


Hi Mike,

People aren't just moving to MF but to LF, too. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that there is a sense of dissatisfaction with digital amongst a number of more experienced photographers. It's seen as being just too easy whereas film is considered to be something of a challenge.

I shoot both digital and LF these days. If I had to, I'd sell my DSLR in a flash but the very last thing I'd sell would be my clunky, heavy and inconvenient view camera. Using it is just too much fun!

Daido Moriyama still uses an old Autocord...I caught him taking pictures with it in a Shinjuku alley where he hangs out: http://www.flickr.com/photos/poagao/4124355325/


I shall explain to my wife the potential goldmine I have accumulated over the past 5 to 8 years ;-)

I have thoroughly enjoyed the stampede away from MF, as it gave me a chance to try the format(s). I've had a lot of fun with the 6x6 and 6x9 format cameras, especially the better quality 6x6 folders. I can still remember my reaction when viewing my first roll of 6x6 'chromes - pictures of northern France. Heck, even SWMBO was impressed.

Of course, seeing how magnificent 6x6 slides were lead me to trying 6x9, then 9x12 and 4x5". I've managed to stop there by frightening myself by looking at the cost of 8x10 'chromes....

First was the Fuji GS645S. Then came the GW690. Then the Hasselblad 500C/M with 80mm C T* lens, soon supplemented by a 180mm CF tele.

The Fuji GA645zi joined the above collection, and then a Bronica ETRsi, and finally, less than twelve months ago, a Fuji GA645Wi.

I still have, love, and use them all. Can't bring myself to part with any of them.

Samples from some of them are here:


"I've managed to stop there by frightening myself by looking at the cost of 8x10 'chromes....I've managed to stop there by frightening myself by looking at the cost of 8x10 'chromes...."

Oh, but 8x10 transparencies on a lightbox...whoa....


Mike (I'm no help, am I?)

Out of the many MF cameras that have passed through my hands, perhaps the most unusual was a Linhof 69 (?) rangefinder that took 6x8 negs and was held vertically with a pistol grip for landscape orientation, wish I had a picture of it. It was so awkward in use that despite producing fantastically fine images (similar to a 'Leica look') it was soon exchanged for a Bronica ECTL -with one of the best shutter-mirror sounds I've come across.

I just bought a Mamiya 645 pro with an 80mm and 150mm leaf shutter lens. A polaroid back, a metered prism and two film backs for around $600. I love it. It makes me want to buy the 645afdIII. I love the way slide film looks at this size.

I also just bought the chemicals to develop my own black and white. I use an epson 4490 scanner. Works well enough. It I really need a perfect scan I take it elsewhere.

Before that, I bought a Mamiya C330 with an 80mm and of course a Diana.

I mainly choose to go with a larger Mamiya because the sync on the C330 was not so good. It worked half the time.


Wow, Mike, you know how to throw a party!

I'd forgotten how awkward it can be to load MF film onto a reel until someone mentioned it in this thread. I'd forgotten because I found a reel that makes it easy.

Those little tabs on plastic reels that tell you by feel where the groove starts? On a "Samigon Autofeed Reel" those tabs are elaborated into half inch by one inch loading guides. The end of the roll gets fed into them much the way paper money is fed into a vending machine slot. Also adjusts to smaller formats.

I found it at B&H.

My best find was a pristine Rolleiflex 3.5E Planar with loads of accessories for $150 at a charity rummage sale in the mid 90s. My favorite unknown 6x6 cameras are the Norita 66 SLR with 80mm f/2 lens, and the Ansco Titan folder. I sold my Hassy 500c/m and P67II as soon as I realized I preferred digital, but I kept the Ansco Titan, and I may even shoot it again someday. It's a wonderful, simple camera, and when folded up it fits in my back pocket like a fat wallet.

A timely post - I just rented a Hasselblad 503 last weekend to take some portraits of friends, shooting film for the first time in 4 years. I loved that it slowed me down and made me think technically and aesthetically about each frame before I pressed the shutter. And my friends really took to having their portrait taken with such a beautiful piece of mechanical engineering. In fact I enjoyed using it so much that now I'm trying to put together a system on eBay.

picked up a plaubel makina W67 in 1999. do my own prints since 1983. hence never felt the need to venture into the digital world.

Few years ago, I found a brand new Rollei 6003 professional at a bargain price. I had the warranty signed in front of me. It is a camera relatively young, not in the same league of the old Rolleiflex and with a lot of automatic features. But it shares the same problems: find an excellent lab for developing and then scanning in high quality. In Italy is starts to be difficult to get perfect developments of color 6x6 negatives.... So today I use it together with the digital arsenal, I do the same shots (when on a tripod) with both cameras. I pre-scan the negs myself with an Epson V750. Not perfect quality but still ok... But the 3dimensional look of the images is very hard to reproduce even with excellent L graded Canon arsenal... And hey: two shots out of the Rollei made execellent result at the Prix of Photography in Paris this year...

Mike, I moved to medium format back in 1995 and haven't left for digital yet. I think that it pays for a low-volume shooter like me. After a dozen years with a Pentax 67 and four lenses I sold it all a few years ago to go lighter with a Mamiya 7II and five lenses (43, 50, 80, 150, 210mm) for travel and enjoy it every time. Often I'll take just the 43mm and 80mm. The Mamiya C330s TLR is for portraits.

Just a few days ago I bought a little used, last model Pentax 67 105mm lens from a shop for $195 (!) so I can turn an old leftover Pentax 6x7 body into a camera.

In the last few months I've bought a Bronica RF645 because I got tired of waiting for Mamiya 6 prices to drop (and I love it to bits, everything in the right place,16 shots on 120 and the vertical orientation is no bother), a Mamiya 645 1000S because the combination of low price and 'fastest MF lens in the west' look was too good to resist, and a 617 camera by a lesser know Japanese brand, even though I'd decided after three years with an xpan that I couldn't compose panoramics. I have my eye out for a particular 6x6 at the moment, but I selfishly dare not mention which for fear of creating bidding competition (how's that for a barometer of the trend in online secondhand medium format demand?)!

My personal reasons for the active interest in this gear are threefold. I decided a while back that despite shooting 80-90% digitally, I needed to keep a film camera with me for those times when only film will do (usually just for a 'look' or a quality of large print, but sometimes for dynamic range reasons), and if you're going to use film, why not use a lot of it. Secondly, with the move to smaller formats in digital (1.5x and 2x crops in DSLRs, tiny sensors in compacts), medium format film provides far greater opportunities for combining shallow depth of field with normal or wide perspectives and moderate working distances. Lastly, one can simply get some great gear, classic gear, bullet-proof last-a-lifetime gear for less than the price of a mid-range digital compact.

I got a russian TLR in 1996 that I grew to hate. I still have and use it because the waist level viewing is handy on occasion.

A few weeks ago I bought a Mamiya M645 at a photo (collector, I think) garage sale. 55mm lens (also came with a 150, but I have no use for that) suits me just great.

This is my first non-toy MF camera, and I already love it. I've shot about 15 rolls thus far, most of them on a 9 mile walk along the wharfs in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Here are some of my favorites thus far:


I've spent more money on Pentax 645n and 67 equipment, film, and processing than digital this year. Craigslist is an amazing place.

I'm still very much new to this photographic format and am loving it so far. I suppose the only way I'll enjoy it more is when I finally cave and install a darkroom.

The reaction I get when people see the 67, wood handle, 55/3.5, and lens hood is an excellent chance not only to meet new people but to explain a bit of photographic history as well.

Ditto on the Epson flat bed. My four year old 4180 makes stunning scans of 6x6 negs.
Both of my MF cameras came out of friends studios who were doing conversions.
Two years ago I bought a 500CM, NC2, 50, 250 and a back for $700 because the owner was going digital.
But thirty years ago I picked up a pristine 2.8f for $125 because the studio owner was going to try his hand at filmaking.
He also wanted to sell me a tele and wide Rollei pair for $250 for the set. I didn't have the dough.
Like digital but love MF. Just old school I guess.

"He also wanted to sell me a tele and wide Rollei pair for $250 for the set. I didn't have the dough."

Wow. That is one for the category of "bargains that got away." I guess you know how much those go for today....


The camera which you have posted here in this blog is quite nice. I just need the Advantages over the other camera's.

I own two ARAX cameras equipped with Schneider Xenotar 80mm, Curtagon 65mm and Xenar 150 mm and I tell you it is capable of great shots! Most of my MF gear was provided by eBay sellers, including the lenses I mention above.

If you could run a test, I doubt that you could distinguish shots made with ARAX from Hasselblad ones or any other famous medium format camera.

But I like Rolleiflex also, by all means. I presently have a Rollei fitted with Planar 2.8 in almost pristine condition, which I use a lot.

Thanks for your attention.

My first cameras were medium format "point and shoot" and a colapsible Kodak 35mm with a defective rangefinder from the forties and fifties that my father let me play with. Eventually I got a chance to use a good camera, a Hasselblad I believe, that I only got to use for a few frames. I then moved on to a Canon SLR with just a couple of lenses. I fell in love with a Nikon FTM in a camera store and got a micro Nik for it. I used this while in photography school and then moved on to a 4x5 Calumet view camera with a Schneider convertable lens and used the zone system. It is so sensual having your hands in a tray of film feeling the development. Long gone though. I had a Mamiya tlr for a while until it was stolen along with my tripod and due to illness didn't really do any photography for a decade. A Minolta x700 purchase got me back into photography in the eighties. I was always disappointed with 35mm's lack of resolution though. I bought a couple of Minolta digital cameras four or five years ago and took some good portraits with them but their lack of resolution and noise prevented me from getting back into still lifes and landscapes that I so loved to shoot with the 4x5. Now I've got a ff digital that has me striving to get back into high res photography.

Aloha :)
Since the rest (Mamiya RB67, C330S) seems to be covered, I drop another name: Flexaret. Couple of years ago while visiting Prague, i was searching for some "local souvenir" and not so suprisingy found it a from camera store: Flexaret IIa (built approx 1947-48). It cost me about 100$ (which is too expensive but it was an old town - read: tourist trap - shop). And funnily enought it has been my main travel camera since - it's very light, it's dead simple, it's practically unbreakable. Of course it doesn't have top quality lens (F4.5 only) but it works (even after a slight motocycle crash). So, here's my flickr stream of tag:flexaret :)

Oh, and I call it "Birdhouse"

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