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Quality 35mm or average medium format??
Old 05-12-2017   #1
Kieran_Keeton
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Quality 35mm or average medium format??

Hey everyone, i was wondering if i could get some opinions on wether it is better to use a 35mm rangefinder with a high quality lens OR a quality medium format rangefinder camera for making prints that would ether go into a portfolio book or 12 inch prints. Most of my work consists of lifestyle photography; which includes portraits and landscapes, i like to stick with rangefinders and flash is also a tool i often use (so leaf shutters are pretty nice). But i was wondering if it is worth the extra bag space, price and ergonomics to upscale to a medium format rig? I want the highest quality possible, but would say a Leica lens be much different to a Mamiya in resolution within book-sized prints?
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Old 05-12-2017   #2
stompyq
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You'll get a different look with 35mm vs MF. What do you mean by highest quality? Even a cheap Yashica TLR will run rings around a 35mm Leica rig
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Old 05-12-2017   #3
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By quality i mean definition in the image; so sharpness, a nice tonal range, clarity etc. I am not interested in shallow depth of field really. Im only really looking at rangefinders though, they just work for my methods of shooting, id end up walking into things with a TLR haha.
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Old 05-12-2017   #4
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Dear Kieran,

How are you defining quality? And what are you photographing? And what will your final print size be? Which dimension is going to be 12 inches?

Tonally, even a Lubitel will beat a Leica unless you're really incompetent at developing. Resolution? You'd need a better MF than a Lubitel to beat the Leica.

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Old 05-12-2017   #5
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Go medium format. I think your choices for MF rangefinders would be the Mamiyas and the Fujis correct? Given a choice I would go with the Mamiya 6/7 over the Fuji RFs
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Old 05-12-2017   #6
Arbitrarium
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Could always go for a medium format folder. Won't weigh you down, can get coupled rangefinder equipped models, and many have excellent lenses. And a folder feels somewhat like using a 35mm rangefinder. Not some mad flipped image TLR nonsense.
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Old 05-12-2017   #7
ferider
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Why not quality MF ? You can get a classic 500C or 500EL + Planar for less than 500 bucks. Or a Fuji 6x9 for around 300. Negatives won't get much better with anything else.
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Old 05-12-2017   #8
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Personally, I'm not MF person, but IMO, MF quality is not in lens resolution but in the tonal range.
It makes sense to have this kind of quality in landscapes and portraits. Some 6x9, 6x7 RF fresh cameras might be less bulky for getting on the spot. Portraits and RF... meh, SLR will do better framing and it is easier with tele on SLR.

I think, if you want to be different from digi-crowd where "sharp" is the nature, you'll be more noticeable with MF. Doesn't matter on print size. It is noticeable on 240x240 pixels picture or less.
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Old 05-12-2017   #9
mpaniagua
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Personally, I'm not MF person, but IMO, MF quality is not in lens resolution but in the tonal range.
It makes sense to have this kind of quality in landscapes and portraits. Some 6x9, 6x7 RF fresh cameras might be less bulky for getting on the spot. Portraits and RF... meh, SLR will do better framing and it is easier with tele on SLR.

I think, if you want to be different from digi-crowd where "sharp" is the nature, you'll be more noticeable with MF. Doesn't matter on print size. It is noticeable on 240x240 pixels picture or less.
Agree with you about diffence not being on lens.

MF got different look altogether, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Like you said, I normally stick with MF for landscape and formal portrait. For casual portrait, I like 35mm better. Not sure how to say it, but seems more "alive" to me, probably more dramatic, not sure. I'm not talking about image quality in here but on aesthetics.

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Old 05-12-2017   #10
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As said, you do get a different look. Lens resolution per se may very well be superior in 35mm, but MF offsets this by sheer negative size.
The most characteristic about MF to me is the shallower DoF, not only about razon thin DoF but rather the "MF" look which seems to have separation of subjects and background at middle distances and apertures. Paired with a smooth tonality and finer grain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stompyq View Post
Go medium format. I think your choices for MF rangefinders would be the Mamiyas and the Fujis correct? Given a choice I would go with the Mamiya 6/7 over the Fuji RFs
Given the choice and money
Nowadays Mamiya 6 & 7 are going for quite some pretty money, you could buy a couple to a few Fuji RF's for the price of an M7 kit.

It's about your choice and needs though. I have a Fuji "Texas Leica" 6x9 and it does handle like a 35mm and outputs the same aspect ratio negatives, but 8x the size of 135 (IIRC). Heavier and bulkier, which lends to a more scenic and static approach for shooting.
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Old 05-12-2017   #11
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Like some peeps here, I have Leica 35mm cameras as well as medium format. For 'quality' it does not matter how good the lens is on my Leica, MF kicks its butt.
Want an MF RF? Fuji GW 670/690 series are cheap and have incredible lenses. The entire package (lens is not interchangeable) would be less than the cost of a lens for a Leica. Under $500.
The advantage of using the GW690 over other formats is the huge negative - 6x9 - that you can crop down to 6x7, 6x6 etc. You cannot crop up a 6x6 camera to 6x9.

Also that 6x9 format is the exact same ratio as 35mm if that matters.

You can also get a really nice Yashica TLR for under $200, or a Rolleiflex 3.5 for under $500 etc.

What the 35mm set up gives you is ease of use, and flexibility. As well as more shots per roll! If you are not printing big, it may not matter.
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Old 05-12-2017   #12
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p.s. you will see the difference in 12 inch prints.
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Old 05-12-2017   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kieran_Keeton View Post
Hey everyone, i was wondering if i could get some opinions on wether it is better to use a 35mm rangefinder with a high quality lens OR a quality medium format rangefinder camera for making prints that would ether go into a portfolio book or 12 inch prints. Most of my work consists of lifestyle photography; which includes portraits and landscapes, i like to stick with rangefinders and flash is also a tool i often use (so leaf shutters are pretty nice). But i was wondering if it is worth the extra bag space, price and ergonomics to upscale to a medium format rig? I want the highest quality possible, but would say a Leica lens be much different to a Mamiya in resolution within book-sized prints?
As has already been mentioned, tonal range, apparent sharpness and lack of grain will always favor the medium format over 35mm. A Yashica D with the Yashinon lens will outperform a Leica M + a 50mm Summicron when enlarged to 8x10.
Size does matter.
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Old 05-12-2017   #14
Maximilian
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I used to have a Mamiya 7 and a Leica, ended up selling the Mamiya but kept the Leica. Looking back at photos taken with the Mamiya, I've got to say I miss the quality. Stunning images from a quality stand point! But for the way I like shooting, the Leica just makes more sense and in the long run, I believe I will get more "keepers" with the Leica.

It's smaller and I carry it with me more often. Faster lenses means I can shoot it in more circumstances. I don't have to load film as often, which is kind of a big deal for me. And finally, even though equally slow, I much prefer scanning on my little Plustik scanner compared to my large Epson flatbed. I move around a lot and bring my little Plustek with me everywhere. If someone gave me the Plustek 120 scanner, I might have to give medium format a second thought, but since I doubt anyone will, I'm not keen on spending that amount of money on a scanner when I already have other issues with the format.

If I was still doing portrait work for pay, I would probably get a medium format again. But not worth it for my own stuff, which is all I do now.
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Old 05-12-2017   #15
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Tone and color quality in medium format will blow you away, it did for me. You will immediately forget everything you read about the importance of sharpness and drool all over your photographs!

Well, that may not be totally true, but you will certainly notice a visual quality improvement in your medium format photographs. But, typically you pay for that quality improvement in camera/lens size and weight.

I love medium format but I still use 35mm as well, and most others do the same. What this means is you will end up using at least two different camera systems.

If you want a rangefinder feel in a very handy little medium format camera, look for a Fuji GA645 Pro or a Fuji GA 645Zi (zoom). Lenses are not interchangeable.

Mamiya 7 is a nice rangefinder with interchangeable lenses but is bigger and will weigh more than the two Fujis previously mentioned.

The Fuji GW690 is a large, heavy and very tough, 6x9 rangefinder medium format camera. This is truly a monster but it will hold up to all kinds of abuse, and probably already has since these were used by street professionals in Japan to take group portraits for pay.

Folding camera are also an option and a few of them come with coupled rangefinders, though these are often heavier and more expensive. The Fuji GF670 is the newest version and may still be available new at BH Photo. There are other types out there on the used market as well. They are not as convenient and, when open, are a bit bulky (though still light) and more fragile than other types.
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Old 05-12-2017   #16
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Much as I L-O-V-E my Leica, the size, the portability, like you, I drool over the MF images. Who doesn't?

If you're open to a non-RF MF, Pentax 645N looks like a decent rig as well. Said to be reasonable to run, not gi-normous, and take good shots. My resistance... could crumble, but I'm holding firm for the moment.
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Old 05-12-2017   #17
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NO CONTEST!!!

Answering both questions in one short burst....

No 35mm rig will ever touch a Fujifilm GW690III rangefinder for any of the points you are asking about. The GW Fuji's have the EBC coated (super flare resistant) lenses and shoot 120 film.

Shooting since the Sixties, I can seriously say I know of no 35mm kit that comes close to the GW690III with the right film, on all your questions/points.

You can buy a low count GW690III for a few hundred dollars almost anywhere, but particularly on eBay.

If you want wide angle, look at the GSW690III. The GW has a fixed 90mm, and the GSW has a fixed 65mm which factors out to about 28mm in 35mm equivalent.

I absolutely quit shooting all other Medium Format when I discovered the "Big Texas Leicas" some years ago. Sold my Mamiya Press, my Hasselblad, and my Pentax.

The Fujifilms come in 6X7 or 6X9. I shoot 6X9 for the extra acreage in film format. Another plus, no meter-no electronics, hence no battery requirements.

Best medium format I have ever owned, including a number of TLR makes.
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Old 05-12-2017   #18
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I took this with a $20 Lubitel 166 and expired film:

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Old 05-12-2017   #19
Huss
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This is a 1:1 crop from 120 film, using a 645 camera. To get this detail in 35mm, you need to switch to digital.



(both images hi rez scanned in seconds using a DSLR)

p.s. that was shot wide open with an 80mm 1.9 lens. So pretty much at the least sharp setting of the lens!
Stopped down it would be something else.
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Old 05-12-2017   #20
Swift1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
This is a 1:1 crop from 120 film, using a 645 camera. To get this detail in 35mm, you need to switch to digital.



(both images hi rez scanned in seconds using a DSLR)

p.s. that was shot wide open with an 80mm 1.9 lens. So pretty much at the least sharp setting of the lens!
Stopped down it would be something else.
At 1:1 crop (assuming same film and same scan method) wouldn't the level of detail be relatively the same, if not favor 35mm given that 35mm lens can be capable of higher resolution?
Put another way... I have a Bronica ETRSI with both 120 and 35mm backs. If I shot a roll of 120 and a roll of 35mm using same film and same lens, then scanned both rolls using the same scanner at same output resolution, 1:1 crops of those scans from both formats should carry the same level of detail.
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Old 05-12-2017   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swift1 View Post
At 1:1 crop (assuming same film and same scan method) wouldn't the level of detail be relatively the same, if not favor 35mm given that 35mm lens can be capable of higher resolution?
Put another way... I have a Bronica ETRSI with both 120 and 35mm backs. If I shot a roll of 120 and a roll of 35mm using same film and same lens, then scanned both rolls using the same scanner at same output resolution, 1:1 crops of those scans from both formats should carry the same level of detail.
Thats true.

The issue would be getting a MF scanner which was as good with 35mm as the best 35mm scanners are.

But doing optical enlargement...

The 1:1 crop above is nowhere near grain level scanning.
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Old 05-12-2017   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kieran_Keeton View Post
...i was wondering if i could get some opinions on wether it is better to use a 35mm rangefinder with a high quality lens OR a quality medium format rangefinder camera for making prints that would ether go into a portfolio book or 12 inch prints. Most of my work consists of lifestyle photography; which includes portraits and landscapes, i like to stick with rangefinders and flash is also a tool i often use (so leaf shutters are pretty nice).
I could use either to obtain the high quality images you desire. However, if I were limited to use only one, I would use the medium format rangefinder.


Rangefinders by Narsuitus, on Flickr
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Old 05-12-2017   #23
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Get a really nice 35mm SLR and a really nice MF.
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Old 05-12-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swift1 View Post
At 1:1 crop (assuming same film and same scan method) wouldn't the level of detail be relatively the same, if not favor 35mm given that 35mm lens can be capable of higher resolution?
Put another way... I have a Bronica ETRSI with both 120 and 35mm backs. If I shot a roll of 120 and a roll of 35mm using same film and same lens, then scanned both rolls using the same scanner at same output resolution, 1:1 crops of those scans from both formats should carry the same level of detail.

No because I am scanning them at the same detail and size.
The scan size is something like 6000 by 4000 pixels for both images.
As the 35mm image is much smaller, showing a 1:1 from that scan will show a far greater level of enlargement to maintain the same size as what that same scan size from a 120 piece of film.

Or think of it this way. The 35mm film needs a greater level of enlargement to fill that scan size as it is a smaller physical image.
The 120 piece of film, being much bigger than 35mm, needs a far lower level of enlargement to fill that same scan size.

Try it out.
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Old 05-12-2017   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
No because I am scanning them at the same detail and size.
The scan size is something like 6000 by 4000 pixels for both images.
As the 35mm image is much smaller, showing a 1:1 from that scan will show a far greater level of enlargement to maintain the same size as what that same scan size from a 120 piece of film.

Or think of it this way. The 35mm film needs a greater level of enlargement to fill that scan size as it is a smaller physical image.
The 120 piece of film, being much bigger than 35mm, needs a far lower level of enlargement to fill that same scan size.

Try it out.
So you are effectively scanning the medium format at a lower dpi, and so the 1:1 crop has less magnification. That isn't an equal comparison, but it does highlight the benefit of medium format, ie it requires less magnification. Because it requires less magnification, medium format film gives the appearance of better tonality and better resolution. If you view each at the same magnification and same viewing distance, the tonality and resolution should be about the same.
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Old 05-12-2017   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swift1 View Post
So you are effectively scanning the medium format at a lower dpi, and so the 1:1 crop has less magnification. That isn't an equal comparison, but it does highlight the benefit of medium format, ie it requires less magnification. Because it requires less magnification, medium format film gives the appearance of better tonality and better resolution. If you view each at the same magnification and same viewing distance, the tonality and resolution should be about the same.
Yes I guess that sums it up. As the 120 image is bigger it requires less magnification for the same result, resulting in a higher quality looking print.
Same as if it was printed optically.

Bottom line, a smaller negative cannot compete against a larger one.
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Old 05-12-2017   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Yes I guess that sums it up. As the 120 image is bigger it requires less magnification for the same result, resulting in a higher quality looking print.
Same as if it was printed optically.

Bottom line, a smaller negative cannot compete against a larger one.
Totally agree
Like they say in the muscle car world, "there's no replacement for displacement"
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Old 05-12-2017   #28
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Quote:
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Could always go for a medium format folder. Won't weigh you down, can get coupled rangefinder equipped models, and many have excellent lenses. And a folder feels somewhat like using a 35mm rangefinder. Not some mad flipped image TLR nonsense.
I have four folders, I'm not sure I need them all. In fact I'm sure I don't need them all. BUT before I bought them I used a Rolleiflex TLR and just saw how much better the things I wanted captured were with the Rollei. So, as I didn't like hauling the Rollei around I got all these folders. They are more compact but really just as slow moving as the TLR. Now I put up with both; 35mm and 120.
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Old 05-15-2017   #29
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I know you said you don't want a TLR, but have you considered using a Mamiya C series TLR with an accessory prism finder? For me, the major annoyance of TLRs is the reversed image, which is corrected by the finder.

There are a large variety of lenses available, most are excellent, and the whole system isn't terribly expensive (at least compared with Leica gear).

For a truly versatile and inexpensive medium format rangefinder system, my recommendation is the Mamiya press. It takes Graflock backs giving you a lots of choice of format, 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9, or even 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 sheet film. The lenses are great, and you have the option of getting some very wide lenses, like 65mm. The camera allows even more advanced usage with a ground glass back, offering rear tilt and macro focusing.
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