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120 / 220 film RF's 120 / 220 format rangefinders including Fuji, Koni-Omega, Mamiya Press, Linhof 6x7/6x9 cameras, Mamiya 6/7 among others, but excluding the 120 folders and the Voigtlander 667 cameras that have their own forums.

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Anybody gone fully from 35mm to 120?
Old 12-14-2013   #1
Peter_S
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Anybody gone fully from 35mm to 120?

Hi!
There was a discussion about this before, but I am curious about the current view on this. Has anybody gone more or less fully 120 from 35mm film?

I used a Leica M & Zeiss Sonnar so far. Not a bad combination at all, really, but I often wished I had larger negatives, less harsh in focus-oof-transitions and I never quite got over selling the Rolleiflex. The look and "feel" of the images what I had looked for, the handling unfortunately not so much.
So now I am using a GF670/Bessa III...and I am tempted to go, more or less, all 120. The negatives are just so much easier to work with, and using the camera and format is pure joy. I can use my favorite film, FP4+, without notable penalties in sharpness and resolution.

35mm Leicas feel harder and harder to justify in times of rising film prices and the advance of digital, and tie up a lot of money; also the little X2 and Contax T3 (here 35mm shines – the size-weight-film format ratio are perfect) do remarkable jobs at covering the spontaneous, every-day and quick side of my photography, in a very small sizes. Plus, the GF670 fits where the M6 + lens does not.
I plan to use MF for reportage/documentary, mainly portrait and environmental portraits, but also landscape and mountain photography - in the latter field it has fully convinced me already, there is no way back to 35mm. Even the scans from my Epson 4990 are so good- I cannot wait to see the Hasselblad scans.

Less images per roll may or may not a problem. I am mostly concerned about not being able to change films and hence ISO, but in reality I always have the Leica X2 and Contax T3 with me too (backups) and they can take care of that. My feeling at the moment is that 35mm is best with compacts (T3, T, etc) and extreme wide-angle (<=21mm).

In the end, I want to shoot less, use (and develop) less and get more...if that makes sense. I know this is individual, I am just curious if somebody has done the transition and how they feel about it.

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Old 12-14-2013   #2
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I have not shot any 35mm since I replaced my too-heavy to carry Hasselblad system for a Mamiya 6 with its three lenses. The Mamiya 6 rangefinder is something I can carry everywhere and can easily handhold, so 35mm is kind of obsolete for me. The Mamiya blows away 35mm for image quality.
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Old 12-14-2013   #3
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i do not know if i made a complete transition, but i did not shoot 35mm for a year now. My main camera.s are Contax 645, Hasselblad and Mamiya 7.
I already sold my Leica gear and invested it in Contax and Hasselblad.
I still have a Nikon F3 with 3 lenses but am consisering to sell it for a Contax T2 or T3, for the reasons you mention.

Since i shoot less with 120 i print all my pictures on fiber in the darkroom these days and skip the scanning. Getting my own enlarger this year for almost nothing was the best investment i made in a long time.
For darkroom printing i still think 35mm is valid, because you can get a very different look with it, but i will not go back to scanning 35mm.
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Old 12-14-2013   #4
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I sold everything in 35!

Use a plaubel makina 670 and it is easy to carry fun to shoot and I love the negs and print them.

Sometimes I take a look at M7 bodys, so nice but in the end I wouldn´t use them so

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Old 12-14-2013   #5
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Even though I still use 35mm for macro, everyday snaps shots at gigs etc I have been using 120 and larger formats for years as primary tools.
It's not really (just) about image quality for me but more about the way of working.
I see you already have a Fuji 6x7, I had one of those also and never really felt it had the right feel. Mostly I use a pair of Rolleiflex cameras I like the square format and the WLF but if you like wide angle a Hassie superwide is a nice option.

I don't feel the need to give up 35mm though; all my cameras have purpose.
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Old 12-14-2013   #6
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Hello and thanks to all for the good replies and opinions.
Film prices are one driving factor - but in the the sense that MF seems worth it, particularly when looking at digital FF or MF alternatives. The X2 hit the sweet spot for me, digital I am content.

I shoot with print (magazines mainly, single-double spreads) in mind - and here I found film to be the medium I can work with more easily (and enjoy more in general) even when using hybrid, and I think MF will be easier here than 35mm.

Oh well, no rush, but nevertheless a decision I want to make soon.
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Old 12-14-2013   #7
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If you're shooting for publication, obviously MF is the ticket, but it's all a compromise. I love the look of my MF stuff. Tri-X w/ 120 is just gorgeous. However, I found that the type of photos I can get w/ 35mm are more important to me. Gave up using RF's because I like to shoot portraits, and it's better for me to see what the camera is seeing and have more accurate framing. A RF is fun for daily toting around because it's small and light, but something like a Nikon FG w/ a 50 and an 85 2.0 lens is lighter and possibly smaller than an M3 w/ just one lens, especially if it's a DR. So you'll have to weigh what type of photos you're after. If I shot a lot of landscapes it would be 120 film. For everything else I like a 35m SLR because I get shots, especially of people, that you're just not going to get w/ a MF camera.. The ability to change lenses quickly is a big plus as well. I'm shooting mainly Leica R glass on Nikons and it is pretty neat. I also only shoot B&W. If I shot color it would be different story and digital is fine for that. There, the choice is mainly RF or SLR. Don't forget, w/ 6x6 you only have 12 images on a roll, vs 36 w/ 35mm, so while you'll have your less-shooting thing covered, you'll also be developing more to get less images.
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Old 12-14-2013   #8
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I still like 35mm for a lot of shots. But I got a Yashica 124 MAT G back in the 70s because I also felt the siren call of larger negatives. There is much to be said for them.

Just be careful. Now I like 6x6 folders, 6x9 folders, and 9x12 folders.
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yes, it makes sense...
Old 12-14-2013   #9
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yes, it makes sense...

"In the end, I want to shoot less, use (and develop) less and get more...if that makes sense."

I feel in a similar position, my M7 is not used so much since a few month ago I started to photograph more and more with my (father's) Rolleiflex.

I do not make a point of image quality but I like the slower process. And similar to you I have always in my bag the Leica X1 for interiors with low or difficult light situation. It' seems me a good combination!

I do not feel having made a 100% transition (too many 35mm cameras?) but I like that way to photograph. Of course it depends as well on the kind of project I'm shooting for (even if I'm a pure amateur I prefer to work on projects).

Last week I entered in a good shop to evaluate in my hands two ineresting for me cameras: Fuji xe2 and Nikon DF: I went out with a beautiful Ikon Exakta 6x6

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Old 12-14-2013   #10
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I now use MF (6x9 and 6x6) almost exclusively for recreational (landscape, townscape, vintage equipment) photography. Digital compact point & shoot has taken over the family snapshots from 35mm. But I'm hanging on to the Rollei 35 and Ilford Advocate for the pleasure of them.
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Old 12-14-2013   #11
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Very much completely 120 since I started with film again. The 135 is only used for a few specific camera's, a Viewmaster and a Fed Stereo. Otherwise it's only 120. Mostly because I don't have to fill 36 exposures before I see something of them. These days it can be hard to fill even 16 at an event.
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Old 12-14-2013   #12
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I use 35mm for the convenience and the lens speed. I love my Mamiya 7, but at f/4 at its fastest, I'd have to push every film by 3 stops to get the same shutter speed as f/1.4 on my MP. That negates the advantage of the larger negative. I have f/2.8 glass on my Hasselblad, but that's a much different shooting experience than either the Mamiya 7 or the Leica.

That said, when light is adequate, I bring out the Mamiya or the Hasselblad preferentially over the Leica.
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Old 12-14-2013   #13
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I would say 90% 120 !

I still enjoy shooting expired film on old 35mm cameras just for fun ! It has a certain look and charm ! It's so cheap so why not !
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Old 12-14-2013   #14
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The shots I just got back from my Mamiya 645 w/ T-Max 400 made me wish it was all I shot. The 45mm lens that I bought here just blew me away. It is just too damn big to carry around all the time. And my IIIf is just fun to work with. Everything has a place in my photo world.
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Old 12-14-2013   #15
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I started with analogue photography with a 4x5" camera (which I do not have anymore), but I mostly shoot 6x6 (now Mamiya 6). I did try 35mm (Konica S3, Bessa R3A, Zeiss ZM) and while it was fun it did not suit the photography I like doing most.

120 is no complete replacement for 35 though - low light is where 35mm shines - as well as the portability. But I rather use digital in those situations.

For the future it will be for me: 120 + digital mirroless (right now Nikon V1)

I do have Xpan since recently, but that is a bit different story.
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Old 12-14-2013   #16
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Thanks again - seems like several went down this path. I will always carry a smaller 35mm as backup (T3 or Minilux), so some of the 35mm convenience would still remain. I guess best will be to attemp one project with MF, and then see. Indeed my concern is low light.
@Robert: Yes, a while ago in Tokyo I went to a Fuji store to check out the then new X-Pro 1, and almost walked out with the GF670...had I had more money at the time.
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Old 12-14-2013   #17
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I really don't consider it is an either/or prospect for me concerning 120 format versus 35mm. Obviously better photo quality can be achieved via the 120...but sometimes I enjoy getting out there with my Zeiss Ikon ZM.
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Old 12-14-2013   #18
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I've gone back and forth with formats over the years. Using the Ilford 3200ISO film in the Fuji 6x9 cameras is very liberating because then you can shoot a large negative with an overgrown Leica style camera. But I've also circled back to manual 35mm cameras after using compact point and shoots a lot because with the P&S you tend to shoot too quickly and not understand what you're doing, whereas with a manual SLR or Leica you slow down and think more.

But I do a lot of large format and digital as well. I think I'll almost choose a camera based on how the shooting pace needs to be, and often you want to slow things down. After all, if you wanted to shoot very quickly and with reliable automation then you'd use something like a Nikon F5 or a pro DSLR like a D3s and you'd be able to do 100s of photos in a few seconds. There is a place for that kind of shooting too... simply shooting children playing is very similar to high caliber action sports, you do better with a fast camera and sometimes "spray and pray" works better than careful consideration.

There have been times that I either sold or put away gear and forced myself to use only one camera/lens for a period of months and that works very well for me.
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Saying goodbye to a lot of 35mm gear
Old 12-14-2013   #19
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Saying goodbye to a lot of 35mm gear

I have had the same thought as you over the past few months. So much so, that I've put my M7 up for sale on the big auction site, along with a few very expensive M mount lenses. Although the Leica image quality is unbeatable for 35mm film, it's still 35mm film in the end. And, it's a very expensive way to imprint these little postage stamp size negatives.

My Nikon gear will soon follow on the auction block. I do have a lot of macro gear - lenses and ring flashes. That's the only area where I may hesitate in getting rid of all the 35mm SLR gear. That is a forte of the SLR.

Otherwise, I feel that the simple Bessa R and some LTM lenses will take care of my 35mm travel needs. I also have a Canon Sure Shot P&S for travelling.

If I didn't have rolls of 35mm film stocked up, I would probably have sold all this stuff off sooner. I have done some film sales here, and I may do a few more in the future. Waiting to finish 36 frames can sometimes be an eternity.

The Rolleiflex 3.5F and Kodak Medalist II 6x9 provide image quality in large quantities. I really like the Medalist - only 8 frames before I finish the roll. Just enough for family occasions.

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Old 12-14-2013   #20
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I gave up 35mm for all of 2010 and 2011 shooting mostly digital or with a Rollei or 6x9 fuji and 6x9 Bessa folder. 4x5 doing a bit of the work as well
Then came back to 35mm for B+W. It's that look of a grittier image with "thinner" tones and higher grain that are possible at same enlargement sizes (as compared to medium/large format) .
Not sure exactly how to describe it. It's sort of a special effect/character thing.
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Old 12-14-2013   #21
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I went from 120 to 35mm long time ago. I wanted gear I could take anywhere without encumbrance. Having said this, wouldn't mind getting another Makina to round out my gear.
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Old 12-14-2013   #22
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I've found that the choice of formats is related to my choices in subjects.

I switched completely to 120 (the Hasselblad) fifteen years ago and after eight years came back to the 135 fold (via Leica). As of this year I am using both.

The increase in tonality that 120 offers relative to 135 is astonishing and well worth the trade-off in handling and ease of carrying the gear - for some subjects.

When I shot 120 exclusively, I was particularly interested in landscapes and loved using the camera mounted on a tripod, shooting AgfaPan 25 rated at ISO 12 to get the most detail possible.

After several years of refining those methods, I began to find it all a bit stifling and started searching for a less formal approach. One aspect of that search was that my attention was drawn to different subject matter. In my case it was the quiet side of what we might call street photography and the louder side of what goes on in urban nightclubs. The smaller camera/hand-held approach was, and is, more immediate and thus effective as a means to capture those moments. The image tonality is more than adequate and in some respects the "lack thereof" enhances the subjects.

I am drawn again to the tripod-mounted Hasselblad for some new work - and for these ideas, it is the better choice.

As with so much in photography, the answer is "it depends".
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Old 12-14-2013   #23
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I definitely prefer 120 in the darkroom, at 6x6 or 6x9. And this year, I bought a 6x12 cm roll film back, that I haven't tried yet. 35mm seems like such a toy.
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Old 12-14-2013   #24
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I shoot 120 on a Hasselblad 500cm for everything except when I know I'll be photographing my son running around.

I was really very surprised with how well I can capture him at speed with the 500cm and 80mm, but 35mm wins simply for increased depth of field and faster film advance. Sometimes capturing moments means getting as many exposures as possible.

As I say for all other situations, including photographing my son when he's only doing warp 5, not warp 10, I love 120.

Lots of people mention resolution and quality in terms of sharpness and clarity, but for me it's the unique rendering, smooth tonal range transition, milder grain, and shallow depth of field that makes 120 special.

My wife tells me I may be getting a 120 folder for Christmas, about which I'm deliriously excited because the idea of 120 in my pocket is fantastic. I would love a Rolleiflex and a Mamiya 6 (non folder) to compare and contrast and see which suits me best, but alas my budget does not stretch and there's no away I'd risk selling the Hasselblad!
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Old 12-15-2013   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 35mmdelux View Post
I went from 120 to 35mm long time ago. I wanted gear I could take anywhere without encumbrance. Having said this, wouldn't mind getting another Makina 67 to round out my gear.
Though shooting 135 my whole life, my interest and primary shooting was in 120. So, I would say the same thing or rather that I came back to 135. I have sold all of my Hasselblad gear, but for one CM and one lens. I sold all of Rolleiflex gear as well, except for my favorite. I am down to my last folder, a Franka. Of the three, only the Rolleiflex has been used in the last year. Today, I am considering moving off all of them. Why? I guess I just love the freedom the smaller format offers. The mobility, the spontaneity, and the convenience are more important than outright perceived image quality at this time in my life.
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Old 12-15-2013   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dof View Post
One aspect of that search was that my attention was drawn to different subject matter. In my case it was the quiet side of what we might call street photography and the louder side of what goes on in urban nightclubs. The smaller camera/hand-held approach was, and is, more immediate and thus effective as a means to capture those moments. The image tonality is more than adequate and in some respects the "lack thereof" enhances the subjects.
Quote:
Originally Posted by f16sunshine View Post
Then came back to 35mm for B+W. It's that look of a grittier image with "thinner" tones and higher grain that are possible at same enlargement sizes (as compared to medium/large format) .
Not sure exactly how to describe it. It's sort of a special effect/character thing.
+1 Coming back to 35mm B+W film for that *imperfect* look myself, complements certain club and urban shooting in my locale
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Old 12-15-2013   #27
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One of the strength of film photography is the different formats available (with different matching cameras).

What would be the benefit for limiting ourselves to using one exclusively?
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Old 12-15-2013   #28
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I had sworn off 35mm for a while. After buying a full frame digital body that accepted all of my Nikon F mount lenses, it was hard to mess around with developing and scanning 35mm. The only film I shot for the last year or so was 120 and 220 in a Mamiya RZ67 and Mamiya Super 23.

However, in the past few months, I've started mess with 35mm again. Mainly with a Olympus MJU-II and Minolta XG7. The MJU is great for quick snaps, and I decided to pick up the Minolta again when I realized I had a pretty well rounded kit–28/3.5, 35/2.8, 50/1.4, 135/2.8, 300/4.5–collecting dust, which I had a very minimal amount of money into.

I remembered I had a bunch of tri x, foma 100, and cheap c41 in the freezer, and figured I'd start shooting it again. I see it as more of something to play with; if I am concerned about quality with a landscape, the medium format gear comes out.
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Old 12-15-2013   #29
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If you approach this from a results - prints on the wall perspective and the attitude of using the best tool for the job... once digital cameras became affordable/practical and increased their high ISO performance, I saw that photographers continued to use 35mm film (or Holgas or Wet Plate or...) for its "organic-imperfect" qualities in reaction to the prevalence of smooth, perfect digital images.

So watching the development of Instagram filters and VSCO-type effects that simulate the random flaws of using film is quite ironic to me.

With that in mind, to me the best remaining use of film is to make very high quality large format images that even a high-rez Phase or Hasselblad can't match.

Otherwise the remaining reason to use roll film in little cameras or struggling with alt processes is simply personal choice. Most of us don't care how hard you worked to get a picture, only that it's an interesting picture.
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Old 12-15-2013   #30
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There is no substitute for square inches of film
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Old 12-15-2013   #31
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I love the tonality of 120 and use a lot of it.

But I also love the ease of handling that I get with 135.

Besides, I can't figure out how to get 120 film inside my Leica II.
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Old 12-15-2013   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
If you approach this from a results - prints on the wall perspective and the attitude of using the best tool for the job... once digital cameras became affordable/practical and increased their high ISO performance, I saw that photographers continued to use 35mm film (or Holgas or Wet Plate or...) for its "organic-imperfect" qualities in reaction to the prevalence of smooth, perfect digital images.

So watching the development of Instagram filters and VSCO-type effects that simulate the random flaws of using film is quite ironic to me.

With that in mind, to me the best remaining use of film is to make very high quality large format images that even a high-rez Phase or Hasselblad can't match.

Otherwise the remaining reason to use roll film in little cameras or struggling with alt processes is simply personal choice. Most of us don't care how hard you worked to get a picture, only that it's an interesting picture.
Especially if the stated purpose of the photography is reportage. 35mm will be more convenient and will work in more circumstances than 120.
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Old 12-15-2013   #33
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I still use 35mm for the compact size of the cameras and the speed of the lenses. But whenever possible I use 120. My Mamiya 6 is my hiking camera and my Fuji GSW690 goes on shorter hikes and special walks. There is no comparison between the quality of 120 and 35mm. The negs seem to print effortlessly - is it because I take my time more with the larger format and actually think about the exposure? Whatever it is, it's worth the extra effort to lug the big boys around!
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Old 12-15-2013   #34
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I've gone back and forth a few times between 35mm and 120.

Back when I bought my first Bronica S2a, it took the place of my Leica M4 about 50%. I sold the S2a then shot more 35mm for a few years, mostly during school, then went to digital.

Once I got an M8 then an M9, I completely stopped shooting 35mm film.
I DID keep shooting 120 though with a Fuji G690BL. That got sold, i got a Rolleiflex and loved it but only for a summer.

Now I'm a digital shooter using a Nikon D3 for all of the work stuff but I shoot a lot with my Mamiya 6 system. If I had my druthers, I'd do all my work with the Mamiya but I'm not that established yet so I've got to work harder and work more. One day.

So, I still have a Leica M4 and 50mm DR Summicron but I don't shoot with it anymore. I keep it for sentimental reasons as it's one camera I took with me through the second seige of Fallujah, Iraq and it performed quite well. I'll never get rid of it even though I may not use it anymore.

I'm *trying* to get to using exclusively 120 but work dictates that I use a digital camera for its speed.

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Old 12-15-2013   #35
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It is personal decision.

One of the most impressive real life portraits I have seen was from OP.
"Refugees from Iraq in Armenia". Feels close and personal for me too.

If OP will choose to do it MF it will be no film wasted for sure.
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Old 12-15-2013   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burancap View Post
Though shooting 135 my whole life, my interest and primary shooting was in 120. So, I would say the same thing or rather that I came back to 135. I have sold all of my Hasselblad gear, but for one CM and one lens. I sold all of Rolleiflex gear as well, except for my favorite. I am down to my last folder, a Franka. Of the three, only the Rolleiflex has been used in the last year. Today, I am considering moving off all of them. Why? I guess I just love the freedom the smaller format offers. The mobility, the spontaneity, and the convenience are more important than outright perceived image quality at this time in my life.
Jeff,
I let go of the perfection orientation of 120 and 4x5 for the ability to snap quickly. In this sense, it is as HCB said, a sketch.

Regards - Paul
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Old 12-15-2013   #37
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Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
...Otherwise the remaining reason to use roll film in little cameras or struggling with alt processes is simply personal choice. Most of us don't care how hard you worked to get a picture, only that it's an interesting picture.
I don't know about your hypothesis, Frank. Those little cameras with b&w film properly developed can achieve amazing results. I'm keeping my M7 and running HP or Tri 400 for the foreseeable future- Best Regards - Paul
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Old 12-16-2013   #38
Bruno Gracia
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Peter, after all my affairs, I'm back with a Brand New MP, lux 50 asph, 35 lux asph and 28 cron asph, buuut, for portraiture and great quality, and color I use my hassy 500CM with the 80 or 150, You will be amazed when You can see your MF negatives.

But at the end, 35mm is necessary for convenience, speed and light equipment. Also Leica is an investiment.
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Old 12-16-2013   #39
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I mostly used medium format, a bit of 4x5 and very rarely 35mm. 35mm is good for vacations, where you may just want to burn through film taking snapshots, but as I rarely even finish a roll of 120 on one outing, a 36exp roll lives for a while in my camera, too long.

35mm has the ability to give all the quality I need, with good shooting, development and scanning. But medium format gives that quality effortlessly.
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Old 12-16-2013   #40
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Hello!

Thanks for all the input, I follow the discussion closely. A lot of good thoughts here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
It is personal decision.
One of the most impressive real life portraits I have seen was from OP.
"Refugees from Iraq in Armenia". Feels close and personal for me too.
Thank you! Interestingly, that image was shot on Kentmere 400, pushed. I thought, however, that it is HP5+ (bulk roll, that store guy said it was HP5+) and I developed it accordingly. The resulting imperfection may have led to the character of the image...in any case, it does not reduce its quality. All of which works a little against the motivation to use MF to get closer to "perfection".

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Originally Posted by shadowfox View Post
One of the strength of film photography is the different formats available (with different matching cameras).
What would be the benefit for limiting ourselves to using one exclusively?
Good point, and perhaps reason enough to keep the M6. Plus mine is in incredible mint shape, with the new finder, and like Bruno said, an investment (though I buy cameras to use them). M6 and GF670 may work nicely together, actually.

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Originally Posted by 35mmdelux View Post
I don't know about your hypothesis, Frank. Those little cameras with b&w film properly developed can achieve amazing results.l
Yupp. From the number of images I have published in print, the Contax T3 is up front; astonishing results...that camera would stay in any case.
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