Medium Format Regret?
Old 08-23-2016   #1
ktmrider
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Medium Format Regret?

So, I am interested if anyone here went to a medium format and was disappointed and returned to either digital or 35mm. I have shot 35mm since 1970 and am generally happy with the results. I have used a 500CM a few times in the past and liked those results as well.

Now, I have a chance to trade one of my M2's for a 645 system. On another thread, there were several comments that the 6X4.5 negative is not enough of a difference from 35mm. Now, I know the bigger the negative, the better but that is compromised by bigger cameras, more expensive film (exposures per roll), etc.

I am trying to decide on getting a 645 for a trade or getting a bigger system. Comments?
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Old 08-23-2016   #2
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i used the mamiya 645 for a long while...beautiful negs and images from the 645.
went back to 35mm for no real reason, probably just wanted a change...and back to medium format with 2 mamiya 6 bodies and then on to digital mostly because i got tired of the darkroom.
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Old 08-23-2016   #3
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for me 645 works great don't like square or 6x7. I've shot 6x9 but would use a 4x5 graphic now instead. YMMV
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Old 08-23-2016   #4
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I went from 645 folder to 4x5 monorail view. Big doesn't mean better at all in final results to me. And I'll have 645 SLR for sale soon. Compared it with cheap 35mm SLR, lens for close up portraits, the hassle with MF is not worth of slightly better tonal range and little bit more sharpness.

Also sold "35" FF digital rig with sharp expensive digital lenses. Not worth it at the end comparing to modern lenses dedicated for APS-C sensors.

But... What is the final result for you? Counting pixels on huge monitor? Wall, room size landscapes prints?
Slightly deeper tonal range what nobody else but you could pay attention and consider as something huge in terms of how image looks like overall and its message?
I don't have any needs for this.

With digital, 3000 pixels at the longer side JPEG1 files are absolutely enough for me for 27-inch screen and for 8x10 prints.
And on film, after I printed my first portrait with collapsible Cron on 8x10 in the darkroom the MF was done and gone for me. I aslo have seen original prints from Meyerowitz, Winogrand and Zimbel on much larger darkroom prints. They are worth of asking price. Those three used mostly Leicas for photography were moment was captured. I have also seen Meyerowitz big color prints from LF. Honestly, paintings are way better for same subjects.
And Jane Bown portraits taken with nothing special but Oly OM are as good as Yousuf Karsh 8x10 camera taken portraits if looking at them in the book.

With MF everything is bigger, slower and less handy. Some like it, me not.
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Old 08-23-2016   #5
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Honestly i would go for something above 645 simply because IMO youre not feeling the real magic of medium format with anything below 6x6
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Old 08-23-2016   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake Mongey View Post
Honestly i would go for something above 645 simply because IMO youre not feeling the real magic of medium format with anything below 6x6
I stand with the above. 6x6 or bigger.

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Old 08-23-2016   #7
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More like 35mm regret..
When you realize..your $200- Yashicamat..can beat your 5K Leica M...on the big print..
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Old 08-23-2016   #8
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When I compare images from my Mamiya 645, Rollei 2.8 or 3.5, Fuji 690... 35mm does not even come close.
Yeah 6 by 6 and up is better than 6 by 4.5, but I find it strange that there are some that say 645 is close to 35mm. It is not. All you gotta do is drop a 35mm neg on top of a 645 one and see...

35mm is fantastic for so many things (and I shoot it all the time) but from an imaging perspective it cannot compare to the larger formats.

The only downside I see to my 645 ProTl system is the size if that matters.
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Old 08-23-2016   #9
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I've never understood the people who say 645 isn't big enough of a difference. If the equipment is good you can definitely tell the difference. That being said, I do find a 645 SLR (such as the mamiya I own) to be a hassle. I much prefer the fuji GA645, but some people don't like the lack of manual controls. It is still a great camera.
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Old 08-23-2016   #10
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valid^

I've had Bronica SQ-A, Rolleicord Va, Holga, Mamiya 6, Mamiya 7 but am currently just running Pentax 67 and a Fuji G690BL. However all cameras above with the exception of the holga could destroy 35mm in terms of enlargement.
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Old 08-23-2016   #11
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Well, I have two M2's, a Leica R6.2, a Nikon F and a Leica M9. I have an M5 on the way from Sherry. I have a friend who has both a Pentax 645N and Mamiya 645 who wants one of my M2's. Funny thing is I sold this friend a 500CM about two years ago and he will not sell it back.

The M9 takes care of any digital urges I have but I have been shooting more TriX so thinking the larger negative for landscapes. Am not in a hurry to do anything but presently gathering information.

I think there might be a medium format revival underway. Have been looking at various websites for mf gear and presently it is pretty rare to find a blad or mamiya 67 on b&h, KEH etc. Guess I should expand my search to eBay.
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Old 08-23-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamzip View Post
That being said, I do find a 645 SLR (such as the mamiya I own) to be a hassle. I much prefer the fuji GA645, but some people don't like the lack of manual controls. It is still a great camera.
To make it worth it you need to use it for its intended purposes.
The 645TL is so big because it has the detachable backs. If you do not need to have changeable backs (which is so nice to be able to use different films w/o having to complete the roll etc), or interchangable lenses, or relatively fast lenses, or interchangeable finders, or even interchangeable drives! - then yes a smaller mf like your GA, or a GF670 makes more sense.
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Old 08-23-2016   #13
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I use 645 mostly like on holidays (together with a 6x17) and day outs when I expect to shoot a lot of film. Otherwise I go up to 6x9. I don't like 6x6 or 6x7. Always slides, rarely b&w (2-3 film a year) never colour negative.

Those who think that you need larger than 6x4.5 to get medium format need to look at some projected slides from 645.

You really need to think about what you want. 645 is great when you want to take it along and want everything from wide angle to short tele. I normally take a 645 kit with 35/55/80/150 and that is portable, even for a 2 week holiday strolling around towns, visiting museums, churches etc. I'm not a mountain hike freak. 6x6 is an option if you can do everything you want with a single or 2 lenses. 6x9 and more than one lens...did it once, never to be repeated. Now if you stay in a studio or within armlength of the car this changes.

Probably those that find a 645TL too large don't think twice to take a laptop, 2 chargers, a usb HD and a tablet along any hassle at all.
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Old 08-23-2016   #14
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When I started getting into photography I mainly used a Mamiya 645AF, then got Hasselblads.
But for how and what I shoot 35mm rangefinder works the best.
Though I did just grab an interesting medium format camera so we'll see if I change back to medium format more than 35mm.
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Old 08-23-2016   #15
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Some 645 cameras are almost as fast and easy to use as 35mm.
Not so most larger format cameras. IMO 645 is a nice compromise.

That said I no longer own or use any medium format cameras, and don't miss them.
For my uses (wet prints up to 8x10" and scans to PC) 35mm is fine, and less expensive.

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Old 08-23-2016   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmrider View Post
Well, I have two M2's, a Leica R6.2, a Nikon F and a Leica M9. I have an M5 on the way from Sherry. I have a friend who has both a Pentax 645N and Mamiya 645 who wants one of my M2's.
Simple- have your friend lend you the 645s. Use them. See if the negatives make enough difference for you. Decide.

I have no regrets on any 35mm equipment I've gotten rid of. Medium format, yes, regrets. But realize that I haven't shot 35mm film in a few years, having decided that digital filled that space better than film for me. While no digital, at least within my budget, can fill the space of medium format, including 645.
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Old 08-23-2016   #17
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I never "connected" with any system cameras although the Contax 645 may get another go (loved the 145mm).

I still use regularly a half dozen folders and TLRs in 6x6,6x7 and 6x9.
Most are old and one is very modern compared to the rest (fuji GF670).
If you desire the look of 6x6 or larger 35mm in film or digital can not compare. (dof at given FL and tonality etc.)

Odd as it might seem, I take my GF 670 for low light situations.
At my youngish age, It can be handheld to 1/8th and the quality of a 1600 iso frame is on par with a 400 iso 35mm frame (often cleaner in a hybrid workflow).
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Old 08-23-2016   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake Mongey View Post
Honestly i would go for something above 645 simply because IMO youre not feeling the real magic of medium format with anything below 6x6
Agreed, but more because I don't like the 4/3 ratio. And you can buy some really cheap 645 systems instead of getting rid of a M2.
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Old 08-23-2016   #19
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My first camera was a ZI Netter 6x9, which still takes amazing pictures with its uncoated anastigmat lens. I use the camera from time to time, to "go back to my roots".

I recently traded a Hassy 500 for a Leica IIIf. The Hassy performed as I expected, but the kit was so heavy I seldom used it. Basically, its more fun to shoot 35.
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Old 08-23-2016   #20
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I've had a few MF cameras but sold all but two (a) multiformat (6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9, 6x12) pinhole and (b) Minolta Autocord. All the MF cameras I've shot with (including a 6x4.5) offered significant imaging improvement over 35mm, but they were extra hassle, slower to load and shoot, and difficult to extract the improved imaging without setting up a MF-capable darkroom. (For digital printing, I've found that flatbed scanners just don't do very well with large negatives that sag -- I never ponied up for a Nikon 9000 and can't afford an Imacon. With my pinhole negatives the flatbed quality issues are, well, mostly irrelevant to be honest.) So, while I don't "regret" my MF forays per se, I rarely shoot the Autocord and can't see purchasing another MF camera anytime soon. But that's mostly because I don't photograph landscapes, urbanscapes, or even static subjects very often. If I was go back to taking slower photographs, I'd be more likely to go back to MF and have more incentive to pick up a Nikon 9000 or get a MF enlarger. Until then, 35mm it is for me.

EDIT: But really, you have to try and see for yourself. There is no other way.
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Old 08-23-2016   #21
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With modern MF systems, I have 35mm regret- especially those planned shots
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Old 08-23-2016   #22
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I just started with MF. Previous film to digital experience with 35mm left me disappointed, but the files I get back now are just amazing. I am using a 6x7 and a 6x6 camera and for landscape photography they are drastically better than 35mm and even my FF digital Canon.
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Old 08-23-2016   #23
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the mamiya 6 is actually a pretty good street camera...like a fat 35mm.
and the lenses are fantastic.
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Old 08-23-2016   #24
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One doesn't need massive prints to see the differences.
Medium format gives rich creamy prints easily seen in good 6"x6" size.
The tonal range is superb.
Landscapes easily done.
So what's not to like?

The cost factor.
Film and processing all expensive.
The equipment way bulkier and heavy.

Mamiya C series in my studio.
Heavy duty work and stunning results.
Moved to Pentax 6x7.
Wanted the rectangle, not square format.
Hated I couldn't proof a roll on 8"x10".
small but irritating.
Pentax weight awesome.
Traded for Leica M6.

Get a Rollei TLR or 645 Mamiya/Pentax.
Use it and enjoy.
PS. I kept a Rollei TLR.

Last edited by leicapixie : 08-23-2016 at 13:27. Reason: 6"x6" prints.
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Old 08-23-2016   #25
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MF is MF is not MF is not MF. I notice there are more diverse form of cameras in MF rather than 35mm which tend to be more similar.

I would second some research and trying out. TLRs and RFs can give a lot of neg for the weight. My Fuji 6x9 weighs 1,5kg as does a Nikon F5 with a light lens. However, very different approaches.

I kind of dropped 35mm for 6x9 because I am slow and methdoical. However, 35mm is so obiquitous and easy that I have a cheaply bought Nikon AF that feels like a P&S. At the moment 35mm works as convenient and more on the auto side vs the Fuji which is fully manual and unmetered.

For the perception I have about the trade of the M2, you may get a quite decent option. 645 SLRs are not in the same line of handling as 35mm RF. I would veer towards the 120 RF such as the Mamiyas, Fujis, Bronica.
Some MF cameras can be found for quite low prices nowadays too, so you can complement formats.


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Old 08-23-2016   #26
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It's telling that your friend will happily depart with the 645 but not the 500 isn't it?
If I were you I'd keep the M2s, you seem to enjoy travelling with the pair of them. If you have the urge to move to MF, trade something else for it.
Also, get what you want rather than what is convenient, it'll be worth it in the long term.
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Trying Both 645's
Old 08-23-2016   #27
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Trying Both 645's

Well, I have been shooting the past week with both the Pentax 645N and the Mamiya 645. I could get spoiled by the 645N as I have never had an auto exposure/autofocus camera. The Mamiya is outfitted with a 80f2 manual lens. I don't mind the manual focus but it does not even have auto aperture so must be closed down manually before shooting.

And my friend Jason has stated that the blad is so much more reliable then the auto and electric (7 AA batteries) 645's.

The main reason to trade an M2 is it is hard to justify 3 film M bodies with the M5 I have coming from Sherry. I just don't shoot that much unless I am traveling.

I appreciate all the comments. I am still undecided about 6x4.5 being large enough. I recently pulled some 6x6 transparencies out for the light table from when a 500CM was my only camera and all I can say is WOW.
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Old 08-23-2016   #28
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There is the rub that the bigger format needs longer (usually slower) lenses for the same FOV and that comes with some DOF issues you might not initially consider. But MF does bring a different look that I wouldn't ever give up. I shoot 35, 120 and 8x10. Each has a unique look.
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Old 08-23-2016   #29
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I have a buddy and we both shoot MF...

I am using a Mamiya RB67 with the K/L 90 f/3.5 L... in a nutshell, if you are scanning for the internet, then the larger negative might not bring that much as seen from the average viewer.

This week I have been using the RB67 with B&W and Color, plus the tripod, three backs, and a meter... it's not kit to move around with and I have been using a bicycle ; ). Shooting landscapes and historical sites this time around. My other cameras on this trip are a Nikon F3P w/ 50mm f/1.2 and a Fuji X100T.

Just enjoying myself in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture.
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Old 08-23-2016   #30
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Based on recent experience with a Pentax 645, for me it obliterates 35mil film. And the Pentax is really no larger than a pro digital 35mm body.
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Old 08-23-2016   #31
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A friend has an 11X14 Mary Ellen Mark print on the wall. Shot with a 4X5. It doesn't have to be a large print to justify large format. The image jumps right off the wall, much different than 35mm or medium formats, even at modest sizes.
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Old 08-23-2016   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leicapixie View Post
One doesn't need massive prints to see the differences.
Medium format gives rich creamy prints easily seen in good 6"x6" size.
The tonal range is superb.
Landscapes easily done.
So what's not to like?

The cost factor.
Film and processing all expensive.
The equipment way bulkier and heavy.

Mamiya C series in my studio.
Heavy duty work and stunning results.
Moved to Pentax 6x7.
Wanted the rectangle, not square format.
Hated I couldn't proof a roll on 8"x10".
small but irritating.
Pentax weight awesome.
Traded for Leica M6.

Get a Rollei TLR or 645 Mamiya/Pentax.
Use it and enjoy.
PS. I kept a Rollei TLR.
Pretty much agree. I'll comment that the difference in qualities between 35mm and 645 is HUGE. People who don't think it is may not have eyes. It's not just about sharpness when enlarging, but also about grain, tonality, and control over depth of field. The difference between 645 and 6x6? Not as big of a deal.

As for bulk, there are plenty of medium format cameras that are no bigger than 35mm SLRs of the same era. Heck, some of the smaller ones, like the Ricohflex are surprisingly compact:
sizes by Berang Berang, on Flickr

Left to right: Fed 3 RF, Ricohflex TLR, Edixa SLR. The Ricohflex is peculiarly small, and yes pretty crude, but a Rolleicord is only marginally larger and much more sophisticated. One doesn't have to have a bulky, heavy camera to enjoy medium format.
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Old 08-23-2016   #33
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Seems I'm part of the minority. I like 35mm for its rougher aesthetic qualities and when I want more resolution I use an APS-C digital. I was initially enticed by the promise of super high resolution negs and while I did get some tonally beautiful prints I have never personally gotten significantly more than 20mp out of a 6x6 negative. In the end it wasn't really worth the hassle for what I wanted it for. I might change my tune if I come across a reasonably priced digital back, but otherwise I think if I were seriously thinking of going bigger than 35mm I would go LF.
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Old 08-23-2016   #34
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I don't know why everyone gets so worked up over the size of the negative. Anything in the MF world will amaze you when compared against 35mm film.

This is my advice. If this is your first real step into medium format, forget the size of the format, find the camera you like. If you get a camera you like you won't care about whether or not it is 6x4.5 or 6x9.

I have four medium format cameras I use regularly. The Fuji GA645, the Rolleiflex 3.5 MX/EVS, the Arax 60 (love those Zeiss lenses), and the Pentax 645Nii. Two are 6x6 and two are 6x4.5. Two are system cameras and two are fixed lens. Two depend on batteries and two do not. One is a rangefinder (more or less), two are SLRs, and one is a TLR.

Irregardless of the differences or similarities, the negatives from all 4 cameras are totally awesome because all 4 cameras have totally awesome lenses.

One more piece of advice. Once you get your camera, buy a few rolls of Fuji Velvia or Provia. Your jaw will absolutely drop when the transparencies come back from the lab. If you are not hooked right there on the spot then you should immediately sell the camera and return to 35mm.
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Old 08-23-2016   #35
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As I posted earlier, I have owned and used a 500C/M for a couple years back in the 1980's and again about two years ago. In the 1980's, it was my primary camera and used it on safari in Kenya with Ektachrome. I still have my 6x6 projector and have several prints made from the slides on my wall. I think I was using either a 250 or 350mm lens on the blad.

The advantage of the Pentax 645N is Jason has several lenses for it as part of the trade, including a fairly expensive 45-85 zoom. So even if I trade one M2 I still have two M film bodies and 6 lenses in M mount.
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Old 08-23-2016   #36
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To the OP - I've never regretted MF. I still prefer it, after shooting with it almost solely for 5 years.

It's not just the tonality (even though that's really nice). The lenses have different designs to project a larger image circle. And for a wide-angle shot, you've got the longer lens 'look'. The rendering of LF and MF is just too good for me to give up. Does this mean I 'give up' something for those renderings? Sure it does. I give up convenience and quick shooting. But I've really found there are few photos I've taken that are print-worthy that were shot really quickly. So MF/LF it is. I may change.
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Old 08-24-2016   #37
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Mark Cuban once said, "Go big, or don't go."

6x4.5 is kinda inbetween for me: a compromise.

The Mamiya 6 mentioned by Joe is a great camera.

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Old 08-24-2016   #38
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I recently picked up a Mamiya Pro outfit in some horse trading. Neat outfit. I've owned a lot of medium format outfits in my life but I always come back to one.

The Rolleiflex 3.5F
Smaller and lighter than most 35mm SLR cameras. The 6x6 negative is nothing but a 6x4.5 negative waiting to be cropped (wait till you try to take a vertical picture with the 645 SLR). Fantastic lens. Silent. Flash sync'd at all speeds.

Buy the Mamiya. Get the original Mamiya 645, dirt cheap. Keep the M2 or you'll regret it.
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Old 08-24-2016   #39
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Started with 35mm film, then added 6x7, 6x6, 6x4.5 afterward. But, would never substitute one for the other. I always felt i wanted both. Each for different purposes or occasions. Disappointments were always my own fault, or unrealistic expectations. I did feel, when i was trying to shoot fashion, that MF was 'limiting' versus 35mm film, because 35 was much more mobile and responsive. But, in the end, when i selected the image to use, i always wanted it to be on the bigger film.

I started with an RZ, then switched to Pentax 67 because i thought using it would be closer to using my EOS, but then i went to Mamiya 645AF, because THAT would surely be closer to using the EOS, and then i went back to Pentax, and then to Hassy, and now i'm back to the RZ. Having used almost everything, i went back to the largest film size with the 'best' lenses. Still love the Hassy 203FE, but felt that was best for travel and the RZ was better for composed studio/setup stuff.

I do believe 645 is enough of a step 'up' from 35mm, but it really depends on what you want to shoot and which films you use and if resolution is the end all, be all.
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Old 08-25-2016   #40
ChrisLivsey
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Can I echo sentiments above that even at 645 the "pop" is visceral?
Don't underestimate the value of the, in many ways, more forgiving larger formats. Even the simplest gear yields quality. The "AmateurPhotographer" magazine in the UK was often want to post shots from a TLR Seagull which sold and still sells for nearly less than a box of 5 x 120 against the best 35mm from Leica or Zeiss and it was no competition.
As this thread is woefully short of pictures here is a half plate shot, lens from 1904 and the body dated 1899, Waterhouse stops and shutter is you taking off the cap and counting:



Scan on a V850, negative is about 15 years old, can't remember the stock I'd need to look up the notch code.



Granted, street work is a challenge.
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