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Author Topic: Considering Switch to Film  (Read 9017 times)
tgphoto
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« on: November 19, 2007, 03:58:10 PM »
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After shooting digital for the past few years (Canon 10D), I'm considering what I know by some will be considered a backwards move; I'm contemplating switching to MF film, specifically, the Mamiya 7II + Epson V750-M Pro combo.

I mostly shoot landscapes and architecture, and have seen firsthand the kind of images that can be produced from a Mamiya 6/7 when scanned using a Nikon 9000ED and output to an Epson 7600.

After watching the Camera to Print segment on scanning and hearing the praises for the 750 by both Michael and Jeff, I see no reason to spend almost an extra $1000 on the Nikon.

What I'm after is a larger, more detailed negative (digital or otherwise) than can be achieved by 35mm, and the 6x7 format, to me, makes good sense (4x the size of 35mm, or so I've read).  I regularly print larger than 16x20, and would love to go bigger (24x36, 30x40, etc.).

So my setup would be as follows:

Shoot 120 color with Mamiya 7II
Have local lab develop the negs
Scan negs using Epson 750-M Pro
Output to Epson 9800

What I'd like to know is, and please keep in mind, I have never developed my own MF negs, and I don't have the available space to do so, is there a problem with having a local photo lab (I'm in Chicago, so either Gamma, Precision, or Helix, but am open to other suggestions) develop my negs, and if so, are any of the issues, in your opinoin, a deal breaker?

Thanks!

Tim
« Last Edit: November 19, 2007, 03:59:23 PM by tgphoto » Logged
feppe
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2007, 05:18:14 PM »
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The main snag is that buying, developing and scanning MF film is ridiculously expensive. As much as I'd like to continue working with medium format film, the price differenial is unjustifiable to me. Your mileage may vary.
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luong
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« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2007, 06:16:00 PM »
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Sending to a lab is just fine, especially since you have good local ones. Unlike B&W, where the process gives you many options, is relatively easy and inexpensive, there is little point processing yourself color film. Chemicals are more expensive and hazardous, and the process is much more likely to go wrong if the chemicals or temperature are not perfect. In color, there is hardly any choice of developers or development methods.

6x7 film capture is competitive with the best that 35mm digital can offer, and even lower-end MF digital, however, the main bottleneck in your workflow is scanning.

If I remember well, the Nikon has ICE to combat dust. This saves a considerable amount of time, and for that reason alone, it is worth the extra cost over the Epson. Although I have no direct experience with both, I would also be very surprised if the Epson turned out better scans than the Nikon in a head to head test.

Last, if you are serious about making high quality large prints, you may consider a used professional scanner, either flatbed or drum. Those offer considerably higher quality than pro-summer flatbeds like the Epson, and even film scanners like the Nikon.

As for the cost, you have to do your own calculations based on your shooting habits, but in general MF users learn to save on film :-)
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2007, 07:06:29 PM »
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The main snag is that buying, developing and scanning MF film is ridiculously expensive. As much as I'd like to continue working with medium format film, the price differenial is unjustifiable to me. Your mileage may vary.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=154238\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

When in States I cannot imagine that buying or processing film can be a problem. For buying B&H. For processing, by mail. Just make sure you find good lab. I am based in Korea, more difficult   .

I think scanning should not be issue for 6x7. Unlike 35mm or even more compared to DSLR it makes you much more selective. You will have fewer shots but much higher percentage of good ones. I speak from own experience. I have gone from 35mm neg to 35 slides to DSLR (D200), and now to Mamiya 7ii combined with ZD.

The slides from Mamiya 7ii truly blow my mind away.

For landscapes do try Velvia 50. I also finally found some Fuji Astia that I am excited to start use for high contrast scenes.

Film is magic  

Regards
Anders
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Mike Boden
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2007, 07:45:28 PM »
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It sounds like it's time for you to get into large format photography. If you're seriously considering large prints of landscapes, then the huge negatives and transparancies that a 4x5 view camera captures will suit you perfectly. I would also recommend that these be drum scanned for the highest quality. Furthermore, if you're considering architecture, then the movements of a 4x5 view camera will help you immensely as well.

If you're not aware of it yet, the following website is a great source of information: Large Format Photography

And a great book to get you started is: Using the View Camera

Good luck and have fun!
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2007, 09:47:51 PM »
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Tim,
After extensive testing and years of scanning 6x9 negs with Epson 3200, 4870, 4990, Nikon 8000, Microtek 1800f, Imacons and now Epson 750, I came to the conclusion that there was not much of an improvement over a carefully used 5D and considerably more effort. My Hassleblad and 6x9 roll film backs for my 4x5 are idle.

To get a real life bump with MF over a 12mp DSLR you would need a professional scanner or an Imacon at the very least, not a "prosumer" Epson (as we call them pro/consumer) flatbed scanner.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2007, 09:49:04 PM by Kirk Gittings » Logged

Thanks,
Kirk

Kirk Gittings
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Sheldon N
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« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2007, 09:51:15 PM »
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I'm with Kirk. If you're going to do this, you might as well go to 4x5 where you'll get significantly better resolution and added perspective and focal plane control. It could be done for about the same price as a Mamiya 7II system.

My 5D is a great camera, but when I'm shooting landscape or architecture I reach for the 4x5.
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tgphoto
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« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2007, 11:07:40 PM »
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Thanks for all the advice!  

Wow, I guess I'm surprised to see the responses fall into two categories:

1) Go Bigger (4x5)
2) Stick to 35mm digital (5D)

I was under the impression, from watching Camera to Print anyways, that the Epson held its own against the more costly drum scanners.  Guess I was wrong?

I hadn't considered 4x5 or larger until now, although I'm a little puzzled though as to how a 5D file could possibly come close to a 6x7 without some generous interpolation.  I've read that digital is better with regard to dynamic range, but at larger sizes film is still king.  

Just how big can you go with a 5D and still produce an exhibition quality print?

Running the "Epson Magic Numbers" without interpolation, I get:

8"x12" @ 360ppi
12" x18" @ 240ppi
16"x24" @ 180ppi

Whereas with MF scanned at 4000dpi, I get:

24"x30" @ 360ppi
36"x45" @ 240ppi
48"x60" @ 180ppi

What am I missing?
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2007, 12:02:44 AM »
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1) Go Bigger (4x5)
2) Stick to 35mm digital (5D)

...

What am I missing?

[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Tim,

Missing... have you seen this comparison of 5D to ZD? [a href=\"http://www.doorhof.nl/blog/index.php?topic=1123.msg3225#msg3225]http://www.doorhof.nl/blog/index.php?topic...msg3225#msg3225[/url]

A 5D will not stick up against a MFDB (medium format digital back) and I do not see that a MFDB is conclusive winner over a Mamiya 7ii with Fuji slides. Sorry guys   .  7ii vs. MFDB are different medias, each with pros and cons. DSLR result in differences in the images. The Mamiya 7ii is a really lovely simple image tool.

Taking a quick look at your portfolio, I would much encourage you to advance to larger than DSLR/SLR format. It opens up new images.

Regards
Anders
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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2007, 12:18:46 AM »
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Tim,

I have used, tested and taught workshops and credit classes with these things wet and dry (prosumer flatbeds of which the Epson 750 is the best available right now, Microtek is about to come out with anew one with auto focus). They are best with large format. I'd say up to 11x14 print size they are essentially equal with a drum scan, but beyond that as print size increases,  there is a real difference which grows with size. It helps to wet mount (lessens noise increases shadow detail), but to my taste, to get a decent 16x20, even from a 4x5, I need at least an Imacon (I have access to the latest Imacons at SAIC),  but I usually spring for a drum scan (or a scan from a professional flatbed scanner like a Kodak Eversmart  or a Screen Cezanne). I put too much work into a file to waste that effort on anything but a first rate file.

So right now I shoot a 5D (very carefully) or scan 4x5 (for magazine work on a 750), but pay for drum scans for my artwork. Imacons are very fast and provide a very efficient work flow. I am currently installing one of the professional flatbeds I mentioned above so I can do all my scanning in house.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 12:29:07 AM by Kirk Gittings » Logged

Thanks,
Kirk

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Neil Hunt
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« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2007, 04:14:49 PM »
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Tim, if you plan to move to film try not to get too hung up on the whole resolution issue.

Its not all that evident from examples posted on the net, but the real point of film is that it looks like film. In general a little less zingy than digital and potentially more subtle (even Velvia) - but of course in most cases operator input is more important than the medium. Its just that if you are careful film does have a bit of extra potential to add depth.

Neil.
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luong
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« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2007, 06:39:46 PM »
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Yes, one of the primaries advantage of film is the great looking color "out of the box".

Also, what you are missing with the 4000dpi scan numbers is that the Epson (or any other flatbed of similar grade) won't deliver real 4000dpi, no matter what ridiculously high resolution the manufacturer claims. This has been documented time and time again by owners using test charts.
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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2007, 02:31:26 AM »
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Tim,
I would choose the camera based on your shooting style (slow/methodical or spontaneous/fast). If you shoot slower like most landscape and architectural folks do, I would get as big a film (or digital) camera you can afford. My style is somewhat planned out but open to spontaneity so I use the Mamiya 7II, plus the fact my shooting technique (multiple exposures) requires a film camera. It's a very light/compact camera, good lenses, discreet/quiet (think Leica) and solid as well.

Transparencies look great with the 7II, especially when scanned at 4000-5000ppi and printed 30x37 or 40x50. I only use drum scans since my work is fine art and not worth time/frustration/poor image quality of any consumer/prosumer scanner. I've tried most of these scanners and non of them come close to the qualtiy needed for anything bigger than an 8x10 in my opinion (for 120 film anyway). Main flaw is the holder, non of them will keep the film flat. Imacon is good but not enough ppi for large prints (3200ppi max) and too pricey for me to justify. (I do 30-50 scans a year)

4x5 is just as cheap (expensive) to operate as MF, just slower to use. Quality is great of course and worth the effort. (I love my Sinar 4x5 for shooting in the studio)

As much as I love shooting with the Canon 5d, I would never use it for large prints (over 20x24). Just doesn't cut it on many levels (file size, highlight detail, digital "look"). Yes, you can add in film grain on digital and expose "to the right" for highlights but it's still digital looking in some way. I much prefer looking through a MF viewfinder or 4x5 as the world seems more clear at that scale.

I should mention my usual setup is:
Mamiya 7II
120 transparency film (lab dev)
5000ppi 16bit drum scan ($100 a pop, ouch)
z310044" printer (in-house, literally)

Good luck with whatever you decide on.
- Doug
« Last Edit: November 30, 2007, 02:37:55 AM by dkeyes » Logged

pfigen
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« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2007, 08:44:57 PM »
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Velvia 50 through a 7II is something to behold. The only thing that will record that beauty is the best quality drum scan. Anything else and you're just wasting your time. Find someone with a Howtek or ICG and get at least a 4000 ppi scan to start wtih. Velvia and T-Max 100 will both support up to 8000 ppi with those lenses, which are what many consider to be the finest medium format lenses available. A ccd scanner, whether flatbed or "virtual" drum, is simply not going to return either the resolution or dynamic range that pmt's can deliver.
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2007, 02:10:13 AM »
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I mostly shoot landscapes and architecture,
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=154211\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Have you experimented with 'stitching'.

That is sticking lots of small pictures together to make one big one

3 frames from an 10mp camera is as good as a 30mp camera

You can either do the 'conventinal method' being basically rotate the camera on its tripod. this causes perspective distortions with wide andlge lenses but there is software to try and sort that

My method - do it hand held with a 50 1.4 or the like - suprisingly good and very very fast

Or consider buying a cheap 54 camera attacihg the 10d to the back and ising a sliding back or just moving the rear 'standard' around - no distortion problems and perfect alignment easy to srtick together

Lots of quality for little intitial or continued outlay - and no trips to the lab

SMM
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« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2007, 05:22:25 PM »
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hi,


if you shoot with a 5D vertically, take 3-4 shots and stitch them together, you would have a fine print in the 30-40 mpix range with all the canon features and lenses at your disposal.

besides, when people stand 4-8 feet from your huge photos, just how much noise will they see?

just a thought.


phil
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2007, 12:21:35 AM »
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Hi

I am curious to try stitching with my Mamiya 7ii + Veliva 50... heading to Angkor Wat for Christmas...  .

Lets remember that even when stitching, although that brings more pixels and details, that does not change the nature of camera formats used to capture what will be the composed stitch ...  

Regards
Anders
« Last Edit: December 20, 2007, 12:22:29 AM by Anders_HK » Logged
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« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2008, 09:25:09 AM »
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http://www.cswfilmsystems.com/
I always used these guys in chicago when I needed processing.  They do a fantastic job and are always willing to take the time to help you understand the process better.  I´d say that with a v750 you´d do alright with the 6x7 negs.  I owned one in the past and had fantastic results.  It´s not a drum scan, but will definitely do well for prints up to 30x40.  There´s an imacon scanner on the buy sell forum for around 5k...kind of expensive but a decent price for what results you´ll get.  Honestly if you order your film online from b&h you´ll get a decent deal, and I´ve ordered a decent amount of film off of ebay.  These days I rent time on an imacon when I need scans and just paying 30 an hour when I need to scan a couple of important negs is better than dropping 5-10k and much cheaper than paying someone else to do it.  Good luck.  That mamiya 7 is amazing.
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Let Biogons be Biogons
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« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2008, 10:45:13 AM »
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A 5D will not stick up against a MFDB (medium format digital back) and I do not see that a MFDB is conclusive winner over a Mamiya 7ii with Fuji slides. Sorry guys   .  7ii vs. MFDB are different medias, each with pros and cons. DSLR result in differences in the images. The Mamiya 7ii is a really lovely simple image tool.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=154303\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Indeed.  I shoot with both a 5D and a Mamiya 7II and the images with the 7II are hands down better.   Even with careful interpolation of the 5D file, it doesn't come close to matching the 7II. (More so with 100ISO Fuji/Kodak slide film, less so with 400 ISO films).  4x5 will be better, of course, but it won't be anywhere near as convenient as a 7II.  Yes, the Mamiya 7II really is a lovely, simple image tool.
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