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Author Topic: Is it ideal going for Mamiya RB67 flim?  (Read 3931 times)
Zenny
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« on: September 25, 2010, 04:10:12 PM »
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I am new to the MF except I used eons ago. I appreciate if experienced photographers here enlighten me whether it is ideal to go for RB67 Film or other digital backs? I know that the digital backs are beyond my affordability, yet when I read the posts here there seems to be difficulty processing the films and also scanning it! I am a bit confused.

Or shall I just go large format? (Mayby Grusky's documentary inspired me). If large format like (4"x5" or 8"x10"), how difficult and costly is processing? What about the availability of the films (color negatives/transparency), particularly in Europe?

I appreciate if someone hints me any links that helps me transition to MF/LF from 35mm. Thank you!!!

zenny

***Maybe you are interested in visiting http://www.thehumanape.org****
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Kumar
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« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2010, 05:21:10 PM »
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If digital backs aren't affordable, I suggest going on over to LFF
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/ and APUG http://www.apug.org/forums/home.php to see what MF/LF film can do for you.

Best,
Kumar
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Mr. Rib
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2010, 05:35:09 PM »
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Depending on the job you're into, it may happen that digital back will be much affordable solution than scanning. But this and related subjects were discussed over and over again, try browsing/searching the forum. Second thing is guys here are really helpful, you can learn a ton, but there are no mind readers- you didn't give any details what do you want to do with the equipment.
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feppe
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2010, 07:27:46 PM »
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As others said, your post is very light on detail on what you shoot, how much, and what you do with the photos. These would help us give you better guidance.

FWIW I used to shoot 35mm film, moved to digital, and now am doing digital small formats (MFT and APS-C), and film MF and LF. Very different formats for different subject matter and end use.

Without getting too much into film vs. digital debate, the difference is big. Image quality of an MFDB rivals that of MF film for sure, and many say equals 4x5, 5x7 or even 8x10. You'll note that when people here talk about image quality it's mostly pixel peeping, and often imperceptible differences are deal breakers for some. For normal viewing distances at moderate print sizes MF and LF will give enough IQ for almost anyone, digital or analog. If you print large and/or stick your nose to the prints you'll be chasing that IQ holy grail forever - and pay the summer houses of some very happy sales guys.

Nevertheless, digital is much faster to work with, and depending on how much you shoot it might be cheaper surprisingly soon despite the often outrageous initial investment if you buy new. One can get a used MFDB for 10k EUR or so, with a lens or two. But if you don't shoot a lot, 9k-40k buys a lot of film - savings from buying an MF or LF film system instead of MFDB system.

Film has a different look, mythical qualities, and these days one has to really like the process to be bothered with it. Step up from 35mm film to MF is huge in image quality, and another huge step up to LF. Cost per frame also goes up proportionally, as does hassle per frame. Then again one probably doesn't shoot MF or LF like they shoot 35mm or any digital. It's a much slower approach by necessity, but also by choice. Some like it, some don't, some don't care either way.

You can find most films in MF or 4x5 for reasonable prices in Europe; if not locally, you can order online. 5x7 and 8x10 are extremely expensive, and especially 8x10 films are getting rarer and rarer - even worse for color. I'd imagine most places which develop 35mm know where to send MF or LF film to get developed if they don't do it themselves. You can of course develop B&W yourself.

Getting film scanned gets very expensive very soon. You can get a decent scanner, such as Epson V700, for a few hundred euros which will get you excellent web-sized scans, good medium-sized prints or larger proofs. Scanning yourself does have a learning curve, although not worse than learning Lightroom, for example. For exhibition quality you'd probably want to get drum scans, which are tens of euros and up per frame from LF. Expect to spend lots of time spotting the scans regardless of who does them.

Largeformatphotographyforum is an excellent and very busy forum with plenty of info dedicated to LF film.
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Zenny
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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2010, 01:14:29 AM »
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@Kumar @Mr. Rib and @feppe: Thank you so much for your helpful hints and links. LL is indeed an extremely useful forum with extremely versatile users like you people. Thanks to Michael Reichmann for creating such a wonderful platform.

BTW, I am thinking of creating lifesized pictures and experiment with them including study on nudity. 35mm digital did not satisfy my quench for creating wonderful pictures unlike with 35mm film (transparency). You can see some of my 35mm shoots (makes me shameful to quote here!) at http://www.thehumanape.org. Therefore, I wanted to go for MF or LF digital, but the costs are beyond my affordability.

Humbly stating, am very much inspired by the 19th century photographers like Talbot, LeGrey and Eakins. And among current photographers, Andreas Gursky and Murray Frederiks, Keith Laban (read their posts in this forum, too) among others.

zenny

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tom_l
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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2010, 04:38:57 AM »
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I worked a lot with the RB in the film days. A very fine camera, really. Simple, sturdy, a bit heavy for handholding, and now damn cheap. If you ever intend to switch the MF digital, a RZ would be a better choice, for a few $ more. A lot of studio still use Rz's with high rez. backs.
RB lenses are supposed to be a bit less sharp than their RZ cousins on digital. But there's no other reason the Rb would not work, Adapters for DB should be available by Silvestri and Kapture and maybe others too.


tom
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sojournerphoto
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« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2010, 05:34:32 AM »
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I think feppe summed it up nicely.

I still shoot 35mm (monochrome) film and mf (6 by 7 in Mamiya 7ii) as well as 1Ds3. The MF film will easily make the best big prints and is a whole world of difference from 35mm film. Film is easily available in 35mm, mf and 4 by5. Developing is easy, but not always inexpensive and scanning is expensive to have done. But, a V700/750 is very useable for MF and up and a Nikon 9000 will do a good job of 35mm and MF. This could leave you only getting drum scans done of the frames you want to print really big, so becomes fairly practical. I don't get film scanned when it's developed now as the scans are expensive and not suitable (IMHO) for anything more than proofs. I develop all my own monchrome.

As an aside, I'm increasingly thinking that feppe's approach of small format digital and larger format film is the best. Lwss cost than full frame digital for the small format stuff and high quality when needed from big film negs.

Mike
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Zenny
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2010, 05:48:16 AM »
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@tom_l and @sojournerphoto : Thanks to both of you for sharing your suggestions with deep root in your experimentation.

Due to the mechanincal reasons, I thought that RB67 is better, but when I read tom_l's reply, RZ67 seems to be better in terms of lens.

Also when I read comments above, LF is ideal for film rather than going for MF film due to the declining prices of MF digital (yet beyond my pocket ;-) .

Quite confused and reflecting upon each of your comments and doing SWOT anlaysis ;-)

Thanks anyway.

zenny

***see http://www.thehumanape.org***
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bcooter
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2010, 01:15:34 PM »
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Photographers have shot about 20 billion rolls of film through RB/RZ's all with great results and except for the Fuji 680 it get's closest to larger format than probably any medium format film camera.

If your starting out, one thing to think about is the results are important but learning is even more important and nothing will teach you photography like shooting a view camera and large format film.

Just by costs, size, speed, movements, it forces you to learn how to make a photograph rather than just take it.

These forums are full of digital this, digital that, comparisons between 35mm and small medium format cameras, but in reality a really compelling image can be shot with about anything, film or digital.

Also remember a lot of these comparisons come from people that either have to shoot digital for commerce or dealers whose occupation is to sell digital cameras.

Still, if I was in the learning process, I'd buy a real film view camera, as much film as I could afford, a good light meter and go learn.  After all 4x5 and 8x10 film may be expensive to buy, process and scan but your probably not going to shoot 1200 frames a day, much less scan more than a few and one thing about film is, it's future proof.

And, and, film view cameras are now selling for about a buck.

Nothing will teach you more than learning to work a film camera and then if you do it right, you'll get paid, the commercial pressures will increase . . . then you can start talking digital. 

IMO

BC
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fredjeang
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2010, 01:31:17 PM »
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Actually, I was pleased to know that in the state photographic school here, they just do not allow to the beginner students to shoot with a digital camera, and for the reason B.C mentionned above.
When they get experience, they can use digital.

About prices, second hand superb gear are ridiculously cheap!

A good way to cut down costs is to actually use a digital camera to take a picture of the negative or silde with a great macro vintage optic. So your digicam is in a way your own personal lab.
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feppe
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2010, 02:46:19 PM »
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Still, if I was in the learning process, I'd buy a real film view camera, as much film as I could afford, a good light meter and go learn.

For light meter in the field I use Fred Parker's Ultimate Exposure Computer. When that fails in tough lighting, or as backup, I use a pocketable digicam to confirm the exposure.

Polaroid and other instant films are useful, too.
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ondebanks
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« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2010, 08:36:45 AM »
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RB lenses are supposed to be a bit less sharp than their RZ cousins on digital.

tom

A large proportion of the RB lenses are optically identical to the RZ ones, so I can't see why those ones should perform any differently.

There are some designs which are specific to the RZ (like the 110/2.8 ) and some which are specific to the RB (like the K-L series). I have never seen a suggestion that one line performed better than the other. Perhaps the notion originated if some very old (1970s) RB lenses, with different coatings and in some cases optical designs which were later upgraded, had been compared to some newer RZ67 designs. But on a fair apples-with-apples comparison, there should be no difference.
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ondebanks
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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2010, 09:21:05 AM »
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One can get a used MFDB for 10k EUR or so, with a lens or two.

That's a bit pessimistic! You can divide it by 2, or even 3: my used kit (Mamiya 645AFD, Kodak ProBack 645M, 120/220 film back, 55-110mm AF zoom) was 3700, including import taxes and shipping from two places across the pond.
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feppe
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2010, 12:04:47 PM »
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That's a bit pessimistic! You can divide it by 2, or even 3: my used kit (Mamiya 645AFD, Kodak ProBack 645M, 120/220 film back, 55-110mm AF zoom) was 3700, including import taxes and shipping from two places across the pond.

You are of course right. I originally considered including a qualifier along the lines "rivaling the MP count of top-end DSLR" but decided against that as I didn't want this to turn into yet another DSLR vs MFDB debate.
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Policar
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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2010, 11:49:32 AM »
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I am thinking of creating lifesized pictures and experiment with them including study on nudity. 35mm digital did not satisfy my quench for creating wonderful pictures unlike with 35mm film (transparency). You can see some of my 35mm shoots (makes me shameful to quote here!) at http://www.thehumanape.org. Therefore, I wanted to go for MF or LF digital, but the costs are beyond my affordability.

If you want to create life-sized pictures with decent quality you only have two options:  8x10 or digital.

Enlargements from film are limited in size primarily due to grain and tonality, not lens sharpness.  So while some systems have sharper or more contrasty lenses than others, assuming you're using decent film, grain will be your primary limiting factor in terms of size.  The conventional wisdom is that you can do a 10X enlargement (approximately) with good color film.  So medium format (6x7) gets you 24X30 inches; 4x5, 40X50 inches; with 8X10, you can go 80''X100'' or whatever.  I have seen prints of these sizes from these respective processes (160 Portra NC on 6x7; Velvia and others on 4x5 (drumscan to lightjet); Portra 400 NC on 8x10) and they look wonderful from a distance and hold up to close scrutiny up-close.  Not "tack sharp" but totally smooth and natural with no hints of grain, pixellation, or poor tonality.  Some of the prints probably cost many hundreds to a over a thousand dollars each to make, but that's....normal.

I also saw some "big" (near 40''x50'' I think) prints from what I believe was a medium format digital back, all full-body shots.  They looked great at normal distance and held plenty of detail, but up close they were "obviously" digital and had that sharpened/pixellated look.  Enlargements I've seen from the 5DII look similar except you don't have to get as close to see them fall apart.  But they look a lot better than 135 film since they're less grainy.  A LOT better.

That's, imo, the deceptive part:  when it comes to huge prints (from a normal viewing distance), a 5DII print might look better than the same sized prints from an rz67 drum scan because grain will be apparent on film, whereas digital is near-grainless so all you'll see is a slight loss of sharpness and if you're unlucky some pixellation/aliasing.  This even though the rz67 print may reveal more detail on close inspection.  I would say you can definitely make bigger enlargements from a 5DII than from medium format FILM.  And that's even more true with medium format digital--you can make 40''x50'' prints and larger that look fine.

I own an rz67 and some of the best lenses for the system and it's a good system but not for prints that large.  The lenses are just "very good" but good enough for 24X30 inch prints, sure.  That said, I feel the system is more for magazine ads--not huge prints.  I would go large format (ideally, 8x10) or digital (full frame or better, 20mp+) for the project you have in mind.

I recently switched to large format (4x5) just for fun, but also recognize that the system has no real advantages over full frame digital in terms of image quality for the small prints I'd like to make--but has TONS of disadvantages in terms of everything else.  But film also has a slightly different look, and I enjoy looking at chromes in a lightbox and getting image quality that's probably comparable to medium format digital (I haven't compared side-by-side so call me out if I'm wrong) with a system that costs less than a 5DII body.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2010, 12:03:34 PM by Policar » Logged
Zenny
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« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2010, 05:39:36 AM »
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Thanks Policar for your reply.

I read in reviews that digital like 5DMII is good at grains, but not for capturing the tonalities, I don't know myself.

And going for digital MF is so expensive which I cannot afford except some genuine companies sponsors the project (http://www.thehumanape.org)

zenny

***Have a look at http://www.onelifephotos.com/drbista and rate. No post-processing is done to the picture except converting to monochrome***
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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2010, 06:01:10 AM »
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Europe is a pretty large place. Without being more specific about your location, no-one can really tell you about any local sources for film, development or scanning.
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Graham Mitchell - www.graham-mitchell.com
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« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2010, 04:41:03 PM »
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I read in reviews that digital like 5DMII is good at grains, but not for capturing the tonalities, I don't know myself.

The wall-sized prints I've seen from the 5D and 5DII look great at a distance but fall apart quickly under close inspection.  Walk up to one and it becomes mush and even at 125ISO it's a bit grainy/pixellated.  But enlargements from full frame digital look better (if less saturated) than cibachromes from 135--no contrast.  And the quality is good enough, even with huge prints, that the concept and artistic value of the image stand out over technical flaws, which do become apparent on close viewing.

An optical enlargement from 8x10 at the same size (almost 8x10 feet) looks slightly but noticeably better from a distance.  Walk up to it and it looks incredible, perfect tonality, no perceptible grain, and "soft" in terms of a bit of loss of detail compared with a much smaller print but the tonality is flawless even up close.  Of course, the sample print I saw was for exhibition in a major museum and likely cost around $1000.

Either way, life-size prints are expensive.

I have to say I am very fond of large format, but getting prints or scans is expensive!  You can buy a kit for $1000 that will produce no-compromise images, or get something nearly as good for like $500.  But processing and printing is very expensive...  If you prefer shooting film, I think you might enjoy large format but it is very expensive for portraiture.

Also, I am just a hobbyist so...not always one to think in practical terms and very attached to the equipment I buy.  Fwiw, I do like the rz67 system a lot but I wouldn't want to enlarge bigger than maybe 10x from it when using color.  You might be able to get away with more from fine-grained black and white, though; black and white grain always seems more "organic" to me and black and white films resolve a bit more detail.  The difference between 135 and 6x7 is substantially more than the difference between 6x7 and 4x5, imo.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2010, 05:18:43 PM by Policar » Logged
ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2010, 12:06:19 AM »
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Hi,

At least Velvia is not easy to scan. For optimal quality you would need drum scans.

I'm living in Sweden, in a small city. Buying film on mail order from one of the two big mail order companies. Film is nowadays pretty much special order. For development I send my films to a pro lab. They are very good, but the cost is pretty high, perhaps 10 per roll of 120?

I happen to have a medium format scanner.

Have made a few prints from medium Format in 70x100 cm size using my scanner and printing on Durst Lambda at a pro lab. Impressive, but I guess no better than full frame DSLR. The company I work with is Crimson in Stockholm. They have a service called Prefix where you just send in a processed image and they print it as is, with no adjustment. Up to A2 I print at home. The prints at Crimson are almost a perfect match for my prints at home. (Lambda process is printing with lasers on photographic paper). I have also a 70x100 cm print from a 10 MP APS-C, camera. It's ok at one meter viewing distance, a 50x100 cm pano from the same 10 MP camera is really impressive and holds for pixel peeping at 30 cm distance

For myself I really found that scanned Velvia does not really work. But now I'm starting up evaluating color negative film.

Regarding tonalities digital has much larger density range than transparency film. It has much more shadow detail. One area where film is better is specular highlights where digital tends to clip and film saturates more gradually. Both film and photographic paper have density curves having an "S" shape, with toe and shoulder, while a digital sensor is essentially linear. For visual impression an S-curve needs to be added. This is done in the cameras JPEG processing or raw conversion.

Here is a write up on my tests this far (using Velvia) : http://echophoto.dnsalias.net/ekr/index.php/photoarticles/16-pentax67velvia-vs-sony-alpha-900

Best regards
Erik






I am new to the MF except I used eons ago. I appreciate if experienced photographers here enlighten me whether it is ideal to go for RB67 Film or other digital backs? I know that the digital backs are beyond my affordability, yet when I read the posts here there seems to be difficulty processing the films and also scanning it! I am a bit confused.

Or shall I just go large format? (Mayby Grusky's documentary inspired me). If large format like (4"x5" or 8"x10"), how difficult and costly is processing? What about the availability of the films (color negatives/transparency), particularly in Europe?

I appreciate if someone hints me any links that helps me transition to MF/LF from 35mm. Thank you!!!

zenny

***Maybe you are interested in visiting http://www.thehumanape.org****
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