Medium format and color film

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by stradibarrius, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Because of my recent acquisition of an RB67 Pro-S I have been reading up on MF film. One thing I was reading said that the place MF really excelled was color photography.

    Is this correct...the color results are even better than B&W
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    No, not really true. Modern colour films are so good that the results from 35mm films are superb and way ahead of the earlier pre-C41 materials.

    Of course using MF will produce even higher quality with Colour or B&W but the differences are more noticeable with B&W until you start making quite large enlargement over 12"x16".

    Ian
     
  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Sounds as if you were subject to the writer's bias.

    MF B&W has a riches all its own. I love the look of B&W from my Mamiya 7II. The color I shoot with my Hasselblad or Mamiya 7II system is wonderful, too.

    The bottom line is the quality of the idea expressed in the image.
     
  4. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    Reason why MF was for so long the preferred format with wedding photographers had as much to do with the limits of early color negative emulsions as it did with leaf-shutter sync speeds for daylight-balanced fill-flash. Medium and high-speed color negative emulsions were prohibitively grainy for 35mm enlargements up until the mid-90's when they were improved, but worked great in MF. But with these film improvements (along with 1/250s sync speeds) wedding photographers began dumping MF film gear en masse for 35mm. This was half a dozen years prior to digital going mainstream, but digital further sealed the deal in this migration from MF due to relatively grainless high ISO capability (and reduced media and processing costs, etc.).

    But certain MF lens focal lengths do fall into a sweet spot of having extreme resolving power and low distortion. Using excellent technique it's still possible to exceed the large-print results of a $5K-8K 35mm digital camera with a $500 MF camera, if using color transparency films like Velvia 50 and Astia 100F (albeit with some qualifications, such as drum-scanning).
     
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    My father started doing weddings with ten glass plates per wedding, progressing to Rolleiflexes, Rolleicords and Mamiya C330s in the 1970s and by 1980 he was using 35mm Nikons.

    For him, the turning point was Fuji's Reala film as he says it was the first film which could give correct skin tones and keep white wedding dresses white.


    Steve.
     
  6. OP
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    stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I have shot the Reala 100 in 35mm and the color is terrific! It can also be processed at the quickie mart which is a plus...
     
  7. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    If you are new to med format then one thing you absolutely must try is slide... astia 100f or similar. Warning: financial ruin may ensue.

    I also enjoy various colour print films on the rb, like 160s/c, but... honestly my favourite film(s) on the rb is/are polaroid 665, 55, and panatomic-x. The mamiya lenses have somewhat less of a bite in contrast than, say, the fujis. They impart a gentler contrast and tonality that to me seems particularly well suited to slightly contrastier films and traditional-grained films in general. And I think the same could be said of colour slide as well; try it, you'll like what you see. Astia for portrait is totally doable on the rbs. If you do shoot colour print film, I think you will see that the rb lenses are quite gentle. Not soft, just gentle, tonally. One thing I would not say about the rb lenses is that they have harsh contrast (and I guess I have a fairly representative sample of 10 or so).

    Anyway just play around and experiment and find your own way. And take broadbrush comments like mine (and those from certain zeissophiles who tend to join these threads right about now for no apparent reason) with a grain of salt!
     
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    stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    As I have noted, I just got my RB67 Pro-S , quite by accident, 2 days ago so I am trying to feel my way along and find one or two B&W films to start with and maybe one or two color films. something that is people have a lot of experience with so they can help me when I ask beginner questions.

    I am also trying to learn how to process and print my own film.

    Do the quickie marts usually process C-41 120 film like Reala 100?? I have had Reala 100 35mm processed, printed and scanned at the local Walmart with tolerable results.
     
  9. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Yes, often they do. Don't expect wonders, they may be using old chemistry, but in a pinch you can get decent results that way. I'd not waste xp2 on a quickie store though.
     
  10. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Everything is better bigger. I do think B&W and Slide film gets the biggest visual boost. As others have said you don't see much of the benies of colour neg until you enlarge it beyond 8x10/12.

    For Colour neg film I'd recommend any that work within your needs. If you need speed go faster (you'll not notice the grain nearly as soon as in 35mm), if you want punch without giving up detail at the ends shoot fuji 160c, or if you want subtle with a huge latitude shoot Portra 160NC.

    For slide film you can shoot stuff that is really contrasty in 35mm and get the same drama with far more detail and local contrast, sadly there aren't many subtle slide films left outside of Astia -- there was a time when Astia seemed Disney like compared to what was available.

    B&W is a taste thing too, I'm a huge fan of TXP in larger formats, but I've seen stellar work done with Tmax, and just about everything else. The cool thing is that grain isn't a big issue in MF. Its all about tonal response and what flavour floats your boat.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2009
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Over the years I've shot a fair number of weddings, and with the exception of the first couple I always used medium format C-41 film (Vericolour, and then Portra).

    Mostly, I used a Mamiya C330. I have assisted however on weddings where the cameras were RB67s and Koni-Omegas (for the quick candids :smile:!).

    The 2nd to last wedding I shot was one where there was an official digital photographer, but I did a fairly full treatment as well. In that one I used both my C330, and a Mamiya 645.

    It was a family wedding, and a couple of weeks after the fact my wife and I went over to the bride's parent's house where there was a casual party, with a whole bunch of the people who had been at the wedding. Everybody was looking at photos, that everyone had taken including the photos from the "official" photographers' photos, the 4x5 and 5x5 proofs I had had made, and a myriad of others shot by a bunch of the guests. Some of the others were from film (35mm) but the majority were digital.

    The almost universal response to my proofs? - "they are so clear and the colour is so nice.

    In my experience, even when the enlargements are small, there are visible benefits to using medium format or larger film.

    Matt
     
  12. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    This is especially true when comparing lower end 35mm to MF where most folks will underexpose with their PS 35mm cameras.
     
  13. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Member

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    Isn't the color correction in printing?

    Don't get me wrong, I eat and breathe Reala, it's far and away my favorite film, but could it be that it was more that color chemistry (maybe?) and color filtration had finally been fine-tuned by then?
     
  14. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I made a reverse move from 120 to 35mm when I began RA-4 printing again around 2001/2. Sure I'd made 35mm colour prints before, I started with the Pavelle process in the late 60's, and dabbled successfully with early C41 but only with 120 film (it was supposed to be a universal process, negs & prints) but I've always been mainly a B&W photographer so I just used a lab for the odd bits of C41 work.

    However when I made my first 12"x16" RA-4 prints with modern 35mm Fuji film & paper I was totally astonished, it was Fuji 200 ISO Superia film, I expected some grain and reasonabl/moderate sharpness - instead I found extremely fine grain, tonality is a word I associate with B&W but I guess is also relevant with colour - very smooth, and the sharpness was outstanding.

    Now despite having to use Electronic formats for commercial work I'm going to take my Leica M3 out of mothballs and begin shooting 35mm colour neg film again.

    Ian
     
  15. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    That's very likely too. I know that once my father started using Reala, he never used anything else for weddings.

    My father used to use those too. His boss bought them as he considered them to be as close as he could get to a medium format Leica.



    Steve.
     
  16. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    120 Reala or Fuji 160 Pro S in a RB 67 will blow your sox off, I use Mamiya C330 cameras not RB 67 but I've tried shooting these films under the same lighting conditions at the same exposure at the same time on 35mm and rollfilm and found the tonality and colour purity of the images on 120 films much better, try it yourself.
     
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  17. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    If you want to see really impressive color shoot a roll of transparency film. Keep in mind that you'll probably never project them, just gaze at them on a light table.
    Then you'll dream about what 4X5 or larger would be like. Talk about sugar plum fairy dreams!

    Can you pick up about 1/2lb of fresh, not marinated chicken lips & send 'em along?
    Thanks
     
  18. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    I think that a 35mm shooter would be most happy starting with one of the films available in 220. One can click away and accept that not all the shots will be keepers, in much the same manner as 35mm, and with a camera like the Koni-Omega, one can work very quickly.
     
  19. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    In 220 there are still some good films (I believe) like 160NC, and TXP. Is e100G made in 220? At one time I used to get e100s in 220. It wasn't my favourite film, but it was very good and one of the few available in 220.
     
  20. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Well, Mr. Callow, your comment made me curious, so I went to the B&H website. They show the following print films as available in 220:

    Fuji Pro 160C
    Fuji Pro 160S
    Fuji Pro 400H
    Fuji Pro 800Z
    Kodak Portra 160NC
    Kodak Portra 160VC
    Kodak Portra 400NC
    Kodak Portra 400VC
    Kodak Tri-X 320 Professional

    They also show the following slide films as available in 220:
    Fuji Astia 100F
    Fuji Provia 100F
    Fuji Velvia 50
    Fuji Velvia 100
    Kodak Ektachrome E100VS

    Summing up, unless one wants a fast slide film or a choice of several black and white films, 220 users are still in good shape.
     
  21. djorourke

    djorourke Member

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    Fuji Pro 400H is my "go to" colour film. I love the look I get when I overexpose 1-2 stops. Available in 120 and 220. I love the pastel-like colours you get when you're pushing 1-2 stops in camera. Just a terrific film!
     
  22. Windscale

    Windscale Member

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    I agree with your observations regarding the Fuji160c and the Portra160NC. I think the 160s can also be considered for subtle details. Also, with the neg size of the RB, subtle details can easily be obtained with 400 films, both prints or slides, and Fuji slides and prints I think beat Kodak's in these areas. I have had these blown up to 24x36 or 30x30 easily with my 6x6 gear. In fact I won't even bother with medium format unless I am thinking of something at least 16x20. For anything smaller, I think 135 will generally cope.