Should I keep 35mm?

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pierre

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Since I came back to a more serious interest in photography this past year, I've come to love square format, from re-evaluating some of my old photos, and looking at other people's online. I've just acquired a Rolleiflex TLR (an mid-1950's one, in good condition). Now, I need to look at upgrading my Beseler Printmaker enlarger for MF (whew, the MF upgrade bits cost as much as the whole new enlarger already setup for 35mm!) and getting a scanner that can handle MF. Unfortunately, I can't see any way of doing this without selling off some of my 35mm equipment. I think my love of square format comes from all the Polaroid SX-70 shots I took from the 1970's to the early 90's. I can't explain it, but even many of my 35mm shots end up cropped into a square format. It just feels more natural to me, for the type of photos I like to take, I guess.

When I got into 35mm in the first place, 30 years ago, I had no idea whatsoever about film formats and how it affected the output. But now, as an amateur, I don't feel I need it anymore. I know I will just have to decide for myself in the end, but has anyone else gone through the same thing?

I spent 25 years with just a 50mm lens on a Pentax K1000, so I don't feel limited at all by the fixed lens on a TLR. In fact, I have to force myself to use the other lenses I have for my Nikon F80. I was able to sell my 24mm lens already. I found I had no use for such a wide lens.
 

juan

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I've moved to large format, but I still have my old Nikon F. I take it out once a month or so and force myself to take photographs I wouldn't take with the 8x10, or to experiment, etc. I think it helps keep me fresh.

I'd keep something 35mm if I were you - even the K1000.
juan
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Do both for a while, and if you find you can get by without 35mm, then sell it.

I've found that as I've expanded into different formats, I use each one for what it does best.

I use 35mm almost exclusively for bird photography these days--the only kind of photography I do that requires very long fast lenses and can really benefit from a motor drive. So I sold off my 20mm, 24mm and 28mm lenses, because wideangle work is better done in a larger format that can render all the detail a wide lens can take in. I also keep a few specialized lenses for my 35mm system in addition to the long teles, like a 90mm macro for copy slides, a 7.5mm fisheye, a 50/1.2 for low light, and a 35/2.0 just because it's a beautiful lens.

I use a 6x6 SLR for travel and more dynamic portraits mostly.

I use 4x5" and 8x10" for architecture, portraits, landscapes, still life, macro, and travel.

11x14" stays in the studio for now--just portraits so far.
 

Ole

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Since my wife has "appropriated" my Pentax gear, I've bought myself a FED 2 for 35mm use. And I use every concivable film format from 35mm to 13x18cm. I don't want to be completely without 35mm - I'd rather give up 6x7.
 
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Hey, 35 is nice and portable. That can be useful. I use cheap Nikkormats when I need to take the camera out on the street. Cheap and durable.
 
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pierre

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It's a tough question. I guess the reason I'm bringing up the subject at all is that I may have a buyer for the Nikon, so deciding is taking on some urgency. Thanks for your comments.

I guess I wouldn't be thinking MF if 35mm was doing it for me - but it's not giving me the detail I want at this stage. So that may be the deciding factor. I was astounded the first time I scanned 35mm travel shot negatives on a good film scanner. There was no detail in the faces of people among the public, signs were illegible, etc., much more than I would have thought.
 

brimc76

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If you have a buyer and can get a decent price for your 35mm equipment I'd sell it. Usually the problem with selling off any equipment is that you can expect to get next to nothing for it, even though you would have to pay good money for it if you were looking for something specific. I've only had my 35mm equipment out once or twice in the past year and have also thought of selling it but there are so many people selling off their 35mm for digital stuff now. I'm keeping my two Nikon bodies and lenses for now, and trying to get my daughter interested in using them.
 

blansky

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I'm going through the same thing. I've owned Hasselbalds for years and a 4x5 but my 2 - F4 Nikons just sit there and I only used them for holiday snapshops. Now I just bought a Mamiya 7 II which is a rangefinder 6x7 for travel stuff and my Nikons are even more useless.

The problem is it is hard for me to sell them. They were important at one time for slides that I did for a project, I needed 10,000 slides and they were great. It's just that damn small negative.

I'm thinking I may keep them for infared. Not sure.

Michael
 

Sean

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I went from a nikon, to a LeicaM6 which I loved, to 8x10, then sold the M6 to buy a car (boohoo), now have an 8x10 without any accessories, have been playing around with cheap plastic cameras and have a holga on the way until I get my 8x10 up and running. My latest project is mounting a holga lens onto an old 35mm slr body to see what kind of strange things can be done. Anyway! To answer your question it sounds like your heart is with MF so go with it..
 

dr bob

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pierre:

I still mess about in 35mm. Check out my personal gallery "Winter Morning on Spa Creek...". It was made with a Nikon FE2 (manual) 35mm. Granted, most recent work is done with large format, but I will never forsake 35mm until there's no more b&w film.
Truly, dr bob.
 
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#5mm is great for skething, I never go without one getting is better than nothing. If I ever get brain block as to what to go out and shoot I refer to my 35mm file to help rember places and things of interest I might have forgotten without a 35mm history file. Every format has it's unique assets, 35mm seems to me to be great for practicing seeing design and chasing light. I can't imagine not having my sketch pad.
 

photomc

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pierre:

Unless you plan to use the funds from the sell of the 35mm to fund the purchase of a MF I would keep the 35mm. Why? You can often go places with a 35mm, you can not go with MF or LF. I prefer to put all cameras on a tripod, but will take the 35mm out without one.

The other reason I keep the 35's are the lens that go with it. In fact, I had not shoot any 35mm in a couple of years until on vacation back in Oct. I prefer the MF and have just started working with LF.

Also, remember that as film gets larger, so do your cost. Not trying to discourage you, just wanted to point this out. I love my MF, but seem to always want a little bit more size from a negative...

Whatever you do, you may find that you wish you had a 35mm of some type around just to document the area where you were working in MF....

Besides, you can never have too many cameras....grin!!!!
 
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pierre

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Thanks for your remarks Mike. Yes, it's a case of needing the funds from one system to buy another. However, I will still keep a compact 35mm around.

Pierre
 

jrong

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Pierre, just curious - you have a F80/N80? I've noticed that with the onset of digital, this particular category of AF film SLR has been hit quite hard, with prices plummeting dramatically from when I bought my F80 in Oct 2000. Quite disillusioning, really... I guess if I were you, I wouldn't bother selling it at such a great loss to finance new equipment. I still have my F80 even though I've switched over to using Contax 35mm gear and a new medium format camera. It's not that compact, but I treat the Nikon as a compact now, for those casual shoebox snapshots - these situations do arise from time to time. :smile:
 
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pierre

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Hi Jin. Very true what you say about prices for these modern 35mm film cameras now. I only bought mine earlier this year, so the price had already dropped quite a bit since the camera's introduction. Since then, the price for a new Nikon F80 seems to be holding, at least here in Canada, for the time being. Nothing seems to hold value nowadays except vintage cameras that have collector value. Rolleiflex and Yashicatmat TLR's seem to have increased in price, as demand continues, but the supply of existing cameras is declining with the years. I quickly found that out as I was looking for one.
 

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It's hard to jump past the sentimentality, to be sure. If you are trying very hard to pour your heart into picture-making then, by phenomenological extension, those cameras were a part of your hand and your eye when you were using them. When I look at my own work I can't help but still know which camera, which lens -- there's a feeling of physical connection to the image through sense memory for the equipment.

I've recently been selling some, though -- the gear that's unused (my old Canon SLRs, replaced by a Contax and EOS system). Collectors? Feh. I decided it was nobler for the gear to go to people who would actually use it, rather than someone (like me) who simply had accumulated a pile of great older camera gear through inertia or (like a collector) consumer fetish.

*sniff*
 
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pierre

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All very interesting discussion. Thanks for your thoughts. In the end, I think I will just keep what I have, along with the Rolleiflex. I can use the latter for B&W, and the Nikon for colour. As I think it was Jin who mentioned, I would be taking too much of a bath selling the 35mm stuff now. I may as well keep rather than give it away to bargain hunters. I will try to sell my Minolta Scan Dual III though, so I can buy a flatbed that can do 120 film.
 

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Odd enough, but I plan on purchasing a 35mm Canon system with a set of primes so I can be ready to move to a digital SLR when $$$ allows. All of my color is scanned and then printed from a CD on a local Fuji Frontier. If I can cut out the developing costs and scanning time I'll be happy. My black and white will continue to be medium format. My hint on any analog purchases: wait until after Christmas. There will be a massive glut of analog equipment on ebay after Santa brings so many digital cameras. Prices are pretty low already, but will drop furter--Canon A2e with grip in amateur-used condition: $275 buy-it now on ebay.
 

gr82bart

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Pierre,

Ever since I got my Hassey a couple of years ago, my Nikon F4e has been severely neglected. But will still keep it. It's a good camera and with a versatile 28-70 mm f2.8, it's good for vacation pics! LOL Seriously, it's a very good back up and when I want to try out something in terms of film, theres a much wider selection for 135 than for 120/220 films.

Art.
 
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I like to photograph people in their natural settings (kind of photojournalism style), many times I have to use a short tele.
Then, MF starts to be bulky and heavy (the farther you carry a bag, the heavier it gets - or is it simply because I'm getting old?).

So, I'm still and don't intend to change, a 35mm guy.

Jorge O
 
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pierre

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More and more, since I originally posed the question, I'm realizing that MF is extremely expensive when you get beyond just the camera and the standard lens. In fact, it's prohibitively expensive. For less than the cost of a simple Mamiya 645E with 80mm lens, I've got a whole 35mm system with all the prime lens focal lengths I could possibly need. So I guess the answer to my own question is as others have said - you need both.
 

Jeremy

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If you buy used it can be much cheaper, though. You can purchase the older Mamiya M645 with prism, insert, and 80mm lens for under $400. Then figure another $200 each for a 50 and a 150mm lens. That's only ~$800, not too shabby.
 

Black Dog

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V true-mamiya C330s/220s are also cheap (you could probably get one with a standard lens for under £200). Anyway I'd say keep at least a basic 35mm kit-you may fancy a change of pace from MF/LF -it's something different. Also useful for testing films/devs as differences show up much more in 35mm.
 

gr82bart

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Pierre,

I prefer to get my stuff at Dead Link Removed. Better than e-bay and they will have a warranty and return policy on everything you buy from them.

Lots of great medium format equipment at various conditions.

You'd have to go to the site almost every week though to look for what you want. Also, depending on your will power, you could wait out an item you want, after a lengthy period, they'll drop the price until it sells. Need nerves of steel though.

Art.
 
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I started with 35mm and by my junior year of college (ok, so it was last year) had an F3 body, an F4 body, and 6 nice prime from 28mm to 180mm. I really only shot with the 50mm, and in the end sold everything to finance a Leica M3 with a 50/1.4. I loved it, but in the end had to sell it because of financial troubles. 35mm was more expendable than my bigger cameras. I had every intention of buying a new 35mm once I had money to do so, but instead ended up picking up an old Mamiya M645 with the 80/1.9. The upshot of all of this is that I've found that everything I used to do with 35mm is just as easily done with 645. I still use my 6x7, 4x5, and 8x10 for the things I did with them before. I'm still a bit surprised, though, that I don't miss 35mm.

I would say just wait on selling your 35mm stuff until you've had more time to really explore MF. I had been shooting MF & LF for 6 years before I was ready to get rid of 35mm, so sometimes it takes a while to really decide what formats work best for you.

Good luck.
 
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