Why use cut film in a medium format camera?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by saman13, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. saman13

    saman13 Member

    Messages:
    365
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2017
    Location:
    Sarasota, Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am a complete newcomer to medium format so bear with me. I've only shot medium format once as a project in school with my professor's Pentax 67. I just purchased my first medium format camera, a Mamiyaflex C2 with 135 F/4.5 (it hasn't even arrived in the mail yet). Being very excited to start shooting with it, I've been doing as much research as possible on this camera and the Mamiya C TLR line.
    One thing I came across was the availability of single exposure backs for these cameras. This lets these cameras use 2-1/4"x3-1/4" cut film or glass plates if I understand correctly. My question is: Why? Is it because of the slightly larger negative size? It doesn't seem very reasonable to give up the convenience of roll film for a marginally larger negative. If that is what one is after, wouldn't you just use a 4x5 camera?
    Although, the first thing I thought of when I saw those backs was the possibility of pocket-size tintypes. That might actually be pretty cool.
     
  2. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    2,479
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Location:
    Portland OR
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    It won't give you a larger neg. The neg size is determined by the camera's opening for the film gate inside the camera. The advantages are single exposures instead of whole rolls of film and flatness of the film. Generally sheet film lies very flat while roll film tends to fight flatness.
     
  3. chip j

    chip j Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    1,975
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2012
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Shooter:
    35mm
    +1
     
  4. Max lisch

    Max lisch Member

    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    Location:
    Californian
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Not only is the film flatter, but, arguably more importantly, the film can be developed individually. Rather than shooting a roll of 120 and push processing the entire roll, each shot of cut film can be developed differently.
    I'd personally just shoot 4x5s, but I can see some advantages to shooting smaller cut film
     
  5. zozur

    zozur Member

    Messages:
    49
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2014
    Location:
    Poznan/Poland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes its true that you can use 4x5 film, but in some parts of world 4x5 enlargers are hard to get or expensive. So with 2x3 sheet film you can have some "half-frame large format" experience.
     
  6. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    5,571
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2014
    Location:
    Gig Harbor & Palm Springs
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Exactly. For devotees of Ansel Adams' Zone System, you want to expose each sheet appropriately for the scene and develop each sheet individually. In simplest terms, based on the contrast in the scene and the range of the contrast, you tailor your development for a sheet so that you'll have a negative of optimal density.

    If you use a roll of film rather than single sheets, the development for that roll likely will not be best for all frames on that roll if the scenes vary greatly in contrast. Some people use three rollfilm backs: one for low contrast scenes, one for normal, and one for high contrast scenes. The rolls in each back are then developed accordingly.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    saman13

    saman13 Member

    Messages:
    365
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2017
    Location:
    Sarasota, Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yep, that makes sense. Of course the negative isn't larger. I suppose only making one shot before changing films is an advantage to some and a negative (no pun intended) to others.
    Well, I don't think I'll be running out and buying those single exposure backs anytime soon.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    saman13

    saman13 Member

    Messages:
    365
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2017
    Location:
    Sarasota, Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This makes perfect sense. Maybe one day I'll have the patience to put that much effort into a single exposure! I need to work on keeping my thumb out from in front of the lens first, though.
     
  9. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    18,207
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another advantage is to use different types of films, without having to change rolls and to sacrifice not yet exposed film.

    With cameras using spooled film, be it rollfilm or 35mm film, typically one sits with the film loaded. At best one can rewind the film, exchange it and later load it again and with blind exposures advance to the yet unexposed part. This is not possible with all camera modes, definitely not with rollfilm cameras as they transport only in one direction. There are though some rollfilm cameras (based on the Hasselblad modular design) that offer exchangable rollfilm backs. There are relatively even less 35mm film models that have interchangable backs or the ability to transport the film into another cassette and even cut the film within the camera.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
  10. WilmarcoImaging

    WilmarcoImaging Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2017
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Agree with all of the comments here.
     
  11. bdial

    bdial Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    6,272
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    North East U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A cut film back would also make it possible to use a home-brew emulsion or perhaps wet plate, if you were so inclined.
     
  12. mweintraub

    mweintraub Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,662
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm interested in getting one of these setups for my C3. Based on my research, it's 2.5 and 3.5 films for the Type D holders. Looks like there aren't much available in terms of that size.

    What does "Type J for one-quarter of 4.75” x 6.25” sheet film" mean? What size is the film for the Type J holders?

    Edit: Ok, just found this in the C330 single exposure manual:

    upload_2017-8-23_10-51-11.png
     
  13. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    1,543
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Location:
    Michigan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. mweintraub

    mweintraub Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,662
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  16. OP
    OP
    saman13

    saman13 Member

    Messages:
    365
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2017
    Location:
    Sarasota, Florida
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This was my first thought when I saw the single exposure backs. Pocket sized tintypes (Tinytype?). I've shot a tintype on 4x5 and it's seriously fun. Although I am not quite sure about the two types of backs Mamiya offers. Will both of them work with film that is still available today? Which one would you use if you wanted to do tintypes? And are there compatibility issues between the backs for a Mamiyaflex C2 and say a Mamiya C220?
     
  17. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    28,093
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Groups:
    There is nothing gained using sheet film. It is not like there are emulsions only available in sheet film much less in 2-1/4"x3-1/4".
     
  18. mweintraub

    mweintraub Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,662
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    From j gather, there's a back holder and the individual sheet film holders. Similar to large format.
    The c220 doesn't have interchangeable backs, but not sure about the C22.
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    25,463
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    paswonquitte
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    its easier to shoot paper negatives
     
  20. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    18,693
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I have both options with my Linhof 2x3" Technika. Sometimes I may shoot rollfilm when I'm using the camera press-camera style, shooting handheld and focusing with the rangefinder, and use sheet film when I'm using the camera as a view camera, on a tripod, focusing with the groundglass, mainly so I can control development of each frame individually. Or I might shoot rollfilm in color and B&W with zone system controls on sheet film. I have three rollfilm backs, so I could also designate them for different development times, but Linhof rollfilm backs are bulky and heavy, so it depends on how much I'm planning to shoot and how far I need to walk with the camera.
     
  21. voceumana

    voceumana Member

    Messages:
    401
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2004
    Location:
    USA (Utah)
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It used to be that many specialty films were available only in sheet film format, such as orthochromatic continuous tone (as opposed to document high-contrast) films. Making these films available to medium format users was obviously considered advantageous to some camera manufacturers, in addition to the other reasons mentioned above.

    Fewer such specialty films are available today, so this is, perhaps, less of a reason than it used to be. Film flatness (especially with glass plates) and individual development of an image remain important at times.
     
  22. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    20,063
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It goes back to the German Avus style cameras made by most manufacturers which came in a few formats 6.5x9 being the smallest, 9x12 the most common.

    Just like you can find photo's of US press photographers en-mass with Speed Graphics (and the odd other Press camera) you can find the same with Continental European press photographers with their Avus style camera, some using 6.5x9. They could have used a Rollex or similar 6x9 roll film backs but by using plates or cut film they could send images/pates or film back to the newspaper quickly, important when meeting print deadlines.

    In more modern times often we (when I worked commercially) needed to shoot something and get fast turn around and prints quickly, Using MF for a one off or maybe 2 images and wasting the rest of the film, it just isn't always cost effective, hence the sheet film back option for a few MF cameras.

    Ian
     
  23. mweintraub

    mweintraub Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,662
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I just bought a kit off eBay, Wish me luck.


    I just PM'd you, local buddy.
     
  24. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    5,305
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you're a hard core Zone System guy, you can shoot for N+ and N- easier. You can also do the same thing with 120 cameras with switchable film backs.
     
  25. darkroommike

    darkroommike Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,383
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There are a couple of Mamiya 6x7 models that can shoot 7x7 on cut film or larger in the case of the Universal. supposedly there is a 4x5 adapter for the Universal that will do 9x9 or a bit more.
     
  26. darkroommike

    darkroommike Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,383
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2007
    Location:
    Iowa
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There was also a customized Fidelity 2x3 holder with "rail slots" milled into the sides so it would directly engage the 6x7 graflok back of the RB67. I have a couple of them (somewhere).
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies. If you have a Photrio account, please log in (and select 'stay logged in') to prevent recurrence of this notice.