Medium Format

A Wedding - as a guest

My dear friends Dirk and Ling had their church wedding in Germany. Professional wedding photographers often lament the presence of “Uncle Bob”, snapping away pictures with his own camera right in front of the pro. Having been the photographer at the most recent wedding, this time I took the opportunity to relax and bring a film camera along (Mamiya 7) for some more “contemplative” shots, and tried to not get in the way (not sure if I succeeded at that.....) Unfortunately, there were some problems with development with the black and white (TMAX 400) as well as a light leak on the most crucial roll of film (shot on Ektar 100, a film I truly like). Alas, I am still such a bloody film amateur. I pushed the TMAX to 1600 (two stops), it is amazing how little grain there is, despite using TMAX developer, which produced more grain than some other developers. Anyway, here are some samples.



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This was shot in color, but I combined two scanned images and could not get the whites to match, so I “saved” it by converting to black and white.


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This was also a color image, from the roll with the light leak. I was trying to change a roll quickly (the Mamiya only gives you 10 shots) and must not have wrapped the roll tightly. I tried to salvage this image, which was the only half usable one.


dirkundling09



dirkundling06


The church with white walls, and quite a lot of natural light, posed some problems for dynamic range, which the TMAX mastered quite well. I do not know how a DSLR would have done (I am yet to see the pro photographers pictures, which he shot with a high end Canon).
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Too Early for an Eulogy

Is film dead? If you go to online forums like photo.net, you get very different, and passionate opinions. The digital revolution has been amazing, and new cameras like the Nikon D3X or Canon 5D Mark II, even the D700 and the like, beat 35mm film by far - not only in resolution but also in light sensitivity. There are still some that will dispute that, but at least in my hands that is true. Furthermore, they approach the dynamic range of black and white film. But I sure hope film stick around. For one, unless you have $10,000 to $50,000 to spend on a digital medium format camera, taking 120 roll film and scanning it will still give you quality unsurpassed by digital any SLRs. You can get a professional medium format camera and a few lenses for $500, and for the remaining $9,500 you do not spend on a modest Mamiya 654ZD with a 22 MPix back, you can get and develop 1300 rolls of film, that is ~ 15,000 pictures, which a roll of film every day for the next 4 years. If you were to compare it to the $39,995 Hasselblad H3D, you probably could not shoot enough film in your lifetime.... Sure, the Digitals will get cheaper. But then there is Large Format. A 4x5 negative, scanned at 4800 dpi (that is what mot modern flatbed scanners are capable of) would give you a 460 (fourhundredandsixty) MPix image that you can print at high quailty over 6 by 7 feet! Good luck trying to prcess it on your home computer though...
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