Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Same Yet Different - Medium Format

Medium is a weird size.  When you order something in a medium size at a restaurant, what are you really saying about yourself?  I would get a small if I were cutting back or a large if I were throwing caution to the wind, but I can't really make up my mind... meh, I'll have a medium.

Medium Format Gear:
Hasselblad 501cm
Mamiya 645
Rolleiflex 55mm f4

Medium Format film, however, doesn't exactly fit within this idea of being the undecided man's camera.  The beauty of medium format is that you get a ton of image quality in a much smaller package than the Large Format stuff.  Your film size is considerably smaller than LF, but considerably larger than a DSLR sensor.   Plus, medium format cameras are just cool.

Ben and Mike with the Rolleiwide
The Rolleiwide was fun to shoot.  It is a twin reflex camera, meaning it has two lenses - one for looking through and one for taking the picture.  This camera has great color and picks up light in a very timeless look.  If you want to shoot medium format and have it look like it was shot in the days of old this is a great camera.  It looks like you can pick up one of these for a relatively small amount of money, too!

Molly and Stacy (and Miles) with the Hasselblad
The Hasselblad 501cm.  What a beautiful camera.  Just hefting it in your hands brings a smile to your face.  The sound and feel of the shutter is sure to remind you why you love taking pictures.  The color film we shot turned out great.  I love the tones this camera gives.  Both of the pictures above have such emotion behind them.  Plus, I just love the square format of the Hasselblad (and most medium format cameras).

Molly and Ben with the Hasselblad
I do have to say, however, that I think I prefer shooting black and white when I shoot medium format film.  Is that weird?  I like that I know I am shooting black and white.  I like to plan my shots accordingly.  Occasionally, I like to take my DSLR out and shoot with black and white in mind, but it is not quite the same.  I can always stick with the color if I like that better.  I like the restriction of black and white film.  I like that there is no going back.  

Ryan with the Mamiya
And then there's the Mamiya 645.  This camera was a gift to me.  When I received it I expected to enjoy shooting it occasionally when I felt like it.  Turns out, I feel like shooting this camera a lot.  I do wish it had the square format of other medium format cameras, but the image quality, the feel of the camera in my hands, the contrast levels in black and white, etc. all make for a very enjoyable shooting experience.  And I think my subjects pick up on that, and we begin to feed off each other.

Mike with the Mamiya and some old film
One of the rolls of film I shot with this camera was old.  You can tell.  However, I think it is rad.  I love the scratches on the images.  I think it adds to the raw nature of black and white film.  Is it just me?

Molly with the Mamiya
Overall, I would say that I love Medium Format.  I love the way it feels.  I love the way it looks.  I did my best to secure a loaner digital medium format Hasselblad for this project, but alas, it was unavailable.  But they are saying the new Nikon D800 is getting pretty close... but we will talk more about that tomorrow.

Medium Format is not quite the image size of LF.  It doesn't quite have all the features and amenities of a DSLR.  But for some projects the MF is just right.  The next time I go into a fast food restaurant and approach the counter I will look the cashier in the eyes and tell him I am not looking for small nor big today.  Nope, a medium is just right.

*Thanks to Jimmy Bunting and Kate Austin for the camera loans

1 comment:

jeremyv said...

It may just be my total ignorance of all things "camera", but I don't have any idea what you are talking about.