That’s what most photographers call it, because let’s face it, it is a beast!
That Leica IIIc looks pretty small next to it!
Why would anyone get into medium format film photography in 2014? One word: Quality. The 6x7cm negative beats any digital camera today under $30,000. For $400 to $500! Your garden variety 35mm film negative is roughly equivalent to 16 megapixels. The 6×7 is equivalent, depending on scanning, to 50-80mp! Right… The cheapest contender would be the Pentax 645Z at 51mp for $8500 (body only).
I was recently going through old B&W negatives and stumbled upon a photograph of my brother I took when he was a child, with a Lubitel 166B cheap Russian 6×6 plastic camera. That was more than thirty years ago (I’ve been into photography for a long time!) They are surprisingly good and the 6×6 of course is a large negative. Judge for yourself:
Keep in mind this is a highly scaled image. The original is much nicer. So, my interest for the medium format was revived. I had my parents ship me the Lubitel, but unfortunately the camera was in bad shape and I decided to throw it away. I remember when I was about 19, learning to fly ultralights, my instructor Gerard Landri used a Pentax 6×7 to take aerial photographs. I really liked the camera so I looked it up. What a monster! The rangefinder forum has a thread about the camera with many awesome images. I decided to look on Ebay… Prices were fairly reasonable. I had to buy a body, prism and lens separately. Since I was already processing film, I only had to buy a steel reel for 6cm wide films. I got the camera at 6pm and was out taking photographs the same night:
Again, this is a highly scaled image. The original is 7874×5917 pixels, so 47mp, scanned with a beat-up Epson V500. It is less in reality with the V500. I can’t wait to get a decent scanner, maybe a used Nikon Coolscan 8000.
You can find great medium format cameras on Ebay for a song. Well, around $200 for something decent like the Rolleicord or Yashica Mat. The Pentax is about $200 to $300 for a body, $80 to $180 for a prism, and you can get a good lens for $150. The quality is astounding. It almost makes me want to get a large format camera, 4×5″, yes, inches! Maybe next year… Medium format seems to be all I need right now. The Pentax has one drawback, that is weight. You need a good strap or the optional wooden grip to carry it for any length of time. Definitely not the camera to take on a long hike, unless photography was the ultimate goal. Probably not the best either for street photography unless you want to scare small children and make people jump in fear at the shutter noise. If anybody lunges at you, you can always use the camera as a bludgeoning tool. I will try street photography with it anyway 😉 The images that come out of this beast are out-of-this-world.
I have read that you can’t really use it handheld… BS! I took photos handheld at 1/60s that are perfectly sharp. Just hold your breath and imagine you’re a military sniper when your press the trigger, uh.. Button.. Smooth is the key.
What is there not to love about this camera but the size and weight? Images are awesome, it’s rugged, simple, fairly affordable, and it sure makes you look badass 😉