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Medium Format 6x6 vs MM

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recently pickup up a Mamiya 6 to shoot BW film.

 

Any thoughts on how a 6x6 BW negative will compare to images shot with a Monohcrom?

 

Would resolution be about the same?

 

Anyone here went from Medium Format to MM and back to MF?

 

thank you.

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At the end of the day it is going to be down to the scan and the process around it. I would expect an acceptable quality to be possible, however that is going to require a very high resolution (and expensive) drum scan. I'm not sure that the Mamiya 6 range of lenses are in the same league as the Leica lenses though.

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I find the Monochrom easily outstrips MF film in resolution, but then I tend to use film with ISOs 100 - 400. With a tripod and some 25-50 ISO film it might be a close match. I just use film for the sheer enjoyment of the process (plus all the lovely old cameras that are now cheap!)

 

Chris

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The Mamiya 6 and it's lenses are excellent and there isn't much that can beat them in MF, but I agree with the post above, the MM is better in a straight fight of resolution. But that isn't nearly as important as the final image, and if the film look, the format, and the handling to allow an inspired photograph come together they will beat sheer resolution any day of the week.

 

Steve

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i have been shooting with an MM for a while now but as much as I love the camera and will continue to shoot with it, I cant help to think sometimes I don't like that too perfect, harsh digital image with too white highlights, compared to the softer, organic look of 35mm BW film.

 

i am thinking the 6x6 negative will give me the same softer, organic 35mm film look just with more resolution to play with.....

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I cant help to think sometimes I don't like that too perfect, harsh digital image with too white highlights, compared to the softer, organic look of 35mm BW film.

 

Devolve it in post processing, add some tone to the highlights, soften the micro contrast, there are many things to try that would stop an MM file looking too digital, that is the point of the MM, the files are so malleable all sorts of things can be done to them.

 

Steve

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I used medium format, mainly B&W, for about 15 years (mainly with a Mamiya 7). Am in the process of selling it, given have just bought a Leica M240. Resolution and beauty of a large MF print will certainly depend on the scanning (drum scans are vastly superior to anything else .... 50x60 inch prints are effortless with a very sharp negative and 350mb drum scan). Benefits of a Leica MM are multiple, however:

1) much easier to get a sharp hand-held image, given its better focusing, shorter relative focal length, and particularly ability to ramp up the ISO (drum scanned Fuji Acros 100 has noise that looks like the MM at c. 800 to 1000 speed in big prints).

2) there is arguably a bit more real info in a perfect tripod mounted Mamiya drum scanned negative, but not by much at all and the ability to ramp up shutter speed on an MM and the acuity of a digital camera's file often wins the day and makes the image "pop" more on a print than you'd get from a Mamiya drum scan. This is based on a casual test by getting test strips done to 50" long off a Lambda at 200dpi by a London high end lab.

3) drum scans (especially) get expensive VERY quickly

4) silver efex can be used very well to soften digital files to look more like Medium format film. I've got a crop at 30x20 from an M240 file (originally sized at 50x33) and its grain and "appearance" is incredibly close to medium format film. I've learnt not to oversharpen a digital camera file. The difference is more that I wouldn't have got that particular shot with a Mamiya (I took safer shots with it than I do with the M240 given film costs)

5) you can't focus as close with a Mamiya 7 (or 6?) as you can a Leica M

Edited by Jon Warwick

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Making a big assumption - that the pictures will be printed in the original format (square for 6x6 and rectangular 2:3 proportions for MM) - one is comparing apples to fruit flies.

 

If you crop either image to the format of the other, the cropped image will be handicapped. An MM cropped to square becomes a 12-Mpixel image, and the same principle applies to cropping a rectangle out of a 6x6 negative - you are throwing away some of the lens's efforts.

 

Also keep in mind that, mm for mm, 6x6 lenses generally have less resolution per mm than lenses designed for a smaller negative. 6x6 images have historically been higher-resolution because they had more mms to work with and needed less enlargement. And because they diminished the effect of grain diffusion on sharpness.

 

(There have been a few 6x6 lenses that matched the absolute resolution of the best 35mm lenses (80+ lppm) - Zeiss 100mm f/3.5 Planar and 250mm APO-Sonnar; 80mm Planar/Xenotars at their best apertures (but not f/2.8). I don't count recent "digital-oriented" MF lenses, since they don't cover 6x6).

 

All that being said, I have printed a square-cropped M9 image and a Hasselblad 6x6 ISO 100 color image to 16x16 inches with virtually no difference in the resolution of fine details. The "tells" that identified the M9 image were barber-pole color moire in some fine wires, and a bit less color saturation in shadow areas (neither of which would apply to the MM).

 

For me, the practical resolution, then, is identical. I shoot with a Hasselblad for "authenticity," not because it is better or worse than a digital M. Square pictures, seen square, shot square, scanned square and printed full-frame, "black border" with those two authentic little Hassy notches on the edge. I don't pretend an M9 is a Hassy - or a Hassy is an M9.

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Nik Silver Efex can help in terms of creating a grain etc that can mimic film. Within the world of film itself, there is a large difference in the "look" of 35mm, versus medium format, versus large format film - a nice thing about digital is that it essentially has no grain, so you can make the digital file look like the different film formats ( and related ISO speed / grain) as you fancy later on when processing in silver efex, whereas when you shoot in a grainier 400 ISO film in 35mm format like Tri-X you permanently bake in a look that will never look like something done on large format, regardless if what you subsequently do with a computer. In that sense, digital is quite liberating by creating a lot of options to choose in final post processed "look".

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in post processing, can one easily make a MM print look truly like print made a 6x6 BW negative?

 

You have to want too, but to do it you need to know what it is you are looking for. Film emulation is very little to do with adding grain but in achieving the balance of tones and the way they interact and flow into each other. To do that it's necessary to know what film looks like and be able to intellectualise it, to know how the highlights can spread in a certain way, to know that shadows are often smooth and richer, so not hard and edgy. These things are possible with an MM file, but unless you know what film looks like it's a pointless task.

 

Nobody is going to do a consistent and convincing film emulation without studying film and understanding what you like about it. Even the best film profiles in SEP, or DXO, or Alien Skin, can only go so far, it's down to the user to know when they look right or they look wrong, and then know how to adjust them.

 

Steve

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i understand you can do a lot with MM in post, but there is something to be said about getting a real nice image out of camera from a 6x6/35mm negative out of camera without having to tweak and fuss in post processing. just saying.

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i understand you can do a lot with MM in post, but there is something to be said about getting a real nice image out of camera from a 6x6/35mm negative out of camera without having to tweak and fuss in post processing. just saying.

 

Exactly, why be like every other "Thanks gods I haves digitals" enthusiast on earth and spend that kind of dough on what pretends to be when you can have the real thing for a lot less?

 

I have my own darkroom, make fine art prints from real photographs made on 35mm, 6x6 and 4x5 inch black and white negatives, shoot for a full time living. I can go for days on end without even looking at the computer, now THAT is liberating folks!

 

I just got the Mamiya 6 with all three lenses and love it! All the lenses are incredibly sharp, easily on par with most of my Hasselblad lenses. To heck with the "MM" computer-camera, get the 6!

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Regarding the 120 film vs. MM (or M240) debate, at the end of the day either of the three will produce excellent prints at all sizes smaller than the side of a barn.

 

This begs the question, how big of a print does a person need/want/use in the real world??

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Regarding the 120 film vs. MM (or M240) debate, at the end of the day either of the three will produce excellent prints at all sizes smaller than the side of a barn.

 

This begs the question, how big of a print does a person need/want/use in the real world??

 

Very true, I wish the resurgence of the small intimate print would hurry up a bit more in it's comeback, then 90% of pixel peeping would be pointless and acres of wall space would be liberated.

 

On the topic of MF quality and buying a Mamiya 6 (or other MF) it occurred to me the cheap digital option may be right under our noses. The Sigma Merrill's have just fallen in price, and now it looks like the DP1M (28mm), DP2M (45mm), DP3M (75mm), could be all had for £1200 (a lot less than a Mamiya 6 outfit)! IQ, if not versatility, is right up there with the M240, maybe even better.

 

Steve

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in post processing, can one easily make a MM print look truly like print made a 6x6 BW negative?

 

Why should you want to? You are working in a different medium with a different look.

Trying to use it as a synthetic copycat process is sure to produce subpar results.

Build on the strengths of each platform - and they are considerable.

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Why should you want to? You are working in a different medium with a different look.

Trying to use it as a synthetic copycat process is sure to produce subpar results.

Build on the strengths of each platform - and they are considerable.

 

I've just picked up on this a little late, but this seemed like such an odd remark. Why shouldn't you want to is my response - if there is something particularly beautiful about how a medium renders an image (I love the way my Rolleiflex 2.8F renders images with Tri-X 400) why wouldn't I want to deliver that, or something like that, with a smaller and far more convenient medium like the Leica MM, if that is what pleases me?

 

I love the Rolleiflex and the tonality it delivers, but I also love the convenience of digital, even though files need processing for an optimal B&W look. Since I need to process them, and must aim at some preconceived look in my mind, why not reproduce something of the look of the Rolleiflex if I prefer that to all other looks I can aim at?

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Yes, any artists view of the world isn't restricted by the medium. So a line drawing or sculpture by Picasso is no less redolent of his view of the world than a more famous painting made at the same time. And if you have a view of things from your film photography it is better to represent that rather than cower and represent what Leica says your pictures should look like in a digital photograph. Digital v film is just an alternative or/more advantageous way to represent your ideas, not something that dictates a different way you should look at the world.

 

Steve

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