Is It All Relative ?
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Old 08-09-2017   #1
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Default Is It All Relative ?

It's one thing to speak of 8x10 or of 35mm, but
then we have terms such as submini and acoarst
medium format.

"Medium" is a relative term, and even tho we all
agree what it means, even our agreement covers
anything thaz approx 6cm on one side ... IOW all
possible formats of 120 film: 645, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9,
and 6x12 being the better known examples.

But with the demise of film, what will "medium"
come to mean ? The term has already crossed
over from film to digital so the term is not going
away even as film goes away.

There's now digital versions of so-called medium
format only 44mm on the long dimension, not a
significant increase over the the 36mm long side
of "FF 35mm", digital or film. It's only 22% wider.

"FF 35mm" is a solid 50% wider than APS-C and so
the difference is detectable in some applications,
but nonexistent in others. If that happens at 50%
what good is 22% ? There are acoarst still larger
versions of digital medium format that clearly do
represent a real increase over "FF 35" ... but I'm
kinda thinking those will be called "Large Format",
while the 44mm and the 36mm widths will share
the "Medium Format" moniker, while APS-C, 4/3",
and maybe even 1", will be collectively the "small
formats" or "compact formats".

All just random ponderings. Other ideas welcome !

Plus I've gotten really tired of seeing an 8 months
old thread title about pics from a Bronica, so I just
hadda post something ... anything ... to bump that.


.

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Old 08-10-2017   #2
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Back in the film days, the medium format was definitely roll film, say, with the dividing line at about the negative area of a 12-exposure roll of 127 film being the lower limit for medium format and full-frame 35 mm, including panoramic formats, being small-format. Anything below full-frame 35 mm, e.g., APS-C, half-frame 35 mm, and the Instamatic formats were generally of no great interest to professional photographers because the film was usually of insufficient resolution or too grainy to be presented as more than makeshift or amateur quality for most purposes. (Anyone ever see truly good image quality from a Minox B or C?) I don't think that anything in the Instamatic formats had enough control over focus or exposure to be of much interest as a general-purpose camera to most pros anyway.

As I recall, the 44 mm long dimensional format had a 4:3 aspect ratio, which makes the short dimension 33 mm, a 38% increase over the 24 mm short dimension of a FF digital frame. Seeing how the FF format has largely displaced a market segment that was formerly served by medium format, It would be fair to transfer this designation to the FF digital format. Not sure where to put the submini/small format, but somewhere about the 1/1.8" to 2/3" trade size sounds about right - still big enough to be of real interest to pros and serious amateurs but not really big enough to rival the quality of full-frame. Not sure where to put the dividing line to "large" format, but I think that it should be at least as big as the old 6 x 7 cm format and intended to be a camera back for a large-format camera intended for 4" x 5" or larger film, though the active imager area need not be that large. As I recall, most such backs are intended for tethered operation with some form of external mass storage. I wouldn't insist on this for newer camera backs when and if they become available from Leaf, Capture One, Sinar, or the like.
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Old 09-14-2017   #3
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Default Re: Is It All Relative ?

If I remember correctly, at one time, 4x5 inch film was classified as medium format. For some reason, it was reclassified as large format. I never understood how or why it was reclassified.
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Old 09-15-2017   #4
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I never heard an official reason, but my guess is that the 4 x 5 inch format more closely resembled the big boys in having sheet film than roll film as the medium-format cameras had, as well as at least some models having the tilts, shifts, and swings like the big boys. In any case, even when I was a child just getting into photography, the 4 x 5 inch was already considered large-format. If you can remember from personal experience it's being medium format, you must be an old codger indeed!
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Old 09-17-2017   #5
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`


Quote:
Originally Posted by scoundrel1728 View Post
I never heard an official reason, but my guess is
that the 4 x 5 inch format more closely resembled
the big boys in having sheet film than roll film as
the medium-format cameras had, as well as at
least some models having the tilts, shifts, and
swings like the big boys. ........
You pointed out all the stuff that made the 6x9
"Baby" Graphic Press such a precious jewel. It
really blurred that distinction in a portable and
affordable package. Every now and then, some
kinda blur can be a photographically good thing

Linhof made the Crown Jewels/Hope Diamond
of that genre, at the commensurate price ! But
the Graphic was waaaaaaaay more "streetable".


`
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Old 09-18-2017   #6
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Are any 6 x 9 cm cameras being made today that your typical film-using pro would be interested in that could use 120/220-sized roll film? And where would you even get sheet film in that size today?
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Old 09-18-2017   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scoundrel1728 View Post

Are any 6 x 9 cm cameras being made today
that your typical film-using pro would be
interested in that could use 120/220-sized
roll film? And where would you even get
sheet film in that size today?
Not sure at all. I think film Blads might still be in
production. But I do know the definitive place to
check: The Calumet Catalog. Strictly pro. If you
never browsed Calumet, it's a pleasant sooprize.
I vaguely recall a credible rumor about Fuji doing
a new roll film camera. If so, it's for enthusiasts
of anachronistic craft, not realistic for real work.

OOOooopz, Sorrrrry. UNpleasant sooprize. I was
gonna post you a link, and in that attempt I find
Calumet is in bankruptcy. Definitively marks the
End of an Era. The film photography world is now
officially ended, kaput. If you can find any recent
Calumet catalogs online, you'll see what I mean.
Calumet stocked Sinar, Horseman, Toyo, Fuji etc.

Possibly your phrase, "typical film-using pro", may
have no currency, no constituency. As to 6x9 sheet
film, it was rendered obsolete by roll film. I recall
holders and backs for Rollei, Blad or suchlike, but
their only [rare] use was scientific specialty films.

IIRC, 220 film is long time discontinued. I used it
quite a bit, but perhaps it was mainly a wedding
thing ? and we know weddings are now video and
digital stills, so ... lack of demand ?


`
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Old 09-19-2017   #8
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The digital medium format camera manufacturers consider "digital medium format" to begin at the 44x33mm sensors, and anything larger up to the 645 size. Phase One will tell you this if you speak to their people.

There are no viable 4x5" or larger "large format" digital backs yet, other than some discontinued scanning backs and vaporware.

By the way, the current digital medium format players are Phase One, Hasselblad, Fujifilm, Leica, and Pentax.

Leaf is gone (owned by Phase with no new Leaf-branded products), as is Sinar (owned by Leica).

Mamiya also got absorbed by Phase after a brief interlude as "MamiyaLeaf" with Phase owning controlling interest in both.

-----

From what I've gleaned recently, semi-officially through many conversations with people of varying degrees of in the know, plus some of my own first-hand knowledge.

The remaining Hasselblad H cameras compatible with film use 645 format film backs only. These autofocus things bear little resemblance to the classic Hasselblad V series 6x6 cameras officially discontinued in 2013.

As of last year, Fuji still manufactures a 6x7 folding camera.

Alpa of Switzerland still offers a 6x9 film back for their "technical cameras".

A number of specialty large format camera shops still manufacture cameras in various sizes, starting with 4x5 and moving on up to "ultra large format", but we're well within the realm of truely niche applications. It's almost impossible to find a good variety of film stock in 4x5 and 8x10, heaven forbid 11x14, 16x20, 20x24....

Ilford does an annual special order cutting of ULF film in whatever size you need, no minimum order size. A company in Shanghai does the same thing.

Last I checked, Kodak will cut you Portra in 11x14 or larger sheets if you buy about $30k USD worth.

In 35mm land, Leica manufactures several M bodies, and Nikon still has the production line for the F6 SLR, though my understanding is that it is not in active operation at this time. I've heard conflicting stories about whether the production line for the Cosina-manufactured Nikon FM10 still exists or not. There are also some Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) point and shoot film cameras but those aren't really the focus of most members of this website.

I'm sure I missed some cameras and manufacturers, but if you find one of the remaining specialty pro camera dealers, you basically can readily get Leica 35mm film cameras, maybe Hasselblad H, 4x5, and that's about it.

My local dealer had a new old stock Sinar 11x14 on display in their old showroom for the longest time, but most of their large format stuff is new old stock Toyo and other brands.

------

In addition, I have it on pretty good authority that there is actually no new film manufacturing. The last new film stock that was coated was the movie film used for the Disney Star Wars sequels.

All the "new" film being brought to market is new old stock; giant spools are brought out from underground cold storage and cut into rolls and sheets for consumer consumption.

In other words, Kodak Alaris didn't bring back Ektachrome, they simply found some and are going to cut it and package it for sale.

There is talk of a guy in Belgium attempting to restart film coating using what is believed to be some of Agfa's old machinery, and I think a Russian company claims they are making new film, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Just my 2 cents. I've verified some but not all of this information, so take it with a grain of you know what.
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Old 09-19-2017   #9
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Forgot to mention that quality film processing labs are hard to come by. C-41 color neg is still somewhat commonly-available, but forget about E-6. Traditional black-and-white is mostly the realm of school programs and home developing now.

The only somewhat common remaining professional use of film I still see, other than cinema, is the wedding pro shooting 120 film, usually Kodak Portra 400 loaded in the back of one of the now long-discontinued Kyocera Contax 645 cameras.

The Contax 645 system got hot for a few years and was fetching a pretty penny on the used market, but naturally I kept my Contax 645 gear too long to capitalize on this.

Eventually, these wedding pros mostly all go back to shooting Canikon.

Granted, I think the Contax 645 system is grossly overhyped by the Internet and not deserving of its reputation, but I intend to keep my older example for some time, as it belonged to a semi-famous photographer whose work and personality I like, and I have this hare-brained notion that keeping his old camera around with his favorite lens attached might help my work improve through osmosis or something...
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Old 09-20-2017   #10
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Osmosis - just the word I was thinking of when you described the reason for keeping your old medium-format system before you used the word yourself.

And even X-ray equipment is going digital, as I found out several years ago when I had to have a leg injury checked out. My dentist went digital several years before that.

I suspect that there has been a downward trend in the size ranges generally, to the point where we eventually start considering FF digital cameras to be "medium" format.


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