Sunday, January 30, 2011

Back Into Medium Format

Agfa VikingMany years ago I had a brief encounter (about three years long) with medium format film. Medium format had been the holy grail as I grew up. It was just a dream. Eventually, as I started earning a little more money, I was able to grab a Hasselblad 500C on the used market. That brought home what have been the ultimate studio camera system I drooled over for years. About three years later I sold the camera as it simply wasn't used enough (having already made the switch to a DSLR) and it needed service for the springs nearly every time I pulled it out. I've once again been thinking of the darkroom and medium format film thanks to the LOMO movement and the Instagram App for the iPhone. A visit to an antique shop a couple weeks ago ignited the flame again. They had many older cameras from box to twin lens. I've always had a fascination with the folding and twin lens cameras so spent some time looking those over. One of the folding cameras, an Agfa Viking (top right), was only $35 and seemed to be in working condition. Pentax 6x7So I walked out with that unit, cleaned it up, and started looking for more help with the camera online. It turns out to actually be a 620 camera. With a quick modification it can take 120 supply rolls, but still needs the 620 take up spool. Some more poking around and I found another dream camera from my college days. So I ended up grabbing a Pentax 6x7 (left) with several lenses, and a Mamiya C3 Pro. Now I'm hooked! I have a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II on order with a few lenses and will play with all of these whenever I feel like going out shooting without a specific mission. It gives me the chance to work with these great older cameras and get back into the darkroom. Processing ChemicalsI love medium format film but I don't plan to use it for anything really serious as the D700 still provides images as good as what I get from these great cameras but without the extra work of processing and scanning. Used film cameras are great additions to a collection and beat grabbing one of those cheap little plastic units for satisfying the lust for medium format. It seems that just about anything film-based is pretty cheap on the used market these days, perhaps you'll want to grab one and go old skool too.

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