I just picked up a medium format camera that uses 120 or 220 roll film and yeah its still sold and processing is still available (though I plan on doing my own B&W).
I got a Mamiya RB67 for a song from a friend along with a 180 MM lens, autowind back and waist level finder.
Just ordered a used 65mm lens and got a manual wind film back and a hand held light meter that uses an old
style photocell (no batteries required!)
So far I've taken 2 rolls of color and one B&W, though I indend to use it mostly for B&W field work. Kool camera,
all manual, very slow, methodical, take your time, no rush, think about it carefully cause you only got 10 shots per roll
..better make 'em count...
Images from my first roll of B&W film back, 400 ASA Kodak Professional, which is a fine grain moderately fast film
with high tolerance zone for both over and under exposure and processing.
Note that I had no light meter with me as the one I had bought on flee-bay had not yet arrived so I was shooting
pretty much from memory of the days when I was shooting film back in the 70’s and 80’s. While I am generally
pleased with the results, and the level of detail in the negatives just blows me away (having never shot in
medium format before) I see I still have a lot to (re)learn about shooting film.
A bit about the processes I used...
The negatives were all scanned at 3200 dpi on the V700 flat bed and which can go up as high as 9600 dpi
(actually it can go as high as 120,000, but I think that is done in software) but that makes for huge image
file so I stuck with 3200 dpi for now, though I will probably try some selected detail higher res scans as well
once I get the process down better. I also played around a bit with other options of the scanner (there are
too many to try all of them as yet) but found some basic settings that I am happy with for the moment.
When I get my 2 rolls of color back, no doubt there will a bunch more options I’ll have to try.
I also experimented with using ZightZones ZoneMapper tool, which allows you to all select areas of
similar luminosity or tonal valve thru the use of a graduated slide bar and graphical preview window
that highlights them for ease of selection and can also do a reversal mask leaving those areas alone
while manipulating all other areas. It is a very handy tool and the one I use most often in that program.
In choosing to shoot B&W film my intent was to look at and try to capture textures and patterns, the play
of light and shadow and with a view to be “interpretive” or more artistic in nature rather than trying to
capture an exact representation of the scene. I choose camera settings and did the post processing and
scanning of the negatives with this intent in mind. For me this is where B&W really shines, by removing
the colors and reducing the scene to a mere 256 shades of gray from some 16 million possible colors
what you are left with is the detail and patterns of light and dark, surface texture and form. As such,
I did quite a bit of post processing, just as I would have/did back in the days of shooting film before
digital came out. The combination of the two has certainly opened up the possibilities for B&W as being
even more interpretive than before and gives me the ability to do much more than I could before with
much better (and certainly much more immediate) feed back. Some purist might say that using digital
at all is a cheat in shooting film, but for the method(s) chosen are all equally valid artistic choices, just
as one could not say that an impressionistic painting was done using the wrong technique and really
should have been done with some other style of painting.
So accepting the idea that these are all shoot with that intent in mind here they are…
First shots were processed in LightZone (ignore the white lines, those should not have been included,
somehow I accidentally saved the images with the grid on in a few shots, will have to correct tonight.)
I also note that these appear darker on my monitor at work than at home, one of the problems with
web images along with the fact that I have to reduce image resolution for web display which really
does not do justice to the sharpness of the negatives. These were all shot with the 180mm lens,
so some close ups have pretty narrow depth of field, even given I was using the smallest aperture
possible and all were taken with the camera on a very sturdy tripod.
and a detail of the same
the same scene processed with Photoshop
the same scene processed with LightZone
the next two are of the same scene using 2 different processing methods
the first is with Gimp and is intentionally brighter both as shot and as processed, the white areas
are purposely blown out since the sky was a dull overcast gray and I wanted to bring out the
detail in the shadows and blowing out the sky helped the framing using the overhanging tree
that forms an arch over the whole
The second was shot with a smaller aperture to emphasize the contrast between the light
and dark areas and details in surface of the water
the next is a close-up of an old log protruding from the water, scanned and processed to
make to the shadows of the overhanging trees on the water indistinct while keeping the
detail in the surface and shadow of the log. I used mammal depth of field to try to soften
the water’s surface as much as possible
The next two are shots are attempts to capture the detail of the tree rings in the end of
the cut log as well as some of the detail in the bark on the facing edge using LightZone
for one image and Gimp for the other, note that the first again was shot with faster speed
than the second
and the one using LightZone with less contrast and more detail or really comparing the two
different details seems to come forth.
And finally a pano consisting of two images. These were both shot and processed to purposely
blow out the overcast sky and place the emphasis on the patterns of the leaves the shadows
in the lower part of the tree line and esp. the reflections on the water that seem almost to
have been painted with a soft-broad brush