SLR design philosophies

NEW YORK SKYLINE

A 150mrr lens on a 645 (this was a Mamiya) equates roughly to a 90mm on a 35mm and a 200mm on a 6x7cm. The longer the lens you need, the smaller the format that it is convenient to use. KODAK ER ISO 64. (FES)

NEW YORK SKYLINE

A 150mrr lens on a 645 (this was a Mamiya) equates roughly to a 90mm on a 35mm and a 200mm on a 6x7cm. The longer the lens you need, the smaller the format that it is convenient to use. KODAK ER ISO 64. (FES)

The popularity of the MF SLR is arguably the result of two fairly disparate causes. One is the sheer genius of the original Hasselblad SLR design of the late 1940s, which was so far and away the most useful MF camera of its era - compact, rigid, handy, with first-class interchangeable lenses - that it changed the course of professional photography. The other is the popularity of the 35mm SLR. Because so many photographers today are brought up, so to speak, on the 35mm SLR, they imagine that in roll film the SLR must again be the automatic choice.

This second assertion bears a little examination. The 35mm SLR is probably the most popular camera for serious amateurs and professionals. This is because it can tackle just about any sphere of photography, from macro to portraiture to reportage to landscape to sports and action. In some areas, especially macro, or photography with very long tele lenses, it is unparalleled. But this is not the same as saying that it is the best camera for every single application. To stick with the 35mm examples with which most photographers are most familiar, the continued survival (and indeed renaissance) of rangefinder cameras bears witness to their advantages for reportage, travel and landscape.

MF SLRs, on the other hand, are niche cameras, mere like rangefinder 35mm cameras. They make no great claims to universality, and a particular brand is likely to show much greater strengths and weaknesses than is usual in 35mm, where the leading brands are pretty much interchangeable with one

FAIRGROUND

There is a certain kind of reportage-style photography - shallow depth of field. cropped edges, blur - which can be done more successfully with a fast lens on a 645 (here, 80/1.9 on a Mamiya) than with a 35mm, principally because depth of field is shallower. AGFACHROME R100S. (FES)

FAIRGROUND

There is a certain kind of reportage-style photography - shallow depth of field. cropped edges, blur - which can be done more successfully with a fast lens on a 645 (here, 80/1.9 on a Mamiya) than with a 35mm, principally because depth of field is shallower. AGFACHROME R100S. (FES)

another. For example, if you want to ise long lenses on a 6x7cm camera, then the Pentax 67 is a particularly good choice, while if you do a lot of close-up work, you wll generally do better with a bellows-type camera such as the Mamiya RB67 or Fuji 680. Or again, if you do mostly studio work, you are less likely to be worried about weight and bulk than you would if most of your photography is done on location: if you have to carry your cameras far, then either a 645 or a Hasselblad will probably suit you better. It is an interesting thought that cameras from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s are almost invariably smaller and lighter than their modern counterparts, partly because they are less complicated, but also because fewer people went everywhere by motor car in those days.

Two great divides to this day, however, are the provision (or otherwise) of interchangeable backs, and leaf shutters versus focal-plane,

INTERCHANGEABLE BACKS

The vast majority of MF cameras today provide interchangeable backs. These have at least three major advantages. They are very useful if you want to shoot both black and white and color, or if (for example) you want to use both a fast film and a slow film. They are all but essential if you want to check exposure and lighting with a Polaroid back. And if yoc are working with an assistant, he or she can hand you a freshly loaded back when the film runs out - though for this application, interchangeable inserts are at least as useful, rather more compact, and a lot cheaper.

The importance of interchangeable backs can, however, be overestimated. As far as we are concerned, Polaroids are the biggest single argument for interchangeable backs. But Polaroids are expensive and can slow you down, if you have to keep changing backs, and they are really of most use when you are shooting color transparency films in the studio: with color negative or monochrome, they do not tell you all that much about exposure, and on

PIONEER

With a longer-than-standard lens this was a 127/3.8 on a Mamiya RB67 you can minimize the "falling over backward'" effect that you get when you tilt the camera; however, a shift lens or a "baby" view camera is still a better solution in most cases. KODAK ER 64. (RWH)

PIONEER

With a longer-than-standard lens this was a 127/3.8 on a Mamiya RB67 you can minimize the "falling over backward'" effect that you get when you tilt the camera; however, a shift lens or a "baby" view camera is still a better solution in most cases. KODAK ER 64. (RWH)

location, except with the more contemplative forms of photography such as landscape, they are of limited usefulness.

The other arguments in favor of interchangeable backs are even less compelling. When it comes to shooting both color and black and white, we increasingly find that we can take better pictures if we concentrate on either black and white or color, rather thar switching between the two. If there really is a shot which cries out for color when we have mono in the camera, or vice versa, it will generally wait until we have finished the roll: there are not that many pictures on a roll of 120, after all. And as we are normally working independently, without an assistant, we have to stop and reload sometime, anyway. Extra backs are heavy, bulky and expensive: it may very well be that you can live without them.

Champion Flash Photography

Champion Flash Photography

Here Is How You Can Use Flash Wisely! A Hands-on Guide On Flash Photography For Camera Friendly People!. Learn Flash Photography Essentials By Following Simple Tips.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment