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Author Topic: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions  (Read 5349 times)

slowframe

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Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« on: December 26, 2013, 11:25:49 AM »

Please accept my apologies in advance for my ignorance about medium format film photography. I used to shoot 35mm, but for some reason, I'd never taken the trouble to explore MF.

I'm considering getting a Voigtlander Bessa III (which was marketed as a Fuji in Japan). It has a fixed 80mm lens and is a folder, as I imagine many of you know. I'm happy with the field of view and am mostly interested in shooting 6x6. After some investigating, I've found what looks like a good local lab. I don't have space for setting up a darkroom at home, which is regrettable, but there you go.

I was wondering if anyone had experience with this camera. I think that I can get one at a fairly reasonable price used and in good shape. At 3.5, the lens isn't very bright, but just in an of itself that doesn't concern me very much. However, I'm having a little difficulty getting a grip on the depth of field. Can medium format be pushed a bit more than 35mm if need be, for those times that I don't have a tripod? Or is that rather film stock specific? My main interest is in B&W photography.

Thank you for any input. I'm pretty excited about the idea of returning to film, and to doing so in a new format.

Cheers,

SF
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amsp

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2013, 11:02:22 AM »

Film is great, and film shot with a medium format camera is even better, so I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the quality you get from today's modern pro films. I don't have any experience with the Bessa personally, but I've heard good things. I do however have experience with many other MF cameras, and unless you absolutely want a folding rangefinder camera I'd also consider a camera with a chimney finder, like Hasselblad, Rolleiflex, etc. It will give you a very different experience to shooting 35mm, composing on a bright focusing screen is brilliant. Take some time and try a couple of different cameras out before buying to see what works best for you.

As for DoF, you'll generally have to stop down 1-2 stops with a MF camera to get the same DoF as you would with a 35mm.
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slowframe

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2013, 06:38:13 PM »

Film is great, and film shot with a medium format camera is even better, so I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the quality you get from today's modern pro films. I don't have any experience with the Bessa personally, but I've heard good things. I do however have experience with many other MF cameras, and unless you absolutely want a folding rangefinder camera I'd also consider a camera with a chimney finder, like Hasselblad, Rolleiflex, etc. It will give you a very different experience to shooting 35mm, composing on a bright focusing screen is brilliant. Take some time and try a couple of different cameras out before buying to see what works best for you.

As for DoF, you'll generally have to stop down 1-2 stops with a MF camera to get the same DoF as you would with a 35mm.

AMSP, thanks for the valuable comments. I've had a chance to try some chimney finder cameras. I think that's a format I'd like to explore more, if things work out well with MF photography in general. We'll see, but my sense is that a folder is the right way to go. I've discovered that I can get the Fuji badged version for much less. So, I'm giving it a go.

I'm pleased to hear what you say about the quality of current film stocks. I haven't been in a darkroom in years. Although I actually rather like the digital darkroom, it will be nice to work with physical media again.

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SecondFocus

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2013, 09:01:03 PM »

I have shot with the Fuji version, the GF670. It is a very fun to shoot with camera. The shutter is about as silent as it gets. Kind of fun just folding it flat and tossing it in a small bag or briefcase with 5 or 10 rolls of film.
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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2013, 09:15:37 PM »

Folders are great, since they are relatively light weight, and you still get a big juicy negative. I often use mine when I travel.

You can shoot a stop or two higher speed film compared with 35mm, and still end up with a 'smoother' look.  Remember that your top shutter speed is limited compared to a DSLR, so for daylight work, you'll be wanting an ISO 100 or 400 film.  For general use, an ISO 400 film, even downrated a bit, will probably be the most versatile.  I'd pick one, and shoot a few rolls to get to know its characteristics.

Depends a lot on what subject matter you are shooting, but if you think of the old 'f8 and be there', I don't think you'll have too much trouble with DoF. Treat any lens DoF markings as conservative.

You don't need a dark room to process your own film, just a changing bag and daylight tank. You can them scan the negs, and print them on an inkjet. If you don't want to process the film yourself, you may want to shoot one of the C41 black and white films like Ilford XP2.

Have fun, the Fuji/Voigtlaender folders are nice cameras.
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slowframe

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2013, 11:04:53 PM »

Folders are great, since they are relatively light weight, and you still get a big juicy negative. I often use mine when I travel.

You can shoot a stop or two higher speed film compared with 35mm, and still end up with a 'smoother' look.  Remember that your top shutter speed is limited compared to a DSLR, so for daylight work, you'll be wanting an ISO 100 or 400 film.  For general use, an ISO 400 film, even downrated a bit, will probably be the most versatile.  I'd pick one, and shoot a few rolls to get to know its characteristics.

Depends a lot on what subject matter you are shooting, but if you think of the old 'f8 and be there', I don't think you'll have too much trouble with DoF. Treat any lens DoF markings as conservative.

You don't need a dark room to process your own film, just a changing bag and daylight tank. You can them scan the negs, and print them on an inkjet. If you don't want to process the film yourself, you may want to shoot one of the C41 black and white films like Ilford XP2.

Have fun, the Fuji/Voigtlaender folders are nice cameras.


This is great. Thanks! Looking forward to getting started. I'll report back once I've fired off a roll or two!

Andrew
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Hulyss

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2014, 07:09:31 AM »

The Bessa III 667 is a wonderful camera. A friend of me have one and I fired some rolls with it... this is a very good MF camera. As someone already said, it is silent and vibration free.  A simple and smooth "shlickkk". You can fire at 1/15th of a second without problems (handheld).

The bellow is strong. I mean, when you see it and touch it you know you will die before any parts of this camera. It is a life long investment. A real tank.

Optically we always want more but this "heliar" (it is named heliar but it is not really an original heliar design) is darn good and the aperture is very suitable for smooth portraiture and bokeh. Let say you are at 90/95% of the sharpness contrast of the Mamyia 7ii >> this mean it is really GOOD.

The range finder is excellent and not prone to be de-aligned easily. I mean you'll need to drop it HARD to move it... It is a tank.

Now let speak about the film. Personally, in the digital era we are actually crossing this is a perfect tool. To be clear, don't worry about what film you should use, just use Kodak Ektar 100 because grain is almost invisible. This film is technologically advanced, DR is huge (more than DSLR) and there is no penuries on this film (kodak will never stop to craft it).

All the charm will come in PP, so just grab a good scanner and pimp you Tiffs ;)

I'll will buy one once I have the money, my friend start to be anxious because the cam is very often in my home :p
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slowframe

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2014, 01:49:28 AM »

The Bessa III 667 is a wonderful camera. A friend of me have one and I fired some rolls with it... this is a very good MF camera. As someone already said, it is silent and vibration free.  A simple and smooth "shlickkk". You can fire at 1/15th of a second without problems (handheld).

The bellow is strong. I mean, when you see it and touch it you know you will die before any parts of this camera. It is a life long investment. A real tank.

Optically we always want more but this "heliar" (it is named heliar but it is not really an original heliar design) is darn good and the aperture is very suitable for smooth portraiture and bokeh. Let say you are at 90/95% of the sharpness contrast of the Mamyia 7ii >> this mean it is really GOOD.

The range finder is excellent and not prone to be de-aligned easily. I mean you'll need to drop it HARD to move it... It is a tank.

Now let speak about the film. Personally, in the digital era we are actually crossing this is a perfect tool. To be clear, don't worry about what film you should use, just use Kodak Ektar 100 because grain is almost invisible. This film is technologically advanced, DR is huge (more than DSLR) and there is no penuries on this film (kodak will never stop to craft it).

All the charm will come in PP, so just grab a good scanner and pimp you Tiffs ;)

I'll will buy one once I have the money, my friend start to be anxious because the cam is very often in my home :p

Hulyss,

It seems that we have similar taste in cameras. With digital, I mostly take photographs with a DP3M. I just got ahold of the Fuji GF670 branded version. I've had time to take just two rolls. I'm working my way through a few different stocks. I'll put Ektar 100 to the top of the list! I'll post some scans once I have them.

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Hulyss

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2014, 08:30:33 AM »

Hulyss,

It seems that we have similar taste in cameras. With digital, I mostly take photographs with a DP3M. I just got ahold of the Fuji GF670 branded version. I've had time to take just two rolls. I'm working my way through a few different stocks. I'll put Ektar 100 to the top of the list! I'll post some scans once I have them.



Hello Slowframe !

Happy New Year :)

If like me you already have a DP3m ... do not buy any scanner ;) 3 frames stitch on a light table with the DP3m and you are above ... above many things :) If you set the WB right you will be more than amazed. It is a double effect !

The other important point is development. If you master E6 method then you are in a total autonomy and that for many many many years. E6 kits by 5 litres aren't that expensive, at all. No need jobo or whatever processor ... It's easy in the bathroom. In + when you convert your Ektar negative in positive in PS and then convert in B&W you have so much more gradations than other B&W films ...   
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 08:50:29 AM by Hulyss »
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Rob C

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2014, 11:52:51 AM »

Hello Slowframe !

Happy New Year :)

If like me you already have a DP3m ... do not buy any scanner ;) 3 frames stitch on a light table with the DP3m and you are above ... above many things :) If you set the WB right you will be more than amazed. It is a double effect !

The other important point is development. If you master E6 method then you are in a total autonomy and that for many many many years. E6 kits by 5 litres aren't that expensive, at all. No need jobo or whatever processor ... It's easy in the bathroom. In + when you convert your Ektar negative in positive in PS and then convert in B&W you have so much more gradations than other B&W films ...   


I ran a small industrial photo-unit's colour line for a while, both transparency and colour neg; it was anything but easy or economical. Were it not for the fact that it was often very secret work, that it was a service unit and didn't have to turn a profit, all that colour stuff would have been sent to external labs, of which there were many in the 60s and up thru much of the 80s.

To do colour well and consistently, and to get the most out of chemical investment requires a lot of controlled replenishment etc. and processing at tightly controlled temperatures. If you can't guarantee control, you will never achieve standardized results, and without them, you are sunk. It was so important, in fact, that when I went out on my own, colour processing was the first thing I gave up: insufficient colour turnover to make financial sense in running a line of my own.

Rob C

slowframe

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2014, 02:25:50 PM »


I ran a small industrial photo-unit's colour line for a while, both transparency and colour neg; it was anything but easy or economical. Were it not for the fact that it was often very secret work, that it was a service unit and didn't have to turn a profit, all that colour stuff would have been sent to external labs, of which there were many in the 60s and up thru much of the 80s.

To do colour well and consistently, and to get the most out of chemical investment requires a lot of controlled replenishment etc. and processing at tightly controlled temperatures. If you can't guarantee control, you will never achieve standardized results, and without them, you are sunk. It was so important, in fact, that when I went out on my own, colour processing was the first thing I gave up: insufficient colour turnover to make financial sense in running a line of my own.

Rob C

Hi Rob,

That's interesting. Thanks for sharing your expertise. I have experience with B&W wet darkrooms, although it's been a while. I'm not planning to set up a colour darkroom at present, although I expect to get a B&W one up and running pretty soon. Since I may have access to a common darkroom that has colour facilities, I'd like to take the (possible) opportunity to learn about colour processing. I'm appreciative of the willingness of those on this forum to share their knowledge and perspectives.

Any advice on choosing a lab? I had one I liked, but they have, unfortunately, closed their doors to the general public and just provide services to the movie industry, as far as I can tell.
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slowframe

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2014, 08:27:25 PM »

The Bessa III 667 is a wonderful camera. A friend of me have one and I fired some rolls with it... this is a very good MF camera. As someone already said, it is silent and vibration free.  A simple and smooth "shlickkk". You can fire at 1/15th of a second without problems (handheld).

The bellow is strong. I mean, when you see it and touch it you know you will die before any parts of this camera. It is a life long investment. A real tank.

Optically we always want more but this "heliar" (it is named heliar but it is not really an original heliar design) is darn good and the aperture is very suitable for smooth portraiture and bokeh. Let say you are at 90/95% of the sharpness contrast of the Mamyia 7ii >> this mean it is really GOOD.

The range finder is excellent and not prone to be de-aligned easily. I mean you'll need to drop it HARD to move it... It is a tank.

Now let speak about the film. Personally, in the digital era we are actually crossing this is a perfect tool. To be clear, don't worry about what film you should use, just use Kodak Ektar 100 because grain is almost invisible. This film is technologically advanced, DR is huge (more than DSLR) and there is no penuries on this film (kodak will never stop to craft it).

All the charm will come in PP, so just grab a good scanner and pimp you Tiffs ;)

I'll will buy one once I have the money, my friend start to be anxious because the cam is very often in my home :p

Hi Hulyss,

You mentioned that you photograph your negatives with a DP3. I've had very good success with this in B&W, but I haven't cracked the nut in colour. What's your workflow, if I might ask?

Thanks!

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Hulyss

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2014, 05:15:50 AM »

Hi Hulyss,

You mentioned that you photograph your negatives with a DP3. I've had very good success with this in B&W, but I haven't cracked the nut in colour. What's your workflow, if I might ask?

Thanks!



Hello Slow :)

I use a huge reproduction bench where I screw the DP3. On the plate of the bench I have a light led panel. I always ask my developer (or when I do it myself) to not roll the films then they are pretty flat. I use some drops of reverse osmosis-purified water to make the film stick to the panel. I take care of micro bubbles too. Then I shoot in macro mode, tier by tier of the negative, and assemble it in photo-merge. The results are beyond what can output a freaking flexlight but, depending of the film, you need either to switch between Vivid, neutral or normal mode :) In B&W it is just awesome and I print 120 x 90 cm very often.
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slowframe

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2014, 11:54:05 PM »

Hello Slow :)

I use a huge reproduction bench where I screw the DP3. On the plate of the bench I have a light led panel. I always ask my developer (or when I do it myself) to not roll the films then they are pretty flat. I use some drops of reverse osmosis-purified water to make the film stick to the panel. I take care of micro bubbles too. Then I shoot in macro mode, tier by tier of the negative, and assemble it in photo-merge. The results are beyond what can output a freaking flexlight but, depending of the film, you need either to switch between Vivid, neutral or normal mode :) In B&W it is just awesome and I print 120 x 90 cm very often.

Dear Hulyss,

Thanks, that's very helpful. Getting really flat negatives is a bit of work. I'm sure it pays off wonderfully. I've finally sorted out some of the issues with colour conversion. It's a nice way to produce images.

Cheers,

S.
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synn

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2014, 12:10:37 AM »

Hello Slow :)

I use a huge reproduction bench where I screw the DP3. On the plate of the bench I have a light led panel. I always ask my developer (or when I do it myself) to not roll the films then they are pretty flat. I use some drops of reverse osmosis-purified water to make the film stick to the panel. I take care of micro bubbles too. Then I shoot in macro mode, tier by tier of the negative, and assemble it in photo-merge. The results are beyond what can output a freaking flexlight but, depending of the film, you need either to switch between Vivid, neutral or normal mode :) In B&W it is just awesome and I print 120 x 90 cm very often.

Hi Hulyss,

Could you please explain your workflow for removing the color cast after inversion for negative film?

I am also looking into using my MFD for scanning film at home.
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Hulyss

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2014, 08:45:09 AM »

Hi Hulyss,

Could you please explain your workflow for removing the color cast after inversion for negative film?

I am also looking into using my MFD for scanning film at home.

Hi Synn,

There is no color cast if the film is correctly lit. The color cast only appear when some parts are under exposed. At first I used a wooden box, painted in white inside. There where a hole in one side to plug a flash and the "bed" of the films was in milky glass. It was a bit cumbersome. I was a bit afraid when I bought the led panel but it is thin and perfect. That said, I tried first with D700 and 60 macro and ... there were more color cast than the DP3m especially with blue variations such as violet.

But... I do not always correct the films I scan. I want it to stay a bit unreal :)







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Rob C

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2014, 09:21:16 AM »

The best way I've found is using a Kodak Transparency Viewer Model 3. Make a mask out of black card, large enough to cover the lightbox, and cut a central hole to suit the format you wish to copy.

The viewer is, nominally at least, at daylight colour temperature, though since mine was bought in the late 60s/early 70s and has seen a helluva lot of trannies in its life, I wouldn't expect the colour accuracy to be true today...  but it works well enough. I use a a D700 with a 105mm manual micro Nikkor and it isn't that difficult to square the thing up with the viewer box on its side on the office bench. You can draw guide lines onto the mask if you like, in the 3x2 format, which helps alligment well. Of course, a proper vertical set-up is far better for accuracy, but for web - who is able to spot the difference, especially after you trim?

Of course, work in darkness when you copy - you don't need stray light to add to your problems.

In my case, it's only used for 6x6 or larger, of which I unfortunately saved very very few... for 35mm I have a film scanner.

Here's one such copy from 6x6 'blad Ektachrome 64.

Rob C
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 09:24:54 AM by Rob C »
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Telecaster

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2014, 02:58:38 PM »

There is no color cast if the film is correctly lit.

I suspect Synn is asking about how you neutralize the orange mask on color neg film. I'm curious too. I've had great results re-photographing 35mm transparencies and b&w negs, but color neg has been a trickier thing. If you've got a straightforward & effective method for dealing with different films and their varying orange masks then I'm in for shooting color with the Bessa 667.

-Dave-
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synn

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2014, 09:18:24 AM »

I suspect Synn is asking about how you neutralize the orange mask on color neg film. I'm curious too. I've had great results re-photographing 35mm transparencies and b&w negs, but color neg has been a trickier thing. If you've got a straightforward & effective method for dealing with different films and their varying orange masks then I'm in for shooting color with the Bessa 667.

-Dave-

Yep, that's exactly what I meant. Any help would be much appreciated :)
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IanB

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Re: Bessa III, a couple of MF questions
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2014, 11:44:39 AM »

I suspect Synn is asking about how you neutralize the orange mask on color neg film. I'm curious too. I've had great results re-photographing 35mm transparencies and b&w negs, but color neg has been a trickier thing. If you've got a straightforward & effective method for dealing with different films and their varying orange masks then I'm in for shooting color with the Bessa 667.

-Dave-

VueScan includes pre-sets for a wide range of colour neg materials. They work pretty well as a starting point.
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