Mamiya RZ67 Pro Review

A Very Personal Mamiya RZ67 Pro ReviewIn one of my recent articles I talked about the beginning of the digital age and the consequences it brought to our understanding of photography. With all its greatness, with all the speed and quality and versatility, it became irreplaceable in our everyday lives and businesses. Along with that, however, digital photography also brought up a few problems, likely the biggest of which was the growing interest in new technologies rather than photography itself. This problem seemed to push the very goal of having a camera and a lens completely out of our minds. New gear was the thrilling, fun part. Comparing one to another has become our everyday activity. And yet, if we manage to get past that, if we manage to actually get out there and shoot rather than just read and read and read about new lenses and cameras day after day, we get the point of digital. We get to enjoy it as we should. We get to see digital, in a way, how we see the 18-200 or 28-300 class lenses – the do-everything, good enough for anything, the daily choice. But here lies another potential problem – with all the great all-round lenses, why do we love those boring 50mm f1.4 primes so much? I find myself shooting, and shooting, and shooting again. I find myself having hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs, and I like them. But a super-zoom is no prime lens. There’s always something vital missing. I may have just found out what it was for me. Before we dive into my very personal and subjective Mamiya RZ67 Pro review, lets talk film for a minute.

1) A Couple of Thoughts on Film

Where digital is about speed, you had to take it slow, sometimes even painfully so, with film. Where you had the shot with digital the second you pressed that shutter, you had to carefully store, develop and enlarge the photograph back in the day. Fiddle with the chemistry and red light in complete darkness. And you had, at best, 36 shots before you take a break and change film, whereas with digital, you have hundreds and hundreds before you swap that SD/CF/XQD card and shoot away again, ten frames per second. And every shot had to count. For every exposure, you pay money. You had manual focusing and manual exposure (I’m not talking about automated SLRs – I find them a little too boring, and we’ll talk about it further on) and you never knew if you’d screwed something up in the process. With digital, you can just shoot, adjust, and shoot again. I’m not even going to start on dust and scratches and archiving and having copies and making sure you don’t expose that precious roll to light before you had the chance to develop it.

Kodak BW400CN

Now, if we’d be rational about this, film is obsolete. Digital, in every way, seems better… But. Remember Kodak? They are undergoing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, which means they must reorganize the company and make it stable again. Kodak closed several divisions, but there’s one that’s still, believe it or not, working. You guessed right – film. After a decade of technology sprint, new cameras every year, affordable and high quality of digital, photographers still buy film. Why?

The reason is very, very simple. It is the same reason people, while owning some of the newest, fastest, safest, most practical and fuel-efficient cars, love old classics, such as the Mercedes-Benz 230SL or a Mini. The same reason why people love the expensive Vespa scooters, why we secretly prefer hand-written letters to faster and easier to write emails. It is the same reason why we love family albums more than Facebook galleries, why we use our father’s old mirror when we shave, rather than a brand new one with an inbuilt wiper. It’s because sometimes, even if very rarely, we want to slow down. Sometimes, we want to enjoy the process as much as we enjoy the result. Yes, driving down to the mall in your VW Golf for groceries just makes sense. It’s practical, economical and simple to drive. It’s rational, just like digital. But, really, I would enjoy short trips like that much more if I’d do them in a 1970′s Fiat 500. Make an ordinary, daily, routine activity that bit more special, personal, intimate and meaningful, simply by making it slower.

Poetic almost.

Kodak Tmax 100 Pushed +2 Stops

Even with all that in mind I’ve met plenty of people who disagree. What’s so special about chemistry and darkroom? But that is where an open mind helps. My father grew up with film. In his days, film was in a constant pursuit of quality. Slow, fiddly, messy analog photography was the daily thing, and it is only natural he found digital to be so much better. After all, it really is that much easier, and the result is often just as good, and in some cases, for some people – better. Me – I grew up with sterile, perfect quality of digital, with speed and flexibility it had to offer. And, for personal projects and family photos for an actual album made of actual paper, I grew tired of it. I grew tired of the sheer amount of photographs, the constant clicking, the constant work with a computer. I leave that for my business. Don’t get me wrong, I use my Nikon D700 very often, but that’s the main course. Dessert is the goal. While a step forward for my dad was embracing digital and going fast, a step forward for me is embracing film and slowing down. Embracing quality of aesthetics rather than quality of pixels.

A side note: I use other film cameras and formats, too. The two above sample images were captured using my Kiev 4AM 35mm rangefinder camera, which is a copy of an old Contax. All the sample images here (except of the Mamiya camera itself) are scans or negative macro shots and are only good for previewing purposes. There will be no sharpness comparisons, no high ISO tests with film, no dynamic range graphs. Because it’s a film camera. It is in almost every measurable way worse than my D700, and yet I love it so much more. This is a camera for the photography artist within you, not a tech-expert. This camera is among the purest photographic equipment and, at the same time, it’s something that can’t be seen as a simple tool. More like a friend, actually. With a certain character. It either bonds with you or doesn’t. You either see through it deeper than with your own eyes, or not. In the latter case, you may need something else.

2) The Technical Review

2.1)Film Used

Svema 125 b&w film and Mamiya RZ67 ProI’ve been using this camera for over a year now, but it is not quite the same kind of use your brand new Fujifilm X-Pro1 would receive during just the first few days. Simply put, I’ve made somewhat over 100 photographs with it, which equals 12 or so film rolls (10 shots each). Three of these rolls I’ve already developed myself – rolls of film that are about 20 years past their expiration date and were kept in room temperatures (about 20 degrees Celsius), it’s an old soviet black & white Svema 125. Naturally, two decades in decently warm temperatures had to have an effect, and as I expected, film was heavily covered in mold. I found that to be an interesting graphical touch to my “test” images – a sort of a natural, mood-setting texture, and I’m sad to say I’ve now run out of Svema rolls.

Developing Svema rolls was a tricky feat. With time, old film tends to lose sensitivity to light (ISO), and by a different degree depending on type/brand/storing conditions (storing them in a fridge helps minimize the effect, but never completely saves you from it). I had to guesstimate how sensitive my rolls of Svema 125 were after 20 years. I chose to expose them as if they were ISO 50, and then added about a minute to develop time in a darkroom. My guess was accurate enough – I ended up with usable images rather than nothing (a little underexposed, but that may have been in part due to my light metering skills), and was glad my experiment turned out to be quite successful.

The other rolls I used for testing were of current, cheap-ish Shanghai GP3 film. I gave them up to a professional service for development and then scanned preview samples using Epson V700 scanner.

2.2) About This Camera – RB67, RZ67 II, Lenses, Accessories, “Sensor” Size

Mamiya RZ67 Pro is a successor to the fully manual, very heavy and tough Mamiya RB67. These two cameras use a very similar mount and certain RB67 lenses can be used on a Mamiya RZ67 Pro. Several RB67-specific accessories can also be used on the newer, electronic body, such as film backs. However, both these accessories and lenses will have limitations due to RB67 being completely mechanical (RZ67 uses an electronically controlled shutter and several other components). RB67 cannot be mounted with the newer RZ67 lenses due to different flange distance (lens mount to film plane distance).

The camera I have is a predecessor to the RZ67 Pro II and RZ67 Pro IID cameras. All three are very similar and use bellows for focusing. The later cameras have half-stop shutter speeds (my camera only has full-stop shutter settings). The latest Pro IID camera has an electronic coupling which allows simple use of modern digital backs. This camera is still sold new.

Sensor Size ComparisonMamiya RZ67 is a modular camera, which means it has many interchangeable parts, such as viewfinders (waist-level or AE-enabled prism) and focusing screens. Also, there are several different film backs with different frame size support (6×7, 6×6, 6×4.5).

If you take a look at the image, you will see a comparison between different modern sensor sizes and the size of 6×7 film frame of my Mamiya RZ67 Pro. Do note that the comparison is not of real-worl scale. The size difference between a 6×7 and 36x24mm frame used in modern FF DSLRs is quite striking. You can fit four FF sensors into that huge frame with ease!

In case you want to find out more technical details about this camera, there is no better place to look for that kind of information than at Camerapedia.

2.3) Build Quality

Mamiya RZ67 Pro Front LookIt’s plastic and tough, but I wouldn’t want to drop it. The old RB67 had a metal body and if I ever dropped that, I’d be worried I’d crack the floor just like my Nikon D700 probably would. With the newer camera, however, I’d be worried that both the floor and RZ67 itself would fall apart on impact.

This Mamiya camera has a huge mirror, which is easier to break than smaller ones. Bellows are also very vulnerable. However, nothing ever feels flimsy and the camera seems to shrug off any light abuse I throw at it with reasonable ease. Despite that, I try to be as careful with it as I can. Everything is tight, secure and makes me feel as if it will last longer than I with proper care.

2.4) Handling, Ergonomics and Features

This camera is positively enormous. It is much bigger than my D700, which feels like a point-and-shoot next to it. Such size is partly due to the camera’s unique feature – revolving back, which can be rotated independently from the body itself into either portrait or landscape orientation. In order to do that you need to move the switch on the side of the camera to “R” position, rotate the back and return the switch back again to middle position. “M” position of the switch stands for “Multiple exposure” and allows you to cock up shutter and mirror mechanisms without winding the film. By doing so you can expose a single frame as many times as you like.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro is also much heavier than the Nikon D700, weighing about two-and-a-half kilograms with the 110mm f/2.8 Sekor lens mounted. Such immense size and weight means it is not as easy to handle as your conventional DSLR. Understandable, because Mamiya RZ67 Pro was always meant to be used as a studio camera mounted on a tripod. Speaking of tripods, by the way – you will need a sturdy one. When mounted, it is very well-balanced due to great weight distribution of that box-shaped body.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro BellowsIf you decide not to use a tripod and shoot on-location, you will only be able to hand-hold the camera for longer periods in both hands. This is because of the weight, shape and size. Thankfully, bellows are very easy to focus with and allow you to hold the camera with both hands at all times. Moreover, bellow focusing allows you to focus your lenses very close, which nearly turns my normal 110mm f/2.8 Sekor lens into a macro lens.

Other than that using the camera is very simple. There are no menus to play with. You set aperture on the lens, which also has a leaf shutter in it supporting full-stop speeds of up to 1/400th of a second. Shutter speed is set on the body using a dedicated dial. You may use the top shutter speed without batteries. “A” stands for Aperture priority exposure and works with AE-enabled pentaprism viewfinder. You may focus by turning a focusing knob on either side of the camera. As you focus closer, the bellows extend. If you focus very closely, effective aperture gets smaller (physics). There is a special diagram on the side of the camera which lets you know if you should adjust your exposure depending on current focus distance.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro Focusing KnobMamiya RZ67 Pro Film Back

Film wind lever does the job in a single stroke and offers good resistance. There is a safety lock which stops you from winding further on in case you haven’t exposed current frame yet.

Pulling two separate levers on the side of the film back will allow you to open it to change film. You can remove the back completely by pulling special levers at the bottom of the back at the same time, which will decouple it from the camera. Insert a dark slide to remove the back without exposing any frames – this is great if you have several backs with different film in them. Film backs have ISO speed dials on them, which work well as reminders or when used with AE-enabled pentaprism viewfinders for accurate exposure.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro ISO DialMamiya RZ67 Pro Shutter ReleaseShutter release button is located at the front of the camera for easy access with your right hand. It can be rotated to a lock position (red dot) to prevent accidental exposure. Rotate to orange dot position to use mechanical 1/400th of a second shutter speed if you’ve run out of batteries (which may not happen for several months or even over a year). If you want to use mirror lock-up feature, screw in a remote-control wire into the lens. Pressing shutter release button on the camera now will raise the mirror (with a loud clunk). Press the remote release to expose your film with no vibration for critically sharp work. You could barely hear the whisper-quiet leaf shutter, too – it sets off with a brief tick.

That’s it!

2.5) Waist-Level Finder

The very minute I held this wonderful piece of photographic brilliance in my hands I just wanted to take a look at the world through that gigantic window. This is, by far, what I love the most about medium format cameras. Waist-level finder fitted to my Mamiya RZ67 Pro body is simply magnificent. It may sound a little freakish, but at times, I like to pick it up and stare at just about anything. The first thought I had when I took my first glance through the finder was – “why can’t it do video?!”. And I am being serious – it’s quite magical to behold for anyone who’s used to those tiny DSLR viewfinders. It’s completely different, and, dare I say, extremely 3D-like.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro Waist-Level Finder

When you look through it, move around and focus, the first thing you notice is that left has become right, and right has become left (this is because there is no pentaprism to reverse that light again – it’s a mirror reflection). It makes framing while looking through the finder quite a bit more difficult than you might think – I still get confused at times. The second thing you notice is just how great everything looks. And I do mean everything. As if captured on a piece of video-enabled Polaroid sheet.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro Magnifying GlassFocusing is very simple – the image just snaps into sharp plane like nothing else I’ve ever seen. In case you want to double-check, there is also a magnifying glass available for critical focus. There is a small split-screen for even more focus aid. Once I got the hang of it, I just kept walking around and focusing at different things all day. It is very involving, that finder, and I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t need auto-exposure of any sort.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro Waist-Level Finder close-up

If I were to be picky, I’d say the finder gets quite dark as soon as light levels drop to anything bellow bright. That is because the screen is mate and not optimized for slow zoom lenses. On the up side, which for me is quite a bit more significant, you can see accurate depth of field no matter what aperture you’re on.

All in all, a very important part of the package. Waist-level finder makes me want to photograph everything through it even with my digital cameras, that’s how childishly enthusiastic I am. It just looks so much better.

2.6) The Lens

Mamiya RZ67 Pro LensWhile there are several lenses available for RZ67, including tilt-shift and zoom, mine comes fitted with a normal prime lens. It has a focal length of 110mm and an aperture of f/2.8. Now, you may find yourself somewhat bewildered by words “normal” and “focal length of 110mm”, but don’t forget what camera we are dealing with. The frame of this medium format Mamiya SLR is roughly four times bigger than that of a 35mm sensor/film. In other words – if one would want to calculate equivalent focal length of a given lens, they’d have to consider the 2x-ish crop factor. Thus a 110mm lens mounted on a Mamiya RZ67 behaves very closely to a classic 50mm lens on a FF camera body. It’s noticeably not as wide because of the different frame format, which is closer to 4:3 rather than 3:2.

The lens is also similar to 50mm f/1.4 lenses in terms of relative fastness within the system and depth of field. Yes, it may be “only” f/2.8, but that effectively makes this Sekor lens the fastest in Mamiya RZ lineup. When used with this camera, it provides very narrow depth of field, similar to a 50mm f/1.4 lens on your great 5D III or D800. The only difference is, while providing amazing aesthetics, f/2.8 doesn’t gather as much light. But then, it’s film. I’m not in a hurry and surely not shooting sports with it.

Mamiya 110mm f/2.8 Sekor is built very well, packs a 77mm filter thread and is quite heavy. You will also find a separate remote control thread, which is used when in mirror lock-up mode (leaf shutter is built into the lens). I wasn’t paying much attention to it, but it seems to be extremely sharp, too. When shot optimally, this kit, coupled with a high-resolution film, would easily triumph over Nikon D800 in terms of detail. But that’s not at all what I’m interested in. Let’s get back to aesthetics!

3) The Fun Review

None of the above matters. Focusing, accessories, history, lenses and viewfinder are completely irrelevant. Nothing else matters in the world if it doesn’t feel right. And oh boy it does.

The first thing I find refreshing when it comes to using the camera is, strangely, aspect ratio of 6×7 film. I’ve always found 3:2 sensors and film to be great for the majority of horizontal shots, but more often than not too narrow for vertical pictures. For this reason, I would often hesitate to change my framing in fear I’d lose too much horizontal context. This aspect ration, however, works perfect for me. When framed horizontally, it almost looks square, which I find a very pleasing framing. When used vertically, it’s just narrow enough to notice and give pleasing portrait, but also wide enough at the sides not to lose too much of the environment. I find I can use this aspect ratio for vertical landscapes far more often than the wider 3:2 aspect ratio.

Shanghai GP3_1

Old, manual cameras impose different style of shooting. You slow down. You pay more attention to composition, details within the frame, rather than an AF point or WB setting. It imposes you to concentrate more on what you are seeing. Helps you dive into that moment, breathless, surrounded by nothing but your feelings. It really does sometimes seem as if time just stops until I hear that loud clunk, until I set of that shutter with a very definitive press on the release. And then it’s all back to normal again, the only difference being a strange, satisfied, subtle smile on my face. And the image? Well, it’s in my mind, of course. Clear and beautiful, somewhat dreamy as film can be. Like a memory, almost. And exactly how I saw it. I may not have even seen the photograph yet, but this Mamiya manages to put a smile on my face with every shot I take. Imagine if your professional 1DX or D4 could do that. You’d just shoot away at tens of frames per second and never seize to smile so wide your cheeks would hurt.

Svema 125 b&w film_2

It is also a very interesting camera to shoot people with. Usually, whenever a digital camera is pointed at a person, they will change in some way. At times, it will be a very noticeable change – a person may suddenly stop doing whatever he or she was doing and turn away. They may stop smiling or, on the contrary, smile at you waiting for you to take that picture. At other times, the change is very subtle, but if you know anything about body language, it’s there and not always welcome – they may frown, or turn their bodies to a slightly different direction, away from you. They may become very self-conscious or even start to dislike you without realizing their feelings are clearly visible. It’s hard to say why exactly such a change occurs – it may be a psychological or a cultural thing. Whatever the reason is, it is extremely difficult to capture someone completely naturally as soon as they notice a digital camera. The moment’s usually gone. They are aware of being photographed and behave accordingly.

So what happens when I point RZ67 at them? Well, nothing, really. To them, to the people I’m interested in, this camera says nothing. It might as well be a book or a lump of bread. All they see is me looking down at some box and twisting knobs. To someone who’s not a photography enthusiast a medium format SLR, especially one with waist-level finder, is just too peculiar to be seen as a camera. Subconsciously, they don’t seem to realize I could see them by looking down at a weird-shaped box, let alone photograph. Clunk – it’s done. That simple.

Svema 125 b&w film

Fine, let’s put the unconventional looking Mamiya aside. What happens if I point my Kiev at someone? This is a little trickier and requires a bit more planning, a bit more quickness to it. Now, my subject is fully capable of realizing I am holding a camera and pointing it at them. But what kind of camera is it? Does it actually take pictures, or am I just asking myself the same kinds of questions while looking through that viewfinder? And so they get curious. Curious – not at all self-conscious. Kiev 4AM is small, light, much easier and somewhat quicker to handle. It also doesn’t make as much noise. Often, I can take that picture before they even notice or hear me. And when they do notice me first – it’s obviously a film camera. It doesn’t bite. It’s fine. So there, another shot – done. That simple.

Shanghai GP3

If film is so great, so perfect in its imperfection, why did we all go digital you may ask? But it’s not the film, really. It’s the nostalgia, it’s the involvement, sentiments. These feelings and associations come with functionality. Old film cameras are much more direct, much more involving, similarly to how a car with a petrol engine is more fun to drive than an electric car. It’s about turning a dial rather than pressing a button. It’s about seeing your photograph appear on a piece of paper rather than saving a JPEG image on your laptop.

Svema 125 b&w film

It’s about driving that focus gear, following that thin field of sharp focus until it lands where you want it to instead just autofocusing through a AF-dot obstructed viewfinder. Seeing how your image changes, grows, becomes your vision. You really do add more of yourself into your photography this way simply by doing everything that’s needed to take a picture yourself. Because of that, you start to see more, differently. And it’s not the same as focusing a 5D III manually. By doing that you would virtually try to turn your camera into a different one. It’s fake.

Shanghai GP3

And not just functionality. Looks, too. Old film cameras are curious, inconspicuous. This is partly why such classic-looking cameras as Fujifilm X-Pro1, X-E1 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 work so well for wedding and street photographers. They don’t look modern, dangerous. They don’t push people into being self-conscious, at least not as quickly.

I must say, things would be different if you’d point a Nikon F6 at someone. That is why I mean what I say – it’s not about film. It’s the whole package. An automated film camera takes away all the advantages, the satisfaction and pleasure of doing it all by yourself, and then gives you modern looks to scare your subject. I see them as somewhat pointless.

Shanghai GP3

Shooting with a film camera will not make you a better photographer, but it will make you photograph differently, in a new way. It will help you notice new things, those you previously never thought were interesting. Decades later, digital cameras might take this place and become the more involving process than whatever we use at that time. As I now prefer dials to buttons, I will then prefer buttons to touchscreens or voice command. As long as there’s enough feeling and pleasure in taking photographs as well as looking at them.

4) The End

And so I’ve established that this camera is in almost every technical way worse than probably anything you currently own. It’s slow, very big and very heavy, it’s missing most of today’s standard photographic features, such as AF and AE. And yet I love it. This Mamiya RZ67 Pro camera is of the “less is more” kind. There are no menus, no settings to fiddle with. You just grab it and use it as a tool, as an extension of your vision. One that makes the process feel so much better for me, it’s actually a little crazy.

Svema 125 b&w film

A happy camera, this. A tool for my soul. And since it’s a choice I’m making with my hearth rather than head, metaphorically, I’ll take the 70′s Fiat 500, thank you.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro Review3.4166666666667Romanas Naryškin2012-11-11 17:27:31A very personal and subjective review of the Mamiya RZ67 Pro medium format film camera with modern photographic gear context in mindhttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/
Build Quality
Handling
Value
Features
Image Quality
Size and Weight
Photography Life Overall Rating

Support Photography Life!

We constantly work hard on adding unique content, gear reviews and up-to-date photography news, in addition to continuously expanding the site with new sections and useful content. However, we need your continuous support to deliver the best content and allow our website to expand its reach. If you would like to help us out, please consider purchasing gear from our links to our trusted partners like B&H Photo Video and Adorama. It won't cost you anything, but it will help us pay our contributors, hosting and other expenses to run this website. In addition, if you feel like we do a good job, you can pledge one-time or monthly. We do not run any advertising at Photography Life to keep it clean for your viewing pleasure, so your support is extremely important for us to keep it that way.

Please see the Support Us page for our partner links and a donation form. Also, don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
Avatar of Romanas Naryškin About Romanas Naryškin

A student and a wedding photographer with a passion for cinematography and writing. You'll see me buying film even when there's no food in the fridge. Follow me on Google+, Facebook or visit my wedding photography website to see some of my work.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Peng

    Great job Roman. You’re my favorite writer on this site. Thanks for sharing.

    • You are very much welcome, Peng! We all try to do our best.

  2. 2
    ) Brian

    Film has another disadvantage. Wastage, chemicals, film etc.

    I prefer to go digital for this reason. Nice article.

    • 3
      ) Brian

      By wastage I meant environmental issues.

      • But if you care about environmental issues you can always deliver the waste chemicals to be processed accordingly. In Finland this is easy, not sure about many other countries though. But yeah, there is always more waste and materials in physical format like film so no need to argue on that.

        Old cameras and films have their own mood and characteristics too and you can use them to your advantage if you want. Sure digital is easier but for some occasions it may be better to use film. And if you just happen to like it then I see no problem by using film. Hey, someone has to do it to keep it alive!

      • Do you have a car, Brian? Let me assure you, it probably does a lot more damage to the environment.

        Digital cameras require manufacturing. You don’t buy film, you buy cameras these days. Those factories also pollute air, and I’m not even going to start on all the materials needed for a camera, nor the electricity, which comes from air polluting power plants. What’s more, I’m quite sure more digital cameras are bought these days than film.

        I understand your concern, I really do. And yet I also think it’s greatly exaggerated.

        • 30
          ) Brian

          Following article sums up how I feel.

          As we consider the digital camera revolution that has taken place over the last decade, most people think about it in terms of enhanced benefits for consumers. We can take a lot more pictures at much lower cost with digital cameras versus film cameras. We can also more easily manipulate and share those photos since they’re all in the digital realm.
          But one thing many people don’t think about actually deserves mention as potentially the most profound effect of the digital camera revolution: how digital cameras greatly reduce the destructive impact on the environment compared to film cameras.

          At first, you might think, “How can that be? My film camera didn’t harm the environment!” Even though it wasn’t your camera that harmed the environment, your film processing did indeed harm it. Any time you take your pictures to a photo processing center, that film is run through batches of chemicals. These chemicals are environmental hazards, and once they are used to process film, those chemicals must be discarded. These chemicals include both developer solutions and fixer solutions.

          All film photo processing centers use these chemicals. The question is, what do they do with these chemicals after they use them? According to environmental protection standards, they have to dispose of these chemicals in an environmentally sound way. That can mean trapping them in absorbent materials designed to render the chemicals inert and then disposing of those materials in a landfill. But more often than not, because of the increased expense involved in such endeavors, many film processing companies just pour the chemicals down the drain.

          Don’t believe me? Just ask anyone who has worked in a film processing company. While certainly the bigger and better known companies probably adhere to the environmental laws, many of the smaller, locally-owned companies don’t. As an experiment, one day I went to a local film processing company and asked what they did with their chemicals after they were done using them. The answer? “We pour them down the drain!” And that means these chemicals enter the water supply and go downstream.

          Quiz time: what do you get when you have 1,000 film developing companies and industrial chemical producers all breaking the rules and dumping chemicals into the river? You get the lower Mississippi river, which is of course a horrifying stream of man-made pollution that no one would want to swim in or drink… but yet provides the water for many of the cities downstream along the river (not to mention that the whole mess empties into the Gulf of Mexico, which is probably why the fish in the Gulf are too loaded with heavy metals to even consider eating…)

          Another interesting angle on all of this is what happens in international waters, because cruise ships don’t have to adhere to U.S. environmental protection standards. We already know that cruise ships dump raw sewage into the open ocean on a regular basis, but that’s not even the worst part of it. They also dump film developing chemicals into the open ocean. This is done routinely: it’s part of the regular process on world famous cruise lines. They develop your film for all the pictures you took on Aruba or the Cayman Islands or the Virgin Islands and then they pump the polluting chemicals to the ocean water. And we wonder why our oceans are dying and our coral reefs are dying at a rate faster than rainforest clear-cutting…

          Back to digital cameras: it is pure coincidence, I think, that the upsurge in digital camera use is having a positive environmental impact. With digital photography, we no longer need to use all of those chemical solutions for developing photographs.

          This is just one of many positive impacts of the digital camera revolution. But skeptical consumers might say “What about the environmental impact of all of the ink used in inkjet printers that people are printing their photos with?” And that’s a reasonable question. The first part of that answer is that most of the photos taken with digital cameras stay in the digital domain (people don’t print out all those photos).

          As far as the inkjet ink chemistry goes, I’m willing to take an educated guess that there are solvents in those inks and those solvents should not be touched in their liquid form because they will absorbed through the skin and are probably carcinogenic. But once they dry, they’re fairly safe to handle.

          Regardless of the inkjet ink chemicals, the net effect of digital photography is undoubtedly positive from an environmental standpoint. Of course, most consumers don’t even think about this. For most consumers, the digital camera argument is not about saving the planet, it’s about getting the latest cool technology, or taking photos without the expense of physical film development. But whether or not the public really gives a hoot about the environment is beside the point in this particular case — people are buying digital cameras in record numbers, the digital camera market continues to grow and film cameras are finally becoming obsolete. In my view, it couldn’t be a moment too soon because a world without film cameras is, of course, a healthier world with fewer chemical contaminants.

          One final thought: I do realize there’s a potential negative impact to the environment related to the use of batteries in digital cameras. But most such batteries are rechargeable, so we’re not talking about consumers chucking alkaline batteries into the landfill every week.

          There’s also the question of the environmental impact of manufacturing digital cameras. I’m sure that’s not inconsequential, but it’s probably similar to the impact of manufacturing film cameras anyway. And even high-end estimates of this manufacturing impact are relatively tame compared to the repeated destruction to the environment caused by film developer chemicals.

          Oh and I don’t own a car.

          • Brian, thank you again for your detailed explanation. Still, what do you think happens to most old digital cameras? Point-and-shoots that don’t work, old DSLRs, their batteries. Camera makers sell MILLIONS of cameras every year, and I believe such vast amount has effectively reduced theoretical advantage concerning environmental pollution to a flat zero. Plastic cameras, magnesium-alloy cameras, lenses, sensors – manufacturing all of these things pollutes air in one way or another. Workers need to get to factories, and they use cars to do that. Cars that use fuel. Fuel, which, after combustion, releases CO2. Fuel, which needs harvesting, which, again, pollutes air and water. Oh, lets not forget, cars are built in factories that pollute air. Digital cameras then need to be delivered to retailers, which costs fuel, which pollutes environment. Digital cameras are sold in stores, which consume electricity. You view photographs using computers, if you don’t print them. Computers that require electricity and manufacturing, which all pollutes air in ways I’ve already mentioned. In fact, you just wrote your comment using a computer. And the circle goes – over and over and over again.

            Again, I understand your concern. These days, however, film is far from being popular. It’s a minority, a niche, which, I believe, has such a teeny effect on environment, everything else around us simply drowns it. Completely.

            Lets not start a heated discussion, though. This article’s about photography, not environmentalism, which I otherwise support.

            Thank you for your input, Brian!

            P.S. – you can develop photo paper using coffee. Seriously.

            • 34
              ) Brian

              I’m not starting a ‘heated’ discussion, I was merely pointing out an alternative reason why I don’t choose to shoot with film anymore. I’m not the one getting hurt over anything.

              There is no need to rigorously ‘defend’ your article because I mentioned an alternative point.

              It’s not really a acceptable to say “look at cars, they pollute; therefore disposing of hazardous film chemicals is okay!” We should cut down wherever we can. Analog cameras also need to be manufactured as well, so that point is also moot. Where do all these toxic chermicals go?

              In my opinion, the lack ability to buy film and processing it is a good thing, we are moving forward. Look at what the mp3 is doing, we can all enjoy music without the wastage associated with copies and copies of the same plastic CD and cases.

              Again, I am merely voicing out my point of view, it is my point of view, there is no need to rigorously attack it and question if I own a car?? That is ridiculous. You are welcome to disagree, and that’s fine. After all, you yourself pointed out a few negatives of film. (no pun intended)

            • 90
              ) Cory

              Sometimes I feel like “moving forward” has its drawbacks. I love the convenience of digital, but I love the look of medium format film. You get a totally different look when shooting 6×7 or 6×9 film, than you do with a full frame digital. That’s just how it is. I develop my film at home with instant coffee, stop it with water rinse and fix it with salt. Doesn’t get much more environmentally friendly than that. I also shoot medium format digital but still prefer the look of larger film format. To each their own…

              Also, I would argue that “what the MP3 is doing” is not a good thing. I don’t enjoy listening to highly compressed songs that are missing information from the original uncompressed track. Can you guess what I prefer? That’s right, vinyl… :) Again, to each their own. When vinyl isn’t an option, a FLAC file will do just fine.

              I can’t wait till digital has an affordable 6×7 sensor, but until that happens, film it is.

          • 93
            ) neversink

            I love film. And I love digital. Both are harmful to the environment as I will briefly explain. I have the RZPro also with a number of lenses. Prefer the old Hassy 500c series of camera bodies becasue it i lighter and the Zeiss lenses are flawless. But my favorite MF camera is the Mamiya 7ii – what a beautiful camera and easy to shoot and so much more inconspicuous than any of today’s cameras.

            Today, I shoot mostly Nikon digital full frame – D800 and D4. But there is nothing like film.

            Yes film has its environmental issues that have been discussed. Sloppy custom, pro and consumer labs not disposing properly of their chemicals. And many of the chemicals used for color are extremely toxic.

            However, beyond the environmental concerns of the manufacturing process of digital cameras – from rare elements to pollution – is the need for computer power, monitors, and hard drives…. all of which pose an incredible burden on the environment, particularly in processing, shipping and disposing of.

            So, as loquacious as one can be in defending their beliefs on whether film or digital is harmful to the environment, the final realization is simple. There is no free lunch.

    • Thats because it has physicality, its photography ;)

    • 115
      ) Dragos

      Brian do you know how environmental unfriendly are all the processes involved in digital sensor making and shall we speak about all other components of your \”eco\” digital camera?

      Comparing film vs digital film is about 5 to 10 times more clean than digital.

  3. 4
    ) Jay

    Roman,

    This was a great article, a nice refresher, especially when you don’t hear a lot about film anymore. I also enjoyed the photographs as well. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Roman,

    Fantastic article! I enjoyed it a lot. 2 weeks ago I had my first one-on-one encounter with RZ67 Pro IID with the Phase One digital back. And everything You have written here is absolutely true. I miss those moment I’ve spent with it. It was just simple joy photography. I just may hope to be that lucky so I can own one one day.

    Regards,
    Sławomir

    • Sławomir, thank you!

      That IID must have been a joy to use, I am sure. :)

  5. 6
    ) John Richardson

    Stellar!

    • Thank you, John, always nice to know you’re with us!

  6. 8
    ) rmtjin

    Not meant as criticism to Roman or others, but am I the only one that is starting to lose the “Mansurov” fibe of this website?
    I mean, that was the reason why we came here, but the new site just isn’t what it used to…..and I find myself checking this site less and less…..
    Nasim; please help!

    • Hello, rmtjin. I am, first of all, quite sorry to hear your disappointment, although I’m struggling to see the reason.

      So far, nothing has really changed except for the name of the website. We do plan to add lots of things, but those will only improve PL – like a moderated forum, for example.

      We’ve been adding a great amount of content targeted at all levels of photographers, from beginners with my Lightroom tips, to amateurs and above with this piece. We’ve done reviews, even those that are of less importance to a great amount of readers, like backpacks and tripods, but which will be important eventually when you start looking for something of the sort. We’ve also done and continue to review most popular cameras, starting from entry level DSLRs all the way up to D800 and D4. Then, we add less technical content and get back to the very point of having a camera – photography itself. We let you know of the news and give our thoughts on just-announced products, we let you know of photography competitions and sometimes just share our daily photographs, because, in the end, our team consists of photographers, not techno maniacs.

      Also, while you did mention you miss some sort of a “fibe” (I can understand it’s not the polite writers, polite readers, nor content, because there’s plenty of those), you failed to mention what it is exactly that you don’t find here anymore among those 800 articles. Which really makes your remark somewhat.. well, empty. No offense. If there is something you miss, we would really like to know what exactly – I can’t say you’re being right or wrong without knowing the reasons first. A while ago, I posted an article asking for opinions. Many readers said things were really good and wanted us to keep doing what we do. Did you express your opinion there? I may have missed it, possibly.

      In any case, thank you for coming, rmtjin. If you have any specific suggestions, go ahead. Just know that we do our best with these articles, but there’s only a couple of active, everyday writers in our team, whilst there are thousands of readers. We can’t really make sure each article is good for all of you, because you’re so different.

  7. 9
    ) Goetz

    Nice one!

    I also rather listen to vinyl than to CD – for some reason the music sounds more involving and natural and I often have the same feeling when looking at film compared to digital images. It has more of a human touch…

    • Hello, Goetz.

      I see a pattern here – film, just like vinyl records, are not made of numbers. They’re physical and as such much closer to our understanding of what’s real and what isn’t. Both can be touched. And, I must say, I completely share your preference.

      Thank you!

  8. 10
    ) David B

    Roman this is absolutely and positively your best article on this site. I loved it. And the photos are just amazing – it took me back to my Soviet childhood many decades ago. Just amazing, I read the entire article with a smile on my face. Simply superb. I am also in agreement with you re: camera look. That is why I just repurchased a OM-D – that camera is so small and unobtrusive that I’ve shot it everywhere and people don’t pay attention!

    • Much appreciated, David, thank you!

      That OM-D must be great for street photography, I am sure. :)

  9. Roman, another fine article about film and analog photography. I suspect this will strike a cord with readers as your last article. I wrote an article for Mamiya in Jan. 2011 about the RZ67 and the Mamiya 7 Rangefinder being the perfect duet for me. The article is at http://blog.mamiya-usa.com/?p=993

    I personally find that I am unable to reproduce the “look” that get with film digitally. I am a 15 year veteran of Photoshop and have tried all of the latest software tools ranging from Silver Efex, DXO Labs FilmPack, to Alien Skin Efex, to custom techniques in the latest version of Photoshop. Many of those images are wonderful in their own right, just not the same as the ones I have created via film. I don’t have a negative opinion of photographers that choose to use digital as their capture medium and use software tools to create black and white images. It is their choice and their vision. I just simply can’t get there with my vision and so I continue to use film for my fine art work as I have for almost 30 years. It isn’t an issue of me being stuck in the 80′s, it is a conscience choice made based on my vision, the resulting quality and end product.

    Of course it goes without saying that I still make hand made museum quality fiber optical fiber prints in the darkroom. I’ve compared many inkjet prints over the years to my darkroom versions and they simply don’t compare. I find the inkjet prints to be good, and in some cases very good, but when laid next to my gelatin silver fiber prints the differences are obvious. I’ve conducted a number of blind studies over the years and I can only recall one case where the inkjet print was selected. Baryta inkjet papers have come a long way for sure, but I still prefer the real thing…

    I print all of my color work on a large format Epson inkjet printer and I think it looks wonderful. I either do a tango drum scan of my chrome or I use my D800 as the capture source mounted on the back of my 4×5 field camera and use it as a digital back. Long story short, I could never print the color myself to look as good as the Epson printer. I only do color work on rare occasions, typically in Autumn to capture the wonderful colors.

    I write about the RZ and many other film cameras and topics on my blog at http://www.blackandwhitefineart.net

    Thanks,

    Tim

    • Tim, hello.

      I was very interested in your story. Thank you so much for sharing! I took a look at your great blog and I must say I loved it. I’m not too much into landscapes, on very rare occasions only, but I liked yours. And that FE2, well, I always wanted one. :)

      Best of luck!

      R.

  10. 12
    ) Peter

    I was born in 1940, so I’ve experienced the “old’ and the “new” when it comes to photography, recorded music, and automobiles.

    PHOTOGRAPHY – I grew up in the darkroom. Nice Ken Rockwellian nostalgia in your article, Roman, but I’d never go back. Digital allows for far more creativity and allows you to learn photography a lot faster because of its inherent feedback aspects. And, if you master post-processing, it’s a hell of a lot better than fumbling around in the dark.

    RECORDED MUSIC – This is almost not worth discussing. I would bet that there is not 1 person in 100,000 that could hear the so-called difference in a vinyl recoding when compared to a vinyl recording. When you consider all the variables in a classical orchestral piece and the machine that is playing it back, give me break! How about that wonderful needle that ruined your vinyl after many platbacks?

    AUTOMOBILES – I had a classic 1957 Chevy. Every 10,000 miles it needed a tune up. You were lucky if you got 20,000 miles on a set of tires. 20 miles a gallon was unusual. Give me a 2012 car any day.

    When you mix facts with nostaglia, facts win…for most of us. Although, I must admit, nostalgia is fun especially if you don’t have to live it.

    • Peter, thank you for reading and expressing your opinion. It is much more like my father’s, I must say, and I can understand it, even though I don’t support it. :) Our generations are very different indeed, and as such, we have different understanding of what should be what. You’ve craved for quality and ease of use and speed your whole life, it seems. And I got tired of this so called perfection. It is only understandable.

      In any case, thank you. Although I must say, there’s nothing Ken Rockwellish in this article, at least I hope so. ;)

      • 24
        ) Peter

        Your father sounds like a very wise man.

        • Yes. He truly is. Mostly not because of his point of view, but because he knows how to accept other’s understanding that what works for him doesn’t necessary work for others. :)

          Best of luck to you, Peter.

    • 22
      ) Goetz

      Peter,

      I think everybody can hear the difference between CD and vinyl ;-) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5dCMz4gKLI

      On a more serious note, an old article from 1995: http://www.analogplanet.com/content/analog-corner-1

      BTW, it is obvious that CDs nowadays sound much better than they did 30 years ago and that a Nikon D800 is an entirely different beast than a D100 was. Also, digital is certainly more convenient to use compared to analog. But is it more satisfying?

      • 26
        ) Peter

        Yes, it is more satisfying. Compare the sales for digital cameras and film cameras.

        The world is changing. You youngsters have to get up to speed or you’ll be left behind. Roman’s father would agree with me on that, too.

        • You are verging on a thin line, Peter. Above everything else we respect opinion on this website, and each other. If you believe you know what’s best for everyone, I’m afraid you’re at a wrong place.

          The world is changing for you. We were born in such a world, and it’s no secret. There’s no need for us to get up to speed, because we’re there. We get technology, we get digital, and we use it. And then we get film the way you, it seems, never could.

          I would very much appreciate it if you’d not guess what my father would agree on and what not.

          Again, best of luck to you.

          • 36
            ) peter

            Given your comments, I think the best thing I can do is remove this website from my desktop.

            Bood bye.

            • 37
              ) Larry Todd

              Peter, why can’t we all just get along… :) No need for such drama (removing this website form my desktop). You both have opinions… good… It is called the Internet. If you think removing this site from your desktop will have any impact on the success or failure of the Mansurov’s, then that is a silly notion. If you don’t like, don’t come back. If you do, great, continue to participate. Either way, no one really cares, at least I don’t. The power of the consumer is all but nil these days. It is also commonly accepted that people dislike certain things and that is okay. But, when you start generalizing about people’s families, you have to expect some feedback on that one.

              Larry

            • 84
              ) Noons

              Peter, don’t let the door slap you on the back on the way out.

              It’s very simple, rally : don’t like film? Then kindly do NOT comment. And don’t you DARE tell me or any other film user what I should use for my photography because of your “sales figures”. Is that, in any way shape or format not remotely not clear?
              Nuff already with the “digital nazis”!….

          • 78
            ) JR

            Hi Roman,

            Seems to me that you’ve spent much of your time on this blog defending your point of view and reminding folks that they must be “respectful” of the others’ opinions. Doing so takes away from the seriousness of your writing and makes you seem like the kind of person that must win arguments at any cost; needing to have the last word.

            After asking others to be “respectful”, you responded in a very disrespectful way to Peter:

            “We get technology, we get digital, and we use it. And then we get film the way you, it seems, never could”

            Basically, you’re saying that Peter is an idiot and couldn’t grasp film the way that you[and your generation] do.

            If you’re bold enough to go on the net and address topics which are OBVIOUSLY controversial you’ll need to grow some thicker skin and to handle debate without getting defensive. Learn the difference between blatantly insulting and hurtful comments(you didn’t say anything about Doug abusively attacking Nasim’s character and credibility) and those, like Peter’s, that are simply dogmatic.

            Dogmatic statements are typically made by people who’ve made up their minds. Sometimes after careful comparative analysis, and other times because they are stubborn and won’t open their minds to any other opinion. Those people cannot be swayed and must be ignored. In Peter’s case, he’s come to a dogmatic stance after shooting film for many decades. Longer than most of us have been alive.

            You took it personal when he mentioned your dad, but it was *YOU* who said: “Peter, thank you for reading and expressing your opinion. It is much more like my father’s, I must say, and I can understand it, even though I don’t support it. :)”

            He simply responded by assuming that his opinion would match your dad’s!

            To keep calling out people who disagree with you and getting personal is not a formula for long-term success if your goal is to be a long-term blogger. Take some hints from Nasim. I’ve yet to read a single post where he confronts anyone; even when he’s severely insulted. I believe that attitude plays a big part in the success of his site.

            My devalued $US 0.02!
            ~JR

            • JR,

              there’s, of course, some truth in your words – I should learn how to ignore certain comments (that is why I took my time to explain Doug why Nasim said what he did just a couple of minutes ago) and not get personal with certain remarks, like the one you quoted.

              When it comes to my father, Peter, strangely enough, used him to make his point, in his understanding, better weighted. For this, I was offended on a more personal level. He doesn’t know my father, and when I mentioned him, it wasn’t to involve him in a silly argument – it was just a side note, a comparison of different generations. No need to make any kinds of assumptions on his behalf.

              Peter doesn’t have to agree with anyone, really – he just shouldn’t force his point of view onto anyone. By responding that digital is more satisfying – and he was making an absolute point, not stating his opinion – he basically said that chocolate ice cream is the best tasting because he likes it more and whoever doesn’t think so, well, should “get up to speed”. That’s not what I call an open mind and a respectful way of stating your point, which, I must say, is in no way worse or superior than anyone else’s

              I’ve nothing against Peter, JR, nor anything against his opinion. Just the way he states it. Dogmatic or not, he’s not talking to his closest friends who may understand his way of saying things – he’s talking to people he doesn’t know, and for that reason being as polite as possible is very important so as to not get into situations like this. Again, yes, I wasn’t nearly as faultless as I myself and Nasim would’ve preferred.

              Nasim has a lot more patience than I do, that is true. But then, we live and learn, and I’ve learned something from this situation.

              It’s time to end this argument, I think? There are some much more interesting going on in here, and much more to the point. :)

              Thanks for your input on the matter!

            • 80
              ) JR

              You’re welcome, Roman, and thanks for hearing me out.

              You mention something important: ” he’s not talking to his closest friends who may understand his way of saying things – he’s talking to people he doesn’t know”

              You’re 100% right! Unfortunately, that’s a negative side effect of the web: we can communicate with people across the globe in a matter of microseconds, but we don’t REALLY KNOW whom we’re communicating with. It could be said in a sarcastic/comical way(like my comments about chemicals and the dark room) and taken in a completely different way by the reader!

              You’re doing a superb job with your writing and photography(love your wedding work. VERY original, warm and artistic). Keep blogging about anything and everything that you feel is important to you. I’ve always thought that even if ONE other person feels like you do, it’s important enough to share your thoughts. It could inspire that other person to keep pushing along and reach their goal/s. If you do that, you’ve succeeded!

              We don’t need an audience like Lady Gaga’s to be successful. An audience of *ONE* is all we need! ;-)

            • 81
              ) JR

              Oh, one more thing…… ;-) …..

              Some of us old guys are completely intrigued by digital photography gear. It’s NEW to us! We’d been shooting film for 30 yrs and only over the past 2-4 yrs have we had any decent, affordable systems that can come close and sometimes surpass the film systems that we’d grown accustomed to using. We’re ECSTATIC!

              Don’t take it personal if we flat-out REFUSE to go back to film. Put yourself in our place: here comes a young gun, Roman, touting film cameras and we’ve had it up to our eyes and ears with film cameras! We want something new. We want to move forward and not backward.

              Of course, in your case, moving backward is actually moving forward, as you so eloquently expressed in your review, and I COMPLETELY understand that. To this day, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, replaces the tactile rush that I got with Linhof Super Technika IV 4×5 film camera. The thing FORCED me to slow down and think about every bit of detail about the composition.

              Do I get the same rush with my d800/600? No, of course not! But, it’s a DIFFERENT type of rush and a pretty good one, too! To engage the menus and buttons and have SO MUCH power under your finger tips is a great feeling. A digital feeling, but nevertheless a great feeling!

        • 32
          ) Goetz

          Well, at least in the music industry, only analog sales are growing:
          http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/vinyl-sales-increase-despite-industry-slump-20110106

          Given that consumer digital photography started in earnest only about 10 years ago, maybe we will see a broad-based film revival in 10-20 years.

    • 29
      ) Larry

      Hi,
      I’ve never posted anything on this delightful site before, even though I’ve been reading it for over a year. I rarely post opinions anywhere, as I’ve usually not that much to add to the conversation.
      However, am compelled to respond to the prior poster’s unfounded assertion that not 1 in 100,000 people could hear the “so-called” difference in a vinyl recording. I operate a high end audio store, carrying both analog and digital playback equipment at a variety of quality levels, and it would be closer to the truth to say that there is not 1 in 1,000 people who could not hear the difference, and contrary to the poster’s unfortunately common misconception, a properly set up “needle” does no damage to an LP.
      This is not a matter of “nostalgia”. A modern, decently set up, analog system delivers music more faithfully to the real thing than a CD, and mp3 is a joke in comparison. The resolution, meaning the sampling rate and bit rate, of the CD format was simply not adequate. It is only when digital music is recorded and delivered in higher sampling rates and bit depths, meaning 24/96 or better, that digital becomes competitive with LP playback, or surpasses it in some ways. Unfortunately, today, this is not the level of digital playback that most people have access to, though hopefully that will change with time. in the meantime, that is something consumers should demand. There is no reason to take my word for it, anyone spending a few hours reading any of the audio journals can learn all about the reasons why this is, so I will not belabor the point any longer.
      With regards to film and digital, I feel that the situation is similar but not exactly analogous. Unlike in audio, I’ve come to the feeling that digital is now “objectively” better than film, which is not to say that it is “better” in every regard, as your article eloquently tries to explain.
      I use a Nikon D800E, along with a Nikon F6, two Contax RXs, and a Contax645. Apples and oranges, neither one displaces the other, for the reasons you elucidate. It is not nostalgia, it is two different types of photographic interaction with the world, both valid. People can live happily without either film or chocolate, film is tedious and chocolate makes you fat, but there can be pleasure in what has been forsaken.
      For what it is worth, I am also fortunate enough to own a 48 year old Porsche 356, and a 5 year old 911. The 911 is a “better” car, the 356 is vastly more enjoyable to drive. So there!
      Neophilia is a pervasive disease in this society, but with a little care and knowledge we can avoid it.
      I enjoy this site and enjoy your work, please keep it up.

      • 35
        ) Brian

        Wow, Larry, thanks for the response. I’m now more interesting in learning about analog vs digital in music!

        • Brian – no hard feelings, I hope. In no way did I mean to imply I disrespected your point of view, and, to be fair, I respect you for it, especially because you can back it up if someone gets into your face too much. My reply may have seen as such an act, and I apologize if it did. :)

          In reality, I will do a lot of things to contribute to environmental protection. I will take a walk or ride a bike whenever I can, and if I ever get such a chance, I will buy a car with low co2 emissions being an important aspect. I’m quite sure there will be other things to learn and get used to, too, with time. It’s just that giving up film seems a little extreme to me, personally, and I find too many things much more dangerous to even consider film chemistry a danger to the planet. It’s just way down the priorities’ list.

          In any case, I am very much fine with your opinion and thank you for it. The only time when I’m not ok is when an opinion is forced onto someone, but seeing as my reply may have provoked you, this is not the case.

          As for the “heated” part – environmentalism, much like politics and religion, is a very hot topic and may often lead to less than pleasant conversations. There are extremists on both sides – those for and those against, and, well, I’m against extremists in general. That is why I may have somewhat overreacted on your comment when, in truth, you made a lot of interesting points.

          Yet again – best of luck to you and I hope to see you visit often.

      • Larry, I very much agree with what Brian said – this was very interesting and educating, and now actually gives me a strong argument if asked by a tech geek why I’d prefer vinyl records. Thank you, and also thank you for finally leaving a comment. :)

        • 43
          ) Larry

          Roman,
          Thank you for the thank you. I know this is a photography site, so will only mention the following as there were several mentions of people preferring analog LPs to digital. It is a complicated subject to understand fully, but people who neglect analog playback in favor of digital do themselves no favors.
          At the dawn of digital audio, Sony engineers had available to them a physical medium, the CD, which had a fixed amount of data storage capacity. The bit depth and sampling rate they would settle upon were not yet fixed. They took as their mandate that one disc should be able to contain the entirety of Karajan’s recording of Beethoven’s Ninth. This could only be done with a 16 bit depth if a 44.1kHz sampling rate was used, and vice versa. That was the highest resolution they could get on the physical media they had settled upon at the time. They thought it would be adequate for music. They have since recanted. It is just not resolved enough to adequately mimic a musical waveform. (And don’t get me started on mp3 compression, a lossy compression which throws out more than 4 times the information that CD throws out)
          LPs are simply a higher resolution format than the Redbook CD format. That is just a fact.
          We do not so much “hear” that the analog waveform had been chopped up into chunks and re-constituted, as we sense it. This is the reason you and countless others anecdotally report that analog playback seems to be more pleasurable than digital. Rigorously conducted brain mapping studies have been done on what we identify as the brain’s pleasure centers. Analog playback causes these pleasure centers to light up in a way that digital recordings do not.
          This post too long already, so I will leave it at that, and interested parties can do their own research; information is not hard to find, even if you won’t find it at Best Buy.
          (Higher resolution digital on the other hand is something of a different story. 24 or more bits and sampling rates of 96kHz, 172.4kHz, or higher result in much smaller chunks of music, and a much smoother waveform which is closer to the real thing)
          People who only listen to mp3 quality audio cheat themselves out of all that music has to offer, am only mentioning all this in the hopes that some might expand their horizons a bit.
          Hope this wasn’t too arcane.

          • 46
            ) Goetz

            Larry,

            You write:

            “Rigorously conducted brain mapping studies have been done on what we identify as the brain’s pleasure centers. Analog playback causes these pleasure centers to light up in a way that digital recordings do not.”

            Do you have a link to such a study? Would appreciate it…

            Thx, Goetz

            • 51
              ) Larry

              Goetz,

              I was afraid when I wrote that that someone would ask me for a reference. I guess I’m glad I didn’t include the part about the tube vs. transistor amplification comparison as well :)
              There has been more than one study, but I’m working tonight and not sure how long it will take me to find the references, but I’ll try. Wait a while, I’ll post it here once I come up with a source.
              Since you have already posted a link to Analog Planet, and are obviously clued in, I would have thought you would already have had that reference at your disposal to begin with:)

            • 54
              ) Graham

              Dear Goetz,
              As a professional musician, this is of equal interest to me too. Some part of my forthcoming books for young musicians (and their teachers) “Bring the Music to Life” touches on brain waves, perception and matters of relaxation. I would myself value your links please to some plain-English discussion of these issues. Thank you.

            • 57
              ) Goetz

              Graham,

              I don’t have any link to any up to date brain study regarding analog vs digital audio. But have a look at this article from 2000, which mentions a study done back then: http://www.stereophile.com/features/203/index.html

              In general, this is a very tricky subject that fills thousands of pages in online forums. I suggest that people try for themselves to see whether they prefer vinyl or CD…

              Goetz

            • 97
              ) Graham

              Dear Goetz,
              It would take us much too far off this ‘thread’ to open up a discussion of music psychology! Perhaps that time would anyway be better spent in practising! I did however like this quote (from your many pages): perhaps it could, if one had time to re-write things, be equally applied to photography (compare Ansel Adams’s “negative = score”).
              “Just as a fact is mere data without an interpretable context, which only meaning can transform into information, a detail is meaningless without its context of … direction, which transforms it into a nuance of interpretation. Dwelling on details … seems counterproductive: Such aspects take my attention away from the music and its meaning; they don’t lead me to the music itself.”
              Might you though have any further links to brain centres lighting up, Alpha waves etc?
              Best,
              Graham

            • 99
              ) Goetz

              Graham,

              I don’t have any more info on that. But if you haven’t read it yet, this book might provide further leads: http://www.amazon.com/This-Your-Brain-Music-Obsession/dp/0452288525/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355773038&sr=8-1&keywords=brain+on+music

              Goetz

            • 100
              ) Graham

              Thank you Goetz for your speedy reply after my month’s silence. I have just ordered the book, which I await with anticipation. The trouble with mine, is that I must stop it expanding eternally…
              Graham

      • 53
        ) Peter

        Larry, here’s a reference you might have missed:

        http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4303

        “But here’s the reason why the entire debate is stupid: whether the music is stored on vinyl or a CD is just not that important a part of the overall system. It’s like deciding which of two different cars is best by comparing their spark plug wires. There are many, many variables in the process of playing recorded music that noticeably affect the sound, from the microphones, to the mixing, to the mastering, to the quality of the playback hardware, the amplifier, and (far and away most important) the quality of the speakers and characteristics of the listening room; whether the recording was vinyl or CD is simply not one of these important variables, with apologies to the zealots. Both methods are easily far superior to any differences the human ear might hope to distinguish.”

        “Results showed that music major listeners rated the digital versions of live concert recordings higher in quality than corresponding analog versions. Participants gave significantly higher ratings to the digital presentations in bass, treble, and overall quality, as well as separation of the instruments/voices. Higher rating means for the digital versions were generally consistent across loudspeaker and headphone listening conditions and the four types of performance media.”

        • 61
          ) Larry

          Peter,
          Dealing with matters having to do with the reproduction of music, both analog and digital, is what I do for a living, so the information, if we can call it that, in the post you reference is unfortunately, and drearily, not something I have missed.

          Before I go into answering, I would like to apologize to others for unintentionally hijacking this thread. My original intention when commenting on Roman’s article, was, first to tell Roman that I enjoyed the article, and, as an aside, because of my background in digital and analog recording technologies , to note that the situation in music with regards to digital vs. analog was not exactly analogous to digital vs. film, and to bring to people’s attention, for what it is worth, that the analog medium is a higher resolution format than the CD format. That is just a fact. I am not anti-digital; higher resolution formats than the CD format have much to offer. I was merely trying to point out that there was much pleasure to be had from analog replay, and that those who had unceremoniously dumped it for the allure of total silence between tracks, had lost something they might be well served by taking a second look at.

          Again, I am sorry to have in some ways hijacked this thread, which is, after all, on a photography site and subsequent to this post I will not be making any other responses. Those who want to actually learn something about this topic can go to the library and read 3 or 4 years worth of back issues of Stereophile and The Absolute Sound for a layman’s perspective. Those who are satisfied with their current knowledge base are free to do nothing. Understanding this topic would allow someone to increase the amount of pleasure they get from music playback in their home, but it’s not life and death.

          Now, as to the reference from the aptly named skeptoid; the first paragraph you cite is a logical tautology, beginning with the unproven assertion that ‘the entire debate is stupid’, and progressing through invalid analogies (spark plugs), and moving on to the next unproven assertions (“not…important variables” and “human ear might hope to distinguish”) which are just re-phrasings of the first false assertion, and thus, through this illogical nonsense, Q.E.D., or so the author hopes.

          It is the second paragraph which is more relevant, and this type of ‘research’ is the basis for a lot of the misapprehensions held by those who posit that LPs are inferior to CDs. I would completely agree with the findings of this anti-analog study. However, it completely misses the point, and the point is, ‘what is music, exactly, and how does it effect us physically and emotionally’. If all you do is poll people for whether they thought the bass was cleaner or the instruments were more separated, digital will frequently win out. As someone once said, digitally reproduced music is like music which has been put through an autoclave. It is very clean. And whoever said, after attending a Led Zeppelin concert, “That was great! Probably because there was so much separation between the instruments.” The separation is a non-musical artifact. As Microsoft would say, “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature.” Perhaps, it is a bug.

          There was a reason that, in my other post, I only addressed the topic of pleasure, and not the perceived clarity of the treble. On short auditions of music, CD seems to have some benefits over analog (and on a top flight analog system even those vanish), and those benefits are exactly what the test cited by skeptoid measures for, discrete sounds divorced from the actual flow and continuity of the music. Yet over and over again we see people with open minds starting to take record players back into their lives, for exactly the sentiments expressed by a couple of the others who posted here. It gives them, for some unexplained reason, musical pleasure they had been missing from digital. It is pleasure you get from analog only from extended listening, living with it day to day and comparing it to digital day to day. It has nothing much to do with the things polled for in the study cited by the skeptoid.

          The quality of analog replay, unbeknownst to most, has advanced by leaps and bounds since the advent of the CD. Most people have never experienced this, and trying to explain the benefits of vinyl replay to most people today is like trying to explain the forest to a frog who has lived his entire life in the bottom of a well. It is something I certainly cannot do in a too long, yet much too short, post on a photography site.

          There are very few true high end audio stores left in the U.S. where one can go and hear a truly nice analog system in direct comparison to a truly nice digital system, but if professional skeptics would spend a few afternoons in that environment they would be less tempted to write articles about things that they do not even begin to understand.

          Again, my apologies to Nasim for using up valuable bandwidth. My only motive for pursuing this tangent is to correct some of the misinformation which surrounds this topic, and my only reason for doing that is that perhaps someone will allow themselves the pleasure which is possible from listening to an analog system instead of listening to people who would deny them that pleasure.

          Roman, thanks again.

          • “perhaps someone will allow themselves the pleasure which is possible from listening to an analog system instead of listening to people who would deny them that pleasure.”

            That, with the film context in mind, is why I wrote the article ;) Some people know how to take it lightly, others get deeply offended. “How is it that an old Mamiya can be so much fun for someone?” Well, I’m not the very least offended by such and similar remarks. I mean, I do have fun with it, so why would I care what someone else would disrespectfully say on the matter. :)

            I had fun reading your thoughts, Larry, and hope to see you here again some time!

          • 86
            ) Peter

            Larry, since you love vinyl so much, I have for sale especially for you:

            Nine Beethoven Symphonies (all vinyl, of course)
            Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra
            Limited Edition E 207 High Fidelity

            It was given to me by a concert pianist (Carnegie Hall), now deceased.

            Records in excellent condition, as you can imagine.

            I’ll keep my CD Beethoven Symphonies for the time being. The vinyl records did not fit properly into my car player!

            Well, make me an offer and don’t forget to add shipping costs.

            (Note: Roman is not eligible for a commission or finders fee if this sale goes through.)

            • 88
              ) Larry

              Peter,
              You have good taste in conductors. I’ve already got a NM condition RCA Red Seal set (LM-6901) plus the original Sony Set and the more recent, and much better sounding remastered Sony set, so I’m probably not in the market, but am curious about the pressing you have. I’ve got no information what the Limited Edition set is you have is all about. If you have any other label information, who pressed it, I’d be curious. Also curious as to how much you would want for it.
              Another great thing about collecting LPs in this day and age is that you can get things for pennies on the dollar from people dumping collections. Something which would cost $12-15 on CD can be found for 50cents to $1 at garage sales.
              Rare high quality pressings in mint condition, on the other hand, are a different story.

              These really are wonderful renditions of the Beethoven symphonies, and I’d recommend them to anyone.

          • 89
            ) Peter

            All I can tell you is:
            -The performances were recorded between Nov 1949 and Nov 1952 at Carnegie Hall
            -The recodings are in a leather album with a removeable bronze facsimile medallion of Toscanini on the from cover
            -They are all RCA Victor recordings
            -The 7th and the 9th are my favorites, but I do love all of them

            I would have to research the possible price, but you can do that too.

            If we get to the point where this looks possible, maybe we can ask Nasim to share our email addresses with each other and i can send you photos of the album.

  11. 23
    ) Sunil

    Hi Roman,

    Excellent article, loved reading that someone else is crazy about film. I shoot constantly with my Hasselblad 500cm and love the results. Only problem is, finding a lab which will develop E6 is getting scarce.

    Would you recommend a good scanning lab which uses Drum scanner and does a decent job? Also would it be possible to do a comparison in detail between a medium format film and D800 sensor? I know you have lots of ideas already lined up but just throwing one more :)

    Thanks
    Sunil

    • Sunil, you can develop your E-6 at home with very good results. Freestyle offers a three bath E-6 kit. I’ve been using this kit since Kodak discontinued their 6 bath kit. I post a lot of this work on my personal Flickr site and the latest self-developed chromes using the Arista kit are in my Autumn set at http://www.flickr.com/photos/timlaytonsr/sets/72157631892317786/ Getty has already licensed some of these so if that is any measure of success, I suppose that is a positive.

      In regards to comparing a scan of a medium format E-6 chrome and a digital image from the D800 is a slippery slope. Film by its very nature holds more detail than any digital sensor to date. I am sure there will be someone that may argue this point technically. There is nothing comparable to looking at a perfectly exposed chrome on a light table. Nothing IMHO…. It really depends on your personal goals. You making prints, publishing online exclusively, etc… This will help you decide the best tool to meet your goals. I can however tell you this. I have shot my Mamiya 7 and RZ67 with Velvia or Provia right next to my D800. They are different… it is up to you to decide which is “better” for you. I also use my D800 as a digital back to my large format view camera at times. I recently photographed the meteor showers with my view camera and sheet film using 15 minute exposures. I would never try that with my D800. There are no rules and we have more choices today than any time before. Just have fun at the very least and if you are a professional, then you know what needs to be done based on the job.

      Thanks,

      Tim

    • Hello, Sunil, and thank you for your kind words.

      I am afraid I can’t make any recommendations beyond those Tim listed, however, as I don’t feel I have enough expertise when it comes to scanners. :)

      Best of luck!

  12. 28
    ) Lukas

    Very good article.

    Why? Because you were able to describe everything i feel when i start shooting my Minolta XE-1. Of course its not as interesting as your great Mamiya (Just compare its size) but i think that the feelings are very similar. I am always watching these Mamyias lying behind the glass of my favourite photostore but i never got a chance to see their pictures…till now. Thank you very much

    And i totally agree with you, yes my DSLR is much more convenient and im able to produce professional looking images with it…but if im shooting just for the fun of shooting i prefer the XE-1 fitted with Kodak Ektar or an B/W Kodak Film.

    Thank you again

    Lukas

    • I am very very glad you liked it, Lukas, and I’m glad you feel that way. I guess film’s not such a lost cause after all ;)

  13. 40
    ) Graham

    My understanding of composition, and subsequent success rate, both improved dramatically with the bare screen of the (old) RB system. Looking in the corners, and gaining an eye for the balance of a picture, far surpass the use of even a 100% 36*24 screen.
    The 50 mm W/A was superb; the 150mm pleasantly adequate; even a 2* multiplier worked quite forgivingly. It was said that the RZ lenses outclassed those for the RB. The thing was so heavy as to make it even hand-holdable! Ultimately though the system was just too much to carry around ‘on spec’ (or as Ryanair hand-luggage!); of use only with transport and no other luggage on the trip.
    If you do buy into the system, and wish to save significant weight over the huge pentaprism, I cannot recommend too highly the little-known Spot-metering Hood, that is hugely accurate (with a little fine-tuning) but which adds very little weight to the bare camera body, while screening ambient light.
    One caveat: a MF film scanner of matching quality is expensive. A flat-bed scanner throws away most of the subtlety of colour depth. Visiting a lab for processing and scans is of course tiresome and costly (though cheaper no doubt than a Leica M9), but does not guarantee a lack of dust, absence of scratches (too many London pro labs let me down with “unheard-of” accidents) and a result to your taste.

    • Graham, thank you for sharing your thoughts, they were very interesting to read. Hope you visit us more ;) Hood luck!

      P.S. We’d all want a Leica, eh? :)

  14. 41
    ) David

    Thanks for this review, Roman!

    Really, I enjoyed reading it a lot, a pleasure! Reminds me of the fact that I should couple my old manual lenses (K-Mount) with an appropriate Film Body. Let’s see what christmas brings :)

    Anyway, thanks!
    David

    • I’m glad it was of interest to you, David. You are very welcome :)

  15. 42
    ) Don

    I’ve been a reader of this website for close to year, and I normally love it, but I take some big issues with this article.

    The camera review part was good. As someone who has shot a lot of MF, I can say that I’ve always wanted to use an RZ67. They’ve always just seemed to be the “king” of MF cameras, something to someday “aspire” to own, for some reason. But the fanciest MF rig I ever owned was a Bronica ETRSi and a decent set of primes. And I LOVED it. Nothing made me enjoy life so much as going out and shooting with this thing. The whole process was fantastic, from going out and finding the shots, setting up the camera, making the exposures, developing the film in bathroom, to eventually scanning the negs to digital files. As you say, it’s all about the process and experience.

    But that’s where I start to take issue with what was said in the article. It almost seems to imply that the same process can’t be enjoyed with digital. That because the flow of digital tends to be so fast, that only with film can one slow down and enjoy the process.

    Here’s what happened with my trusty sidekick, the Bronica ETRSi, and I: I started a new job and could no longer really afford to spend money on film like a madman, not to mention the rules in my new building forbid me using my bathroom as a darkroom (dang!) So for the last three years my film gear has been collecting dust. I started using my digital camera all the time (a D90 and then a D7000), and yeah, it felt like something was “off” – like something was missing. I was in the photographer’s limbo for a long time, shooting digital exactly like you say.

    But then, earlier this year, I bought a D800. I saw that 36mp sensor and the ridiculous file sizes it created as a way to FORCE myself back into shooting like I did with film. And you know what? It worked. The very first photograph I made with it I made like I shooting with my Bronica. I found the shot, set the camera up, waited for the best light, and made the photo. Since then I’ve been back where I feel like I’m DOING something when I work. The process is back.

    I now of course realize that I didn’t really need a D800 to accomplish this. I could have done it just as easily on my D90 and D7000, but meh, live and learn. That’s not intended to discount the D800 btw, which in terms of just about everything, is easily the best camera I’ve ever owned. I’ve got it set up with a bunch of Ai manual focus primes, and boy does it rock. And I have to say, that implying that by using a D800 (you said 5d3 in the article, but whatever) manually that my photography process and experience is fake is not only grossly offensive but downright incorrect.

    So the point to all this, the “too long/didn’t read”, is this: Your photography has very little to do with your medium of choice and far more to do with the attitude that YOU bring to the process. The literal process may not be the same (can’t develop CF cards in your bathroom), but the mental process easily can be. I know it can be. I do it everyday.

    • Don, I agree with you. I never shot film and I am not planning to shoot it anytime soon (unless something drastically changes). I learned to slow down with digital. Before, I used to “spray and pray” and now I am much more set back, slower. I think once you start learning the craft, you get to the point where you must slow down a little to improve and get better. I think the D800E is contributing to it a great deal :)

      Roman and I completely disagree on film – I once had a very long debate with him. I was assuring him that film is dead and he was assuring me that it will continue to be a niche and possibly even grow. But that’s the beauty of difference of opinion and diversity, we do not have to agree. I stay with my opinion and he stays with his.

      The goal of the website is not to revive film and we are not planning to cover it in much more detail in the future. Digital has taken over film by a huge margin and it is a fact. Even Roman himself loves his D700. But occasionally, things like this can be beneficial to our readers, because it goes out of the normal “flow”. People should experiment and do extraordinary things at times, if their goal is to get better. I am not an advocate of trying out film to get better – I believe one can master digital without ever touching film. However, for some people, it is a necessary step or they get too stuck in the same process over and over…

      Your last paragraph summed it all up pretty well, great job!

      • 118
        ) Clint

        Never shot film, Nasim? Wow, that is really, really sad. I mean, what a loss. If you did, you would know that 4 x 5, 8 x 10, and 6x 7 are VASTLY superior in quailty (color, detail, resolution, dynamic range) to anything that digital has to offer. Film is not dead. What an arrogant, overbearing, and ignorant statement, especially from someone who admits he never shot film. My 4 x 5 will smoke your D800E any day of the year in image quality. And that’s a fact. If Ansel Adams were alive he would wholeheartedly agree.

        • Clint,

          don’t be so critical, it is just his opinion – he is not forcing it on anyone, not even me during our long discussions. As strange as it may be, Nasim and I disagree on quite a few things, yet we are able to work together very well. So his opinion is not arrogant or overbearing :) Relax! Whichever way works for you, right? And, here’s a secret – I’m pretty sure Nasim will have to try film – medium or large format – someday. And, don’t tell anyone, but he is going to like it even if he doesn’t see it yet himself. ;)

          I would love to try that 4×5!

    • Don, hello!

      I completely understand what you’re saying, but I must point out – never once did I say digital is incapable of giving such a pleasure to the actual process of photographing. What this is is a very personal and subjective opinion, as I mentioned at the beginning. Moreover, I said that it’s not the film itself, it’s how we see those cameras because they are the past. With some effort, some realization, digital can help you achieve the same thing. Only, for me, film is better in this department for several other reasons. :)

      In any case, thank you very much for your comment and, I’m about to make a joke, don’t mind Nasim – he loves this article. ;)

      • 47
        ) Don

        Interesting. If I’ve somehow completely misread the article and missed your point, then I apologize. But I’ve read through the parts of the article that I took issue with again, with your above comment in mind, and I’m still reading the same thing. A lot of it seems to say that only with film/old film camera can one slow down or enjoy the process.

        There’s this quote talking about why people still shoot film:
        “It’s because sometimes, even if very rarely, we want to slow down. Sometimes, we want to enjoy the process as much as we enjoy the result. Yes, driving down to the mall in your VW Golf for groceries just makes sense. It’s practical, economical and simple to drive. It’s rational, just like digital. … Make an ordinary, daily, routine activity that bit more special, personal, intimate and meaningful, simply by making it slower.”

        Or this from later on:
        “Old, manual cameras impose different style of shooting. You slow down. You pay more attention to composition, details within the frame, rather than an AF point or WB setting. It imposes you to concentrate more on what you are seeing. Helps you dive into that moment, breathless, surrounded by nothing but your feelings. … I may not have even seen the photograph yet, but this Mamiya manages to put a smile on my face with every shot I take. Imagine if your professional 1DX or D4 could do that. You’d just shoot away at tens of frames per second and never seize to smile so wide your cheeks would hurt.”

        And this last one:
        “Seeing how your image changes, grows, becomes your vision. You really do add more of yourself into your photography this way simply by doing everything that’s needed to take a picture yourself. Because of that, you start to see more, differently. And it’s not the same as focusing a 5D III manually. By doing that you would virtually try to turn your camera into a different one. It’s fake.”

        All of these quotes seem to imply that these feelings, emotions, and results are not possible without using, specifically, an old manual film camera. If that was not your intention, realize that’s how they read.

        I want to make clear that I don’t have anything against film, or the people who use it. I love film. Always will. I’d still shoot film were it practical for me to do so. What I do have something against are the myths that come along with it (the myth I wrote about in my other post, for example, which unfortunately seems to be a common one.) There are so many actual good things about it, stuff doesn’t need to be made up.

        I understand this is a personal article, and I can appreciate that, but realize that when a personal piece of writing is published it stirs up personal feelings in the reader as well. From the way it was written, it implies that things that I know and feel, personally, and that I know to be true, are false.

        So, now for something I’m pretty sure we can both agree on: Old cameras are awesome. I’ve got a good little collection taking up several shelves in my living room, including some old motion picture film cameras. (And yes, I’ve actually used every one of them.) ;)

        • It’s past 2AM in the morning, but you are making such an interesting point, I got out of bed just to answer you. :)

          You are completely right in saying that I was talking specifically about film cameras in those quotes. What you still didn’t realize is that nowhere did I say digital was incapable of doing the same kind of thing. Maybe I should have been more specific. Let me explain this and bare with me – I find metaphors to work best in such cases.

          Imagine you receive two letters from a person very dear to you. One is written by hand, on a real sheet of paper, with a real pen. You see mistakes there, crossed-out words. The second letter is an email. Which one do you like better? Now, our feelings towards something like that may be radically different, but I’d take the hand-written letter in a heartbeat (read – film, with all its crossed-out flaws).

          Writing a letter by hand imposes you to give it much more thought before you even begin, and imposes you to be much more careful as you progress so that you don’t make any mistakes. You need to put more effort into it, which, in turn, makes the letter more valuable on a personal, sentimental level. While writing an email, you may start from the middle if you like thanks to that miraculous backspace button (and other, of course).

          What I’m saying is hand-written letters naturally make you want to be slower and more careful because there’s less room for error. That, however, doesn’t mean you can not write an email by giving it as much thought and as carefully. You can. It’s just not necessary, and thus not as obvious, thus doesn’t make as many people think about it. Emails are much like SMS messages these days – short, straightforward. Would you ever write a letter by hand in that manner? Hardly. :) There are a few digital cameras which I’d use the way I use my Kiev and Mamiya, and I also use my D700 much the same way. But only after learning to do so with film.

          In other words, hand-written letter make you put in more effort into writing them naturally, without you having to think about being slow on purpose when there’s no real reason why you should, as with emails – you can easily rewrite it anytime you want and fix any mistakes you may have made. Another thing is, hand-written letter is physical. It’s an actual thing you can touch, much like film. It has a real hand-writing of that particular person, not the standard Arial or Times New Roman. It’s much more personal for that reason. It carries a part of your friend with it – his hand-writing, his identity. Much like, in my opinion, film.

          And again, that doesn’t mean an email can’t be as personal or full of effort. It’s just that it most often isn’t. And if it is, well, the better for both people.

          I hope all this blabbing makes sense to you. I am extremely tired and a little chaotic in my head. :)

          Have a good night, Don, it is a pleasure discussing this with you.

          • 50
            ) Don

            Except you did imply that digital cameras couldn’t do that:
            “I may not have even seen the photograph yet, but this Mamiya manages to put a smile on my face with every shot I take. Imagine if your professional 1DX or D4 could do that.”

            Regardless, your post above did help clarify what you were going for. I think it may have been poorly worded in the article itself, but I get it.

            I may have to change my opinion on the article slightly, simply based on the fact that a good piece of writing gets people thinking and talking, and that we certainly have. Take care, dude.

  16. Excellent article, Roman! I think you truly expressed the joy of shooting with a medium format camera with a waist-level finder. I still remember the magical feeling I had the first time I ever peered down into one. There’s really no modern comparison… it just has to be experienced to be understood.

    • Very much true, John, and I’m very glad you liked it! Finally, a team member with some understanding of what fun photography as a process can be ;)

      Of course, I’m not serious, digital can be and is very, very fun to shoot, but poking fun every once in a while doesn’t hurt, does it? ;)

  17. 52
    ) Matias

    I have been following you for almost a year, and the quality of your articles/reviews is always excellent. I don’t tend to comment because normally I don’t have anything to add, but here I’ll take the chance to share my thoughts on the matter.

    It is curious to me that I feel the same way about digital that you about film. The times I have taken my old Zenit SLR with a 85mm prime (inherited from one of my grandfathers) I find it extremely tedious to keep always in mind the limitations of film (i.e. regarding ISO speed) and constantly struggle thinking about what would be the correct exposure and trying to focus while framing my subject. I just pushes me to devote all my brainpower to think how to get the shot while taking me away from thinking what to shoot.

    I couldn’t be more different to how I feel shooting my D7000 (specially with the 35 1.8G or 85 macro). I have devoted time to learn and understand how it works, and what are it’s limitations. So now it just take me few seconds to adjust it’s behaviour for what I want it to do, and relying in my knowledge of how it works I can be sure that I’ll get the results. But is not only that, been a digital camera also provides the most powerful of all tools, information. With that in hand I can quickly understand what how it interprets the scene, decide the exact set up and just concentrate in aiming the lens and deciding when to press the shutter release.

    And the fact that I can experiment taking dozens of shots without the cost of film allows me to when I get home to have a lot of material to analyse and choose of those ideas which worked the best. Also been able to instantly experiment with any possible post-processing not only I can quickly find the look that enhances the message/feeling I want to tell, but also I learn what combination of pp work with what kind of shots, so in subsequent shooting trips I can go for a shot having a better idea of what I want to get.

    This means that I usually end hundreds of shots each day I go somewhere with my camera, but I’m willing and eager to go through all of that, selecting and enhancing the best while I learn which factors came to play to create all those hits and misses. And in the end I tend to end with at least one picture that I can happily print and hang on the wall, adding it to my collection that I devote long minutes staring with the satisfaction and joy.

    Certainly when it comes to our own personal photography, we all pursue it in different manners, searching exactly for that, for the happiness it brings to us, but is always enlightening listening to others stories on how they achieve it.

    • I am very glad you know what you love, Matias, that’s the most important part. All I did was share and explain my passion the best way I could. It doesn’t mean yours has to be the same – that would be plain boring!

      Best of luck,

  18. 55
    ) Jorge

    Well, a very romantic article but bottom line: Film Sucks. Every now and then I get suckered in by one of these great articles on MF and Film and I break out of my Steel safe my Mamiya AF645 and a few lenses; defrost some color or BW film, and go shoot. Then, reality hits and I ask myself WTF am I doing? I have a D800, a D700, many Nikon lenses, and I’m screwing around with film. Not only that, but I have to “wait” to see the results just like the old days. No thanks. I’m done shooting events, weddings, and landscapes, then rushing home and processing the film in smelly chemicals before the sun came up.
    Film is done. I am not going to be suckered in by yet another great article on film, and old romantic cameras that I love so much…. Well… Maybe ONE more roll won’t hurt…..

    • 59
      ) JR

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Jorge! Ditto on everything you’ve said.

      A “romantic article” indeed. Yet, not convincing enough to have me go back to something I started doing over thirty years ago! Nostalgia has its place, but not on this topic. Film is something I want to erase from my memory, rather than revisit.

      With all due respect to Roman, but he must recognize that he’s discovering MF film photography for the first time and his infatuation is spewing from his pores; an infatuation so strong that dares him to “review” a camera that’s been reviewed countless times before. Which is fine and understandable. Which one of us didn’t drop our jaw to the floor when we developed our first 11×14″ print from a T-Max roll?

      On the other hand, he needs to understand, and respect, that many of us have “been there, done that” and there’s not a SINGLE thing that he could say to sway us to shoot film again. The “magic” of the print coming to life in a dark, stinky room doesn’t compare to the immediacy and predictability of having a print come to life through a photo quality inkjet printer, in a well-ventilated, bright, sunny room!

      • JR, hello, and thank you for reading :)

        I guess we understand pleasure differently. And that is fine. But not once did I think of persuading someone to do anything they don’t want with this article. I’m really fine with anyone’s opinion, as long as it’s respectful of others that are different. As you can see, some people who’ve commented here think similarly to you, and others – completely differently. I’m quite sure you don’t think your point of view is in any way superior to theirs, it’s just different. Some people like vanilla ice cream, other – chocolate. I guess, with this metaphor, I like both flavors (though in reality I stick with chocolate) and you prefer only one. That’s fine. :)

        • 62
          ) JR

          Hi Roman,

          Well, of course you’re trying to persuade! A writer who doesn’t persuade is not worth his salt. You don’t need to defend your stance. It’s OK. It’s good; it’s VERY GOOD, actually. We need articles like yours to raise and stimulate the very debates/discussions that are taking place on this blog, even if they’ve been hashed out countless times. I would guess that over half of the readers have never shot film and your article may “persuade” them to give film a try.

          Nostalgia for the analog, knob twisting, slider moving world is not new to me; on the contrary. I am a big fan of vintage music and studio recording gear and own some vintage pieces. If $$$$$ and space weren’t factors, I’d love to own a mint condition 40 year old Moog Modular synthesizer system, even though it would require adding an extra room to my studio! And if $$$$$$$$$$$ weren’t a factor, I’d LOVE to own a mint condition De Tomaso Pantera! And if $$$$$ weren’t a factor……[insert another favorite analog/vintage toy in here]….

          My main argument, and truly the only one I really have, is that a level of contemplative compositional approach can be achieved with digital systems; specially with bodies like the D800 and MF digital cameras, which offer huge image and file size and naturally slow down the process. It requires a *LOT* of discipline to fight off the instinct to fire as many shots as your SD card allows; but, it’s possible.

          I suppose if someone couldn’t fight the urge to use their digital camera as a machine gun, then a film camera, specially MF/LF, could be a sensible choice for that person. However, in my case I moved the opposite way: once the D800, and now the D600, came to market I have no reason for shooting my Pentax 67. The image quality of the D800/600 files for prints up to 24×36 are superior than those from 67 film; period. Not even close. No grain, better sharpness and good enough contrast. Other than nostalgia, I have no reason to move back to the 67. I can slow down my work flow with digital because I’ve shot film. My habits are film-based.

          The stuff about the dark room and chemicals is not really that big a deal; most of what I said was tongue in cheek. There’s no historical evidence of many people, if any, dying off after extended dark room work. And it’s certainly rewarding to see prints materialize before your eyes and if that gives you “pleasure”, then more power to you!

          • I wasn’t trying to persuade, JR – all I did was write an article that may persuade someone, and that’s fine. But it wasn’t my first intention – making people feel how I feel about shooting film was, and it doesn’t matter what it is for them, digital or even polaroid. All this discussion is great, though, and I have fun reading all the thoughts, however offensive some may be. In any case, I am glad you know what you like best. I guess it wasn’t at all pointless, then, this review.

  19. 56
    ) Doug

    Roman— I generally find your articles and related work on this site to be both insightful and of value; your contributions greatly elevate what is otherwise unoriginal content- please, do not allow others to unduly influence your paradigm. Similarly, those who seek to raise unsubstantiated environmental issues or re-litigate tired “digital vs. film” arguments are wholly missing your article’s point, not to mention ill informed on those underlying issues.

    The Mamiya RZ67 is an above average photographic tool capable of capturing extraordinarily compelling imagery. In fact, the imagery that regularly results from the RZ combined with the way in which this tool enhances that process for the photographer is quite special indeed.

    I am a professional who makes a living, and a good one at that, shooting action type events in the summer and winter months using high-end 35mm/full-frame digital gear. I would not advise nor would I in practice use the RZ67 for such work, let alone expect much success or my clientele to be satisfied if I did. I would and have, however, (usually during the spring and fall months) taken the RZ out into the field or used it in the studio only to be rewarded time and time again with exceptional imagery- images that are often more representative of what my photographic eye sought and for reasons often unclear, dearer to my heart.

    On a side and somewhat disturbing note, Nasim’s above-related comments are as misplaced as they are troubling. One could rightly write a doctoral thesis as to why Nasim’s thoughts on the matter, regardless of their nature being opinion, are as misleading as they are incorrect. Instead, what rings true are his misplaced concerns for protecting the commercial brand he perceives he has created; whereas, this site would be significantly improved and its readership better served by the affirmative integration of pieces/sections dedicated to analog and medium format photography. Analog capture is as rewarding as it is instructive; your article Roman do a good job of describing this undeniable fact, as well as, explore the intangible qualities film photography inherently possesses- qualities and experiences digital photography severely lacks. For a site to have just recently changed its name to “Photography Life” when considered against its founder’s related comments and what is revealed therein between the lines, one might plainly conclude such conjecture comes from a stunted mind, severely deficient and outwardly lacking the understanding of what in fact a “photography life” is, let alone how such a life is lived.

    My wish for you Roman is that you continue to blossom, that your talent and intellect are only more appreciated as you grow. Almost anyone can compare and contrast ISO snapshots associated with the latest and greatest techno/gear, this is demonstrated by all the hack photogs polluting the web doing that very thing- whereas you my boy, you are an artist… stay the course!

    • 64
      ) JR

      “one might plainly conclude such conjecture comes from a stunted mind, severely deficient and outwardly lacking the understanding of what in fact a “photography life” is, let alone how such a life is lived”

      Woh, Doug. Aren’t you taking it a little TOO far, bud? Those are direct attacks against Nasim’s character and if you’re that upset about how *HIS* site’s turned out, and how he perceives *HIS* site should be, then start YOUR OWN blog and you can host whatever topics you desire. The tools are free and easy to use.

      You can create a blog that highlights and compares digital and analog photography -vs- cave drawings. Wanna talk about “exploring intangible qualities”? You can dedicate all of your time to exalting the contemplative approach of the caveman artist and how he had to fearlessly observe a mammoth from afar, while making a mental image of the beast; an image that he had to later recall when reproducing its likeness in a dark, cold cave. How’s that for “intangible”?

      What parts of what Nasim said are “misleading as they are incorrect”? The part where he said: “Digital has taken over film by a huge margin and it is a fact”?

      Unless you’ve not left the cave while doing your “doctoral thesis” on prehistoric art you must be aware that film makes up a miniscule amount of the photography world. Should such a small number be completely ignored? Of course not. But to demand that Nasim re-focus *HIS* site to cater to “the affirmative integration of pieces/sections dedicated to analog and medium format photography” is not only absurd, but arrogant.

    • Doug, thank you for your kind words – I am glad you find my articles of use. Of course, we have a very broad spectrum of audience, which means we need to write many kinds of different articles. I am happy you found something to suit your taste. :)

      Sports photography and RZ67 don’t mix that well, yes, although now that you mentioned it, I’m quite sure I’d find some use for it in there, although that would be a highly artistic and nontraditional approach to a, say, outdoors football game. But that’s a very different kind of topic.

      Do not worry about Nasim – we may not agree on all that many things when it comes to photography, but then, we are very, very different. That is why we are so great as a team – we are able to appeal to a very different reader type, of which, as you can see, there are plenty :) We both have our quirks, too, but happily, they seem to work out pretty great. Nasim is an open-minded man and while he may be strict about his opinion, he is ever respectful of mine. As grateful as I am, you don’t need to be so defensive. After all, the article is published and, in all seriousness, Nasim enjoyed reading it probably more than most of our readers here, which is crazy! He really loved it and, dare I say, even understood why I love film. :)

      In any case, my artistic approach to things, my undeniable avoidance of anything too technical (doesn’t mean I don’t understand technical) and my love for film was some of the reasons why he hired me. He understood how refreshing these kinds of articles may sometimes be in the sea of yearly, never-ending digital best. It is true, I have a much more artistic approach to photography, but that doesn’t make me superior or worse in any way to Nasim. We are just different.

      When he said he wasn’t going to discuss film in much detail, what he meant was we weren’t going to focus on it as much as we focus on digital photography and tutorials. Film is, I must admit, a niche, and I will treat it as such. I will be most glad to write an article about photography itself and the pure pleasure of it just to add some freshness to the website, but should I do it too often, it would become tiresome.

      Still, it doesn’t mean we will abandon film enthusiasts completely, I won’t let that happen! Maybe some introductory articles about Cartier-Bresson and other masters of the past would be interesting :)

      Again, thank you very much for your thoughts, they are very appreciated!

  20. 58
    ) JR

    Hi Roman,

    Glad to see that you’re enjoying your discovery of MF film photography.

    Having owned numerous MF and LF film systems over the years, I wouldn’t want to go back to them, nor do I miss them. Yes, there’s a certain “magic” about seeing a print come to life in the dark room that cannot be equaled in the Photoshop process. That, I’ll give you. But, over all, the experience of working with film is clumsy and, irrespective of how you are able to dispose of the chemicals, a hazardous affair.

    From where I sit, the problem with modern digital systems is the lack of self control that most photographers have when using these machines. You can read about it on this very blog, where some shooters claim to have pressed their shutter 10K times over a weekend, as if it were some sort of bragging right. Add to that the love affair with VR lenses, the loathing of tripods and the mirrorless craze, and now we have photographers firing their shutters at a manic pace.

    I’ve owned a number of Nikon DSLRs and have never gone trigger happy with any of them. I approach digital photography much the same way I did when I was working with film. I take my time while composing the image, instead of firing off countless shots and HOPING to get that ONE.

    If someone is a sports shooter, which I’m not, then they most likely shoot a LOT of frames and I imagine that shooting a thousand shots before half time of a football game is not unusual. But, for travel, scenic, landscape, studio and portrait photography, shooting tons of images doesn’t say much for the photographer’s technique or knowledge of the craft.

    I recently sold a D7000 that I bought new in 2010 and it had less than 4k shutter activations; and that number includes trips to Mexico and Costa Rica, plus various backpacking trips in the American southwest and one to NYC. By most shooting standards, that’s a very low number for two years of shooting. Yet, I thought that number was too high! I’ve never fired that many shots with one body! That’s approximately 1300 rolls of 36 exposures!

    You CAN take your time and compose with digital cameras, in order to make the process more “organic”, but, it takes a lot of discipline and a change in mindset. Not everyone can do it and it’s even more difficult for those who’ve never shot film.

    • 63
      ) JR

      “That’s approximately 1300 rolls of 36 exposures!”

      LOL! Bad math! Should have been: 4K/36=111 rolls!

      Even so, 111 rolls over a two year period is high for me. That would be an average of 50 rolls per year, for one body, and I’ve never shot that high. Maybe when combining all of my film bodies(35mm, MF and LF) I shot over 100 rolls per year; but even that’s a high number.

      • I very much agree with you, JR. In any case, I do believe everyone should try film, both 35mm and MF, and, if possible, LF. Just for the experience sake. I’d not dare call myself a real photographer if I hadn’t developed at least a single roll of film. But then, of course, that is just my opinion and I’m not forcing it on anyone. :)

  21. 65
    ) Larry Todd

    Roman, I am guessing you may be surprised by the volume of replies and by their vast difference and even some tangents that make no sense. Nice job, and keep stirring the pot and stay true to what makes you unique and happy.

    All the best,

    Larry

    • Hello, Larry. In fact, yes, I am rather surprised and amused :) Just as you wrote your comment, I was going through all the opinions and I’m very glad my article spurred so much feedback. It must be at least somewhat decent, then. :)

      Thank you again!

  22. 82
    ) Mike

    Wow what a post Roman, you really got some response, the most I have seen since first visiting, nostalgia is the name of the game here, we all hanker for the old days, but reallity always brings us back, for me digital has been freedom, I never could get on with the darkroom side of photography, there I have finally admitted it, but now I can sit in front of my PC till my heart is content, walk away and come back later, but your articl gets me thinking, should I get my old Canon A1 down from the loft, put a roll of film in and just see how I now approach a subject, mmmmm, I wonder if that was your end game.

  23. I am so glad to see film making a comeback. I have spent thousands of hours in darkrooms over the last 30 years. (I worked in an industrial photo lab for most of my career except for the past 10 years. Recently I picked up an enlarger someone was throwing away and I am so excited to show my 14 year old daughter how to develop prints with developer, stop bath and fix. How I miss those smells.

  24. 85
    ) Noons

    Excellent article, Roman. Thanks for reviewing this camera without any bias as is so often the case in other sites, in this day and age. I’ve been using film since I remember myself, and digital since 2000. Have yet to find a digital camera at non-stratospheric prices that remotely matches what I get with film in my medium format cameras, Mamiya RB67 included.
    It’s only very recently that the so-called “full frams” dslrs have started to match what I get with 35mm film.
    I have no doubt in future they’ll catch up with medium format film – before I get some idiotic comment on the subjet: YES, I DO know about the D800!!!
    But right now they don’t, not at a competitive price given the depressed film gear market. Which, thankfully, has made gear such as the RB67 and the RZ67 accessible to everyone involved in using film.
    And NOTHING, but NOTHING, will pry my 645Pro-TL from my hands! :)

  25. 87
    ) Peter

    This link is NOT for the super serious photographer, so don’t look at it if you can’t laugh at yourself.
    Many a truth is spoken in jest.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/dslrgearnoidea

    • 98
      ) Graham

      The cure for DSLRGEARNOIDEA used to be sulphur tablets. These days it could be a working microphone, or using the Off switch.

  26. 91
    ) Jim

    I wonder if people who choose to hand build furniture or boats receive the kind of responses you are getting. In any other endeavor, deciding to do some things, some of the time “the old fashioned way” is usually admired, even by those who would never or could never do so themselves. But mention that you occasionally enjoy shooting film and all hell breaks loose. I’ve seen this happen on many photo sites time and again. To quote the late Rodney King “Can’t we all just get along?”

    • 92
      ) Brian

      Blog’s would get boring if there was no discussion, ideally blog posts are supposed to generate as many comments as possible, that is part of running a successful blog. It is a good thing.

  27. 94
    ) Adele

    Thanks for a great Article Roman. It reminded me of my very first slr, a fully manual Minolta SRT 101b. It was great and I loved every aspect of it. Now I use Nikon DSLRs which are great too BUT can’t reach the Minolta when it comes to manual operation. I wish someone could put the sensor from the D600 in the SRT 101b body and add a screen and an ISO button (but please on top in the direct neighborhood of the shutter button and not in those awkward places Nikon puts the ISO button into). This would be the perfect camera :-).

    • 95
      ) Adele

      In a second thought, there is no need for the ISO button. The ISO dial of the Minolta is just fine :-).

      • And yet you made a very good point regarding Nikon’s ISO placement. :) I’ve always found it to be at the worst location they could think of.

  28. You’ll see me buying film even when there’s no food in the fridge, me too Roman ;)

  29. thanks for writing this.

    i’m a proud owner of film cameras and digital cameras! it’s a tool!

  30. Hello friend, How are you doing today? great i guess…i really love your work…i am new to film photography..i recently bought a mamiya rz67…i cant find 120mm films in my country so i have to order from the USA,so now i want to know how to develop it because they only develop 35mm films in my country for now..so i want to know what kit will i have to buy so i can develop it myself before scanning them…thanks..

  31. Thanks for the response..I am from West Africa Nigeria, i met a local developer here today who only develops 35mm with c41 process..so i want to know if he can use that same process for 120 film?

    • I believe the same process, c41, is used for all color negative film, regardless of size. There are some B&W films developed using c41, too.

  32. Hi Roman. I am a professional fashion photographer. I assisted for five years, and have been shooting for four. During my time assisting especially the early days the RZ was the weapon of choice – the workhorse. Of the guys i assisted (and i’m happy to say they are considered some modern day greats), film to dig was about 70/30. I loved the RZ’s mechanical nature… loading, logging and shlepping from the studios of london – to the foothills of the Himalayas. It was a soulful beast.

    Once i started to shoot i bought and used a 5d2 for a while – hated the files and the soulless nature of it, bought myself a 503CW and leased a dig back and built my first book with it. Then, due to the nature of the work i was shooting i had to let Canon take over again and bought another 5d2. Then the D800E came out, and has promised and proven the quality of medium format (comparable to an IQ back in my opinion) with unbelievable speed and AF accuracy. The best of the two worlds. I use two bodies side-by-side, and has truly revolutionised the way i work. Every editorial and commercial job is shot with them. They are the most versatile tool i’ve ever used. They allow speed and consistency, and manoeuvrability in every environment whether on location or in the studio – whether shooting for web, or for billboard. This camera fills every brief…

    On to my point… You very much hit the nail on the head with the RZ. It is ugly; it is unwieldy; awkward; huge and overweight; could not possibly hope to create the pictures i’ve created with the D800 – without significantly more stress and workload… But i love it. I fear its now relegated to more of a mechanical post-modern piece of curious design. I keep mine (full kit purchased on a whim well after the D800′s were), ready to shoot on the jobs i can get away with… Those that are slow, methodic fashion and portrait jobs (something that my work is not). But its a love/hate relationship. Its beautiful to look at and to look through, but it cannot perform like an ultra-fast DSLR. I will occasionally put through a couple of rolls of film and a pack of polaroid, and I will always be on the look out for a second-hand, large sensor digital back for it – if not renting one… But the opportunities i’ll use it will be so rare and limited, that they’ll almost be moot.

    So i agree with you. The RZ, its beautiful… But a beautiful relic. One that i love and cannot seem to part with… A fantastic double negative.

    Simon

  33. 110
    ) cristiano

    Excellent article! all the right reasons….loved the fiat 500 idea,,,,,,,,you got it right man!

  34. 111
    ) Michael

    The Mamiya RZ67 is by far one my favorite cameras, I own two. It is a workhorse and quality made. There is no comparison between film and digital, each have their advantages and disadvantages. It comes down to user’s preference and understanding.

    Film is still my choice, and it is not because it is nostalgic. I might would go all digital if they made one that could capture the dynamic range of film, match the detail to the 4×5 format camera, and one that could double expose in a single frame without having to manipulate in post processing; and not to mention “affordable”.

    Interesting article though……..

  35. I enjoyed using my RB67 when I had it a number of years ago, but man was that thing heavy.

  36. 113
    ) Mike Palermiti

    A well written article. Thank you for the post.
    I started in film photography 57 years ago. I am a highly educated and skilled person in the sciences related to Photography, Physics, Optical Design. I have been a successful business owner of the world’s best optical lab facilities and have conducted a very wide range of research programs from A to Z involving both film and digital photography. I primarily do scientific research work that often demands the very best that any optical design can deliver in reality (after production), and I personally own over 700 of the finest lens from 8X10 format to sub-35 mm format , including most of all the major 35 mm format manufacturers like Nikon, Canon, Leica, Olympus, Pentax, Carl Zeiss. The same is true for the medium format lens like the RB/RZ 67 lens, Mamiya 645, Bronica, Hasselblad, Pentax 645 and Pentax 6X7. I have most of every camera produced for both film and digital formats as well. My massive collections have all been well tested and characterized beyond what any of the manufacturers ever did for their own products. My lab records represent a wealth of technical information that is held for my clients and any manufacturers that I have worked with across the years.
    My collections do NOT collect dust, as I systematically rotate through each lens and camera to take many images of a wide range of common subjects. This is independent of all the specialized work I do in my business, which often involves similar lens that I use casually. I have also designed and manufactured many “one of a kind” optical systems to solve tasks that no other lens could do as well.
    So, seeing all the changes over the years leave me well informed as to what all this means. Film stands alone as to what it can accomplish and why in a positive way.. Digital technology presently stands alone in a different way, but all is positive, too.
    Prior to any media being exposed to the incoming light , it passes through the lens, which stands as the common barrier of what each technology has to deal with. The very finest lens exceed what either technology can provide.
    For the grand majority of users worldwide , the digital camera has provided instant success to grab an important event, a family image or a special moment in history. The advent of easy post processing has expanding the imagination of many to do Art Work, Abstracts and other types of imagery. In the film days, I would spend hours, if not days, in my well equipped darkrooms to do what I can now accomplish in a matter of minutes in the best desktop imaging programs .
    The fact remains, that I can still produce results from film based systems that exceed what any modern digital camera can do. At the same time, their are many applications that greatly favor some of the advantages of digital imaging to that of film.
    I keep an open mild of what comes down the evolutionary road to capturing images, knowing that all my experience places me in a very unique position of being an expert in each era (film and digital). The facts do not ever change , and I continue to strive for the truths about the wide range of technical disciplines that comprise the science of photography.

  37. 116
    ) Martin

    I do not understand what are these discussions “film vs. digital” good for. Everyone will continue using his favorite gear and no one will throw away their gear due to blog discussion. I see that Roman makes pleasant pictures with his RZ and that prove he chose appropriate gear for him. Unfortunately I can’t judge pictures from the other group which states that film is historic relict.
    Nothing is easier than argue about best gear without sharing achieved results.

  38. 117
    ) james

    Dear Roman
    If you want a real blast, try snapping tropical butterflies, on your 6/7 at a genuine macro ratio of 1 : 1.
    Velvia 50 gives you such rich colours, you will think you are dreaming. Have fun.
    James

  39. 120
    ) Sydney

    Hi Romanas,

    I stumbled upon your article when looking up the Mamiya RB67, and it’s an amazing read! Not only was it a great review of the RZ67, but it was a fantastic reminder of how photography taught my impatient self to learn to take things a little slower (:

    I’m still a student myself, and I’m kind of jumping into medium format film for the first time. Do you have any cameras you’d like to recommend?

    • Sydney,

      actually, yes, but it all depends on your budget really. :) How much are you planning to spend?

      • 122
        ) Sydney

        hmm I guess I’d be willing to spend about 1k or 1.5k? Anything cheaper would be great too, because I’m still in school haha (:

        But its also kind of interesting to hear about the cameras I completely don’t have a budget for too, what kind of medium format cameras are at the top of its class?

        • There is plenty of choice, so you should start off by limiting it somewhat. There are at least three most popular frame sizes to choose from, for example. That is 6×7 (least popular, because there are fewer cameras that support it), the super-popular square 6×6 (which I will own someday), and the accessible 6×4.5 format. All of these use 120 film. 6×7 gets 10 frames, 6×6 gets 12 and 6×4.5 gets 16 (I think) frames from a single roll of film.

          Which one do you think you’d prefer the most?

          • 124
            ) Sydney

            Wow that is a lot of choices! I guess I’d prefer the 6×4.5

            • It is the smallest size, but it also means the camera will be quite small and light, too. My Mamiya RZ67 is MONSTROUS and very heavy to carry around.

              Anyway, there is some choice for 6×4.5 medium format cameras. Basically, it leaves you with what are probably the two most popular brands in this class – either Mamiya 645-series of cameras, such as Mamiya M645 and 645 Pro, and also Bronica ETR-series, such as Bronica ETR-S.

            • 126
              ) Sydney

              Haha it looks gigantic!! I’ve heard a lot of reviewers saying not to drop it on your foot (:

              Thank you so much for the recommendations, I’ll look into them immediately.

  40. 127
    ) Tasha

    Really loved this review, actually read it through, instead of just skimming. ;) I didn’t bother with photography until 2 years ago; purposefully avoided it because I knew I would love it, and also knew that it tends to be an expensive hobby. I started fiddling around with film last year, and one of the first cameras I got was the Lubitel 166B. It was a complete departure from shooting with entry-level DSLRs, and did much more to teach me about photography. I’ve had my eye on the Mamiya RZ67 and the Hasselblad 500CM for a couple of months now, hopefully I can get one soon. This review was helpful. :)

  41. 128
    ) Beau MacGinnes

    Hey loved the article! Was searching up rz67 reviews and yours was the first to pop up., but so thankful it was! I am about to purchase one myself, and now I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Thank you so much!

  42. 129
    ) David A.

    Great article! I’m going to share with some people who are on the fence about film.

    Just a couple of things that I think you’re just a bit off the mark on, though these do promote film use as you are doing.

    First, I don’t think film photography and these cameras are in every way technically inferior to modern digital cameras. They are different. While the new digital cameras are high tech and high resolution, there is often a certain sterility to the images. I’ve just purchased a wonderful Sony a7R full frame 36MP camera without an anti-aliasing filter. It’s actually the first digital camera that I actually like a lot (and I’ve had lots of Nikons and Fujis). And for lots of purposes, its the perfect camera — sometimes too perfect. With all my other digital cameras, all I need to do is look closely at the noise to see ugliness. I’ll take lots of grain over digital noise anyday!

    Second, working with film cameras ABSOLUTELY makes you a better photographer. It makes you think about each step of the process and about all the factors that make a great image. After a lot of film work, you are less likely to pick up your digital camera and rapid-fire shoot almost randomly. And I do agree that one’s artistic senses can be overwhelmed when trying to evaluate and edit 200 photos of essentially the same thing taken by a digital camera in a short period of time.

    Keep up the great writing!

    David

  43. 130
    ) justin

    I read this article after discovering the iconic windows xp rolling green field and blue sky was taken with this camera by a photographer who stopped his car in the napa valley. I find it satisfying that the analog age sat right smack in the middle of the digital one, watching everyone. Hiding in plain sight.

Leave a Comment

*