Bo Parker Photography | I took the leap to medium format – film
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I took the leap to medium format – film

09 Jul I took the leap to medium format – film

I generally shoot full frame digital, but of late, have become a bit less satisfied with the resolution, softness and dynamic range I get out of my shots. I’m a nazi about shooting with a remote release, in the lenses sweet spot, with the mirror up to reduce vibration and but I still feel like my images are just a bit soft for my taste. The answer is medium format. However, since this is a bit of a hobby, I don’t have the expendable funds to drop on a medium format digital system.

I also have moved toward slowing down shooting. I like shooting less, being more methodical, getting less shots but better shots and not letting talent, clients, etc. push the speed but work at my pace. I like to be deliberate.

Those factors added together got me looking at medium format and film.

After a good bit of research, patience and craigslist watching, I brought home a Mamiya RZ67 with a 60mm lens, 120 back and prism viewfinder that I bought from a great couple locally that were unexpectedly expecting they second child. The camera had been well loved.

I got home, excited and then panicked. I don’t know anything about medium format. I don’t know about film. How do I get it developed? Does metering work the same, etc. I turned to a great site: The Art of Photography. I watched religiously and then finally got up enough guts to go shoot. I had one roll of Kodak Portra 100 and set out to test metering, focusing, etc.

I shot my roll of 10 frames, carefully wrapped up the spool and sent it off to The Darkroom for development and waited (the hardest part). The night before I was going to be able to view my shots, I had a dream that I screwed up the whole roll. My Mamiya is an electronic camera but Mamiya put in an override setting for if your camera runs out of batteries. You enable this setting in the same place you turn the camera on. When you move to this setting, the camera defaults to 1/400 sec. shutter. Sure enough, I shot the whole roll at the wrong shutter speed. All my pictures were black silhouettes. Lesson learned!

Roll 2 was another roll of Portra 100. I got the kids in the backyard and went to testing. The attached gallery is all the images from that first shoot.


  1. Shooting film is definitely slower due to metering, changing backs, double checking your settings.
  2. It’s hard from a shutter speed/blur and depth of field perspective to keep your kids in focus and sharp.
  3. Great camera for studio work but really tough to lug around, shoot candid.
  4. I think I like it.

All of these shots are straight out of camera, unretouched and the default scans from The Darkroom. I plan on starting the scan on my own to test how much actual range is in the negatives and see what you can actually get. It will be flatbed scanning and then I’ll work my way up if I really like it and see there is more headroom.

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