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SHooting medium format for the first time? heres how

Updated: Oct 23, 2022

Come roll with us

Volume 4:

My first roll with a Medium Format Camera

Come roll with me is a new project we have been working on where we show you our journey with film and showcase some of our best photos and also some of the mistakes we made along the way. We will be sharing some tips and tricks we have learned along the way through making mistakes!

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In this fourth volume of come roll with us i talk about my first experience with a Medium Format twin lens camera.

Now that I had been shooting for a while, the idea of trying a medium format film camera was very intriguing. But to find one is the tricky part! I got lucky and got in contact with a guy whose father had been a wedding photographer in the 1980s and was wanting to sell some of his gear. He had a Mamiya C330 Pro F with 4 lenses along with a few other cameras.

So Medium format what is it?

Its roll film with paper back and you have several different formats to choose:

6x4.5 6x6 6x7 6x8 6x9

Along with different styles of cameras from modular slrs, Twin Lenses, Rangefinders and others. So the negative you get is much larger than a regular 35mm camera. So the quality is significantly high and was used by professionals in studios and weddings back in the day and still now to this day.

The Mamiya C330 pro f is a very special camera it is one of the only Twin lens cameras with interchangeable lenses unlike the very famous Rolleiflexes.

You have several lens options ranging from a 55mm to 250mm they look like binoculars haha

My kit came with the

55mm f4.5

80mm f2.8

135mm f4.5

180mm f4.5

Another thing to mention the lenses for medium format camera are not as fast as 35mm most systems fastest lenses sit at F2.8 wide open.

As the negative increases so does the focal length ratio (something i learned later) so a 80mm on a 6x6 camera is the equivalent to a 50mm on a 35mm camera

But i didn't know that yet so i just thought i know 50mm ill put the 55mm on and should be good to go! Not knowing this was a wide angle.

So i went to my local film store and grabbed the only roll they had of 120 a ilford xp2 black and white film

Loading these camera is a bit different also takes some practice. Once the film is loaded everything is manual so no light meter or auto focus. So the first step was getting use to using a hand held light meter and metering subjects. I was using the app on my phone LUX and still do hasn't let me down yet. Next this camera uses a bellow focusing system where the entire lens board moves forward or back depending on where the subject is allowing for ultra close focusing!

With the film loaded and a small understanding of how the camera works i went out shooting with my sister to try it out! One BIG thing you notice quickly is the viewfinder is inverted so when you move left the image goes to the right very confusing at the beginning. Also with twin lenses you aren't looking through the actual lens so you have to keep that in mind also for keeping the image straight can be hard at first.

So the first shots turned out pretty nicely exposed correctly as i moved through the roll of 12 shots i slowly start to get the hang of it but got some very crooked images haha something you can crop but not ideal for future.

Also quickly realised this wasn't a 50mm was a wide angle but didnt know if i could change lenses mid roll until later. But the roll came to an end 12 shots flys by and i was ready for more!

So what did I learn?

I learnt so many things shooting with this camera! First how to use a handheld light meter to focus on a subject. Then the lenses on medium format cameras are longer as the aspect ratio is different!

One big thing i took away was getting my images straight with this camera was going to take some time either with a tripod or being more conscious with how i am holding it.

When you get you first scans back from medium format you really see the difference in quality is massive from 35mm it really is dreamy! But you don't need that quality for everything.

Now im fully invested in the film world with a medium format camera im hooked and already looking for my next one the beast pentax 67!

Stay tuned for more Roll with me Articles



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