[OM] Zuiko 35mm vs. Medium Format

Subject: [OM] Zuiko 35mm vs. Medium Format
From: miaim@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 17:19:40 -0500
I recently got a Fuji GS 645s Rangefinder 120 film camera with fixed 60mm/4
Fuji lens, (roughly comparable to a 38mm lens in 35mm format). In order to
evaluate it I tested it against an OM-1n with Zuiko silvernosed, single
coated 35mm/2.8. To wring them out in real world conditions, I simply
loaded both cameras up with Ilford HP5+ (400 ISO rated by me at 320) B&W
film and proceeded to hand hold them while shooting a variety of subjects
in a variety of lighting conditions. Rather than a lines per mm type test,
what I wanted was simply to see if I could see enough of a noticeable
difference between the 35 and the 645 formats to justify the 645. I shot
them side by side with exactly the same aperature and shutter settings
picture for picture after verifying the accuracy of both in-camera meters
against a known Sekonic L-508 light meter. Then I carefully developed both
120 rolls, (30 frames) and one 35mm roll, (36 frames) in Ilfosol S mixed
for finest grain and highest resolution (1:9). After picking a dozen paired
images of the potentially best images off the contact sheets, I printed out
the results on Ilford Multigrade IV RC Deluxe 8x10 glossy paper. In an
effort to get the best possible results from each image I often printed
multiples of each image with varying amounts of time and/or magenta on a
Bessler 67.

This is really what I mostly do. I make 8x10 B&W prints in
photojournalistic or documentary styles, hopefully with an eye to adding an
artistic take on moderately common scenes, situations and people.
Occasionally I make 5x7's and 11x14's, but the vast bulk of what I process
is 8x10 B&W prints. It's important to me to get a good compromise of
compactness, lightweight, cost and limited flexibility in whatever camera
outfit I use to create these images. Basically, my mission is very simple.
The 8x10 size is right at the cutoff line where 35mm format and medium
format advantages/tradeoffs meet, meld and define their individual merits.

So, I looked at the comparitive images that I'd made between Fuji 645 and
OM 35, and then showed them around. Without telling any of the several
people ranging from photo-ignorant coworkers to semi-pro photogs who viewed
the images which system created which images, I asked them simply to pick
their favorite copies of each image and set them aside. When viewed
side-by-side, ALL eventually chose the images from the medium format camera
with the exception of one image that I may have improperly focused on the
rangefinder 6x45 camera. That's the bad news. The GOOD news is that when
the images were looked at separated from their format counterparts, folks
had a much harder time telling them apart at all. When shuffled and looked
at from beyond arm's length, people had a much harder time consistantly
picking them by format. At that point, printing variances seemed to matter
as much as format, though the usual comment given really good prints
favored the increased detail of the larger format prints. Even though I
took them and processed them, I couldn't always tell them apart when
separated without aid of marks on the backs.

That kind of performance out of a sometimes scoffed at 35mm lens, is pretty
darn good. I should have plenty of time to test this 645 camera against
other Zuikos such as the 50/1.4 SC and the 50/1.8 SC, but for now I think
it's quite interesting that in the very common enlargement size 8x10, the
"B" performing Zuiko held up fairly well.

Mike Swaim

< This message was delivered via the Olympus Mailing List >
< For questions, mailto:owner-olympus@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx >
< Web Page: http://Zuiko.sls.bc.ca/swright/olympuslist.html >

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>