I finally got to see the results from my first roll of film shot with my new Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. Out of my first nine images one was an unintentional double exposure, a few were out of focus, a few a bit under-exposed, and on a few others my kids’ expressions were off. I should be disappointed, right? Instead I’m more in love with the camera than I was before. That first roll of film (and the second and the third, which I sent to a different lab and I have yet to see what those images look like) was a really good learning experience for me. Shooting medium format truly is very different from shooting 35mm film, or full frame digital for that matter. The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that I should probably never shoot wide open with my Mamiya Sekor Z 110mm f2.8 lens when taking close-up portraits. The results you get with the lens wide open at f2.8 on medium format in terms of the shallowness of the depth of field equates to what I can remember from shooting the Canon 85mm f1.2 lens that I once rented wide open. It’s absolutely amazing, but also absolutely not right for close-up portraits.
The things I love most about the images, despite all of them lacking something due to my technical shortcomings, is the resolution and the smoothness in changes from light to dark. Shockingly, the images look amazingly detailed even in the under-exposed areas.
The image I chose to post out of the nine on the film roll is one that I should have used a different aperture setting. By using the lens wide open, I managed to get exactly 3/4 of my daughter’s eye lashes in sharp focus and the rest of her face being more or less blurred due to the shallow depth of field that the 2.8 aperture created. It is my favorite capture of her out of the bunch though and I think it demonstrates really well just how amazingly medium format film resolves. I added a 100 percent crop of the in-focus area where you can pretty much count her eye lashes. The photo is taken with Ilford Delta 3200, so a pretty grainy image, but I think that film grain is beautiful. The image is exactly as it came off the scanner in the lab with no edits.