FOSTER: I've been shooting primarily digital photos for 6 years. Committing to Canon and all of it's innovations (for both photos and videos), has kept me on a pretty consistent path towards the look we at Foster & Asher work to achieve. With the advent of VSCO, that filmic look has become ever more accessible. Even though I have ever been with my 5D Mark III and the VSCO presets, I find myself ever-drawn to other photographers like Aaron Feaver, Carissa Gallo etc. who seem to shoot primarily medium format.
In recent years I have shot myriad 35mm and medium format cameras, but never really came across a camera + film combination that I was in love with. Either the form factor was kludgy or the lens/camera combination just didn't give me the look I wanted.
That was until I finally got my hands on a much desired Contax 645. While weighty, it is well designed with all the appropriate bells and whistles and just feels "right" when being held. The auto-spooling film and auto-advance are also an innovation that I realized I needed given the way I shoot. Big plusses for me.
A few days ago I took my new medium format companion along with me to shoot and was incredibly pleased.
All images below were taken with the Contax 645 with Zeiss 80mm 2.0. Kodak Porta 160 film.
At first glance upon receiving my scans I realized that the color treatment of these images is strikingly close to what I achieve with my Mark III + VSCO grading. But that's not the reason to shoot medium format. The non-linear grain and exposure response in the overall tonality of the medium format images is just something digital sensors cannot yet match.
In terms of tonal balance (highlight, midtone, shadow harmony so to speak) this is my favorite image.
The Zeiss lens is also razor sharp. I used the autofocus (slow but accurate) to get me close to what I thought was a dialed in focus, then manually adjusted to lock it in.
The bokeh on the 80mm Zeiss lens is also much different than the almost perfectly spherical Canon lenses. Much "creamier" looking.
Skin tones are on point. Excited to try several other film types to see what they offer.
In the top left corner you can see those nice, bokeh ovals. Also, the highlights are so soft. That is probably one of my favorite attributes of medium format.
No true blacks, no true whites, Every bit of detail is preserved. Which is something that is agonizingly painful to emulate in digital even with the best cameras in the best lighting scenarios.
Overall, for us, the Contax 645 is a perfect addition to our run-in-gun ready Canon 5D Mark III. The power of medium format and the necessity it brings in slowing down and perfecting your composition and subject are a great balance to our digital shooting.
If you are interested in investing in medium format photography, make sure you have your developing/scanning workflow figured out first. Elsewise, it will be a very costly and possibly irritating process as some developing houses can take weeks (or months) to get images back to you.