What I'm Watching: ME-ME-ME-MEDIUM Format Madness

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

A few years ago when I was just getting back into photography and convinced Micro Four Thirds was the future of digital, I often looked to the internet (specifically YouTube) to tell me how and what to shoot. One channel in particular, DigitalRev, quickly captured my attention. At this point in time, Kai and Lok were still at the helm of DigitalRev. I found myself going back monthly, weekly, eventually, daily to see what new visual goodness they had in store for their viewers. Looking back, it was the comedy, camera abuse, and general carefree nature of the presenters which grabbed my attention. Would I ever find myself walking around the city with two full frame DSLRs taped to my feet? Probably not, but I was 100% interested to see whether Nikon or Canon better withstand the gratuitous abuse. Would I ever be able to afford a some sweet Canon L glass for my then Canon T3i? Only time would tell, but I was more than willing to live vicariously (and frugally) through the reviewers.

As time went on, Kai and Lok left, the channel evolved, and other hosts took over. The channel experienced moments of promise, however, without the wit and humor of Kai and Lok to engage the audience, jokes fell flat, reviews lacked needless, yet humorous insights, and things simply got too serious. After a few years of floundering, the channel recently turned into a graveyard. An archive of sorts for once-faithful viewers to return and re-watch videos from the "good ol' times." After days of "Good Riddance" on repeat and countless tears, viewers eventually moved on. One of the "moments of promise" mentioned earlier was an episode which continued the "AnalogRev" series started by Kai and Lok. The AnalogRev episodes were, in essence, a review/competition between the hosts , using "outdated" technology, by way of 35mm film cameras. There was something amusing about poking fun at the past. The ridiculous styles. The ridiculous cameras. While each AnalogRev episode is worth a watch (except for the Contax G2 episode), it is the medium format showdown that for me, sits at the top. In addition to combining several things I love: landscapes, portraits, older cameras and Hong Kong, it was this episode, and the kindness of my brother's heart, which resulted in the gifting of a Mamiya RB67 for my 30th birthday.

The episode starts off slow but quickly becomes an impressive comparison between two of the most popular and sought after medium format cameras: The Mamiya RZ67 Pro II and Pentax 67. When combined with Kodak TMAX 400, both cameras produce timeless images. While ownership has made me partial to Mamiya, the results of the Pentax during this comparison are, in my opinion, superior. This may be the result of several factors, not limited to the Pentax's lighter weight, faster max shutter speed (1/1000 sec v 1/400 sec), and wooden handle, which makes it a bit easier for the photographer to stabilize the camera without a tripod. Whether you're interested in getting a taste of Victoria Peak or simply want to see what a pair of half-century-old cameras can do in the right hands, this video is an entertaining watch.

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