Business trip with medium format film By Aivaras Sidla

Italija, como

Business trip with medium format film.

Part I – Milan&Como

By Aivaras Sidla

I’ll start not from photo story, instead bit of way around it; have to make confession first –  I have a perfect job. 🙂 Sort of.  I run a business involved into creation and manufacturing of high-end products for drawing artists – sketch books, drawing books, drawing pads, etc. There are several awesome aspects about it:

  • It’s extremely creative task
  • I have pleasure to work with best team I have ever cooperated
  • Our customers and our products users are crazy creative people in best possible meaning
  • I have to travel a lot and able to visit interesting places

And that brings me to confession number two – I just HAVE TO BE crazy to be able to work effectively. 🙂

Lets make a jump to fact that my hobby is photography and travel is one of the factors that keeps me motivated to shoot. My main occupation kind of asks me to me to understand basics of visual arts and to be creative close-to-art person.

Now the part that connects things together – what does traveling person with a passion for photography does when he has to be crazy? Well… one of best possible solutions would be to bring medium format film camera to business trip. 🙂 Makes sense, isn’t it?

Jokes aside. Using medium format film photography in trips has its own advantages and disadvantages. On plus side I’m forced to take much more attention to each shot and learn composition, light and exposition better. I’m more involved and get bigger satisfaction from photography, and the results are a bit better. But there are negatives – weight, bulk and lost spontaneous photo opportunities.

Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Ilford Delta 3200

I made few of trips with MF camera, got a hang on it, then came up with idea to share results and some observations. First part is from last years trip to Italy – Milan and Como cities. Had a some free time to explore those beautiful areas.

During this trip I used Mamiya 645 1000S camera with waist level finder and one lens – Sekor 80mm 1.9. One camera and one lens might seem  not much, but this combo loaded with film, battery and lens shade weights about 1.8 kilos, then some spare films, filters, travel tripod… Sore shoulder is one of “benefits” of such workout. Not to mention what does it mean to pack for a trip when you have to plan what to bring and how to pack when going to fly somewhere for several days and may take only hand “cabin carry in” baggage. You have to use more accessories comparing to average digital or 35mm film camera: limits with films fixed ISO and limited MF camera shutter speed forces to take filters – say you want to make some shots in low light and load film with Ilford Delta ISO 3200 film – you have to use ND filter for daytime shots, because Mamiya 645 1000S max out with 1/1000 shutter speed, you need tripod, need remote shutter cable. Then there is raised attention from airport security personnel, and that is not always fun. 🙂

Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Ilford Delta 3200

Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Kodak Portra 400

Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Ilford Delta 3200

Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Kodak Portra 400

Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Ilford Delta 3200

Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Kodak Portra 400

Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Kodak Portra 400

Picture 16670014 Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Ilford Delta 3200

Picture 17050008 Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Kodak Portra 400

Picture 16670004 Mamiya 645 1000s, Sekor 80mm F1.9, Ilford Delta 3200

Process of taking a shot is step by step approach – take camera from bag, set it on tripod (better to use it) open app for light metering (this Mamiya with wlf hasn’t build in light meter, it’s totally manual), decide what part of scene to meter, meter, sometimes in several areas of scene, calculate appropriate exposure, decide on depth of field for the scene, set exposure, set appropriate shutter speed, compose picture, focus, check critical focus with focus magnifier, find a point to lean on if don’t use tripod, make a shot, pack everything back. You hardly are able to make on the fly shot that could be made with 35mm camera.

But. When I started to be accustomed to slow pace I found out that I became addicted, my attention shifted to more appropriate for MF content and in general the process is crazy fun. Isn’t it what all amateur / hobby  photography is all about?

Thank you all for attention and I promise to return with more pictures and observations from other trips. Hope You enjoy it and won’t get bored! 🙂

As usual, more could be found here:



  1. Wonderful pictures. I made the same experience with a Hasselblad 500 CM. The results are stunning and working with a medium format camera is pure fun. The shutter sound! The mechanics! The sharpness and the special DOF.
    Everything packed in an old Domke F6. But: An app as a lightmeter? Only in emergency cases… try an old Gossen Profisix for example: works good, cheap ( around 20€, if you‘re lucky) and great fun! I use almost no tripod. With a little practice ( except under low light conditions) the results are OK
    I like the boat, the bike and the autumn road most!
    Thank you for posting!

    • Thanks! I believe that dedicated analog light meter makes all experience better, but on the other hand with Lumu light metering application my exposures are always spot on and I have to carry one item less. What I plan to do is to purchase Lumu light meter to be able to meter not reflected, but incident light – that would help me, cos with reflected meterig I still gave to recalculate and guess some things in my head.

  2. Hi Aivaras,

    I like your pictures very much, especially the b/w ones. Medium format film really seems to be something special… 🙂

    Thanks for postimg these!

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