Trent Miles Photography » Indiana Film and Wedding Photographer

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  • My friends tell me I’m easily inspired.

    Two years ago, I walked around with a tree guide in my back pocket hoping to learn all about the native trees in our area. Before that, I bought a harmonica (key of C... big mistake) and aspired to play one mad harp! I began shooting my freshman year at Indiana University when I took an intro. to photography class. It didn't take long before I was inspired again! Ask me about trees or harps and I will gladly tell you all about them. Ask me about photography and, five hours later, you will regret you ever did : )

    After God and family, photography consumes me.

    Photo by Henry Photography

Mike and Rachel’s Anytime Photos in Plymouth, Indiana

Contax 645
Contax 645
Contax 645
Contax 645
Contax 645
Contax 645
Contax 645
Contax 645
Contax 645
Contax 645
Contax 645
Contax 645
There is something about these two that the camera just loves! Rachel and Mike are good friends of ours and a go-to couple when I’m trying to feed my photography addiction or try something new. We headed out Memorial Day weekend for some anytime photos. Basically an excuse for me to photograph some gorgeous faces and experiment with some new ideas.

It’s always such a pleasure to work with these two. When we get done my stomach and face usually ache from laughing so hard.

Mike and Rachel, I hope you both enjoy the photos! You two looked like rock stars!

Mats - February 7, 2014 - 1:39 pm

Fantastic results! May i ask what u scan with? I just started medium format film photography and find i quite hard to get satisfying results using my V700. It might be that the film i use now are 7 years expired :P

Trent - February 10, 2014 - 1:49 pm

I use http://www.richardphotolab.com. Great people and awesome scans every time.

Arek - Fotgoraf - August 31, 2015 - 2:51 pm

Hey, I was looking for contax 645 on internet and came across through your website. Just would like to say – amazing set!! Love the posing, and colours…
Arek

Trent - September 1, 2015 - 4:02 pm

Thanks, Arek! It’s one of my favorite sets. Can’t say enough good things about the Contax 645 if you’re serious about film. Just be prepared for the film and lab fees!

Medium Format Film and Contax 645 Reviewed

Contax 645 medium format film camera

I don’t typically do reviews like this, but I noticed in my search for a medium format camera, I wasn’t able to find the depth of information I was looking for in order to drop 3K+ on a used camera. You can find specs. on the contax 645 all over the place. This post is meant to give you a more practical look at the camera and how I use it every day.

Why film?

Film is not dead. Just ask Jonathan Canalas or Jose Villa. I can’t speak for all film photographers, but personally, I enjoy film for two reasons – the look, and the process.

No matter what type of a photoshop wizard you are, no amount of adjustments or actions can duplicate the look of film. In order to really understand, you actually have to PRINT. YOUR. PICTURES. If you are someone who stores your images on a hard drive and files them away in a folder on your computer for viewing later, you won’t be impressed by film. Many times it looks grainy and gross on screen. But take the time to print these same images, and you will fall in love with the pastels of fuji 400h and the incredible highlights and skin tones of Portra 400 – no photoshop needed – which leads me to my second reason. The process.

I love vinyl records, typewriters, #2 pencils, and snail mail. Naturally, I’m attracted to film. In the days of digital (instant gratification) photography, there is something romantic, exciting, and special about the 2 week wait to see what you captured.  Don’t get me wrong, I still use digital… a lot. That’s just the nature of the beast. But the practice of capturing a moment on a physical piece of emulsion makes me slow down, makes me deliberate, and at $1.50 a click, it makes me value every single frame.

Why medium format?

Medium format is my favorite, but I should say it’s not the only format you should shoot. It’s not a “this or that” situation. It’s a “both and” situation. I use a Canon 1V along side my Contax. The nature of medium format demands a different approach to shooting. Slow autofocus (or none at all) will make you cringe during wedding day action. That’s why the high speed, fast focusing Canon 1V comes in handy. But for bridal portraits and slower paced action, I can’t put the Contax 645 down.

Medium format is slower, larger, and more expensive. The cameras typically weigh a ton and swapping rolls of film presents some major downtime. That is “why” medium format. It makes you slow down, be deliberate about how you compose your photograph, and think before ripping off 5-6 shots in a row. Medium format is an experience for the photographer and the client. Enough said. (oh, and I can’t forget the yummy depth of field!)

My impression of the Contax 645

In a few words: heavy, big, familiar, professional, simple, LOUD! In short, all of these words are a good thing when it comes to the Contax 645. Sure, it is heavy and big, but that’s what makes it feel “in charge” when you’re holding it. I tend to look at it as more of a tool in the process of making a photo instead of the end game.

The layout of the dials and buttons are pretty similar to modern DSLR cameras. I can adjust shutter and aperture just fine. There are dials for exposure compensation, camera modes, ISO, metering modes, and autofocus modes. I usually leave it on manual and use a light meter to get the proper exposure. The in camera light meter is pretty handy though. If I wanted to pack light, I would use the internal meter and take extra care to make sure it was metering the correct part of the scene.

This guy is super loud! I love it! Going from a Canon 5D Mark II I’m used to a pretty quiet, frankly awkward sounding, shutter. Part of the experience of this camera is in the sound and feel of hitting the shutter and hearing the film advance. Dare I say this camera has some recoil to it! Probably not the best for church weddings, but you and your clients will love the ambiance during portrait sessions.

The price is pretty steep these days. I bought mine a KEH.com. Be ready to wait for it though. I checked the site every day for a month before a body became available. You’ll need a minimum of a body, back, prism, and lens. I’d recommend a lens cap and strap too. It takes a funky battery that I couldn’t find in stores, so I ordered a couple rechargeable Lenmar DL2CR5 batteries on Amazon. If you can afford it, a second back would be a great addition. I haven’t made it that far yet.

I experimented with some flash photography at a reception last month. I just put my Canon 580EX II on the hot shoe, set the flash to TTL and the images turned out great. I’m more comfortable with manuel flash with digital, but not being able to chimp, TTL is a lifesaver.

Go with the 80mm 2.0 Carl Zeiss lens. It ends up equating to about a 50mm 1.2 on a 35mm camera. You’ll fall in love.

Should you buy it?

Yes

  • If you’re into film.
  • If you enjoy nostalgia.
  • If you are ready to “invest” in the future of your business being film.
  • If you want the top of the line medium format camera.
  • If you can handle waiting a few weeks to see any images.

No

  • If you’re on a tight budget.
  • If you need images for social media or blogs right away.
  • If you can’t afford to buy and process film.
  • If you rely on an LCD to see your mistakes.
  • If you aren’t going to shoot film for a living.

I have two Bronica ETRS medium format cameras. They are completely manual. Manual focus. Manual metering. Manual film advance. That’s what I got started with. The images that came out of those cameras were incredible if shot correctly. But the focusing and metering were just too slow to use with clients. The prism was pretty dark. Just little things that prevented me from integrating film into my business. If you’re looking to shoot medium format film without spending a bundle, you can pick these things up for about $100. If you need something that fits the needs of a professional film and fine art photographer, the Contax is definitely worth the money.

Here are a couple images from my Contax and Bronica. I’ve labeled the camera and film below.

Bronica ETRS

Bronica ETRS, Portra 400

Bronica ETRS

Bronica ETRS, Portra 400

Bronica ETRS

Bronica ETRS, Portra 400

Bronica ETRS

Bronica ETRS, Pro 400h

Bronica ETRS

Bronica ETRS, Pro 400h

contax 645

Contax 645, Pro 400h

contax 645

Contax 645, Pro 400h

contax 645

Contax 645, Pro 400h

contax 645

Contax 645, Portra 400

contax 645

Contax 645, Portra 400

contax 645

Contax 645, Pro 400h

 

 

Stephanie Hunter - July 3, 2012 - 4:12 pm

Loved this! Shooting film is such an adventure!

Shannon Grant - July 17, 2012 - 11:41 am

Great post and love your images! I have yet to bring my big clunky loud Contax to a wedding but after seeing these shots… I can’t wait!! It’ll give me a reason to add more time to day of portraits too ;)

sasan - November 5, 2012 - 9:09 pm

Hi Trent,
I found your blog when searching for a Contax 645. I am also a MF film shooter. I was inspired by your thoughts on the Contax and shooting film. I shoot with a Mamiya 645 Pro TL and a Mamiya RB67 Pro-S. I am experimenting with film and I don’t have a favorite but lately, I’ve been shooting with Kodak T-max films.

Your images really pop and I enjoyed browsing through many of them. Keep up the great work.

R,
Sasan.

Jolie - July 4, 2013 - 3:12 am

Thank you for writing your review in the manner you did. The quality of those last Contax images is exquisite. My first camera was 35 mm film and I’d wondered if (maybe wishfully hoped) film technology had advanced so to allow the photographer a glimpse of each image before processing like digital allows. It takes serious skills and confidence to take a photo and wait to find out if you got it, especially when it comes to weddings.

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Jose and Virginia’s Back Forty Wedding in Bremen, Indiana

I will remember Jose and Virginia’s wedding for the rest of my life. The first Hispanic wedding I’ve ever been to, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As an INTJ, I’m pretty lock-step. Timelines and agendas make me happy. This day wasn’t like that and I was surprisingly comfortable with it. The whole day was one big celebration for these two. It all started around 1PM give or take and ended when it ended. Beyond that, the day was theirs to celebrate.

The Catholic mass entirely in Spanish was beautiful, the church was stunning, and the bride and groom – drop dead gorgeous.

The bridal party photos were taken at The Farm House Weddings in Nappanee, IN. If you’re looking for a reception location or know someone who is, you have to talk with Deb! She’s incredible to work with and the Farm House is hands down one of the nicest reception locations in Northern Indiana. I was excited to break out  my new Contax 645 medium format camera for the bridal photos. Stunning!

The reception was at the Back 40 in Bourbon, IN. A fifteen piece Mexican band, Banda Potrillos, anchored the evening and set the mood for the party! I’ve never seen so many people having fun at one time in my life! The reception images were some of my favorite. Especially the ones of la vibora de la mar (the sea snake).

Jose and Virginia, I LOVED being a part of your day. Thank you for having me.

Natasha Bennett - October 2, 2012 - 12:49 pm

Hi im looking for a great photographer for my wedding for a reasonable price, if you could email me some information i would greatly apriciate it, thanks so much

Trent - October 3, 2012 - 8:19 pm

Hi Natasha, I just sent you and email.

Allison - July 13, 2014 - 7:50 pm

I am decided right now on having my reception at the back forty next year…we were thinking about having the wedding there also outside by the willow tree but the when I googled the back forty I saw the picture of their wedding at the church and I think it was very pretty….what church is that?

Trent - July 14, 2014 - 11:42 am

Hi Allison, this wedding was at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Bremen, IN.