120 film camera that survives harsh conditions

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Drizzt321, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. Drizzt321

    Drizzt321 Member

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    So, I attend Burning Man, and for the past couple of years I've brought my digital SLR out there. Worked out OK, but always have sent them off for a thorough cleaning to Canon, and boy did they need it. Over this past year I've sorta gone crazy with with 120 roll film starting off with the Mamiya RB67 Pro-S, and now with a Perkeo I and Mamiya Six (older folder, not newer Mamiya 6). I'm planning on bringing my Perkeo I with me, along with several rolls of film (plastic baggy in the cooler for what I don't need right away).

    However, that got me to thinking, an SLR format can be so much easier to shoot with when things move very fast as they often do for what I shoot. Also a decent built-in light meter would be amazing, since that also slows me down a decent bit. Sure, I can estimate using Sunny 16 type rules (*note to self, get ND filter for Perkeo*), but I've still be spoiled by my modern 35mm DSLR. Brought me to some searches, which brought me to Pentax 645N. Looks pretty great, maybe not as big of a system as the Mamiya 645, but I have no plans to go MF digital anytime soon as it's just way too costly for me. But if I get that and decide to bring it out to an event like Burning Man where dust is literally everywhere (mmm...tasty!), whiteouts can happen at any time and it can get blazing hot out under the sun, I started getting curious as to what reasonably feature-full 120 roll film cameras are out there that can survive those conditions with minimum of precautions for a week or more. In a full on whiteout I wouldn't pull the camera out, and probably put it in a plastic bag and likely inside another carrying bag when not in use.

    I'm thinking something so incredibly simple like my Perkeo will, although the points of vulnerability are dust on the film rollers causing problems or getting into the shutter mechanism. Otherwise, it's so simple there's not much that can go wrong with it. But a more complicated camera like the Mamiya Six or any of the somewhat modern 645 cameras with the mirror, metering, motorized film advance, etc are probably a lot more vulnerable. Or are they? What says the hive mind?
     
  2. PtJudeRI

    PtJudeRI Member

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    Pentax 67?? Pretty tank-ish.
     
  3. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    I'd probably pick up a Pentax 645 (the Manual focus model), they're much cheaper these days. A camera with 120 holder and 75mm lens probably goes for $250-300 these days. Maybe less.

    The autofocus models fetch a bit more; probably $400-500.

    For roll-in-the-dirt, take a beating cameras, a Holga or maybe an older Kodak Brownie should do it. Limited exposure options, and you'll need gaffer tape to tape the backs (and red windows) closed, but there's really nothing that can go wrong in them, unless a spring breaks or falls out.
     
  4. Drizzt321

    Drizzt321 Member

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    well, the Pentax67 might be a tank phyaically, but can it withstand the invasive nature of the dust? And this isn't your average dust like at home. This is very fine alkaline dust that will get into anything not hermetically sealed.
     
  5. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

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    Koni Omega 100 a plastic bag and be there

    David
     
  6. clayne

    clayne Member

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    You're covering the entire camera in a bag, all the time right? Literally, I would not use a camera in this environment for a week unless it were semi-hermetically sealed. This kind of stuff:

    http://burners.me/2012/08/23/camera-tips-from-curious-josh/

    You're probably better off using a 645 format and 220 film rather than 120 and 6x6/6x7 as it's less reloading (30 frames vs 12/10). I'd keep a plastic bag around it at all times and change film when reasonable.
     
  7. Drizzt321

    Drizzt321 Member

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    Yea, that was my plan for my dslr if I do happen to bring it this year.

    The problem with shooting 220 is it's quite a bit more expensive, and has very limited selection of available film.
     
  8. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    If you're not after sharp stuff, a holga woudn't really matter if it got ruined with dust.
     
  9. clayne

    clayne Member

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    It's actually not a big more expensive if you think about it. Double the cost for double the frames. I was presuming you would go hunt some stuff down on eBay and settle for what you could find in 220. :smile:
     
  10. Etr420

    Etr420 Member

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    In really rough situations like that I use an old Nikonos, but that's a 35mm camera, and there are only a couple of lenses that are designed for use out of water. The 35mm lens is a beauty, though.

    For medium format you could go completely over the top and get a Rolleiflex and one of these:

    http://tinyurl.com/km25ccv

    Probably break the bank account, and possibly your back.

    More seriously, though, could you do something with a strong, clear ziploc plastic bag somehow glued to the rim of a UV filter? I think it was once possible to buy these.
     
  11. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    Can you get a used underwater housing for a moderately priced MF? If they can keep out water at 30 ft, they must be able to keep out the dust.
     
  12. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Burning Man is hardly the place for art-quality photographs, I can tell you. Australians have been there and described is as "full scale debauchery".
    The 67 (all versions) are prone to the ingress of dust, dirt and moisture. Burning Man is held in extremely harsh, dry environment. People have left the digimons in the sun there (got up from their chair, leaving the camera sitting on it...) and the camera has been turned to jelly! Though 35mm might be off your radar, but it would mean more shots per roll if that matters, a built-in meter and less changing of film which will only increase, dramatically, the risk of that appalling dust entering the camera. Any of the 'old guard' film cameras like the Olympus OMs, Nikons FE, FA will do the job. But you really need to concentrate on how to protect the camera in use, not just when it is not being used. The all-pervading fine white dust gets into everything, everything (even food, water). Take whatever camera you have and mollycoddle it, storing it in an airtight container. In that place you're going to need to look after yourself just as much as everything else you take there (theft if rife).
     
  13. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I spent three days on "the playa" a few weeks back with a different kind of crowd... I brought my 4x5 Newton Nu-Vue and kept it in a simple "Jansport" backpack. In the lunch-type cooler I had Ziploc bags with the Grafmatic, 2 lenses for the 4x5, Spotmatic F spare body (never came out of the Ziploc), 35mm film, 135mm lens (never used it). Around my neck the whole time, ES-II with 50mm and yellow filter. I only used the 4x5 for 6 shots. The rest was 35mm.

    Sure things were dusty, but it had rained the week before and there were only a fraction of the people you will have, so not a huge amount of kicked up dust airborne...

    A vintage folder like your Mamiya 6 is probably a good bet. You know what to expect, sure dust will get into it but you probably can minimize it by keeping it behind a shirt or in a protective bag when not actively shooting.
     
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  15. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    My Pentax 645NII has been mountain biking, hiking, rafting, xc-skiing and snowshoeing. I've shot in all conditions from rain to dust to being as cold as -40. I take no special precautions other than a padded case or a drybag. So on the whole I would say it is a pretty skookum rig.

    But not sure about the extreme dust and other aspects of Burning Man. That sounds like camera death to me. I'd probably hit the thrift store for a bag of cheap film cameras and just have fun with 'em. Either that or buy a couple of old land cameras and bring a tote full of Fuji instant peel-apart film.
     
  16. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Good advice too. I reckon disposable cameras would be the bomb really. None of my friends' cameras (one of which was a Linhof) came back from that place unharmed (the Linhof had dust inside the bellows and incredibly, inside the 65mm lens). The extremely fine dust is airborne all the time from the movement of a thousand, thousand pairs of feet and dancing. No escape; if it's hard on humans, it is hard on cameras. Google picture of Burning Man (BTW, in Australia we have a smaller event called Burning Seed), and you might see the frightening spectacle of a storm whipping around — among other confronting scenes. To be sure, I wouldn't bother taking any snazzy camera there. Maybe a Nikonos or something sealed would be good.
     
  17. Drizzt321

    Drizzt321 Member

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    Funny you mention an old Land Camera and Fuji peel-apart...I happen to have a couple working Automatic's I was going to bring to take peel-apart with to gift to people =D

    On the other side, I do have a Minolta X-700 which works fine, but 35mm just doesn't seem to do it for me the way 120 does. Even though I can get a Pentax 645N for $300+ with lens, I probably won't, at least not to go to Burning Man. I was more curious what people thought about the survivability of some of the newer 'older' MF cameras that have more features.

    One thing I'm a little disappointed in is the most/all of the 645 bodies are focal plane shutters rather than leaf shutters in the lens :sad: I know there are a few lenses out there that you can find that do have a leaf shutter, but it's still not the same. It's funny, I'm so used to leaf shutters in my film bodies that a focal plane shutter seems weird.
     
  18. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    If you are considering a Holga, then clearly medium format resolution is not the driving principle behind your decision. Not to be said on this forum, but methinks you should GoPro and be there.

    But if that doesn't cut it, I'd hack together a very simple pinhole camera and expose on 4x5 sheet, or cut sections of 120 or 35mm roll film. You'll need a dark bag for loading the camera, but you won't worry a bit about sand and dust, and you'll get some photos with a style that works very well with Burning Man.
     
  19. Drizzt321

    Drizzt321 Member

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    I'm not really looking at a Holga, and don't think anyone else was.

    But the point about a simple pinhole camera is a cool idea. Hmmm....should be easy enough to get one of those guides and try and build my own and test it in 2 weeks. Maybe...
     
  20. clayne

    clayne Member

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    A pinhole exposure of the actual burning sounds like a cool idea. I wonder if its already been done. If it hasn't I declare immediate claim to copyright and will license at 100,000USD per similar exposure. ;-)
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Farley Mowat used a Kodak Medalist for his work in the Canadian Arctic.

    With that in mind, I wonder if one of the Fuji rangefinders might be worth considering.
     
  22. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Too late. Somebody here in Australia associated with Down To Earth (organisers of ConFest) has made a pinhole exposure of the Burning Man effigy going up. Also the Mud Slide. I'm scouring their website and two others at the moment, but given he is a dyed-in-the-dreadlocks greenie who doesn't use digital, it's quite possible he hasn't put it up on the web.
     
  23. edcculus

    edcculus Member

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    I see pictures of Burning Man as more of a photojournalistic style than incredibly detailed beautiful MF or even LF pictures. I think a 35mm Nikonos would do the trick!
     
  24. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I think this is the best idea posted so far. My inclination would be to use silicon for the glue, but some experimentation to see what forms a good bond would be in order. You could take a few spares for when the ziploc bag gets damaged.

    Even with 645 format, 120 film takes quite a bit of changing, which seems like the weak link in terms of dust getting in. All things considered, I think I'd be looking more at 35mm in your position, maybe with an EOS body that can function as a p&s---it'll take your Canon lenses, you don't need access to anything but the shutter button, and you can change film *fast* with the ones that auto-load. They're also cheap enough that you could treat the body as a disposable---I once got a Rebel X for six dollars, and I currently see some older EOS bodies as low as eight bucks at KEH.

    -NT
     
  25. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I also think a Medalist is a good thought, used by the Navy in WWII until the 60s. I have used a few over the years, very strong, with some duct tape easy to make dust resitatant, but you would need need to find one converted to 120. Very sharp lens.
     
  26. Bill Burk

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    Although 35mm is suited to the task, the gauntlet is thrown out for somebody to step up - even past 4x5 - to 8x10...

    Not at all for the resolution.

    But to eliminate the problem of dust.

    For you see, the bigger the film, the less the dust particles will impact the image.