645 choice

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by AlanC, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    I have recently started a project photographing life on hill farms in the North York Moors. I began with 35mm but want to change to medium format (for bigger, sharper prints,) before I get too far in.
    645 seems ideal. I will be photographing people at work, machinery, animals, buildings , etc, tripod and hand held, with interchangeable lenses.
    Can anyone help with camera choice?

    I already have a Bronica SQ with 80mm lens, so extra lenses for this, along with a 645 back, prism and speed grip would be one option. But I'm not sure if this set-up would work well hand-held.

    Alan Clark
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    If you don't need a metering prism why not get the Bronica ETRSI? A body,WLF,lenses and back won't be much money. Even if prices seem to have bounced up a little. The metering prism is relatively expensive. You can buy a complete setup for less then the price of the latest metering prism. Add the grip and it's a real nice package handheld. Or on a tripod.

    If you need a metering prism then the older Pentax 645.

    I've both and the bronica is a nicer camera IMHO. But I could be happier with either most of the time.
     
  3. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Nick,

    No, I don't need a metering prism. I will give your suggestion some thought. I 've already looked at etrsi prices.

    Alan Clark
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Alan, I've been using Mamiya 645's for over 25 years they are great for hand held work, but in real terms only marginally more practical than your SQ. I've also used the older Bronica S2's and they weren't that different to the Mamiya's.

    Ian
     
  5. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Thanks Ian.
    So you think I would manage ok with my SQ with prism and grip?

    Alan
     
  6. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Give it a try Alan, it's actually easier to get sharp hand-held images with a heavier camera. It'll only be slightly heavier than a ETRS but that difference helps.

    Ian
     
  7. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    I like what you are saying Ian. It's the cheapest option!
    It will also allow me to use the SQ in its square format, which I have been doing to make "still life" pictures of some of the wonderful junk these hill farmers like to keep lying around.

    Alan
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I think you might find the square format more amenable to your project. Look at the wonderful images fay Godwin shot in the "Secret Forest of Dean" book of the farmers etc.

    Ian
     
  9. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Ian,

    I've not seen that book. Perhaps I've been thinking too much about the work of James Ravilious. Will reconsider!

    Alan
     
  10. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    You could always get a mask for the viewfinder to help compose 6x45 images on the square film. Going with the camera that you know is (almost) always the better choice when you are in the middle of a project. Think of all the mistakes that you could make with a new system, and the opportunities that may be lost because of those mistakes.

    I say sacrifice a focus screen and draw the vertical and horizontal lines for 645 on the focus screen with a Sharpie and keep using the square back. Use the money to buy some new lenses and if need be a decent light meter (though it sounds like you already have a decent meter). This way you have the choice of the full square image, or the in camera "cropped" 645 image when you edit the photos later.

    That said I have many Mamiya 645 systems. From the tank of a 1000s with prism and motor drive to the Super and Pro bodies with the same. I also really like using the waist level finders on each of those, harder for verticle, but not impossible. I've used all of them hand held and the tank of a 1000s gives the best slow shutter speed results because of the mass of the system (it's very heavy). Though if I was going to have to walk very far (or all day) I would probably opt for the Super or Pro with the slow 2cr powered winder and a prism and waist level finder. The waist level goes everywhere since it is only a couple more ounces.
     
  11. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Greg,

    Many thanks for your good advice. Actually, I've not had the Bronica SQ long, but I took to it like a duck to water. It hardly seems able to take a duff picture! The waist-level viewfinder has a lot to do with this, I think. So maybe it would be best to forget a prism finder for the moment, try the camera hand-held, and crop if needed.

    The picture is getting clearer!

    Alan Clark
     
  12. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    Well, if you want to shoot hand held at eye level, then you will need the prism and grip (OK maybe not grip). I actually had the prism on one of my cameras the other day, and was trying to frame a subject... Had to pull the prism off and switch to the waist level because I was panning the wrong way. That and I can use the waist level perfectly with my glasses on, even with the magnifier in place it still works.

    So yes, try the mask on the focus screen, just draw a square in each corner and maybe some dotted lines for the sides. That way you can frame the 645 size in both horizontal and verticle at the same time and never need to rotate the camera. And if you just draw on the screen, you can still see the general composition for the square image. And if you don't like the screen all marked up, use rubbing alcohol to clean the Sharpie away, or splurge on the nice new focus screen that you probably already want.

    To me this just seems the most practical way to do it... And if you really want to shoot 35mm, do they make a 135 back for that body? I have one for my 645 stuff, normally use it when I'm trying new things so I can drop the film off at the 1 hour lab.
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Alan, since we met I've been using a 5x4 Crown Graphic hand held, so there's no excuses get out there with the Bronica. . . :D

    Ian
     
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  15. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Ian,

    I'll be out at first light tomorrow! Thanks again for the support.

    Greg,

    Many thanks for your good advice.

    Alan
     
  16. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    Easiest, lightest 645 i've used is the Pentax 645. No film backs, just inserts which aren't swappable mid roll. Only one finder. Great lenses, cheap prices on lenses, fantastic meter. It's not much of a 'system camera' but it is extremely convenient, easy to carry around and not much to go wrong with them. Takes 6 AA batteries which I get at least 50 to 75 rolls through if not more.

    But if you like the sq and use a spot meter or handheld, i'd get the 645 back and a prism or angled finder, maybe some sort of grip or even flash bracket makes things easier too.
     
  17. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Thanks Philip.

    I'd considered a pentax 645. The question is would it be easier to use hand held than the SQ with prism and grip?

    Alan
     
  18. panastasia

    panastasia Member

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    The 1000s is slightly heavier than the plastic body later models, but "very heavy" is relative. A stripped down 1000s, w/o prism (w/WLF), hand grip and motor winder, is light compared to my RB tank. It weighs half as much!

    For hiking uphill, I just bought a 1000s because I liked the feel (and look) of the metal body. I found that hand holding for vertical (portrait) shots are more difficult with the waist level finder but the camera is noticeably lighter with it, instead of the prism. I would have preferred a square format but they were all more weight.

    I should admit that it also looked like the little brother to the RB - the other reason I liked it.
     
  19. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Eveything is light compared to an RB. Even my 5 x 4!
    Alan
     
  20. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Some of my best pictures were shot with a Bronica ETRS with waist-level finder. I do have the prism finder - and even a metering prism finder, but I still feel that the combination of a simple waist-level finder and a hand-held incident meter is what gives me the occasional great picture. The metering prism finder may give more good pictures, but so far no "greats".
     
  21. MikeE

    MikeE Member

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    Pardon the interruption but have you considered a folder for some of the hand held work?

    Medium format and they mostly fit in a pocket.
     
  22. panastasia

    panastasia Member

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    Ole,
    Your comment about preferring the waist level finder is most interesting. I too, would rather use the waist-level finder and hand-held incident meter. It makes the camera (Mamiya 645 1000s in my case) more compact and lighter. I'm new with this camera, so I'll need to practice coordinating my brain and hand movements for vertical (no action) shots, looking from the side. I see better through the WLF.

    Paul
     
  23. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    Compared to the Super/Pro prism viewfinders, the 1000s,J, etc. prisms are not as nice. They are heavy, and a bit dim. Waist level for that camera is a natural, especially since you need something to hold the focus screen in place. I did a lot of shooting on my 1000s without any finder on the top until I finally broke down and got the waist level to make sure that the focus screen didn't fall out while I was using the camera.
     
  24. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Vertical shots and a WLF is a pain in the ass, and the main reason I bought a prism finder (I was working as a part-time pro portrait photographer at the time). But it's a perfect rig for street photography, since most people won't even realise you're taking a picture, and the local thieves will think your camera is too old to be worth stealing (this was very obvious in the bazaar in Cairo). :D
     
  25. Rolleijoe

    Rolleijoe Member

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    With age etc, 35mm is becoming to difficult to use in the darkroom. I'm tired of dealing with it. I regularly shoot Rolleiflex TLRs for many decades, and am completely happy with them. But try finding a wide angle Mutar when you need it!

    After studying the various brands with accessories etc, I went with Mamiya M645Pro (will be adding a 645TL body by October). Everything is reasonably priced from B&H, and changing out film is fast if you use extra film holders instead of buying more backs. Just pop one out and the next one in. Done.

    I had used an Mamiya 7 for a while when living on Maui for a few years, but to my eyes, the 645 glass is sharper. Of course, Zeiss is the glass by which all others are judged. I was doing weddings on Maui (3 a week) and the larger negative helps. For personal shooting, I used the Rolleis.

    Doing one last wedding in October as a favor for a friend. Majority in b&w, with maybe 1 roll of color. Mamiys 645TL, Sunpak 622 with Lumedyne flash setup for on camera use as backup.

    Good luck on your search!
     
  26. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Rolleijoe,
    Thanks for your comments.
    My problem is that I am trying to do two new things. For years I did landscapes; mostly with 35mm but also on 5 x 4. Now I'm trying to photograph people at work, who have this habit of moving around, and I'm trying to do it with a camera which requires me to look down into a viewing screen. Takes some getting used to.

    You mention a Mamiya 7. I was wondering if this could be my solution, as I am very much at home looking through a 35mm type viewfinder. The bigger negative would certainly help to get good quality large prints.

    Alan Clark