645 suggestions please

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by abhishek@1985, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. abhishek@1985

    abhishek@1985 Member

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    Hi friends,

    I am pretty much new here and this is my first post.Have recently got a bronica SQ AI with the 80mm , 50mm and the 200 mm lens set. After having picked up the medium format, I have hardly touched my Leica M2 as I am now so more interested in landscapes and the great viewfinder just makes the entire process so very magical.
    But its heavy and I want something that I can shoot handheld and hence looking at the 6x45 as they are lighter than my 6x6.

    Thinking of selling my Leica M2 and the voigtlander 40mm for a 645 medium format. But the questions is which one :-

    1. Mamiya Pro TL or AFD.
    2. Bronica ETRSI
    3. Pentax 645 Nii.

    Of all the ones mentioned, perhaps bronica will be the cheapest one but I am a little afraid with the light leaks on the backs as it has happened quite a few times for my camera.
    I am all leaning towards the Pentax 645Nii but want to know your suggestion. Oh BTW, I dont do my developing and generally get it done by the awesome thedarkroom.com guys...

    Please let me know your views on the same.
     
  2. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I don't know the other two, but I have a Pentax 645N (not the ii). I consider it basically a 35mm on steroids and love it. I can handhold it with the 75mm if necessary, but it has a big enough frame to be nice to work with in the darkroom. I only have two lenses - the 75mm and the 120mm macro - and they're great. The one thing that would occasionally be handy would be to be able to switch film mid-roll without a black bag or darkroom. But I've had it for about 10 years (maybe more?) and I've only wished for that a few times. It really might be my favorite to use of my pile of cameras.

    Welcome to APUG! It's a great forum!
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Welcome to APUG.

    I can only help you with mamiya 645. Mamiya Pro-TL is exactly the same as Pro except it won't do TTL flash. So, if you don't do TTL flash photography, you can get a Pro and save few dollars. Plus Pro models are more available. It's a fine camera. I liked them when I had those. I had a Super and a Pro.

    It's not a light camera though.... I don't think rest of your 645 models are significantly lighter (if any) either. With a motor winder and a prism finder, it operates pretty much like a big 35mm camera. I just put up with the extra weight as payment for quality negatives. I hand held mine as well.

    If weight is an issue, might you want to consider Fuji range finders like 645zi?

    I went the other way around. For even bigger negative, I went to Mamiya RB-SD. I hand hold that too with a bracket!
     
  4. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    I will first state my own bias...I have two ETRSi bodies, both purchased new 20 years ago. I prefer leaf shutter lenses over focal plane shutter, as I did wedding work and portraiture, in addition to my own free time photography. I also prefer both Mamiya and Bronica over the Pentax simply because I dislike the balance of the body and lens...the integrated handle is at the very back of the camera, putting ALL of the weight forward, rather than some of the rear of the camera serving to counterbalance somewhat.

    The ETRSi is 220 grams lighter than the SQ-Ai...about 8 oz. lighter
     
  5. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I used a Bronica ETRSi for about ten years, with three different 120 backs. Never had any problems. It's a good system.


    Kent in SD
     
  6. Maiku2008

    Maiku2008 Member

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    I had the Mamiya Pro 645 with the 55mm, 80mm, 135mm and 210mm. You are not going to find anything better than that. The Mamiya lenses are really something. The Pentax or Bronica or Mamiya are all equal. You just to pick one that is the most comfortable.
     
  7. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    I have the Bronica ETRs, the Mamiya 645 Pro TL, and the Pentax 645n and I'm hard pressed to say which one is best.

    The Bronica has wonderful lenses plus the advantage of leaf shutters. I've never had light leakage with any of my Bronica backs (for the GS1, SQ-A or the ETRs).

    The Mamiya is cheap (at least in my market) and there is a huge array of available lenses that are very cheap. My favorites are the 80/1.9 and the 35/3.5

    Both of these models have the advantage of flexibility. You can attach a grip and AE finder and it works like a modern 35mm SLR. Or you can go old school with the advance crank and WLF.

    The Pentax is probably my favorite. Although you lose the modularity and flexibility of exchangeable finders, grips and backs, it is clearly the most modern of the three. The lenses are wonderful (I use only the A series rather than the more expensive FA series), the viewfinder is much brighter than the others, and the imprinting of exposure data on the negatives is a fantastic feature. Personally I wouldn't spend the extra several hundred dollars to get the Nii model because the differences are so minor. But the N is a huge step up from the original 645.

    If you want portability and are willing to forego exchangeable lenses the Fuji rangefinders are great too. And very compact! The GS is an "oh so cool" folder! Super compact when not in use. The GA series are more modern in design. All of them have fantastic lenses.

    Then there is the Bronica rangefinder that offers exchangeable lenses as well. But I hear that it is prone to mechanical problems.

    I guess I haven't answered your question at all, but hope the info is helpful.
     
  8. dorff

    dorff Member

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    If handheld is your only concern, then I would suggest you take a serious look at the Pentax 67 II as well. The Pentax is great for handholding, even if it is heavy. The handling is like an SLR, and the prism finder is easier to focus with than most MF cameras. I have a Mamiya AFD II system as well. It is excellent for most purposes, but I have two gripes about it. The first is that the light meter is not reliable at low light levels, i.e. for dusk seascapes and such. This may be only my copy, though. The other is that it is not in the same league of ruggedness as the Pentax. I do handprints up to 6x4.5, sometimes 6x6, but that is where my enlarger maxes out. To be very honest, the scans from 6x7 have a lot more detail because of the increased frame size. So my tendency is now to use the 6x7 for photos I want to scan (i.e. colour) and the 645 for black and white film to be printed. Occasionally I shoot slide film in the 645, though, and black and white in the Pentax. The lenses on both systems are really good, on the Pentax perhaps even slightly more so. They are certainly good enough for what mere mortals may want to do with them.
     
  9. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    I have owned the Pentax 645nll, the Bronica Etrsi and a Mamiya RZ 6x7.

    The Pentax had a huge viewfinder and with the matrix metering, autofocus and electronic film advance it was extremely easy to use. I also owned the Pentax 645n without mirror lock-up. The mirror is so well dampened that the mirror lock-up is unnecessary.

    The Bronica is stripped down compared to the Pentax but it uses leaf shutter lenses which is a advantage for portraiture with strobes because you can flash sync at any speed.

    I have not used the Mamiya 645 but I did own the 6x7 RZ67 which was definitely a quality camera.

    Quality wise, you really can't go wrong with any of these cameras. You just need to find the one that fits your needs.
     
  10. abhishek@1985

    abhishek@1985 Member

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    Thank you so much guys for the excellant info.. You all have got me more confused.. I guess I am gonna have 1K + budgte after selling my M2 in excellant condition and the 40mm lens..

    So it looks like between the mamiya and the pentax.
    The pentax system looks great inspite of no interchangeable backs. But does the 645N has mirror lock up function?Th elenses, as I hear , are some of the best in the industry and also we can use 67 lenses which essentially means we are using the sweetest spot on the smaller negatives.

    The mamiya will have the advantage of inderchangeable backs (I am not concerned) and the superb lenses with 80 f1.9 being the dream and pretty cheap..

    Its confusing!!!!
     
  11. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    I re-read your post. I shoot a Hasselblad 6x6 and from memory it isn't really heavier than the 6x4.5 cameras that I owned. Maybe it is but it isn't enough to make a difference and I have a very bad back.
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I own all sorts of Mamiya equipment (C series TLRs, 645 Pro and RB67 plus lenses and accessories), and none of the others you are considering, so consider this advice carefully.

    All of the choices you have listed are high in quality. The reasons I own lots of Mamiya equipment include:

    1) they have several different features in a number of their cameras that work well for me - I am strongly left handed!;
    2) the cost of much of the equipment I have has been very reasonable on the used equipment market; and
    3) there is good availability on the used equipment market.

    The latter two factors you can evaluate for yourself using the internet. The first factor though is one that requires either hands on experience or, at the least, the opportunity to observe someone else operating the equipment.

    So my recommendation is that you do your best to actually handle your choices or, even better, borrow them if you can.
     
  13. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    Matt, I agree with you 100% about everything you said but what is most important is about hand holding an actual camera. I really don't see going to a 645 camera saving you that much weight over the 6x6 that the OP now owns.
     
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  15. dorff

    dorff Member

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    Having interchangeable backs is a considerable advantage if you shoot more than one type of film, or if you do not want to stall for a few minutes mid-shoot to change film rolls. I have four backs for my Mamiya 645 AFD II. I load them with TMax400 and Acros, FP4+ and TriX. Occasionally I replace the FP4+ and TriX with colour film, either slide or negative.
     
  16. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Considered a medium format range finder? You can get 6x4.5, 6x6 or 6x9 all a lot smaller than an SLR.
     
  17. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    If you have re-read the posts you will already have seen that the P645N doesn't have mirror lock-up but someone who has experience of both the 645N and 645 Nii says that mirror lock-up is not necessary.

    I too have a P645N and haven't yet found that mirror lock-up to be necessary. The 645Nii is more expensive and other than mirror lock-up has nothing extra/better that I can see

    Have a look at Ken Rockwell's site. He has a review of the P645N which I think is accurate.


    pentaxuser
     
  18. Pioneer

    Pioneer Subscriber

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    I vote for the 645Nii but I am very biased. To me it is one of the best 645 cameras available. However, never having owned the others you mentioned I can't comment on them. The biggest weak point that people mention regarding the Pentax is the inability to change film backs in the middle of a roll. If that is very important to you then the 645Nii is not your camera. But, I have to say, I have never been worried about that issue so for me it doesn't even hit my radar screen. I do love the lenses. Since the 645D came out the lenses have gone up a bit in price so they are no longer as inexpensive as they were but they can still be had for good prices.

    One thing you may want to consider though is a good TLR. You can get some awesome landscapes on 6x6 medium format with a good Rolleiflex or Yashica Mat and it is WAYYY easier to pack around than any of you other choices. Even with a meter included.

    Anyway, good luck with your choice. 645 is a great format and I enjoy shooting it.
     
  19. Matus Kalisky

    Matus Kalisky Subscriber

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    I had a Pentax 645N for a while and the handling was really nice. If I were to get 645 SLR again I would chose Contax if I could afford it (the 80 and 120 lenses are great, 140 is great for portraits) or Pentax 645NII (the 'II' for the matrix metering) if I were after after long lenses (there are great 300 and 400 lenses). The disadvantage of the Pentax is that it does not allow to change film backs mid-roll.

    But if you do not need an SLR and fast lenses than do have a look at the Bronica RF 645. I personally find that the 65/4 lens has great 'pop' - just check Flickr.
     
  20. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Contax 645.
     
  21. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Is a $1000 budget going to get a Contax and say two lenses? A $1000 is the budget and while the OP might get away with the standard lens, I'd have thought that a short telephoto or wide angle might be needed to give a reasonable range.

    No question about it being a very good camera

    pentaxuser
     
  22. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    hell a Contax lenshood for that system would severely cut into that budget. JK JK :blink:
     
  23. GRHazelton

    GRHazelton Subscriber

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    I have the Pentax 645n and it is delightful. The 645nii adds mirror lockup, unnecessary according to The Luminous Landscape, and I think imprints the lens used in addition to fstop and shutter. The lens imprinting would be nice. While you can use the Pentax 67 lenses with an adapter (which is difficult to find, being made of Unobtainium), according to the instructions some 67 lenses will vignette with it! Strange but true, according to Pentax.

    Fully coupled extension tubes in a set of three are out there, as is a focusing extension tube. Also a 2X tele converter.

    A really thoughtful touch, common I think to all 645s, is two tripod sockets so that with a quick release plate in each one can switch from horizontal to vertical without significantly altering framing or unbalancing the whole shebang. Genius!

    At least in the 645n and nii an ordinary cable release can be used, as the camera gods intended. Praise tha' Lawd! If you really must there is an electric release, shared with at least the PZ-1p. This brings up my perennial question: If the 645n with an electronic shutter can use a proper cable release, why can't EVERY camera offer this option? My Pentax K5 wants an IR remote. Fine, but why not also a cable release? (End of rant!)

    My lenses are all manual focus; the introduction of the 645d jacked up prices of all 645 glass and the AF stuff is just too expensive for me. The glass I have 35, 55, 75, 120, and 200 are all excellent; the 120 macro is a marvel, 1 to 1 in one rotation, the 35 (about equivalent to a 20mm on a 35mm format) is essentially distortion free and really sharp.

    If you want to do macro, closeups, etc, a right angle finder is available, if you can find one. Worth the search to avoid lying at full length on the dirt to shoot a bug up close.

    From what I've read the "Ur" 645, while a worthy machine, is no where as pleasant to use as the 645n. Ken Rockwell mentions this in his "review." BTW, the 220 inserts are easily converted - a small cross head screwdriver and 20 seconds - to 120 or back to 220, a plus with the paucity of 220 film. Oddly the 645 yields 15 exposures on 120, the 645n 16. In my experience frame spacing is excellent.

    The 645n and nii offer center weighted, spot, and matrix metering. In my experience the meter is excellent. Have a look at http://www.pentaxforums.com/camerareviews/pentax-645nii.html for a tabular comparison of all three, plus user reviews, some are probably biased. :D
     
  24. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    I've used the various Mamiya 645 models, the older Pentax 645, and Bronica ETRSi and currently use a Bronica SQ-Ai. I don't think there is a lot of difference in weight between the two Bronica models. The reason I bring it up is that you could just add a prism, a Speed Grip, and a 120-J 6x4.5cm back to your existing SQ-Ai. The Speed Grip, if you haven't seen it, adds a manual winder in the same position as a 35mm SLR handgrip. Presto, then you've basically got a camera that looks, feels, and acts like a 645, but with the option of switching back to 6x6 anytime you like. Sell your 35mm gear, and put the money into your existing SQ system, that's my advice.
     
  25. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    The 645n also imprints focal length, but only if you are using an FA series autofocus lens. With the A series manual focus lenses you don't get any focal length info.

    Actually, not odd at all. Virtually all 645 cameras yielded 15 frames until recently. ETR, Mamiya 645, etc...
     
  26. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    OP, GRHazelton's summary is well worth reading. I think he has summed up the 645N in a very readable way

    I think the only point I would add is that the AF can be a little slow when attempting to take pics of kids between say toddling age and when they will at least stop for a second and listen to you.This is the perpetual and unpredictable motion age :D My experience of snapping a very lively granddaughter is limited but the AF often failed to keep up. The 645N will take great negs in this kind of shooting but just be prepared for a few focus failures in the way that might not happen with a F5 and AF lens

    pentaxuser