Advice needed for 1st Medium Format

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by one90guy, Oct 15, 2010.

  1. one90guy

    one90guy Member

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    Hi All
    I have been wanting a medium format camera for sometime, I have looked at them on ebay and prices seem to run from low to way out of my reach. I want just a decent camera, light meter preferred but I use a Argus C-3 and so I do not think it would be a big problem. I have reached a point where the more I read on different cameras the more uncertain I am:sad: My main concern is price and getting a useable camera. Sorry if I sound like a money grubber:smile: but a few years ago I had to retire, so The Boss keeps me on a tight budget. Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you
    David
     
  2. LyleB

    LyleB Member

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    I've bought a couple of Yashica TLRs. I have an A and a D. Neither has a meter. Both take nice photos. It takes some getting used to the waist level viewfinder, and I cannot focus without using the built in loupe, but I'm getting used to it. I use a tripod, since I need the loupe. I plan to try some magnifying drug store reading glasses to see if I can use this hand held, but my biggest interest for MF is landscapes anyway, so a tripod isn't a big issue.

    These cameras are relatively inexpensive, between $50 and $200 depending on condition.

    Repairs on these are reasonable cost. I got a CLA and shutter repair for my D for just $56. Quick service to boot.

    I also have a Pentax 645 with several lenses. Really nice, though I'm keeping my eye out for a 645n. This is a SLR, includes a light meter and Auto exposure. Obviously it is much more expensive, several hundred for body alone.
     
  3. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    TLR's are a good choice, have you thought about the Mamiya RB67? Look up KEH and they have good prices on them.

    Jeff
     
  4. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I started MF back in high school with a not too flash Rollieflex in the Camera Club loaner camera drawer. That set the hook on loving TLR's.

    I have had a Yashica C as the first MF of my own, then sold, then bought back, then sold agian after buying a Mamiya C330f.

    I do like the flexibility of interchangeable lens from my 35mm SLR side of life, but the C330f is a lot to lug; I call mine the Brick.

    I have since then owned and sold a Yashica A, with close up lenses, and borrowed a Yashica D for a holiday. The D was a real treat, but alas not suited to portraiture which is where my C330f gets used a lot with a 180 or 135 lenses.

    I would support a modestly inexpensive Yashica as a great starter in MF camera.

    It can be a very good thing to get back to one lens and no onboard electronics to whittle back the noise that otherwise can get in the way of capturing many great image opportunities.

    Sniff around at a camera show, or look to KEH. You should be able to find one at a price that keeps workers and mangement happy.
     
  5. spolly74

    spolly74 Member

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    Was going to recommend a TLR, specifically a Yashica D as a good starting point - seems I'm late to the party. They are cheap, don't have a lot to break, and work well. Personally I like the square image - if you don't then TLRs might not be right (I think all/most produce a square neg).

    The Yashica 124 has a meter, and can be found under $200, but it might be more economical to buy a Yashica D (as an example) and a hand held meter which you can use with other cameras.

    One other consideration (besides negative shape/size) is the film advance. The Yashica D and A use a knob to advance the film. Not terrible, but i think the standard on other cameras is a crank handle that is a bit more ergonomic.
     
  6. CGW

    CGW Member

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    With respect--and knowing nothing about you, what you like to shoot, or if camera weight matters--it's tough to advise but here goes. You've got three format choices, right? And I'm leaving out rangefinders in favor of SLR models.

    First, I'd avoid relics. Old Yashica, Rollei, Mamiya, Minolta, Whatever-Flex TLRs can quickly become money pits unless you want to add camera repairmen to your circle of friends. You may get a gem but I'm off them after watching friends suffer--sorry, TLR fetishists.

    645: Most like 35mm and the lightest. Mamiya 645(Super, Pro, ProTL--not the old heavy metal types) and Pentax 645 are good value. Great glass. Plentiful. Cheap and getting cheaper. Bronica ETRS(i)is probably the "best buy" MF champ.

    6x6: Hasselblad. Bronica SQ(A, Ai, B). I have a Bronica SQ-B and love it.

    6x7: Mamiya RB/RZ67. RB is mechanical; RZ electronic. RB67 Pro S and Pro SD bodies are the latest and best. RB is not petite but neither is it just a studio camera. Good affordable and plentiful glass in standard focal lengths. Rotating back(RB) feature on both models is killer. I have a RB 67 Pro S kit and shoot it more than my 645 and 6x6 cameras.

    Pentax 67: Baby-sat one for a couple of years and liked it. Giant 35mm-like layout. Good lenses. No film backs(no mid-roll changes). BIG, heavy and surprisingly awkward off a tripod outside of studio work with strobes. Affordable.

    Bronica GS-1:tongue:robably the smallest, lightest 6x7 SLR system camera. Good lenses. Never a huge seller relative to the Pentax 67 or even more popular Mamiya RB/RZ 67 making it harder to find accessories and lenses.

    Unless you have a home darkroom and/or a pro lab with good survival prospects, MF might not work for you. Sad but part of the new reality for us APUG inmates.
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    It depends on what you want to shoot with it, and how much "fiddling" you mind doing.
     
  8. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    I'm similarly interested. This wouldn't be my first medium format but it would be my first in 25 years or so...

    What I'm interested in knowing for the Bronica SQ and GS-1 is what all I need for a kit, something I'll be able to take pictures with. Unlike an SLR which is what I'm most familiar with, a 'body only' MF camera doesn't include things like a back, prism, finder and other stuff that an SLR user would assume you get in 'body only' sales. I realize I need a body, a back, a lens, finder? prism? What should I ask about to make sure I'm getting a completely usable kit so I don't have to scrounge for other things before I can get started using it? What is a good standard lens to start out with?

    I'm wondering if it would be best to buy one locally so I can handle it first. See if someone is selling their parents or grandparents old stuff or something... but if I really know what I need I could buy online with confidence so please let me know what is the minimum setup.

    If I'm hijacking this thread let me know and I'll take it elsewhere.
     
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  9. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Why do you want to shoot medium format? What are you after that 35mm is not giving you?

    Do you want an SLR, a TLR, or a rangefinder?

    Do you want interchangeable lenses? (If you answered TLR above, this leaves the Mamiya C system and the 6x6 square format as your option and you can stop here.)

    Do you have any physical trouble carrying and lifting slightly heavy loads (Shy away from 6x7 SLRs if you do, and look at SLRs with smaller frame sizes.)

    Do you want interchangeable magazines? (Scratch Pentax 6x7's and compact rangefinders such as Mamiya 6's and 7's if you do.)

    Will you shoot it on a tripod or hand held, or both, how often, and in what circumstances? (If handheld often, lean toward systems with faster lenses – f/2.something.)

    Are you technically careful enough to bother getting the ideal exposure, or do you prefer to just point, read the in-camera meter, and shoot? (How important is the meter, really?)

    I'll ignore frame size for now, as any frame size can be cropped, and quality will still be better than 35mm. I'll also ignore price for now, just so we can determine what the OP actually wants in an ideal world first.
     
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  10. CGW

    CGW Member

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    For either camera you mention, a "kit" with body+lens+back+viewfinder is probably best(and often cheaper) unless you want to "build" a camera from assembled bits. For the Bronica SQ , both 120 backs and WLFs can be pricey. The Bronica GS-1 is relatively rare, thanks to slow sales. Not sure either would surface in or around Guelph. Henry's eBay "store" is worth checking out--quick, safe shipping and great service. There are several other Canadian eBay sellers who often carry clean MF gear. I've bought all my MF gear off eBay with no regrets.
     
  11. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    ***Unless you have a home darkroom and/or a pro lab with good survival prospects, MF might not work for you. Sad but part of the new reality for us APUG inmates. ***

    Good thinking, get the message onto ebay and I can get some gear cheap as prices tumble.
     
  12. Ric Trexell

    Ric Trexell Member

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    Your main problem getting into MF.

    You said...

    The Boss keeps me on a tight budget. Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you
    David

    David, you've got to win over that Boss. Then think about MF. First, take the boss to the jewelery store, Second, take the boss to the best eating joint in town. Third, flowers, flowers and more flowers. Forth, no bowling with the guys for a few weeks. You have got to stay home with the Boss. See why we say MF is expensive? Ric.
     
  13. CGW

    CGW Member

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    The OP and I both live in S. Ontario, mate. The situation here for film isn't exactly rosy, lab-wise. It's a valid concern.
     
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  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG. Stick around and you may find a less expensive MF camera.

    Steve
     
  16. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Unlike what some have alluded to, an old Yashica TLR can be a very reliable simple camera. It's also cheap after purchase because I'm not tempted to buy all sorts of system accessories and lenses like you might with an interchangable lens camera. If it needs work, you send it off to get fixed up once (deans or hama), and you'll probably be good for another 20 years. It's probably more reliable than the communist cameras, cheaper to repair than rolleiflexes. A TLR is not as full featured as a "system" like mamiya/bronica/hasselblad/pentax offers, but I'm doing MF now, and it's fun and easy and high quality. I have great respect for the "system" options, but my money is going towards other things right now.
     
  17. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    What's our budget? There's a super cool MF camera for almost any budget. But you have to decide what the budget is first.
     
  18. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Thankfully I can still drop off 35mm, 120 and 220 C41, B&W and E6 right in town here at Ponds Fotosource. They don't sell much film anymore strangely but I can order decent film myself. They make much more money on the processing I guess. I need to get back into developing and printing my own which I did years ago but for now I'll have to stick to 120 and 220 for this reason until I get the darkroom set up. And the old enlarger is just for 35mm so I'd need to shoot chromes for now or get an enlarger and lens for bigger negatives.

    Edit: I really like square format, that is what I started with. Something 6x6 would be good but I'm not really picky at this point.

    The prices for the Bronica SQ are attractive, looks like the Pentax 645 isn't too bad either. I will watch Henrys though they don't seem to have much in MF. I've bought smaller format stuff from them in the past.
     
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  19. Karls

    Karls Member

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    I just bought a Bronica ETRS from KEH. I just jumped at what seemed a good price. Now I need to learn. It cost me about $100 after trade in of a contax G1 & sonar lens (value $150) for lens, finder, speed grip, back & instruction manual. It shows a lot of use but works perfectly. It does not have a light meter in it.

    I have no idea what I am doing but I figure there is only one way to learn.
     
  20. Necator

    Necator Member

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    The cheapest entry into medium format would be a folder, like the Agfa Isolettes. However, you will be without metering and coupled rangefinder, so it is truly manual. Skipping the Holgas, the next step up the ladder are the TLRs, as suggested by several posters. After that you will find yourself in MF SLR land, with a wide variety of choice. The cheapest in this category are probably the Bronica ETRS series. At KEH.com they start at around 300 USD for a kit with body, back, lens and either waist level viewfinder or prism. After I bought mine, I wrote a small post on the considerations I went through. You can see it here on apug
     
  21. mablo

    mablo Member

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    Well.. I've gone through the folder phase and now have in my possession a couple of old el-cheapo TLR cameras. All in all I think I've bought four old TLR's. All had shutter problems, one had hazy lenses and a rotten mirror and at least two had light leaks. I've burned a lot of money and frustration to get two working TLR cameras. If I'm honest, only one of them is really good.

    So I think I'm qualified to the next MF level.
     
  22. CGW

    CGW Member

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    With the C$ close to par, it might be time to make a bulk buy from B&H. Know Pond's but wonder how much film goes thru the lab these days? Processing was what kept them afloat but now?
     
  23. cdowell

    cdowell Member

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    I used to always also this question with YashicaMat TLR (a great camera, by all accounts). But now that prices have gotten so low, I've started saying a Bronica SQ-A with a 80mm lens and a waist level finder is a better entry point. It is easier to focus than any TLR for those of us with (slightly) dimming eyes and can be expanded as far as you might ever want to go. The main thing is that any step to MF, in my opinion, should include composing on ground glass. The world just looks more interesting there.
     
  24. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    The OP indeed has many camera choices. The Bronicas are pretty reasonably priced. The real issue now is developing. They are very lucky to have a lab that processes 120/220 film. I would suggest the OP gets the stuff needed to develop and scan film if they have problems with their lab or they have creative needs or volumes that can't be cost effectively met by their lab. for B&W developing, it should be <$100 for a changing bag, used paterson reels/tank and some chemicals.
     
  25. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Again, budget=????
     
  26. photoncatcher

    photoncatcher Member

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    Have to agree with CGW. First I love my rb67. It's the second one I've owned, and I absolutely love everything about the big beast. No, it's not the lightest out there, but at 58, I can still handle it just fine. Strictly a mechanical camera, so you don't worry about any batteries. The lenses have wonderful contrast, and are tack sharp. And due to the rack, and pinion focusing,and the built in bellows you can get to about 9 inches with out any extension tubes. Macro work with a 6x7 negative is amazing. I too have been lucky on ebay, I have found reliable dealers, and gotten great prices. There are some good prices on the cameras, and quite a few deals on the fine Sekor glass. The only thing that seems to remain on the high $$ side are the film backs. One other thing, the leaf shutter (in each lens) allows the easy use of fill flash for out door portraits. Take your time building you kit if you go RB. Start off with the camera, and prime lens. Usually a 127mm. I would also suggest the Mamiya grip, as it does make it easier to work with, but you can work without it. Good luck, and wellcome tothe MF world.