Am I crazy to travel with Mamiya C220?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by MikeM1977, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. MikeM1977

    MikeM1977 Member

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    Going to Europe for the first time. My wife and I are spending 4 nights in London, 4 nights in Paris, and 7 nights in Germany. We plan on renting a car for the Germany leg of the trip. Otherwise train.

    I'm torn on which camera outfit to bring!! :confused: I've ruled out my 4x5 setup for sure ;-). I'm trying to decide between my manual-focus Minolta 35mm SLR setup or my Mamiya C220. I'll be focusing on B&W and I'd obviously much prefer printing the 6x6 negatives rather than 35mm!

    Has anyone traveled with a C220 before? Obviously it is heavier and bulkier, and slower to take a picture. I figure C220 + 2 lenses is probably 4-4.5 pounds. Minolta 35mm + 3 primes is probably half the weight.

    I plan on packing my carbon-fiber tripod at least for the Germany part of the trip. In Paris and London I expect to be mostly hand-held.

    Would appreciate any thoughts!

    If I decide on the Mamiya C220, I plan on buying that 55mm wide-angle I've been eying up for awhile...then I would pack that and the 135mm, and possibly the 80mm (although that might be unnecessary).
     
  2. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    If the pictures are one of your primary reason for going, take what makes the best pictures regardless of weight. That said, I've travelled some with the C220 and found it disappointing in the city - New Orleans, Toronto, San Antonio. Large, closely built cities with relatively tall buildings - over 4 stories - on narrow streets are amazingly dark at street level even on sunny days. Trying to preserve shadow detail with slow lens apertures of the 220 - I think the 55mm is 4.5? - puts you at shutter speeds that require luck and some forethought to shoot handheld. The other consideration is your wife. Mine is generally happy to hang out, help spot shooting angles, and generally take in the scenery while I'm fiddling with the technical stuff. If your's isn't, the 35mm may make your happier for speed and ease of use.
     
  3. Mike Té

    Mike Té Subscriber

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    Hey, MikeM...

    My .02;

    Just last year I spent some time in France with my family, on a kind of sabbatical leave. I took my old Minolta X-700 Analog Rebel rather than either of my Mamiyas (645 and c330f) because I'd learned during a previous trip about the relative lack of versatility of the medium format gear compared to the 35mm.

    I took a monopod and mostly used my zoom lens. Since much travel in new regions presents some fine unexpected photo opportunities, the quick access/more given-to-spontaneity 35mm allowed me to get some of my best pics.
     
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Since we have no idea what you like photographing, how can we say one way or another?

    If you like street portraits use the C220.

    If you like to shoot like a photo-journalist use the 35mm.

    If you like only architecture use your 4x5.

    Only you know.
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Are you on a stop and gawk tour? If so take the 35mm enjoy the trip and scout out the places you would like to come back to and spend some time in.

    If you can take your time, take the MF. I took a Fotoman 617 last year, and the results were well worth the effort.

    I think the perfect travel camera would be something like a Mamiya 7.
     
  6. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    It very much depends on the purpose of the trip and your photographic goals/intent. Is the trip primarily a photo outing? or, is photography only a distraction?

    Where do you envision making most of your photos? In the city? Photos of buildings/ architecture and interiors? or people? Landscapes?

    Are you travelling alone or with a "tour group"? If with a group, forget trying to do anything fancy, the others in the group will likely not tolerate it (for long).

    Personally, I'd definitely go with the Mamiya but, I'd also defintiely pass on the 55mm lens. The 65mm is far better.

    The waist level finder will turn out to be very useful in the city. Very few people will know what you're doing looking down...hold a 35mm body up to your face and the whole world knows what you're up to...it can be a problem these days.
     
  7. Mike Té

    Mike Té Subscriber

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    Another .02, that makes .04...

    On the other hand, if you really want to meet the locals, take the TLR.

    "What the heck is THAT you're shooting?" "Is that a camera?!"...

    Have a great trip!
     
  8. MikeM1977

    MikeM1977 Member

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    I envision taking mostly building pictures and landscapes. I love taking pictures of city streetlife. I'm not big on taking people portraits because I feel funny doing so.

    The trip is not primarily a photo trip, but my wife is pretty patient and generally helps me find photos to take. We are *not* with a tour group. The goal of the trip is to see and experience Europe. But photography is obviously one of my big hobbies (why else would I be on apug :wink:

    Why do you recommend the 65mm instead of 55mm?
     
  9. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    Taking a 55mm and 135mm lens pair may give you too much of a jump between them. 65/135 is a little easier. On the other hand, the 55mm will give you enough angle of view to provide some psuedo-rise for buildings.

    The maximum aperture does not really come into it, in my view. You will be working 5.6 or smaller for these subjects.

    I look at it this way:

    If the primary reason for travel is visual/photography, take the largest format you can carry for the type of travel you plan. It is always good if you can carry it everywhere you go when you are travelling a lot.

    If the primary reason in non-photographic, such as business, or a structured tour, go with portablity and flexibility. I often forgo multiple lenses in favour of a rangefinder camera.

    Either way, it is wise to have a basic backup in your bag as well. Whatever tou choose to take, embrace the decision and work to the strengths of the format to make pictures.
     
  10. wirehead

    wirehead Member

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    I went to NYC with my RB67. I kept it on one o' those fancy OP/TECH straps and it didn't slow me down in the slightest.
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    My suggestion:

    Put together the kits you are considering in the bags you would be carrying them in.

    Then consider what else you intend to carry with you (suitcases etc.). If possible, do a trial "pack".

    That will give you a comparative sense of what you are up against.

    In my experience, due to the bellows focusing, a C220 with three lenses and a small meter isn't a huge amount heavier than a 35mm SLR with three lenses, but it certainly is a bit bulkier. The film takes up more space too.

    Does your wife take photographs? Could you meet your needs with both formats, and fewer lenses (e.g. wider lenses for the 35mm)?

    In most of my travel photography, I've used 35mm, and shot slide film. If I intended to shoot B & W, I'd take my C220 or my M645.

    If I were to take my C220, I'd use a 65mm and 135mm tandem. The 55mm is nice, but relatively slow. I'd also use my monopod, rather than a tripod, but my monopod does include a light-weight tripod accessory inside it.

    Matt
     
  12. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    I don't think you're crazy.

    You don't have to carry all lenses all the time.

    When we lived in Europe, my normal travel camera was an Iskra. OK, so it's smaller than the C220, but the fixed lens never really had me wishing for extra lenses - you work with what you have. You never regret having the extra film size. Being a TLR you can handhold it to quite slow speeds too.

    In the wintertime I would load the camera up with TriX and shoot it at 400 (to dev in Rodinal) or 1000 if I was going to dev it in Diafine.

    Take a wide (55mm) and the standard lens, & if you've still got a bit of room left, take a tripod. If you've still got some room left, take the telephoto or a small P+S camera.

    Enjoy your trip!
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's all relative. If I'm going mainly for photography, I might take my 8x10" or 4x5". If it's just travel snaps, then probably my Bronica S2a kit or possibly 4x5" with plans of using it handheld much of the time. 35mm? That's just for the birds (with my 600/4.5).
     
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  15. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    This one is so easy I skipped over the answers. I went to Paris a year ago November with my wife and son. I took a mamiya 645 and my son took my nikon f3hp. He printed his and they were fine for the 35mm size. I helped him print them full frame on 8x10.

    I printed mine on 8x10 and I used a tripod when ever possible and they were very nice. No grain, sharp, smooth, well very nice. When he had a chance to see what I did on 120 and what he did on 35mm he said to me that he wished he had taken a larger format. He was 17 when he came to this conclusion.

    My advice is to use the largest format you can practically use, in your case that would be the Mamiya C220. I would suggest that you put a tripod in your suitcase and carry on the camera. You will never regret taking the larger format.
     
  16. eddie gunks

    eddie gunks Member

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    take it! i travel with my rb all the time. if your wife is patient and you like printing 6x6 over 35mm, it seems like you answered your own question.

    like the above poster stated, you meet a lot more people taking a camera like that. tis could help you get into places you may not have be able to go.

    eddie
     
  17. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Let me put it this way...
    After you get back and print your 35mm negs, how will you feel when you look at the prints and think, "boy, this would have really looked great if I had shot 120!"?
    Me, I hauled a Linhof Technika 70 with 3 lenses around Venice. The shot I got of the Grand Canal just before sunset was incredible.
     
  18. Jojje

    Jojje Member

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    I have faced the dilemma before.
    I have travelled with SLR-system for colour slides and with a 6x6 Ikonta for black&white. Some 35mm lenses were never used on these trips.
    Nowadays I would take a pocket-sized 35mm camera and Mamiya with 55 or 65mm and a monopod. Would take some fast and some really fast 120-film.
     
  19. r.e.

    r.e. Member

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    Which means enjoying the surroundings and the people instead of being glued to a camera. There is no more painful sight than tourists in Paris who have flown thousands of miles so that they can play pack mule to half their belongings and spend a good part of their time seeing the city, when they aren't looking at a map, through a lens. A lot of these people look cranky, and for good reason.

    London and Paris, especially Paris, are walking cities, and both cities get a lot of rain. Figure that on at least some days you or your wife are going to have to carry an umbrella. How much other stuff do you want to carry when you are on foot for the better part of a day?

    Personally, in either of those cities: no camera bag (shoulder bags are a nuisance after awhile, and a pain in crowds, such as on the Metro), one camera, one lens, used sparingly. The remaining question: will your Minolta fit in a coat pocket and, if so, are you prepared to leave it behind in favour of walking around for several hours a day with a four pound weight tethered around your neck? Maybe yes, maybe no. If yes, give your neck a break and take along a small (emphasis small) backpack.

    I say this as a former resident of Paris who has spent plenty of time in London. I have used a Mamiya rangefinder in both cities, with one lens, but I wouldn't carry the Mamiya for an entire day, unless there were going to be a lot of stops at cafes. Speaking of which, one suggestion. Don't hesitate to quit walking, and pop into a cafe, or call it quits for the day, if you feel tired. This should be a romantic holiday and a great cultural experience, not an endurance contest :smile: When I said that one sees a lot of cranky tourists in Paris (and for that matter London), I was serious. People think that they have to see everything, and that they have to carry enough stuff to survive a 20 mile hike, and they wind up looking miserable.

    As for photographic quality, it seems to me that there are some pretty good pictures of Paris taken with 35mm cameras. Shots by a fellow named Cartier-Bresson come to mind.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2007
  20. coriana6jp

    coriana6jp Member

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    I have traveled a few times with a C220 around Japan with the waist level finder and the 80mm lens only. It worked very well, and I managed some decent shots. Though I missed a built in lightmeter, it worked pretty well.

    Now, when I travel and dont want to carry either an 8x10 or 4x5, it will be with a Mamiya 7, and two or three lenses. Very light, with a built in meter. Slightly more convienent that the C220.

    Hope it helps.

    Gary
     
  21. reub2000

    reub2000 Member

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    I'd say that you should bring both the C220 and a fixed lens rangefinder. Leave The C220 at wherever your sleeping when you go out, only taking the C220 only when you think you will need it.
     
  22. MikeM1977

    MikeM1977 Member

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    I've decided to do exactly this. I have a tiny Olympus 35RC I can pack as well. Wife will be carrying a tiny digital as well. I don't need to take the C220 everywhere. I'm 29 and still have some endurance (although I feel its slipping away every year!).
     
  23. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    As an owner of two Mamiya C220 bodies with 5 different focal length lensboards, all I can add to this discussion is my opinion on which lenses would be the most useful to you. The 55mm set is very handy in those tight spaces. Think narrow streets with tallish buildings on either side or anywhere else backing up is a problem. I've heard complaints that these lenses are not the sharpest. Don't let that worry you. They are plenty good enough, if a bit on the slow side compared to lenses with an equivalent angle of view in the 35mm world. It will blow the doors off anything in the 35mm world as well simply because of the larger negative size. Don't forget the 80mm standard lens. I use one of these for over 90% of the time with this camera. The optics are spectacular, and in my opinion it is the best in my collection for this camera. Finally, the 135 makes a dandy portrait lens. I have no complaints about this one either. Comes in handy when you want to isolate your subject from the background or eliminate some of the surroundings.
     
  24. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Yes. TLR travel is certainly possible

    I echo the thoughts about not bringing it with you all the time. Case the scenes with the comapct 35mm. Plan a day or two to revisit the special sites taking the tlr and by then you know the time of day you want to be at a site. This was the approach with my last trip to NYC.

    Also look up the concept of string tripods; great for stablizing a TLR to handhold it- it adds just the right rigidity for many scenes where tripod photography is a challenge or, where you are going to be hassled. Just an eye bolt, an sash cord with a few knots to keep it from slipping when you step on it.

    I travel with my C330, 65, 80, and 180 lenses, Metz CT60 flash kit, spot meter, cheapo flash meter, and a collapsible 40" white/silver reflector carried in a converted kids rolling nylon school bag. It has a handle that extends so that it can be rolled in most urbal locales. It has backpack straps that allow you to put it on your back where rolling is not an option. It does not look like a camera bag. There are pockets for the filters, film, grey card, business model release forms, mini sample portfolio, compass, leaterman, etc. The inside has been fitted with cut up blue closed cell foam sleeping pad material to pad the affair, and dividers are fabricated from 1/4" foam core board, that is well taped once the final configuration is known. I actually have different divieders depending on whether I want to add SLR instead of TLR to the bag.

    And, yes, using a TLR interests people. See the death valley tread going today for the negative side of interst. If you are in the US, particularly NYC, expect tripod hassles.

    The positive side of interest is that I find I have better sucess doing local people pictures with a TLR, because you can talk to people while you take their pictures; with a waist level finder you are not talking to them with a camera mashed in your face.
     
  25. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I've outgrown my fear of travelling with a larger camera. I've taken my Hasselblad to Europe several times now, the 4x5 out to California three times, and my latest trip was to Argentina with a 5x7. I have the advantage of travelling alone, so my pace to see and photograph things is entirely my own. That said, shooting with something other than 35mm will definitely draw LOTS of attention to you, most of it positive (I got on Argentinian TV because of the 5x7). I did plan what I was doing on a given day when shooting with the big beast, so I'd second the above advice if you are going multi-format. When I went to Spain, I only brought the one system (the Hassy) and had a great time shooting it, and met some interesting people who were fellow photography buffs because of it.
     
  26. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Having faced this dilemma many times, my normal travel pack now includes the C220, 65mm, 135mm, a Z-I Nettar 6x6 folder, Nikon FM2 with 105mm and 35mm lens, and a light meter. All fits nicely into a shoulder pack and the Mamiya has a nice small case that carries just it and the spare lens (and a dozen rolls of film). The Nikon goes without case, spare lens in my jacket pocket.

    Why the 65mm? Dang, what a nice lens. Put the lens hood on it, contrast increases by a stop and there isn't much you can't shoot with it. The 135mm is a fine lens for getting those little architectural tidbits you'll be seeing all over the place. Think gargoyle at Notre Dam.

    Paris is a city of walking (and riding the Metro). Take really good shoes. That's why tourists are so cranky. Have a great time in Europe.

    tim in san jose