Best Beginner MF Camera

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by BrendanCarlson, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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    Hello fellow APUG'ers,
    I am looking into getting a MF Camera, I have a budget of $400 for a body, preferably with a lens, which MF Camera would you suggest to get started that would fall in this price range?
     
  2. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Based on your gallery, it seems you might be the type who wants a hand holdable camera (I saw a few indoor cramped concerts), therefore a TLR might be off the table.

    What about a 645? Say a user Fuji GA645Zi I've seen at your price point

    But maybe I am misinterpreting your motives, what is important to you?

    Do you want to do say landscape or more formal portrait too? Then a TLR or 6x7 (eg Mamiya RZ) come into play...

    What is your motive?
     
  3. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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  4. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    I would think a Yashica 124G would fit the bill too and be an alternative MF introduction that is very satisfying. Please consider a TLR for your MF camera, although there is certainly not one bad thing I would say about any of the cameras recommended above....also good, solid MF cameras that will bring many hours of enjoyement using.

    Bob E.
     
  5. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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    Im kinda leaning towards the Mamiya 645... any suggestions where to buy it.

    Also if I buy a m645 can I use most of the hardware (backs, prism, and lenses) with a 645 Pro?
     
  6. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    Only the lenses will work with all the Mamiya 645 manual focus cameras.
    Don't forget the m645 and 1000s do not have interchangeable backs.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The lenses and inserts are compatible between the m645 and the 645 Pro.

    The m645 doesn't allow for removable backs (just inserts to aid in loading).

    A couple of the m645 grips will function with the 645 Pro, but are not ideal. The various rotating tripod adapters will work on both. They both take the same battery.

    But things like prisms and other accessories aren't compatible.

    And the m645 is getting quite old.
     
  8. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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    Would you go for the 645 pro???
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I already have :smile:.

    The 645 Super may be another option worth considering. I started with one.

    They are older and less robust than the newer 645 Pro and Pro Tl, but almost all of their accessories and the 645 accessories are interchangeable.

    Including the removable backs.

    If you find they work well for you, you can always pick up a 645 Pro body at a relatively reasonable cost, leaving you with a backup body.
     
  10. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    As others have said, which camera is best may depend on your intended usage. When I was in your position about a year ago, I considered both the Mamiya 645 Super/Pro and the Bronica ETRSi. The most significant difference between the two systems is that the Mamiyas have focal plane shutters in the body while the Bronica has leaf shutters in the lenses.

    The benefits of a focal plane shutter (Mamiya) are:

    Faster shutter speeds (1/1000" vs 1/500" for the Bronica)
    Fast lenses (such as the 80mm f/1.9 - the fastest Bronica lenses are f/2.8)

    The advantages of leaf shutters (Bronica) are:

    Less shutter vibration when used with mirror-up - good when shooting at slow shutter speeds off tripods.
    Flash sync at all shutter speeds - good when shooting with fill flash, especially outdoors.

    Note that the Mamiyas do have a few leaf shuttered lenses; however they are much less convenient to use than the Bronica's as they must be separately cocked. With the Bronica, winding the film on also cocks the lens so it's just like using a manual 35mm camera.

    In my case, being primarily a landscape shooter (and a hiker), I decided that the advantages of the leaf shutters outweighed the advantages of the focal plane shutter (since I don't typically use large apertures or fast shutter speeds), so I chose the ETRSi. If I was more into handheld or street photography, I would probably have gone the other way. As far as I could tell quality, availability and ergonomics are similar.

    I bought my ETRSi from KEH and was very happy with the service and the condition of the items.

    Andrew
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2012
  11. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Have you considered a Koni-Omega Rapid?
     
  12. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Matt what is the weight of the Super with a prism and 80mm? I have a 1000s and find it really heavy, just weighed it (prism, no grip, 80mm f1.9) and it was 4.5 lbs. With the grip it was 5lbs. OP, weight is something to consider, you seem, based on your gallery, to be doing some concert shooting, think the lighter might be a key variable to consider. The Super looks light and nimble....
     
  13. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I have a Fuji 645Zi and it is a wonderful camera and I use it often, but it isn't a great general purpose camera being a pretty automated pseudo-rangefinder. Personally, I'd go with either the Mamiya of whatever vintage you like or a Pentax 645. Both great cameras, but different. The Pentax is less of a system camera, but it is super solid given that very little is changable. It is also has a very gentle shutter/mirror coupled with a solid grip making handholding easy. The downside is that it is bigger with the non-removable grip. I'd get it at KEH because they are low cost and have a great return policy. Ads in apug are great too. There is zero reason to buy from ebay. You can play with it for a few days and return it if you decide it isn't for you.
     
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  15. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

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    The Koni omega rapid is a massively good professional camera which will deflect bullets.
    If you subscribe to the "heavier is better" school of photography, it is ideal. Not as flexible as the Mamiya universal though.

    Cha-clunk goes the winding mechanism.

    David
     
  16. 2bits

    2bits Member

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    Brendan,
    I'm a beginner in MF also. I just picked up a real nice Mamiya 645 1000s a few weeks ago. It is working out great for me. It came w/ the 80mm lens, and I just got the 150mm in the mail, like new. The camera has all the functions of a 35mm SLR, just in different locations. That is taking a little getting used to. I do like the handling of the Mamiya.
    I would have maybe gone the Bronica ETRs route, but there was none available when I was ready to buy. Many were priced out of my range. Overall I am very pleased with the Mamiya, it will do the job.
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    zsas:

    It is a bit hard to answer your question, because the various Mamiya manuals all seem to give weights for different configurations.

    Anyways, when it comes to the 645 Pro with body, roll film holder, AE Prism Finder FE401 and 80mm f/2.8N lens the dimensions are reported as 124mm (W) x135 mm (H) x 170mm (D) and the weight is reported as 1,545g. (~3.3 pounds).

    Looking at the dimensions and weight for the Super (just the body and roll film holder given), it looks like it is about 90 gm lighter and very slightly smaller.
     
  18. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    If you are considered a Mamiya I would seriously consider the Pentax 645N or Nii as well. These are tough, top notch medium format cameras with a line of excellent lenses. Someone said they weren't "system" cameras but I would challenge that statement. Some of the finest images I have ever printed, color or black & white, have come from this camera. Some of the lenses available are considered to be top of the line. The A 35mm wide angle is one of the best medium format wide angle lenses available, if not the best. The FA 120mm macro lens is absolutely stunning and is as sharp as any lens I have ever used, as is the FA 150. Likewise, the 45-85 and 80-160mm zooms are so good and flexible that you will find it very hard to find their equal in the medium format world. It is an SLR camera so what you see in the viewfinder is what you will see in your negative. And that viewfinder! Man is that thing gorgeous to look through. If you have not looked through the viewfinder of any medium format SLR, and particularly the multi-coated viewfinder on the 645Nii, you have not experienced true bliss. Ergonomically and operationally it is perfect. It is very easy to handle and the controls are all where they need to be. And the camera is so simple to operate a caveman could...oopps, that has already been done. But really, put the shutter dial on the green A, the aperture dial on the green A, and you are shooting full auto mode. Move the aperture dial off the green A and now you are in Aperture Priority. Put the aperture dial back on the green A and move the shutter speed dial to a shutter speed, now you are in Shutter Priority. Finally, take both off their green A and now you are in manual. I could seriously go on and on about this great camera but I better stop here.

    Ok, everyone loves their cameras, obviously I really enjoy mine. The reality is that most of the cameras mentioned so far will capture beautiful images. Images that are far better than even the best that 35mm can provide. But I could not let this thread go on without telling you about my favorite camera.

    Good luck with your choice and happy shooting! :D
     
  19. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    How about a Rollicord.
     
  20. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Just plopped my 645 Super+80/2.8+plain prism+back on the kitchen scales= 3lbs 7oz. It's a very compact, modular system. M645 Super/Pro/ProTL ergonomics are helped greatly with a drive grip--which adds just shy of a lb. I'd skip the old heavy metal Mamiya 645. The Bronica ETRS(i) and Pentax 645 are also worth a look. Nostalgia aside, affordable TLRs are all getting very long in the tooth and can get spendy with repairs. Get the newest kit you can afford.
     
  21. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    My 645Nii, one FA 75mm normal prime, film back w/120 film, 6 AA batteries, 2 RRS QR Tripod plates, on the postal scale. 3 pounds and 14 ounces, approximately 1,758 grams. Not too bad. :D
     
  22. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    +1 Pentax 645.
    Also, there's the Fuji GA645zi, although it is more like a p&s on serious steroids. It does a good job, though.
    Yashica is good.
    Pentax 67 (6x7) is good, and was my first MF camera. I still have it and use it.
     
  23. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    If you like square then how about a 6x6 Bronica S2A or EC. I have seen them go for around $300.00 with a very sharp 75mm Nikkor lens included. With your extra $100.00 you could pick up a Bronica 150mm which is an excellent portrait lens.

    Early Bronica's use Nikkor, Bronica and Komura lenses. The Nikkors are sharp with excellent bokeh. The Bronica lenses are also nice. I don't think the Komuras are quite as sharp. Just about all the lenses are dirt cheap today. The cameras use helical focussing so they focus the lenses very close. The cameras have built in focal plane shutters so you don't have to worry about having to get leaf shutters CLA'd every few years.

    If you get the S series make sure it's the later S2a. The early ones had soft brass gears that wore out. The EC has an electronically controlled shutter so it takes an easy to find battery. I would stay away from the ECTL with the built in meter because if the meter fails the camera is ruined.

    Bronica is no longer made but Koh's camera is the expert in repairing them. They also do CLA's and sell used cameras and lenses. Of course early Bronicas come up on Ebay often.

    Just another option for you! :smile:
     
  24. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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    Hey, if I could find a MF Camera that I could use my Nikkor lenses with I would be happy.
     
  25. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Sorry Brendan, but the 35mm Nikkors will not work. :smile:

    From my understanding all the original lenses for Bronica were Nikkors. Nikon's 35mm cameras started getting really popular so they decided to concentrate on the 35mm lenses for their cameras and quit making medium format lenses.

    Bronica was forced to make their own lenses which were quite good. Komura also made lenses for the early Bronica cameras.
     
  26. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Rolleiflex will be a good choice. Maimya RB 67 will be a good choice if you had big hands!:smile:

    Jeff