Buying a new MF camera

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Maël, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Maël

    Maël Member

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    Hi,

    I'd like to photograph in medium format. So I'm looking to buy my first MF camera.
    With 35mm I mostly like the smaller camera's. Like an Olympus XA for example. Since I take it far more easily with me.
    But I guess Medium Format is for the more controlled photographs. It's not the camera you take with you every time.

    Camera's that got my interest:

    Mamiya 6 (Expensive) + slow lenses for low light photography
    Fuji Ga645 (Sound?) + slow lens for low light photography
    Fuji Gs645w (Zone Focus=Portrait :sad: ) + slow lens for low light photography
    Mamiya Universal (Slower lenses/Fragile?) + mostly very slow lenses for low light photography
    Pentax 67 with grip (Camera porn)

    I think I'd love the mamiya 6. Only problem is it's fairly expensive. I'm able to buy the body near where I live reasonably priced, around 300 euro. But than I have to search a lens which isn't too expensive which seems to be impossible.

    The Fuji Ga 645 seems to stand up well against the mamiya 6. Things that scares me are the focus, it's AF. And is it really laggy? Or am I just worried too much? I'm not really a sports photographer nor a birds photographer but I don't like to have to press the button 4 times to get the picture. Also the sound it makes is it okay? Or more than okay?
    The Fuji Ga 645 has certainly my interest since it's priced around 300 - 400 euro. (Things to watch out for when buying one? I heard of the Lcd?)

    The Gs645S or W downside seems to be zone focus? Good thing about zone focusing is that it's fast. Downside is the accuracy. Or am I wrong?

    Mamiya Universal has most of the time very slow lenses. At first I loved how it looked, but the more I'm exploring the net the more I find myself attracted to the other camera's.

    Pentax 67 with the grip of course! It's very sexy. Professional looking. It has wide range of lens choices. Some are pretty fast for MF.
    It's bulkier than the Mamiya 6 and the Fuji's which will make me think twice before taking the camera with me though. I certainly want one in the future, but maybe now is not the time? As a first camera?. Also when they are reasonably priced in or near my country they come and go very quickly. (Too quick)

    You probably will advise me a Mamiya 645 system or the Rb67 but I don't like those. I don't know why, they seem so ultra bulky not practical.
     
  2. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Mael you forgot the texas leicas meaning the bigger Fuji Rangefinders with fixed lens but with a good rangefinder and that fixed lens is very good. They are not as lightweight as the 6 and the GA though. Another choice would be the Bronica RF645 it usually costs less than the six and the lenses aren't bad either. The GA645 is a good camera the AF is not the most precise in the world but is still decent. The GA is also a lot more affordable than the Mamiya six. The P67 is heavy and not really a walk around camera. A good compromise between speed portability and interchangeable lenses is the mamiya c330 it's a TLR with interchangeable lenses and shows the parallax error/correction in the finder the drawback it is heavier than the six and lacks metering. The advantage is the price of the lenses, the body and its close focussing ability. Zone focussing is a bit hit and miss furthermore wide cameras are not the best choices for portraits.
    My Advice would be to get either the GA645 or the Mamiya C330 both great cameras for little money.

    Good luck
    Dominik
     
  3. Maël

    Maël Member

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    Thanks for the fast reply.
    I know I didn't add the texas leica's aka Fuji Gw690. But I haven't seen those a lot in my country. And their pricing comes close to a Mamiya 6 with lens.
    The Bronica RF645 is also pretty rare I think?
    TLR's and Foldables (old ones) are indeed less expensive. But no metering, slower, and more fragile. I'd like to have something not too fragile.
    Is the Fuji Ga645 60mm f4 good for portraits too? I'm having an option for around 300 Eur.
    I don't shoot a ton of portraits, just sometimes. I'm more all-round Portrait-Archetecture-Objects-Rooms-Spaces-Landscapes-Street-...
    Fuji Ga645 60mm f4 or Ga645 Zi Zoom?
     
  4. MDR

    MDR Member

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    TLRs are much less fragile than RF since the Rangefinder can't get out of alignment something that does happen even on the Mamiya six. Furthermore most TLR are made completely out of metal the newer RFs are more fragile than any Mamiya or Rollei TLR. The 60mm lens should work for portraits just don't get to close to the subject or you will get some distortion. Wideangles are better suited to environmental portraits were the photographers wants to show the subjects surroundings. Some TLR like the later Rolleiflexes do have metering btw but are expensive. If you can get the GA for 300Euros get it it's a great camera.

    Dominik
     
  5. filmamigo

    filmamigo Member

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    Maël, you seem to suggest that both the Fuji GS645S and GS645W are zoned-focussed. That's not true; the GS645S is rangefinder focussed.

    I actually traded in my Texas Leica, a Fujica GW690, for the GS645S. While the GW690 was sturdier, and produced a stunning 6x9 negative, the GS645S has the following advantages:

    - smaller and lighter, which means easier to carry and less imposing to your subjects
    - includes a light meter

    The lens on the 645S is a nice "normal-wide" which can work for portraits. I ruled out the 645W because of zone focussing and the wide lens being less useful for portraits.
     
  6. Maël

    Maël Member

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    Ow, that is good news!
    Than indeed I'm interested in the Gs645S!

    Fuji Ga645 (60mm f4) vs Gs645S

    Any thoughts?
     
  7. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    You might consider the Mamiya RB67. While it is big and heavy(I use a tripod) it is not that expensive.

    Jeff
     
  8. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I see that you're unhappy with all of them due to slow lenses for low light. MF will always have slower lenses than 35mm and LF will have even slower lenses that's a given. Even if you can get fast lenses I don't think it would help much in term of low light shooting. If you have to do low light hand held and/or subjects move then I don't find any film camera works well for that. But if the subject doesn't move then it's not a problem with slow lenses. Besides, I don't know about you but I can't shoot wide open even with 35mm and doing so with MF I would have much shallower depth of field. I know a lot of people love to take picture with an f/1.2/ f1.4 lens wide open but I never find an image that I can successfully make with such a shallow depth of field.
     
  9. Robert Ley

    Robert Ley Member

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    Mael, Have you considered a Pentax 645? They are great cameras with some very sharp lenses and the first 645, the manual focus cameras, are fairly inexpensive. I have used one for the past 10 years and have been very satisfied with the reliability as well as the quality of the images and 15 shots to the roll of 120 film is a good thing. I used a Pentax 67 for many years before my 645 and was very pleased with the image quality, but it is considerably heavier than the 645. The 645's meter is center weighted almost a spot and was very accurate as well. Check it out.
     
  10. Maël

    Maël Member

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    On the low light, that is true. It's just a point a made, but maybe a useless point. Sorry for that.
    Maybe me learning to use a flash could do wonders :smile:

    About the Pentax 645 is not my taste, it's very bulky unpractical looking. I'd take a Pentax 67 any time over the 645.
    I think the pentax 67 is for a future purchase.
    Right now it's between the Fuji Ga645 (60mm f4) and the Fuji Gs645s. The Bronica Rf645 is nice too! But seems to be more expensive like the Mamiya 6.
     
  11. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I suppose it depends on what you consider "low", and how fast your film is and how much you're willing to push (remembering that grain is less of a concern in MF than in 35mm). It's kind of unusual to find a medium-format lens faster than f/2.8, but f/2.8 at 1/50 will get you to a fairly low light level with reasonable parameters, I think. The shallow depth of field becomes a challenge, but there's nothing wrong with the occasional challenge.

    I've never shot one, but I handled one in a store and the Pentax 67 is *big*. There are people who handhold them, and there are people who say that the people who handhold them are insane, and I guess it would be good to find out which group you fall into before spending that much money on one...

    -NT
     
  12. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    You really need to hold these cameras in your hands. You can't really go by the way they look.

    I have owned all three of the Pentax 645 film cameras (645, 645N and 645Nll). A very good friend of mine owns the Pentax 67 with the wooden grip. Yes, the 645 cameras are bulky compared to small 35mm cameras but they are no where near as big, heavy and bulky as the Pentax 67. I used to own a Mamiya RZ67 with the flash grip. I would rather hand hold it using the waist level finder then to hand hold a Pentax 67 with pentaprism finder. Throw the metered prism finder onto the RZ and I might rather hand hold the Pentax 67. :D

    I own a Hasselblad 500cm with 80mm lens. It's light and a joy to hand hold (at least for me). I mostly use the waist level finder. If the Hassy is beyond your budget then you might look at the Bronica SQ series. Bronica lenses are also very sharp!

    Just something more to consider. :smile:
     
  13. Maël

    Maël Member

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    It's just the formfactor that doesn't seem handy to me.
    I think there is a significant difference between the Rangefinder MF's and for instance the mamiya rz67.

    I think Fuji Gs645s is the winner since it won't make any focus noises etc. Unless someone says the Fuji Ga645 is better option.
    So if someone doesn't like his Fuji anymore :D
     
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  15. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    A significant difference between the Rangefinder MF's and an RZ? Boy, is that an understatement! :laugh:

    A used Fuji Rangefinder may be what you need. Just remember that if you buy it right used and discover that it's just not for you and later sell, you will most likely get most of your money back.
     
  16. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Normally, I'd suggest a Hasselblad, but it sounds like you want to hold the camera to your eye, rather that look at ground glass?

    If so, reconsider a folder, certo6.com does refurbished ones, and they are way better than the price would suggest. I was after a GF670 but instead "settled" for a Zeiss Super Ikonta III. I quickly realised I did not settle at all, and got a beautiful camera.

    TLRs are great if you don't mind ground glass, 300 euros will buy you a surprisingly nice Rolleiflex, which are just beautiful cameras.

    Bronica RF645 may be beyond budget, but they are small, and highly modern, if you like the idea of built in meters, aperture priority modes etc.

    If you're shooting C41 negative film, I find meters are largely optional, but it's a personal choice.
     
  17. agfarapid

    agfarapid Member

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    Maël, I see that you preference is a rangefinder vs a reflex camera. I have the Fuji 6x9 "Texas" Leica and it is a beast but virtually indestructible. The downsisde is film cost: 8 shots per roll. I also have one of the smaller Fuji's--the GS645 folder. It's not to everyone's liking (bellows prone to pinholes and a somewhat delicate film transport mechanism) but if you find one in good shape it's a winner. Excellent optics, small & compact while giving an outstanding image. It's priced a bit less than the later Fuji GA series. Another consideration would be a Mamiya 645 Super or Pro model with eye level prism. Although not a rfdr, it has the advantage of low cost and interchangealbe lenses & backs (if you need). Set up with a prism it's heavier than the Fuji series but if you've been looking at the Mamiya Press series it's far more manageable. Just some suggestions...
     
  18. Maël

    Maël Member

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    The Fuji GW690II is also in the running I found someone selling for around 350-400. I think thats a good deal, prices tend to be higher right?
    The Gs645s is maybe more my ABC. But like someone said, if you sell it again you will get (all/most) of your money back.
     
  19. agfarapid

    agfarapid Member

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    I recently purchased a GW690 I. Great camera but realize that it is somewhat heavy and wouldn't fall into the category of a "carry around camera". The GS645s would be the better camera due to it's smaller size and more frames per roll--15 vs 8.
     
  20. Dismayed

    Dismayed Member

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    I use 35mm for shooting in low light. Faster lenses and greater DOF for the same field of view usually means that I can get away with slower film.
     
  21. fotch

    fotch Member

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    For low weight, med. format, good performance at low shutter speed, and perhaps a F:2.8 lens, I would choose a TLR from Rollie or Yashica. YMMV
     
  22. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    I owned the GS645 (not the wider S version but the standard 75mm) and liked it a lot once I got used to the ergonomics and handling. And it took great photos. There are actually three cameras in the GS645 series. The one linked above at 75mm, the S at 60mm and the W at 45mm. I guess you just need to decide which focal length suits you best. The 75mm standard model is the only one that is a folder. Some like that and others don't. I ended up selling mine to help finance the GF670 which is clearly a superior camera in just about every aspect. But it is very costly as well.

    If you want an exchangeable lens rangefinder in 645 I think the Bronica is about your only option. (Someone will probably correct me if I'm wrong).

    If you want an SLR there are lots more options as mentioned above. Bronica, Mamiya and Pentax all have 645 models.The Mamiya is the most affordable with a huge lens lineup and several different body models to choose from, but the Pentax is probably the nicest to use, even though it isn't a fully modular system like the others. I know your first reaction to the Pentax was negative so I won't try to change your mind, but I own and use the Bronica ETRs, Mamiya 645 ProTL and the Pentax 645n and my favorite is the Pentax. It is the classiest looking to my eye and has the best ergonomics.

    If you want to shoot 6x6 square frames the Mamiya 6 that you mentioned at the beginning is a fabulous camera, and is currently my most frequently used MF camera. But alas, the price is a bit steep. Other rangefinder models are mostly limited to older folders but they can be a bit of a crap shoot in terms of quality. Then there are the SLR options such as the Bronica SQ series, older Bronica focal plane models, and the nicest but most expensive option, Hasselblad. Finally, as others have suggested, a TLR might suit your needs if you don't mind ground glass focusing and the boxy shape.

    If you want to go up to 6x7, the Pentax 67 (4 different models available), Mamiya RB or RZ (several models of each), and Bronica GS1 come to mind. Of those options the Bronica is the easiest to hand hold if you give it a speed grip and AE prism finder.

    If portability and compactness are a prime concerns the rangefinders almost always win out and 645 is the smallest medium format available. Among rangefinders, the folders are the most compact when not in use so the GS645 might come out on top. But unless you actually like and enjoy using the camera none of them will give you a positive experience. So try them out, and find what suits you best! Good luck!
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    You should look at the Hasselblad. If you get one you will never want another camera. It will just slow down the rate that you buy lenses.
     
  24. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    none better words said. hass al blad

    dude...just bought me a kit...solid, precise, ALL of them

    you will NEVER go wrong...they LOOK simple...therefore what-am-i-getting-for-my-dollar? poor

    they are rugged BEST

    no shit

    please, hasselblad
     
  25. papagene

    papagene Membership Council

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    I have both a GW670 II and a GSW690 III and I consider either one a "carry around camera." This summer I took both cameras and a Bogen 3021 tripod on hikes up in Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park... and I'm an ol' fart!

    Both Fuji "Texas-Leica-style" cameras are very carry-friendly to me. And from my opinion, only their size is a concern, not their weight. It's not easy to be inconspicuous with a large Fuji rangefinder. :wink:
     
  26. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    It's critical you purchase a camera (tool) appropriate to shoot subjects your interested in.

    - you excluded sport and bird photography.
    - you like a Olympus XA and don't care for bulky cameras
    - want a M6 except for cost
    - had issue with slow slow lenses (there go most light RF cameras)

    Suggestions

    - 6x7 Plaubel with 80mm f/2.8. But that camera is no less expensive than a Mamiya 6.
    - GS 645 cheap, small, excellent lens
    - Bronica RF 645 with 65m lens; less than a M6 and a better camera in smaller package
    - Rollei TLR with f/2.8 optic; small, fast lens, slow shooter unless zone focused.
    - get the M6 if you want it