"cheap" SLR

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by pbryld, May 29, 2011.

  1. pbryld

    pbryld Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Location:
    Denmark
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hello.
    I got interested in photography a bit ago and caught the Holga fever. I love 120 film, but I want to get out of the Holga's dreaminess and into crisp sharpness, which is why I think an SLR is what I should get (?).

    The pictures I take will probably never be made much bigger than a piece of A4 paper (I don't know if 135 film would be as good in that case), but I would like to have the big negatives, knowing that I can blow them up to pretty much any size I could ever want. The film I use is Kodak TMAX.

    The problem is: I don't have infinite means. Acutally, I don't have many at all. I am not looking for a Hasselblad, just something that is good value for the money. I don't mind used stuff either.

    My QUESTION is: What can I get that will serve my needs, for the least amount of money?


    Thanks in advance!!!
     
  2. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

    Messages:
    1,300
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    Winnipeg, Ca
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Looking at keh.com for pricing and availability is a good place to start.
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,250
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Good value for money? Mamiya M645 series and Bronica ETRS and SQ series.... Very plentiful and prices are reasonable. I have a Mamiya M645Pro kit. A really nice thing about these modular cameras are if something breaks, you can just buy that part and swap it out. If you look around, you can get a good starter kit for about $250.
     
  4. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

    Messages:
    2,797
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    What format appeals: 645, 6x6, 6x7?

    Probably more, cheaper SLR options in 645 and 6x7 than 6x6. Basic Mamiya 645 Super/Pro kits and Bronica ETRS kits are affordable; Mamiya RB67 kits can be true bargains, too. If you're patient, you can assemble a camera outfit from disparate bits for very little $. Sometimes kits can actually cost more and stick you with individual pieces of vastly different quality you'll want to replace anyway. Take your time research the options available--it pays, literally.

    With 6x6 SLRs, it's Hasselblad or Bronica SQ series cameras. Good quality Bronica gear seems to be getting pricier, especially things like WLFs, 120 backs, and lenses outside standard 80mm/150mm.
     
  5. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,621
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    If you are working within limited means I'd recommend adding TLR to your possibles list. How far up the scale do you want to go from dreamy to sharp? If you just want to get out of the murk and mire, there are many modest cameras that have reasonably nice lenses. Sharpness might fall-off towards the edges, but this might be a reasonable compromise.

    If you can tolerate that, a Ricohflex might do. There's many available in the $40 range.
     
  6. pbryld

    pbryld Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Location:
    Denmark
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Browsing keh.com, It seems that Bronica ETRS is the most affordable from what you suggested (SQ is too, but I would like a rectangular picture). I don't think I have enough expertise to assemble a camera myself.
    Though, this model does now have waist-level viewing, which I understand is what allows for "live viewing", like I enjoy on my DLSR. How big of a disvantage is that?

    (EDIT: I meant disadvantage (-: )
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2011
  7. pbryld

    pbryld Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Location:
    Denmark
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Is a TLR a good/cheap way the get "live viewing"? I would like the pictures to come out pretty sharp, but I'd actually prefer the edges a bit blurred. If that is the only disadvantage, I'd go with that. How much am i sacrificing on the overall sharpness though?
     
  8. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,289
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
    Location:
    northern Pa.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Depending on model and brand, TLR's are very sharp. If you want soft edges, shoot wide open and let the DOF take charge of softness. The more you stop down, the sharper the edges become.
     
  9. mabman

    mabman Member

    Messages:
    830
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2007
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    Shooter:
    35mm
    There are so many options, it depends what you want and can afford. They are all good, but function a bit differently. I echo the suggestion to check KEH.com to get an idea of prices. Note that their "BGN" (bargain) rating is actually usually quite usable, although YMMV. For example (and this is by no means a complete list):

    6x6 (same as your Holga) and fixed lens:
    - many TLRs such as the many versions of Rolleicord, Rolleiflex, Yashica 124 (G), Flexaret, etc. These have a waist-level finder (WLF).
    - various folders such as the Agfa Isolette series, Zeiss Ikonta, and Voigtlander Bessa. You can get them with various rangefinder options for focussing - coupled, uncoupled, or none ("guess" or "zone" focussing - similar to what you're doing now with your Holga)

    6x6 with removable lenses (you can get several view finders for this - WLF, prisms of various angles):
    - SLR systems such as: Hasselblad, Bronica SQ, Kiev 60, Kiev 88
    - Mamiya C2, C220, C3, C330 TLRs

    6x4.5 (645) with removable lenses:
    - SLR systems such as the Mamiya M645 and Bronica ETRS

    6x7
    - SLR systems like Pentax 67
    - Rangefinders like the Mamiya 7


    Good hunting :smile:
     
  10. mabman

    mabman Member

    Messages:
    830
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2007
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Not sure what is meant by "live viewing" - the WLF on a TLR is a different way of seeing, and most show the image reversed right-to-left. It does mean that your eye isn't stuck against a viewfinder when composing, although you are looking down.

    As Rick said, if you want "blurred" (out-of-focus), you use a wider aperature and compensate for light levels with a faster shutter speed.
     
  11. Marvin

    Marvin Member

    Messages:
    373
    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2009
    Location:
    Hendersonvil
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would give a vote to the Bronica ETRSi as I have two with lenses and some accessories. Bronica lenses are also available at good prices on ebay or at KEH.
     
  12. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

    Messages:
    2,797
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Assembly is just buying the bits--no strain. A WLF on a 645 is a major pain for anything but landscape-oriented shots. Prism finders offer the same orientation flexibility as 35mm or DSLR cameras. The "live view' option is something 35mm SLR shooters managed to live happily without for decades with no ill effect. You won't magically get it via a WLF on an SLR--TLRs and rangefinders can do that since "viewing" and "taking" don't share the same optical path(with attendant advantages and disadvantages). Personally, I think nearly all affordable TLRs--with the exception of late model Mamiyas--aren't the best choice due mainly to age-related issues.
     
  13. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,621
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    CGW makes a valid point. These vintage cameras that might be had for $40 shipping included might have age issues like hardened grease that makes focusing hard, and slow or unreliable shutters.

    Before buying any vintage camera, you should pm the seller if the focus is smooth and the shutter operates at all speeds. I would avoid a seller who is unwilling to tell you how well the camera seems to operate.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. pbryld

    pbryld Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    Location:
    Denmark
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You are all very helpful! I will definitely take your advice into account.

    Would I benefit from trying to get a working TLR on here? :smile: Or is that the more expensive choice? I guess it would be a very reliable place to buy.
     
  16. Luseboy

    Luseboy Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Location:
    Marin, Calif
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a yashica A tlr, i'll send you a pm about it.
    But I'd say start out with a tlr and then move up to an slr. I first got a tlr, ran a roll through it, and somehow ended up being able to trade some stuff for my s2a kit. If you want an slr, the bronica s2 or s2a aka: the cheap man's hasselblad, is a very very nice camera and can be had for very inexpensive! If I were you though, i'd start with a tlr and move up in a year or whatever.
    -Austin
     
  17. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,689
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  18. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

    Messages:
    300
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2010
    Location:
    Guelph, Onta
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I assume what you mean by 'live view' is looking at a screen rather than through an eyepiece. Whichever you choose, you're still looking at a screen, the only difference is how the image on the screen gets to your eye.
     
  19. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,789
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Location:
    Elk, Califor
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    Keep in mind TLR is not as easy to use as SLR. The image is reversed left-right and may be difficult to see and focus when the sun is shining on the screen. Also, since it is a square, it will be more difficult to frame your rectangle picture. It is mostly a waist level camera, and not easy to shoot at eye level, or straight down.

    If you have $250 to spend I would recommend Mamiya 645E SLR w/80mm lens. Very easy to use and to see with.

    Jon
     
  20. Luseboy

    Luseboy Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Location:
    Marin, Calif
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    An slr image will be reversed too... unless you have a prism finder. Or unless my bronica is just wierd. But on my camera, with the chimney or wl finders, the image is reversed... I don't have a prism finder though.
    I acctually find that tlr's, or at least my yashica is easiest to shoot at eye level with the built in magnifier out. That's how I always shoot it.
     
  21. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,074
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    At today's prices you can get an inexpensive TLR and try it. If you don't like it you should be able to get most if not all of your money out of when you sell it.
    This assumes 1) it works when you buy it and 2) it's still working when you sell it.

    The one very important thing to watch for are prices. Some get very high on the bay and if you buy from a dealer remember, he has to make a living so the $$ will be a little more.
    Prices here tend to be below retail and most of the members will stand behind their sales.
     
  22. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,789
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Location:
    Elk, Califor
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    Good point about the magnifier, much easier to focus that way also. But that "eye level" is probably about a foot lower than prism/slr shooting, due to bending over to look in the magnifier and the lower lens on the TLR. Also, there is quite a bit of framing inaccuracy with a TLR due to parallax error, especially with close-ups.

    Jon
     
  23. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,689
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd simply say it's different. Not harder or easier.

    Cameras with waist level finders, TLRs, RB67s... provide other advantages.

    They are perfectly positioned for full length portraiture, they are much better suited to shots where a low perspective is wanted like flowers and kid photos.

    I took a bunch of shots at a bike race yesterday with my RbB67 and I got to point the camera up a bit (better view of the faces of the riders) with it on a monopod a little lower than my waist. I got to stand comfortably. If I had been using my prism finder I would have been on my knees or my butt on the asphalt. :sad:
     
  24. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,206
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nah. not at all. As someone else pointed out the reversal is due to the waist level finder not the TLR design An SLR with a WLF will also be reversed while a TLR with a prism (Mamiya made a prism finder for their TLRs and they seem to be pretty common) will not. The comment about "your rectangle picture" is bizarre. Who says your photo has to be a rectangle? Since getting my Yashica Mat I find I'm really liking the square format and it seems to fit a lot if my photos. When it doesn't I can visualize cropping to a rectangle easily. I find the WLF and ground glass a real benefit to composition as compared to my 35mm SLRs. The same is true to even larger degree with the inverted image on the GG of my 4x5 but that's another discussion.
     
  25. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,005
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd look at Mamiya 645, Bronica ETR, and Bronica SQ systems. I'd give the advantage to the SQ system, for the square format and flash synch capability.
     
  26. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,789
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Location:
    Elk, Califor
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    Um, the original poster indicated a preference for rectangle, see post #6. You rarely see a prism on a TLR, whereas most 645 SLR's have em. Not saying TLR is bad, but it does have some limitations.

    Jon