Hasselblad, Bronica or Mamiya?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Andy K, Dec 19, 2007.

  1. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I have been dabbling with mf on and off for a couple of years using an old Agfa Isolette folder. Now I'm thinking to move up a step gearwise. There are many options as far as cameras go.
    My preferences:

    6x6 (I like the square and already have a 6x6 carrier for my enlarger)
    SLR

    I have seen some cameras (these are complete with lens, back and viewfinder), a Hasselblad 500CM, a Bronica SQAi and a Mamiya RZ67 with 6x6 back.

    The thing is I have absolutely no idea what the second hand 'going rate' is for these cameras. What is a reasonable price? Also which is preferable? Are there any quirks or glitches I should look out for?
     
  2. ijsbeer

    ijsbeer Member

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    Hello Andy,
    I can only speak of the Mamiya RZ and the Bronica SQAI. I've got a RZ because the 6x7 format suits me very good. A friend of mine owns a Bronica and it is a lot lighter and smaller. The reason I bought a RZ is for the 6x7 size, possible to add 6x4,5 and 6x6 backs and the super bellows. when you only want to shoot 6x6 maybe the RZ is a bit overkill. bought mine on KEH and some local sellingsites to add a 50mm and a spare back.
    just my 1 eurocent

    Cheers,

    ijsbeer
     
  3. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    You can't really go wrong with any of the brands you mention, particularly at today's prices. My personal brand loyalty was formed in the 1960s, when Bronica had a reputation for very noisy operation and high vibration levels, so I have never used this brand. I have Mamiya RB67, bought new (for reliability) about 12 years ago because I did not want to pay Hasselblad prices and because I wanted a 100% non-electronic camera (operation at low temperatures).

    Nowadays there is of course so much good secondhand MF gear on the market, you will still pay as much for a Hasselblad wide-angle lens as for a complete camera with standard lens but the price level is lower. I like my Mamiya lenses very much (except for the slight barrel distortion on the 50 mm), I think the Zeiss lenses for Hasselblad are fractionally better but there's not much in it. I think Hasselblad is the most durable brand if you are a very heavy user (hundreds of exposures a day) - I'm not now, so am quite satisfied with Mamiya.

    I leave it to Bronica users to tell you about this brand. I presume technical backup for Bronica will fall by the wayside first, since the brand has ceased to be, but I would think an example of any brand in good condition will stand up to light and careful use more or less indefinitely. In MF, I don't use sophisticated features like motor drive, built-in metering or TTL flash - in this respect, there are many detail differences between models.

    PS: Agree with previous poster, 6x6 cameras are much more compact and portable than Mamiya RB or RZ (or Pentax 67 or any other 6x7).
     
  4. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    If 6x6 is your goal, I don't think the RB would be a good choice, only because it's so much larger than the 6x6 cameras though.

    A Hasselblad 500C/M with a waist-level finder, 80 Planar and a back go for around $550 US and up over here. The average price is probably between 600 and 800. The C/M model is newer than the 500C but otherwise quite similar, the primary difference is that the C/M has an interchangeable focus screen that doesn't require tools. On the 500C's and C/M's you will get vignetting in the view finder with lenses 150 mm and longer, the newer Hasselblads have a redesigned mirror that eliminates this. For lenses, parts are no longer available for the "C" series shutters. However the newer lenses are a good bit more expensive. In optics you can choose between multicoated T* and non-multicoated the T* C lenses command a slight bit more money than the non multi-coated. The concensus seems to be that the optical performance is nearly the same. One of the strong points of the Hasselblad is that most accessories, lenses, finders, backs are compataible between the earliest to the latest bodies (the 5xx series anyway).

    If you are not used to the reflex viewing, any of these cameras will throw you off some if you don't use a prism finder, as everything is reversed right to left.

    If you don't need interchangeable lenses, a Rollei is worthwhile to consider too. They are a little lighter than the 6x6 SLR's and perhaps somewhat smaller, and not as complicated.
     
  5. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I like the 6x7 format, too, and have been shooting with an RZ lately. I have a 6x6 back for it, which is great. It's a very versatile camera, but, as others have said, that might be overkill for only 6x6.

    You might also think about the Mamiya 6, a rangefinder.

    As for pricing, I think the best place for guidance is the www.keh.com. Their prices might be a bit higher than you can manage with a little patience on e-bay, but they have a generous rating system, and a return policy.
     
  6. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Thank you all for your replies. They have all been very helpful! I find myself leaning towards Hasselblad, as funnily enough, of the three they seem to be the cheaper second hand option, and still appear to have some service support for their film cameras.

    Suzanne, I did have a look at KEH, but this, in their conditions for international sales and shipping:

    If you are a first time international customer or an existing international customer using a new credit card you must be verified prior to your order being shipped. Verification requires you to fax to (404) 892-1251 or email to sales@keh.com a copy of the front and back of the credit card, and your passport or drivers license along with your order number and telephone number.

    put me off. There is no way on Earth I am going to send information like that in an email to anyone!
     
  7. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Andy... I appreciate that using KEH as an international customer is far from ideal, but I think they are a good guide or benchmark for pricing.
     
  8. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    I've used Bronica SQA-i cameras and PS lenses for more than ten years, and naturally enough if I hadn't been happy with what they do I'd have changed long since. Hasselblad UK kindly lent me a new 501 for a while, but their generosity didn't extend to donation and I was forced to conclude that there was insufficient difference in the images to make a change worthwhile. I have no experience of the Mamiya but as with others I know they are big and heavy and unless you plan to use the 67 capability I really can't see much of a reason to choose this over the "native" 6x6 cameras.

    I like my Bronicas because they do what I want and nothing more. I have found them more intuitive and less quirky to use than a Hasselblad- though no doubt I'd have got used to that after a bit longer. Picking up on one or two of the points above. The SQA-i is battery dependent though four tiny button cells are no hardship to carry as spares and I've had no issues in cold weather - I've certainly used Bronicas happily down to -10C and maybe beyond. The ex European importer Intro2020 at Maidenhead offer a repair service using the same Japanes factory technician they had when selling new cameras, and there are independent repairers, certainly around London that can fix Bronicas. Obviously I don't know how long the former will go on. But todays low prices mean that this world has changed. Frankly for all but the simplest repairs or under a warranty, its about as cheap to replace rather than repair, keeping the broken one for spares. I can't say that my Bronicas have been 100% reliable, but neither are they forever needing to be fixed and they are robust enough to survive a lot of travel in less than ideal conditions in the care of someone who sees them as a tool rather than something to cherish. Certainly I don't share a view that they seem less robust than Hasselblad. The system contains everything most people need to make whatever images they want- most of it is available online without too long a wait. Personally I choose to use a hand-held spotmeter rather than the metering in my prisms, but thats a "fit with workflow" issue rather than the prisms being inaccurate.

    I'm entirely sure that you'd be just as happy with a Hasselblad - maybe happier if the badge on the front is remotely important. But it will cost you more- either in money or in the age/condition of the equipment you can buy with a fixed budget.

    If you think that looking at images on a computer screen will help, you can see photographs made with Bronicas on the gallery section of http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/ or in the featured photographer section of www.westcoastimaging.com- or indeed on my own site www.photography001.com though this latter is somewhat old now.
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I have had my RB67 for a year now and I think it's great. I bought it mainly because the 6x7 format is the same as the maximum my enlarger will go to - possibly not the best reason for buying something.

    Adding a left hand grip made it quite easy to use hand held with the waist level finder. I prefer a waist level finder to a prism finder and the rotating back makes this a possibility. If I wanted a vertical shot with my Bronica ETRS when using the waist level finder it was very difficult to aim properly.

    As others have said, choose any of the three you mentioned and I don't think you will be dissapointed. The build quality of the ETRS is good and if the RB67 didn't come along at the right time, I probably would have bought a Bronica SQ - almost the same as the ETRS but square format which I like.

    Although Suzanne's comment about buying from KEH may not seem like a good idea from the UK, we also have the current $2 - £1 exchange rate in our favour. Although those terms and conditions seem a bit over the top!


    Steve.
     
  10. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Yes it was useful to see their price list. I now have a target area for pricing.
     
  11. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    I bought a used 500cm kit begin this year because of the price. Quality of the lenses is great. before this i used a pentax 645,pentax 67 and a Bronica S2a in the medium format range. I prefer the quality of the zeiss lenses...
    Even with a extension tube the quality is very good. So macro work can be done with a non-macro lens for a few euros.
    There is an enormous amount of second hand stuff to get and prices are reasonable.

    -I always shoot from a tripod (landscapes,stilllife,portrait)
    -I measure the light with a spotmeter
    -I like the manual camera. Only to think about composition,shutterspeed and diafragm.
    -Weight is very low compaired to my other medium ofrmat cameras...
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The Bronica SQ series cameras handle very well. They are very light for MF and focus very easily. Add the grip with the winding lever and a prism, and it feels more like a 35mm SLR than other medium format cameras.

    With Hasselblad the attraction is the lenses, and you can put together a basic three-lens kit quite affordably these days. It's that fourth lens that gets costly. So if you like having a system with lots of accessories and lenses, I'd go for Bronica, but if you're happy with a 1-3 lens kit, go for Hasselblad. The Bronica stuff is cheap enough these days that you could even combine them, like have a 3-lens Hassy kit, and then get a Bronica if you want a 40mm or 300mm lens (the combined cost of the camera and body will be less than the comparable Zeiss lens alone).

    The Bronica I use is the older S2a, which is the one that had a reputation for being noisy, but I like the options for adapting lenses easily to this system, and it's all very affordable, so I've got about ten lenses (mostly Nikkor) from 40-500mm, five switchable 120/220 backs, grips, tilt-shift bellows, and other things. So the question becomes whether I can do more with an extensive system like this or with a smaller Hassy system with maybe three outstanding lenses and three backs (and in the case of the Nikkor 40mm/f:4, I'm not so sure the comparable Distagon of the same era is a better lens).
     
  13. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    Yeah, Andy. Hassy's are going for about $Holy Crap (at least on my budget). I've been watching them with a hope of one day, but no time soon so I'll just stick to my M645j Mamiya. I don't know about the Bronicas but the RZ's if I recall are going for upwards of $300.00 on eBay, less if you hit it right (body and maybe a 80mm or 110mm incl.)
     
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  15. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I looked at the three you mention a few years ago and decided on the Bronica SQ-A. The 6x7 of the RB was tempting, as was the built-in bellows but the sheer size of the beast was the killer for me. The Hassy was also tempting but whereas you could get a basic body and standard lens for the same sort of price as the others, the lenses were considerably more expensive - perhaps they have fallen further now; I've not looked at prices since.

    As said, the SQ-A/SQ-Ai is light and easily hand-holdable, but then, so is the Hassy, albeit a little heavier. The RB is noticeably larger and heavier but if you are looking to put it on a tripod most of the time that is not an issue and the larger neg might be the decider (assuming your enlarger can handle it) - no doubt you would get used to the weight after a while if hand-holding...

    The SQ-A has electronically timed leaf-shuttered lenses which is either good (accurate, flash sync at all speeds) or bad (needs a battery - only one manual speed) depending on your viewpoint... The SQ-Ai is essentially the same but with a metering prism instead of the WLF.

    Have fun, Bob.

    P.S. Apologies for nicking your idea re' signature :wink:
     
  16. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Bob, no worries! Just spent an enjoyable 15 minutes viewing your signature. What a beautiful voice!
     
  17. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I've seen Hasselblad kits (body, back, lens, prism) going for about £400 ($800US). Thats not bad. There are Bronicas in that price range too.
     
  18. keeds

    keeds Member

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    Depends on what you've "always wanted". You'll keep lusting over it till you've had it. You might find out that you don't like it once you've got it, but if you don't try it you'll "always want" it...
     
  19. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    Andy, I have had great experience with both a mamiya 6 and Hasselblad 6x6 systems. The mamiya 6 MF rangefinder is the quickest, quietest, and easiest to use system I own. The 3 lenses available to it are TACK sharp and as they are symmetrical designs and not retrofocal designs to work around the SLR mirrors of a Bronica, Hasselblad, or any of the MF SLR's, so they can be smaller, and create less distortion overall. The Mamiya is really suited for travel and quick shooting scenarios, and landscape type shots. It really sucks at close up and portrait work. Overall, it is a good system, but the winder is flawed, and can present some problems that there are no fixes for from Mamiya as parts are no longer made for the winder. They just cast this camera adrift for some reason. It was probably one of their best ever cameras and they just gave up on it. Oh well. Ebay sees this system commanding very high prices... Deservedly so.

    The hasselblad system I have is just a versatile though. With the same 3 focal lengths covered, standard, wide, and mild tele, you can do everything with it. The Blad is bulkier, noisy, and heavy. Lens quality is superb, yet I still feel the mamiya 6 lenses are sharper! But it's tough to see without lab equipment!

    The Blad is also solid, built like a tank and just a joy to use. Everything about it suggests quality. If you stick with the later CF lenses or keep your older C lenses exercised regularly, problems should be mimimal, but can still happen. The 50mm Cfi FLE lens is just stunning as it corrects some known issues with C and CF versions. I doubt there is much between this and the mamiya 6 50mm. The CF FLE, and CFi lenses can close focus down to 19" and the CFi has the latest coatings, and floating lens elements that allow the user to choose where the front elements will sit relative to subject distance. It optimizes the quality, and elliminates edge softness on closer subjects that was prone to happen on earlier lenses.

    As for the Bronica systems. I have no experience on these. I have heard that the Bronica RF system has a good following, and that the ETRSi and SQA are good systems, but also not without occasional problems.

    I would stick with Hasselblad for all around versatility, and longevity, but it all depends on what you need your system to do, work in extreme low temps (mamiya RF will die due to battery freezing!), shooting style, conditions of shooting etc.
     
  20. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I fully understand why it put you off... but it is no different than many merchants ask when one makes credit card purchases in person. The difference, of course, is that you aren't there to see them. I understand how that might make you reluctant. There are numerous "testimonials" that you have probably seen on APUG and elsewhere about KEH. If I were to fax informaiton to anyone, KEH would be one of the merchants I'd be least concerned about having problems with.

    That being said, the two time I have had my credit card information abused has been with in-person sales... so anything could happen.
     
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    If the gear is in good shape... grab it! You'll probably have no regrets. Check the gear out carefully, however, since a lot of the Hassy hitting hte streets has either been "used to death" or has been sitting around for a while in storage.
     
  22. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Brian, the difference is people being asked to send that information via email. Thats a very insecure way to send information. Surely it would be just as easy to verify in a secure payment server.
     
  23. KWhitmore

    KWhitmore Member

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    Hi Andy. I've done some ordering from KEH as an international first time customer (Canada) and I didn't have to fax any info to them at all. I remember reading that bit about verification on their website but my transaction with them was like any other credit card purchase on the internet. Best thing to do would be to call them if you're unsure. They're very helpful that way. Good luck.

    Kathy
     
  24. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Yes... you are correct (of course). Now that you mention it, I just bought an item from KEH and I believe they verified my CC using a secure payment server in a matter of milliseconds. No questions asked, etc, etc. I wonder why the difference for international orders. Perhaps they think they can send a goon to LA easier than to the UK if they get stiffed (that's US talk for 'not payed')????
     
  25. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    IIRC, KEH has a note somewhere on their site saying that their International credit card procedure isn't necessary for Canadians. I didn't find the note until I talked to them about it on the telephone.

    I agree with the suggestion to call them. They are great on the phone, but not so great with email.

    Matt
     
  26. Paul.

    Paul. Member

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    Andy on your original question I went for the Hasselblad for all the usual reasons, mine cost £500 and have since added extra backs and a 180 cf lens.The older c lenses can still be repaired by a lot of independent repairers this includes the shutter and its main spring the bit that Hasselblad no longer have as they sold them all off to the independents. I recently [ October this year] had my 500CM body repaired after jamming the rear curtain, repair and a full service with 6 months garentee cost me £ 96 all in includeing postage through a local camera dealer.
    I have never regreted buying mine and it truely is a joy to use.

    Regards Paul.