Help with choosing a camera, probably MF.

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by kbrede, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. kbrede

    kbrede Member

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    I'm starting to narrow down what I want to shoot, which is found abstracts and closeup scenes. Sometimes I'd need to be on my belly shooting, and sometimes the camera would be on a tripod. I'd be shooting in both urban and rural areas. Currently I'm shooting with a 50mm macro in 35mm. Occasionally I throw on a 28mm for a wider view. I usually like to get as much in focus area into the picture as I'm able.

    A few days ago I posted in the WTB section for a Rollei SL66. It's still on the list, but given the price, I thought I should do some more research. I'm also taking a look at the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. I'm also entertaining the thought of a smaller LF field camera but haven't looked too deeply into that.

    These are my thoughts so far.

    Rollei SL66: I'm not sure I'd like the square format, it seems kind of limiting. I like the fact you can reverse lenses and go macro, which I do occasionally. Like the close focus with the bellows. The tilt function interests me a lot, but I've never used a tilt, so I don't know how important it is. It's suppose to help add depth of focus, which would be a plus for me. Price is high, but if I have to go there, I will.

    Mamiya RZ67 Pro II: Has a rectangular format, which is a positive. Negatives are, no tilt and top shutter speed is 1/400. From what I understand it has a bellows and is good for close focus. The rotating back would be nice.

    From what I can gather LF would be the ideal close up camera in terms of image quality and flexibility of focus. But they also look like the most trouble shlepping around, as I wander looking for shots. I don't consider myself old, but I'm not a young guy either, and I've got a bad knee. In LF I've looked a bit at the Miniature Speed Graphic. This might work, except I don't think with a 120 back, the rangefinder would work for close focus shots. A SLR Graflex 3x4 was mentioned in another thread, but that chimney looks like it could be a pain. I also don't know if there's a viewfinder that would work with a 120 back.

    Any thoughts appreciated.
    Thanks,
     
  2. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

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    Another possibility...

    Another possibility might be a Mamiya TLR (C330 or any of the newer ones...).

    If the price is an issue, this is certainly a possibility: the only downside is that for close-up work, the "paramender" is a must: it's a device that goes on the tripod, and the camera gos on the paramender.
    More about the camera, and some helpful images:
    http://www.lumieresenboite.com/collection2.php?l=2&c=Mamiya_C330

    It will certaily cost less than an RB/RZ or the like, not to mention Rollei SL66. It has bellows, so close-ups are OK.
    The only downside is the fact that you need a paramender, and this might be an issue with shots on the ground level.

    It's not a perfect close-up camera, but is usable (and economical). It's square format, though, which you seem to dislike.

    As for the Miniature Speed Graphic, it's certainly a (cheap) option, and quite usable. The rangefinder can't be used for close-ups, though: it's strictly ground glas focussing for those situations. If you can get over that issue, it's probably the cheapest and most practical solution: you get the choice of 6x6, 6x7 (or 6x8) and 6x9 formats, depending on the back used. No parallax issues, and if you want to reduce the size/weight, you could probably use another model: either Century Graphic or a 2x3 Crown Graphic (those two don't have the focal plane shutter, which makes them much lighter and somewhat smaller/shallower) - but, on the other hand, you'll be using only shuttered lenses if you use either of those.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    The original idea of the 6x6 format was that you cropped the negative to 6x4.5. It was square so you could do both 6x4.5 landscape and 6x4.5 portrait without having to turn the camera on its side. It was never intended that you should keep the picture square and there is no reason why you should.
     
  4. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    If price is a consideration, why not look at a Kowa Super 66. Waist level and prism finders available. Extension tubes for close up work and prices that won't have you waiting for your next stimulus check. There are a couple of good kits on eBay currently. If price is not a concern, there are many good choices and with patience a deal can be found with mosst of them.
     
  5. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Frankly, I'd go with the Mamiya RB/RZ, given your stated preferences. The tilt feature on the Rollei SL66 is helpful when controlling depth-of-field at close focusing distances because it allows you to alter the plane of focus so you don't have to stop down as much to get the same subjects in focus. It's helpful with architecture and macro still-life, but if your subject isn't slow-moving enough to get away with using a tripod, then the tilt/swing won't be very helpful as it is hard to control hand-held.
     
  6. nicholai

    nicholai Member

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    I can only speak for RB67, but lets assume this goes for RZ67 as well, theyre really good close up cameras. You can even get _almost_ 2:1 magnification. Waist level finder is good, and it even has a metered prism finder. Lenses are superb. Revolving back is perfect. I do both belly and tripod shooting. The 50mm (which is wide angled here!) can do pretty good close up work on its own, with no rings. And wide-angle close-ups spells FUN.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The 140mm macro lens for either the RB67 or RZ67 is very nice to work with. It offers a good working distance, flat field performance down to 1/2 life size and greater magnification with the available extension tubes.

    This was shot using my RB67 and that lens, at about 1/2 life size:
     

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  8. nicholai

    nicholai Member

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    According to the manual of RB67, you can get 1.92/1 magnification with both extension tubes and the 90mm, at 7cm distance. Thats almost double life-size, allthough i suspect the macro lens to be able to get more with the tubes, and perhaps better resolution.
     
  9. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    As much as I like Rollei TLR, anything but a SLR probably will not work for your close-ups. Good luck!

    Vaughn
     
  10. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    The Macro wouldn't get you closer than the 90 would because it's a longer lens. Where it would excel though would be in overall image quality, flatness of field, and resolution at smaller apertures.
     
  11. thegman

    thegman Member

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    If you're OK with a range finder, Mamiya 7 and GF670 are well worth a look. The GF670 is about as portable as modern medium format gets.
     
  12. kbrede

    kbrede Member

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    Thanks all for the advice. :smile: Just to clarify, I don't do a ton of true macro. It's just that something I'm photographing close up, sometimes draws me in. Like the other day I was doing some close up shots of a fish I found on a lake shore. The next thing, I'm photographing fish scales.

    This question is going to reveal my ignorance. All my film cameras have at least 1/1000 shutter speed, at the top end. The Mamiya has a top shutter speed of 1/400. The Kowa, from what I can see is 1/500. I shoot at anytime of the day and usually have 400 ISO film loaded. I may be in bright sun or a darker ally. The 400 gives me flexibility. I was thinking 1/400 would be too slow for me, but if I got a couple backs, I could load one with 100 ISO and one with 400. I suppose I could also use an ND filter, if need be in the bright sun. Do you guys feel 1/400th of a second limits you in anyway? How do you handle bright sun and lower shutter speeds? I find myself 1/1000 at f/16 or higher sometimes. I don't often have to worry about freezing action too much, except trees and prairie grass, when I shoot landscapes in the wind.
    Thanks,
     
  13. thegman

    thegman Member

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    My Fotoman 69 maxes out at 1/500, my Hasselblad did too. In fact, I don't I've never had a medium format camera which went any faster. It's never been an issue for me. If you're shooting colour negative film, over exposing by a couple of stops is no big deal generally. It's a non issue for me, in fact 1/250 would likely be OK for me. If you're using slide film, where exposure is trickier, then ND filters may be the order of the day.
     
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  15. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    Can't think of when I last used ISO 400 film. And I am way north of Nebraska and have much less light to play with. Almost all my photography is done at ISO 100. Why do you need such a fast film somewhere that is so sunny?
     
  16. kbrede

    kbrede Member

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    Wooded areas or back alleys that block the sun. We often have cloud cover here as well. We also get a lot of wind in the plains, so higher shutter speeds help freeze trees or prairie grasses when using small aperatures. Early morning and dusk are also not very sunny. 400 ISO allows more flexibility for where and how I shoot.
     
  17. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Hasselblad with the 80mm lens. A 45° PME light meter prism. More lenses are available than for the Rollei;, service is available; lighter than the Mamiyas. Most of all, you will not regret it.
     
  18. kbrede

    kbrede Member

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    Which models would you recommend?
    Thanks,
     
  19. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have the 503 CX. I did not get the 503 CW because I will not have a need for a power film winder. I have not used the Classic, 501 C and 501 CM but I have been told that they are great. Check out the prices at www.keh.com, because they are conservative about their ratings, they can do repairs and they have a liberal return policy. I have never been disappointed with buying from them because the few times there was a problem they promptly corrected it, paid for my return postage and did not charge me for shipping for the replacement.

    I also have the 903 SWC, the 50mm, 80mm, 150mm and 250mm lenses. I am very happy with the sharpness and quality of the lenses.
     
  20. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    The Hasselblad is 6X6 but a 645 back is available. The TLR's are inconvenient with close-up work unless you have the
    paramender mentioned above.
    There's also a 645 and 6X8 back available for the RB's The prism finder is really heavy, both the metered and un-metered variety.
    One advantage to the leaf shutter is flash synch at all speeds so it may be more convenient if you want to use fill flash.
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I've been looking for a table of specifications for the Mamiya RZ lenses, but cannot seem to locate one with the information I wanted.

    I do have a copy of the table for Mamiya RB lenses, and it indicates that all of those lenses have a minimum aperture of either f/32 or f/45.

    So 400 ISO film is generally fine for them, even in bright sun.

    Remember too that with a 6x7 negative, you will start out with considerably less depth of field when compared to 35mm (assuming the same f/stop). So with the exception of those relatively rare circumstances when light levels are high, and you want razor thin depth of field, the 400 top speed isn't a big problem.

    It would be different if you wanted a shutter speed to stop high-speed action.
     
  22. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    This is the first I've heard that 6x6 format was intended to be cropped to 6x4.5, but was only made 6x6 so you wouldn't have to turn the camera on its side. Who's intent was it? Can you provide some historical evidence of this assertion? This is a challenge, but I hope you will consider it a polite one. I am not saying you are wrong, nor do I claim intimate knowledge of the history of film formats. But in my 30+ years of photography, I've never heard such a thing. If I you can back that up, then I will be grateful for the enlightenment.

    I think of square format as liberation from the constrictions of conventional landscape and portrait orientations. Square format lends itself to intimacy. I tend to compose more naturally according to the rule of thirds in square format than in rectangular formats. If I crop a square format image, it is because I flubbed the composition, and have to resort to cropping in order to salvage some interesting part of the image.
     
  23. SkipA

    SkipA Member

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    If you like the perspective you get from shooting while on your belly, and you like macro, I recommend an MF SLR. An LF camera is very tedious to use while lying on your belly. You could probably do it if you were 12 to 20 years old, but beyond that, you'll find an MF SLR easier to use.

    The RZ67 is a big and heavy MF camera. All 6X7 SLRs are big, and unwieldy. 6x7 rangefinder cameras are big, but you can handle them easily. For practical purposes, 99% of the time you will want a 6x7 on a tripod, just as you would a LF camera. If the ability to handhold is important, a Hasselblad or Bronical square format, or a 6x4.5 will be a better choice. You can't beat a Hasselblad, in my opinion.

    Rectangular format is useful. So is square. Don't worry so much about the format as the handling of the camera under the circumstances you plan to shoot in.

    BTW, the nearest I ever came to shooting a LF camera on my belly was when I set up my tripod in chest-deep water in a slow-moving river. I was able to stand upright, with the 4x5 camera just above the surface of the water, so I had a perspective resembling a belly shot. But aside from being wet, I was much more comfortable standing up than I would have been lying on my belly, and I was able to operate the camera normally. Cleaning all the mud out of my tripod was a bother.
     
  24. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    I cannot provide evidence of my assertion and do not have the time to research it. My understanding is that the square format was introduced for TLR cameras that cannot sensibly be used on their side. Whose intent? I suspect Franke & Heidecke came up with the idea. Were there 6x6 cameras before the Rolleiflex? Square is certainly not seen by artists in general as a good format for a picture and I cannot see a camera manufacturer coming up with square on artistic grounds.
     
  25. sbjornda

    sbjornda Member

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    No, you have to use the ground glass to focus. If you have the time, though, it works quite well and is not too heavy to shlep around. You might also consider the Pentax 6x7 or 67 series, which is quite convenient to work with "on the fly" and can be obtained quite cheaply in the used market these days. Top speed 1/1000, and there is a choice of viewfinders (eye-level or top down).
     
  26. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    That's another sweeping generalization about squares in art. While certainly less common than rectangles, there are plenty of squares out there, and even odder shapes like triangles, circles and ovals. If you're going to make an assertion that squares are not good for art, back it up.