I need your help, please

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by ~JB~, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. ~JB~

    ~JB~ Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi,

    I am a senior in high school at a boarding school in Maine. A couple of summers ago, I became interested in photography, and has recently become a passion. Last May, I went to Manhattan, NY with my family on vacation. In 3 days I shot 14 rolls of film with my Minolta XTsi that I got a couple of years before. My dad realized as a cost saving measure, it would be a good idea for a present (Christmas, Birthday, etc, combined) to get me a Minolta 5D. We bought it on the "grey market", and I ended up with the Japanese version.

    Anyways, since then, I have enrolled in my schools photo lab, where I spend 1-2 hours during school and 3 hours after every day. I develop and print my own black and white film, 35mm and 120 (I am borrowing a Holga from my teacher). I have fallen in love with the medium format camera/film. I have been planning on purchasing my own medium format camera, but I don't know what to get.

    I have done a lot of research, but I think I need some specific help. I have an extremely small budget, ?$300. I have wanted a Hasselblad 500CM, but I don't know if the expense is worth it. I have 2 other ideas for cameras, the Bronica SQA(i) or the ETRS. Here are my thoughts...

    I need a camera that will be reliable, ease to use, able to take some handheld pictures because I don't always have my tripod, affordable accessories/cost of repair, easy to switch backs (I really want to get a polaroid back), and durable enough to last long. Basically I need the "perfect" camera, thats how it feels.

    I don't really like 35mm because I feel like I take more candid photos. I found with the Holga that since I only have 12 photos, I need to slow down and think before I shoot. I love the square format.

    Couple of questions...
    Let's say I bought the Hasselblad, is it only 6x6? I don't know if I'd rather have that then 6x7.
    Should I get a special case for the camera?
    Can I get free manual on how to use it? Or maybe a guide to using medium format cameras.

    Sorry for such a long post, I just would like to get as many questions answered as possible.

    Thanks,
    ~JB~

    PS You can see my photos here. I have a lot of more candid photos recently uploaded, but feel free to comment; I'd love it.
     
  2. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,842
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Location:
    Rotterdam, T
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2006
  3. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

    Messages:
    744
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Wellington,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In which case, the Bronica SQ-A/B makes a good case for itself. Good lenses, proper system camera and all parts of the system are reasonably priced.

    If you want to go to 6x7, then something like the Mamiya RB or Bronica GS series may suit. These won't be so easy to handhold though!
     
  4. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,095
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    JB, I looked at your B&W folio, quite good.

    I really liked Mrs Cugini, Dani & the Sunflower along with Dani sitting and facing the camera looking from the right of the picture to the left, but at the camera. It's a vertical cropping with plenty of sky.

    I would think it may be better for you to walk before you run. Medium format (MF) with Polaroid capability, will be reasonably expensive to run, compared to a bare bones MF camera.

    Possibly, you may care to look reasonably closely to the Mamiya TLR cameras. C220, C330 and like. These cameras will give you the 6x6 format you desire and have interchangeable lenses. They really are quite hand holdable, not light, but alright. No Polaroid back though.

    Mick.
     
  5. Wayne R. Scott

    Wayne R. Scott Member

    Messages:
    119
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    JB,

    The Bronica ETR series of cameras are 645 format, if you want 6x6 the Bronica SQ series are 6x6 format. I would add the speed grip for hand holding the SQ, it makes it handle like a very large 35mm.

    The twin lens reflex cameras are also a good option for hand holding. The Mamiya 220 and 330 series cameras have interchangeable lens, but they are very heavy. Other tlrs to consider are the Minolta Autocord, Yashicamat, Yashicamat 124, Yashicamat 124gG, Rolleicord and of course the Rollieflex models. I'm not sure $300 will get get you a working Rolleiflex though.

    If it were me, I would buy a Minolta Autocord or one of the Yashicamats for $100 to $150 and spend the balance of my budget on a CLA of that camera.

    Good luck in your shopping.

    Wayne
     
  6. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Westminster,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Why not look at a used Mamiya 7 rangefinder camera. It is a 6x7 format and has great optics. As a rangefinder it is very lightweight, so very handholdable.

    They also made a Mamiya 6 rangefinder which is a 6x6 format.

    No need for additional backs 'cause the film drops in like 35-mm.

    Just a thought.

    If they are too expensive, try one of these:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/MAMIYA-SUPER-23...68QQihZ004QQcategoryZ3352QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
     
  7. Ted Harris

    Ted Harris Subscriber

    Messages:
    299
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2003
    Location:
    New Hampshir
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    You said your budget was in the $300 range and that you wanted 6x7. 6x7 systems are way less common than 6x6 but the Mamiya RB system is 6x7 and has been a mainstay of professional photographers for several decades which means that there is lots of used equipment at a very reasonable price. An RB67 with the standard 127mm lens should come in at just about your price. I sugget you look at a reputable dealer rather than buying at auction though as these are often 'rode hard and put up wet.' Best bet is to call Jim at Midwest Photo (1-614-261-1264) and tell him what you need and make sure he knows you are a student. You won't wrong with Midwest and if you don't like what you get can return it.

    BTW, if you can find a way to get from Freyburg to my studio in Enfield, NH .... about an hour and a half ... we always welcome students at our workshops.
     
  8. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,956
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Based on you portfolio, you're off to a very good start.

    You'll get a lot of comments, perhaps some of them contradictory, but here are mine.

    The first point I'll make is to ask you to reconsider whether you want a medium format camera. Not because it's a bad choice but as a matter of prioritization. With a limited budget, will you still have enough funds to purchase the film and paper you need? And could you get greater creative value from, for example, a light meter or tribod?

    You mentioned you want to encourage yourself to slow down and think before you shoot. I can think of 4 things that will really help you do that:
    1. A tripod. It forces you to take more time a be more careful with composition.
    2. A handheld lightmeter. Measuring light from different angles and on different places in/on the subject.
    3. A waist level finder. It helps you visualize as the image will look in 2 dimensions.
    4. A pad and paper. Taking notes as compose and measure light.

    But assuming you've answered that question and decided a medium format camera is best for you, then here are my thoughts, based on your approximately $300 budget.

    First, allocate $15-30 for a basic light meter if you don't already have one. Many/most medium format camera's don't have a light meter. And if they do (i.e. a meter prism) then they will cost more.

    Recognize that many medium format cameras use lenses with leaf shutters. So much of the cost of the equipment is the lens, not the body. So a Hasselblad 500cm body is relatively cheap, but the cost of lenses are quite high in comparison.

    The most bang for the buck will be the Mamiya 220 series TLR cameras. Well built, relatively cheap, and affordable lenses. But be careful about the "chrome" lenses with Seikosha shutters - they will be old and part are not available. Still very usable if working, but don't pay too much. The Mamiya press cameras, like the Super 23 mentioned above, fall in the same catagory. And with the same caveot on lenses.

    With the Yashicamat mentioned above, you pay less, lose the opportunity for interchangeable lenses, and get a lighter camera. Not necessarily a bad tradeoff. I've seen a lot of very good pictures from these cameras. Keep in mind that if you buy carefully and take decent care of it, you can sell it when you want to move on to something else and get most/all of your money back.

    As much as I like my Hasselblad (an older 500C), I suggest staying away. I don't think you'll find even the most basic camera (body, 12 back, waist level finder, 80mm "C" lens) for $300. And even if you get close, it's likely to be so heavily used that you'll need to budget $100-200 for maintenace repairs and cleaning (a Clean-lube-adjust or CLA) for body and lens.

    The Bronicas are also good choices. But I'd take a look at the Mamiya 645 series (even though they are not square format). They are relatively inexpensive and IIRC do not use leaf shutters (making additional lenses more affordable). And the 6x4.5 format lowers your film cost by 20% while still allowing you to crop for square format and still have a larger than 35mm negative. I've seen Mamiya 645 1000s models with 80mm lens and insert for prices well within your budget. But you need to make sure they're not too worn.

    BTW, you don't need a special case. Ask around, check Craigslist (if available in your area) and find a old Tamrac, Lowe, etc case that fits. If you prefer a hard case, find an appropriately sized suitcase that you can use with grey foam (make sure it's not the more common white foam that will crumble over time). This also has the advantage of discouraging theft - who wants an old suitcase filled with dirty socks.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2006
  9. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,390
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Some of us consider the Holga as a fad, not a serious camera. You might get one of the inexpensive, but capable, TLRs while you're deciding where to put a more significant amount of money. The Yashicamat is often recommended as a starter camera. The older Yashica models D or 635 with the Yashinon lens aren't quite as convenient, but make just as good images as later models. I've found Yashicas to be somewhat unreliable, but still worthwhile. The Mamiya TLR has a better reputation.

    If photography, especially B&W, is truely a passion, you might consider large format. An entry level press or 4x5 view camera with the necessary accessories is within your budget. You'd need access to either a darkroom with a 4x5 enlarger or a scanner with a 4x5 transparancy adaptor, though. Large format photography tends to be slow, deliberate, and precise. It's not compatable with most family vacations. Large format photography is almost always done with a tripod, which may sometimes be impractical or prohibited. It does help one eliminate problems with composition, camera movement, etc.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2006
  10. fpjohn

    fpjohn Member

    Messages:
    41
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2005
    Location:
    Grand Falls,
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Hello:

    An alternative is to find a good example of a Century or Baby Graphic.6x6, 6x7 and 6x9 backs are available. Try for a Horseman back as these are best for film flatness. A camera with back and a Xenar or Tessar, 80 or 100mm, can often be had for less than $300.

    Yashica and Minolta TLRs are good choices if you accept a fixed lens camera.

    Yours
    Frank
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2006
  11. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    Boston area
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nice work, JB. I work in a private (day) school in Boston. Nice to see a boarding school student this connected to traditional photography.

    You might want to try out one of the less expensive TLR cameras before you invest in anything. There are a lot of Yashica, Rolleicord and others like Ricoh and even Zeiss or Voigtlander out there that will give you a feel for the waist level finder and the square format (with a real lens.)
    Here is one of the last mentioned. As you can see, not big bucks. And here's a Ricoh. Yashica and Rolliecord are more expensive, but (probably) worth it. I know the Yashica'a I have given students have been used for some great work. I'm partial to Rolleiflex.

    Whatever you buy, if it's well used, may need a little CLA. Count on that in pricing before you blow the entire wad on a camera.

    You will want to follow the good advice of those who have spoken before me, to be sure. And these cameras should not be considered in any way a match for the Mamiya or the Bronica mentioned there. I just wonder if spending $300 might be put off until you really do decide whether you want eye-level/waist-level, 6x6/6x7, etc. The fun is in the experimentation.

    Good luck, and welcome to the endless fascination of photography.
     
  12. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,678
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Chicago
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The Yashicamat/Rolleicord/other good TLR would be the way I'd go. Actually, it was the way I went (!). If you can find one that had an overhaul in the last 5 years that would even be better. Having a light weight, small medium format is something you will always appreciate even if you do move into interchangable lens cameras. If you go that way, definitely find a proper hood for it. Unless you get a Yashicamat 124G, you will need to get a lightmeter. A handheld light meter is a great learning experience so I would not shy away from them....you also get more accurate readings since you need to think about what you are actually metering! You will give up interchangable backs, but a 6x6 poloroid is pretty small anyway plus a $300 SQ-A or Hasselblad will have a lot of miles on it and probably require another $300 worth of overhaul.

    So, the camera will be $100-150 and the light meter $30-50. This leaves enough money for a reasonable amount of film or an overhaul (about $100) if needed.

    Have fun - Mark
     
  13. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

    Messages:
    1,897
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Location:
    Saint Paul, MN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am a big fan of the Mamiya RB67 and 645. The 645 has significantly smaller negatives, but is pretty good for handholding. You should be able to get a 645 Super with a winder (mostly for handholding, it is a perfect grip) back and 80mm lens for less than your $300 budget. (I just checked KEH.com and they have that kit with an AE prism for $278.)

    The RB should be around the same price range, and the lenses are really inexpensive, even though they all have leaf shutters in them. It is not as easy to hand hold and is pretty heavy. The rotating back is amazing for working on a tripod and with a waist level finder. I would not bother with a metered prism for the RB. I use my RB almost exclusively now, I love the rotating back and almost always shoot on a tripod. It is not all that bad for hand holding, but certainly not a light and easy to hold camera like the 645.
     
  14. GoGo

    GoGo Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Location:
    40.94N -73.8
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    keep in mind

    Remember to ask yourself if portability is important and choose your camera with this in mind. Many MF cameras are available some are more suited to being used in a studio setting rather than wandering about shooting hand held.
     
  15. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

    Messages:
    4,090
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Location:
    NYC or Copak
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I second Ted's thoughts here on using a dealer vs. the auction site. In that regard, another possibility is KEH (they advertise here so there is a link). See what each dealer wants, and like Ted advises, mention you're a student. They may give you a discount and/or throw in some rolls of film etc. :wink:
     
  16. DBP

    DBP Member

    Messages:
    1,896
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    Location:
    Alexandria,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would definitely recommend trying a TLR first. One of the models not yet mentioned is the Flexaret, which has somewhat odd handling comparatively, but pretty good optics in most versions. I would not search too hard for a Yashicamat 124G, because it is so often recommended as a cheap option that it tends to sell for quite a bit more than the Yashica 12, Minolta Autocord, and many other equivalent cameras. TLRs also have other advantages which have been discussed at length in prior threads.
     
  17. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

    Messages:
    2,659
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2004
    Location:
    Phoeinx Ariz
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you think a TLR will work for you look at Yaschia D, much easer to do double exposures than a Mat. You can also find Rollicords in the $300 range. Another option is a Koni Omega or Mamyia Press, rangefinders, 6X7 or 6X9 which very good lens, both have a limited number of interchangable lens. But compared to a TLR, somewhat heavy.
     
  18. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

    Messages:
    775
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    A Mamiya RB would be hard to beat for MF. The Mamiya 645 is also very nice, but as mentioned has a smaller negative. You don't need to get the newer Super or Pro 645 bodies, the older 1000s is a great camera, but might actually cost more to buy. I have a 1000s, 645 Super, and 645 Pro all with prism viewfinders, and waist level finders. The winders are nice, but can be loud. The wider for Super/Pro that is the most quiet is the one that takes the 2cr battery, for the older bodies you will need to service it to reduce the noise with a good application od teflon bearing grease (cut the noise in half for mine that was purchased new). The RB and newer 645 cameras have removable film backs which will let you change film types in mid roll be using a second or third back. They will also let you buy older digital backs to use for your digital needs.

    I like the 1000s, but sometimes you need to have the ability to change to a different roll without wasting the remaining exposures, so the film backs can be very handy.

    I also have a few TLRs which I like, and slowly getting into pinhole cameras. My pinhole camera is based on the Mamiya 645 film backs, so it only required building the "lens" half. You could build the same thing for the RB backs (or really any film back).

    And then some people have had great luck with the Kiev 88 system, so that might be another choice.

    Summary, the 645 would be good, the RB would be great, the Kiev might also be good. TLRs would be limited to the single lens that attached (or add on lenses) and I would suggest a Yashica 635 to keep things simple, though the Flexaret looks interesting so I might buy one of those in the future.
     
  19. eddie gunks

    eddie gunks Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Saugerties,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    hey,
    i started with a mamiya 645 but then i decided i wanted a 6x7. so i got an RB pro s. best decision i ever made! i love my RB. it was cheap too. like $350 ready to shoot from KEH.com. i have made 24x30 in prints on a regular basis and they are stunning. enjoy.

    eddie
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,971
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi jb

    tlr's are nice, but sometimes looking down, and moving back and forth in the opposite direction from where you are looking can be a pain. a blad is nice too, but lenses and service can cost a small fortune.


    if you can do without a polaroid back and only one lens you might consider a medium format rangefinder / folder. the glass is beautiful they often come with a 5-leaf shutter so it sync's at any speed, and it is portable.
    you can find refurbished and beautiful cameras here: http://www.certo6.com/

    good luck!
    john
     
  21. avandesande

    avandesande Member

    Messages:
    1,246
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Tijeras, NM
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    All of you have been so kind in narrowing down his choices!