Looking for first rangefinder, not sure between a 35mm or medium format

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by rjas, Nov 1, 2006.

  1. rjas

    rjas Member

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    I'm going travelling sometime soon and I'm not planning to return home within any short number of years, so I've got some thinking to do about camera choices. I already own a 35mm outfit that I don't use as much as I used to, which I was planning to sell before I left, as well as a Hasselblad 500 system that I am in love with but I can see that hauling it in a small backpack would be troublesome, so I've resigned to having to sell it off before I go.

    I love the 6x6 negative and am constantly amazed by the results I get over the 35mm size negative. Are there any Medium format rangefinders (6 x 4.5 , 6 x 6, I assume 6x7 is huge) that are comparable in size to 35mm rangefinders? Are there close focussing issues with rangefinders as there are with Hasselblad lenses without extension tubes?

    Would appreciate some advice as it's impossible to try anything out locally, and I wouldn't fancy selling the 500c/m only to purchase a medium format rangefinder that is nearly the same size and weight.

    Weight and size are the main issues. Only plan to take 2 or 3 lenses, (thinking in 35mm terms here) #1: 28mm wideangle, #2: 50 standard and perhaps something like a 135mm if I can manage to make the room. I don't want something new and expensive as it will probably be stuffed into a duffel bag or stolen if I do too much tropical acid and join the foreign legion.
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The Bronica 645RF system is just a little bigger than a 35mm rangefinder, and is probably just what you're looking for, if you can find one.

    The Mamiya 7II is not really that huge--more like a pro 35mm SLR with a motor drive.

    Rangefinders in general have close focusing issues. If close focus is important to you, keep your Hassy.
     
  3. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    I often carry a Bronica Rf645 with 45, 65, and 100mm lenses (approx. equiv to 28, 40, and 60mm on 35mm camera). It's light weight and compact and the lenses are really fantastic. Be warned, though, that the 100mm is hard to find. But it is possible as I found one. Pries are pretty reasonable, too. You can find a body and 65mm lens for between $600 and $800. The 45mm will set you back about $400. And the 100mm (that I paid $525 for) recently sold for $1,400 at auction.
     
  4. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Not to mention there always bargains to be picked up here and there. A couple of years ago I got an old MF bellows type camera made in post war Germany. It is a Wirgin. It has a 3.5-16 lens (don't have it in front of me, not sure the make), shutter cable attachment, 1/4-28 thread on the bottom, 6x6 format for about $15 US plus s&h and is handy as h e double hockey sticks when I don't feel like lugging my Mamiya around. So there are lots of options both premium and economic.
     
  5. rjas

    rjas Member

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    The bronica 645 really does look like what I want.
     
  6. rjas

    rjas Member

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    Thats exactly what I was trying to get away from, I don't want to pay collectors prices for a camera I will actually use. I guess there is no new market for these as bronica is out of business?
     
  7. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Unfortunately, as far as I know, Mamiya is now gone as well since their business was to have been sold in September. :sad: I will drop by the Mamiya (MAC) booth on Saturday at Photo Plus to see what they are doing besides importing other lines of equipment. It will be interesting to see what happens with the price of Mamiya equipment under these circumstances.

    Rich
     
  8. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    Please give an update - I didn't know Mamiya would be discontinuing operations?

    Or is it Mamiya USA? Mamiya USA tried to charge a large premium over other countries, which in the age of eBay isn't viable....
     
  9. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Here's one question for you: Will you consistently have access to electricity? Or would you rather have a camera that doesn't depend on batteries?

    If you go the folder route, you could easily take that, a sackful of film and a selenium meter and not have to worry about running out of battery power just when you least want to.

    Many of the folders are relatively light in weight and fold into a compact package. You give up interchangeable lenses, which could be a big issue if you really would like to be able to switch to different focal lengths.
     
  10. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Bromo33333,

    Here is the thread that we discussed this situation earlier in the year:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=27043&highlight=mamiya+business

    Mamiya was to have sold their photo group and were to go out of the manufacturing of cameras in September.

    Here are 2 press releases from Lorenzo from MAC:

    http://www.mamiya.com/assets/pdfs/Mamiya_Cosmo_Digital.pdf

    http://www.mamiya.com/assets/pdfs/Mamiya_Digital_Imaging.pdf

    Reading the 2nd press release, maybe they will continue to exist after all, but I will again check with MAC at Photo Plus.

    Rich
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2006
  11. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    I have always been attracted to MF folders - but never had the chance to get one (one that has been restored). I think that ought to be a good choice, though I hear that you end up zone focusing more than with some other cameras.
     
  12. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Mamiya was fat'n'happy at photokina and indeed introduced new products. The reports of their death are, to use the old cliche, greatly exaggerated.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I've had LOTS of these over the last 40 years and there are very few that I would give house-room. Above all, avoid any that have front-cell focusing (I've never found a sharp one yet) -- and that's assuming that the front struts are still rigid, 40 or 50 years on. The only one I'd really like (I've used one, but never owned one) is the Japanese Plaubel Makina doppel-klapp with the 80 Nikkor. These go for serious money.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
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  15. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Quite honestly, there's no contest: 35mm is ALWAYS smaller, lighter and more convenient, and this is multiplied when you add more lenses. Yes, the big neg is nice, but the camera will always be at least twice the volume and weight, often more. My wife Frances Schultz and I travel a lot -- as much as we can afford in terms of both time and money -- by car, air and motorcycle, and in the last, space and weight are at a real premium. You can see a lot of our pictures in www.rogerandfrances.com, both in the galleries and in the Photo School.

    The only easy way to get close focus (or to be more accurate, a decent sized image on the film) is with a 90mm lens. These usually focus to 1 metre or so and allow maybe 1/10 life size on the film. Convenient close focus with MF RF: forget it.

    Given your proposed 'living rough' style, durability will also be an issue. A second-hand M-series Leica is the only RF I'd consider in your situation, probably an M2 with Voigtlander lenses to save money (and maybe bulk). I'd go for 35/1.7 (for compact speed), 50/2.5 and 90/3.5 (compactness and light weight in both cases). Also, all three take 39mm filters. The 28/1.9 is good if you insist upon 28 but is much bigger and heavier and takes bigger filters: in that case I'd be inclined to go for 28/3.5 Voigtlander, 50/2 Summicron or Heliar (your fast lens) and 90/3.5 again. Thios would once more allow you to stick withl 39mm filters. A 135 will be too big and heavy.

    You might care to look for a copy of RANGEFINDER (GMC Publications, Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz -- ISBN 1-86108-330-0, further information on the website if you click on 'Books').

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  16. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    The Bronica RF645 should suit you very well. Not too big, not too heavy, great lenses and proper sized film :wink: There are enough that come up for sale through ebay and other online sellers, some being sold with both 45 & 65m lenses. It is only the 100 (or 135mm) that is expensive.

    When we were travelling quite a bit, I always packed an old folder or two. I almost always took the Iskra - easy to carry, great lens, coupled RF, 1m close focus and "auto" film advance.

    Having said all that, film availability would favour the 35mm route.
     
  17. rjas

    rjas Member

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    I would really like to have the option of a wide angle and a normal or normal - telephoto. sometimes you just cant get close enough. The size of a folder is great, I'd just like more than one lens.
     
  18. rjas

    rjas Member

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    Thanks for the information and the book ref. I was fearing that 35mm would have to be the way to go. I'm just getting way too spoiled by silky smooth enlargments from 6x6. I've almost forgotten that a year ago I was printing only 35mm negs 6"x9" and saying to myself that I'd never need to print bigger for the kind of work I do!

    I've got some time to decide. I'll be looking for a Bronica Rf645 but if I can't get one for a reasonable price I think I'll take a compact 35mm.

    Thanks everyone!
     
  19. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    For 'silky smooth' from 35mm try XP2 also...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  20. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I partly agree with Roger Hicks in that for extended travel a small solid 35mm takes some beating. Bear in mind the amound of frames you anticipate shooting and how you will deal with them. Certainly at 36 frames per roll, a 35mm will result in far less bulky film requirements.

    As for MF, if this is your preferred route I would go for the RF645 every time over the Mamiya 7 IF and ONLY IF you do not shoot longer than std lenses. The camera is great (I have two bodies, 45mm and 65) but the 100 and 135 are becoming like hens teeth and very expensive. A leica M will me more rugged and less prone to rangefinder issues than a Mamiya 7 from what I read.

    My call. Leica M for 35mm or Mamiya 7/RF645 for MF.
     
  21. Will S

    Will S Member

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    Or a Bessa R3M if you want an inexpensive manual rangefinder....
     
  22. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I love my mamiya 6- absolutely adore it. The compactness of it really makes it easier to travel with than a 35mm SLR. I enjoy shooting squares. I had no idea how much the aspect ratio of the VF would influence my framing until I started shooting squares... I really prefer it now.

    The lens selection for the mamiya 7 and 7ii is better- you can go wider and longer, but having tried all of the mamiyas, I still prefer the 6. The biggest difference between them, beside lenses, is the metering. For really critical stuff I have my hand meter anyway.

    The extra cm of film is nothing at all; I personally prefer shooting square and cropping to 645 in portrait or landscape orientation. But if pano is your thing then you'd be better with a 7ii or perhaps the fuji gsw690 which of course gives 6x9cm negs through a very wide lens. But the fuji is a rarety now, the price is starting to approach that of the mamiyas and it is a fixed lens RF with no frills!

    If I have any gripe about the mamiyas it's that the glass isn't fast, typically f/4. But for what I do with the 6, landscape and such, it is perfect. I do a lot of IR stuff and for that I love the medium format RFs. Unlike with 35mm camera, you can work up to ISO 3200 or even 6400 and grain won't kill your shot. Of course the 35mm RFs can take glass that is at least two stops faster, so it's a trade off. indeed there are some shots that can only be gotten with a 35mm RF, and I still deploy mine now and then. But unless you work mostly in low available light, the medium format RFs will generate far superior enlargements. I mean, in sunny 16 light, the difference between a 35mm chrome and a medium format one is really astounding, the MF chrome really almost rivals 4x5" large format in terms of detail.

    Say here's an idea, go nuts and get a crown graphic, and get a roll film holder for it. Then you can shoot up to 6x12cm on roll film. The total cost will be about $500-600 and you can shoot 4x5" when you feel like it. I love my old crown.
     
  23. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    I would chime in that Voigtlander, Leica and Zeiss Ikon all make very fine 35mm rangefinders and the lenses are interchangeable amongst them. The Leica has the best reputation, but the others are significantly cheaper. Especially new, but also used.

    Leicas have a deserved reputation of lasting just about forever if you are willing to have them serviced every so often (though some have been beat to heck and hold up without this). And you can get them serviced.

    I bought Zeiss Ikon because I wanted new, and couldn't handle a new Leica price tag. (I live far enough away that I couldn't handle any used Leica equipment and would have to buy sight unseen, which I did not want to do).
     
  24. Karl K

    Karl K Subscriber

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    Say here's an idea, go nuts and get a crown graphic, and get a roll film holder for it. Then you can shoot up to 6x12cm on roll film. The total cost will be about $500-600 and you can shoot 4x5" when you feel like it. I love my old crown.[/QUOTE]

    Kindly inform me as to the make and model of 6x12cm roll film holder that will fit my 4x5 Crown, which has a standard Graflock fit. I'd love to use 120 film and get the 6x12 format. Which lens is recommended for extra wide angle coverage?
     
  25. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    The cheap route is to get one of the Chinese roll film holders. Shen Hao make one, as do Da Yi, Guo Hua and several others. Some are fixed 6x12, some have masks to allow you to shoot 6x6, 6x9 and 6x12. There are also holders up to 6x17.

    If you want to spend a great deal more money, there are many others (Horseman, etc)
     
  26. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Kindly inform me as to the make and model of 6x12cm roll film holder that will fit my 4x5 Crown, which has a standard Graflock fit. I'd love to use 120 film and get the 6x12 format. Which lens is recommended for extra wide angle coverage? [/QUOTE]

    Well, it perhaps isn't your idea of "extra" wide, but I have been using a 90/8 Schneider and you can certainly go wider but probably not without some difficulty because the lens has to sit inside the "box" and then you have to focus by scooting it by hand. If you have used a crown you'll know what I mean. Anyway, I think you could probably work with a much wider lens if you don't mind awkward focusing, and of course you'd have virtually no movements. I also recall some nutjob fitting a fisheye for an rb67 on his crown, which I have been tinkering with but haven't had time to get in the shop and make the mount. That would permit capture of the full image circle on 4x5 film. I am still not sure whether it's worth doing :wink:

    As for the 612 back, someone on here referred me to the Chinese-made one labeled Da Yi that goes for about $220 on ebay. Please don't take this as an endorsement because I don't have one, I am considering some other pricier (>$500, but also perhaps more reputable) 612 backs. But if you can get it and put some film through it with the option to return, maybe it'd work for you.

    Of course you could also just ditch the whole crown/612 back idea and get a fotoman, people seem happy with those.

    P.S. Ah I see you got the same answer on the Da Yi while I was typing away ^^^ :D