Mamiya RB67 for street photography

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Alan Klein, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    I have a Mamiya RB67 with 50mm and 90mm and larger lenses with waist level and eye level viewfinders and Mamiya neck strap as well as tripod. I never used it for street photography. Does anyone have some experience with this size camera and can make some recommendations when out there shooting. Thanks. Alan.
     
  2. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

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    I use a 6x6 for street photograph with a 110 lens. I pick a location that would offer the possibility of interesting activities in one direction. I pre focus, meter for the scene, use long cable release, and wait for an hour or two. Bring some time to snack on and to drink. I would guess the nice thing about a a 6x7 camera you can shoot horizontal and crop what you want.
     
  3. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I use an RZ for street photography, mostly with the 110/2.8. Your 90 or a 127 or whatever will be fine. Of course you aren't going to be taking many shots in secret but that's OK, you can still get good candid photos. I always use the WLF, some fast film (TMY2 at 800 in XTOL is good) and mostly shoot wide open.

    A tripod is a good thing to have - even if the camera is not resting on it, having the legs dangle below the camera provides a lot of damping of the mirror slap so you can comfortably shoot handheld at 1/125 and get sharp results. And of course you can shoot on a tripod quite sneakily - setup a shot focused on a particular spot (e.g. if you want to juxtapose a particular demographic with a particular sign), put the cable release on, sit off to one side and wait. Once someone comes into your frame you can release it without peering into the camera and making it obvious you're about to take a photo - people think the camera is just sitting there doing nothing until it's too late.

    Some examples (thumbnails are links):
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Edit: first two are handheld shots, TMY2@800, XTOL 1+1, subjects quite aware of my presence, very dim late evening light (1/125 f/2.8). Third one was on a tripod, waiting. Fourth one was at night, shot handheld on Delta-3200 at about 1/60, EI1600.
     
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  4. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    I've used a Bronica ETRSi 6x4.5. Waist level finder, 50mm or 75mm. Sometimes an eye-level prism (90 degree) and speed grip.

    It ain't no Leica. Requires a very different approach. Much more the Cartier-Brresson thing of finding a good framing and wait for something interesting to happen. And then you'll need to be ready for the shutter delay, which always seemed longer on the Bronica than a 35mm SLR.

    You'll also have the shallower depth of field compared to 35mm.

    It's quite doable but will mean taking some time to find how to make the camera work for you, and taking the time to recognize the limits it imposes. Have fun.
     
  5. CGW

    CGW Member

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    It's a challenge. Though I really prefer 645 and 6x6 for street shooting, my Mamiya RB 67 spends most of its time on tripod or monopod. I've tried it with a grip and found it awkward. I prefer the prism finder but the WLF seems to make me and the big camera less visible. Think "sniper" and you'll start to get an idea of the technique. Be patient. Find a spot or attraction that draws people or a location with dramatic light and just stake it out. Take some incident or spot readings and shoot. Your 90mm will give you decent working distance. I use it and a 150/3.5 K/L happily. It's not a bad outfit for cooler weather since it's mechanical and relatively easy to run with gloved hands.

    Re: C-B's technique. Film footage of him at work might change your mind, Dan. He just as often stalked and pounced on shots. Here he is in action:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqsOYsZlPX4&feature=related
     
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  6. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    I love my RB67. Polyglot and EdwardV have nailed it. You do what they suggest and you'll do great things. I know, I do this too.
     
  7. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    Thnaks all for your suggestions. They are very helpful. It seems that if you pre-focus on a tri-pod and use a cable release, I could leave the mirror up so the shutter releases faster with less "slap" and noise.

    Do any of you shoot "on-the-fly" hand holding and if so what are the best methods, shuitter speeds, film, support, etc?

    Polyglot-those are wonderful pictures. How do you scan them>
    ALan
     
  8. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

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    Frequently. Usually f/4-5.6 with the 110mm; I try to get 1/250 if possible, and this takes priority over aperture setting. Don't bother with anything slower than 400 iso - you need the DOF and shutter speed more than you need fine grain.
     
  9. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    If you're going to camp a spot and use a cable release on tripod, definitely pre-fire the mirror if you're sure you're going to take the shot. I would usually wait until I see the person I want, prefire the mirror about 5-10s in advance while looking elsewhere and then trigger the shutter (pting!) at the appropriate moment.

    Most of my street shots are hand-held though, with the tripod as dynamic (using its moment of inertia) stabilisation only. I can get sharp shots at 110mm, 1/125s about 70% of the time without tripod, more with the legs dangling; 1/250 is always sharp. It usually takes me a second or two to focus though and the lens is often pretty wide open, so you can't do the 35mm zone-focus shoot-from-the-hip thing.

    The posted shots (thanks!) are scanned in a Nikon 8000 ED with Vuescan. The prints look pretty much just like that anyway (no dodging/burning was applied to these and I find it's easier to do by hand than digitally anyway), so you can certainly make a wet print, stick it in a $100 flatbed and get perfect results for posting online unless you're shooting chromes.
     
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    It's a rather hefty camera for street, but certainly very capable. If you were to use the same standard street gear that everyone else uses, you'd probably feel inclined to go for similar shots, so I say good for you, trying with the rb- an unconventional choice. I would strongly recommend a monopod if you tend to wander as much as I do. Monopod plus dual release gives you a lot of capability.

    Alas the 110/2.8, which would be wonderful for street, mounts only on the RZ. You can actually mount it on the RB but you lose infinity focus...and any focus past a few meters.
     
  11. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    Not to go off topic but why not get a camera that might be easier to use such as a tlr or rangefinder. I used to use a mf slr but finally decided it was easier and yielded more usable results when I switched to a rangerfinder. I opted for a 35mm as I owned it but could have just as easily gone for a mf rangefinder. I did use to have fun going out with a couple of bakelite mf box cameras with only the instant shutter speed and a couple of aperature settings. The lenses are somewhat soft giving some interesting and nice images much unlike the ones from the likes of new cameras.
     
  12. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    That would be too easy.

    Besides, rangefinders suck! :smile:
     
  13. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

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    I find shooting on-the-fly not so difficult because I use a 6x6 format and everything has been determine before hand. I take notes of of my surrounding area; exposure reading and pre focus on predetermine land marks; this can change even if have covered all your bases. I would leave the monopod home. I use a tripod which also serves as a monopod as well; keep all the legs together; pick the height you want and just adjust the column. A carbon fiber tripod is the way to go. I use a Arcatech ball head; ISO 400/800; try to keep my aperture at f8 and shutter speed at 1/125, 1250 or 1/500.

    http://acratech.net/

    http://www.indurogear.com/products_details_CT414.html#specs

    http://siruicanada.com/tripods/n2205.htm

    http://siruicanada.com/tripods/n2204.htm


    Good luck
     
  14. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    Well, compared to Bruce Gilden, Cartier-Bresson is calm and a gentleman in his most 'pounce-y' shooting! I see a whole range in how he was shooting, and of course when making a film, the tendency will be to edit for action, not someone simply standing quietly. The standing at a scene and waiting for people to fall into place is one technique C-B mentions among others. But all in all, a 35mm allows for more options, for quicker changes, for faster adjustments and for true pouncing, while an RB67 will simply be slower.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRBARi09je8
     
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  15. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    I'd second the notion of thinking about a MF rangefinder. I actually used a Bronica SQAi for what was basically street photography in China, on past trips..although that is somewhat lighter than an RZ.

    Consider the excellent Mamiya 7 or 6 - still razor sharp lenses in an easier to handle package. I mention this because prefocusing on a tripod is practical but you certainly sacrifice mobility and spontaneity - two attributes I think pretty much define street photography.
     
  16. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I usally use my Rolleiflex for street photography which I haven't done recently. I use my RB67 for landscapes, etc.

    Jeff