Medium format cameras for beginners...

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by André Ferreira, Dec 29, 2004.

  1. André Ferreira

    André Ferreira Member

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    I was wondering what kind of camera would be good for someone to begin with the medium format... A Holga maybe? Or is it too amateur? Of course I´m thinking about the costs of the possible aquisition...

    André Ferreira.
     
  2. VoidoidRamone

    VoidoidRamone Subscriber

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    I think a Holga is a decent way to start, very simple. You don't have to worry about correct exposure, etc. and you can more or less concentrate on the composition (and they are fun and cheap). I don't have a TLR, but I would guess that it would be a good starter too, the Yashica and the Mamiya TLRs seem pretty nice. And I have a Mamiya RB67, I think it's pretty simple and straight foward... but it's not the cheapest camera out there, but there are some pretty good deals on ebay.
    -Grant
     
  3. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    It will get you used to handling the film but won't teach you much about the photography part of it. Even an old cheap folder would probably be a better intro. A nice TLR (look at the many threads here about them) would be all you'd need for years.
     
  4. Glenn Mathison

    Glenn Mathison Member

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    My first MF camera was a Yashica TLR. 6x6 images on 120 film. Not the best camera in the world, but it was a great way to start in MF. You could most likely pick up a used TLR quite cheaply.

    I've also acquired a couple of rollfim folder cameras duirng the last couple of years. These can be had quite cheaply, but you need to be able to check the bellows and shutters to ensure reliable operation. Very nice image quality if you nab one in good condition...

    Never used a Holga.

    Glenn
     
  5. Glenn Mathison

    Glenn Mathison Member

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    SNAP ! ! :smile:
     
  6. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I agree with the other comments - Holgas are fun, special-purpose "artistic" cameras, but not good for taking advantage of the move to MF. TLRs or a good old folding camera would be better. TLRs are sometimes difficult for people to get used to, but buying it used, you're almost certain to recoup your money if you don't like the camera design.
     
  7. gr82bart

    gr82bart Member

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    I wouldn't go with a Holga for a beginners MF camera. It really is a toy camera for the more experimental types and it won't teach the newbie anything.

    I would go with a used Bronica, Mamiya, Hassey or Pentax and a standard lens. One of the older models from each of these brands. Depends on what they can afford, but your suggestion of a Holga implies they can't afford much, so your choices will be very limited, even for used cameras.

    Regards, Art.
     
  8. Kate Mocak

    Kate Mocak Member

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    My first, and still the most favourite, MF camera is Kiev 88 (Russian copy of Hasselblad :smile:). I also have a TLR (Reflecta) and MF folding camera (Certo 6), all about 30 - 50 years old but functioning properly. And they were REALLY CHEAP.

    A fully manual camera, too heavy to be handheld, forces you to slow down and think more about what and how you're going to shoot. It brings quality improvement not only by the size of film itself but also in the way you compose, see and measure light, etc.

    I don't know which part of the world you live in but if it is Europe then you'll be able to find very cheap MFs like Flexaret, Rolleiflex, Kiev or Pentax in second hand shops. E-bay is another option, of course.
     
  9. Snapper

    Snapper Member

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    Do NOT get a Holga - it's cheap and nasty, and using it is pretty much guesswork.

    Mamiya TLRs are dead cheap s/h at the moment - a C220 would make a very good start, especially if you want to add extra lenses at a later date, and the image quality is very good.
     
  10. Doug Bennett

    Doug Bennett Member

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    Get an Minolta Autocord or a Yashica Mat; either is capable of pro-level results.

    Folders are OK, but most are guess-focus. Nothing wrong with that, just be aware.
     
  11. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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  12. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    A previous poster in this thread suggested a Kiev 88. I own a substantially modified version of this camera but as you are a beginner to MF I would advise against buying one of these at the moment. They are not, IMO, for the inexperienced. The Holga is a non starter. Assuming you are wanting a step up in quality from, say, 35mm then the Holga will disappoint.

    I have used and would recommend the following

    Minolta Autocord - simple, reliable and possessing a very nice lens

    Mamiyaflex C220 - robust and has interchangeable lenses. Stay away from the very old C2 and C3 models of the Mamiyaflex. They are practically impossible to repair.

    Yashicamat 124G - not as nice as the Minolta but still pretty good. Miles better than a Holga

    Mamiya 645J - the first of the Mamiya 645 SLRs giving 15 shots on one film. Surprisingly affordable.
     
  13. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    I just started into MF a few months ago. Although some day I hope to acquire a Hassy or a Bronica, I decided to start with a Rolleicord to get my feet wet.

    It takes decent pictures, but I found it very limiting insofar as it is a fixed-lens TLR. Not long ago I decided to go for a Mamiya C220. It was very inexpensive, and has great potential for expansion. It is very user friendly and simple to use. The one huge advantage IMHO is that the body itself is absurdly simple and there is little that can go wrong with it. If the lens set craps out, it can be easily and inexpensively repaired or replaced; this is not the case with a Rollei.

    In retrospect, my Rolleicord was a waste of money...Overpriced and overrated for what I wanted it for. So as a newbie to MF, my recommendation would be a C220.

    Cheers,
    Kent
     
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  15. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    André,

    It really depends on what you intend to do with the camera. I have used and liked the new seagull TLRs, but have no long term knowledge of it. I have also used rolleicord and Lipca TLRs, and out of the 3, I'd rather shoot the seagull (btw, all were 3 element lens types).

    I own a Pentacon Six 6x6 SLR, and like it quite a bit. It does have a broken frame counter, tons of internal flare, and extremely wide frame spacing, but when I press the button, the shutter fires. In the end, that's all I care about. Once you figure in that line of though with the fact that I only use 80mm lenses, I'd probably be just as happy with a new 4 element seagull TLR (which would have a brighter screen, less internal flare, and correct spacing, if all went well). JandC used to have them at a very good price, but I can't find them anymore...

    BTW with a name like André Ferreira, I have to ask: Are you from Portugal or Brasil? :smile:
     
  16. elekm

    elekm Member

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    One of the Holga's attractions is that it uses a very simple lens and that it leaks light. That gives a "look" to it that may or may not be what you want.

    If you're interested in dabbling in medium format, one of the Japanese TLRs (not the Chinese made Seagull), or a Rolleicord is a good place to start. Other possibilities include a folding camera with a pop-up viewfinder (probably less than $70), an older Mamiya 645 system or possibly a Rolleiflex. The knock against the Seagull is long-term reliability/build quality.

    The downside of the older cameras is that many will need to be serviced or cleaned (or both) before they can be used. Once properly serviced, they should perform well for decades.
     
  17. CZeni

    CZeni Member

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    One thing not mentioned here is a Koni Omega...6x7 rangefinder camera with very good lenses. If you can find one that's not been thrashed by a wedding photographer you'll be quite pleased...expect to spend $300 or so on it...
     
  18. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    A lot depends on what you want to do with it. In particular, do you need to be able to shoot fast, or do you have plenty of time and do you need interchangable lenses. Also Medium format is actually a whole group of formats that just happen to use the same film, so you need to decide which you want. I use an RB67 for most of my Medium format work and they can now be got used remarkably cheaply, but it isn't quick to use. I have just bought a Pentax 67II for use in the air and it has been a revolution. That wasn't cheap, but you can pick up the older model fairly cheaply.

    David.
     
  19. CZeni

    CZeni Member

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    Curiously enough, I too just bought a 67II from a local shop that took a couple of them and a raft of lenses in on trade for d*g*t*l gear. Last time I really looked at 67II's the body and prism alone was always $1600 or more...last week I got a very clean body and prism, 90/2.8 and the 35/4 fisheye for $1700 (I am such a sucker for fisheye lenses...) Just processed my first negs from the beast - really nice.
     
  20. 127

    127 Member

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    Holga's are fun. I think I paid $20 for mine - and thats what they're worth. I think they can be a usefull first step into medium format, but only in a "feet wet" kind of way.

    At £140 the Seagulls don't look such a good deal - I've seen second hand mamiya's sold by dealers for not much more. On ebay you'll get a Rolleiflex for that price no problem.

    TLR's are what they are - love 'em or hate 'em. Personally I love em. I've got 5! I think the discipline of the fixed format lens is usefull, and they force you to slow down, and think (In the UK Sony have an ad campaign for their digicams - "Shoot - don't think". I assume they're not using that in America ;-)). I'm not convinced by the Mamiya TLR's as I'm not sure that TLR's work well as "systems". I use my Rollei as it is. If you want a system then try an SLR.

    The Lomo TLR's are a small step up from a holga if you want to find out if the TLR is right for you, but don't pay money for them. Mine was £12 - again, about what it's worth. I've seen people pay serious cash for them on ebay which is crazy. They're probably a better start than a Holga, but don't expect to much - they're worth exactly what I paid for mine!

    Ian
     
  21. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    Hmmmm...I tried the Seagulls and found them quite good.
     
  22. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    Just one more thought on the Mamiya C220/C330. Lenses come in two basic varieties, namely black and chrome. The chrome lenses have seikosha shutters which, while they are working are very good. However if the shutter fails you will not be able to repair it because spares are no longer available. If you decide to go for one of these cameras then get one with a black lens.

    Happy new year
     
  23. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    ditto, and so far all the reliability issues that I've read about relate to 20 year old seagulls. The seagull I've handled had the brightest focusing screen of any TLR I've shot, and everything felt pretty solid... Honestly, after shooting a Flexora and a Rolleicord, the thing felt like a luxury car. And I have no complaints about the lenses either. This was shot with a 3 element lens Seagull, in Tri-x E.I 200 developed in D-76 1:1
    [​IMG]

    So was this (shot and focused using the headlights of my car, which says something for the focusing screen):
    [​IMG]

    Not to mention that it's one of the few 6x6 cameras still being built. I'm not sure if that count's for anything, but it should.

    Now, there may very well be reliability issues with these new cameras, but I've never heard or read of one. If anyone here has a horror story with a new seagull, please chime in: I've been considering replacing my Pentacon with one for a while now (I like simplicity)...

    Oh, and happy new year.

    André
     
  24. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    At the risk of providing further physical abuse to a dead or dying animal of an equine persuasion:

    I did a little bit of research on the new seagulls, and it looks like the top of the line one (model 109) has a japanese made seiko shutter (1-1/500), further dismissing claims of unreliability.

    but, once again, if someone out there can prove me wrong, please do before any of us invests in one of these...

    They're starting to look really good, though.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2005
  25. CameraMan

    CameraMan Member

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    Hi Andre,

    I too have a new 3-element Seagull TLR(4B-1) and I agree with you that it is reliable. I guess the complains that you read about in forums lie with the very old Seagulls which had chinese characters on it instead of the modern ones with the english name plate.

    Whats nice about it is, its so simply built that there's little to go wrong as long as one does not force any of its knobs and dials if one is not sure how to go about using it.

    At aperture setting of f3.5, it produces a nice softening of the edges which I'm using to full advantage for portraits. At f8 and smaller, its as good as any 4-element TLR.

    I have managed to get a original square lenshood from a 2nd hand dealer although I already bought a new one from Hoya(34mm). They do not make them anymore but there might be some New-old-stock left if you're lucky enough to find them.

    I took the liberty of going straight to my local Hoya dealer and was surprised to find step-up rings so that I could use the more popular size filters. 34mm size filters are still manufactured and sold though.I also managed to get the polarizer. I also bought close-up filter sets(I bought them in pairs). They come in five different strengths, +1 +2 +3 +4 and +5. IMO +1 +2 are the most useful for my needs.

    I have now gone back to using my Yashica 635 and my Rolleicords(III & V) because I have left them aside for quite a while. They need to be exercised once in a while.

    So much for giving equal attention. Now lets see which other of my TLRs got left out.
     
  26. captainwookie

    captainwookie Member

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    I have one of the old ones, as seen in my avatar. I like it, but I don't think optically it is anywhere near the newer models. Also, the viewing lens is very dim. Still, it is a better camera than a Holga.