Medium Format for landscape

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Toffle, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    I know that this has been covered before, but I have to ask. I'm looking to jump into medium format and am a little overwhelmed by the options.

    I'm thinking of a medium format SLR with a metered prism and auto focus if possible.

    I keep seeing the Bronicas and Mamiyas referred to as "wedding cameras". By that, I assume they mean that they are best suited to portrait work. I shoot mainly landscapes and um... things. (flowers, trees, chairs, still-life etc.)
    I'm watching a 645j and 645 1000s, (Manual focus, I know, but both with metered prisms) on e-pay. Would either of these cameras suit my needs?

    Cheers,
     
  2. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Any of those should work fine. I'm not real knowledgeable about MF, perhaps someone else could provide the details. However, I do know that Tim Fitzharris uses a 645. I used to really like his work, until he started using a digital back.
     
  3. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    Jump To Medium Format

    I assume that you are now using 35mm equipment. You will see a definite improvemnt in image quality with a 6X45 negative/slide but medium format equipment is much less handy to use for close-up and macro work. When you get really close you wouldn't be using AF anyway so you won't be mising anything there. Where landscape photography is concerned you would want to use a tripod when possible and use the largest format you can too. The 6X45 format is something of a compromise. It allows you to do some shooting the same way you would with 35mm equipment and it goves you a larger format to work with but it will not give you the same quality for large landscape prints that you would get with the 6X7 format. Mamiya and Bronica was popular for wedding photos but will also work nicely for other types of shooting.

    Medium format stuff is very cheap now so try the 6X45 format and see how it suits you. If you don't get the quality you are looing for in the landscape work just trade it towards a 6X7 outfit. I use 6X45, 6X6 and 6X7 Bronica cameras and they are all nice. If you are shooting color neg or slide film in medium format make sure to have it scanned properly or you won't see any improvement over 35mm.
     
  4. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    You might want to reconsider your interest in auto focus for landscape work. After all, the 'scape isn't going anywhere and you have lots of depth of field options to play with manually. If you're not including much foreground, infinity focus is about as easy to find as can be. If you are including foreground and want everything sharp, you'll need to be very precise with depth of field and f stop which is easy to do with the scale on the lens. Finally, you have far more manual focus options in MF than with auto focus including bigger (6x7 or 6x9) negatives.
     
  5. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    Make that gives.
     
  6. rpsawin

    rpsawin Subscriber

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    The wedding camera reference was probably a carry over from the days when most wedding photographers used mf gear & the Bronica and Mamiya equipment was less expensive then the Hassleblad gear.

    I use a Bronica SQb (non-metered so I use a hand held meter) for shooting landscapes and find it a perfect fit for me. There is a good selection of lenses and accessories (other than waist-level finders) available and at reasonable prices.

    The Mamiyas represent a good value as well. While mf prices seem to have leveled off, maybe even gone up a bit, they represent an excellent value.

    God luck,

    Bob
     
  7. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    Most of what I shoot is landscape scenes and I use both a Mamiya RB67 and a Mamiya 645 1000s (I have a metered prism for both). Lots of good lenses available for both of those two. Honestly though, you can't really go wrong with either Mamiya or Bronica. Just choose the size negative you want to go with and that'll narrow your choices.
     
  8. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Thanks for the advice so far. Yes, I'm coming from 35mm; having used and loved my Nikon N80 for the last few years. I know that 6X7 is well suited to landscape, but I don't think I can get a negative holder that size for my (cheap) enlarger. I've got 35mm and 6X6. Manual focus is not a deal breaker, but I would really appreciate on-board metering.

    BTW, I use a tripod for most work anyway, so that is not a big deal.

    Thanks again.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2007
  9. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    If it was me.

    Start with a waist finder. For landscape you don't need the speed of a metering prism. I also find you "see" more with a waist finder. A handheld meter isn't going to cost much [any?] more then any of the better metering prisms.

    Look for a model with mirror up. Even if you don't use it that often.

    Off the top of my head I think the two Mamiya 645s you mentioned are older models. You don't save much money in todays market going too old.

    Surf over to www.keh.com and see what they have. The Bronica ETRSI stuff has gone pretty sparse lately and prices are up but even so it'll likely be cheaper then Ebay and better quality.

    If you can handle the weight/size issues you might want to consider a RZ/RB. Sounds like you don't mind a tripod?

    I think the wedding bit relates to the feature set. Removable backs,metering,TTL flash,winders etc. Being system cameras you can often pick the features you want/need.
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    An attraction of 6x6, even if you don't shoot square, is that you can crop to a rectangle from any part of the frame. If you crop a horizontal shot from the top 2/3 of the frame, for instance, that's like having front rise on a view camera--at least for horizontals. Likewise, you can imitate view camera shift by cropping verticals from the left or right side of the frame.

    For landscapes and still life, you'll probably find yourself focusing manually most of the time anyway, so I wouldn't bother with autofocus.

    Also, bear in mind that second-hand enlargers and enlarging lenses are very cheap these days, and the RB67 system is a particularly good bargain, so you all together, you could put together a nice 6x7 system for not too much money.
     
  11. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    If you're serious about the autofocus/ttl metering then look at the Pentax 645n. I've seen thousands of photographs from one of these and they offer great quality, excellent zoom lenses and handle like a big 35mm.

    That said my own choice for landscape/cityscape and some close work has been 6x6 and 67 which are more manual and kind of clunky in operation but do everything I want and little I don't. My 6x6 is a Bronica and there is absolutely no reason why this brand won't work as well for you as a landscape camera as any other quality 6x6. Same with Mamiya for 67, though to be fair most slr 67 cameras are a little heavy if you plan to carry them far.

    In general I think most recent MF cameras will help you make great photographs and you should choose on the basis of what format you decide on and ideally what seems to work well in the hand rather than a belief that X will make better pictures than Y.
     
  12. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Hi, I like the Mamiya 645E model. Has a nice bright viewfinder that is adjustable to your eye. Also excellent auto/manual exposure metering. Excellent value for a fairly new camera. I think many on the used market haven't been used that much. I have used one for about 5 years doing landscape photography.

    Jon
     
  13. vanspaendonck

    vanspaendonck Member

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  15. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    Go with the 1000s over the 645J. They are both tanks but the 1000s has a 1/1000 shutter speed as well as mirror lock up and all the finders that you might want. To save a little weight you could go with a Mamiya Super, Pro, ProTL which would also give you removeable film backs and you might even save some money. The 1000s seems to hold it's value better than the Super and Pro. Get a waist level finder, you might find that you start to prefer it over the prism finders, it also makes the camera much lighter, and has a good magnifier built in.
     
  16. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Update:
    I passed on the two ebay auctions. Both were Adorama sales, which means they would have had something of a warranty, but in the end, neither camera had a bid. (I could have had them for $199) I decided to take the time to educate myself some more. In the mean time, I'll be doing more reading and watching the KEH pages for some gems.

    I'll keep my eye on Mamiyas, Bronicas and Pentax... 645, 6X6, maybe even 6X7. We're taking a family "trip of a lifetime" Next month, so I don't want to break the bank with Hassys or the like.
    Thanks for all the advice.
    Cheers,
     
  17. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I think my good old rb67 pro sd makes an excellent landscape camera, the extra weight is a bonus when I am up in some windy spot :wink: and the lens options are fabulous and relatively inexpensive from fisheye right up to 500mm.

    As an all-round camera, I prefer the horseman VH, it is 6x9 format. Though 6x9 is only a tiny bit larger format than what the rb can do with the 6x8 back, the VH does permit the movements one sometimes needs for landscape. And it weighs substantially less than the rb! And it takes the rb rollfilm backs!

    For more easily carryable landscape, my preference is the mamiya 6, or you might look at the 7 or 7ii. Those are really great and super lightweight, and will equal or exceed any of the 6x6 or 6x7 format slrs for landscape work in the superwide to short tele range.

    So those are my favourite MF landscape options ranging from about $500 to about $2000. The pentax 67 would also be a definite contender in this "large MF" category.

    P.S. Ah, another great cheapo option if you sometimes want pano: an old crown or speed graphic 4x5", plus a rollfilm back, e.g. 612. The crown will run you about $300 with a decent lens, and a used horseman 612 back will run you about $300 used. You can also put on a 6x7 back. And when you eventually want to, you can start off in 4x5!
     
  18. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    If it's the trip of a lifetime, then get the camera EARLY! You need time to adjust to it, and to make sure that there are no problems. Mamiya RB 67 are selling for peanuts lately (but kind of big, bulky and heavy for a family trip). The 645 may be a good trade off between portability and negative size. Try to nab a 45mm, 150mm and maybe 210mm lens. I find the 55mm to just kind of be a blah angle, same for the 80mm. The 210mm is one of my favorites, with around the 150mm next unless I need wide angle, and then the 55mm is OK but the 45mm would be better (I don't have the 45mm, but do have the 55mm).

    Keep in mind that most of these lenses will be around f4 or so.
     
  19. elekm

    elekm Member

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    One of the great things about 6x6 is that you never need to turn the camera on its side for landscape or portrait.

    And there certainly do seem to be plenty of affordable medium format cameras on the market. Most Japanese cameras from the 1980s that used foam seals probably will need those seals to be replaced.

    If you want to dabble a bit before jumping in the market without committing to a particular system, you could always try an old folding camera. Downside: Most of these will need to be serviced.
     
  20. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    Our trip of a lifetime is to Japan with the whole family. (my wife and I and two University-age children) With airfare from Canada, definitely not cheap. The plus side, of course, is that it is Japan after all, and with four days in Tokyo, I should be able to find a decent lens for whatever camera I decide to pick up.

    I'll keep you posted.

    Cheers,
     
  21. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    You're in Canada? Pay close attention to Adorama's shipping to Canada :rolleyes:

    I still say browse KEH. You'll have to be very lucky on Ebay to do any better once you consider price and condition.
     
  22. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Indeed, and the same goes for the rb67- it has a rotating back, you definitely wouldn't want to turn that thing on its side :wink:
     
  23. ethylphenethylamine

    ethylphenethylamine Member

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    Also the RB67 has a 6x8 motorized back which I love for landscape...you should be able to pick one of those up from KEH for a little over 100$ that will do both 120 and 220. With a waist level finder I really don't think the RB67 is heavy at all...I've carried it around for hours without a strap with no issues...
     
  24. Jerry Thirsty

    Jerry Thirsty Member

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    I have the RZ rather than the RB, but I was interested in the 6x8 back for landscape until I read this opinion:

    http://www1.epinions.com/content_135282527876?linkin_id=8003929

    I assume by dedicated shutter release cable he's referring to the one with two ends that connects to both the lens and the body. Do you have problems with the film advancing before the shutter closes? Do you just leave the back in bulb mode and advance the film manually? Or don't you even use MLU?

    If anyone has experience using the 6x8 back on an RZ, I'd love to hear about the pitfalls.

    thanks,
    Jerry
     
  25. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    You'd need the adapter to mount RB backs. I don't think it's a current item nor was it ever a big seller. I forget what it was called. G adaptor?
     
  26. kman627

    kman627 Member

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    I too have a Bronica SQ-B and love it. I don't mind using a hand held meter and can usually just meter with my eyes. But it's a great all around camera. I use it for everything landscape, portraiture, street. It works well for everything. I also love the 6x6 format and love printing 8x8 photos.