medium format prism camera shooter (Pentax 645 vs Rolleiflex)

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by puketronic, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    OK so I have a few medium format cameras and a Rolleiflex T is one of them. Actually, I only have Rolleiflex TLRs in this format!

    I love shooting through the waist but sometimes I want to shoot at eye-level, for portraits.

    I don't care for autofocus, autoexposure, etc. What I primarily care for is a normal lens...somewhere around 80mm or slightly longer perhaps. I don't want to spend a terrible amount of money so I'm eliminating MF RF's. I would like a 67 camera but I feel that those are too unwieldy for this appication so I'm eliminating those too. For the 645 SLR's I think Pentax is the best on the field. Contax is too expensive so no consideration there. I didn't like the 120 german folders I once owned so that is not a consideration either.

    I'm primarily thinking about going with a Rollei prism + Pistol Grip or adding a Pentax 645 (well maybe the Mamiya or Bronica...).

    1. How is the Rollei with a prism in terms of focusing and handling?
    2. How is the Pentax 645 in this regard?
    3. A bit controversial, maybe, but how is the bokeh for the Pentax? I love my Rolleiflex 2.8E but that I can only shoot through the waist. My Tessar is OK and a bit busy sometimes. I have no experience with Pentax cameras.
    4. Anyone use a Pentax 67 for this? This seems like a disaster for portrait orientation but maybe OK for landscape. Overall, I think the 645 is a better choice but man that 105mm f2.4 is tempting.
     
  2. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    In a word? Hasselblad
     
  3. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    If you want to shoot handheld, a Pentax 645 is excellent, it handles much like a 35mm SLR. I used Mamiya 645 Super for many years and it is great to handhold too, but only with the power drive. TLRs are very hard to hold and focus at eye level with a prism.
     
  4. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I'm curious, is there a reason for this? I think about Hasselblad from time to time but I wonder how much more value it would give me over a Rollei. Ofcourse multiple lenses, backs, prisms, etc. but when I really think about it. I don't need that stuff... I figured that a Hasselblad is more of a tripod camera, or a waist-level camera if handheld. Does it handle better than a Rollei if one wanted to shoot at eye-level? I figured the screen/prism would make focusing easier but there is still that ergonomic problem. I don't like adding too many systems but compared to the german/swiss cameras, those Japanese cameras are almost free. Again, I have no idea. I handled a Hasselblad once. It looks pretty but at the waist, I prefer Rollei.
     
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    A Hasselblad with a 45 degree prism handles like a slightly large 35mm camera but a heck of a lot easier than a Rollei TLR or any 6x7. Lenses, parts and service are readily available. One can change film backs midroll without losing a frame; do not try that with a Rollei TLR at home.
     
  6. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    While I love my Hassie 203FE and 903SWC, I wouldn't say either of them "handles" better than my Pentax 67II.
     
  7. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    IMHO, a medium format SLR is a medium format SLR. Minor differences in features may distinguish one model from another, so one needs to be very specific in comparing any two. For example, it would be fair to compare Bronica ETRSi with Mamiya 645 Pro, but unfair to compare a Mamiya 1000 to Pentax 645, just because of years of feature additions and improvements in the newer cameras.

    There is one thing that I greatly dislike specifically about the Pentax 645...the integrated grip is attached at the BACK EDGE of the body, putting all of the weight of the front of the body and lens putting torgue on the hand and no couterbalance! The Mamiya and the Bronica at least have the benefit of using the rear of the body as a counterweight because the (optional) grip is more forward on the body. I have handled all three (as well as Hassy) and ultimately the grip position on the Pentax was considered by me to be a signficant shortcoming of the design. I've never handled a Rollei, but it was always unaffordable, which is why I did not consider it 25 years ago.
     
  8. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Have you considered using your Rollei's sports finder? Especially if yours has the mirror and magnifier for focusing, it works good and you already own it.
     
  9. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I think I have to get a hold of a Hasselblad user with the 45 and 90 prism. Thinking about it, I think that it might be easier. I often shoot with my WLF at my chest but sometimes I want to shoot with a slightly higher perspective, like my 35mm cameras. I guess I can stand on some books or some sort of support at the moment but that is only a temporary solution.

    Lenses, parts, and servicing is a big plus too, I think. i wouldn't appreciate it immediately but it is more of a long term investment.

    Midroll backs I care less about but it is a good feature to have.
     
  10. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I've never really considered using the sports finder. I would like more precise framing and focusing. I would perhaps give it a try.

    Well whether I go hasselblad, 645, or 67, is the prism finder worthwhile? It seems that it doesn't have many fans.
     
  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I owned server TLRs including a Mamiya C330 with the pentaprism before I got a Hasselblad. I traded the C330 with the 65mm, 80mm and 250mm lenses for the Hasselblad and never looked back.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2012
  12. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    Used a 2.8F with a prism and decided that having that chunk of glass on top upset the handling and balance. Four months later the prism finder was gone. The next guy didn't like it either. He lasted about six months.
     
  13. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    lol. I haven't looked into the prism toooo much but from what I've gathered most people give up on it.
     
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  15. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    I own the Pentax 645Nii and the Yashica Mat 124G (poor man's Rollei.) I enjoy working with both cameras but of all my cameras the Pentax gets far and away the most use. Most of the Pentax lenses are truly magnificent and the price is definitely good. I don't own one, but I have had the fortune to use a couple different Hasselblads, and they are very, very nice cameras. The difference is the format, and the cost. If the money is no object I am sure you will enjoy the Hasselblad, but I have never been remotely tempted to give up my Pentax.
     
  16. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    You can also shot 645 on a hassy, btw
     
  17. rbender

    rbender Member

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  18. agfarapid

    agfarapid Subscriber

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    Your best choice for a MF shooter with an eye level prism would be either a Mamiya Super or TL with motor drive grip & prism or the Bronica ETR series. I use the Mamiya with motor grip & prism and find it quite satisfactory for eye level shooting. I have a 500c but fitting it out with a prism would make it even more clumsy than it already is. With the Mamiya you can handle the shutter speed dial and aperture without moving your eye from the prism (the same can probably be said for the Bronica but I have no experience with that camera). For eye level shooting you might want to play around with one of the Fuji or Bronica rangefinders. The Bronica would have interchangeable lenses, although they are a bit harder to come by.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I have a prism for my Mamiya C330. It, and the left hand grip were essential for my wedding work - the higher viewpoint is preferable for a lot of on-the-fly portrait work.

    It is heavy and a bit large though, and definitely less bright than the waist level finder.

    Nowadays I use the prism more as an accessory. I would guess it is on the camera about a 1/3 of the time.

    Do not go for the porro-finder - it is a very poor substitute.
     
  20. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    Mamiya makes great 645 cameras and lenses. Their 80mm is the size of most 50mm's for 135 format.
     
  21. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    #2: The Pentax 645 is very easy to use, and the lenses are sharp. You can put it on a tripod for either landscape or portrait.
    #3: I've never had a problem with Pentax bokeh. Bokeh is rather subjective, anyways. I have a few pictures in the gallery that I shot wide open with a 75mm f/2.8.
    #4: I have a Pentax 6x7. Yes, it's a heavy camera, but a good ball head works just fine with it. I have done a few portraits with mine, but my personal preference for portraits is a view camera. If you don't have a totally solid tripod and head, then be sure to lock the mirror up.
     
  22. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    I worked with a pentax 67, pentax645 and a hasselblad.

    The 67 was to big, and the depth of field to narrow for shooting out of the hand when the light was less.

    The 645 was a nice camera, but since i planned to stick to analog, i wanted to buy a manual camera without electronics because these fail eventually and nobody can repair it in x years time.

    Eventually i came to hassy, and must say the zeiss lenses are superior towards pentax (sorry). everything is manually and easily to repair. nice optional tools and afordable these days...
     
  23. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    Thanks, I knew that. I don't care for 645 format, I just felt that the cameras are more geared towards eye-level handheld use.
     
  24. PatrickT

    PatrickT Member

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    I have a 2.8F with prism, a Pentax 67, and a Bronica ETRS with prism.

    I don't find the Rollei with the prism difficult to use at all, and I've been using it this way for the better part of a year. Yes, it's a little awkward to hold, but you get used it it. Or at least, I did. I've used it for portraits (the prism is indispensable for that) and for street photography.

    The Pentax 67 is definitely handhold-able, but heavier and larger. I love that camera. Handles exactly like a large 35mm SLR.

    Of the three, I find the Bronica the most awkward to hold while using it with the prism (without a grip).

    Not sure if this helps...

    Patrick.
     
  25. rawhead

    rawhead Subscriber

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    The weight of the 67 actually helps to stabilize it. With my left hand below the camera & lens, right hand on the grip and triggering the shutter, and the camera against my left eye, I can definitely shoot 1/30s handheld using my 105/2.4 lens wide open and get very decent shots.
     
  26. PatrickT

    PatrickT Member

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    Agreed!