Medium format rangefinders

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by michaelsalomon, Feb 15, 2006.

  1. michaelsalomon

    michaelsalomon Member

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    Hey all,
    Im interested in a medium format rangefinder for an upcoming trip to Europe. Im a hassy shooter primarily, but it doesn't feel like the camera I'd like to use for street or spur of the moment shots im sure i'll be looking for on the streets of Rome and Venice. I know there are several choices from mamiya and bronica as well as fuji. Can those who use these cameras offer any thoughts and reviews of these medium format rangefinders? I'd bring my 35mm, but im a medium format junkie!

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Troy Ammons

    Troy Ammons Member

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    What format ??

    Probably the best image quality is the Mamiya 6 (latest) or mamiya 7.

    if you are after a 690, probably one of the fujis.

    645 would be one of the Fuji 645 cameras. I had a ZI a while back and it was neat, but not much of a zoom, but it was really a P+S MF camera.

    The Fuji 645 cameras are light too.
     
  3. abeku

    abeku Subscriber

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    Regarding the Fuji cameras have a look at this thread.
     
  4. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I use a Mamiya 6 for street photography and can highly recommend it, but I think if the funds are there that the Mamiy 7 would be better long term. If the funds aren't there, the Bronica (now discontinued) 645 seems very nice and a bit of a steal.
     
  5. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Member

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    Without a doubt, Mamiya 7II
     
  6. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    Things to consider: Format. If you are shooting 6x6 now, do you want to stay with it or shift to 6x7 or 6x9. Personally, I find 645 too close to 35mm to bother with and would go for a bigger neg.

    Lenses. Do you want single lense, multiple lenses or what.

    Price. The cost of medium format rangefinders is all over the board. What is your budget. Is it a camera you plan to use as a replacement for the Hassy or is it only for travel.

    Personally, I use a Mamiya 7II as my go to travel camera. It has made the trip across the pond with me many times. I carry one body and three lenses: 150, 80 and 43. Very few things I cannot photograph with that combination. I very much like the big 6x7 neg and have done several larger prints (11x14).

    I had a Hassy one time and ended up selling it because I just didn't use it much after getting the Mamiya.

    The problem with the Mamiya is that they are expensive. Very expensive. For me it was worth it. It may not be for you.

    One thing I love about the rangefinders for travel is how compact they are. I carry my kit in a small pack that goes over my shoulder or around my waist. It is small enough that most museums will let me carry the pack inside--I don't have to check it.

    Also, I normally take a very small tripod. Use the self timer and your set for night shots.

    Have fun in Europe.
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Frankly, I wouldn't give up on the Hassy for street shooting in Europe. I took mine to Spain in October of 04, and had a blast with it, doing everything from architecture to landscape to street performers in Madrid and guitar-toting monks in Toledo. No, it isn't as compact as something like the old Zeiss Ikon folders, or even my old Seagull 6x6 rangefinder, but it is a lot smaller and lighter than a Mamiya 7 II or a Fuji GW/GSW 690.
     
  8. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Nice thing about the Mamiya 6 in terms of portability is that collapsing lens - it really turns a top-notch MF camera into something that is no bigger than a 35mm SLR in most terms. Personally, I would go for the 7 if I was in the market though - leave the 6x6 format to a nice TLR...
    OK - day dreaming...over... reality... setting... returning to everyday life...now :wink:

    Peter
     
  9. JLMoore3

    JLMoore3 Member

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    I'm looking to go back to a Fujinon

    I had the Fuji GW670II and liked it, but didn't use it that much... Kind of typical with too many cameras around (okay, I'm a junkie). It was a solid camera, although a bit large- kind of like a leica on steroids.

    I sold the GW670II & bought a Pentax 645, mostly because I wanted the option of interchangable lenses... or so I thought. I ran a few rolls through the Pentax and it has sat for the last 6 months.

    So now I'm considering going back to a Fujinon rangefinder, but I think the GA645Zi would do the trick... It would have the smaller size advantage over the 670, it would also have a decent enough zoom so that I might not miss the interchangable lenses.

    Anybody have a Fuji 645 gathering dust? Want to trade for a Pentax 645 system?
     
  10. micek

    micek Member

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    My travelling camera combination is a Bronica RF645 with the 45mm wide angle lens on and my Rolleicord V. They are both light, well built and have excellent lenses. Even if you go for a Rolleiflex instead of the Rolleicord they would both be cheaper than a Mamiya 7 plus 1 lens.
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi

    i have a mamiya 6 iv ( 1947 not a newer one ) and i love it!
    i originally bought it to shoot through all my 120 film because of
    my dislike for roll film backs on my lf camera. now it is my take everywhere camera, and i don't think i will sell it when i get through all my film (my original plan).

    -john
     
  12. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

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    If the budget is available, shoot on the Mamiya 7II!

    Cheers

    André
     
  13. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    I don't know your budget of course, but my travel kit is a Bronica RF645 with 3 lenses and a Leica M6 with a 35m f/1.4. Not much I can't shoot.

    Richard Wasserman
     
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  15. doc4x5

    doc4x5 Member

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    The Mamiya 7II with three lenses, I have the 50-80-150 combo, weighs 2 1/2 pounds LESS than the equivalent Hasselblad set. I know, I have both and I have weighed them. The Hassy set weighs 7.7 pounds, the Mamiya set weighs 5.1 pounds.

    I cannot comment about street shooting since I tend to use both cameras on a tripod but if you will be carrying one either a long distance, a long time, or both, the Mamiya wins, plus it seems to fit into a smaller bag (especially without the tripod).

    The Mamiya is a bit funky to use, I still occasionally make images with the lens cap on, even after a couple of years. Lens changing is "different," and focusing is definitely different with a rangefinder. The images are impressively sharp though with every lens I have tried. Even the 150, supposedly difficult to focus produces wonderful negatives.

    Eric
     
  16. Gibran

    Gibran Member

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    I'm a Hassy shooter as well and its actually about the same weight as most of the Medium Format Rangefinders(except for the folders) If you use it with the fold up hood. A 60MM lens would be great for travel. I have taken mine around the world. The real trick with whatever camera you take is to have a smaller, lighter bag just for the camera and a few rolls of film when out for the day. If you are set on a Rangefinder and want to stay square, one of the best lenses I have ever used was the Mamiya 50mm G on the Mamiya 6. Hard to find but well worth the look. I currently also use a 6x9 Fuji GSW 690111 with a 65mm lens(equiv. to a 28mm in 35mm speak) and that is also one great camera and lens combo. Which camera depends on your format of choice. You can not really go wrong with any of the more recent Mamiya or Fuji's. Another option to consider is a light twin lens Rolleicord(much lighter than a Rolleiflex). Its a great camera for travel in that its light, stealthy and cheap enough so that if something happens to it, your not out to much. It is also capable of very good image quality with its Xenar or Tessar lens. I will add that it has taken me a little time to adjust to using a Rangefinder after being spoiled with SLR's and TLR's. You may not like using the direct view framing of a Rangefinder versus composing on ground glass as you are used to.
     
  17. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    I have a Bronica RF645 and 3 lenses. It's very light and compact and produces stunningly nice images - it's way better than 35mm. And the price was low.
     
  18. michaelsalomon

    michaelsalomon Member

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    Thanks for the input everyone. I really like the mamiya 7II, but the price is a bit of a concern for me. Ive been looking into the mamiya 6 and have found a few used ones that can fit my budget. Much cheaper than the 7II and it makes my favorite image size, 6 x 6! Ill be in NYC next week and will be stopping by B&H to play with the 7II just for the hell of it (if I hit big at the racino near me, maybe i'll buy it!)
     
  19. sanking

    sanking Member

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    The Fuji GW690III (90mm) and GSW690III (65mm) are outstanding cameras and in terms of image performance will outperform any of the other rangefinder cameras mentioned in this thread. The lenses on these cameras are outstanding, and the 6X9 format offers a significant advantage over 6X4.5, 6X6 and 6X7. I think of them as big singe lens Leicas. And some people call them Texas Leicas. These cameras are entirely mechanical, with no exposure meter.

    For a real treat consider the Fuji GA645Zi. This is a 6X4.5 point and shoot camera, with a modest zoom lens. Very light, fits well in your hands, and the performance is really outstanding. On a recent tript to Mexico I shot about fifty rolls of 220 color film with this cameras and *every single frame* was focused and exposed correctly. Just wish I had the point and shoot feature in the 6X9 Fujis!!

    Sandy



     
  20. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'd like to know how you qualify this statement. The Fuji RF's are very good cameras I'm sure, but I have read numerous reports that the Mamiyas, particularly the Mamiya 6 with 50mm, are at or near the top of all MFs.


    I think it is safe to say that you wouldn't go wrong with any modern, MF RF.

    Before buying any RF you'll want to hold it and play with it a bit. An RF that doesn't sit comfortably in your hands is, in my opinion, useless for street and travel photography
     
  21. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Holga!

    I recommend Holga 120N, only $20 for brand new!

    Jon

    photos copyright 2006 by S. Kusachi
     

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  22. sanking

    sanking Member

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    The answer to your question is "Negative Size." Negative size in photography is like location in real estate. At some magnification a 6X9 negative will beat a 6X6 or 6X7 negative, assuming the optics are of comparable quality. Are the Fujinon lenses on the 6X9 rangefinders as good as those of the Mamiya 6 and 7? Well, IMO they are every bit as good. I have seen different tests that suggest that Mamiya lenses are better than Fuji lenses, and vice versa. However, I have tested my own lenses with these cameras and both the 65mm and 90mm lenses can resolve over 75 lppm at the optimum aperture, and the Fujinon EBC lenses have truly bitting contrast. Perhaps the Mamiya lenses are better, but I seriously doubt it. But given the difference in film size they would have to be between 20-30% better than the Fujinon lenses to deliver the same detail on the print.

    I am certainly not knocking the Mamiya rangefinder cameras. Both the 6 and 7 have features which make them a lot easier to use than the 6X9 Fujis, which are totally mechanical and have some quirks, but if the only issue is image quality I would bet on the Fujis with large prints.


    Sandy






     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2006
  23. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I use the 6x7cm Fuji GW670III (90mm normal lens) and/or the 6x9cm Fuji GSW690III (65mm wide-angle lens) for medium format travel cameras. These manual/mechanical battery-independent cameras are very sturdy and very reliable. They are quieter than a comparable medium format SLR. They are large but no larger and even much lighter in weight than my 35mm motorized Nikon F2.

    Before the Fuji rangefinders, I had been shooting a 6x6cm format. When I had to replace my 6x6 system, I decided to go with the larger 6x7 and 6x9 formats instead of the smaller 645 format because I did not notice a significant difference in image quality between the 645 and 35mm formats. I did, however, notice a significant difference in image quality between the 6x7 and 6x9 formats verses the 35mm format.

    My two medium format rangefinders are great for scenic shots, group shots, and street shots. However, not being able to take good medium format head & shoulder portraits with a telephoto lens is the biggest disadvantage for me. If Fuji had produced a fixed telephoto lens rangefinder to supplement my fixed normal lens and fixed wide-angle lens rangefinders, I would have been very happy. [Please note: the older Fuji rangefinders do have interchangeable lenses.]

    When I purchased my Fuji rangefinders, I also considered the Mamiya rangefinder with its interchangeable lenses but its price far exceeded my budget.
     
  24. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Fair enough.
    As the gearheads will tell you: "There is no replacement for displacement."
     
  25. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    "I decided to go with the larger 6x7 and 6x9 formats instead of the smaller 645 format because I did not notice a significant difference in image quality between the 645 and 35mm formats."

    I always find such statements astonishing as 645 is 2.7X the area of 35mm. I see a huge difference in quality between 35mm and 645. I do see the benefit of even larger formats, but I, myself, see the largest improvement when moving from 35mm to 645.
     
  26. agGNOME

    agGNOME Member

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    "I always find such statements astonishing as 645 is 2.7X the area of 35mm. I see a huge difference in quality between 35mm and 645. I do see the benefit of even larger formats, but I, myself, see the largest improvement when moving from 35mm to 645."
    Nope, you really need the 6x9. And I can help you, or Mr Callow fund the purchase.
    in exchange for one of your systems :wink: