MF cameras with mechanical shutters?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by hpulley, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    I was pretty set on getting a Bronica SQ as my first MF (yes, I'm still waffling on that) when I was reading in the manual that it uses a 6v Lithium/Alkaline battery like my AE-1. Well, I was out in the cold this morning and my AE-1's battery died on me, temporarily from the cold and that reminded me that I really wanted something fully mechanical like my preferred FTbN instead. I assume that like the AE-1, the Bronica SQ will have battery problems in extreme cold in which I often find myself shooting. The SQ falls back to a 1/500 shutter if the battery dies but that isn't really good enough.

    So I'm wondering, which MF cameras are fully mechanical for shutter control? Mamiya RB? Fuji GSW 690-III? Fuji GW690-III? Pentax 6x7? Is there a list somewhere? I searched the forum and google but couldn't find one, sorry if I missed some easy search parameters.
     
  2. whlogan

    whlogan Subscriber

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    I think you want a Hasselblad.... all mechanical.... no batteries..... I use them both for just that reason! Great lenses, too..... but very expensive, but its only money, isn't it?
    Logan
     
  3. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Money is the most replacable thing... thanks for the advice. Any suggestion on models to look for? Still not sure they're in my price range but worth a look.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The Mamiya C series TLRs are fully mechanical.

    Some of the Mamiya 645 cameras can use a battery holder that allows you to keep the battery itself inside a jacket or other protected environment.

    The electronic shutters themselves have an advantage in cold weather - they are not as prone to slowing down.
     
  5. agfarapid

    agfarapid Subscriber

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    Consider the Mamiya RB 67 series. They are cheap, great optics and fully mechanical and very well built. You might also consider some of the Fuji rangefinders. Excluding the fully automatic zoom 645, most of them use batteries just for metering. I have a GS 645 that's fully mechanical and I use it in all kinds of weather--snow, rain, etc. with no problems.
     
  6. Morry Katz

    Morry Katz Member

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    You might also consider a Rollei TLR or a Rollei SL66 (if you can find one).

    Cheers.

    Morry Katz - Lethbridge Alberta
     
  7. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    Rollei TLRs, Mamiya RB (but not RZ), Mamiya C330 TLRs, Hasselblad 500c, 500cm, 501c, 501cm, 503cx. Some hasselblads have electronic focal plane shutters, like the 205tcc, and some have mechanical shutters but electric film advance. All mamiya 645 models have electronic shutters. Pentax 67 is also electronic, even the oldest ones.
     
  8. elekm

    elekm Member

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    You mean system cameras, right, with interchangeable lenses? Not just medium format cameras?

    Because that helps narrow the replies a bit.

    Among medium format cameras, nearly all cameras made before 1970 had mechanically controlled shutters. And many medium format cameras didn't have meters built into the bodies.

    And then there are the decades of folding cameras and twin-lens models -- with most of the metered models relying on the batteryless selenium cell.

    But I think you mean interchangeable-lens models.
     
  9. garpie

    garpie Member

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    Kievs are mechanical too, only need batteries for TTL prisms.
     
  10. Trond

    Trond Subscriber

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    Older Bronicas, such as the S2A, have mechanical focal plane shutters. Except the EC* models.

    Trond
     
  11. Marc B.

    Marc B. Member

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    With my RZ, which is battery dependent, I just keep another battery in the watch pocket of my jeans. I don't put any other metallic items in the same pocket with the battery, (prevents short circuiting).

    The spare battery only costs about $4, and it's not a big deal to rotate batteries through the camera every 30 minutes or so, putting the cold battery back in my pocket to warm-up again.

    As was mentioned earlier, electronic shutters can be capable of more accurate operation throughout all temperature ranges. Mamiya even makes a remote battery holder for cold weather operation of the RZ. Basically a dummy/false battery placed in the battery well of the camera, with two leads coming out that are long enough to be placed in the photographers pocket. The real battery is now actually in a lip-stick style holder, staying as warm as the photographer's clothing allows. Your camera however, is now tethered to your body.

    Purchase the camera you want, then carry a warm spare battery in your pocket...it's so easy!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2010
  12. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    mamiya press cameras, koni-omega press cameras, graflex xl (which also uses zeiss glass, and schneider...) press cameras.
     
  13. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    I do the battery swap trick sometimes with my AE-1 but when it is cold enough that my fingers are ready to fall off I don't like to do this, I end up dropping the batteries in the snow...

    Since I like 35mm SLRs a MF system camera would be good but I'm just starting out at the point, seeing if it is worth it to handle the bigger negs, seeing if they'll enlarge to 11x14 with more detail and better tonality than 35mm or if what I have is good enough so at this point either a system camera with a 120 back and a really good standard to wide lens or a fixed lens system that is similarly good in optics is what I'm looking for, with a shutter that's mechanical so I don't need to worry about swapping batteries. I need to see if loading and unloading the film, developing the big negs and enlargiing them to 11x14 is as easy as 35mm and gives better results.

    I don't need AE but a built-in meter would be convenient. I can use hand held but I'm often shooting from where I can only get reflected readings so being able to get an incidence reading is usually impossible.

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll see what is available at what prices.
     
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  15. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    The older voigtlander folders don't need batteries. Probably most other folders too.
     
  16. film_man

    film_man Member

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    3 solutions, in order of expense:

    A. If you want a square, mechanical SLR get a Hasselblad.
    B. Get a heat-pack, stick at the bottom of the camera and it will keep both your hand warm and the battery. I am not responsible for any damage to your hand/camera/both!
    C. Get a spare batter, keep it in a pocket next to your body and swap it when needed. The only issue with swapping batteries in the cold is that the flimsy battery cover the SQ has might snap, as plastic gets quite brittle when cold...
     
  17. DBP

    DBP Member

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    Hasselblads, Kievs, and Pentacon 66s of course, also don't forget the Horseman 970/980/VHR and the Linhoffs.

    Any metering system other than selenium is going to have temperature issues, but maybe you can keep a spot meter in a pocket with a warmer.
     
  18. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I have a Holga in addition to my Nikons and my RB67. I do fully expect my RB67 to kick my Nikon's tail in print quality, no question If I point both cameras at the same subject the RB wins. What surprises me constantly though is how easy it is for my Holga to whip my Nikon's tail too.

    It is a good thing that Canons and Nikons are so easy to use and that the film is so inexpensive.

    MF camera work is nowhere as easy as 35mm, period.

    Enlarging is a whole different animal though.

    For example, I like snappy B&W prints and have started printing some 11x14 over the last month or two. I'm struggling here.

    At 5x7 HP5 is great to my eye, at 8x10 it looks reasonable, but at 11x14 the grain has become a distinct part of the composition and that doesn't always fit my vision for the shot.

    35mm Delta 400 though seems to do just fine for me at 11x14. MF is still better with similar films.

    What I'm saying is that there's more to it than just format.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 14, 2010
  19. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Even a Holga can beat your Nikon? I find that surprising. By reputation their optics are poor but perhaps I've heard wrong. The price seems to be right. Which Holga do you have?

    I couldn't believe how well my last rolls of HP5+ in DD-X turned out. There was so little grain even in 11x14" prints that it really looks great. Honestly if every roll can turn out like this I can stop buying Delta 100 and FP4+. My last rolls of Delta 400 and 100 in DD-X printed to 11x14" have more obvious grain for some reason I can't explain. With good lenses my 35mm stuff is satisfactory to me at even 11x14" with the 100-400 speed films (3200 is very grainy even at 8x10, even in DD-X) but I've never, ever worked with larger negatives so I may not know what I'm missing.

    Thus I want to try 120 but I don't want to invest a lot because I don't want something that is an order of magnitude harder. I can pick up a bigger enlarger for not much money but the medium format system is turning out to be more troublesome, just so many manufacturer's and types to choose from compared to 35mm where you have a few big names and a few smaller ones and then mostly the SLR vs. RF. With MF it's all over the place.

    I know it isn't all about the format. I already work with square and 2x3 formats and compositionally I find it interesting to try and work with square film rather than just using it to be lazy about not having to decide between portrait and landscape orientation.

    For me it is all about the print, the result. If I can use the camera to take a good latent image, develop it into a good negative and make a better print than I can with 35mm then I'll be happy. If not, I'll likely go back to what I know.
     
  20. CGW

    CGW Member

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    For me, the RB67 hits the price/quality sweet spot. Put together a Pro S kit in 2009 and have happily binged on the luscious negatives and transparencies for prints. The basic kit with a 90mm isn't exactly petite but it's really not a monster. It's non-fiddly and easy to work with gloves in awful weather. I have Mamiya 645 and Bronica SQ-B kits but tend to shoot the big RB67 the most. They're plentiful and usually available in decent shape for not much $.
     
  21. elekm

    elekm Member

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    You might want to start simple. Perhaps with a TLR, if you want to try the square format. Then add an interchangeable-lens system.

    With the amount of medium format cameras on the used market, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to have parallel systems for a fraction of what they used to cost when new.

    One warning: Carl Zeiss lenses for the Hasselblad and Rolleiflex SL66 and later 6x6 systems often are much higher than their Japanese competitors.

    There also are Carl Zeiss Jena (East German) lenses for the Praktica/Pentacon cameras, although the bodies can be a crap shoot,from what I've read. They might work, or they might not.
     
  22. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Since I don't really know what I'm looking at I am looking for local deals so I can handle stuff first. It seems like Hasselblad 500C, Mamiya RB67, Mamiya C330 are the main kits around along with the battery powered stuff. The C330 kits look quite affordable with a few lenses. The RB67 is more with several lenses but with one it is less than the Hasselblad. I'm surprised there are some standard Hasselblad 80mm kits which are affordable though it would just be a one lens kit for now, the 50mm kits seem much more expensive.
     
  23. photoncatcher

    photoncatcher Member

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    One more voice for the RBs. Been shooting with them for years, and never had a problem in the cold weather (except my fingers getting numb). The Kievs are great too, but I prefer the 6x7 format to the 6x6.
     
  24. Ratboy

    Ratboy Member

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    I don't think anyone mentioned and it should be at least brought up, the RZ67 has an emergency mechanical function, (but it will only shoot at 1/400).

    If it were me I would go with a Hassy or an RB.
     
  25. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    While I'd love to be able to shoot at 1/400 or 1/500 in emergency situations I'm usually shooting at slower shutter speeds in the kind of weather that kills the battery.

    Seems I could get an RB67 with 65/90/180 or 50/90/150 for a fairly reasonable amount locally, both with a pair of 120 backs. Or I could get a Hasselblad with just the 80mm 2.8 but for less money. Would like a wide angle too but 50mm Hasselblad kits are about twice as much and way more than the three lens RB67 kits. Must check them out.
     
  26. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    try to test a mamiya super 23 with a ground glass back. Sweet setup for landscapes with the 100/3.5. 6x9 is also alot more negative real estate.