MF choice for newbie

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by digiconvert, Nov 7, 2005.

  1. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

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    OK so help me please, I have just come back to ilm after a daliance with digital (I went mad when 1Mp came out !) but after realising that in order to do anything interesting I needed to spend over £600(GBP) on kit I bought a second hand canon AF and dusted down my Pentax P30 T. I now have a BW and a colour tranny film on the go at all times and am doing a photography course BUT I really like the idea of MF slides on the light box and MF seems a good way to improve the quality of my prints (not my photography skill) without spending a fortune on L class lenses for the canon.
    I am getting a Lubitel off e-bay to see if I like TLRs but I really like the look of a Mamiya or Rollei TLR, maybe a Yashicamat.
    My questions (AT LAST HE GETS THERE) are as follows;
    -Will the Lubitel be a guide to what TLRs are like , allowing for the quality issues.
    -Are Mamiya C3/C33/C2 cameras ok to use after all these years ? I will be buying off e-bay so some guide as to what to look for would be good, I don't think that I can persuade the female part of this relationship that I need to lay out the money for a C330.
    -6 x 6 seems good because of the portrait/landscape issues with a WLF but would a Bronica SQ be another good choice, or do I need to think about other formats ?

    All suggestions , positive or otherwise gratefully received.
     
  2. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    The C220 is less expensive and excellent. The black rather than silver lenses are more recent and also excellent. I don't have any experience with the C3/33/2, but I can't imagine the C220 is that much more costly. Good luck.

    Oh...I should add that my wife used a YashicaMat for some time and had a good experience with it. The lens is not interchangeable, as the Mamiyas are, but I'd consider it over a Lubitel.
     
  3. eric

    eric Member

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    As film goes yes. Operationally, sort of. They are horrible to try to focus with a Lubitel.
    Well, most medium formats will have WLF. I think, if you want to start, invest in a body that you can have changeable lenses and backs. You can always resell if you don't like. I wouldn't go down the Lubitel path. There are others that are way nicer like the Yashica 124G or the Minolta Autocord.

    But there's nothing like being able to change film midroll with different backs. There's a AWEFULLY nice Mamiya RB for sale on the Apug classifieds. There's also Monihan's medium format web pages that will occupy your reading time for about a week or two and get you even more confused about medium format :smile:
     
  4. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Hi Convert
    What john Voss said + The SQ-A(i) is a great systemcamera ala the Hasselblad just a lot cheaper. It is more complicated than TLR's like the Yashica Mat, Rolleiflex and Minolta Autocord any of which will give you quality negs. The Bronica give you the WYSIWYG advantage over the TLR's which on the other hand are lighter a bit smaller more handholdable and more quiet.
    BTW all of the mentioned are without a lightmeter meaning you have to get one ore use a 35mm camera as meter. You can get a metering prismfinder for the Bronica but that makes things a bit more complicated. The WLF is a great thing.
    Regards Søren
     
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  5. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

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    Just bought a Weston Master on e-bay (only a III but for £3 inc postage who cares ?) I like the canon AF but it is just a bit too much of the camera driving me sometimes, does that make sense ?
     
  6. 127

    127 Member

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    If you like the lubitel, then you'll LOVE a real TLR, but if you hate it, then blame it on the camera. A Libitel is worth about what you pay for one (ie the cost of a couple of rolls of film), but they are totally clunky. A Rollei is a smooth machine, and a total pleasure to work with.

    The Lubitel will tell you if you like the Waist Level Finder (which you should!), and give you the experience of working with roll film, but thats about it.

    Most of the real TLR's are great, and built to last - they're far more reliable than an SLR, as there are few critical components.

    The Mimaya tries to be a "system" which I'm not convinced by - TLR's do what they do well, and get clunky when you start trying to make them into something they're not. A Rollei is a far more elegant beast than a C220. If you do decide you need a "system" then maybe a TLR isn't the way to go?

    It sounds like you're trying to get back to basics, and a TLR is a great choice. You should be able to pick up a Yashica, or even a Rollei at very moderate cost.

    Ian
     
  7. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    I don't have much to add to what has already been said, but here's my 2c. Give the lubitel a fair go, and when you move up to a smoother camera it will feel like a luxury car. My first MF camera was a beater TLR, with a crummy shutter and fogged lenses, but I learned to make the most of it and became that much better once I had a decent camera in my hands.

    Anyway, don't discount TLR with triplet lenses (like the cheaper seagulls, yashicas, rolleicords, etc). I've used a 3 element seagull and a 3 element rolleicord with extremely sharp results. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    Good luck,

    Andre
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I went from Lubitel to folding Zeiss-Ikon to Bronica ETRS...

    Yes, the Lubitel will tell you if you like the size of the negative and working with a WLF. An old folder will tell you if you like the size of the negative and the convenience of a pocketable camera.

    I like all three, so I have a prism finder and the WLF for the Bronica. I also have several folders...
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    An SQa(i) with a prism and a lever-wind handle has to be one of the nicest handling 6x6 cameras out there. It's very light and easy to focus, and feels more like a 35mm SLR than a Pentax 6x7, which looks more like a 35mm SLR.
     
  10. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Mamiya made a porroprism for the C3 and C2 families. So you can have your choice of either waist level or eye level viewing. There is also a choice of lenses, wide angle to telephoto, and a sheet film back.
     
  11. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I use a 330 Mamiya, and adopted it for similar reasons to your own. I didn't intend to keep it long, but a year later I've got rid of the EOS gear to fund some additions. Great camera. I may change to a Mamiya RB when my tax account is up to date. :sad:
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    You may also be able to use the pentaprism that Mamiya made - it works on my C330 and C220, but I am unsure if it fits the earlier cameras.

    It is brighter then the porrofinder (which used a mirror), and the image is not reversed, but it is heavy, and can be expensive.

    I used to use it for weddings - it permits you to avoid the dreaded "navel eye" view of the world :tongue:
     
  13. Kevin Roach

    Kevin Roach Member

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    I think the lubitel is probably the worst TLR to try. for the same money (really cheap) you can get a ciro-flex or graphic 22. Which is at least made of steel rather than plastic.
     
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  15. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I thought the Seagull had that title (World's World TLR).

    Seriously, however, one of the nice things about the Rolleiflex is its ease of operation. Now, I'm speaking of a camera that is in good condition. Focusing is effortless, and the camera is very simple to use. Flip up the finder, focus, shoot. You can see the shutter speed and aperture from above -- no need to check the front of the camera.

    Crank the film 1/2 turn and move the lever back and you're good to go for another shot.

    I'm not saying that a Mamiya also isn't a good camera, because I've always heard good things about them. But, a Rolleiflex is hard to beat, if you don't require interchangeable lenses. Downside: Many of them will need to be serviced, and if it hasn't been serviced, you should assume that it requires it.
     
  16. hurdy_gurdyman

    hurdy_gurdyman Member

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    I have both a porrofinder and a pentaprizm for for my C220. It also fits my old C2. The porrofinder is both a smaller image and not as bright, but weighs less.

    Dave
     
  17. brent8927

    brent8927 Member

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    A Broncia S2A would also be a great camera to consider; it has the 6x6 format and waist level finder, like the SQ-AI but it's older, and in a lot of people's opinions, better, because it uses Nikkor Lenses; it's what I started medium format with. I think a used body/lens/back kit will cost around $200 or so on Ebay. I don't know what a Lubitel will cost, but I think the investment in the Bronica or a Mamiya might be better, but my personal preference is for the SLR over the TLR.

    Also, considering that the Lubitel isn't considered a very good camera (from what I've heard, I've never used/seen one), you might actually not get a very good experience with it; it may not take very good pictures and it may handle awefully, so it might not be representative to what a nicer TLR or medium format camera would be like.

    I think you'd be much better off trying out a Rollifelx TLR, or really anything other than the Lubitel. Ebay prices should be pretty reasonable for any decent analog medium format camera.
     
  18. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I just noticed that Les McLean has posted several photographs taken with a Minolta Autocord which is a 6x6 TLR with one fixed lens. The images are gorgeous. I googled the camera and one site indicated that the writer obtained his for $80 (American). Check it out...Les may own and walk a dog (or not), but there's no way he's photographing with one.
     
  19. josephaustin

    josephaustin Member

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    Look honestly if you are looking for a 6x6 TLR the YashicaMats, and the Autocords have become a little pricey because of all the hype surrounding them. I would not pay more then $75-80 for a YashicaMat 124, or 124G or plain YashicaMat. I also would not pay more then $100 for a Minolta Autocord, or a Richoflex. Your best bet is a Rollie. For a little more then the cameras aforementioned you can buy a rolliecord. For less then $200 you can usually get a Rollieflex. This is the camera that all the Yashicas, Lubitals, Autocords, richos, etc, etc were made to imitate. The rollies are of a better build quality and have better lenses, esspecially if you purchase one with a Zeiss Planer, or Tessar lense. The winding mechanism in the rollies is far superior to the YashicaMats, which can be a real problem with some used cameras. If you do go with a Rollie make sure it has a PC connection for flash sync. Unless you are not interested in flash photography. I love TLR's but really its pretty much Rollie, Mamaya, then a bit of a drop off to the Autocord. The yashicas can make great pictures, but they are just not as well built, and when you are buying a thirty plus year old camera that matters.
    Just an honest opinion,
    Joe
     
  20. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I currently have both a Rolleicord and a Mamiya TLR along with several folders. I'd recommend a more Rolleicord IV or V or the similar Rollei or one of the other fixed lens TLRs mentioned. My Mamiya is a very good camera and can be used with a tiny tripod (compared to an SLR), but it is not a light little beast. The nice thing about the fixed lens TLRs is that they are great carry-around cameras (and much better used hand-held) even if you later decide you want an SLR system later. I also find it a whole lot more fun to use!
    If you decide on a Mamiya, though, I'd go with a C220 or 330. They are cheap enough that there is really no reason not to go with a more recent camera.
     
  21. elekm

    elekm Member

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    One other possibility is a Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex with a Tessar or Novar. Again, it's not as smooth as a Rolleiflex, but it's a very sturdy camera. There are numerous prewar and postwar versions. Most have the Tessar. Prewar cameras also offered a Triotar, while postwar cameras used a Novar. And like any older camera, assume that it needs to be serviced unless otherwise stated.
     
  22. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Well let's see. I have a Yashica 635, nice lens, crappy shutter, still above 1/15 of a second works fine, takes nice pictures especially in 135 mode. I have a Yashica 44 for my 127 film needs. Absolutely a joy to use, and nice images seem to appear when I use it.
    I have a C220 with 65/80/135/180 lens. All are quite adaquate but the 65 makes nice slightly WA images, the 180 makes nice head shot portraits. Very sharp lens, easy to use, but a bit heavy and it does take getting use to deal with the WLF and the reverse tracking of images. Wonderful for still lifes and landcape if you can tame the square format.

    With the prices as they are, I would avoid the Lubitel and Seagull brands, be carefull with the Yashica you might buy and either go for a Rollie or a C220 (at least). There is a lot of joy in a camera that feels good, not just has the specs that make the image.


    Oh yeah, my carry around MF camera? A Zeiss Ikon Nettar 6x6 with a 4.5 Novar lens. Guess focussing, guess exposers, and wonderful images. F11 is a wonderful thing. About 25 bucks at your local ebay outlet.

    tim in san jose
     
  23. 127

    127 Member

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    The Lubitel beats it hands down, but it's still not the winner.

    Don't forget the Brownie Starflex, but if you're really bottom scraping you'd need to go to something like the Ilfordflex. Made by Great Wall - the precision engineering company that brought you the Diana, their 127 TLR style camera (no focus controls of course) was rebadged by Ilford. Also, know as the Bedfordflex, and a few other names. They also made a deluxe version - the Kingston which featured three apertures, and a fake metering cell :smile:

    Ian
     
  24. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I have a Lubitel (a hand-me-down from my brother) and really don't like it. Despite that I recently acquired a Mamiya C330S with 80mm and 180mm lenses (couldn't afford my first choice of Pentax 67 MU).

    The Lubitel and Mamiya are like chalk and chipotle cheese-steak. I really like the C330S now, and probably wouldn't move to the Pentax even if the funds became available. The only things I don't like are the lack of DOF preview (but I'm getting round it), parallax error when working close (may invest in a paramender at some point) and the way some of the lenses work only in full stops (PITA, but not utterly critical as 95% of my stuff is now on B&W negative).

    Whether they're still of sufficient quality, as usual for me the most limiting factor is found standing just behind the camera! Here's a recent neg scan (the print will be better) - http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=9952&cat=500&ppuser=538
     
  25. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I hate to say it - but much of what has been said about the Lubitel is true. I actually had a friend borrow mine for the exact reason you bought yours. I warned him not to - but he insisted. I got back a camera with half a roll of film yet to be exposed. He got frustrated and couldn't get it back to me fast enough! So - beware of that.
    See my gallery here on APUG for some images taken with a Lubitel - see what you think, I can send you more if you like. I can tell you this: it can produce a very nice image if you get it right. But I have to also tell you this: if it wasn't for sentimental reasons, I would never spend the money on one (it was my first real camera when I was 10 or 11 years old) - and the one I have now is a gift given to me for that very reason (I will never part with it!).
    Having said that, should you get a TLR in general? Absolutely! They are very special cameras, and can't be beat for many street/candid applications (like shooting upside down over walls and around corners, at right angles to your line of sight - etc. plus, most of them stand up really well on their own on, lets say, a table at a cafe or restaurant or wall or man with a flat head - you name it. Also, its amazing how slow a shutter you can use "hand-held" - no mirror slap, leaf shutters, and with a WLF you can really do miracles in terms of steadying a camera on a good neck strap - especially if you have something to lean against). In a word: YES!

    but....

    There is a "but" here. Even though many of them have the word flex in the name... they are not the most flexible of configurations (please forgive me... it was, alas, an attempt at humour:smile:) A good MF SLR will be able to "do it all" a lot better. Interchangeable lenses, film backs, ability to see exactly what the lens does - well, you know from your 35mm experience what an SLR gives you over other systems. Its much the same in MF, only larger. I saw a beautiful Bronica on APUG classifieds just a few days ago that would fit your needs perfectly (and it was in red snakeskin - can't beat that!)... but only if you find size a problem. I am currently saving up for an RB67 system- a friend of mine has one, so I have a bunch of hands-on with one... and I just can't think of a better camera for me. This thing does it all, has abslutely excellent glass, is built like a tank (and wieghs as much too...) and it gives you a nice 6x7 negative in a back that rotates so you dont have to flip the camera on its side to get protrait orientation. And its an honest to goodness pro camera, with all the features and durability assosciated with it - all that for about $400 (a decent kit, ready to use, often with an extra lens or back - although not many seem to be as nice - or well priced - as the one here in the APUG classifieds!).

    Well, I am off to take my "shut up pills" now...:wink:

    Best of luck - sorry about the novel

    Peter.
     
  26. tdeming

    tdeming Subscriber

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    Hi,

    I've used the Mamiya C330 and C220 quite a lot. They are great cameras, very rugged, and the lenses perform well (I have the whole set). It's an OK "system camera" if you buy a good set of lenses, and I think you'll quickly get used to using the WLF (it's easier than a view camera, at least the image is right side up!). The C220 is a great choice since, although it does lack many features of the C330, it is about 1 lb. lighter, which helps if your going to carry it around. I also found parallax (the real problem with all TLRs) to be pretty easy to correct for. The main drawback I found with the Mamiya "system" was lack of film interchangeability. If you want to shoot both color and B+W, you need 2 bodies --which adds cost and a lot of weight. I'd be a little concerned with the early Mamiya TLRs, since these cameras got a lot of pro use and may be worn out. Another thing which was a problem in the 3 Mamiyas I had was the foam light seal in the back turns to black goo. I ended up replacing all of mine, which was a simple job, but time consuming. For the price C220's seem to be going on e-bay recently, I'd think that one of these with a black 80mm lens would be a great starting point for 6x6 that will let you build as you like. They are very solid, quiet cameras; great for portraiture and discreet street shooting.

    However, after using my Mamiya set-up for many years, I made the switch to a Hasselblad a couple years back. I tend to shoot a lot of different film, so exchangable film backs is a big bonus to me, something you'll find with the Bronica system as well. The hasselblad is certainly a more expensive option (especially lenses), but the 6x6 SLR is definitely a more versatile system. I got all my blad gear used, with chrome lenses, which lowers the cost considerably.



    cheers

    Tim