MF options for new user

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by jran01, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. jran01

    jran01 Member

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    I'm a 35mm user looking to get into medium format, and hoping to get some feedback on possible options. I shoot mostly b&W, mostly people (portraits & other), and some city/rural scapes.

    I'd like a camera that can be handheld, in addition to tripod, but don't have a seller nearby where I can get a sense of size, weight, etc. My budget is up to $300 or so, and have been looking on eBay at Pentax 645, Bronica etrs, and a few others.

    Are these viable options, or any other suggestions?

    Thanks!
     
  2. scott k

    scott k Member

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    Think about a TLR

    I think you might want to take a look at a twin lens reflex. The Yashica-Mat line (except for the 124G that is over priced and has film transport problems) or a Minolta Autocord would work nicely and fit within your budget except you are limited to a 'normal' lens. You could probably get a Rollie that fit within your budget as well. If you need to change focal lengths the Mamiya C220 or C330 and the 'f' models would allow you to do that. Some people have a hard time with the backward image in the waist level finder, but I was shooting 4x5 before I got a tlr and the backward image wasn't a bit deal for me. I've used the Mat 124G but had film transport problems twice so I returned it. I got a C220 with a normal lens and a wide angle lens but sold it because it was too heavy, bulky and ugly (regretting it now). I should have an Autocord from 1963 by Wednesday.
     
  3. Amund

    Amund Member

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    You`ll probably will have dozens of cameras to consider when everybody replies :smile:

    I`ll say buy a Bronica Etrs/Etrsi, very nice camera for what you want. Very smooth focusing(extremely important for people shots) and sharp lenses, I have a 75mm PE and 150mm MC. I used to have a Hasselblad 500C/M, much happier now.
    The Blad` is great, but the older lenses are a pain to focus..
     
  4. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I would agree with the Bronica ETRS suggestion. I have had mine for a year and a half now and I am very pleased with it. I have the standard 75mm lens and a 50mm and I have recently bought the hand grip and the plain (non metered) prism, both of which make handholding much simpler.



    Steve.
     
  5. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Both can be handheld. It's more a question of what features you need want.

    The Pentax will come with built in metering and winder. Both can be added to the Bronica but will cost and add weight.

    OTOH the Bronica has leaf shutters,waist level finder, swapable backs not inserts like the Pentax.

    Both the Pentax and the latest Bronica offer TTL flash if that matters. The Pentax will let you use P6 [Kiev etc] lens with an adapter. With prices the way they are today this only really matters for the fisheye.

    IMHO. Forget Ebay. Click on the KEH sponser link and pickup a ETRSI kit. Just checking they've got a bargain ETRSI with 75mm PE lens,120 back. Non metering Prism all for $265. Even if you better that on Ebay you won't get the warranty and service that KEH provides.
     
  6. Kobin

    Kobin Member

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    I have a Mamiya C330S; I love it, but it's a tank. I use the 180mm lens set for portrarure, brings the total weight of camera and lens to about 6 pounds, and the S model has a lot more plastic than the previous issues. The C220's are lighter, I've heard. Of course, the smaller lensets are much lighter, too. Had to get a serious tripod to support the beast. I also find hand-holding this camera difficult at best. A prism finder will solve the right-to-left viewfinder reversal problem.

    I like to use this camera for studio-type work and set-up landscapes. I take a half-pound folder with me for hand-held fun (six-by-six zone focused folders with sharp, contrasty lenses can be had for the price of a Holga if you're patient on ebay; a really good 6x9 coupled viewfinder folder can be had well within your budget. Of course, these cameras are a bit problematic for closeup work).

    If I needed a camera that was easy to hold, took interchangable lenses, and offered the advantages of a big negative, I'd look for a 6x4.5 slr, probably a Mamiya (because I like optics and the price for a 645 system).

    K.
     
  7. DBP

    DBP Member

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    For portraiture I prefer a TLR because for the waist level finder and quiet shutter. And a good Autocord or Yashica won't even come close to your budget, while you may even be able to afford a Rollei. If you really want to go the SLR route, go to KEH, you can be sure of the quality and often beat eBay prices.
     
  8. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Jran01,

    The comments above are all good ones to consider. Why not also consider first the size of negative you want. Almost anything in MF will tend to outdo 35mm by an obvious margin, but 6 x 7 or 6 x 9 negatives require significantly less enlargement for a given print size than 4.5 x 6 does. Another basic consideration is RF or TLR vs. SLR. RF's and TLR's tend to be much simpler, quieter, lighter, and somewhat cheaper, but SLR's can offer a lot of versatility if you're thinking ahead to different lenses and/or accessories.

    Konical
     
  9. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    Mamiya C330 Pro-S. Good camera, 6X6 format, interchangeable lenses, easy to learn. About $350.00 with an 80mm lens. I would buy the newer black lenses and stay away from the older silver lenses unless they have just been serviced.
     
  10. Gatsby1923

    Gatsby1923 Member

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    I have a Bronica S2A with a 75, and 50mm lense and two backs I got for $225 on ebay. I love it though i need to send it in for a CLR soon.

    Dave M.
     
  11. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I've had a RolleiTLR, a Mamiya TLR and a Pentax 645. Head shots are difficult with the Rollei due to minimum focus distance and paralax. The C330 eliminates the focus distance problem and has some compensation for parallax. It also gets unwieldy to use handheld when shooting portraits with the lens racked way out. Still, it would be a reasonable choice since the square is a nice format for portraits. In the end though, I'd recommend an SLR. The Pentax is a great camera if you can live without interchangable backs and low flash sync. It is much like a big, easy to hold 35mm. I also have the whole thing (camera, 3 lenses) in a very small bag.

    Throwing another option out there......If close focus work is not an issue and you shoot a normal lens mostly, I'd definitely consider a Rollei simply because it is a joy to use (I sold the Mamiya, but not the Rollei). It is small and light and you can easily take it anywhere. It also breaks the ice nicely with people you might be photographing.
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have a bunch of different ones...

    If you just want to see if MF is anything for you, start with an old folder: Zeiss Ikon and Daiichi Zenobia are both good, with decent lenses.

    If you want a "real" camera, I would recommens a Bronica ETRS. I've been using one for years, and it's my first choise for a "travel camera" when logistics (read: Wife) precludes bringing LF.

    The Bronica has swappable backs with inserts. And swappable finders, too. I have two 120 backs, a Polaroid back and a 135W back for mine. The 135W back gives 24x54mm frames on 35mm film, great if you run out of 120 in some rremote place where 135 and APS is all that can be had.

    I also have a Mamiya C3. While that is also a great camera, I'm sorry to say that since it's so much heavier than the Bronica it tends to be used as a letter press.
     
  13. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Yup but the main advantage with the inserts was you could buy an insert for less then a whole back. I've bought older used backs for less then $30. I've bought the latest version for not much more then $30. I guess an insert takes up less room in the bag. OTOH with the Pentax the only option is the insert.