MF RF's: Makina, Bessa, Fuji

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by msbarnes, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    I'm looking for a compact medium format RF.
    I'd prefer it to be mechanical (but not a deal breaker) and I do not need a meter or interchangeable lenses.

    Originally, I narrowed it down to these three cameras:
    -Makina 67
    -Bessa III (GF670)
    -Fuji GS645

    But I would perhaps consider these two:
    -Bronica RF645
    -Mamiya 6

    I'm not really interested in these cameras:
    -GA645: I want manual focus
    -Mamiya 7: I'd rather get a 6 because it is more compact and 6x6 (my preferred format)
    -Classic Folders: too unergonomic
    -Fuji 6x7/6x9: too large

    Well I'm not so concerned about lens quality, lens speed, and negative size but mostly the reliability and useability.

    -How do these cameras compare in reliability/durability? I like the compactness of the Makina and Fuji GS645 but I fear that they are not that reliable and durable. I plan on "throwing" this camera in my bag without hesitation.
    -viewfinder/rangefinder: can I assume that they re all good enough?

    Well I'm really interested in the Makina but I fear that it is too expensive (6x7 and an f2.8 lens commands $$$) so the Fuji GS645 is a good alternative given that I can accept 645 and an f3.4 lens. But then I fear that these cameras are not that reliable so perhaps I should just get a Mamiya 6 since it is probably cheaper than the Makina, more reliable, easier to find, and just more practical at the expense of bulk.
     
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  2. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I'm not sure how you compiled this list without mentioning the Mamiya 7 and the Bronica RF645. And you just briefly mentioned the Mamiya 6. My recommendation is the Mamiya 6 or the RF645. Both are great cameras, though electronically controlled shutters, which is not an issue for me. The Mamiya 6 lens collapses into the body, and the RF645 is just compact as it is. Both are amazing amazing cameras!! Fuji 645 is pretty much the same as the RF645 but no where near as nice to use. and the VF's are not great on the Fuji RF's in my opinion. The Bessa III is nice and the Makina 67 is nice too but a bit pricey, BUT all three cameras you mentioned are fixed lens cameras. May not matter to you now, but who knows down the road you may want other focal lengths, and the Mamiya 6/Mamiya 7 and RF645 offer this.
     
  3. philosli

    philosli Member

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    I've a Fuji GA645. It's a superb camera. Sharp, lightweight, very portable, though every time I took it out in front of my friends, they started laughing at it for its size. But it's very "small" in the MF world, I guess. I once saw a Mamiya 7 on a shelf and it looks much bigger than my GA645.

    It also has a small flash that sometimes can be used as a fill-in flash in daylight. I also bought its dedicated flash bracket that is very handy. It allows me to mount the camera on a potato masher in 'landscape' mode.

    BTW, is Bessa III the same as Fuji GF670?
     
  4. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    I sometimes think about the Mamiyas and Bronica but at the time of writing this, I was leaning towards something more compact (collapsible/folder). I'm very uncertain when it comes to 120 RF's. I feel that there are too many pros and cons and that there are two essential types of 120 RF's:

    1. Those that are more compact but less ergonomic: Classic folders, Fuji 645, Makina, Bessa III (same as GF670)
    2. Those that are not compact but more ergonomic: Bronica RF, Mamiya 6/7, Fuji 6x7/6x9

    I don't really need multiple focal lengths for what I intend on using this camera for. Just casual slow weekend shooting. I'd rather have an SLR for multiple focal lengths and if I were to get other lenses in medium format then it would probably be on the longer end, for portraits, and that screams SLR.

    I may consider a Bronica RF or a Mamiya 6 because I really want something compact. From what I've seen online the Mamiya 7 looked kind of big, I would probably look for comparison photos with the Bronica RF and/or Mamiya 6. My thinking is that the advantages of these two cameras over the Makina and Fuji 645 is ergonomics and robustness, I may get one of those since it is more practical.
     
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  5. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    You're right about the Mamiya 7 being "large." It's still small for MF camera when compared to SLRs but larger than the Mamiya 6 which the lens can collapse. The RF645 is smaller than the Mamiya 6 but the lens does not collapse. I'd decide first what format you'd prefer to shoot, then go from there. The Fuji 645's are quite a bit cheaper than the RF645 and if you only want one lens that may be the way to go, IF you want to shoot 6x4.5.
     
  6. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    But regardless of the camera that I select, do you think all of these cameras are fairly reliable and robust? My thinking is that the Mamiya can take the most beating and is a better workhorse. I hear the plaubel is built well but the internals are quite fragile.

    I'd rather go 6x6 so a Mamiya 6 makes more sense if this is a main shooter. I wanted a Fuji 645 because i figured that I can sacrifice the format for compactness. I think Mamiya 6 and Fuji 645 make a more sensible combination: 6 as the main shooter and 645 when I really want something compact. If I had to choose one, then i think it would be the 6 at the moment.
     
  7. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Also, check this out.
     
  8. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    thanks! I think both are very compact, or atleast compact-enough.
     
  9. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Man if I were to choose from that set you originally narrowed down the plaubel makina 67w would be my choice. It's just so compact and sleek with a nice wide and fast focal length lens. Pretty much bring it with you anywhere and stores in a coat pocket plus has a meter.

    Does anyone know the history of why they chose to go with a nikkor? I was always curious about that.
     
  10. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    I can't seem to choose between the Mamiya 6 and the Fuji GF670 so I've kept both. I did let go of the Fuji GS645 in order to finance the GF670.

    As you mentioned, the Mamiya 6 has the best ergonomics, and the 50mm lens is absolutely top notch, although the others are great too.
    The GF670 is superb in every regard. I just love it. One obvious difference between it and the Mamiya 6 is that the Fuji viewfinder is much brighter. And while the GF is bigger than the GS645, the difference is not as great as one might imagine. Take a look at this article to compare the size of these two folders. It's in Japanese but the photos are very helpful even if you don't read Japanese.

    I've never owned the Bronica RF645 but have read several reports that it is prone to mechanical problems.
     
  11. smolk

    smolk Member

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    The Makina is a great camera. The main failure with it concerns the meter, which is a built-in flaw of the construction. The meter is not too useful anyway IMO.
    Sometimes I read about the transport mechanism which was apparently up for improvement in the 670 which followed the 67. Key is that the camera was handled with care.

    I had a 67 which worked and it was a pleasure, very sharp, nice saturation. Only downside is the shutter release: it does make you move the camera downward, even if ever so slightly.
    If the price is not different, I would now go for the Fuji/Bessa 670. For what I've seen, very nice camera, bokeh no better or worse, and it will be 30 years newer.... And you have the choice between 6x6/6x7, Plaubel is only 6x7.
    Plaubel do still service their old cameras, but at a (substantial) cost.

    I have heard warnings about repair of the Mamiya 6 because there are no longer parts available. Not sure how true this is. You may want to ask a local(-ish) repairer of repute if s/he has any parts, etc.

    BTW, it's not a rangefinder, but I was surprised as to how little different in size my Rolleiflex was compared to the Plaubel.
     
  12. Heinz

    Heinz Subscriber

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    I own a Makina 67 and do like especially the meter with its spot-meter functionality: The measurement spot is identical to the rangefinder spot in the center of the viewfinder. Using it on the right "18% grey" parts of the subject results in exact exposure - important in particular for slides.
     
  13. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    I am actually fancying a 120 RF to compliment my Rolleiflex! I love the IQ but I want something faster to shoot and at eye-level...I have Leica M's but I sometimes find the IQ lacking.
     
  14. smolk

    smolk Member

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    If faster is what you're after, I would not take a folder (which you need to handle with some care). The Mamiyas 6 or 7 are a more logical choice in that case.
    My lightmeter in the Makina 67 certainly was not as precise as described above, but maybe I was unlucky.