Most reliable 6X7 system?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by batwister, Oct 18, 2013.

  1. batwister

    batwister Member

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    My second Pentax 67 has developed sticky mirror syndrome and as much as I love this camera optically - call me superstitious - it hates my guts. My first Pentax 67 body was this way when I got it, and after sending it back to the repair 'specialist' three times (they couldn't fix it), so I let it go. The replacement body, which I bought here on APUG, looked and behaved flawlessly, until now. To say I am disappointed is an understatement, as I haven't been able to consistently make pictures on film, mechanical-worry free, for quite some time now.

    I'd like a camera in this format that I can depend on to a great extent - with the usual expectation of a yearly CLA. Quite honestly, I am willing to compromise on flawless optics and ergonomics, so long as it will get me through a solid stretch of shooting without anxiety attacks every time I press the shutter, and has a consistency of visual output.

    I'm after something in the same sort of price range - give or take.
     
  2. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    You must be under some kind of curse. P67's are famous for reliability, and were chosen by Shirakawa for his famous Himalayan expeditions and
    aerial shots too. I have one which has undergone hell for thirty-five years, was once stolen and dropped (twice), recovered, and still works perfectly, despite lots of obvious brassing. I've had this camera in the snow and rain, unprotected. I also have a newer backup P67. Maybe you
    need a different repairman.
     
  3. batwister

    batwister Member

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    Interesting. Different stories have been told to me on APUG.

    I will say that I took the camera with me while travelling over the summer and was shooting handheld the whole time - not one case of sticky mirror. Since I've been back, I've only used it on a tripod with cable release and it happens with every roll. However, I did use it exclusively with a cable release before going on that trip and didn't run into a problem. If the cause of the problem is me (and not divine intervention), I'm having a hard time establishing what I'm doing.

    A couple of questions for you, Drew: Which batteries do you use? Is there some kind of electrical shorting when using mirror lock-up while the meter is on? (I only ever shoot with MLU - is there an unwritten rule about switching off the meter before engaging?)
     
  4. Chrismat

    Chrismat Subscriber

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    Sorry for your problems with your cameras.

    I bought my Pentax 6X7 in 1983 and it's never failed me. In the late 90's It fell on a rock which caused a little dent in the front left side (as you are looking at i) and it still worked. I sent it to Pentax in Colorado to check it out and replace the plate. I pretty much always use the MLU function and haven't had any electrical problems. I know shipping to the U.S. would be a hassle, but you might want to consider sending it to Eric Hendrickson, he's a Pentax expert. Within the next few months I'm going to send my P6X7 to him for a checkup.
     
  5. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I always use mirror-lock except when handheld. My bodies are P67's, not the later 67II. I use the PX28 barrel batteries, ordinary Duracell
    alkalines. I have a remote battery cord for extreme cold, but rarely need it. Have you checked the electrical contacts for leaky battery corrosion?
     
  6. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Member

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    I met an experienced landscape photographer in Scotland back in 2007, he is using only film, and his main camera is Pentax 67II, his images are all piece of art, so he never stop to do amazing until now with this camera, i was a bit surprised you had an issue with this camera even mk1 version.

    I started film with MF as well, and my first 2 bodies together were Mamiya RZ67II and Hasselblad 501CM, Hasselblad RZ67 was my favorite camera i use mostly for m tests and loved all the results out it and never disappointed me, the only drawback was with the battery, so that i bought RB just recently and soon i will complete RB system to start shooting, another 6x7 camera i have is Mamiya 7II, i can't judge which one is reliable or dependable until i can use them all extremely or massively and then i can confirm and conclude my judgement.

    Try to go with Fuji rangefinder or folder one, i have Fuji GSW690II and it is flawless camera, i like the results out of the most over all other MF formats until i can afford 6x17 gear, so maybe i may think about Fuji 6x7 one, battery-free camera will always have a most use with me.
     
  7. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I like the Fotoman cameras, I'm not saying they are very reliable, but basically there is nothing to go wrong on them, the camera is just a bit of metal, and you've got replaceable backs, and they take large format lenses.

    So, worth a look if you like very simple cameras with nothing on them to break.
     
  8. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    You might look into a Maimya RB67

    Jeff
     
  9. Kyle M.

    Kyle M. Member

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    My first and only 6x7 is a Mamiya RB67 Pro S, I picked up the body, one 120 Pro SD back, waistlevel finder, and 90mm C lens on ebay for $300. I've been shooting it for about a month and absolutely love it, I've since shelved my other MF cameras and am just shooting the RB.
     
  10. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    •If you want to go handheld, and be somewhat portable, then I'd stick with the P67 sytem.
    •If you want more "options"(IMO), and like a rotating back design, I wouldn't look past the RB67 Pro-S/SD line. No batteries, all mechanical. Taken care of and exercised regularly, they're very dependable(yet somewhat bulky off-tripod) beasts.

    •If you have some more coin, and don't mind a more limited lens selection, and higher price to get a very small package, then the Mamiya 7II system and its glass is extremely high quality. Optically, they're superb.
    •If you want a single-lens(non removable), stow-in-a-jacket-pocket-easily type camera, then get one of the Voigtlander or Fuji bellows folding cameras: GF670/Bessa 6x7
    •If you want to spend less on a fixed lens camera, but still get a very high quality image, even wide open, and don't mind a bit more bulk, then the Fuji GW670III is a superb choice. Rangefinder to focus, but it's very simple. All mechanical, leaf shutter 90mm 3.5 lens. I've owned a few and regret selling them!

    cheers,
    Dan
     
  11. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    A Speed Graphic with a roll film back. Or maybe a Rapid Omega.
     
  12. momus

    momus Member

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    The Fuji and Mamiya cameras are reliable (no mirror to cause you problems), but I never cared for them too much. I know people rave about their IQ, but to me the Fuji gave very sharp, but very boring photos, and the camera was just huge. The Mamiya felt plasticy. Something about the way the body seemed to fit loosely on the inner frame. You may wish to consider 6x6 and buy a Rolleiflex/Rolleicord. Much smaller and lighter, and very reliable. They're made for carrying on a strap and using hand held, and the lenses are wonderful w/ lots of character.
     
  13. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    That is a bad story. The bodies are getting quite old now, that's the problem with the 6x7 (especially) and 67 variant, but excellent specimens can still be found if you are patient and probing. The cameras, any sort, need to be thoroughly assessed and scrutinised by you, in your hands, not left to chance judgement by email or eBay. My preference would be to run a roll of transparency through any newly-acquired 6x7 /67 and let the camera speak. Other problems though, related to the rudimentary circuits (resistors, capacities), pawls, clips, cogs and clips that make up the shutter/mirror/damper/shutter release and wind on mechanism all add their own problems over time.

    Of an alternative camera, the Fuji 6x7 series might be worth a look; it is something that caught my eye in early considerations. I don't see many of these on the second-hand market.
     
  14. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    The Mamiya 6 x 7 is superb. I have used it with the 65mm lens almost every day for the past 12 years with no problems, no CLA and always great results. I would strongly recommend this camera unless you are wedded to an SLR way of working. I have, in the past, also used the Fuji 6 x 7 but quickly changed to the 6 x 9 as it was the same size and weight but gave a larger format.

    If working with a rangefinder suits the kind of work you do then that is the way to go as the only moving parts are rangefinder (I actually rarely use this as I almost always zone focus), film advance and shutter.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  15. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    A Bronica GS1? Love mine and it's easily handheld; lenses have come down in price since I put my kit together too.
     
  16. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Buying any 20-40 year old camera of unknown history and expecting it to be reliable without having it serviced, re -lubed and the light seals replaced is a big ask. Having your equipment maintained instead of buying more and more is I.M.O. part of being a serious photographer.
     
  17. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Now that the usual suspects have been gathered, with both practical and anecdotal views given, I'll offer my take on this. Rangefinders as a group might seem to be more reliable than SLR's. The mirror in the P67 is legendary for causing issues, and I don't see how mirror mechanisms inherent in the type avoid the laws of complexity. But an all mechanical camera may also be viewed as more robust than an all electrical camera, which won't fire at all when the e's aren't there. Will an all electrical camera take a brief dunking or thorough wetting and keep on ticking? Presumably a mechanically based camera would still work fine, once the battery is dried out.

    And then there's the matter of focusing. How reliable can rangefinding be with inexact focus patches and hyper focal inexactitude? Better know your camera and lenses well. Seeing through the lens does seem preferable. As far as metering goes, I'll leave that to others, as I favor a separate spotmeter with any camera, rarely taking advantage of on–board metering.

    Anyway, those are considerations of reliability I would take into account. I just come from the school (KISS) that says that the least complication you can put between the subject and yourself, the better. For the record, I've used the M7II reliably for 15 years, almost exclusively in all weather outdoor conditions, but its all electronic build simply doesn't inspire confidence in its reliability – so I'm also really careful with gear I cannot afford to replace. Frankly, even though it's my favorite camera of any format to shoot with, I might look to the Fuji's if I needed to replace it.



    P.S. Here's a brief corollary to the reliability issue. My M7II takes the same battery, as my (Pentax) spot meter, and my tiny Black Diamond Ion headlamp, all of which I carry in my kit (with spare). That kind of redundancy inspires confidence in the backcountry, both in the reliability of one's photography, and the ability to make it back without undue apprehension when the last of the golden hour or sunset finds you without waxing full moon, deep in a blackening forest, more than an hour distant from car or camp.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 19, 2013
  18. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    +1

    Mamiya 7 II owner, best system I have! Everything is superb, if you can handle RF's the. Again, you won't have that mirror problem :smile:


    Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  19. Kyon Thinh

    Kyon Thinh Member

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    Got Pentax 67 II, film transport gear is broken.
    Got a Pentax 6x7, after five shot it has short circuit or whatever, very hard to get it work again.
    Got another 6x7, after one roll it can't stop winding the film.
    Although I want to stick with this system, their problems make me scared. The lenses are very good actually. I love them.
    My RZ67 works well, robust enough for me. Got some problems with dark slide but it is not serious and can't make the camera into a paperweight like Pentax 6x7.
     
  20. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    A lot depends on what kind of subject matter you need to capture. SLR's like the P67 have a huge advantage when it comes to available focal lengths and types of lenses. Rangefinders are best with wide to normal focal lengths, have relatively little to offer in telephotos, and have parallax issues with closeup work. There are also significant weight differences between the respective systems. So when it comes to RF vs
    SLR, you're really trying to make an apples vs oranges comparison, and not what is functionally "best" per category. There is also quite a bit
    of image quality difference between the low end, size-wise, of MF @ 645 and the high end @ 6x9.
     
  21. David T T

    David T T Member

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    My RB67, along with three 120 backs and my 65/90/127/180 Sekor C lenses recently survived a bike crash where I fractured a rib and got road rash and cuts from my face to my knee. There's blood stains on the canvas bag all of this gear was in.

    That's quality!
     
  22. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I guess this is the bit where everyone weighs in with "I've been using X for decades and it's perfect!" (an RZ67 for me, but only ~6 years). Probably not many people have used multiple 6x7 systems.

    It's all a matter of risk analysis, which risks your usage poses to the camera and which risks you can tolerate:
    - an RB is mechanically pretty strong, but the shutters will become inaccurate and require CLA
    - an RZ is nearly as strong as an RB, and lighter. The shutters are perfectly accurate (nice if you shoot chromes)
    - the electrical connections in an RZ can be flaky wrt metering. Dirty contacts (back/body and prism/body) can cause bad metering results, but I've never seen a bad contact prevent the camera from operating
    - a Mamiya 7 is light and sharp and wonderful and expensive and do you really want to get it dirty?
    - etc.

    Ya need to think about which features and risks you care about and ignore a bunch of people on the internet who've probably only used one thing. Pentaxes are meant to be reliable and they have a really nice lens selection, so I second the thought of looking at a new repairer if the camera and its features suit you.
     
  23. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    use a TLR if you need reliable and can take the bulk a mamiya if you need interchangibility or straight film run.

    Step back or crop less.

    If you are in a studio and your instant film shot is bad spit on the RB and shoot with the TLR.
     
  24. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    Lots of advice! I don't know how much to add but I have owned and used a variety of 6x7 cameras.

    P6x7
    P67
    P67ii
    RB67 Pro Sd
    GS-1
    Mamiya Press Super 23

    After a few years with each, I have settled on the P67ii but have only had it for a few months so can't say much. As for the others, my next favorite was the GS-1 for its portability, great lenses even though it had a minor winding mechanism issue. But alas, I recently sold it and even though it worked fine for me, upon arrival at the buyer's doorstep it developed a problem that is requiring repairs! :sad: All of these cameras were purchased second hand and I never had any significant mechanical issues with any of them.

    Since you seem to really like the Pentax system my suggestion would be that you send your Pentax in for repairs and I strongly recommend Eric at pentaxs.com He is very good at what he does. If that fails then look for a GS-1 in good condition. The RB was just too heavy for me even though it was a beauty and I loved the fact that it didn't require batteries.