Need help deciding which medium format to aim for!

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by TexasLangGenius, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. TexasLangGenius

    TexasLangGenius Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I want a medium format camera that has swappable backs for 6x6, 6x9, etc., and I was wondering which would be the best for me (decent price, versatility).

    Any ideas for a camera body (and the average price for a decent one)?

    Thanks!
     
  2. zach

    zach Member

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    mamiya press?
     
  3. PaulMD

    PaulMD Member

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    Swappable backs are tough... the Mamiya Press is one option, you could also go for a full 2x3 (=6x9cm) or 4x5 press camera and try to find rollfilm holders to fit. If you can tolerate cropping later, the Fuji rangefinders are a bargain and among the best options available.
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    The medium format SLR closest to doing all the ratios you mention is probably the mamiya RB67, for which you can get 6x8, 6x7, 6x6 (rare), 70mm and 645 as well as sheet film and fujiroid. I even do some square ~76mm shots on 4x5 film with an RB, now and then. The RB lenses are very affordable and if you find yourself wanting an RZ, you can use the RB lenses on it. I wouldn't be surprised if you could rig a 6x9 back onto an RB with a little ingenuity- most of the lenses will probably cover it. Typical price for a basic kit, $500. (but 6x8 and 6x6 backs have now become expensive)

    The compact and enjoyable Horseman VH / VH-R / 985 viewcameras might be something to look at, I believe that they can take all the RB backs as well as 6x9 and sheet film. And you'd have some decent tilt & shift capabilities as well. For travel, these Horsemans are really nice and compact- the lenses are *way* smaller and lighter than the RB ones. Typical price for a basic kit, $700.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2012
  5. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I also recommend the Mamiya RB67.

    Jeff
     
  6. trickydan

    trickydan Member

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    RZ67, its a bit newer than the RB (so fresher seals etc) and they all take superb lenses! including the 110 2.8! and a heap of backs: 6x7, 6x6, 6x8, even a 6x7 polaroid back! VERY versatile system, also it shouldnt drop in value much.. if anything
     
  7. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    versatility: 3x4 or (more backs) 4x5 graflex slr--any roll film size you want--rotating back--polaroid and can do sheet film if you want. any lens you want (except wides!!!!)....pretty reasonable price on them too, very simple design so very reliable and fixable.

    myself MF I go for my hasselblad or yashica tlr almost exclusively though--only 6x6 with them. if I want 6x9 then I go for the 3x4 speed graphic or graflex slr wth roll back.
     
  8. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    Either an RB or RZ67, I've owned both and gave my RB away to a friend because I liked the RZ much better. Both the RB and RZ are still made, so don't worry too much about seals, wear and tear, even then, they are built like tanks, and will last forever.

    Another option is the Mamiya 645 Pro, its 6x6 much smaller and much lighter.
     
  9. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Another option is the Mamiya 645 Pro, its 6x6 much smaller and much lighter.

    Hmmm. I wonder why it's the called the "645" Pro? Just asking...
     
  10. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    CGW, I was wondering the same thing. I just checked my 645 Pro and sure enough my only choice is 120 or 220....wait, I do have the Poloroid back, darned if it doesn't take a 6 x 4.5 instant photo....

    Enough fun. Don't do the Press. Have one, got one....lovely camera. If you love turn of the century photography methods then you will love the press. The problem is finding a good one and even then getting it worked on by a reliable repairman with experience could be a big, big problem.

    That brings us to where I have been for at least 3, maybe 4 years.....RB or RZ. Certainly a RB will be less expensive and a solid, usable option. I have had twice the opportunity to purchase superb RZ kits for fair prices. However, $1,500+ doesn't just fall off the tree in the back yard very often so I have elected to blow smaller amounts on 35mm stuff here and there totalling up way over the $1,500 mark. Should have gotten the RZ Pro setup a long time ago......

    I have also blown close to that $1,500 mark on the Mamiya Press I got a couple of years ago. It cost me more to have the camera repaired and CLA'ed than the original purchase price (but I knew I got a very clean body with mechanical problems in the first place). I have multiple backs and only about 4 lenses for it. Once CLA'ed.....wow, what a wonderful camera....very manual....very methodical and very unforgiving. Now with the RB or RZ being close (depending on setup) to what I have with my 645.....and I really enjoy that setup.....I would seriously recommend an RZ Pro.

    Bob E.
     
  11. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    The Mamiya 645 Pro is a superb camera, but it is definitely 6x4.5, not 6x6. I have one. :-D
     
  12. rolleiman

    rolleiman Member

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  13. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Who cares if they are discontinued, there are zillions of minty ones on the market. I can't keep track of how many RBs I have; when I buy a lens on fleabay I often get an old RB along with it. I have three or four now I guess. RZs would concern me a bit more, since there is electronica involved. But, ya know, they are a dime a dozen. And I have yet to see a problem with any of them. Even after dropping a few of them along the way :smile:

    You *can* put a 110/2.8 on an RB, you just lose far focus and there is no manual shutter. But for close portraiture it's probably okay. If you need far focus, I cna probably think of a solution.
     
  14. Marc B.

    Marc B. Member

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    The expensive, motorized, 6 X 8 back, from the RB line, will only provide a 6 X 8 image
    when used with late model RB Pro'S' and RB Pro'SD' models.
    The film plane opening on the RZ is smaller and limited to 7 X 7. The 6 X 8, RB back may mount,
    with the necessary RB - RZ adapter, but physically, the RZ can only deliver 6 X 7 images.

    The RB production line ended over a decade ago, and production of the RZ Pro IId,
    the last of the new RZ bodies, possibly ended in late 2010...for 2011 delivery.
    Camera retailers have a glut(?) of unsold NOS, RZ Pro-II's and RZ Pro-IId's on the shelves.
    It is very probable that Mamiya is now only producing [new] 645-AFD cameras in MF.

    Mamiya Press/Universals have not been made since about 1973(?).
    As mentioned, repairs for these cameras become more necessary as every year passes,
    but experienced, competent repairmen (and gals), are becoming even rarer then
    quality, useable examples of these cameras. They're getting pretty, long-in-the-tooth.
    The cameras, and the experienced repairmen.<grin>

    If 6 X 9 is important...as mentioned, I'd look at offerings from Fuji.
    680's and 690's were produced as late as 2008-2009(?), maybe later, and 612's and
    617's were produced maybe till about 2006-2007(?). You will need to do more research on
    Fuji's wide format, (panoramic) cameras. In Fuji, I only have experience with Fuji LF lenses.
    Fuji optics (glass), is basically...second-to-none, or, 'really...really...good.'

    Marc
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2012
  15. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    The RB or RZ is much more modern and user friendly than the Press. But if you aren't bothered by old fashioned mechanics the press is a lot of fun. Nevertheless, the RB(RZ) can do things the Press can't. Focusing on the Press is by way of a rangefinder. With the RB you have a huge and extremely bright screen. Combined with a good WLF you can easily get extremely accurate focus. Also the bellows allow for very close focusing.

    But be warned, if you opt for the 6x8 film back you need to get some other parts to go with it; namely the piece between the camera and the back and an insert for the VF. And furthermore it is battery powered, which is extremely weird since the whole point of the RB is that it is entirely mechanical and requires no power source other than your finger muscles!
     
  16. Simon Benton

    Simon Benton Subscriber

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    Fuji GX680 system. RB is an excellent system (and I have one) but pales in comparison to the GX680 - just my 2C worth!
     
  17. TexasLangGenius

    TexasLangGenius Member

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    Well, after much deliberation, I have decided to go with the RB system (first). When I make more money than my meager graduate student salary, I'll add more MF camera gear to my collection, based on everyone else's suggestions. Many thanks to everyone!