New to medium format

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by supermarvin76, May 19, 2008.

  1. supermarvin76

    supermarvin76 Member

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    I like to think that I thoroughly understand digital photography. I am looking to enter into a new field of photography and for some reason, medium format seems to be calling.

    I do not know much about any medium format camera system, except that many of them cost a lot more than my Canon digital kit that I have. I have come across the Mamiya 6, and seem interested in that. However, never having used a range finder I am concerned about getting frustrated quickly by not capturing what I see in the viewfinder.

    Any info on this camera, or any other camera that would be a good one to introduce myself to medium format with would be greatly concerned!!!

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. david b

    david b Member

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    Do you know what a Hasselblad is? You can get one now for about $700 and have it be in great shape. It's an SLR so you will get what you see.

    The mamiya 6 is a fine camera with great class but it has some issues, one being the winder.
     
  3. David William White

    David William White Member

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    Or for WAY less money than a Hasselblad, you could start out with a Mamiya or Yashica TLR. Optics are terrific and the cameras last forever. I shoot regularly on my Mamiya -- it's built for life and a pleasure to use.
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I have three different Mamiyas and they each have a unique purpose.

    The Mamiya 6 is a very powerful weapon for landscape and documentary-style shooting. It's the only camera I like so much that I have several bodies. But... it is not the right choice for shallow DOF portraiture or closeups in general. If landscape/scenic with an easily totable camera that can fit in your jacket pocket sounds like what you want, then definitely check out the Mamiya 6, 6mf, 7, or 7ii. Alternatives would be the fixed lens 645, 6x7, and 6x9 Fujis.

    The rb67 system is extremely versatile and modular; it is superb for macro and closeup as well as everything else except handheld shooting, for that it is rather hefty. This is an all-mechanical, totally robust system that will outlive you, a great tool to learn on, and very affordable. I am teaching b&w off and on now and will pick up another rb body for that. I use the rb in particular for situations in which its stability is a plus, namely macro and when there is strong wind outdoors.

    The Mamiya 645 systems are superb- there are several different lines including manual and AF and with varying features. The one I use is use is the afd, which I suppose I may one day equip with a digital back. For 35mm-style quick shooting, this system is a wee bit bulky (not a stealth camera!) but a super performer nonetheless. I picked up a good haul of manual-focus lenses, including 2 long apos and a ridiculous 500, for a song. This system is severely underrated: the 645 body market used to be much more competitive, and the online reviews, which are now a bit antiquated, reflect that. In my opinion 645 is definitely a big enough jump from 35mm to justify it. The m645 80mm f/1.9 is a hoot... the fastest MF lens on the market.

    So there you have it, three totally different Mamiya systems, with superb lenses.
     
  5. thebanana

    thebanana Subscriber

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    Buy a Holga!
     
  6. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    I wonder if a person who develops a love of photography by*starting with it digitally and understanding it digitally and appreciating the digital aesthetic will develop the love of analog photography like someone who was raised on and learned on analog. Whenever I read one of the many threads of a person who has known only digital but wants to turn to film, I wonder if the inconvenience of film developing and scanning will be too much a deterent for someone who likes the digital look anyway.

    My advice would be to get into film at a minimal expense and level.. get your toe wet.. before jumping in with both feet.
     
  7. arigram

    arigram Member

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    You get what you see with an RF.
    Unlike cheap compacts, good RFs have calibrated viewfinders, with marks for each lens
    to help you out with your framing. But they are not great for telephotos.
    But, if you especially like the square frame, the Mamiya 6 is a very good camera.
    And so is the 7 II for a 6x7 frame.

    You have all kinds of choices with Medium Format.
    - You want a camera with interchangable lenses?
    - Removable film backs?
    - Waist Level Finder, Rangefinder or SLR Prism.
    - SLRs, RFs, TLRs, Folders and View Cameras.
    - Cheap, expensive, old and new.
    - Film and Digital.
    - With some bellow movements or without.
    - Manual focus or automatic.
    - Fully manual, built-in metering, electronic shutter or fully automatic.
    - 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, 6x12, 6x17, rectangle, square or panoramic.
    - Heavy, light, for handholding or tripod.
    - Support for TLR flash coupling or just manual/automatic flash control.
    - Winders or cranks.
    - and more choices.

    I suggest you educate yourself a bit as there are a lot more things to
    learn about them, even before getting one.
    In the world of digital and 35mm they all behave more or less the
    same way, usually the difference being their finder design (RFs or SLRs)
    and electronics (autofocus, metering, etc).
    But with Medium Format, the design of the camera varies a lot and it
    will have a great influence in your shooting style, subject matter and aesthetics.
     
  8. Antje

    Antje Member

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    I think there are only a few valid reasons (no, GAS is not a valid reason :wink: ) to start with MF if you like digital: The incredible detail, the smooth highlights, and the unbelieveably bright and big image in the viewfinder. That's what made me get a Hasselblad. :smile: So, now I shoot everything that has a lot of detail like forests, detailed landscapes, meadows full of flowers with the Hasselblad, and use the Canon 20D for everything else. I don't see myself taking photos of birds or insects with the Hassy... It sure is possible, but so much more hassle. Forests and such always seemed mushy to me on the 20D, as though my contact lenses weren't quite clean. But of course you cannot expect to get a clear, detailed image if you only have ten pixels per tree... :wink: I fell in love immediately with the Hassy...

    Antje
     
  9. luvcameras

    luvcameras Advertiser Advertiser

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  10. skahde

    skahde Member

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    Stay clear of anything hasselblad. They tend to lock up, need regular service, deliver a strange, square negative that forces to crop, and are still more expensive than the alternatives especially when any kind of build in metering is involved. And not to forget the most important reason: I want to see prices go even further down to complete my own system and build a second one! :D
     
  11. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Currently I'd recommend anything Hasselblad. Photography is more than just my day job and with all the camera gear I've bought over the years (SLR's, Rangefinders, Medium Format, Large Format and lenses... even the Fuji S3), they are all second hand - except for one camera - which I should've bought second hand. Rent for a week or two the ones you think you'll like best and then make your decision from there. It's important to find the right fit for you before spending money.
     
  12. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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    I started with a Leica IIIc rangefinder years ago and after going through several Canon film SLRs since then, I've been using Canon DSLRs for most of my shooting for the past 5 years. I recently got (or remembered) the MF bug and then got the LF bug not long ago. If you're not sure where you want to go with it, I'd recommend something like a 2x3 Century Graphic. I use mine all the time now with a roll film back, either 6x6 or 6x7, only very occassionally 6x9 since my enlarger can't handle it. With groundglass panel, rollfim back and an Ektar 101 lens, it should runaround $200. Far cheaper than a Hassy or even a Yashicamat 124G or Rolleiflex TLR at their inflated ebay prices.
     
  13. gothamtomato

    gothamtomato Member

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    I love my Hasselblads, but a Holga is great therapy for anal-retentive types.
     
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  15. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    I use an RB for just about everything except the newspaper (where I stubbornly continue to use 35mm B&W). I think an RB is just about the best all around camera made (or RZ) with the exception of low-light no flash shooting because it is so incredibly modular. There are applications though where you must use a tripod with an RB, and forget about hand-holding it below a 60th of a second, or a 125th with a 180mm.

    The Mamiya 6 &7s are nicer for hand-held work but are very limited in terms of lens availability, and they also suffer in low-light.

    So RB if you don't mind the weight, or a Mamiya 6 or 7 if you don't mind primes only and only 20-24 shots and then a timely reload.

    The Pentax and Mamiya 645s are also very nice. I'd say the Mamiya 645AFD is probably the fastest Medium Format camera out there, probalby the only one you could use for something like photojournalism or sports in a modern-day multiple-shots-of-everything-needed environment.
     
  16. Antje

    Antje Member

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    So true. :D

    Antje
     
  17. infest

    infest Inactive

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    Contax 645 and forget the rest...
     
  18. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    Is it AF? Can you get a complete setup for under $1,000?

    Great glass, bankrupting pricetag :sad:
     
  19. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I highly recommend medium format rangefinders. They are all I shoot. Check out my gallery for shots I've done with my two rangefinders. I have a Mamiya 6 and a Bronica RF645. Both are unbelievable cameras!! As stated earlier though, they do have drawbacks, mainly being not good for close up portraiture (great for environmental portraiture though!), not getting exactly as you see through the viewfinder (that's why they invented cropping), and lack of a long telephoto lens. But the advantages are the greatest of all, superior portability and the SHARPEST LENSES! Certainly as good, if not better than Hasselblad glass. You'll be blown away. This is due to the design of a rangefinder vs. SLR. We won't get into that.

    You really need to figure out what subject and style you're going to shoot. Medium format SLRs are great, but for me, in the field they are too heavy. I like to move quickly and alot of times work without a tripod, so for me the choice is easy. Medium format rangefinders are a perfect fit for me. You just need to find your fit.

    Good luck in your search!

    BTW.... I agree with the "Buy a Holga" post!
     
  20. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    Agreed, after 10 hours of hand-holding an RB, your arms are going to hurt, for several days afterwards. I'll take the sore arms over 35mm, or digital though :smile:

    F&*^ Holgas, get yourself a Lubitel! My first MF camera, will give Holga-like effects at F/5.6, but can also produce some pretty nice stuff at smaller apertures. It's a TLR, will run you about $40-50, and will shoot 120 only.
     
  21. aparat

    aparat Member

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    Another vote for Holga - the best $20-worth of fun I've ever had.

    aparat
     
  22. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Holga is fun and can make great pictures. Also recommend a Mamiya 645E SLR, which has a bright adjustable viewfinder and operates very much like a 35mm SLR camera - you can probably pick up a barely used one with 55, 80, 150 lenses for around $500 or so.

    Jon
     
  23. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    How do RB67 lenses rate, good one's bad one's?

    Curt
     
  24. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Most of the newer rb lenses are first rate. You simply cannot go wrong with the KLs, in particular. The pre-KL lenses are also quite good, especially if you hood them judiciously.

    There is only one RB lens that I did not enjoy, the 50. I much prefer the 65.

    The very best rb lens is probably the 210 KL apo, though I haven't seen charts on it to confirm that.
     
  25. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    What about an old Pentax MF SLR? How come no Penty users have chimed in here yet? :D

    I haven't used one myself but older ones I've seen for $200 here in Japan, so they must be dirt-cheap elsewhere. And you can't go wrong with the glass. Super-Takumars are legendary already, imagine them in MF!
     
  26. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Oh no here we go again :D
    Kind regards