Opinions: Pentax 67 / Mamiya C330 - landscape bang for buck

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by FrankB, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I currently shoot 35mm (Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-105mm, 70-300mm ED, 50mm f1.8), primarily B&W landscapes but with a bit of Velvia and a few other subjects thrown in. I usually enlarge to 8x10 and any good ones that I'm lucky enough to get are blown up to 16x12.

    I'm currently thinking of adding a medium format system to my kit to try and obtain better image quality. Specifically, I'm after clearer detail and better tonality. I don't find grain is too much of an issue at the moment. I started off on a Pentax S1a, so the lack of a TTL meter doesn't worry me overmuch. I don't feel ready to move up to a view camera.

    I'm lusting after a Pentax 67 with mirror up (lovely optics, lighter than the competition (I'm not after a rangefinder), quite readily available, familiar layout, TTL view, etc.). However, even with prices tumbling on ebay and in the dealers, I'm still looking at the thick end of ukp 1000 for a body and a couple of lenses in good nick. That makes it unaffordable until late next year at the earliest. (Mamiya RB/RZ's and Bronica GS's don't flick my switch to the same extent and come in at around the same price (or more) anyway.)

    Having read Ailsa's thread a while back, and needing interchangeable lenses (ever foot-zoomed a waterfall shot?!) I'm thinking that the other main option is a Mamiya C330. A good condition body and pair of lenses will set me back ukp 400 from a dealer with a guarantee, probably less on ebay. I could probably shake enough small change out of the sofa to have that in just a few months time.

    So...

    1) Am I right to be looking to medium format for clearer detail and better tonality? The scans of medium and large format work in the APUG galleries and various comments on various threads seem to suggest I am, but all opinions are welcome on this!

    2) Anyone used a C330 for landscapes? I've shot a few portraits on one and I understand they're favoured amongst studio and wedding shooters, but I don't know how good they'd be for landscape work.

    3) How easy is it to switch your compositional eye between square and rectangular formats?

    4) If it were your hard-earned money, would you save, wait and get the Pentax or shake the sofa and get a C330?

    All contributions much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Frank
     
  2. VoidoidRamone

    VoidoidRamone Subscriber

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    I personally think you should go with a 67 of any variety over square. This is my personal opinion since I see rectangular better than square. It's also easier when graduating from 35mm to stick with a rectangle. I love my RB67, but since that's not what you're looking for, I think a Pentax 67 would be nice. A reason I chose the RB67 over a pentax is that you have interchangeable backs with the RB. So if you're out in the field you can have a colour slide and a b&w neg of the same scene. Anyway, I think either camera will produce fine results... remember, it's not the arrow... it's the indian. -Grant
     
  3. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    Check out my gallery. I think all the posted images were made with a C330f with various lenses.
     
  4. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    I think the Pentax 67 will deliver better results over all. But i also believe that you would not be disappointed with the shots from the Mamiya C330. It really comes down to whether you want a rectangle or square format.
    Good luck and enjoy.
    gene
     
  5. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I have a C330 and I've always lusted after a Pentax 6x7.

    The C330 works fine as a landscape camera. For me, it is at home on a tripod rather than used handheld. That makes it slow to use which is good for a contemplative landscape. It's adaptable to eyelevel or waistlevel viewing and has good interchangeable lenses. It doesn't have any superwide or superlong lenses, however. The 55mm is not as wide as a 28mm on a 35mm camera and the 250mm lens takes a lot of the bellows which limits close focusing with that lens. Despite these drawbacks, it works well if what you want is improved negative quality.

    The Pentax 6x7 has several advantages. The negative size being the primary one. I seem to crop my 6x6 negatives most of the time to fit 8x10 and 11x14 paper dimensions. This gives the 6x7 even more of an advantage. The Pentax system includes longer and wider lenses with accessories like a 35mm camera system. While it can be used with a waist level finder, shooting verticals would not be as easy as with the prism finder. The Pentax lenses are reportedly outstanding.

    As I said, I have wanted a Pentax 6x7 for years, especially for landscape/scenic/nature type photography. I've never been able to afford one. However, I recently bought a Pentax 645 with 45/75/150 lenses. I've been very happy with this equipment as a better handling alternative to the C330 (which I plan to keep). The lenses are excellent--the 75mm being outstanding. Since I crop the 6x6 negative most of the time, I've given up nothing in print quality. It's another option for you to think about.
     
  6. wdemere

    wdemere Member

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    If you need handheld, check out an older folder, like a Voigtlander Perkeo II (6x6) I think you can still find them for less than the cost of that C330 and definitely less than a Pentax 6x7.

    But, since you are doing landscapes, why not go 4x5? You can get a speed graphic and a 6x7 rollfilm back for about the same price as a C330 (if you really need 6x7). Maybe a little less even. If you are planning on using the C330 handheld, I could see why, but for landscapes you need the tripod anyway.

    I have a Fuji GS645 folder which I use for handheld medium format stuff, but for a landscape I'll use the 4x5 whenever possible.

    Just a suggestion,

    William
     
  7. Jon King

    Jon King Member

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    If you are looking at the Mamiya TLR's, another option is the Koni Omega 6x7 rangefinders. I am using one as my main landscape camera. A body, back or two, with 58/90/180 lenses seems to be going for less than $500 on ebay. I don't know what the availability is in the UK. It and the Mamiya C series are probably the most cost effective ways to get a wide angle lens in MF. Close focusing is not the KO's strong suit, but that may not be a problem with the landscapes you shoot. It is also hand holdable, with the side benefit of being a left arm weightlifting program :wink: Seriously, I've gotten some quite respectable hand held photos with it at 1/30 - I'm not sure you could say that about the Pentax 67, from what I have read about it.

    Jon
     
  8. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    I've made 2 different masks for the view screen on my c330f. Used a sheet of black foil to cut an 8x10 mask and 5x7 mask. I find it easier to compose with the aid of a crop based on my printing tastes. The square format works well enough for portraits, but I generally try to print with off the shelf frames and mats in mind.

    Have 65mm and 135mm lenses and will keep this setup. It is handy when I need better resolution than 35mm, but not the bulk and weight of a 4x5 or 8x10. Best of both worlds. Good luck with your choice. tim
     
  9. ThomHarrop

    ThomHarrop Member

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    Pentax 67

    I have used all the medium format cameras pretty extensively. I currently use a Pentax67 with 4 lenses and I love it. I have always enjoyed the system but lately I seem to shoot everything with either the 67 or a 4x5. I highly recommend the Pentax. It is quick and easy to use and if you get one with mirror lock up, and use a cable release, there is no vibration problem. Another possible suggestion would be to go straight to 4x5 by getting a Speed Graphic. I use mine hand held. Using the rangefinder it is almost as fast as a medium format.
     
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  10. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Frank,

    Nothing wrong with the 6 x 6, but, personally, I'd favor a 6 x 7--unless you particularly like square prints. I'll also second Jon's thoughts on a Koni-Omega; Koni's may be old, but their lenses stack up very well with current stuff.

    Konical
     
  11. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I’m a few months ahead of you on this one Frank, having also considered the Pentax 6x7 among others and rejected them all on cost grounds. I elected to buy a Mamiya 330s outfit on eBay, consisting of a body, 80mm and 135mm lens, various view finders and accessories including a hammerhead flash for 300 pounds. I have since added a 55mm lens to the collection for another 100.
    I find the camera extremely easy to use, it’s put the pleasure back into picture making. I enjoy the mechanical aspect of it after the electronics of my Canon 50e, which incidentally I haven’t used for nearly a year. My only gripe is film loading, but then like you, I’ve been spoilt by years of using 35mm drop in cassettes. The square format does take a little getting used to. If you look at my latest web images you will see that I’m sticking rigidly to the square format, for the time being, to force myself away from the 35mm rectangle, but cropping is a future option.
    The choice of either waist or eye level viewfinders means that it is easy to get the camera to the most suitable level for the subject. The greater detail and tonality available from the larger negative is very noticeable, and translates through to the finished print.
    So you see where my hard earned money went, and I don’t regret it.
     
  12. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I heartily recommend the P67. Its principal strength, for me at least, is the glass...superb! I have three lenses (55, 105, and 200) and that group covers my needs completely. The other big advantage of the Pentax is depth of field preview, and ND grad or polarizing filter adjustment. The Mamiya just won't allow that. I still have my C220 with three lenses that I bought years before the Pentax and I have great respect for that camera, but it just doesn't really rival the Pentax. Though having an interchangable back is indeed a great strength with an RB, RZ or a Hassie, the price of a used second P67 body is comparable to the cost of the film backs for the others, so you can accompish the same thing a different way. And the lenses for the Pentax are far less expensive since they don't include a shutter.

    Regarding going right to 4x5....well, again it's the glass. I can't use my 4x5 enough...just love it!!, but the lone Geronar 210 lens I have just isn't the equal of the 6x7 lenses. And that's the rub for now....though the cameras can be purchased without ransoming your children, really decent lenses will separate you from...well...at least any purebred pets you might have.

    so....stop eating for a while...walk everywhere...stop gambling and give up alcohol....the Pentax will be yours by the time your liver heals ;-)!!
     
  13. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    Pentax 67! Superb. I bought a complete late system last year with 45, 90, 165, and 300 for US $1500. All near mint. I bought it to replace a Mamiya Universal 6X9......but it didn't. I kept both. The Mamiya is also superb and has some strengths over the Pentax. Just for the sake of pissing all the square format guys off; Bigger is better. If you buy a 6X6 you really bought a 6X4.5 if you want to put them on a normal piece of paper. That turns out to be half frame of what the Mamiya Universal can do normally. I have more than a few 20X30" pieces on permanent display that were originated with the Mamiya 6X9.
     
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  15. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Gotta agree with John V et al, Frank. I lusted seriously after the P67 when I decided to move up in size from 35mm for landscape wk - still think they are fantastic cameras. Certainly are well renowned for quality of glass and robust. If celebrity endorsement is needed :smile: , you're probably aware that fellow countryman Lee Frost says he has always used one.

    However, could be said, you pay a premium for the convenience of med format. And if quality is what you're after, why not go all the way to the big gun?
    (just a thought).
     
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  16. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    just to through a monkey in the mix, how about an RB67? a buddy of mine uses one and his stuff is stunning. mind you he is very fit, and backpacks it all over the mountains.
     
  17. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    How about reconsidering the 'no rangefinder' decision if you want good value? In particular the Mamiya Press - the Super 23 or the Universal. These sturdy rangefinders have some good features for the money.

    The 50 mm, 75 mm and 100/2.8 lenses are very good.

    The well-designed film holders are available in 6x9, 6x7 and vari-format.

    Worth considering?

    Best,
    Helen
     
  18. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Many thanks for all the opinions and options being proposed. I'm reading all of this with very great interest. Please keep it coming!
     
  19. galyons

    galyons Member

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    Great comments! I have used a 330F since 1973. Bought it new and still have it. ( Have contemplated selling several times, but just haven't!) It is a great system.

    I am bothered by the comments of square versus rectangle and visualization concerns. You are currently using 35mm, you are already having to crop the short edge to fit the 4x5/8x10 printing aspect ratio. Do you think about this when composing? If, so, is it bothersome?

    I found that the quare format really freed my compostional concerns. If my visualization was a square composition, great. If my visualization was rectangular, portrait or landscape, great! Compose within the square to the rectangular apsect desired.

    I also have a 6X6 SLR and I had a 6X4.5 back for it. I hated the fact that I had to rotate to compose the rectangular composition P vs. H. I simply stopped using the 6X4.5 back, and finally sold it. I use the same composition strategy that I use with the Mamiya.

    The C330 is a TLR, so you have the parallax issues for close ups! But you actually may have to face the problem because the bellows eliminates the need for macro lenses.

    There is much to be said for an SLR. It was stated early in thread that the ergonomics of the TLR lend to a contemplative approach, whether you want to or not. The TLR is definitely closer to the large format composing interface than a SLR. Although I am back to that rotating bit on my 4X5!

    Both comtemplated cameras are very good. Think about what you want to shoot, the resulting anticipated compositional time pressures, your budget and get the best that you can afford! Don't get caught up in the equipment envy syndrome, " Well I'll go shoot that when I get a XXXX!" Just go shoot!

    Cheers,
    Geary
     
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  20. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    no one has mentioned enlargers... do you do your prints yourself? Have you budgeted for one (and lens) that will work with whatever you choose?

    I've got a Mamiya 645 and the lack of interchangable backs on my model is annoying. When I looked at other options I liked the Bronica GS1 (neg size, weight and size). I just bought a 4x5 capable enlarger so might stick with the Mamiya and get a 4x5 instead... decisions.. decisions!!! I was hanging onto a 6x9 capable enlarger just to be able to print some old family negs but that will be able to be off loaded now

    As far as enlarging goes... forgetting about grain which may not be a problem, I find the larger negs hit the paper nicer... tonality seems better and I'd say I do less dodging/burning than with 35mm ones. I put it down to the lower levels of magnification.
     
  21. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I do print my own using an LPL 7700 which will take anything from 35mm to 6x7 (one of the reasons why someone'll have to talk awfully fast to get me on to LF!). I would need an appropriate lens and carrier insert for whatever format. Good enlarger lenses aren't that expensive or hard to find on ebay or in dealers.

    The insert (paradoxically, given it's just a piece of metal!) could be more of an issue; they don't appear that often secondhand and the only place I can find doing them is Jessops... ...and they want £50! It's do-able but my cheap nature seriously begrudges it when I could get an entire darkroom for that much now! :rolleyes:
     
  22. davet

    davet Member

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    You might also consider a Century Graphic (a Linhof 2x3 or Horseman VHR if you're feeling flush) with a rollfilm back. Even limited movements can go a long way. It's a completely different way of working, and it may not work for you ... but you won't know that unless you try it.
     
  23. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I have a LPL 7700 also. Produces nice light! My carriers are moulded plastic (one 35mm and one 645). There's a 6x7 (and I presume 6x6 version) too but they are expensive (about $100 AUD). If your carrier has metal inserts for different formats, if you can't locate the LPL ones, then a machine shop should be able to knock up a couple cheap. Alternatively, make some out of matt board... Thats what I use in my Durst M601 (glass inserts in carrier drove me nuts!)
     
  24. ian_greant

    ian_greant Member

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    For landscape/architecture work I honestly I have no idea why anyone shoots medium format.

    I was considering a P67 or RB67 but the simple fact I could assemble a large format kit for 1/2 the price, enjoy the benefits of a large negative and camera movements was more than I could ignore.

    If you are shooting commercial work or portrait or something where you need a little faster handling or easier flash integration, etc, etc.. well than I can see it but not for parking it on a tripid, with one thumb in your ear and one thumb on a cable release while you wait for the clouds to wander into the right position. :smile:

    Cheers,
     
  25. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Portability perhaps?
     
  26. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Well, besides the price of really good lenses, carrying 10 rolls of 120 film in a backpack is a lot easier than carrying 50 film holders. Weston's adage about anything more than 50 feet from the car being unphotogenic is funny, but not usually true.