Rangefinder vs SLR?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by thomas_m, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. thomas_m

    thomas_m Member

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    First post here...

    I purchased a Mamiya 6 and 75/3.5 kit a bit more than a year ago for a long-term project I did last year. The thought was that I would sell it after the project and go back to my Nikon digitals. However, after shooting and processing more than 100 rolls of Neopan, the strangest thing has happened... I find my Nikon digital and other assorted bits for sale on eBay while I still have the Mamiya and an Imacon scanner on the way.

    I'm headed to visit family in Japan this summer and have been thinking of picking up the 50mm for the Mamiya as well as a spare body since I heard they weren't making parts for the winder any longer. However, I've recently been wondering about the tradeoffs between the rangefinders and the SLR's.

    Removable backs vs portability seems to be the main two items. Anything I'm missing? Is there any image quality tradeoff? The Mamiya 75mm seems to be a very fine lens but I have no real MF experiance with anything else(except a Super Ikonta III that I love/hate). I admit to being very ignorant about Hasselblad, Rollei, etc.

    My normal usage is urban landscape type stuff. I often/usually do not have the luxury of being able to use a tripod and have to work fast.

    TIA,

    Thomas
     
  2. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    Thomas,

    One difference between a rangefinder and a SLR is that with the latter, WYSIWYG. Rangefinders are also easier to handhold for it does not have any mirror slap, so if you do not use a tripod, you will likely get sharper photos using a rangefinder as opposed to a SLR assuming the same shutter speed. I'm sure others who have more experience than I do will jump in and list more differences. Personally, for landscapes, I would find it easier to use a SLR due to the WYSIWYG factor and also, with a Mamiya, the DOF can be tricky.
     
  3. thomas_m

    thomas_m Member

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    What I'm thinking about are things like relative lens and overall image quality - Mamiya RF vs Hassy/Rollei. The true utility of changable film backs compared to the hand-holdability of the Mamiya 6. Like when I have to burn a half roll of film so that I can change to something that will work better when the light shifts, etc. vs the PITA of carrying around an extra film back. Also, durability, future parts & service availability. The Mamiya6 parts unavailability issue is a BIG bummer.

    I see this as probably my last film camera rig.

    T.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 3, 2005
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Rangefinder lenses are often better than SLR lenses, because it's not necessary to design around the mirror. On the other hand, you don't have as many lenses to choose from, and very wide lenses may require separate finders and scale focusing, and close focus is much harder to do with a rangefinder than with an SLR. For what you're doing, a rangefinder is probably the right choice.

    Interchangeable backs give you quick film changes and the ability to switch between film types or to use Zone System controls. You could do the same with multiple bodies, if you can afford them and if they're not too bulky or heavy to carry. Sometimes I'll carry my Bronica with one lens and three backs (-1, N, +1), if I'm just taking travel photos, and I know I'll be out all day in varying lighting conditions.
     
  5. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    As a Hasselblad user for MF stuff, I should be giving you the traditional line about superior lenses and such. But, that's hard to do with a straight face these days. The lenses from other MF manufacturers may still be a bit behind Zeiss lenses, but not very far. When I bought my Hassy gear 15 years ago, nothing else came even close. That's certainly no longer the case. And, while being able to change magazines mid roll is nice, multiple RF bodies accomplish the same thing, as you're aware.

    I think it really boils down to your style of work, and whether the Mamiya 6 provides the range of lenses you need for that work. Farther down the list is availability of repair and parts for the 6. I'm not familiar enough with the line to give any advice in that regard.
     
  6. thomas_m

    thomas_m Member

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    Thanks guys.

    The repair issue with the Mamiya 6 is that they are no longer manufacturing the winder mechanism. Unfortunately, this seems to be one of the weak spots of the camera. So when the winder breaks, the camera is dead, unrepairable unless it's possible to rob a 'parts camera'.

    There's always the Mamiya 7 but that one does not collapse like the 6(and it's not square...) which negates it's value in my mind.

    I'll probably just hope for the best and keep shooting with the M6. After buying the scanner, I'm skirting the dangerzone with the S/O anyway. LOL.

    T.
     
  7. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Flowers and diamonds are always a good option. :wink:
     
  8. 127

    127 Member

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    We've got a couple of Fuji rangefinders... The lack of removable backs (and lenses) isn't an issue, as they're so cheap you just buy another camera for little more than the cost of a back for some other systems, and get a new lens thrown in for free...

    Ian
     
  9. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I do a lot of copy stand work, so I'm rather stuck with SLRs, otherwise I'd quite like a rangefinder.

    David.
     
  10. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I use a TLR and an SLR. I've never used a medium format rangefinder. For me, the appeal of the medium format rangefinder is the smaller size (I use Leicas in 35mm). Other than that, SLR's are more versatile. I don't need interchangeable backs or finders or very long lenses but I do occasionally do close-ups. That's easier to do with an SLR than a rangefinder.
     
  11. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I have a Mamiya Universal that I bought in the mid 80's. Although the Universal is a rather heavy camera with the hand grip it is very hand holdable, works well with a monopod, easy to use in low light, and very quite. Draw backs as with any RF, limited lens, I have 3 of the 5 that were made, no depth of preview, and because I use a Universal I have to cock the shutter, no built in light meter, and the one long lens a 250 is very hard to find and expensive. But is does have interchangeable backs, a ground glass back and close up spaces. I have used a Koniomega Flex and serveral SLRs, the only camera that has tempeted me is the Pentex 6X7.

    Regards

    Paul
     
  12. kiku

    kiku Subscriber

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    Hi Thomas:

    You may want to have some of your family in Japan check on prices there for some of the items you wish to purchase. Generally speaking, for any item that is readily available here in the U.S.A., it will be less expensive here than in Japan (sometimes much less expensive, especially at the two major stores in New York City). For those items that are difficult or impossible to obtain here, then Japan is the likely source.
    When in Tokyo I just love to go to "Yodobashi Camera", located in the Shinjuku district, and salivate over the many floors of photo items.
    Good luck in your quest, Kiku
     
  13. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    To work fast a 6 x 6 will help. Focus I think quicker with
    a SLR and your picture is on the screen. The camera is
    always upright on the tripod; a good place for the
    center of gravity. In the enlarger the negatives
    also are always upright.

    Bronica did make a 65mm for their 2 1/4 square. Dan
     
  14. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    When I decided to get back to MF after several frustrating years in 35mm, my only thought was of a Hasselblad. I contacted a pro friend of mine, who did a fine job of my daughter’s wedding, for advise. He informed me that he used to use two Hasselblads but was (for undisclosed reasons) unhappy. So he sold them and bought a couple of Koni Omega rangefinders – with which he made the wedding photographs. He also put me in touch with his friend who wished to sell his collection.

    About 1997/8 while visiting in Charlottsville Va, I found a lovely little country church (horse country, that is) in a nearby village of Cismont. A neighbor of the folks we were visiting was an enthusiast Hassy owner and he and I went to Cismont to photograph the church. I supplied rolls of PXP film and set up the cameras on my (heavy as H---) tripod, adjusted the distance for the difference in focal lengths and made a few frames. I processed each roll identically in good ol’ D76 1:0.

    On a whim, I masked the negatives so that the formats were not obvious and took the whole shebang to a local art school where three professional photographers attempted to match the negative with the camera. After much debate over “shadow values, sharpness, acuity, contrast”, et c., the unanimous conclusion was wrong – they picked the 6x7 KO negative. Well, the actual fact is that there is no difference in the enlargements at all. And I refuse to post these images because the scanning process destroys the very insignificant differences.
     
  15. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Dr. Bob,

    The results of your comparative experiment are no surprise to this K-O user.

    Konical
     
  16. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    When I was a working photojournalist I shoot with RF (Lieca IIIG and Canon 7) and SLR (Nikon F, F2, F3), I now shoot with a Mamyia Universal, I have rented a Hassy or other MF SLR, and I would match a RF to any SLR in terms of negative quality. In terms of versatility and convenance the SLR wins hands down, but for a quality negative my vote still goes to the RF.

    Regards
     
  17. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    What does the collapsing of the 6 gain? appx 1/2-3/4"?
    You could go with the Mamiya 7 & mask the film aperture to 6X6 if you really like the square. Then you have the availability of the new camera & lenses.
     
  18. david b

    david b Member

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    I am lucky enough to own a mamiya 7II and a Hasselblad 503cw.

    These are two different animals. The mamiya is wild and free, small and light while the Hasselblad is more tame and strapped to a tripod.

    But I love them both. If I was pressed to only keep one, I'd be in big trouble.
     
  19. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    The Mamiya Universal has a multi format back with 4.5X 6 6X6 and 6X9 options.

    Paul
     
  20. thomas_m

    thomas_m Member

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    Regards[/QUOTE]

    No, much, much more than that. It make a complete difference in the carryability of the camera. My Mamiya 6 fits in the a tiny carrybag. Look at the comparison photo in the middle of this review page:
    Mamiya 6 Review

    T.
     
  21. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    Get the 50mm lens for the Mamiya. It is a *great* lens for this camera. It is almost all I used on my 6 for years. I just last week finally bought the 75mm lens, and am looking forward to shooting with it.

    Don't be so paranoid about the winder. Just treat it nice. If it fails, well, there's always ebay...

    -chuck