RB67 - Is it really THAT bad?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by StorminMatt, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. StorminMatt

    StorminMatt Member

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    With the prices what they are, I have REALLY been wanting to make the jump to medium format lately. And I can't help but notice that the Mamiya RB67 is about cheap as you can get in medium format without going with a Holga, Diana, or something by the Lomographic Society. This, of course appeals to me, along with the larger, detail-packed 6x7 frame (vs, say, 6x4.5). Of course, this can be increased to 6x8 as well with the power back. But it seems like most of what I see here about the RB67 is negative. I hear everything from stories of poor quality lenses to poor lens choices to the camera being SO heavy it is only suitable for studio use (I guess I've never seen one in person). Are all of these things basically true? Would I REALLY be better off spending a few hundred more on something else (because nothing else truly comes close when it comes to cheapness)?
     
  2. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I used one a while back and I want one. They're cool cameras, and they look much more official than some TLR. The lens does make the photograph, though, so I would focus on getting a nice lens (no pun intended) for the camera rather than obsessing over the camera body itself.

    It obviously lacks autofocus or autoexposure (I'm pretty sure. I don't think the one I used had a meter at all) so it may not be good for some situations but I can easily do without that.
     
  3. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    "Most"? :confused:

    I would dissagree with that quantitative assessment. It is a quality pro system in every sense of the word and probably the best bang for the buck in the used market.

    I suppose people have made "poor lens choices", but that is hardly the camera's fault. Maybe I'm not sure what you mean by that. Is it heavy? For sure. You do need to hold one in your hand before buying one. It's not for everybody.
     
  4. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    They are great cameras! Some people hand hold them, but I personally think a tripod is the best way to go as they are a bit heavy. The lenses are first rate and at the prices these things go for today RB's are a fantastic deal.

    Richard Wasserman
     
  5. David Grenet

    David Grenet Member

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    I love my RB67 (Pro S is nice with the interlocks...) but if I leave home with it, you can bet my monopod is coming too!
     
  6. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I would buy several of them while their value has tanked. They can't go all that much lower. Even RZs are cheap now. They are one of the greatest cameras ever made. If you can't make good pix with them, the problem is not the camera.

    They are big cameras, but not heavy, IMO. They might seem a bit heavier if you wear them around your neck all day with a prism. If you do want a camera that you will primarily hand hold, I would not suggest one, unless you will always be shooting in the sun and don't need a lot of depth of field. If you want a hand holdable 6x7 bargain, I would use a Mamiya Press instead, due to the smooth leaf shutters and no mirror. They can shoot 6x9 as well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2008
  7. pedrosolorzano

    pedrosolorzano Member

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    I got one RB67 and i think it is an excellent equipment. in fact, mamiya was developing an adaptaer for use the new digital back on the RB. Heavy?? yes, you have to use the camera strap with it all the time, or use a tripod...
     
  8. optique

    optique Member

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    Mr StorminMatt,

    I've owned an RB for years, used it handheld, backpacking, studio situations, etc and have found it extremely versatile, and that I am more of a limiting factor than it is.

    Respectfully, you need to get into the Galleries and view some RB67 photos to see for yourself. Finally, find or borrow one and see what you think.

    You don't state what your photographic interest is, but maybe a leaf-shuttered Mamiya 6 (mine too) would better suit you. It's but a few hundred more. :smile:

    Good Day.
     
  9. bnstein

    bnstein Member

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    To address some of your specific concerns

    1. poor lenses.
    Remember this camera has been in production from 1970 so some of the lenses will be old and have been used hard to boot. I think the greatest reason for a poor lenses rep is sample to sample variation and the effects of hard living. (OK not always: the original 43-86 nikon zoom *was* crap...)
    Having said that there have been improvements: the C lenses are generally held to be better than the non-C, and the latest KL lenses (only work with proS & SD bodies) are felt better yet. As a finale consider this: as a professional workhorse camera for 30+ years do you really think it would have remained afloat if the lenses really were *bad*?

    2. poor lens choices.
    Dont see this one. KEH right now has everything from 37mm to 360mm! If you specifically want a given lens you may not find it, but that goes for about every MF camera (not a lot of f2.8 APO 500 lenses out there in MFland)

    3. Weight.
    Yep, 2.5kg give or take. Handholdable: many can. Its well balanced. Schlep around for hours on end: its going to get heavy (but shy of a mamiya 7 RF so are all the others to an extent: GS1 about 1.9kg, hassy and other 66s 1.5kg)

    4. Size
    Big, most of the size of a loaf of bread. It is actually an 8x8 camera. Used at waist level moves very well. Couldn't imagine using it like a GS1 held to your eye with a prism though (the prism is also IIRC 1.5kg :eek: )

    My 0.02: if you cant try (always the best solution: being a workhorse you may still be able to rent)for $300 you can get an Ex RB67 with a 90mm C lens, back and WL finder off keh: even if you find you dont like it handheld you should still get a few $ back, or stick it on a tripod and use it for other stuff.
     
  10. m_allard

    m_allard Member

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    Decide if it fits your needs...

    I use an RB Pro-SD pretty much every weekend in the field. And yes, it is not for everyone, so if you are considering one yourself, you might want to at least hold one before buying. I can give you some of the knowledge I've gained about this system, because I have also heard some negative things about this camera:

    Some say the lenses are not sharp - I cannot speak for every lens, because i have heard there are inconsitencies with earlier lens quality, but the lenses I own are nothing but tack sharp (50mm Sekor C, K/L 90mm L, K/L 180mm L-A). The RB can be very difficult to focus for maximum depth of field because of the bellows focusing and the different scale for each focal length lens on the body itself. You need to be careful that you read the scale correctly when setting your focus point and the floating lens element, if equipped. This takes some practice and "feel" and i think this is one of the reasons people say the lenses are soft. There are a lot of focal length choices; I would suggest at least a Sekor C or newer because of the coatings and optical quality.

    The camera is big and heavy - this is true. It is also awkward to hand hold, but i use a tripod. This may or may not fit your needs. There are much lighter medium (and large) format cameras out there - different needs for different people.

    Like you said, there are also different sized backs available, as well as a Polaroid back, and many other accessories. The RB is built extremely well mechanically and should offer years of trouble free service. It was designed for ~50k shutter releases without service, studio use all day every day, so it should hold up well in the field. It is also all mechanical so you won't need extra batteries, but will need to carry a separate light meter.

    I have used my RB in hot and humid weather, and early mornings below 16 degrees F, with myself and tripod icing up on a waterfall, and it has yet to jam once. It may take some time to master this camera, but I assure you if used correctly it will not be a limiting factor in the quality of work you can produce.

    Good Luck!
     
  11. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    I'd like to see where all of this negativity is, I haven't seen it. My lenses certainly aren't poor quality, far from it. Is it heavy? Yeah, but not so heavy that it has to be confined to a studio. I regularly take my RB on mountain hikes up to 8-10 miles.

    Mamiya hasn't been making them for almost 40 years because they are crap
     
  12. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I don't own one but have used one for a while so I guess take it with a grain of salt.

    They are pretty big and hefty. The lenses aren't bad at all. 6x7 is a nice, big size. The camera is cheap, accessories are plentiful and inexpensive. For the price of a used hasselblad lens (80mm or 150) you can get an rb with lens and back.

    I distinctly remember two people having used them
    1) A young guy with an RZ Pro II and bracket with ae meter prism.
    2) An older guy with an RB and neck strap with walking cane (for his hip)

    #1 didn't mind it, #2 wanted to go back to his nikon due to the weight and difficulty of focusing (for him).

    I think that for the right person it's a great camera. Some people don't mind a bigger camera, or something that isn't a 35mm slr with motor drive.
    Different strokes for different folks. I use a 4x5 speed graphic handheld, the RB isn't much different..
     
  13. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    What? All I ever hear is positive.

    I have a Pro SD. It's great on a tripod and, in my opinion, great hand held with the left hand grip (and waist level finder).

    It is heavy though so if you want to use it handheld try one first.

    Extra weight in a camera is good for hand holding up to a point as the inertia needed to move it is greater so camera shake is minimised. But as I said, only up to a point. If you lack the physical strength to hold it you may find that you strain and start to add shake to it.

    I think you should do a bit more research and try to find the positive things people say about this camera.



    Steve.
     
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  15. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    A very high proportion of Mamiya RB67s have been used professionally, particularly for fashion work in the studio where it is normal to shoot literally dozens of rolls of film a day. A camera used in this way may still look quite good cosmetically but has virtually been pounded to scrap. It is also not unknown in the heat of the moment for lenses to be dropped. I would bet that almost everyone who has had reliability problems with second-hand RB67 has equipment of this kind.

    I have had a 4-lens RB67 outfit for 12 years from new, absolutely no problems used in the studio and field, but for me now at the age of 60, it is more weight than I want to carry for any distance (I prefer Rollei TLR or Fuji GW690III for this). RB67 prices are depressed somewhat because it has been discontinued - its electronic sister camera the RZ67 remains, this is easier to mate with a digital back but of course suffers from cold-weather problems like any battery-dependent camera.

    In absoluute terms I think the Hasselblad Zeiss lenses have got a slight edge (most non-photographers wouild not notice) but the cost of anything in the Hasselblad system other than a body, magazine and 80 mm lens is astronomical and even the basic camera is not cheap.
     
  16. Mark Antony

    Mark Antony Member

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    The reason for the low price is that the Mamiya 6x7 models were the most popular studio cameras for pros for years, about 5 years ago these pros started to move to digital and sold off their cameras. The laws of supply and demand being what they are a glut of S/H Mamiyas = low prices. This does not by any means put them in the Holga/Lubitel bracket quality wise.
    While I personally used Rollei and then 'blads for my work, but I knew many pros who love their RBs and got great results from them. The lenses are by no means inferior to most comparable pro gear in fact they rate among the best. Like has been suggested if you can't get good results from one the fault doesn't lie with the superb lenses.
    As for weight and handling that's too personal for me to comment, each one of us uses what feels comfortable, you'll have to try and find somewhere where you can hold one and see if it feels right for you.
    Great camera, great lenses- at the moment a bargain.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2008
  17. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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  18. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    Build like a bloody tank, hand-holdable (especially with the multi-angle grip), and probably my best purchase since my first SLR. My university keeps a stock of the "C" lenses, and a few bodies. I'm told they don't fail often, even in the hands of students. I haven't been able to break it. I use it for long exposures on the streets here at night, most traffic slows down as they think I'm a cop with a radar-gun...
    Good fun.
     
  19. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I enjoy my Mamiya RB 67. It might be a little on the heavy side, but still useable. The lenses I have are excellent.

    Jeff
     
  20. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Who was that Weston guy that ditched his Rollei SL66 for an RB ?

    name escapes me...
     
  21. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Brad? Bruce? Bart?
     
  22. thefizz

    thefizz Subscriber

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    My thoughts exactly.
     
  23. panastasia

    panastasia Member

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    Great cameras! I've owned one for years; they're hand-holdable, the bellows focusing is easier and more precise than helical focusing, at least for me. Some of the wider lenses, most notably the 50mm, were criticized for not producing optimum sharpness - which they wouldn't be (sharp) if the user wasn't aware of the floating element function to control full frame (flat field) sharpness at close distances - in most cases, if not all, that was the problem (user error).

    I never had a malfunction with the RB Pro SD and the KL lenses still amaze me for image quality.
     
  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    The technical term for this is Operator Assisted Failure => OAF.

    Usage: "The OAF did not focus the lens properly."

    Steve
     
  25. djcphoto

    djcphoto Member

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    I'm very happy with my RB67 Pro-S, and find it perfectly hand-holdable with the 'L' grip. As for lenses, again no problems with sharpness. All mine are 'C' or later and produce really sharp and detailed negs. My 127mm is, if anything, too sharp for portraits of anyone with less than perfect skin!
     
  26. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    To be fair to the OP, I bet you can not find one thread where the RB67 is discussed that one or more posts don't say you have to use a tripod and that it is a heavy sucker.

    If you've never used one, or even seen one, I can understand those statements being construed as negative.

    I had one years ago and discount those concerns. BUT, it is a heavy sucker.

    I'm tempted get one again but with a Hassy and Zone VI 4x5, that format doesn't make much sense for me.

    For the lens, my only mistake was not getting the 127mm lens. But that is a personal choice. Whatever the format, I like a little longer than normal lens, if I'm only going to have one lens.

    Mike