RB67 vs 645

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by dande, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. dande

    dande Member

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    Just getting back into medium format and debating about a Mamiya RB67 Pro S system or Mamiya 645. Mostly interested in landscape photography. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  2. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    I've used the Pro S many years ago and it's a fine camera. I've never used any of the 645's.

    These are kinda on opposite ends of the spectrum, you probably should handle a couple to get a feel for the difference in size, weight, and the difference in negative size.

    One thing about the RB's they're so dang cheap you could jump in and if you didn't like it should be able to get your money back.

    By the way, welcome to APUG!

    Mike
     
  3. dande

    dande Member

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    Thanks Mike.
     
  4. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    Final maximum print size might help you make a determination. The negative from the RB67 is big, but the camera and lenses are significantly heavier to carry than those from a 645 system. So, factor in how much hiking, if any, you will be doing.

    Yes, the prices on the RB gear are ridiculously low now for such good quality. Another thing I like about the RB is that the images are very easy to focus using the waist level viewer, which is not always the case with some cameras.
     
  5. davela

    davela Subscriber

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    The RB is a quality system and has a mechanical shutter (a real plus in my book). They are a little bulky, but not hard to handle. Recommended.
     
  6. samuraiwarrior2

    samuraiwarrior2 Member

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    I picked up an RB67 Pro-S kit for <$200. So the price factor is in your favour for that. I have been shooting alongside a photographer friend of mine who is using a Bronica ETRS (a 645 SLR). We just did some 16x20 prints in the darkroom. There was a slight edge to the RB67 for sharpness I think because he used a diffraction-limiting aperture on the negative he was enlarging and I didn't. But the tonality and everything for the two was pretty awesome.

    We've been scanning with the glass carrier in a Nikon Super CoolScan 9000ED and the differences between the negatives is there, it just depends on how large you need to print or crop. I'd say look at the kind of system you want to use (different types of finders? replaceable backs?) and the lens lineup you would like.

    I would say the RB67 lenses are a bit slow, and I'm jealous when my friend can shoot at f/2.8.
     
  7. Neil Grant

    Neil Grant Member

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    I think considerations regarding lens field-of-view requirements should help you decide. In particular the M 645 can go wider. There's nothing in the RB lens range that approaches the 35mm for the 645.
     
  8. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I have both systems and I am extremely happy with both. IF...you want to handle and use the camera more like a 35mm then you should go with the M645 if you plan on working from a tripod mostly the the RB is an excellent choice.
    The negatives from the RB are beautiful because they are big...but compared to a 35mm so are the 645 negatives.
    the other advantage of the RB is interchangeable backs...really nice. The back will rotate to change fro landscape to portrait without having the turn the camera. Also the bellows allow you to focus very close. Drawbacks with the RB could possibly be only 10 frames per roll of film opposed to 15 with the M645...personal preference there.
     
  9. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Um, if you're contemplating 645 why not go the whole hog and use 35 mm?

    Sound silly, but in his book Field Photography A. A. Blaker makes the point that when going up in format increasing the size by less than twice in both directions (horizontal, vertical) makes little sense. The logic works for going down in format too, 24x36 is more than half as big as 645 so the loss in quality in the final prints probably won't kill you. And a light little 35 mm SLR has the size and weight advantages over a Mamiya 645 has over an RB.

    Applying Blaker's logic to the 645 vs RB 67 decision, 645 is half frame 6x9, i.e., more than half as big as 6x7. So there 645 may be the better choice for you.
     
  10. Thingy

    Thingy Member

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    I bought the 645 Pro TL recently and am very happy. It is certainly more portable (& much lighter) than my 5x4 camera. As I tend to use a 6x9 rollfilm back with my LF camera I haven't bothered to date to go for a 6x7. One possible alternative, which resolves the weight-format equation, would be to buy a secondhand Mamiya 7 / 7II camera. I know a professional landscape photographer in London who swears by the Mamiya 7. I hope to buy one and its 43mm lens (the 35mm equivalement of a 21mm lens).

    Reviews of Mamiya & series cameras:
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/mamiya/7.htm
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/mamiya_7_ii.shtml
     
  11. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    The way I figure it, if you're going to go to medium format you might as well go for the biggest negatives possible. The minimum is 6x6, but that's square and if you crop down to rectangular format, the usable negative area approaches 645. Nope if you're going to do it, go 6x7. You'll have that nice big negative. It's beautiful.
     
  12. macrorie

    macrorie Member

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    If you get the RB, you can still shoot 645 with one of the many available filmbacks that tend to be really inexpensive, and still have the rotatable back and the ability to shoot 6X7 with one of the 10 shot backs. I have not used the 645 cameras, but can say that the RB is definitely a large and heavy camera. Whether that would be an obstacle for the range of shooting you have in mind can only be determined by trying one.
     
  13. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I love my RB67, it maybe a little on the big and heavy side, but it doesn't bother me. I like those big negatives.

    Jeff
     
  14. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

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    I have both an RZ with 50ULD, 110, and 180, and a 645 1000s with 45/2.8, 80/1.9, and 150/4.

    If I were going out to shoot landscape, I would not hesitate to bring the RZ. The 645 is a handheld or critical weight camera for me, and I really only bought it for the 80mm.

    edit: That said, the difference in size between the two is astonishing. The 645 isn't much bigger than a modern SLR, and the form factor helps a lot. I don't carry it with a grip.
     
  15. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    I have an RB67 ProS and a 645 ProTL and I love both. Yeah, the RB is much bigger but the bigger negative is worth it. The Pro TL is great as a carry around camera and I really enjoy shooting with it.

    I don't really think you can go wrong with either. In my mind, the deciding factor is the negative size. If you want a bigger negative, go with the RB.
     
  16. Ric Trexell

    Ric Trexell Member

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    A Polaroid back is also something to consider.

    I have only used the RB67 Pro S, and have never even held a 645 camera, but I just bought a Polaroid back for my RB for $15 from a pro photographer. I have seen them on ebay for about that. It is something else to consider if you might want to play with instant film. Also, if you call $10,000 - $15,000 pocket change and wish to experiment with that new type of photography, one of those backs will probably give you a better picture than the 645 back. (Although I have heard they are the same.) As one poster pointed out, that big WL viewer is great, especially if you are an old man like me. It is like watching a little TV when you are focusing. (Only backwards of course.) Ric.
    P.S. I also use 35mm and wouldn't see much point in dropping that for a 645,
     
  17. fmajor

    fmajor Member

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    What he said :smile:

    It was a significant reason for me.

    Honestly for me the primary reason i choose the RB67 is how completely modular the entire system is from camera body/lenses, viewfinders, focus screens - the whole kit is awesome - truly professional. The "Rotating Back" was huely influential. The ability to use the largest roll films reasonably available was icing on the cake.

    If you're looking to maximize the film real estate available to you, using roll film, why settle for a smaller format? The RB is hefty, but with a strap/handle it's a very manageable package and well worth the little extra effort to use. On a tri-pod it's superb - it really is without peer.
     
  18. dande

    dande Member

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    Thanks for all the help.

    Thanks everyone for all your input and help. I have decided to go with the RB67. This is such a great site.
     
  19. picker77

    picker77 Subscriber

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    I have an RB67 Pro-S for 6x7 and instead of another Mamiya went with a nice lightly used Bronica RF645 for tall format. Love them both. More lenses available for the Mamiya 645 but the $ ran me off that idea. The RF645 is a super sweet handling little jewel, best control layout of any MF rangefinder IMHO, and as a bonus the VF is great.
     
  20. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    I have both. Both are great. The largest negative is best, but I compromise and take the 645 when the location is distant
     
  21. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Once you fall under the spell of the RB you will understand why we all love ours so. You will not regret your decision.