Starting in medium format

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by MaxFrank, Jul 19, 2011.

  1. MaxFrank

    MaxFrank Member

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    Hello all,

    I'm thinking of starting with analogue medium format photography, currently a digital user and wanting to experience the quality of medium format and the whole process of doing it all manually. Of course both systens have their pro's and con's but to me that doesn't really matter.

    Seeing as medium format systems can be picked up quite cheap, sometimes cheaper than 35mm I thought it would be a good start. However I'm still not sure which brand and camera to choose. I have looked at bronicas, mamiyas and hasselblads. I like the format of the system camera and I would like to buy one of those, however the hasselblad is quite pricey and a bit of an overkill for me at the moment I think plus I don't like the bias of people going 'Ohhh a Hasselblad, you must be a great photographer' etc. Which camera would you recommend, the Bronica SQ-A or the Mamiya RB/RZ67 (I know the SQ-A is 6x6 and the 67 is 6x7 camera, but the Bronica GS-1 is hard to find). What I like to photograph is landscape and portraiture, so I am thinking of a standard lens, a 50/65mm and something between 150mm and 250mm.
    I have currently spotted a Bronica SQ-A with 80mm lens and WLF, the basic kit for €200, which is quite a good deal I think.

    Some further questions I have are:
    How easy is it do long bulb exposures with these camera's, I know that you would have to put the lens into T mode.
    What filters are needed for film photography, mostly black and white. I'm thinking of a polarisation filter for sure, but I'm not sure whether UV/IR filters are needed.
    What is a good light meter that does both spot metering and incident metering, and can be had for a not too large sum of money. I could of course tug along my dSLR and use its meter but that is not really an optimal situation.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2011
  2. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    The RB67 is a good deal. It is a little on the heavy side, so you might want to use a tripod. Some MFs could use a tripod. BTW welcome to APUG!

    Jeff
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    If you are dead set on having a SLR type medium format, Pentax 645, or Bronicas ETRS or SQ series are inexpensive and lighter than Mamiya RB's and RZ's. I am no fan of 6x4.5 size negatives, but love 6x6. You don't have to rotate a 6x6 to get a shot. Twin lens reflex cameras are a kick to use, especially the Yashicas. They are Rollei knock-offs, and light weight, simple to use with quality optics. Mamiya TLR's offer interchangable lenses, but weigh a good bit, they are workhorses. Thats my tuppence worth of info.
     
  4. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    You don't have to but you would be surprised at the number of times I have turned one of my 6x6 folding cameras to 'vertical' whilst looking through the viewfinder!


    Steve.
     
  5. MaxFrank

    MaxFrank Member

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    I don't think I would like the 6x4.5 format, if you're going big you might as well do it really big. I have an old heavy gitzo tripod with a three way head which I think will do the job fine.
    I haven't really looked at TLR's as I was under the impression that you couldn't switch lenses so I will have to take a look at them. I find the retro-looks okay, but I prefer the system camera SLR look.
     
  6. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I've done that with my TLR to shoot around corners, and gone upside-down to shoot over the heads of other photogs. They are guessing whilst I'm looking.
     
  7. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    You're right, except for the Mamiya C3xx and C2xx TLRs the lenses on TLR's don't interchange. It's not necessarly a major issue, in some respects working with just one lens is very liberating. If that single focal length is on a Rolleiflex, they are such a joy to work with you'll scarcely notice you can't change the lens.
    The Rollei's are pricey though.
    The Mamiya TLRs are big and heavy, but the optics are second to none, and they are available for reasonable cost, they also offer closer focusing than any of the SLR's save the RB's because they have a bellows.
    A lot of people like the Pentax 6x7's because they handle like 35's. Otherwise most of the SLR's have waist level finders as standard equipment, but you can add eye level prism finders.

    Rangefinder MFs haven't been mentioned yet. They are a bit lighter than RB's, and quieter since there isn't a mirror moving around. The lenses are also more compact. Cost may be more than you want, if you're looking for sharpness though, Mamiya 7's rival 4x5 for sharpness and detail.
     
  8. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I enjoy shooting MF folders, especially the ones from the 40's and 50's. I love the bare bones, no nonsense basic cameras that make me do the work, and all they do is hold the image for me to liberate in the darkroom.
     
  9. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I wouldn't worry about filters for a while. I use yellow, orange, and red. (standard B&W contrast filters to differentiate the sky) You can add them when you feel the need.

    While larger negatives are nice, do you really NEED one that big? If you are looking at SLR, those that do 6x7 are quite large and heavy to carry around. Those were really made as a studio camera.
     
  10. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

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    I started with a Yashica D, TLR. Had problems with double exposures and/or blank frames (I'm forgetful and get lost in the moment of shooting...) Bought a Yashica-Mat. It turned out to suffer from the evidently notorious 'winding problem' (it doesn't stop automatically after one frame.) Next, I went on a tear through the post-WWII folders, buying various Agfa/Ansco's and Zeiss-Ikons. Finally got to one of each that have double exposure prevention. (I used the Ansco for b/w; the Ikonta for color.) Got tired of lugging two cameras around and took advantage of the falling prices on Hasselblads and got a 500C/M, with an 80 and a 50 and two magazines and I've not looked back. (Though I do still occasionally drag one of the folders out for a little 'fun.')

    Try something and see how it feels. :smile:
     
  11. MaxFrank

    MaxFrank Member

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    the €200 Bronica SQ was not really in optimal state (shutterspeed dial was loose and there were some other problems) so that deal turned out to not be so good after all. There's also quite a good deal on a Hasselblad 500C/M, however lenses are very expensive. I know that the Mamiya rb/rz67 are really big and heavy, but I have read that they are very well built.

    The TLRs are also quite heavy as I have seen, and rangefinders are not really my thing.
     
  12. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Sounds like you've already made your decision.

    RB/RZ are well made. No doubt about that. But I would recommend you hold it in person and really think, if you'd be willing to carry that. Some people will, I will not. TLRs are light compared to RB/RZ. Non-interchangeable lens TLRs are very VERY light.

    It's really your choice. I personally have Mamiya M645Pro and I like my kit.
     
  13. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    Pentax 645 bodies are a decent price, but since the intro of the 645D igital, some lenses have skyrocketed in price.

    S
     
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  15. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Bronica SQ bodies, especially the newer SQ-Ai and B, are probably worth a look. As you saw, the early SQ-A bodies are usually beat to death. I have an SQ-B and really like its size and weight. They're getting harder to find in nice shape since they're really the only mass-market 6x6 SLR system camera apart from Hasselblad. Things like 120 backs are getting pricey, so make damn sure you get one with 120, not a 220 back.

    Medium format rangefinders like the Mamiya 6 and 7 are wonderful but pricey.

    I have a Mamiya RB67 Pro S that I frankly have shot more. The big negative and the ability to close focus, thanks to its bellows, are what sold me. Its not petite but it hits the trifecta of negative size, optical quality, and affordability.
     
  16. MaxFrank

    MaxFrank Member

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    One important question, can the SQ-B do timed exposures?
     
  17. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I would imagine so, most decent cameras can do that.

    Jeff
     
  18. CGW

    CGW Member

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    No B or T settings. Longest shutter speed is 8 sec. Mamiya RB67 sets shutter speeds on the lens and uses a T setting for long exposures.
     
  19. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    That's my usual advice too. I'm quite happy carrying an RB67 for a few miles but it's not everyone's idea of fun.


    Steve.
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have Hasselblads now; I owned a Mamiya C330. When I was in college I worked in a large camera store summers and part time.

    I will not push my preferences on you. I will instead give you some advice base on my experience. Personally, I think that you will not be happy with 645 in the long run, choose 6x6 or larger.

    1) Ask your self what you are going to use the camera for.
    2) What can you afford now? The first MF camera will probably not be the one you end up with in the long haul, so invest enough money in what you think you want with the realization that you may change or upgrade later. In otherwords, try not to spend a lot of money on the first one. Something you will like better will eventually come along. You are buying a camera; not getting married to it.
    3) This is the most important part and only you can answer it. How does it feel in your hands? Is it too small or too large for your fingers? Is it too small or too large for your hands [important, this is not the same question]? Is it too heavy for you to use for hours? Are you comfortable with the controls and ergonomics?
    4) Start with one lens and become 'one' with the camera and lens before you add any more lenses. I have seen too many people buy a camera and several lenses only to be come overwhelmed or just whelmed and never really get good or comfortable with the camera.

    Steve
     
  21. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    When I was considering RB/RZ, I actually went to a local store that had both on display. Held it in my hands for a bit and that made a decision for me. There's no way I'm going to carry that AND few lenses, and few rolls, and other junk all day long. My limit is M645 or large 35mm.

    I do sincerely hope OP has a chance to hold each camera in consideration or buy from places where returns are gladly accepted. In my mind, ability to create super quality negatives mean nothing if I (and the camera) never get to the scene.
     
  22. Alastair_I

    Alastair_I Member

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    I love the RB67.. but it is a beast for carrying. It's ok with one or two lenses in a backpack, but not a tourist-about-town camera system for me (that's what Yashica TLRs were made for). It is extremely flexible though.. three lenses, a couple of film backs and a polaroid back and I'm set for pretty much anything. And it's very capable with long exposures - something I use it for with night shots. For filters it's a doddle.. almost every lens is the same filter thread.

    I started in MF with an Ensign Selfix folder, and for under £20 it's a cheap, easy and very portable route into medium format. Cheaper than a Holga, with a proper glass lens, aperture and shutter speed selection. The Ensign still comes out from time-to-time, although the Yashica D is the go-to lens for portability (another relatively cheap route into MF, I picked a mint example up for £50).

    MaxFrank.. whereabouts are you? maybe you need to meet-up with someone and spend a couple of hours seeing how a couple of different systems are in use.
     
  23. MaxFrank

    MaxFrank Member

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    Im in the Netherlands. I know I won't be using the camera as a tourist type in city camera (have my dSLR for that :redface: ) I'm quite a big guy, and I'm quite okay handling a pro SLR and a 300mm mounted on it. Unfortunately I have not been able to find either a Bronica SQ or RB/RZ67 locally in a shop where I can try them out.
     
  24. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Nobody said it yet... but even though they are expensive the Hasselblad 500 series with a 80 or 60mm caries so nice on the shoulder. I swear it feels no heavier than a Nikon F.

    The Hasselblad pivots lens down when carried with the strap, and has smooth edges that don't poke you... this is my main point.
    I can walk around with the Blad on my shoulder or neck all day and not be bothered.

    I just chose it as my walkabout camera on vacation this summer once again... although the Zeiss Nettar folder is real neat and easy to pocket in baggy shorts.... the viewfinder on those old folders leaves a lot to the imagination.
     
  25. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I quite agree and I use Nikon SLRs and Hasselblads. Your point that the camera needs to be available without causing discomfort when carrying it all day is part of what I was refering to several posts ago about the camera fitting the user.

    Steve
     
  26. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Steve... And those plastic cameras don't take kindly to being knocked against a door jamb, etc when carried.
    Most people would cringe about me tossing my 500 in the back-seat of the car or even the trunk (boot).
    First 3 years I had it, it lived in a hard case... but after a couple trips through a steel mill and photographing agriculture I realized it is sort of a Mack truck of cameras.