TLR or SLR?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by sparx, May 22, 2005.

  1. sparx

    sparx Member

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    I'm looking to move up to MF but am faced with a problem - price. The only MF SLR's even vaguely within my budget are Bonica 645's. Surfing through eBay has offered another route - Mamiya C330 TLR.

    Aside from the obvious problem with parallax error is there any reason why I shouldn't seriously consider this camera? The C series Mamiya's are particularly appealing because of their ability to change lenses but, unless i've misundestood, the C330 is the only one that can be changed with film in the camera.

    Please help.
     
  2. noblebeast

    noblebeast Member

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    I have a C220, which also allows the changing of lenses while film is in the camera. The Mamiya TLR's are good, solid workhorses, and the glass is very sharp and contrasty. They are a bit on the bulky side, but once you get used to their size it really isn't substantially different from other TLRs. And on a tripod it really shines - plus no mirror slap, a quiet leaf shutter, nice big square negative...depending on your intended use (probably it would not be the best choice for grab shots on the street - although Diane Arbus used on in the mid to late Sixties) you would not regret the purchase. You already understand the downsides of TLR versus SLR, but the upside in this case would be a less expensive trip into medium format with a camera capable of extremely high quality photos.

    Joe
     
  3. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I have no experience with the Mamiya TLR's. I do believe that there is a device called a paramender that will be helpful for use on a tripod as far as parallax is concerned.
     
  4. erickson

    erickson Member

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    There are three things I fight with when using my C330.

    1: Parallax correction when shooting close distance objects (flowers, small rocks, etc.). The C330-S (possibly the C330 or C330-F?) has an indicator in the finder to show you (A) where the real top of the frame is and (B) how much to compensate exposure when racking out the bellows. It adjusts to suit different lenses. I find this to be very handy considering I don't own the Paramender device.

    2: No DOF preview capability. I use it all the time with my RB67, and find myself using smaller apertures "to be safe" on the C330.

    3: A waist level finder requires you to be above the camera. A TLR with a waist level finder requires the camera to be lower or the photographer to be higher. Maybe I'm just too short (5'7"), but I'm considering a prism finder for my camera. Hiking is no fun in platform shoes... :smile:

    In praise of the C330 line...

    - The whole line of C TLR's are built like tanks.
    - Many (all?) of the C TLR's have backs that accept 120 and 220 film.
    - Bodies, finders, and lenses are really cheap on eBay.
    - Most of the lenses are very small. I fit 2-3 TLR lenses in the same compartment that a single Pentax 35-80mm zoom fits in my small backpack.

    As for changing film, I think all of the C cameras have a device that covers them film (an in-camera light trap) for lens changes. I can't say for sure. I only have a C330-S and it's been many years since I last used any other Mamiya TLR.
     
  5. mikebarger

    mikebarger Member

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    Hi

    I've used the 220 TLR, many years ago, and it is a decent tool.

    If you want to stay with a SLR, I'd look at a Kowa Super 66.

    I regret having ever sold my Kowa system, esp. the 40mm lens. The Kowa Super 66 has interchangeable backs and several different finders, including metered. The Kowa system is very reasonable in price.

    Some will say these are not very durable cameras, but I didn't have any trouble with mine (about 9 years service). I did have everything I bought serviced by Ross Yerkes in LA as soon as I got it.

    If I could have my old system back, I'd sell my Hassy gear and pocket the difference. Prints 11x14 or under I can't tell a difference, and probably can't bigger than that between the Kowa and Hassy.

    Kowa also made a 19mm lens for this series. I've never seen one in person, but I do have a picture of one a fellow sent me years ago. It is a big lens.

    Anyway, I do think the Kowa Super 66 is a viable choice for a low cost 2 1/4 SLR system.

    Mike
     
  6. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Hello Sparx,
    I had the same dilemma about twenty years ago, and got myself a second hand Mamiya C330 F outfit at a fraction of the cost of a M/F S.L.R , and if you buy either a C33, C330F or C330S parallax error for general photography I find has never been a problem, since they have automatic parallax compensation, in the moving curser on the focusing screen, that delineates the top of the picture as you focus. I can highly recommend Mamiya T.L.Rs, It's Professional quality gear available currently at very reasonable prices that has given me images of a phototechnical quality that has put my 35mm Canon, and Nikon gear to shame.
     
  7. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I disagree that a Mamiya TLR is not as good off the tripod. I always found that supported by your hands from underneath and by the strap around your neck, it is extremely stable to handhold. I have found that I can shoot handheld at much slower speeds, especially without the slap of that great big mirror. If you want to shoot more eye level, there are a variety of prisms available. I agree that under most normal shooting circumstances, parralax isn't a problem.
     
  8. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Neal perhaps you are reffering to my remark about the paramender. As is said I have no experience in using a Mamiya TLR but I would think that with the PARAMENDER that a tripod would be a good idea.
     
  9. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Some people like TLRs some don't. I like the one I have. Personally I like waist level finders more then prisms that SLRs tend to have. But you might not. All I can say is see if you can borrow one for a few days.

    I'm not sure which Bronica model you're looking at. If it's the model with leaf shutter lenses then I think you'll find other cheaper cameras out there if you can live without the leaf shutter lenses. Plus with the focal plane cameras you can spend $30 or so on an adapter and fit the various Kiev lenses. Things like the 30mm fish eye which you might not want to spend the big bucks for from a western camera company.
     
  10. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    Not at all, Claire. Sparx mentioned parralax in his original post and Noblebeast suggested that the TLR might not the best tool for handheld street photography. The lens distance is only two inches and not a consideration in most shooting circumstances but Erickson mentioned the built-in parallax indicator which is great in most closer shooting situations but You are right, the paramender is the best, most accurate tool when you have the camera on a tripod, especially in close-up work.

    That reminds me of another feature. The long bellows on the Cs allows major close-ups without additional accessories.
     
  11. RAP

    RAP Member

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    You sould consider what your needs are now as compared to the future in relation to your budget. How many lenses do you need or can you work with just the one normal lens for the time being.

    The C330 is a fine camera I too owned at one time with several lenses. But now I have a Hasselblad but only the 80mm lens, (95% of my shooting is with 4x5 for which I have 4 lenses). That 80mm lens is very versitile!

    If you opt for the C330 and decide to go to another camera, you will only have to shell out more money.

    You can always add on as the needs arise.
     
  12. eagleowl

    eagleowl Member

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    Hi Sparx

    You should be able to change lenses mid-roll in ANY Mamiya tlr.
    To change lenses,you need to turn a dial to the "unlock" position,which moves(if the camera is in full working order,and the seals are ok) a light baffle between the lens and the film.
    I have a C33,and despite the extra weight and the lack of a built in light meter(I have a reasonably priced handheld meter which weighs next to nothing,so that's no great problem!),I prefer using it to my 35mm slr.
    Basically,it's a simple camera-which makes it easy to use.
     
  13. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Another option that you haven't mentioned but I don't know the cost differences but Mamiya 6 and 7 or 7II are 6x7 rangefinders.

    I have the 7II and it's a pretty cool camera. For an estimate on cost check ebay or Lens and Repro or KEH.

    Just another option that is fast, compact and lightweight.


    Michael
     
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  15. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Mamiya TLR webpage

    Take a look at:

    http://www.btinternet.com/~g.a.patterson/mfaq/m_faq-mamiya.html

    I have both the Mamiya TLR (C220) with 6 of the 7 focal lengths they ever made - bargains are out there. I have a paramender, but have used it only occasionally. In a pinch, if afraid of parallex, just back up a bit and the neg is big enough to crop slightly and take care of the parallex.

    I also have Kowa Sixes.

    I have waist level and eye level finders for both.

    It's all good, if it meets your needs. I know that doesn't answer the issue, but buying a camera is actually a pretty personal thing. Anyway, check Patterson's website for data on the TLR's

    Good luck.

    David
     
  16. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I like my TLRs, but I would trade them for a Mamiya 6 or 7!!! However, there is quite a price differential ... :sad:

    Maybe someday.

    David
     
  17. sparx

    sparx Member

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    Thanks for all those comments. I'm going to bid for a Mamiya C of some description. There are currently C330's, a C220 and a C3 on at the mo, along with several lenses.

    Blanksy, I did consider a rangefinder but that would also mean a new enlarger as my Opemus 6 only goes up to 6x6. So i'm going to go the TLR route for now i think.
     
  18. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I believe the Mamiya 6 is a 6x6 and the Mamiya 7 is 6x7

    Michael
     
  19. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I can recommend the Mamiya TLR 330 as I use one myself. Wonderful piece of kit. They are plentiful, and cheap, so take your time, there are plenty to pick from. One thing to keep in mind is that the 220 range do not have the coupled wind on and shutter cocking that the 330's have, and I think they have a winding knob instead of the folding crank of the 330. Good luck with the chase.
     
  20. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    I use the Mamiya TLR as my workhorse camera (either a C330 or a C220). I also have a Mamiya 6 at my disposal, which I like for travel. I think the M6 wil fail before the TLRs. Push comes to shove I can fix those myself.

    As I get older ( 8-( ) I find the waist-level finder is better for my eyes. I hand-hold the TLR, but prefer a monopod or a tripod. No camera movement is better than some movement with a fast shutter speed.

    Unless you like working inside arm's length, parallax should not be a real issue. And if you do want to work close, you can get close to 1:1 with the built-in bellows. You won't get any better than that, though.

    Look for good condition C330, C330f, or C220. I would pass on the C220f and C330s. Although newer, I don't think they warrant the price premium. All of these do 120/220. Don't forget that these are all used cameras - actual wear and tear counts for more than chronological age. Quirks to look for: C330/C330f the short lens focusing scale uses a sliding window. This often sticks closed. Bellows light-tight? Film change baffle light-tight? Film transport working - test with a sacrificial film or roll of backing paper. You will need this to confirm the frame counter works. The focus rail should be smooth but firm. Check the interior for the usual state of the film guides.

    The link mentioned previously has a lot of information. It keeps growing - I have some small detail updates to make at the end of this month.
     
  21. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Here here! I like my C220 and C3 but they would be gone in a flash for a Mamiya 6 rangefinder. In your case, I would buy a C33 with a couple of lens, a sheet film back and/or a paramender. The C220 is nice, but there isn't a removable back. I have the 65mm ( a nice lens), an 80mm, and a 180mm. All very very sharp. I occasionally bid on a prism finder, but so far, I just shoot looking down.

    tim in san jose
     
  22. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I've been using Mamiya TLR's for about 30 years--almost as long as I've been using any camera. Even without a Paramender, you can estimate pretty well how to correct. When using a tripod, a center column model works best. It's not perfect but it works pretty good.

    My biggest complaint with Mamiya TLR's is that they feel a little top-heavy when used hand-held--kinda "tippy", if you know what I mean. To a new user, they are also kind of hard to understand. They're really not complicated but they seem so with all the levers, dials, buttons, etc. The lack of useable depth of field scales can also be a problem, especially for landscapes.

    I've been using a Pentax 645 outfit--original manual focus models--for about a year now. To me, it's a vast improvement in ergonomics. The primary reasons I continue to use the Mamiya is that I like the square format sometimes and the twin lens design is great for shooting infrared films with opaque filters.
     
  23. Snapper

    Snapper Member

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    TLRs are great and would thoroughly recommend the Mamiya C330f. Actually, having said that, I will be selling mine shortly as I don't use it as much as I should and it needs a good home. PM me if interested.
     
  24. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    [Going back a couple of posts]

    Why is the non-removable back on the C220 a problem? The only alternative for the C330 is a single sheet holder, and that's of limited utility to most people.

    None of the TLRs feature mid-roll exchange. That might be an issue so some people.
     
  25. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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  26. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Coming in late here, but -- TLR for me. Why? Because I can get TLRs with excellent optics and robust mechanics that fall within my limited budget. In fact, I just bought a second Kodak Reflex II (to give me a backup in case my attempt at 120 conversion fails) for under $20, shipped (though it's rare to get one that cheap, they usually run about $50 plus shipping).