What The Best Bargain Medium Format These Days Due to Digital?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by MikeJones, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. MikeJones

    MikeJones Inactive

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    Hi everyone! My fist post here, so be kind!

    I'm looking to get my first medium format camera. As much as some people on this site bemoan the day digital cameras were invented, I'm excited because today it realy is a buyer's market!

    What system in the $1-2K range U.S. money, would give me the best bang for my buck as an all-around versatile system?

    Thanks!

    Michael
     
  2. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Unless you're looking for artsy holgaish cameras you're best off with a rangefinder or Twin lens relflex (TLR). Remember the lens is the only part of a camera that makes a difference in the end quality, the rest is a glorified box. I got the seagul chinese imitation and have been pretty pleased, but the optics could be a bit better. Look for a yashicamat of something of that nature. There is one TLR that you can change lenses, someone might be of help there.

    If you have money to burn or just want to show off you can get a Hasselblad. I'm not nearly an expert but I used one once and its completely awesome. Nice lenses too.
     
  3. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    Mamiya RB system. With $2000 you should be able to buy a very large number of lenses. Mamiya RZ would also be good and offers nearly the same prices. Mamiya 645 Super/Pro/ProTL would also fall into this category but the frame size is smaller.
     
  4. Terence

    Terence Member

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    What do you photograph and how do you do it? Studio? Landscapes while backpacking? Macro? Do you mind shooting off a tripod or does it need to be handheld?

    For $1000-2000, there are plenty of options depending on your needs.

    For studio, the Mamiya RBs are a great deal. For backpacking, the Mamiya 7 is no bargain, but is vastly more comfortable to carry than a Hasselblad system. For low-profile street shooting, a TLR is my favorite option.
     
  5. milkplus-mesto

    milkplus-mesto Member

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    I worked it out the other day. On KEH right now, you can get a Mamiya C330 With 105mm f/3.5 (For portability), An RB67 with WLF, 110mm f/2.8, 250mm f4.5 APO, 50mm f/4.5.

    Grand total: $1,505.

    It gives you the best of both worlds, a 6x7 system for studio/portraits/car based travelling. A 6x6 TLR for street and portability.

    All for five dollars above your lower end.
     
  6. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I bought a Bronica SQ-A, prism finder, 50/3.5, 80/2.8 and 150/3.5, plus three film backs (2 120 and 1 220) for well under a thousand bucks shipped from KEH not long ago, all of it (except the 120 backs) in EX-rated condition or better. I think this is a fabulous bargain for equipment of this ilk.
     
  7. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    For that amount of money you could buy a Koni-Omega M or Rapid Omega 200 and all the lenses and accessories.
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You could put together a Bronica S2a kit with about 5 lenses and three backs for $2K, and probably a few other accessories as well.
     
  9. Robland

    Robland Member

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    That's a big budget, if you are interested, here is a full Hasselblad system...body, lens, meter and filters. When shopping for a camera the systems might be as important as the "type" (SLR, TLR, Rangefinder etc). I prefer the flexibility of a removable back, without a bellows. This set up is all manual so no battery to make it work. (pros and cons for that). http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/pho/835068456.html Let me know if he only will deal locally, I will help.
     
  10. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I agree.

    Jeff
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2008
  11. MAGNAchrom

    MAGNAchrom Member

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    I would second the suggestion to look for a used Bronica system -- while the RB67 is at historical lows, used Bronicas bodies, lenses, and accessories are 1/4 to 1/2 the price of Mamiya gear which is still in (relatively) high demand. For example, I just looked at http://stores.ebay.com/ShutterbladeStore and the prices for Bronica items blew me away. (I'm a Mamiya system user)

    Best of luck!
     
  12. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

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    And have a lot of money left over too.
     
  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    A Rolleicord for $50 to $100. Spend the rest on food, booze, and women...or maybe a great darkroom for yourself. If you get cheap enough food, cheap enough booze and cheap enough women, you could probably put together a cheap enough darkroom as well, all to go along with your cheap enough camera.

    If you want a whole system, now is the time to buy an RB or Hassy.
     
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  15. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I recently bought a Bronica ETRsi system to tide me over while I was waiting for my Hasselblad to be replaced under insurance following an accident. I chose the Bronica because it represented the best value MF slr on the market.

    I have now used it for a couple of weddings and out here whilst I am travelling around California. Observations are:

    Plus points:

    - Cheap to buy
    - Compact and light
    - 15 shots per roll, but negative is still considerably larger than 35mm (2.5 times?)
    - You cant pull the dark slide out when the back is removed (unlike Hasselblad)

    Minus Points

    - Nowhere near as strong as the Hasselblad
    - Overcomplicated design in many areas, eg: Mirror lock up; Film loading;
    - Easy to shoot with the dark slide slightly removed - Ie: it looks like it is in, but it still alows the camera to shoot (I just ;lost 7 frames this morning because of this)
    - "Time" switch on the lenses can loosen and switch partially causing incorrect exposures.

    So all in all, It is a good camera, but I can see why Hasselblad is so much more expensive.

    Matt
     
  16. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    i'll fourth a bronica system (but i'd say the sq-a). I had it before I switched to Hasselblad, but you can get a system with a body, back and 3 lenses for like $500 (that's what I got mine for 3 years ago) and it is like the affordable hasselblad. In fact I have some photos that are far superior to my Hasselblad system. For 75% of the shots, my Hasselblad outperforms, but in terms of bang for your buck, you can get a Bronica and 600 rolls of film for the same price as the Hasselblad. I never had a single problem with mind and you can get the 120J back for 6x4.5 frames.
     
  17. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    It depends on the market at the moment. I would look for a 645 SLR outfit. Through the lens viewing and interchangeable lenses are big pluses and are worth a little extra money. There have been some good bargains for these lately. Second choice would be a bigger SLR (6X6, 6X7, or 6X8) if you can find a good make (maybe Pentax, Mamaiya, Hasselblad, Bronica) in good condition. These are harder to find and heavier to carry. My third choice, not far behind) would be any of the excellent rangefinder MF cameras. Occasionally you will find a good TLR that is worth considering, too. It doesn't matter that much, Look first for quality, second for versatility, and then for price.
     
  18. noumin

    noumin Guest

    Michael, it is very difficult to make any suggestions when we don't know what do you want to use the MF for. With $1000-2000 you really have many options, unfortunately you also have many options to go wrong. So please, enlighten us !
     
  19. Frank Bunnik

    Frank Bunnik Member

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    As a system, offering a lot for little money, the Mamiya 330 cameras are hard to beat.

    This year however, I bought a Fuji GX680II with 2 magazines, 3 lenses (65, 100 and 210) a polaroid type 2 back, 3 types of bellows, chargers, 2 good batteries, folding lenshood, cable release, etc. for 900 euros. Bought a GX680IIIS body from Keh later for about 250 euro beacuse I like this camerasystem a lot. The camera is big and heavy but offers tilt, shift and swinging of the lens. They were very expensive but are now available quite cheap .
     
  20. Andy38

    Andy38 Member

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    I agree : it's difficult to reply if we don't know what Michael wants exactly...
     
  21. domaz

    domaz Member

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    Pentax 6x7 is easiest to use for a beginner because it's like a big 35mm SLR, and it's probably one of the most portable 6x7 MF SLRs. RB's are heavy and not really hand-holdable. Bronica GS-1 is another possiblity as I've heard they are quite light, but they are kind of rare. You can get a good P67 kit for $1000-2000. You can go rangefinder or TLR but personally I'm not a fan of either of those options for the simple reason that you can't really shoot Macros with them and it's harder to visualize your composition.
     
  22. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    "RB's are heavy and not really hand-holdable."

    The Pentaxes are just the same; they just don't look like it. If anything, the RB is more hand holdable in its stock configuration, because you are looking down into it and supporting it against your body. I agree that if you want things as simple as possible and don't need a bunch of accessories and such, the Pentax is a good option, but I would say that both of these are challenging to use hand held. If you want to hand hold either one, your best bet is a fast film that will allow the top shutter speed.

    Additionally, Pentaxes are pricier than RBs in my experience.
     
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  23. domaz

    domaz Member

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    Pentax 6x7s are quite easy to handhold with normal focal lengths. But let's look at the hard data with weight:
    6 lbs for RB67 with/WLF 120 Magazine and 127mm lens (source: Photoethanography)
    5 lbs for the P67 w/TTL finder and 90mm/2.8 (non Leaf shutter version). (source: Photoethanography and P67 lens info page)

    So a full one pound difference. Doesn't sound like much but if your a backpacker you know that's huge. You also see that I compared a P67 with TTL finder to a RB67 with no metering prism. So add another pound for a meter for your RB and you are pushing 7 pounds.
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    "Pentax 6x7s are quite easy to handhold with normal focal lengths."

    ...and RBs don't even need to be held. They just hang, and you prop them up to shoot. Neither of these cameras are heavy or difficult to lift or hold or backpack. Difficultly begins with 8x10, IMO. But neither of them will make for a truly sharp hand-held shot unless you are using the fastest shutter speeds (and/or MLU). The hand holdability or non hand holdability of these cameras really comes from the lighting conditions, not the weight. They each have their pluses and minuses. To me, the big plus of the Pentax is its simplicity and solidity, and the 105mm f/2.4 lens. Pair that lens and a WLF to a Pentax, and you certainly have a great camera that can be hand held in good light. It will not be all that cheap, however.

    As to the meter, I would use a guess before I used an in-camera meter, so that is a moot point. I have never found a medium format in-camera meter that I like, or even a 35mm one that I truly love.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2008
  25. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    If you never intend to go digital with it, go for an orphaned system (e.g.) no upgrade path to digital back.

    Might want to look at the Pentax 645N or NII. Built-in matrix, spot and center-weighted metering. Large number of lenses covering a wide range, many of them stellar performers and most of them now relatively cheap. Personally, I don't give a rat's behind for AF, but ED glass is available if you want. Yet the older manual focus lenses in that line are fully compatible with the matrix and spot metering of the later AF bodies. The older lenses also have exquisite all-metal build quality, on par with anything available, buttery helixes that are a joy to use. Too, lenses for their 6x7 system work on the 645 bodies with the Pentax adapter, in full automation. Film inserts are cheap and extremely quick to swap out in the field, though there's no mid-roll film changing.

    Only real negative I've encountered with the 645N/NII series is that to get faster than 1/60th flash synch, you need one of their leaf-shuttered lenses.

    Extremely well damped mirror in the 645N means you won't need the 645NII just for it's mirror lockup for tack-sharp results, this is an ergonomic camera that's eminently handholdable at slow speeds.

    Look at the original price tag, and then to compare it with other systems-- add up the incremental costs of the metered finders, motor winders, grips, backs, proprietary batteries (P645N likes 6AA NiMH just fine) and the value of a $350-400 P645N in Ex+ or Mint- becomes obvious. This stuff is going for 10 to 15 cents to the dollar on fleabay.
     
  26. Doug Knutsen

    Doug Knutsen Member

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    I'm weighing in with my 2 cents. Most of the systems discussed are good ones, have strong points, weak points, and such, but no one has addressed the functioning issue. I have an RB67 Pro S and seven backs for it. All of the backs needed the light seals replaced and six of them don't index properly when advancing the film. I recently upgraded to the RZ67 and love it. All three backs I bought to go with it are fine. I also have ETR series Bronicas (one ETRSi, two ETRS, and one ETRC) and five backs. I really love the ETRSi. It has mirror lock-up which is something the other ETR bodies lack. But, as with all equipment of this age (and having been used professionally for who-knows-how-long or how hard?) the light seals needed replacing and two of the ETR backs don't index properly. Where I'm going with this note is that Mr. Jones needs to realize that, unless he is extremely lucky, he's not going to have whatever equipment he decides on arrive and expect to go out for problem-free photography. A portion (and it can add up to a goodly portion) of his equipment budget needs to be allowed for shop work.