What's the most reasonable MF setup for landscapes, etc?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Jedidiah Smith, May 29, 2013.

  1. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Ever since moving to California and starting a business 4 years ago, I haven't had the time (or the mental energy really) to make photography happen on a level I did in Alaska.
    I was about to re-purchase the gear I used to have - Minolta Maxxum 7, 24-105 lens, vertical grip and maybe a 100-300 APO again. However, I realized that I used to shoot that 35mm setup just like most shoot an MF setup. On a tripod with cable release, and ISO 50 or 100 slide film inside. Also loved Adox CMS 20 - so that tells you what kind of shots I was taking. Definitely not a street shooter. I also think I would get more into B&W photography if I had a larger negative to work with. I enjoyed the darkrooms I've built over the years, but just never got anything real spectacular out of them...I think my slides were just better. :confused:

    I'm wondering if there are any general rules of thumb or guidelines for someone like me who shot 35mm very particularly, who's considering giving the MF world a try. I'm thinking 6x7 - maybe even 6x9. I know 6x4.5 and 6x6 have their converts, but if I'm going to go MF I think I want at least 6x7. I almost can't imagine the clarity of a 6x7 shot on Adox CMS 20. Must be mind blowing.

    What do some of you think the most reasonable cost 6x7 or larger setup would be, mostly for landscape or nature type photography? My wife used to shoot formals with a Mamiya RZ 67 - that was cool, but quite the beast. Maybe there's something better for what I'm looking at, I don't know?
     
  2. one90guy

    one90guy Member

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    I am very happy with 6x6, Bronica and 2 tlr's. And still use 35mm, for me the best of both worlds.

    David
     
  3. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    I shoot mostly landscapes, mostly with LF (4x5), but I also have a 6x6 that I use when I want something more portable. I go back and forth over the format - I like the 4x5 format since it works nicely when printing onto standard size paper, and with 6x6 I usually am cropping to get what I want on paper - which is OK, but perhaps a 6x7 would be better. My issue with the 6x7 is that either the Mamiya or Pentax versions are similar in size and weight to my LF camera, and the negs are 1/4 the size!
     
  4. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    Try your hand at a Fuji GW690. Great lens, biggest rollfilm neg short of going full pano, great aspect ratio and tough as a brick (ask me how I know). Otherwise, it would almost behoove you to get a simple 4x5 and a rollfilm back, that way you can shoot 4x5 when that bug bites, but in the meantime you can use any lens you want and throw on a rollfilm back from 6x17 down to 6x4.5.

    My $.02 anyhow...


    EDIT: I saw that the title reads "reasonable" so I guess you can ignore me
     
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  5. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I'll press you for the big and beautiful 6x7 format: with an ultra-wide angle lens (45mm — one of Pentax's finest) and fit-to-frame technique the results will really grab you. We've got a fair bit of variety in terms of film (more for B&W than colour I reckon) and it's begging to be used. There are other formats as you will note here; I am fond of the 6x6 format too, in multiformat pinhole. The most readily available go-to body 6x7 is a Pentax 6x7 (modern version by the moniker 67). However, large numbers of these cameras that have been very well used over the decades (many decades) are now showing up with quite serious wear and tear problems in forums, where the remedy is usually to buy another second-hand body (they are no longer made new and uncommonly taken in for professional repair), only in some cases to discover problems with that too— owners are making-do with workarounds or just put up with faults e.g. lazy shutters, frame overlap, broken parts... . But if you do some research and carefully suss a 67 body out it should reliably stand up to the task. Have a look at a few other compact 6x7 cameras mentioned here with less bulk and weight than the 67 (even I will attest that it is a very beast of burden). But do give a MF a whirl because the effect of slides (especially) illuminated on the lightbox is quite sensational (in truth, so too are 35mm pics, just the punch is a lot smaller!). :smile:


    Lake Bonney afterglow.png
     
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  6. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Get an old 6x9 folder with a basic view finder and set it up on a tripod. I shoot a Kodak Tourist, simple and dependable. It's a low buck way to get into medium format. If it turns out you dont like it, you arent out much money if any on resale.
     
  7. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    The problem is, IMHO, that there are so few options larger than 6x6 that don't involve a big, complex, and/or expensive system camera. The only fixed-lens options I can think of, apart from old folders, are the 6x7 Bessa III and the Fuji 6x9 rangefinders; the former is pretty darn expensive, though by all accounts it's a spectacular camera. (The Fuji rangefinders do seem worthwhile to explore, though personally I handled one and decided it was larger than I would end up using in practice.)

    By contrast, you step down to 6x6 and there are endless varieties of TLRs, some of which are as good optically as pretty much anything ever made, and many of which are in an unusual "good enough, light enough, cheap enough" sweet spot. Personally, I really like the square for landscapes, and I think it makes sense to give it a try with one of the less expensive TLRs---a Rolleicord or Yashicamat or something---since the price of entry is low.

    Apart from the fixed-lens options above, I think the 6x7-and-up world basically consists of:
    * RB/RZ67: beloved by everyone who doesn't have to carry them from place to place
    * Mamiya 7: beloved by everyone who doesn't have to pay for one
    * Pentax 67: good camera, bulky, mirror vibration is a concern
    * Various Fujis: kind of uncommon, good reputation
    * Bronica GS-1: getting old and largely used by pros, so they may be pretty worn; good cameras by all accounts
    * Weird stuff: Koni-Omega, Rittreck, Mamiya Press, Plaubel Makina, Graflex...

    People have good experiences with all of these cameras, but they all involve tradeoffs of one sort or another, and they're all pretty good-sized cameras. It seems like the Mamiya 7 is probably the best all-rounder of the bunch, but the tradeoff there involves your wallet in a significant way.

    My 6x7 is a Rittreck Optika, and I find I don't use it much simply because it's such a beast. Very cool camera, capable of producing excellent results, but if I'm going to cart it around I might as well go all the way and shoot large format instead.

    -NT
     
  8. Sim2

    Sim2 Subscriber

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    Hallo,

    FWIW I will through in my thoughts on this - I used to shoot exclusively 35mm and then changed to 6x6, I did not realise how much I was "automatically" selecting and framing for a rectangular format. Shooting for the square is a whole different exercise and it has taken a while to readjust my "vision" to take this into account. If you were comfortable with the rectangular of 35mm then the 6x7 or other rectangular formats might be a better way to go than 6x6. The aforementioned Pentax is 35mm slr on steroids (!), perhaps the Mamiya 7 may work for locations etc, plus it is still being produced so less worries on repairs etc.

    Anyway, just my thoughts - enjoy whatever you do choose & get a good loupe!
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Most reasonable cost? Koni-Omega

    They aren't small or light, and you have to factor in the cost of having Greg Weber service them for you, but their quality is high.

    Or: Mamiya RB 67 or RZ67
     
  10. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    There's a glut of Pentax 6x7 gear on the market at very reasonable prices. Some of it is in excellent shape. Try to get more recent lenses
    and do your homework first as there are sometimes misleading ads out there. But this system does have a very wide range of lenses. Expect
    to use a tripod and mirror lockup for most application. And yeah, it's big and heavy compared to a 35mm system, but featherweight to
    someone like me who usually carries around an 8x10. P67 optics are generally very good. There are several generations of the camera itself,
    and you must make certain any viewfinders or prisms are compatible. And make sure it has mirror lock-up (only the very old ones don't).
    Old lenses are labeled "Takumar" - they're generally decent but not as good as newer lenses. There are no interchangeable backs. But a second body doesn't weigh much and will probably cost less than most MF backs for other systems. There is really a lot less to choose from
    in terms of 6x9 equip. The really good stuff is more like a miniatured view camera or technical camera. Horseman and Linhof made some
    wonderful 6x9 cameras. I simply use a Horseman 6x9 back on one of my 4x5 cameras when not shooting 4x5 film per se. The quality if FAR better than ANY conventional MF camera, simply because I've got all the plane of focus and perspective controls of a view camera. But that's another subject, I guess.
     
  11. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    I agree with Nathan Tenny. A Mamiya 7 is probably your best bet but will cost you a fortune. Anything you buy is going to be a compromise.

    How about buying another 35mm camera for portability and a used 4x5 field camera for landscapes. You could even buy a medium format roll film back for the 4x5 if you wish for even more versatility.
     
  12. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Thanks for the thoughts so far, I'm at work and will have to look up all those cameras online after I get off. :smile: I've thought of going the 4x5 route too, but involves a lot more fussing between shots, doesn't it? I mean, I took my time with 35mm on a tripod and mirror lock up, cable release, etc - but isn't the LF world just an entire different beast? Hmmm...I wonder if I could get into that. I was thinking Adox CMS 20 on a 6x7 would be about perfect, but yeah...on a 4x5 sheet that would be just insane quality! :blink:

    I'm not so worried about weight, but bulk is a bit of an issue if I want to hike with it. Has to fit in a pack some how. I'll have to see how all these compare I guess. Thanks!
     
  13. Noble

    Noble Member

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    If you like having your option of lenses my advice is to build a system with a 6x6 or 6x4.5 format. I have a Rollei 6008i which shoots both of those formats. I will at some point buy a 6x9 camera and hopefully something like a 6x17 camera. The thing I like about my Rollei is it is a do everything camera.

    I see the beyond 6x6 world as a very nice add on to the 6x6 and below world. I also shoot 35mm for things like slides. You can get an excellent late model 35mm Canon body for <$100 and use your d*****l lenses with it. Less than $100 for a 35mm film setup? No brainer.
     
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  15. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Alright, I started looking all these up. I came across a picture of a Bronica GS-1. Wow, I like the way it looks. And the lenses seem to match what I used to use with my 35mm setup - a 50mm (24mm equiv), a 100 or 110macro (50mm equiv) and a 150 (85mm equiv).

    Any thoughts on one of those for what I'm looking at doing? Thanks for your time.
     
  16. Dr Croubie

    Dr Croubie Member

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    Travelwide: $99 (or you could always go a real Graflex or Toyo or whatever Fieldcam body with a lot more movements for a lot more weight and probably a bit more money)
    Super Angulon 65mm f/8: $200-300 (or 90mm f/8 $150-250)
    Graflex 23 6x9 120-film back: $50
    Lightmeter: $100 (for a cheapish one, if you don't have one already)

    All I'm waiting on is the body (hopefully here before xmas) then I can go shoot me some nice wide landscapes...


    Or a P67 with 45mm lens, if you can find one without the problems mentioned in previous posts. Handles a lot more like a 35mm, but from my limited experiences with them P67s are *heavy* beasts (hell, I don't even like lugging my Kiev60 tank around too much, and P67 are heavier than them)
     
  17. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    I think the Pentax 67 fills the requirement very well.

    The hasselblad is my choice though.
     
  18. whowantstoast

    whowantstoast Member

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    Let me second that - as long as it's in good shape the Koni-Omega is a brilliant camera. But it's my second-tier 6x7, after a Graflex Century Graphic with an RH10 rollfilm back. I have the Zeiss 100 lens, and it makes me giggle every time I see that detail coming out of such a small box.
     
  19. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    A big thing about large format is that you can tilt your lens and change your plane of focus so you get everything sharp in your landscape photographs. Yes, it does take a little longer to set up a view camera but most people (including me) feel that the extra time spent creates more "keepers" at the end of the day. Yes, a 4X5 folding field camera will easily fit into a backpack with plenty of room to spare. A lot of photographers hike with them.

    If you are interested in large format then check out the home page on the Large Format Photography Forum for a wealth of free information.
     
  20. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    The trouble with large format that is quite noticeable is it's the first format to receive the chop in availability of films; it's an ongoing annoyance that affects all formats, but 4x5 is not particularly well catered for despite obvious enthusiasm for and dedication to it in art, studio and landscape photography (in many disciplines replaced by digital, which I feel is inferior and insulting to the art form, not that we can do much about it, even as a vociferous minority). It is a testing format to use that requires time, patience and a methodical, measured approach, with a good deal of metering nouse about you (without that singularly important aspect LF is not the choice; learn advanced metering with a manual camera and move up and up as skills and the amount of time you wish to devote to it increase). All things else being equal, you must be hellbent on producing the very best images you can from the oeuvre you have specialised in (this holds though for a lot of serious, studious photography in any format from 35mm right up to ULF and beyond). It is observed that it will be the first format to disappear, quicker than MF, 35mm and even ULF because there is not a big nor growing market to sustain it; creative peeps take LF papers and chop them down to 4x5 size, and a great many are in the B&W league, where LF had its foundations more than a century ago. The important thing here is to get your hands on whatever you are comfortable and competent with and go out there and shoot film like there's no tomorrow! :smile:
     
  21. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

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    A reasonable solution in terms of functionality (but not price unfortunately...) would be the Linhof Technika 6x9; light and compact (compared to a RB or a Pentax 67), some lens adjustments for perspective and dof control, high quality of the camera and the lenses.
     
  22. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I've shot a variety of formats and have some thoughts. I love my Chamonix 045n, but it can take 15-20 minutes to get a shot off. It's also harder to find a place to process the film. Color film for it is getting expensive. It's not heavy, but the set up time will definitely slow you down. Probably the very best bang for the buck is a Bronica ETRSi, a 645 body with mirror lock. It's compact, quick to use, and 120 film is in good supply. THe Bronica lenses are excellent. It all makes for a camera as fast to set up and use as a 35mm, with about 2.5 times as big a negative. I used one back in the 90s to give me an advantage in stock photo sales. A Bronica ETRSi with 40mm, 75mm, and 150mm is what I'd suggest. I too like to hike and am an avid outdoor photographer.


    Kent in SD
     
  23. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I shoot mostly 6x7 (RZ67) but the drawback is that it's all but impossible (well, it's very expensive, i.e. $1k to $5k) to buy a projector+lens in that size. For B&W and C41, it's awesome. If you shoot and project chromes, 6x6 might be a better option since 6x6 projectors are readily available for ~$200.

    Don't get something that requires 220 film, that market is over. There's 120 now and that's it.

    My opinionated summary of the 6x7 options:
    - RZ67: easy to do portrait+landscape, good lenses & availability, flash sync at all speeds (leaf shutter). Very bulky; prism is heavy. Interchangeable backs allow infinite film-changes in the field - I typically carry colour, B&W and IR all loaded.
    - RB67: like RZ but notably heavier, shutters are mechanically timed so can be less accurate, no A-mode metering, some better lenses not available.
    - Pentax: heavy, bouncy. You MUST get the MLU version and even then, the focal-plane shutter will soften your images at some speeds depending on your tripod damping. Requires L-plate to shoot portrait. Very good/fast lens selection.
    - Mamiya 7: probably the ultimate portable landscape machine, especially for the 43mm lens. Stupidly expensive, limited lens selection, not much good for closeups.
    - Bronicas: I dunno.

    If I were you, I would definitely get something with leaf shutters. If you ever shoot portraits in sunshine you will appreciate the ability to sync at reasonable speeds (1/400 being max speed on RZ vs 1/30 being x-sync on Pentax). Leaf shutters don't vibrate so you can shoot MLU on the shittiest flimsiest tripod and get perfectly sharp results if you wait 15s for the mirror slap to damp out.

    Definitely get yourself setup to develop film at home, even if only B&W for a start. Colour is eminently doable too with a little extra equipment.

    By all means look at 4x5 in addition - I have a Toyo 45A for that purpose. It's much more powerful and flexible but the slowness means you will occasionally miss shots that you would have trivially got with a MF SLR when the light is changing fast. You know, that two minutes between when the sun appears under the edge of the overcast and then disappears behind the hill, when the light is best. You'll get one composition with the 4x5, but if you're careful and quick, you might get 3 or 4 notably different compositions from a MF system. 4x5 is also a huge amount more work to process; just loading and unloading film holders is a huge time-sink.

    If you like shooting in colour, LF will make your wallet hurt. Think $4+ vs 80c per shot; worse if you're paying someone else to develop. The price differential is nowhere near as bad in B&W.

    If you're willing to pay an extra $500 upfront, you can put a 6x12 back on a 4x5 camera and shoot (colour) rollfilm in it cheaply, getting most of the benefits of LF without the hassle of paying for and dealing with sheet film.
     
  24. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    I shoot 6x9, 6x7 and 6x6, and all three formats are fun. But the format that really caught me in the first place, and in my mind really reveals the biggest quality leap from 35mm, is 6x4.5. It isn't the sexiest of the medium formats, and there are some who would like to make you believe that they are almost not worth the trouble, but those 6x4.5 images are magnificent. In reality the larger formats can sometimes be disappointing because they don't give that same sudden quality jolt that 6x4.5 can give. And fortunately that format is also very well served by some terrific cameras and is usually the least expensive to start with.

    For a long time my next favorite medium format size was 6x9. To be honest, I am a folder freak and have dozens of them lying around, some working, others in various states of disrepair and repair. There are days where I have spent many enjoyable hours hiking through the mountains in my area with a 6x9 folder at hand. But I have to be completely honest, lately the 6x9 folders have been staying home and I have been carrying my newly purchased Fuji GF670. It may be a bit pricey, but I can't think of a lighter, easier to handle, camera for hiking that has the ability to produce the same high quality images. A late model Rolleiflex may provide the same quality images, I don't know, but the price of admission to that club is wayy higher.

    All the medium formats are fun, but if I could give you one very strong piece of advice, it would be to buy the best camera you can afford to own, regardless of the format size. In addition, if you intend to move away from 35mm completely, then be sure to get one that allows you to exchange lenses, even if you start with only one. Finally, buy one that can still be repaired. Face it, we all try to buy the most reliable cameras we can find, but s..t happens.

    Other than that, have fun!! :smile:
     
  25. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    I'm with Rick A and Ntenny. If by reasonable you mean cheap, the only way to go is an old folder. Certo06 has a CLA'd 6x9 Ikonta on eBay right now for $119, buy-it-now. That is a screaming deal since a CLA alone will cost you $100. I would buy it but my annual gear budget is already shot due to moving into 4x5. For more serious work I also use a Mamiya tlr that you can get for about $100 per body or lens. With any of MF system you can still use the same lighter duty tripod and developing tanks, etc. as you would for 35mm.

    And slim2 is right about 6x6. As a long time 35mm shooter, it has been near hell to get used to the square format. It's been 3 years and I am finally getting results I like.

    There are so many ways to go. Really, none of the recommendations in this thread will send you very far wrong.
     
  26. AOCo

    AOCo Member

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    One big question to take into consideration is weight. Medium format gear is generally heavy and bulky. If you plan to always shoot close to the road, then fine, go ahead with the Pentax 6x7, it's fantastic, but very bulky. Hasselblad lenses are 2 pounds each...

    The other big question in my opinion is camera service. As much as I love Bronica, I find it more an more difficult to get them serviced. The GS-1 is awesome, very efficient, super sharp and somewhat small and light for this format. With a couple of lenses it can fit in your backpack. Pentax cannot, in my opinion.

    Also, rangefinders (Bronica, Mamiya) are usually great, but have their limitations.

    And finally setting up the larget format means less shooting, sometimes you will miss some shots. On my last visit to California, I had the GS-1 and a lightweight 4x5 set up.