which first medium format camera?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by kuuan, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. kuuan

    kuuan Member

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    I am looking into getting my first medium format camera,
    and look for a camera which

    - first of all gives me much joy...
    - does not cost much used ( MF )
    - can get a big range of very good but inexpensive lenses for it
    - is rather light and small

    and please advice me which other points should be important...

    The Pentax 645?
    but I am also curious about the Pentacon 6 and Russians, e.g. Kiev 6, Kiev 88, Saljut S...

    Which should be the best/cheapest/lightest beginners camera that uses great lenses?
    If these lenses can be used for a later upgrade in body the better!
     
  2. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    Welcome Kuuan! There has been questions like yours here regularly. Just do a search and you will find the threads.

    Hans
     
  3. frdrx

    frdrx Member

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    I recommend the Pentax 645 wholeheartedly. It is my first medium format SLR and I like it very much. My lenses were really cheap, yet they perform nicely. Get either a Pentax (also consider the Pentax 67), a Mamiya or a Bronica, and you won't be disappointed. With a Pentacon, Kiev or Saljut, you probably would.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You have two options Twin Lens Reflex or SLR. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

    You seen to be looking at SLR's, they are nearly all good, but Pentacons and other Eastern block/Russian cameras while cheap are also less reliable.

    You can't go wrong with Mamiya, Bronica, Pentax, Contax, Hasselblad. Maymiya 645's or RB/RZ67's are probably the best value for money and the systems are extensive, plenty available second hand at very good prices.

    Ian
     
  5. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    The best camera is the one that feels right to you. I have an older Pentax 645 and I love it. Somewhere along the way I got a Kiev, and I hate it (jams, misalignments, failures, fragile - a whole list of complaints). But that is me. Your experience may be different. If you are shopping, I would look at Pentax, Bronica, and Mamiya.
     
  6. arigram

    arigram Member

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    My suggestion would be the best deal you can make.
    There are many MF camera systems going for little money these days and you never know which might land on you. The choices are apart from a SLR and a TLR, also a rangefinder. If you know how they work in the 35mm world (maybe save for the TLR), then imagine the same thing but bigger and sometimes but not always heavier. In the end, is really about which way you like to look through the camera. The only difference with the 35mm is that some MF systems feature detachable film backs, which might be useful to you or might not. You also have a choice on the shape of the frame, a rectangle (6x4.5, 6x7,6x8,etc) or a square (6x6) which might not be a big deal in the beginning.
    Look on the Internet or ask around your area which MF camera you can get for your budget. You really can't go wrong with any you get.
    Since you are a beginner, its better to try one and see how it feels on your hands and go from there.
    If you can handle one before you buy, even better.
    Go with your pocket.
     
  7. Ragtime Clown

    Ragtime Clown Member

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    I took this piece of advice from an old-timer about medium format cameras. With 6x4.5 you have to shoot in landscape format unless you can afford a prism - with 6 x 6 you shoot the same way all the time and crop your portraits at the printing stage.

    I personally started off with a Rolleiflex T (which I still have) and then moved in and out of Mamiya C330f and C330s models. I found them much too big for landscape as I usually walk a lot. I bought an Agfa Isolette a few days ago and thats what I plan on using now.
     
  8. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Or you buy a 645 with portait setup. Like the Bronica RF.

    Unmetered prisms aren't that bad.
     
  9. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    One comment: You've mentioned price as a factor, but one person's "cheap" is another person's "ridiculously expensive." If you could be more precise on this factor (and also on what you mean by "light" and "small") it would help a lot.
     
  10. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    I would recommend the RZ67 system, if you can handle the weight. It is heavy, but the system is very extensive and the camera will handle all situations you can throw at it. Definitely get a grip if you go for one of the larger cameras like the RZ/RB - it really helps.

    For a beginner's MF camera, though, I think something like a Yashica TLR is a great place to start. Small, light, quiet and takes great pictures to boot.
     
  11. Michal Kolosowski

    Michal Kolosowski Member

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    HI!

    If joy and excitement is what you're looking for then my advice is that you should get a camera that is the least similar to your current one. Most of 6x4.5 cameras with prism finders are like oversized 35mm SLRs. For more thrills try for example something with waist level finer or square film format.

    Russian cameras (same goes to Ukrainian and ones from GDR) are cheap and fun, also the lenses are just wicked (I still get slimy grin on my face when I think about my old Volna 80/2.8) but their unreliability kills everything.

    Mamiyas, Bronicas, Hassies and all the rest that came from the bowels of capitalistic photographic industry are good cameras altogether. Remember that they ware made for professional market to meet high quality standards. If you get one in a good shape it should make a great sidekick for you.

    On the other hand I have to mention my recent camera purchase, which is old russian folder: the Iskra. For the cost of lens exchangeability and risk of buying a worn out rubbish you get a fabulous piece equipment with this irreplaceable Leica-like feeling of distinction and substantiality. In addition to that I just adore the way this thing smells. Since you are often holding your camera close to your nose IMHO it is important not to neglect that sense as well.
     
  12. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    FWIW, there are adapters for the Pentacon/Kiev-6 lenses to mount them on at least some other popular MF cameras. I don't have experience with these adapters, though, so I'm not sure how good they are. In principle, though, they could help one build a low-cost lens collection around a more reliable camera.
     
  13. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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  14. Farside

    Farside Member

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    Indeed. I have just started with a Mamiya 645J and use my Pentacon lenses on it in full manual mode. The results are just as good as I was hoping for.
     
  15. kuuan

    kuuan Member

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    thank you so much everybody for your valuable replies!

    I have been just doing that Hans, but the more I look the bigger gets the choice. Now foldable cameras just got added to my list!

    There is no hurry and I certainly will try to get my hands an various cameras to see how they feel before I decide.

    Just 3 days ago I was able to handle a Pentax 645 and I was amazed at the bright viewfinder and the ease to manually focus.

    would not foldable cameras, rangefinders be another choice?
    A foldable camera would be that much more portable. - But then that would be fixed lens, is it? And how about focusing foldable cameras...must be difficult?
    Most of all because of manual focusing I am leaning towards SLR. Is my reasoning correct?

    for some ( me? ) the Kiev could have a good fun factor. I really must get my hand on various cams to decide!

    this sounds like a very good advice, thank's arigram. I do the same when choosing ther cameras, and so it should be when choosing a medium format camera. maybe even more so, since the differences are even more pronounced.

    have never looked into Mamiyas nor the mentioned Yashica yet.

    time to study up....

    thank you for all your good replies,
    may come back for more questions,

    thank you,

    kuuan \ Andreas
     
  16. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    The Kiev is not reliable? Well, I have a Kiev 88 with the standard metal focal plane shutter and the Pentacon 6 bayonet lens mount. It was made in 1990, but I have had it only a few months. I did need to work on some known light leaks, but it has worked so far. I am still enjoying it at this time. I also considered an early Bronica because of their Zenzanon lenses, but decided to go for the adventure of the Kiev 88 instead. So far it has been fun, and I keep thinking of how much more expensive even a Hassy 500C would have been. And there is the enjoyment you get when another accomplished photographer realizes what you are carrying, and the look they get on their face. Priceless!

    Now I am looking at the Nikon CoolScan 9000 as a way of getting around the need for a darkroom. I will have more in the film scanner than in the entire Kiev with lenses and accessories.

    Enjoy; Ralph Javins
     
  17. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    I prefer leaf shutter lenses because they flash sync at every speed. The Bronica ETRSi is excellent, and prices are reasonable. I'd skip 67 SLRs for your first camera - they are large and heavy beasts that generally belong on tripods.
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    "- first of all gives me much joy..."

    That is covered by most cameras of any format!

    "- does not cost much used ( MF )"

    Look at non-Rollei TLRs (6x6), 645s, Bronica SQs (6x6), or Mamiya RB67s (6x7). Possibly Pentax 67, but they are not always cheap from what I have seen. (Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't)

    "- can get a big range of very good but inexpensive lenses for it"

    I would say your best bet here is Mamiya or Pentax 645s. Mamiya TLRs are cheap, but there are only seven FLs, none of which is particularly long or particularly short.

    "- is rather light and small"

    That gets rid of the Mamiya RB67, Pentax 67, and Mamiya TLR. Some of the most recent Mamiya TLRs are lighter than the earlier ones, but they still are not very small.

    I would say a Mamiya M645 Pro, personally, if I was going to suggest a first medium format camera. Lenses are very cheap, they are very easy to operate...don't feel much different than a 35mm SLR...and they have interchangeable magazines. I have two earlier ones that do not have the interchangeable magazines, and I find myself wishing they did. Another great advantage is the lens compatibility that spans over 30 years. It is not an orphaned/dead system like some great medium format buys...it has just slowly morphed into what it is today. The old lenses will go right onto a brand new digital-equipped body. And the company is still alive and well in the medium format world, so parts and service are a breeze.

    If it wasn't for that darned "rather small and light" requirement, I would suggest Mamiya RB67 in a heartbeat. With what they are going for now, I feel like picking up a gross of them.

    My first medium format camera was a Mamiya Super 23. Great camera, but not the easiest thing in the world to find parts and support for!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2008
  19. Mattjcuk

    Mattjcuk Member

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    Hi,

    I've just recently gotten into MF (early this year), the first one I was a Rolleiflex 3.5F which I really like and I think it was that which made me decided to do more with medium format, after the I bought a Mamiya 7ii which is a really great camera and can't really fault it.

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks

    Matt