Which Medium Format System????

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Stephen J. Collier, Jun 13, 2004.

  1. Stephen J. Collier

    Stephen J. Collier Member

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    I am currently a 35mm photographer, but I am looking to get into medium format ASAP, or as soon as bank flow will allow. I recently read about the Kiev 88 SLR. The articles in both Shutterbug and Popular Photography said it was a copy of the traditional Hasselblad 6X6 body. I know perfectly well that the Kiev won't be a Hasselblad, but it did sound interesting. I have also read the Bronica SQ-Ai is considered to be a Japanese Hasselblad. Well I guess what I am really asking here is should I try to find a used medium format system from a larger and better known name or should I buy a new Kiev system for half the price? Thanks for the time. Any feed back is appreciated.
     
  2. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    Not an answer to your question but it sounds similar to me a few years ago. I was determined to go medium format. Then with 4x5 prices falling on ebay I decided I might as well go 4x5, then I ended up saying well if I'm going to go 4x5 I might as well go 8x10 and contact print. If you are on a tight budget think about 8x10 and contact printing. A used 8x10 off of ebay, some holders, a used spot meter, contact printing frame, lightbulb, and paper, you're practically set -and it could be a lot cheaper than getting a medium format kit, enlarger, etc..
     
  3. papagene

    papagene Membership Council

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    Stephen,
    From all that I have read and as to the current price of used Bronica equipment - go for the Bronica! The Kiev is a crap shoot, you may or may not get a descent piece of equipment. Whereas, those Bronica SQ-A users I have talked to, swear by them.
    I could never save my pennies fast enough to get a SQ-A system. I wound up with a Fuji rangefinder, which fit my method of madness better. Now I have two so I can be twice as... But I still sometimes feel the urge to get a Bronica.
    Good luck.
    gene
     
  4. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    Pentax 67...go try one. If you want an easy transition from 35mm, this is for you. The lenses are first rate and the camera is a tank. There are many possible configurations and an extensive array of lenses. That said, you should expect to do almost all you shooting with a tripod...the camera is relatively heavy (though the lenses are not) and the focal plane shutter and mirror slap can mess things up way too easily without one. If you're used to shooting a mess 'o film handheld and on the fly stop reading right here!!

    I chose to avoid any of the metered prisms in favor of a spot meter and modified zone approach, but they're certainly worth considering. Since the Pentax 67 II has now replaced the Pentax 67 (an apparently long awaited update), P67's are probably much more reasonable in price. When I bought mine (new) a camera, prism finder and 3 lenses (55, 105, and 200) was one third the price of a new hassie and comparable set of lenses. It's also worth noting that the 6x7 negative is a lot bigger than the 6x6 or 6x4.5. I'm now shooting as much 4x5 as I can and not finding the quality noticably different (though the 4x5 has other wonderful virtues).

    Having said all that...sheesh, I can't believe I'm writing this...what Sean says is also true. Good luck!!!!
     
  5. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I think that you may have inadvertantly started a _very_ long thread. Read all of the responses, though. From my experience although APUGers are strongly opinionated, their opinions tend to backed with good, solid reason. A question like this really has no right or wrong answer. My response may be the least relevent.

    Personally, although I am devoted to 35mm SLR's , I've never cared much for MF SLRs. If I bought a MF camera tomorrow it would be a used Mamiya TLR (C330/220). The perfect combo of quality, price and versatility. Obviously each camera has it's own strength's and weaknesses. You'll have to decide what features are important to your own style and ambitions and pick the camera that fits you.
     
  6. mark

    mark Member

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    As the proud owner of an upgraded Kiev 88 I can say that they can be a wonderful system to go with because the glass is good and CHEAP. On my teacher salary I Own all of the focal lengths I wanted.

    Yes they are a crap shoot. You hear all about the cameras that are crap, and never about the good ones. Yes the professional SLRs are dropping in price but their glass is not. To me that was the deciding factor. Before counting out or the russian SLR line of cameras do your home work. www.kievaholic.com is a great resource and there is a link to the Kiev report which is a forum dedicated to FSU cameras. A very nice bunch of folks who will answer all of your questions honestly. because FSU cameras are not for everyone.

    Good luck.
     
  7. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    Flotsam, I agree. Each MF camera system has its idiosyncracies. No system is perfect. Never mind, just let's benefit from the digital revolution: prices of both new and used MF cameras have dropped considerably over the past year. Last week I bought a zoom lens at half the price it was ten months ago. Good! Make the digiheads "chip in".
    Hans van der Est
     
  8. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    The very least that they can do after calling us "Snobbish Luddites" is to sell us their useless old Hasselblads and Contaxes and Dursts at ridiculously low prices. :smile:
     
  9. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    My opinion is that there is no "bad" MF system, yes even the Kiev, if it is refurbished by one of the people who have made a business of this can be a good system. I chose a MF system for the following reasons:

    Availability of repair centers.
    Accessories
    Lens quality
    Ease and enjoyment of use.

    I settled on Hasselblad for the following reasons.

    You can go to any big city and find a place that will repair them and will let you rent a part while yours is being fixed, and there must likely be parts available.
    Hasselbald has some of the best accessories line for their cameras.
    What can a say about lens quality that has not been said before. Sure, the lenses are expensive, but you take one picture with them and you know why. Proof in point is the picture I posted as "My last silver print", it was taken with a hasselblad and the negative is very, very sharp.
    Finally the camera is reasonably light weight for a MF. The more you are not bothered by weight the more you will tend to use it. If after 20 minutes of carrying your camera handheld you start to hurt, you will end up going back to 35mm.

    IMO do not buy a camera on a recommendation, sit down, think of the qualities you want in a MF system and buy the brand that best fits your list, the rest is irrelevant, all have good glass, all are reasonably sturdy and with e bay all can be had for a lot less than the new prices.
     
  10. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Good advice, Jorge. I bought my first Hassleblad in 1980 for many of the reasons you cite. Used Hassleblad bodies are readily available now at very reasonable prices. The Hassleblad lenses (with the exception of the 80mm Planar), still have a lot of "sticker shock" attached.

    jdef,
    The Kiev is not a Russian knock-off. It is a Ukrainian knock-off (re-engineered) of the obsolete Hassleblad 1000F. I have an Arax/Kiev 88CM system which has been very reliable. The Ukrainian lenses are very good and there are a large number of excellent Carl Zeiss Jena and Schneider lenses that fit the mount (Pentacon 6TL).

    These days, I mostly use it for film/developer testing.
     
  11. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Jorge is right on with this recommendation. I would add if you can find some friends with the cameras in mind ask to do a hands on examination to get a feel for the equipment.
     
  12. Stephen J. Collier

    Stephen J. Collier Member

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    Sean

    I just talked to a professional photographer today who shoots on 4x5. He was showing me some of his negatives and they were very impressive. He said that I should consider just making the jump to large and skip medium. The thing that I am worried about is the cost of film for large format. How much do you pay about for film and do you ever proff with polaroid? What process do you use, paladium, platinum or regular old darkroom wet processing?
     
  13. Jon King

    Jon King Member

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    A couple of thoughts:

    From your questions on this and other questions, it seems evident that you are not satisfied with 35mm equipment, but not sure where you need to be with equipment to make the kind of images you want to make. If there is no immediate, driving(money producing) need for higher quality, I'd suggest taking a couple of steps - use a relatively low budget medium format system to determine if that is the right combination of quality and convenience for you.

    Low cost($200-$1000) systems such as various TLR, Mamiya TLR systems, Koni Omega will give you experience in the quality improvements possible in medium format, and the cost, low compared to currently professional systems (Hasselblad...) could be recouped if you move to large format or decide to invest in a 'modern' medium format system. You may be moving 'through' medium format to LF or ULF, or this may be meet your end needs. Personally, over the last 5 years I've moved from 35mm to 6x7 for color, and 6x7 or LF(5x7) for B&W.

    You may find that MF lets you work in your 'happy spot', or that it is only a temporary step to where your equipment needs to be to let you make the images you want. The only way to know for sure is to try. Go for it!

    Jon
     
  14. gr82bart

    gr82bart Member

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    Personally I would get a decent used system from a well known brand. There are some great used stuff out there for cheap. I would NOT however buy from e-bay, but I'd go to reputable places like B&H, Adorama, Samy's, Henry's or KEH. I am assuming you are in the US or Canada.

    Regards, Art.