Which System Would YOU Buy?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by cooltouch, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    I'm thinking seriously about getting back into medium format, what with the great prices on many items that used to be totally out of my reach. I've owned in the past a Yashica Mat 124G (my first MF camera), several Rolleiflexes, a couple of Zeiss Super Ikontas (wish I still had them, dang it!), and a nice Bronica EC-TL outfit. Right now, all I have to shoot with is 35mm and a DSLR, but I'm getting that itch again.

    I shoot mostly outdoor photography, anything from landscapes to motorsports. Some portraits, but not a lot. I don't do weddings. I often use a tripod or monopod, especially with longer focal length lenses or close-up photography.

    Here's the deal though:

    I don't have much money to spend -- say $500 tops for a camera with finder, back, and lens.

    I like the 6x6 format because I can crop in the viewfinder and I don't have to worry about rotating a camera or a back. The other option is 6x7. I'm not interested in 645, and yes, I realize that, once cropped a 6x6 is gonna be around 6x4.5 anyway, but I'd like to have the option of a square photo from a decent-size square neg or slide, if I want.

    I want lenses with shutters so I can have flash sync at all speeds.

    I want interchangeable backs and finders.

    I want mirror lock-up.

    I don't care about in-camera light meters, although a TTL prism would be nice for macro photography.

    I don't care about TTL flash. I have a Luna Pro F, and a Metz 60-CT1 and I've found both to be a very reliable.

    So, the way I see it, I have basically two system choices: Bronica or Mamiya. The Bronica SQa or SQai (the SQ doesn't have mirror lock up, from what I understand) or maybe the GS-1 (does it have a mirror up feature? I don't know). Or the Mamiya RB or RZ series. It appears that I would have to pick up the rather expensive double-cable release to access the mirror-up feature on the Mamiyas, though. I like the revolving back feature of the Mamiyas, and I like the bellows extensions. I guess it's a plus, as well, that they're still being made.

    Anyway, these models fit my budget. Sadly, Hassy, Rollei, and the Fuji GX680 do not. Have I overlooked any obvious choice? The Kowa Super 66 maybe?

    I have never used a lens-shutter Bronica, nor a Mamiya (other than an old C220), nor a Kowa, for that matter. I'll admit, though, that I'm leaning toward the Bronica SQa, mostly for its relative simplicity. So, given these choices, what would you be most likely to go for? I am also quite interested why you would choose one system over another.

    Best,

    Michael
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Consider also a mamiya 645 pro. Very simple MLU, superb, fast and inexpensive lenses, even out to 500mm tele. And it's such a cute little bundle. That you say you do some portraits and also do motorsports suggests to me that the rb or rz may not be appropriate. I realize that you are not enthused about 645, but... if you are open to 6x7 then why not give it a chance....

    P.S. The pro can take leaf shutter lenses that will give you synch at quite high speeds.
     
  3. krzysztp

    krzysztp Member

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    Go for Pentacon six ;-) -really!!
    I love it....( having nikons (d90, f90x- n90s))
    lot of great Zeiss lenses, - and dont't believe in "frame spacing" problem rumored around
    ..and don't worry about MLU-mirror is so soft...
    cheers from former communist country ;-)
    k
     
  4. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    You don't leave us much for an advice: the only one left after the Bronica is the Mamiya RB 67....
    It has everything you want for your price.

    Good luck,
    Peter
     
  5. Maris

    Maris Member

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    I was faced with the same challenge a few years ago, did the research, agonised over the commitment and finally chose...the Mamiya RB67 system. All the gear I bought was well used and cheap. It got a professional CLA and has worked without fault ever since.

    By the way the mirror lock-up feature does NOT need a double cable release; just a finger on the body shutter release to click the mirror up and an ordinary release on the lens to fire the shutter.
     
  6. edtbjon

    edtbjon Member

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    I recon a Hassy 500C (or even a C/M) with a good ol' silver 80mm Planar should be within reach. You will get everything on your wish-list and there is plenty to choose from if/when you decide to add lenses and film magazines.

    //Björn
     
  7. AutumnJazz

    AutumnJazz Member

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    After using an RZ67 II I pretty much fell in love with it...but it is heavy.
     
  8. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I bought a Bronica SQ-A, 50/3.5 PS, 80/2.8 S and 150/3.5 S along with a non-meter prism and a few 120 and 220 backs, in a situation very much like yours.
     
  9. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    I second Jim's advice... get a Bronica SQ-A.

    gene
     
  10. sidearm613

    sidearm613 Member

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    hunt for a used hassy 500!
     
  11. JRJacobs

    JRJacobs Member

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    If you love 6x6, you really should get a Hassie - a complete 500c should be well within your budget of $500, you will enjoy it more than a Bronica.

    If you want the larger negative, the RB67 is a great choice also, and accessories are cheap.
     
  12. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    The Bronica isn't that simple. With the right bits you can have a full automated system. It's a fairly powerful range.

    If you're mostly on the tripod then the RZ is a good choice. The bodies tend to be newer then the RB and so are the lenses.
     
  13. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    I had several medium format cameras and eventually ended with a hasselblad 500.
    Some years ago i was not able to own one, but when the prices dropped i took my change.

    pros:
    -lens quality is very good
    -no electronics (they will eventually fail)
    -a mountain full of lenses and other stuff available
    -prices are now reasonable
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 19, 2009
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  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Twenty five years ago I'd have gone for a Bronica SQ for square format, but I choose Mamiya 645's instead.

    Now though with second hand prices tumbling I'd buy a Hasselblad system for 6x6, far more reliable as others have already said.

    Ian
     
  16. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    In the '60's I lusted for a Bronica S. I inherited a Mamiyaflex C330. I hated it as a teenager. It was improved with a Porroflex prism. I found the fiddle factor just too high so I dumped the C330 and when to the Hasselblad. I have not looked back.

    Steve
     
  17. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    Guys,

    Thanks for all the responses. After posting my message, I browsed eBay wondering about the Hassy 500C or possibly the C/M. Checking the "completed listings" I was surprised to find that the older C model's typical selling price, with a finder, back, and lens, was right at my budgeted max price. So, that's definitely something I need to consider. Great thing about the Hassy system is the available lenses and accessories for it would fill a fair-sized book. But I also tell myself that I could probably pick up an RB or SQ-A with a couple or three lenses for this same amount. Decisions, decisions.

    At any rate -- unfortunately, it looks like I will have to postpone this purchase for a while. This past week, both my wife's and my cars developed "issues." Her car's water pump sprang a leak, and mine has started dying unexpectedly (I think it's the flywheel sensor going out). Having these repairs done will exhaust my funds for a while.

    Another question, since it's been so long since I've shot medium format: is there any point in picking up 220 backs? I've read that the available film in 220 is not very good, while there's still a decent selection for 120. In the past, I shot some B&W, but mostly slides. Nowadays, though, I'll be scanning the slides and negatives, so when it comes to shooting in color, I probably will go with whatever has the best latitude, which probably means print film.

    Best,

    Michael
     
  18. rpsawin

    rpsawin Subscriber

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    I'm with PhotoJim and papagene. The Bronica Sqb is a great system and fits your needs per your post. There is lots of gear out there as well.

    Bob
     
  19. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    220 film is more difficult to get, not available in most emulsions, and costs more than 120 film (per frame).
    So no, don't bother. (The price of used 220 film backs indicates that most people who once did don't anymore too.)

    That said, the best print film (Portra) is still available in 220 rolls.
    Still more expensive than 120 rolls though.
     
  20. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Most of the places I have seen 220 film for sale charge exactly twice the price for 120 film, so in that case the cost of running the film is the same.

    For some types of photography the freedom of shooting twice as many frames before reloading can be extremely convenient. 220 backs are indeed very cheap and even if you don't use 220 much, this convenience doesn't come at that much of a cost.

    To be sure the films available are limited, but common colour negative films are still readily available, along with Kodak TXP 320 (a black-and-white emulsion).

    If you only get one back, absolutely ensure it's a 120 back, but I think a 220 back is worth owning if you plan to do portraiture or anything else where longer rolls would be very convenient.
     
  21. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Are you sure?
    I have retired my 220 backs among other things because (though you are right about convenience - great for travelling, 220 film) 220 film is more expensive anywhere i look.
    Not by much, i know. But still.

    (Other part of the reason is that 12 frames per roll often is quite a lot already, and i find myself often 'filling' a roll with unneeded duplicates of what i have managed to capture using the first quarter of the roll. I guess i should switch to sheet film. :wink: )
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    For some cameras, you use the same back, and just change inserts. The Mamiya 645 manual focus cameras work that way.

    I have found that if someone is selling a 220 "back" for a Mamiya 645 (i.e. a back with a 220 insert), it often is for less than the cost of a back with a 120 insert - sometimes the difference is more than enough to pick up a 120 insert alone.

    Matt
     
  23. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Last I looked on B&H, the 320 TriX was a hair cheaper per frame in 220, but a number of color emulsions were more. I did recently pick up a 220 insert inexpensively should I ever get the urge, but I mostly shoot B&W and nothing I currently like comes in 220.

    Which system would I buy? A Bronica SQ-A -- that is to say, I already did. At the time I started it seemed like the best trade-off of features vs price (vs weight!). I did have a problem with the first body, but replaced it with one that appeared to be in better shape for $80.

    These decisions are potentially not simple, as different folks have different preferences and even ergonomics might fall into play. If you can't get to try before you buy, it might be best to minimize the investment and play with an inexpensive package for a while. Compared with 25 years ago, it's a cheap experiment. Even an inexpensive folder might be suitable for some things.

    DaveT
     
  24. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Fuji Pro 160, 5 rolls: $18.95 in 120, $37.50 in 220 at B&H. Twice the price of 120 would be $37.90. That's at B&H Photo Video in New York, from which I mail order occasionally (and visited in person last month).

    Perhaps small local stores are charging more for 220 due to low demand, but Adorama and B&H and other mail order places seem to have prices that are essentially the same per frame.
     
  25. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    A used Hasselblad.
     
  26. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    :smile:
    Yes, but also at B&H:
    Fuji 160S, 5 rolls: $17.50 in 120, $37.50 in 220. That's 7% more.
    Kodak 160 NC, 5 rolls: $20.75 in 120, $44.45 in 220. That's again 7% more.
    Etcetera.
    :wink:


    So no, it's not just at "small local stores". Whether you go there in person or not.