Neither. I seem to recall that you already have a 35mm SLR. The obvious next steps are either medium format, a rangefinder, or both. Frankly, unless you are shooting sports professionally an F5 is overkill. And even if you are shooting sports there is a great deal that can be done with less automation. Some of the most famous sports pics ever were shot with RB Graflexes and Speed Graphics. If you want to try medium but aren't sure, I would suggest something smaller. The RB 67 is an awfully big beast, really best used on a tripod. Try a TLR or one of the smaller MF SLRs, like the Bronicas. Or you could try a MF rangefinder, like one of the Fuji models. It really depends on what you want to shoot. If you are shooting buildings or doing a lot of studio work, the RB67 makes more sense, but for anything else, try something smaller and cheaper and spend the extra money on film.
You might look at a 645- a sort of philosophical compromise between the shooting speed and bumblebee compositional style of a 35mm slr and a bigger, slower MF beast like the rb67. There is definitely some advantage to 645 capture relative to 35mm, and there is also a big advanatge (along the lines of what Mark said) to a 645 versus the rb in terms of handholdability. There are a lot of supercute 645s and some pretty bright lenses for them too. The mamiya manual 645 lenses are a steal, by the way. I just bought up a bunch.
You cannot really do available light shooting with an rb, the lenses are way too dark. The fastest lens in the rb/rz lineup is f/2.8, which is the bare threshhold of brightness if you are into nighttime street/club stuff.
When I was getting into MF I must have gotten just about everything from KEH to try out. I settled on the rb, but in addition to that, I happily shoot a mamiya 645 and an F100 and an OM1 and some XAs. Different tools for different tasks, of course. I recently deployed the 645 for some dark club stuff at 3200 in colour, and was quite pleased.
Along the lines of what DBP said about F5 "overkill," I agree with that- an F5 is something that you shouldn't get unless you are crystal clear what it is going to do for your shooting. The thing is weathersealed for 'nam and the AF probably develops enough torque to run a ceiling fan. The F5 is not overkill for some people... but that you are unsure whether it is right for you, means that it almost certainly is overkill. It is chick magnet though, that is for sure. So choose wisely
With a micro lens on an RB you can shoot a fly. Ha ha ha ha
All depends on what you want to photograph. An RB and an F5 are to two different tools, as said early in this thread.
I picked up a 6x7 slr (Bronica GS-1) and really love the thing! The trade off, as others have said, is portability and lens speed. However, those things don't seem to matter much when you're staring at some big ol' negatives
As I side note, I no longer have space for a darkroom and have a Beseler 6x7 carrier and a Nikkor enlarger lens I used for it. I'd let them go for a very reasonable sum!
Good luck on your quandary though.. I'm positive you'll have fun either way you go.
"Technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth. Opportunity doesn't do anything for creativity. Yeah, it makes it easier and you can get home sooner, but it doesn't make you a more creative person. That's the disease you have to fight in any creative field.. ease of use." - Jack White
The FM3a is getting close to a grand. The F5 is a lot cheaper. The FE2 isn't too bad though.
I like medium format a lot (I have a Bronica SQ-A). I wouldn't call it a substitute for a 35mm camera. 35mm cameras are far more flexible. Lenses are cheaper. More lenses are available. Motor drives are way faster. The cameras are handholdable. (Medium format is theoretically handholdable but you'll do far better with a tripod.)
The way to find out if you want to shoot medium format is to get a TLR for a couple of hundred dollars. It'll have a lens already and it'll be self-contained. If you end up liking that, you'll know the answer to your question.
My personal photographic priority is flexibility. I want to be able to shoot nearly anything. 35mm was the best way to do that. Now that I have more money and gear has come down in price, I have gotten larger format gear so that I can do some of things I can already do, better. For example, the 35mm is great at candid portraiture but more formal portraiture is far superior with the larger negative on my SQ-A. However, I could do a competent job of it with 35mm.
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?
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Marko, if you were nearby I would loan you an rb or whatever and let you try it for a few weeks. Is there someone nearby who can do that? What I think you need to do is experiment, shoot some rolls, see how the camera affects your way of thinking. It's not like you have an illness and one of the smart doctors here is going to have your prescription. What you have is healthy curiosity and that is good, so feed it! Experiment while you have all that energy.
I taught b&w photo this semester and encouraged the students to try very different cameras- ranging in size and complexity from an XA to an rb. Everybody had different results. Some had a hard time getting the rb to "do what they want" because they hadn't yet learned how to previsualize, so they were waving this big beast around all over the place like a 35mm, exploring through the viewfinder. Sore arms! Frustration! But a good learning experience. Personally, I think every different type of camera forces you to reinvent your photography... and think outside the [dark] box. So.. try a few totally different ones! And at this stage I would try to get as far from automation as possible.
Wait, so I can test out the cameras for a week? Does it cost anything?
Originally Posted by keithwms
KEH has a 7 day return policy. I think they will refund you for all but shipping. Do verify that before proceeding, but... a couple years ago when I was trying out MF gear, I had stuff flying back and forth for weeks.
But note that you should be able to borrow gear from apuggers in your area.
Actually, KEH's return policy is...
Originally Posted by keithwms
"Returns are allowed within 14 days of invoice date"
Even so, I think it could get quite expensive shipping to and from Canada, especially if it takes him a while to find something he wants to keep. Trying to borrow from fellow APUGers would be a much better option.
Searching my way to perplexion
Borrowing sounds like a good idea. You are in Toronto right? There has to be some Ape Huggers there.
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004