I chose the rb67 for the exact same things you are looking for in a camera, and it fits the bill so damn well.
I have three kiev-60's, two m645's, and a couple of yashica tlr's. All are great camera's and have given me excellent service. I would consider an Arax k-60 kit with mlu and flocked interior. I use mine with the waistlevelfinder most of the time. Took mine out a couple weeks ago to shoot a car show with a mir45mm. Stay away from the k-88's, these are very finicky and hard to mantain. I would also consider a Pentacon that has seen professional service. Love the lenses that are available for these systems, Steven.
TLRs are good choices(I love my Rolleiflex) RB67 is another good choice. I have to use a tripod for it because I have small hands for a guy.
Welcome to APUG.
One caution though - APUG may not be the best place to come if you feel overwhelmed by choice.
The battery issue is actually not as important as you might assume.
In most cases, due to the availability of batteries through the internet, it is usually very easy and inexpensive to always have backup batteries in hand.
My recommendation would be one of the cameras I use - a Mamiya 645 Pro for 35mm like handling (with a grip), a Mamiya C330 (with both prism and waist level finders and a selection of lenses) for battery independent use and overall a smaller kit or a Mamiya RB67/RZ67 kit (with grip) for gorgeous large negatives and a rotating back.
Of course, everyone else will recommend what they use too.
At least in Seattle you have a couple of resources (Glazer's and Kenmore Cameras) where you can actually see some of the choices ahead of time.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
If you like the square format and you are on a budget consider a Bronica SQA(uses 1 battery though), a Yashica TLR, or even a Kowa Six, which is Japanese and is probably going to be a lot more reliable than a Kiev.
If money is not an object get a nice Hasselblad kit.
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I'm pretty sure the (original) Pentax 67 only uses a battery for the light meter, the camera itself is all mechanical. It's a very nice camera and the 6x7 negative will make your jaw drop.
Rolleicord, RB67, or Kowa Six would be my suggestions. There was a gorgeous Kowa on sale here a month or two ago that I almost scooped up.
So…to clarify, I'm not looking for an expensive camera. I'm trying to get as cheap and reliable as possible. I was thinking bodies at $350 and lower. I'm not talking Holga cheap: my grandfather's Argus Super Seventy Five already does one hell of a job in that area. I'm really just looking for the equivalent of the tank-like, cheap Pentax MX and K1000 bodies. I'm not sure I'm looking for a "beginner's camera." I'm not a beginner and I don't have the attitude of one. I'm just looking for a robust first MF system.
So far, my best looking options are the Mamiya RB67, the Kowa Six, the Rolleicord, the Pentax 6x7 series, and—still—the ARAX-branded Kiev 60. I still think K60 and the Pentax 6x7 fit me the best. I still don't want batteries, but maybe I'll compromise. :/
So, here are two questions. First, have any of you owned an Arax 60 and had problems? Second, have any of you tried the older MF Fuji rangefinders?
I'm a nerd, and I love electronics. The problem is that I've seen too many proprietary electronic systems fail or go obsolete. I know that mechanical components can also fail, but some electronic components reduce repairability substantially. (For example, a guitar amp with a hand soldered board will be easier to repair than an amp that has a printed circuit—it's easy to fry a circuit board, lift a trace. Newer electronics are even more of a pain…with those tiny SMD components. The repair costs go up and up and up.
Originally Posted by mcgrattan
I also love how—on mechanical cameras—I can feel the components push back against me. That is: I can feel the tension of a film-advance lever when the spools have film on them, I can feel how stiff the shutter release (or MLU) button get once the shutter is cocked, I can feel the shutter speed dial click at each stop. The more electronics are in the camera, the less of that I can feel. It would take a lot more time to explain why that matters in the first place, and I don't want to derail this already excellent thread.
Are you sure about this? I read different things about this online. One place says the only fully mechanical Pentax 6x7 is the non-MLU version. The 6x7mlu, 67, and 67ii use a solenoid for the MLU. Other places say there are no fully mechanical versions. Man. The Pentax 6x7 is my ideal camera, honestly. I've known my own Pentax to be a robust camera, and I'd like the same experience for MF.
Originally Posted by amsp
I agree, for the most part. Portability is extremely important to me. However, I typically make lens decisions before I leave the house—depending on where I'm going and the kind of pictures I want to take that day. If it doesn't fit on my hip or in my bag (which I carry everywhere), then it doesn't come with me. Even still, I'll consider the Rolleicord if I come across one for the right price.
Originally Posted by summicron1
Last edited by keyofnight; 09-10-2012 at 05:01 PM. Click to view previous post history.
My only experience has been replacing bellows on GS645 Pro, their quality is on par (if not worse) than that of the (in)famous Agfa Isolette / Record. Not bad, but not my cup of tea either. It requires battery (like you, I prefer mechanical cameras, for the simple reason that I know how to fix them, not so with electronic components)
Originally Posted by keyofnight
This may help, then
Originally Posted by keyofnight
Last edited by jnoir; 09-10-2012 at 06:13 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I'm thinking all versions of the pentax 67 require a battery and film loaded to operate but they are a tank . I will disclose my partiality to pentax it's my brand of choice.I use afilm kx and 645, the only reason I got the 645 over a 67 is I got it at about 1/2 the price of a decent 67.The fact the 645 needs 6 aa batteries to operate is no more an issue than the sr44 battery in the kx . I look at it this way 6 aa's take up the same room as 2 rolls of 120 if I don't have spare batteries the 2 more rolls of film are not going to be any use anyway. Having owned a rangefinder form the FSU as a rule i would not depend on anything made in the former soviet union to work reliably.Sometimes they do sometimes they don't pay your money and take your chances.