The weight of the 67 actually helps to stabilize it. With my left hand below the camera & lens, right hand on the grip and triggering the shutter, and the camera against my left eye, I can definitely shoot 1/30s handheld using my 105/2.4 lens wide open and get very decent shots.
Originally Posted by rawhead
I also use a Rollei with prism. You can actually orient the camera like binoculars if you want better balance though I have no trouble with the balance holding it normally. The problem with hand holding a Rollei with or without prism is that it slows down your film advancing. You have to grip the camera one way to take a picture and re grip it another way to advance the film.
On a tripod it is much quicker.
I also use a Pentax 67 with prism. The problem I have with that in portraits is that the slap of the mirror causes people to blink right when the shutter opens. I have lost nearly whole rolls to some who blinked on every shot. The solution to that is the mirror lock up but then you have to have the camera on a tripod.
I own and frequently use the Bronica ETRs, Mamiya 645 Pro TL, and the Pentax 645, Pentax 645n and Pentax 67.
The Bronica and the Mamiya have the advantage of being fully modular, allowing you to switch film backs, grips and view finders (AE metered prism, manual prism, WL, etc.).
The strong points of the Mamiya are the wide selection and affordable prices of the lenses. In particular the 80/1.9 stands out as the fastest MF lens available. I also really like the 35mm. Furthermore, the powerdrive is readily available and cheap.
The advantages of the Bronica are the superb optics and the fact that they are leaf shutters, which is a real advantage for handheld work. It's hard to hold without the speed grip, so I would recommend getting one along with the AE-III metered finder for hand held work.
As for the Pentax, it isn't modular at all, doesn't have any particularly fast lenses, and uses a focal plane shutter. Nevertheless, the 645n is probably my favorite 645 camera! Why? It is the most comfortable in the hand, the optics are very good, the viewfinder is significantly brighter than any of the others, it has a focus confirm indicator, and I really like the data imprinting on the film. And the ergonomics are excellent. It is distinctly more modern than the others. And compared to the Pentax 645 (original) it is just better in every regard. Personally I wouldn't spend the extra money for the 645nii because the additional features are unimportant to me and come at a very high price. I only us A-series manual focus lenses with my 645n and they are wonderful. But if you really want the flexibility of a modular camera the Pentax might not be for you.
With regard to 6x7 cameras, you are right that the Pentax is quite heavy and not all that great for handheld work or portrait orientation. But it certainly makes a statement! If you want to shoot handheld 6x7 with an SLR I would strongly recommend the Bronica GS-1. It is a joy to use with the speed grip and metered AE prism.
How about a Hassy prism on your Rollei?
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I have owned the Pentax 645 and the N and Nll.
You want the N or Nll. The original camera has a goofy electronic shutter speed button selector and a dimmer viewfinder plus it is strictly manual focus.
I owned the Nll because a seller on ebay advertised it as an N so I bought it at the N price. The big deal about the Nll is the mirror lock-up. The mirror on the N is so well dampened that this feature is not necessary. I liked the textured finish on the Nll. Not as pretty as the N but did not show scratches in the long run. The real advantage of the Nll is that it is newer.
The lenses to buy are the 150mm, 75mm and the 35mm. The macro lens is also nice (I forget the focal length). Buy the 75mm and 150m with autofocus. Save your money and buy the macro and 35mm with manual focus.
No, the lenses are not Zeiss sharp but they are plenty sharp for 8x10's and 11x14's. Of course if you want ultimate sharpness in medium format you should be shooting a Mamiya 7.
The Pentax N and Nll are really fun cameras to use. With autofocus and matrix metering they are as easy to use as a digital camera but have that wonderful film look. With their huge viewfinders they are a pleasure to use handheld.
If you are interested in the 645 format then I highly recommend them.
Wow Alan! You've owned all three of the Pentax 645s. Impressive! And what a way to get the Nii!!!
I've been drooling for the 35mm and seen it in the store a couple times but never had the money for it. I really love my Mamiya 645 series 35mm lens and would love to have one for my Pentax as well.
As for ultimate sharpness in medium format I have no doubt the Mamiya 7 is good, but I suspect that Fuji GF670 might be even sharper. It continually amazes me!
If you go for the Bronica then try to find an ETRSi, you get mirror lockup and a few other tweaks over previous models.
If you want the prism then get the speed grip too, with those two on it handles like a giant 35mm SLR. The grip adds a flash hotshoe which may be useful to you - the body has a PC socket. There is a motor winder too, I've not tried it but judging by the photos and specs it would probably be heavier than the manual grip and these are not light cameras! There are three commonly available prisms - a plain one and two metered ones (AE II and AE III), the AE III has more features but I'm guessing you have a light meter already so you'd be better off with the plain one. There was a Prism AE for the original ETR but I've never seen one.
Major advantage over the Pentax is that you have interchangeable film backs. The gear is also much cheaper here than Pentax, I would have had a 6x7 or 645 but you pay almost as much for a bare 6x7 body here as for a complete ETRS or ETRSi kit.
I am a small time Ebay Seller of camera gear so I have had the opportunity of trying out a lot of equipment (I have to do something to afford film! ). I have owned three copies of the 35mm lens (one was my personal copy). If you like wide angles, it is a sweet lens!
Originally Posted by revdocjim
Yeah, the Fuji rangefinders are really sharp too. They are great cameras if you don't need/want more than one lens.
I would love to own the ETRSi too, but do you think mirror lockup is really necessary given the leaf shutter lenses?
Originally Posted by PentaxBronica
With regard to the AE-II vs. AE-III, the latter uses an LCD screen and thus has significantly lower power consumption and increased battery life.
Interesting note about the respective prices. In Tokyo the Pentax gear is generally cheaper or about the same. Old beat up 6x7 bodies are under $50 and with a little love and care they generally work well. Lenses are almost all under $100 if you are willing to settle for the Tak series. The 645 bodies are about $100 for the original, $300 for the N and a lot more for the Nii. Lenses are very reasonable too if you are ok with the A series. A used ETRS or ETRSi in decent condition with a standard lens will also run about $400. Fujiya has two of them listed today!