I owned the GS645 (not the wider S version but the standard 75mm) and liked it a lot once I got used to the ergonomics and handling. And it took great photos. There are actually three cameras in the GS645 series. The one linked above at 75mm, the S at 60mm and the W at 45mm. I guess you just need to decide which focal length suits you best. The 75mm standard model is the only one that is a folder. Some like that and others don't. I ended up selling mine to help finance the GF670 which is clearly a superior camera in just about every aspect. But it is very costly as well.
If you want an exchangeable lens rangefinder in 645 I think the Bronica is about your only option. (Someone will probably correct me if I'm wrong).
If you want an SLR there are lots more options as mentioned above. Bronica, Mamiya and Pentax all have 645 models.The Mamiya is the most affordable with a huge lens lineup and several different body models to choose from, but the Pentax is probably the nicest to use, even though it isn't a fully modular system like the others. I know your first reaction to the Pentax was negative so I won't try to change your mind, but I own and use the Bronica ETRs, Mamiya 645 ProTL and the Pentax 645n and my favorite is the Pentax. It is the classiest looking to my eye and has the best ergonomics.
If you want to shoot 6x6 square frames the Mamiya 6 that you mentioned at the beginning is a fabulous camera, and is currently my most frequently used MF camera. But alas, the price is a bit steep. Other rangefinder models are mostly limited to older folders but they can be a bit of a crap shoot in terms of quality. Then there are the SLR options such as the Bronica SQ series, older Bronica focal plane models, and the nicest but most expensive option, Hasselblad. Finally, as others have suggested, a TLR might suit your needs if you don't mind ground glass focusing and the boxy shape.
If you want to go up to 6x7, the Pentax 67 (4 different models available), Mamiya RB or RZ (several models of each), and Bronica GS1 come to mind. Of those options the Bronica is the easiest to hand hold if you give it a speed grip and AE prism finder.
If portability and compactness are a prime concerns the rangefinders almost always win out and 645 is the smallest medium format available. Among rangefinders, the folders are the most compact when not in use so the GS645 might come out on top. But unless you actually like and enjoy using the camera none of them will give you a positive experience. So try them out, and find what suits you best! Good luck!
You should look at the Hasselblad. If you get one you will never want another camera. It will just slow down the rate that you buy lenses.
Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!
Nothing beats a great piece of glass!
I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.
I have both a GW670 II and a GSW690 III and I consider either one a "carry around camera." This summer I took both cameras and a Bogen 3021 tripod on hikes up in Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park... and I'm an ol' fart!
Originally Posted by agfarapid
Both Fuji "Texas-Leica-style" cameras are very carry-friendly to me. And from my opinion, only their size is a concern, not their weight. It's not easy to be inconspicuous with a large Fuji rangefinder.
Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
"I don't care about Milwaukee or Chicago." - Yvon LeBlanc
It's critical you purchase a camera (tool) appropriate to shoot subjects your interested in.
- you excluded sport and bird photography.
- you like a Olympus XA and don't care for bulky cameras
- want a M6 except for cost
- had issue with slow slow lenses (there go most light RF cameras)
- 6x7 Plaubel with 80mm f/2.8. But that camera is no less expensive than a Mamiya 6.
- GS 645 cheap, small, excellent lens
- Bronica RF 645 with 65m lens; less than a M6 and a better camera in smaller package
- Rollei TLR with f/2.8 optic; small, fast lens, slow shooter unless zone focused.
- get the M6 if you want it
Listen to what this poster is saying. Your normal lens on a 6x6 will be 80mm. I rarely shoot at 2.8. The problem is your depth of field gets so shallow you may only get one eye in focus. If the subject is moving then no eyes in focus. You need to pick up some medium format cameras and see how they feel. I don't own any lenses faster than 2.8 and my lenses are still beasts. I couldn't imagine what they would be like if they were 1.8s or 1.4s. I don't think those types of lenses exist in this universe because they would be prohibitively expensive and they would kind of defeat the purpose. They would be so heavy they would be a pain to shoot hand held. At least in the SLR form factor.
Originally Posted by ntenny
Trust me. Shoot with a medium format camera at 2.8 for awhile and then come back and tell us what your keeper rate is. Unless you are constantly focused at infinity I would assume it will be pretty low.
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I don't know that I'd agree wholesale; it depends on what your subject matter is, how critical the focus point is, and how good the camera's focus mechanism is. Close up for portraiture, yeah, you're going to be choosing one eye over the other (I'm told that the ULF people sometimes have to choose which *eyelash* will be in focus). But for mid-range stuff like outdoor environmental portraiture, I find my keeper rate is limited by composition and lighting more than by focus, even wide open.
Originally Posted by Noble
There are quite a few variables, though. You can get away with faster film in medium format because the grain is less of an issue in the larger frame, for instance, so hopefully you don't *have* to shoot wide open so much.
San Diego, CA, USA
The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
-The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_
I use a Rollei 6008i. If the focusing mechanism is junk then every medium format camera's focusing mechanism is junk. I don't know what you mean by "how critical the focus point is." If you mean you don't care where the focus point lands then, ummm, yeah of course it's fine... because you don't care. And the subject matter is irrelevant. If you want something to be sharp and it isn't that's a problem. If you don't care what is sharp then again it is not a problem... because you don't care not because the lens performed.
Originally Posted by ntenny
I addressed this with my somewhat extreme example of focusing at infinity. The farther away a subject is from the lens the larger the apparent DOF. My point was giving the DOF issues with using a longer lens due to using a medium format camera you aren't going to find yourself longing for a 1.4 aperture. I shoot portraits of people that are waist up with an 80mm and you have to be careful with DOF. It is not as fast and spontaneous as shooting with a 35mm camera.
Originally Posted by ntenny
I perhaps shouldn't have used the word keeper because people have different standards for what they keep. All I was trying to say is you will objectively take a sharpness hit with the limited DOF. If that is okay with you that is your choice but there will be a difference.
I agree DOF is a learning curve with MF. I recently bought mamiya 645J, and whilst I am really pleased with it (and I do carry it around on a neckstrap with a prism finder), I have found several shots where I was surprised I had missed the focus. With 35mm at 5.6 and beyond I don't find DOF a great issue - provided the subject is in focus, the rest fall around it OK. With MF, this doesn't work and you certainly have to start spending more time on focussing.
I recently acquired a GA645 (60mm F/4) and I'm very happy with it. It's light weight (lighter than my 35mm SLR + a zoom) and you can carry it everywhere. That's very important to me.
Even for 60mm at smaller aperture, the DOF is shallow and I need to be extra careful with it. And with smaller aperture to gain DOF, the shutter speed drops and thus I would say, w/o flash, it's a day light camera (handheld) or you need a tripod.
And the lens....is *deadly* sharp, as many people have said.
Metering is quite accurate for shooting slides. Autofocus is fine; I think half of the time I use zone focus or hyperfocus. The camera is really a joy to use.