What's the most reasonable MF setup for landscapes, etc?
Ever since moving to California and starting a business 4 years ago, I haven't had the time (or the mental energy really) to make photography happen on a level I did in Alaska.
I was about to re-purchase the gear I used to have - Minolta Maxxum 7, 24-105 lens, vertical grip and maybe a 100-300 APO again. However, I realized that I used to shoot that 35mm setup just like most shoot an MF setup. On a tripod with cable release, and ISO 50 or 100 slide film inside. Also loved Adox CMS 20 - so that tells you what kind of shots I was taking. Definitely not a street shooter. I also think I would get more into B&W photography if I had a larger negative to work with. I enjoyed the darkrooms I've built over the years, but just never got anything real spectacular out of them...I think my slides were just better.
I'm wondering if there are any general rules of thumb or guidelines for someone like me who shot 35mm very particularly, who's considering giving the MF world a try. I'm thinking 6x7 - maybe even 6x9. I know 6x4.5 and 6x6 have their converts, but if I'm going to go MF I think I want at least 6x7. I almost can't imagine the clarity of a 6x7 shot on Adox CMS 20. Must be mind blowing.
What do some of you think the most reasonable cost 6x7 or larger setup would be, mostly for landscape or nature type photography? My wife used to shoot formals with a Mamiya RZ 67 - that was cool, but quite the beast. Maybe there's something better for what I'm looking at, I don't know?
I am very happy with 6x6, Bronica and 2 tlr's. And still use 35mm, for me the best of both worlds.
“In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took,
but how many moments took your breath away.”
― Shing Xiong
I shoot mostly landscapes, mostly with LF (4x5), but I also have a 6x6 that I use when I want something more portable. I go back and forth over the format - I like the 4x5 format since it works nicely when printing onto standard size paper, and with 6x6 I usually am cropping to get what I want on paper - which is OK, but perhaps a 6x7 would be better. My issue with the 6x7 is that either the Mamiya or Pentax versions are similar in size and weight to my LF camera, and the negs are 1/4 the size!
Try your hand at a Fuji GW690. Great lens, biggest rollfilm neg short of going full pano, great aspect ratio and tough as a brick (ask me how I know). Otherwise, it would almost behoove you to get a simple 4x5 and a rollfilm back, that way you can shoot 4x5 when that bug bites, but in the meantime you can use any lens you want and throw on a rollfilm back from 6x17 down to 6x4.5.
My $.02 anyhow...
EDIT: I saw that the title reads "reasonable" so I guess you can ignore me
Last edited by Klainmeister; 05-29-2013 at 06:00 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I'll press you for the big and beautiful 6x7 format: with an ultra-wide angle lens (45mm — one of Pentax's finest) and fit-to-frame technique the results will really grab you. We've got a fair bit of variety in terms of film (more for B&W than colour I reckon) and it's begging to be used. There are other formats as you will note here; I am fond of the 6x6 format too, in multiformat pinhole. The most readily available go-to body 6x7 is a Pentax 6x7 (modern version by the moniker 67). However, large numbers of these cameras that have been very well used over the decades (many decades) are now showing up with quite serious wear and tear problems in forums, where the remedy is usually to buy another second-hand body (they are no longer made new and uncommonly taken in for professional repair), only in some cases to discover problems with that too— owners are making-do with workarounds or just put up with faults e.g. lazy shutters, frame overlap, broken parts... . But if you do some research and carefully suss a 67 body out it should reliably stand up to the task. Have a look at a few other compact 6x7 cameras mentioned here with less bulk and weight than the 67 (even I will attest that it is a very beast of burden). But do give a MF a whirl because the effect of slides (especially) illuminated on the lightbox is quite sensational (in truth, so too are 35mm pics, just the punch is a lot smaller!).
Last edited by Poisson Du Jour; 05-29-2013 at 07:53 PM. Click to view previous post history.
.::Gary Rowan Higgins
A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
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Get an old 6x9 folder with a basic view finder and set it up on a tripod. I shoot a Kodak Tourist, simple and dependable. It's a low buck way to get into medium format. If it turns out you dont like it, you arent out much money if any on resale.
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The problem is, IMHO, that there are so few options larger than 6x6 that don't involve a big, complex, and/or expensive system camera. The only fixed-lens options I can think of, apart from old folders, are the 6x7 Bessa III and the Fuji 6x9 rangefinders; the former is pretty darn expensive, though by all accounts it's a spectacular camera. (The Fuji rangefinders do seem worthwhile to explore, though personally I handled one and decided it was larger than I would end up using in practice.)
By contrast, you step down to 6x6 and there are endless varieties of TLRs, some of which are as good optically as pretty much anything ever made, and many of which are in an unusual "good enough, light enough, cheap enough" sweet spot. Personally, I really like the square for landscapes, and I think it makes sense to give it a try with one of the less expensive TLRs---a Rolleicord or Yashicamat or something---since the price of entry is low.
Apart from the fixed-lens options above, I think the 6x7-and-up world basically consists of:
* RB/RZ67: beloved by everyone who doesn't have to carry them from place to place
* Mamiya 7: beloved by everyone who doesn't have to pay for one
* Pentax 67: good camera, bulky, mirror vibration is a concern
* Various Fujis: kind of uncommon, good reputation
* Bronica GS-1: getting old and largely used by pros, so they may be pretty worn; good cameras by all accounts
* Weird stuff: Koni-Omega, Rittreck, Mamiya Press, Plaubel Makina, Graflex...
People have good experiences with all of these cameras, but they all involve tradeoffs of one sort or another, and they're all pretty good-sized cameras. It seems like the Mamiya 7 is probably the best all-rounder of the bunch, but the tradeoff there involves your wallet in a significant way.
My 6x7 is a Rittreck Optika, and I find I don't use it much simply because it's such a beast. Very cool camera, capable of producing excellent results, but if I'm going to cart it around I might as well go all the way and shoot large format instead.
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.
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FWIW I will through in my thoughts on this - I used to shoot exclusively 35mm and then changed to 6x6, I did not realise how much I was "automatically" selecting and framing for a rectangular format. Shooting for the square is a whole different exercise and it has taken a while to readjust my "vision" to take this into account. If you were comfortable with the rectangular of 35mm then the 6x7 or other rectangular formats might be a better way to go than 6x6. The aforementioned Pentax is 35mm slr on steroids (!), perhaps the Mamiya 7 may work for locations etc, plus it is still being produced so less worries on repairs etc.
Anyway, just my thoughts - enjoy whatever you do choose & get a good loupe!
Most reasonable cost? Koni-Omega
They aren't small or light, and you have to factor in the cost of having Greg Weber service them for you, but their quality is high.
Or: Mamiya RB 67 or RZ67
“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
There's a glut of Pentax 6x7 gear on the market at very reasonable prices. Some of it is in excellent shape. Try to get more recent lenses
and do your homework first as there are sometimes misleading ads out there. But this system does have a very wide range of lenses. Expect
to use a tripod and mirror lockup for most application. And yeah, it's big and heavy compared to a 35mm system, but featherweight to
someone like me who usually carries around an 8x10. P67 optics are generally very good. There are several generations of the camera itself,
and you must make certain any viewfinders or prisms are compatible. And make sure it has mirror lock-up (only the very old ones don't).
Old lenses are labeled "Takumar" - they're generally decent but not as good as newer lenses. There are no interchangeable backs. But a second body doesn't weigh much and will probably cost less than most MF backs for other systems. There is really a lot less to choose from
in terms of 6x9 equip. The really good stuff is more like a miniatured view camera or technical camera. Horseman and Linhof made some
wonderful 6x9 cameras. I simply use a Horseman 6x9 back on one of my 4x5 cameras when not shooting 4x5 film per se. The quality if FAR better than ANY conventional MF camera, simply because I've got all the plane of focus and perspective controls of a view camera. But that's another subject, I guess.