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  1. #1

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    New to medium format -> need advice!

    Hi, the last few months I've been looking to buy another 35mm camera, but in the last couple of weeks I've been looking more and more at medium format cameras and I've now decided after some research that it's something I would love to try along with 35mm.

    So my question is, what camera should I be looking to trying to buy? I would love to get a camera in the style of the Hasselblad cameras but obviously they are far too expensive, so I have been looking at ones like the Bronica ETRS and S2a, also the Kiev 88, these have had mixed reviews from what I have read so I would like to hear your opinions and suggestions on other cameras. I don't really want to get something like a Pentacon Six, as they work basically the same as a 35mm camera and I would like something new, but I would consider a TLR if that's the best way to go for MF. I would like to get the best possible image quality too.

    EDIT: After some more searching I have found a Bronica ETRSi, in almost new condition with 75mm lens, what are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks, James
    Last edited by James-EG; 05-31-2013 at 08:04 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    see if there's someone in your area who shoots MF and ask if you can go out shooting with them. I've use MF since the early 1970's starting with TLR's then moving to SLRs (which I still have) and now shooing with a Yashicamat while in Turkey and Rolleiflex here in the UK.

    Both have their uses and it's worth trying both.

    Ian

  3. #3

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    Thanks Ian, I'm not sure if anyone in my area even shoots 35mm film... I live in a small village but I'll try my best to find out if anyone does use MF! Regarding TLRs, would it be worth buying one cheap just to try it out?

    Thanks, James
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  4. #4

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    There are a bunch of cheaper options than the Leica of TLRs, the Rolleiflex, and most will give great image quality when stopped down. What you really pay for with the expensive options is sharpness wide-open.

    TLRs are great fun, but quirky to shoot if you're used to 35mm (but therein lies the fun). Some options you might check out would be the Yashica 124 or 124G (no real difference, but the G is more expensive), Yashica A or Yashica 635 (basically an A with an adapter allowing one to shoot 35mm film if you have the adapter). Another option that may be marginally more expensive would be the Rolleiflex's simpler (but arguably no less high quality optics) cousin, the Rolleicord (III, V, Va, or Vb). I've owned and shot with both a 635 and a 'Cord V and in terms of ergonomics, I vastly prefer the Yashica, whereas the Cord has quite a bit better optics when wide open. My 635 is an older one with the 3-element lens, so it gets that weird swirly bokeh that I rather don't like but some people love. Apparently the one with the later 4-element lens is quite nice, but I didn't know that when I was starting out my journey into MF.

    There are other options, but these will likely be the most widely available and both are a great blend of quality optics/build without being super expensive. Another issue might be servicing availability, but there are still quite a few people that will work on them, whereas some of the more obscure brands might be tougher to get fixed if something were to go wrong?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by James-EG View Post
    Thanks Ian, I'm not sure if anyone in my area even shoots 35mm film... I live in a small village but I'll try my best to find out if anyone does use MF! Regarding TLRs, would it be worth buying one cheap just to try it out?

    Thanks, James
    If you are looking to get into a larger negative camera that you can grow with then not all TLR's fit. If I were on a budget and didn't have all the camera's I already have I'd try to pickup a used Mamiya C33. The C330F professional is a little better, but certainly not "real cheap". I'd also try to get it with a 80mm f2.8 all black lens, but even the old chrome 80mm's were very good lenses. These camera's are a little on the heavy side, but not bad at all really. You can also do very good macro work (flowers etc.) with them. Not as easy as an SLR for macro work, but certainly good enough. I no longer have my Mamiya C33, C330, or C220, but it's not because they are inferior camera's. I have two Rollei's, two Yashica-mat's, Hasselblad's and a very large Pentax 67 outfit so no need for the Mamiya's. Like I said, tight budget C33 w/ 80mm! Later you might want a prism, 135mm, 55mm, para-mender....................? I think you get the drift of where you can go with the Mamiya TLR camera's. That said, like Ian pointed out, you can do very nice work with a cheap Yashicamat too. I still get a thrill looking at a well exposed 2 1/4 or larger negative 'cause my old eyes have a harder time looking into a 35mm one. JohnW

  6. #6

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    Hi James,

    There are so many great medium format cameras that it's hard to go wrong. I personally prefer interchangeable lens cameras, mostly because 75-80mm is one of my least favorite focal lengths. If you think you can be happy with a single focal length, it's really hard to beat a TLR, and I would look at Rolleicords, Minolta Autocords, or an older Rolleiflex model (the non-letter models can be find for reasonable prices if you are patient). People love Yashicamat's but I have had negative experience with their build quality-- probably just bad luck on my part, though.

    Have you given thought to 6x4.5 vs 6x6 vs 6x7 (or larger)? I personally prefer 6x6 because it is a unique ratio to work in that is specific to MF cameras, but it's really a matter of taste.

    If you secretly want a Hasselblad but think it is too expensive, I've heard nothing but great things about the Bronica SQ system.

  7. #7

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    I can comment on the Bronica S2A. I got one in 1971 through a military base exchange at a great price. I had the Nikkor 80mm and Zenzanon 150mm lenses. I never had a problem and the lenses were very sharp. I used it for nineteen years an sold them for what I originally paid. Then bought Hasselblads. The point is that you would be getting a camera that is approximately forty or so years old so I would be cautious about the camera's history, condition and if parts are available should a repair is necessary. Also when buying used equipment I only buy equipment I can check out first and from a seller that has a good return policy.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/

  8. #8
    lxdude's Avatar
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    The ETRSi is a very good camera; I have two of them myself. The lenses are very good and inexpensive, and virtually all accessories fit between all ETR models. An excellent value.
    I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
    When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.

  9. #9

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    Thanks for all of your replies, a lot of information there, I think I would prefer to get an SLR, has anyone had any experience which the Bronica ETRSi? As there is quite a few of them for sale. But if a TLR is better to start with I will see if I can find any of the ones mentioned.

    Quote Originally Posted by jspillane View Post
    Have you given thought to 6x4.5 vs 6x6 vs 6x7 (or larger)? I personally prefer 6x6 because it is a unique ratio to work in that is specific to MF cameras, but it's really a matter of taste.
    I'm actually a bit confused as to what those different ratios mean, is it just the shape of the pictures produced?

    James
    James

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  10. #10

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    I'm digging the TLR camera. Small compact unit with usually superior optics that yield HD images. Awesome?

    ToddB

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