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  1. #1

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    Wanting multi lens Medium Format system, on a budget.

    Sorry, my post is kinda long, but I want to give people the info they need for useful answers. I tried to be thorough to prevent having to navigate my needs all the way through the thread.

    I am newish to medium format, and haven't really been shooting film very long (8 months), but I hope long enough to know a bit more about what I am looking for. I have been studying cameras and film nightly for my own enrichment.

    For medium format, I want to be able to shoot a few types of lenses, and really like having 2 or three lenses, nothing above 50mm, with me for my 35mm cameras. I just recently stumbled on a Tokina 17mm FD mount (for 20 bucks!) and that inspired me to upgrade from an AE-1P to the older EF body. I have a couple folders: an Isolette 1 6x6 (awesome) and an old Agfa 6x9 PB20 (was a mess of light leaks and has very limited exposure range, meh.) I enjoy using my YashicaMat 124 after fixing it.

    You can see that my current MF stuff is fixed lens. I take the Isolette and the Canon with 3 lenses if I am on foot, but with the stroller its like driving a truck full of cameras and a baby just happens to be there. I would like to be able to put a multi lens MF system together and just take that for foot travel.


    • I would love to get something that would let me shoot close to the 17mm equivalent Tokina but guess that is not possible, cheaply anyway. How about 24mm equivalent?
    • I am also fond of the ability to use 220 film as my developer charges the same money for 120 or 220!
    • 645 6x6 6x7 6x9 all OK with me.
    • Swappable film backs look great, but they are not a necessity.
    • Waist level finders are fine
    • larger format cameras with roll film backs are fine too because they fold up pretty small.

    I have seen in person:
    • C330, but they are too big for my needs, sheesh!
    • Kowa super66 seem a bit finicky and limited availability.
    • Hasselblad, $$$$$$$$$$
    • Mamiya RZ67 seems OK, a little big, and I dont know that much about the lenses


    Never touched, but seem interesting.
    • Praktica or Pentacon six cameras look big but have several lenses available.
    • Mamiya 23 multi lens system, weird looking but so what
    • Mamiya 6 or 7, I cant touch them for the money $$$$$
    • Busch pressman D or similar look very interesting!
    • Something 2x3 or 4x5 with a roll back would be fine, but I have no idea about wide angle lenses here.
    • A simple box camera (homemade even) with a lens would be fine too! I could carry 3 of them and get varying lenses that way. hmmmm...?


    I have my own small, low tech machine shop, and don't mind digging deep into a camera to fix something or making something up. I cant afford perfect, fancy and highly sought after equipment. However, I don't want to have to do this every time I put a roll through the camera; if I can fix it once and use it for a year or two, that sounds fine. Almost all my cameras have been through this anyway.


    What would you guys suggest. I am cheap, I cant afford a Hassy, I don't want some complicated electronic gizmo and an unrepairable, crappy Russian camera collection is not something I want.

    Thanks! I know its a lot to read through and think about!
    "If its not broken, I can't afford it."

  2. #2
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Closest I can recommend is something from the Mamiya 645 system with a 45mm lens.

    It will not get you to a 24mm equivalent - closer to 28mm instead.

    And a prism finder is preferable, because a waist-level finder works poorly if you like to have the choice to shoot in portrait orientation.
    Matt

    “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

  3. #3
    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    I second Matt on this one. I don't think that you could go wrong with a Mamiya 645 setup. I have one and I love it! The glass is great and the bodies are solid. They are battery dependent, but I always have a spare and have never had a problem.
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

  4. #4
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trythis View Post
    Sorry, my post is kinda long, but I want to give people the info they need for useful answers. I tried to be thorough to prevent having to navigate my needs all the way through the thread.

    I am newish to medium format, and haven't really been shooting film very long (8 months), but I hope long enough to know a bit more about what I am looking for. I have been studying cameras and film nightly for my own enrichment.

    For medium format, I want to be able to shoot a few types of lenses, and really like having 2 or three lenses, nothing above 50mm, with me for my 35mm cameras. I just recently stumbled on a Tokina 17mm FD mount (for 20 bucks!) and that inspired me to upgrade from an AE-1P to the older EF body. I have a couple folders: an Isolette 1 6x6 (awesome) and an old Agfa 6x9 PB20 (was a mess of light leaks and has very limited exposure range, meh.) I enjoy using my YashicaMat 124 after fixing it.

    You can see that my current MF stuff is fixed lens. I take the Isolette and the Canon with 3 lenses if I am on foot, but with the stroller its like driving a truck full of cameras and a baby just happens to be there. I would like to be able to put a multi lens MF system together and just take that for foot travel.


    • I would love to get something that would let me shoot close to the 17mm equivalent Tokina but guess that is not possible, cheaply anyway. How about 24mm equivalent?
    • I am also fond of the ability to use 220 film as my developer charges the same money for 120 or 220!
    • 645 6x6 6x7 6x9 all OK with me.
    • Swappable film backs look great, but they are not a necessity.
    • Waist level finders are fine
    • larger format cameras with roll film backs are fine too because they fold up pretty small.

    I have seen in person:
    • C330, but they are too big for my needs, sheesh!
    • Kowa super66 seem a bit finicky and limited availability.
    • Hasselblad, $$$$$$$$$$
    • Mamiya RZ67 seems OK, a little big, and I dont know that much about the lenses


    Never touched, but seem interesting.
    • Praktica or Pentacon six cameras look big but have several lenses available.
    • Mamiya 23 multi lens system, weird looking but so what
    • Mamiya 6 or 7, I cant touch them for the money $$$$$
    • Busch pressman D or similar look very interesting!
    • Something 2x3 or 4x5 with a roll back would be fine, but I have no idea about wide angle lenses here.
    • A simple box camera (homemade even) with a lens would be fine too! I could carry 3 of them and get varying lenses that way. hmmmm...?


    I have my own small, low tech machine shop, and don't mind digging deep into a camera to fix something or making something up. I cant afford perfect, fancy and highly sought after equipment. However, I don't want to have to do this every time I put a roll through the camera; if I can fix it once and use it for a year or two, that sounds fine. Almost all my cameras have been through this anyway.


    What would you guys suggest. I am cheap, I cant afford a Hassy, I don't want some complicated electronic gizmo and an unrepairable, crappy Russian camera collection is not something I want.

    Thanks! I know its a lot to read through and think about!
    it's very hard to beat the Mamiya6 in quality and portability. as far as $$$ goes.. well photography never was a hobby of the poor, but keep in mind that Mamiya's resale values are great too
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  5. #5
    Pioneer's Avatar
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    The Pentax 645 with a 45mm fits the bill. Not sure how far your budget stretches buy you can pick up the entire package for under $350 at KEH. Of course you will still need six AA batteries and some film.

  6. #6

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    I like your suggestions. A little research shows the Mamiya and competitor Bronica look like good contenders. I like using fill flash so I might glance at the etrs (?) for a bit. I spent all my time researching 6x6 and larger cameras because that is what I found in flea markets. Some KEH models of the Bronicas are in my price range so far!
    I also like how modular they are, offering a slow bargain hunting method for build up.

    SIX batteries! The functionality of the pentax looks nice, but its a bit of a brick with all the batteries and that handle you cant remove.
    "If its not broken, I can't afford it."

  7. #7
    Fixcinater's Avatar
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    Pentax 67 with a 105/2.4 and 45/4 would be excellent. Does 120/220, WLF (can even DIY to save money on that) or prism, and they are cheap if you can be patient.

    6x7 is a sweet negative size.

  8. #8
    winger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trythis View Post

    SIX batteries! The functionality of the pentax looks nice, but its a bit of a brick with all the batteries and that handle you cant remove.
    I am not a muscular person, but I can handhold a P645N with its 75mm (and probably with a 45mm). It may sound like a brick, but AA batteries are easy to find and mine doesn't go through them fast (maybe a set every 2 or 3 years, though I don't use the AF much). It's very comfortable to hold and use. The 645N might be more than the original 645, but I'm very happy with it.

  9. #9

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    I think you should decide on a format. 6x4.5 and 6x6/7 are much different beasts. From my limited impression here, I think you'd be happy with a 6x4.5.

    You could get a rangefinder type system, but they are typically expensive. So that leaves SLR style systems. There you're looking at Mamiya, Pentax or Bronica. Mamiya can be had in AF or manual focus (the AF is a lot more expensive). The Pentax system can also be AF or manual, and there isn't as big of jump in price between the two. Bronica is only manual focus.

    I think that Bronica will probably be the cheapest. Mamiya and Pentax about the same. All have a good range of lenses. All are about the same size. The Bronica is probably the most bare bones, the Mamiya the most refined, the Pentax the most modern-feeling.

    Don't worry about 220 film. There's only one type of film made in 220 anymore and it's Kodak Portra, and it's stupidly expensive. In most cases, one roll of Portra 220 costs more than two rolls of Portra 120. Stick with 120, it's actually going to be around for awhile.

    I like Bronica cameras, but I don't have a ton of experience with the other brands.

  10. #10
    adelorenzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trythis View Post
    SIX batteries! The functionality of the pentax looks nice, but its a bit of a brick with all the batteries and that handle you cant remove.
    Lithium batteries weigh very little. I'm still on a set of Lithium AAs that I put in my Pentax 645NII over a year ago, I'd say at least 70 rolls of film during that time. Many of the lenses can be had fairly inexpensively although the 645D digital camera has kept the prices of the autofocus ones fairly high. It's the best camera system I've ever used and the one I'd stick with if I had to keep only one.

    As others have mentioned it is hard to beat the Mamiya M645 if you are looking for a bargain. I had one for a while and it's a cool camera. I sold my entire system with multiple lenses (including the coveted 80mm f1.9), two finders, two film inserts and a whole pile of other accessories for less than $500. Keh prices are low and you can get much lower on eBay.

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