I was the guy that probably told you to skip medium and go to large format. No matter how you cut it, MF is incredibly expensive. As someone mentioned, not only do you have to purchase the camera, lenses and accessories, you have to change out your dark room equipment if you can only accomodate 35mm... I went to medium format in the early 1990s. In fact, I am on my 2nd system. I started out with Mamiya RB 67, and I now shoot Hasselblad. I purchased all of my equipment used, and it was still very expensive. I love the format, but it can't compare to large format. There is a greater quality difference between LF and MF then there is between 35mm and MF. After all this time, I am now moving into large format. To begin with, I just built the Bender Camera to get started, and I just bought a used 4X5 enlarger off Ebay to accomodate the negatives. So, if I had it to do all over again, I would milk everything I could out of 35mm and then go right LF... It is far less expensive over the long haul. If you insist on going MF, I would get the camera with the largest negative that I could afford (i.e. 6X6 or 6X7)... Pick a system with outstanding lenses like Mamiya or Hassy....
As far as stores are concerned, there are virtually no stores in any town that carry good camera supplies anymore... If you buy new, then B&H out of NY is your best bet. If you buy used like I do, KEH is the best used camera outlet in the country... They have a 14 day return policy for any reason, and they provide a 30 day warranty.... I have purchased nearly everything from them and they stand behind their warranties without fail...
My last advice: don't go medium format... It will cost you a lot more over the long haul.... If you go MF, at least buy a 4X5 enlarger... There are a lot out there.... One of the great things that digital is doing for guys like us is flooding the market with a lot of quality used equipment.... See ebay as an example....
I'd give some thought as to usage and features to help drive the decision. For example, if landscape and scenics will be primary use, to me that suggests you might want a rectangular format (such as 6x7, 6x4.5) and you do not require a leaf shutter lens for flash sync at all speeds. You also may be concerned about weight. In addition to the inherent quality of a larger negative, it gives you more cropping flexibility ("a poor man's zoom").
So, for example, 2 of the best price/performance choices (IMHO), the Mamiya TLR and the Mamiya RB67, may not fit your needs due to format (TLR) and weight (TLR, RB). Of course as soon as I say this a hundred very accomplished landscape photographers will tell me that's what they use and I'm wrong. And even though a Yashica TLR is square format and leaf shutter, it's light and could make a good MF starter.
The Pentax 67 is a good choice for scenics and landscapes. Lenses are sharp and relatively inexpensive. Big negative. Not terribly heavy. There are a few older cameras (such as Graflex XL and Koni-Omega) that can give you this but they are old and may not be the best entry point for MF.
Another good approach is a older 2.25x3.25 press camera (such as a Century Graphic) combined with a good lever-wind film back. Now you have some basic movements, inexpensive lenses, and the choice of sheet film and roll film. Assuming you could get one in good condition, this would be my choice.
Give some thought as to metering. Many MF cameras have no meters and when they do the meters are pretty basic (not all, just many). Personally, for scenics and landscapes, I'd definately forgo any in-camera meter and find a good used Pentax spotmeter. After the camera and first lens, it would be my next purchase.
With the decline of MF for wedding photography, it seems a good time to purchase used MF equipment.
Originally Posted by jjstafford
You guys are hard core!
Originally Posted by Dave Miller
Wow-thanks for all the well thought out responses.
I need to go somewhere and look at these cameras (not just the 645, but also the 6x6, 6x7, and whatever else was mentioned). I do want something I can carry without killing myself.
Esanford-I hear what you are saying about large format. I just am not ready for that yet. Plus I do want to do some point and shoot with the camera.
It is not too hard for me to get to Atlanta, which is where KEH is based. Does anyone know if they have a showroom? If they do, I just might go up there-Atlanta is good for a weekend (wouldn't want to live there, though).
Thanks again. Any more input is always welcomed.
Just thought I'd add another vote for the Pentax 6x7. The one I use was built in 1981 and the lenses work well. It's a workhorse.
(That said, after using it for a couple of years I bought a 4x5... )
"I bought a new camera. It's so advanced you don't even need it." - Steven Wright
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
Unfortunately, KEH does not have a showroom... What you can do (if you have plenty of space on your credit card) is to have them ship you a couple of cameras, test them out and ship the one(s) back that you don't want to keep... If you can get to Atlanta, there are other stores that will probably have cameras on display that you can see, feel, touch...
To sound like a broken record here are few things to ask yourself about 35mm:
Have you been using a tripod on every shot for a while, so that you can take advantage of slow shutter speed thereby maximizing depth of field?
Have you tried a film that will give you good sharp pictures?
Have you adjusted your development time properly to ensure proper contrast?
Have you fine tuned your printing techniques?
When I first went to medium format, my results weren't all that great... I purchased Fred Picker's Zone VI workshop book (always available on EBAY); I got my technique down much better and really improved my medium format photography. I went back to 35mm and applied these same techniques, limited my enlargements to 5X7 and I really improved the hell out of my 35mm quality... the message: moving to a bigger negative is not a panacea if you don't improve your technique....
Good luck my man!!!!
If you're thinking about a 6x6 at all, definetely look at the Bronica S2A; it was my first MF camera and was wonderful, with a full set-up (body, 4 backs, 50mm, 75mm, 200mm, prism finder, grips, other stuff I didn't need...) for about $800 or so. You can get a body, back, and lens in great shape on ebay for anywhere from $200-$400.
Personally I really liked the square; one of the great things about it is you don't have to turn the camera on its side to shoot verticle (some 6x9s have revolving backs tough). The square grew on me so now I always shoot square, but if you're thinking about 645, you might as well do 6x6 and crop to horizontal or vertical.
The best 6x6 would he a Hasselblad of course, and they're selling for pretty darn cheap on ebay right now. Of course, that's compared to their normal price!
I also would agree with your opinion not to get a LF camera; I tried that, thinking the better detail and movements would make me never want to go back to handheld cameras. I was pretty darn wrong-- in my opinion nothing compares to being able to hold the camera and compose through the waist level finder-- it's heaven in a box!
I don't think I agree on that one. Yes the possible end quality from a LF neg is greater than that from a MF neg. Regarding the costs on the other hand you can come a long way in MF before you start shooting in LF, at least here in DK. Most enlargers here is cabable of 6X6 and if you are lucky you can have them for free (I have got 4 given to me). Offcource that could be possible with a LF enlarger as well but they are rare here. The drums are mostly also cabable of taking 120 film so that shouldn't be a problem either.
Originally Posted by esanford
If you want 6X7 or 6X9 on the other hand you are in trouble. Those formats need bigger enlargers. Another problem is the size of the enlarger. for 4x5 they are mostly way bigger and much more cumbersome than the 24X36/6X6, not a good thing if use a makeshift darkroom.
The MF cameras is very cheap now and here in DK they are cheaper than the LF we gan get here.
If you want 4.5X6 look at: Bronica, Pentax, Mamiya and Contax. In 6X6 you can find Bronica and Hasselblad and possible some more.
I have a Yashica and a Bronica SQA-i (6X6) because I like the square more than the 4.5X6 rectangle.
See if you can borrow one (or more) and try it/them out.
A bit OT but I did that with a couple lenses once from KEH. When I called to get authorization to return one of them, I caught alot of flack. The guy made me feel like pond scum just because I wanted to try the two lenses side by side to make my final decision. Won't do that again, that's for sure!
Originally Posted by esanford
6x7 is too square. 6x6 is square. Bah. I can see going to 6x9 but the in between formats just aren't that interesting to me. Of course I also like 5x7 more then 4x5 and wish my camera was really 5x8 or something even less square. All depends what you like.