Getting Started in Medium Format
I have been shooting 35mm for years, and have decided to step up to a meduim format. I'll still keep my old A-1, but I want to add a larger camera. I tend to shoot nature and similar scenes, and don't shoot people or "action" photography.
I know very little about medium format, oher than the little I have learned while using a Holga. Based on what I am reading, the 645 cameras seem to be a good start, which, I guess, puts me in a Mamiya, Bronica, or Pentax (am I right on that?). I would like the input of the group here. Do you have any recommendations for a starter camera, what lens or lenses, etc?
I mentioned medium format earlier, and someone recommendded I go straight to large format. While that might be sound advice, I am not ready to make that much of a jump.
Also, I live in a smaller city which doesn't have much in the way of a good camera shop (other than Ritz stores, there are 2 stores here-one pretty much has gone to digital, and the other is small and sort of junky). I am near New Orleans, however, and can drive over there. While I probably will buy a camera from an internet dealer, I'd like to handle one first. Is there anyone here who lives on New Orleans or who knows any good camera stores over there?
This is an open ended question, or series of questions, so feel free to give me any thoughts you might have.
Personally I'd suggest the Bronica ETRSI. It's got the best combination of features and prices from what I've seen.
Second choice would be the early Pentax 645. Problem is you'll be paying more for a camera that is older.
Doing nature you can get the Bronica with a waist level finder and the 75mm lens to start. The 40mm and 50mm older model lenses aren't that expensive used. Some of the features with the Bronica might not be of interest to you. Leaf shutters. Removable backs.
The Pentax adds a built in meter and motordrive. Both things you could add to the Bronica but from the sound of it neither are things you'd want to. Pentax lenses tend to be more expensive then Bronica lenses.
Scroll down and they offer a feature comparison of the different cameras. They all offer something different.
Take a look at the Pentax 6x7. It's a sturdy beast with good optics, and at a good price on the used market -- better than the 6x4.5. Since it is built like a 35mm on steroids you will feel right at home handeling-wise. For myself, I like the 6x7 format better than the 6x4.5. Personally I am shooting 6x6, but it seems to me that you ruled out the square alternatives.
The move up to MF is more than just the camera.
Don't forget you'll need a bigger spool for your tank if you use stainles steel. (some plastic ones are multi-format) You will also need the neg carrier and a bigger lens for the enlarger (I'm assuming you enlarge your own). A 50mm lens won't give you the coverage you need. You'll need a 75mm at the very least.
I started into MF with a Yashica C TLR. No builtin light meter and a fixed 80mm lens. Was OK to start with, but I wanted more flexability. Bought an Mamiya RB 67 and am happy. It has become my main camera (I still use the 35mm on occasion).
As for online camera stores I would recommend KEH Camera Brokers, based in Atlanta. I've bought 3 lens (90,150,250mm). Good service, more than fair rating on equipment and quick, well packed shipping. Wish I could help with a camera store in New Orleans (beautifull city) but I was only checking out the drinkin... I mean tourist sites when I visited.
Don't forget about the Contax 645. I haven't priced them against the other 6x4.5cm format cameras lately, and don't know what your budget is, but it is a fantastic camera. Yes, it has been discontinued by its manufacturer, but the camera is still available.
It is the finest camera I've ever owned.
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Originally Posted by MikeSeb
You took the words right out of my keyboard!
Originally Posted by jjstafford
I have to agree--645 has never really appealed to me much as a format. If one is going to have only one camera system, and wants a compromise between the light weight and versatility of 35mm with a bigger neg, then 645 makes sense. 645 is definitely an improvement over 35mm, but if you're going to keep 35mm, you might as well go to 6x6 (if you like the square format) or 6x7 (if you prefer rectangles) and really take advantage of the larger camera, using 35mm for what it does well, and MF for what it can do.
There are lots of options, and have been quite a few threads about getting into MF, so you might read through them and see if that helps narrow it down.
To me, the thing that marks the medium format experience is the feeling of expansiveness, closeness and detail that is visible through the finder and the elegance of the shape relative to the angular, distant and cramped (my view) 35mm view. I get these things with 6x6 and 67. Personally I don't get it with 645 which I guess is another way of saying that it all looks too similar to 35mm for me. That said there is certainly enough film size to produce great large prints.
If you do go 645 I'd suggest you take a hard look at the Pentax 645n. It handles very much like a 35mm; has great auto exposure if you want it and the lenses are very good indeed- even the zooms. Definitely a generation ahead of the Bronica and Mamiya models.
I would second the Pentax 67 if you want a SLR. Most of the lenses are very sharp, but the EDif lenses are very expensive. On top of that you can shoot 67 lenses on a Pentax 645 or any 35mm camera that will take a M42 adapter.
If you are going to hike with MF I would go for a mamiya 6 (late) or Mamiya 7.