Medium format rangefinders
Im interested in a medium format rangefinder for an upcoming trip to Europe. Im a hassy shooter primarily, but it doesn't feel like the camera I'd like to use for street or spur of the moment shots im sure i'll be looking for on the streets of Rome and Venice. I know there are several choices from mamiya and bronica as well as fuji. Can those who use these cameras offer any thoughts and reviews of these medium format rangefinders? I'd bring my 35mm, but im a medium format junkie!
Thanks in advance.
What format ??
Probably the best image quality is the Mamiya 6 (latest) or mamiya 7.
if you are after a 690, probably one of the fujis.
645 would be one of the Fuji 645 cameras. I had a ZI a while back and it was neat, but not much of a zoom, but it was really a P+S MF camera.
The Fuji 645 cameras are light too.
Regarding the Fuji cameras have a look at this thread.
I use a Mamiya 6 for street photography and can highly recommend it, but I think if the funds are there that the Mamiy 7 would be better long term. If the funds aren't there, the Bronica (now discontinued) 645 seems very nice and a bit of a steal.
Without a doubt, Mamiya 7II
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Things to consider: Format. If you are shooting 6x6 now, do you want to stay with it or shift to 6x7 or 6x9. Personally, I find 645 too close to 35mm to bother with and would go for a bigger neg.
Lenses. Do you want single lense, multiple lenses or what.
Price. The cost of medium format rangefinders is all over the board. What is your budget. Is it a camera you plan to use as a replacement for the Hassy or is it only for travel.
Personally, I use a Mamiya 7II as my go to travel camera. It has made the trip across the pond with me many times. I carry one body and three lenses: 150, 80 and 43. Very few things I cannot photograph with that combination. I very much like the big 6x7 neg and have done several larger prints (11x14).
I had a Hassy one time and ended up selling it because I just didn't use it much after getting the Mamiya.
The problem with the Mamiya is that they are expensive. Very expensive. For me it was worth it. It may not be for you.
One thing I love about the rangefinders for travel is how compact they are. I carry my kit in a small pack that goes over my shoulder or around my waist. It is small enough that most museums will let me carry the pack inside--I don't have to check it.
Also, I normally take a very small tripod. Use the self timer and your set for night shots.
Have fun in Europe.
Frankly, I wouldn't give up on the Hassy for street shooting in Europe. I took mine to Spain in October of 04, and had a blast with it, doing everything from architecture to landscape to street performers in Madrid and guitar-toting monks in Toledo. No, it isn't as compact as something like the old Zeiss Ikon folders, or even my old Seagull 6x6 rangefinder, but it is a lot smaller and lighter than a Mamiya 7 II or a Fuji GW/GSW 690.
Nice thing about the Mamiya 6 in terms of portability is that collapsing lens - it really turns a top-notch MF camera into something that is no bigger than a 35mm SLR in most terms. Personally, I would go for the 7 if I was in the market though - leave the 6x6 format to a nice TLR...
OK - day dreaming...over... reality... setting... returning to everyday life...now
I'm looking to go back to a Fujinon
I had the Fuji GW670II and liked it, but didn't use it that much... Kind of typical with too many cameras around (okay, I'm a junkie). It was a solid camera, although a bit large- kind of like a leica on steroids.
I sold the GW670II & bought a Pentax 645, mostly because I wanted the option of interchangable lenses... or so I thought. I ran a few rolls through the Pentax and it has sat for the last 6 months.
So now I'm considering going back to a Fujinon rangefinder, but I think the GA645Zi would do the trick... It would have the smaller size advantage over the 670, it would also have a decent enough zoom so that I might not miss the interchangable lenses.
Anybody have a Fuji 645 gathering dust? Want to trade for a Pentax 645 system?
John (Alpha Flying Monkey) Moore
My travelling camera combination is a Bronica RF645 with the 45mm wide angle lens on and my Rolleicord V. They are both light, well built and have excellent lenses. Even if you go for a Rolleiflex instead of the Rolleicord they would both be cheaper than a Mamiya 7 plus 1 lens.