I need your help, please
I am a senior in high school at a boarding school in Maine. A couple of summers ago, I became interested in photography, and has recently become a passion. Last May, I went to Manhattan, NY with my family on vacation. In 3 days I shot 14 rolls of film with my Minolta XTsi that I got a couple of years before. My dad realized as a cost saving measure, it would be a good idea for a present (Christmas, Birthday, etc, combined) to get me a Minolta 5D. We bought it on the "grey market", and I ended up with the Japanese version.
Anyways, since then, I have enrolled in my schools photo lab, where I spend 1-2 hours during school and 3 hours after every day. I develop and print my own black and white film, 35mm and 120 (I am borrowing a Holga from my teacher). I have fallen in love with the medium format camera/film. I have been planning on purchasing my own medium format camera, but I don't know what to get.
I have done a lot of research, but I think I need some specific help. I have an extremely small budget, ?$300. I have wanted a Hasselblad 500CM, but I don't know if the expense is worth it. I have 2 other ideas for cameras, the Bronica SQA(i) or the ETRS. Here are my thoughts...
I need a camera that will be reliable, ease to use, able to take some handheld pictures because I don't always have my tripod, affordable accessories/cost of repair, easy to switch backs (I really want to get a polaroid back), and durable enough to last long. Basically I need the "perfect" camera, thats how it feels.
I don't really like 35mm because I feel like I take more candid photos. I found with the Holga that since I only have 12 photos, I need to slow down and think before I shoot. I love the square format.
Couple of questions...
Let's say I bought the Hasselblad, is it only 6x6? I don't know if I'd rather have that then 6x7.
Should I get a special case for the camera?
Can I get free manual on how to use it? Or maybe a guide to using medium format cameras.
Sorry for such a long post, I just would like to get as many questions answered as possible.
PS You can see my photos here. I have a lot of more candid photos recently uploaded, but feel free to comment; I'd love it.
Lots of info on MF cameras:http://medfmt.8k.com/mf/index.html
Free manual for th Hassy: www.hasselblad.co.uk
Last edited by clogz; 12-23-2006 at 04:29 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.
In which case, the Bronica SQ-A/B makes a good case for itself. Good lenses, proper system camera and all parts of the system are reasonably priced.
Originally Posted by ~JB~
If you want to go to 6x7, then something like the Mamiya RB or Bronica GS series may suit. These won't be so easy to handhold though!
JB, I looked at your B&W folio, quite good.
I really liked Mrs Cugini, Dani & the Sunflower along with Dani sitting and facing the camera looking from the right of the picture to the left, but at the camera. It's a vertical cropping with plenty of sky.
I would think it may be better for you to walk before you run. Medium format (MF) with Polaroid capability, will be reasonably expensive to run, compared to a bare bones MF camera.
Possibly, you may care to look reasonably closely to the Mamiya TLR cameras. C220, C330 and like. These cameras will give you the 6x6 format you desire and have interchangeable lenses. They really are quite hand holdable, not light, but alright. No Polaroid back though.
The Bronica ETR series of cameras are 645 format, if you want 6x6 the Bronica SQ series are 6x6 format. I would add the speed grip for hand holding the SQ, it makes it handle like a very large 35mm.
The twin lens reflex cameras are also a good option for hand holding. The Mamiya 220 and 330 series cameras have interchangeable lens, but they are very heavy. Other tlrs to consider are the Minolta Autocord, Yashicamat, Yashicamat 124, Yashicamat 124gG, Rolleicord and of course the Rollieflex models. I'm not sure $300 will get get you a working Rolleiflex though.
If it were me, I would buy a Minolta Autocord or one of the Yashicamats for $100 to $150 and spend the balance of my budget on a CLA of that camera.
Good luck in your shopping.
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Why not look at a used Mamiya 7 rangefinder camera. It is a 6x7 format and has great optics. As a rangefinder it is very lightweight, so very handholdable.
They also made a Mamiya 6 rangefinder which is a 6x6 format.
No need for additional backs 'cause the film drops in like 35-mm.
Just a thought.
If they are too expensive, try one of these:
You said your budget was in the $300 range and that you wanted 6x7. 6x7 systems are way less common than 6x6 but the Mamiya RB system is 6x7 and has been a mainstay of professional photographers for several decades which means that there is lots of used equipment at a very reasonable price. An RB67 with the standard 127mm lens should come in at just about your price. I sugget you look at a reputable dealer rather than buying at auction though as these are often 'rode hard and put up wet.' Best bet is to call Jim at Midwest Photo (1-614-261-1264) and tell him what you need and make sure he knows you are a student. You won't wrong with Midwest and if you don't like what you get can return it.
BTW, if you can find a way to get from Freyburg to my studio in Enfield, NH .... about an hour and a half ... we always welcome students at our workshops.
Based on you portfolio, you're off to a very good start.
You'll get a lot of comments, perhaps some of them contradictory, but here are mine.
The first point I'll make is to ask you to reconsider whether you want a medium format camera. Not because it's a bad choice but as a matter of prioritization. With a limited budget, will you still have enough funds to purchase the film and paper you need? And could you get greater creative value from, for example, a light meter or tribod?
You mentioned you want to encourage yourself to slow down and think before you shoot. I can think of 4 things that will really help you do that:
1. A tripod. It forces you to take more time a be more careful with composition.
2. A handheld lightmeter. Measuring light from different angles and on different places in/on the subject.
3. A waist level finder. It helps you visualize as the image will look in 2 dimensions.
4. A pad and paper. Taking notes as compose and measure light.
But assuming you've answered that question and decided a medium format camera is best for you, then here are my thoughts, based on your approximately $300 budget.
First, allocate $15-30 for a basic light meter if you don't already have one. Many/most medium format camera's don't have a light meter. And if they do (i.e. a meter prism) then they will cost more.
Recognize that many medium format cameras use lenses with leaf shutters. So much of the cost of the equipment is the lens, not the body. So a Hasselblad 500cm body is relatively cheap, but the cost of lenses are quite high in comparison.
The most bang for the buck will be the Mamiya 220 series TLR cameras. Well built, relatively cheap, and affordable lenses. But be careful about the "chrome" lenses with Seikosha shutters - they will be old and part are not available. Still very usable if working, but don't pay too much. The Mamiya press cameras, like the Super 23 mentioned above, fall in the same catagory. And with the same caveot on lenses.
With the Yashicamat mentioned above, you pay less, lose the opportunity for interchangeable lenses, and get a lighter camera. Not necessarily a bad tradeoff. I've seen a lot of very good pictures from these cameras. Keep in mind that if you buy carefully and take decent care of it, you can sell it when you want to move on to something else and get most/all of your money back.
As much as I like my Hasselblad (an older 500C), I suggest staying away. I don't think you'll find even the most basic camera (body, 12 back, waist level finder, 80mm "C" lens) for $300. And even if you get close, it's likely to be so heavily used that you'll need to budget $100-200 for maintenace repairs and cleaning (a Clean-lube-adjust or CLA) for body and lens.
The Bronicas are also good choices. But I'd take a look at the Mamiya 645 series (even though they are not square format). They are relatively inexpensive and IIRC do not use leaf shutters (making additional lenses more affordable). And the 6x4.5 format lowers your film cost by 20% while still allowing you to crop for square format and still have a larger than 35mm negative. I've seen Mamiya 645 1000s models with 80mm lens and insert for prices well within your budget. But you need to make sure they're not too worn.
BTW, you don't need a special case. Ask around, check Craigslist (if available in your area) and find a old Tamrac, Lowe, etc case that fits. If you prefer a hard case, find an appropriately sized suitcase that you can use with grey foam (make sure it's not the more common white foam that will crumble over time). This also has the advantage of discouraging theft - who wants an old suitcase filled with dirty socks.
Last edited by mgb74; 12-23-2006 at 09:20 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Some of us consider the Holga as a fad, not a serious camera. You might get one of the inexpensive, but capable, TLRs while you're deciding where to put a more significant amount of money. The Yashicamat is often recommended as a starter camera. The older Yashica models D or 635 with the Yashinon lens aren't quite as convenient, but make just as good images as later models. I've found Yashicas to be somewhat unreliable, but still worthwhile. The Mamiya TLR has a better reputation.
If photography, especially B&W, is truely a passion, you might consider large format. An entry level press or 4x5 view camera with the necessary accessories is within your budget. You'd need access to either a darkroom with a 4x5 enlarger or a scanner with a 4x5 transparancy adaptor, though. Large format photography tends to be slow, deliberate, and precise. It's not compatable with most family vacations. Large format photography is almost always done with a tripod, which may sometimes be impractical or prohibited. It does help one eliminate problems with composition, camera movement, etc.
Last edited by Jim Jones; 12-23-2006 at 09:31 AM. Click to view previous post history.
An alternative is to find a good example of a Century or Baby Graphic.6x6, 6x7 and 6x9 backs are available. Try for a Horseman back as these are best for film flatness. A camera with back and a Xenar or Tessar, 80 or 100mm, can often be had for less than $300.
Yashica and Minolta TLRs are good choices if you accept a fixed lens camera.
Last edited by fpjohn; 12-23-2006 at 11:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.