I've had the Pentax 67II with 55mm and 135mm for several years. It was a good camera, though not light at all. It is intended to be shot off the tripod, but is also manageable handhold. I was rather content with it, but a year ago it broke down (unrepairable). Since, I have acquired the Fuji GW 690 II and have not looked back a moment. This is the camera to choose, or if you like the 6x7cm aspect ratio, then the 670 version.
If you say you prefer wider view, you can also choose the GSW 670. It has a 65mm lens, which is wide, but not too much. The only downside is, that it's only f:5.6 lens, so might be too slow at moments. I've had the GSW 690 for some time, it has the same lens, and the sharpness of the 65mm lens was excellent. (As is the 90mm).
The only real downside of the Fuji rangefinders is the lack of builtin meter, although I have managed to guess the exposure at times well (and have learned to use that judgment for my LF shooting as well).
I’ve used a variety of 6x7 cameras, including the Koni-Omega M and the RB67, but my favorite, by far, is the Pentax 67. I use both a later model P67 and the new 67II in an aerial photography business, and would certainly spend the extra to get the newer 67II. The built-in handgrip makes it much easier for me to use in quick, handholding situations.
If you shoot landscapes, I'm surprised nobody has mentioned a Century graphic. I use one for landscapes and handheld stuff too. It has a graflock back and is compatible with RB67 backs, I use mine with roll film backs in 6X7, but you can get roll film backs for 6X4.5 to 6X9. It folds up to about 6" square by 2" thick. It has limited movements, rise, shift, drop, swing. It's totally non-electronic so a handheld meter is a must. It will handle lenses from 47 to about 160mm, longer with a telephoto lens type. Focusing is by rangefinder, ground glass, or scale. In a lot of ways, it's more versatile than an SLR. You can carry different backs for different negative sizes and types of film, and it has a shutter that doesn't sound like a gunshot going off. I have a Pentacon Six which has one of the quietest shutters of medium format SLRs, and compared to the Compur Shutter on my Century Graphic, the Pentacon sounds loud.
The Century Graphic is often referred to as the "Poor man's Linhoff" Just my .02.
"I'm still developing"
Wow, thank you all so much for your replies! I came home from a day at the darkroom to find so many helpful and thoughtful answers, and of course, so much more to think about.
Evilhomer, everytime I look at the Bronica gs-1 online I think about your Sq-A. You are still happy with it, right? I realize it would be smaller than the gs-1, but the sq-a is certainly a fine size.
Tomkatf and resoman bring up interesting points about the aspect ratio…I do tend to print my 35mm full frame, so perhaps 6x9 is really more what I should be looking at. Hmmmm. If I looked into the Fuji GW 690 would I feel limited by the single lens? More to chew on.
I may just end up abusing the return policy at KEH.
Another vote here for the Pentax 67, though it is a fairly heavy camera. It's actually quite well balanced, but...still...I would never consider using it handheld. I know other photogs who do, but the awesome mirror slap really degrades your image! If you go the P67 route, I'd really recommend the P67II version if you can afford it and you typically shoot transparency film. The metering on this model is quite accurate. If you shoot mostly B&W and/or are good with a handheld spot meter (my preferred way to work), then save yourself a few bucks and go with the older version just before the II.
The RB67's are good cameras, too, but also heavy and boxy. These babies can't be handheld, IMO...maybe the RZ67. I have a Hassie 500C/M which is much smaller than the RB, but due to its boxy nature even this camera is hard to handhold. All that said, I pretty much use the Hassie and the P67 interchangeably almost always on a tripod. Something else to think about if you go the P67 route...you'll need a sturdy tripod for best results. For lighter weight yet solid performance I'd recommend a good carbon fiber tripod. I use a Dutchhill P900 which holds me P67 with my longest lens (200mm) solid as a rock!
Good luck with your decision.
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Zenzanon glass (still) rocks!
I've been using two GS-1 bodies and several lenses for over twenty years. In addition to being reliable and well built, the GS-1 is very user-friendly and the glass is superb.
"A certain amount of contempt for the material employed to express an idea is indispensable to the purest realization of this idea." Man Ray
If you are mainly interested in landscapes, then the Fuji rangefinders work very well. If you do a fair share of portraits in this format, then the Fujis are not the answer.
I have the Fuji GW670 II & the GSW690 III and use them mainly for landscape and cityscape type photography. The Fujis with the normal (90mm) lens would be fine for environmental or full figure portraits, but head & shoulders type... not so good.
Good luck with your search, there is much excellent advice in this thread to think about.
Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
"I don't care about Milwaukee or Chicago." - Yvon LeBlanc
I've been extremely pleased with my GS-1, barring the trouble I had finding a replacement dark slide. I searched high and low for one and ended up having to buy a cheap replacement back just to get the dark slide. Lesson: don't drive off with your dark slide sitting on the trunk (with the light meter!) I suspect other parts may be equally as elusive, but luckily, I haven't needed to find out.
IMO, the reason, and the only reason, the Pentax outdoes the Mamiya, is the 105mm f/2.4 lens, which is outstanding. It is significantly faster than any Mamiya offering. Otherwise, the Mamiya is a far more versatile camera in every way.
I thought I wanted a Pentax 67 as well when I had just started, but then I discovered RBs. In my experience, the people I know who prefer the Pentax are folks who are really pretty technically inept, intimidated by medium format, and prefer it's "big 35" look and feel. This in no way makes the Pentax a bad camera, nor does it mean these people don't produce outstanding work! There is just a bit of a different approach to using it, I think. Better suited for people who want the utmost in simplicity and ease of use, while the RB is better suited for those who are more interested in functionality, and versatility features.
Also, for some reason, the Pentaxes still seem a bit expensive on the used market, while RBs are going for dirt.
Re: "The RB67's are good cameras, too, but also heavy and boxy. These babies can't be handheld, IMO...maybe the RZ67."
Agreed in general, but they definitely can be hand held, as long as you can use a fast shutter speed and a short or normal lens. Same applies to the Pentax, but I would say it is even less hand holdable than the Mamiya with a WLF. Also, remember you can use MLU and the sportsfinder on the Mamiya, which can help.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 08-25-2008 at 10:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
You're getting lots of good advice. I'll throw mine in for what it's worth. I've had 2 different P67 systems at 2 different times. In the middle I had the big Mamiya Universal system 6X7 and 6X9. Then I moved on to 4X5 and larger. When the grandbabies came along I wanted some of the spontaneity of a smaller camera but still with the creaminess of a larger format. That's when I bought the second of the 2 6X7's. I paid $1500 iirc for camera and 45 90 165 300 lenses. To make a real long story short, it was and is imho just too big to be very spontaneous. i sold it for a decent profit and bought a wee little Minolta Autocord for like $65 bucks. Bingo. That little camera can be around my neck all day and it's lighter than the Nikon 35's. And the little Rokkor 75mm f3.5 is just superb. So as far as I'm concerned I have my cake and my cash and eat it too. The Yashicamat 124G is far more common than the Autocord and perhaps just as good. They're a great way to test the waters for 120 format rollfilm without spending ++1K and lugging around a boat anchor. If you're dieing to spend a little more $$ there are some lovely Rollei's to be had. Think Imogen Cunningham. Get Don Normark's book Chavez Ravine. It knocks my socks off, and he did those pics with a little Ciro-Flex 6X6 camera that won't fetch $18 on Ebay these days.