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  1. #61

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    Robert, you seem to be one of the very few people who experienced problem with film transport with the RF645. Your comment about the Mamiya 7 getting used instead of large format is echoing in my ears - that would be part of the job the camera I am considering now should do ...

    ETRSi is indeed a nice camera - but there rather small supply of Zenzanon PE lenses out there (I mean eBay).

  2. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by slnce-z-gsi View Post
    Robert, you seem to be one of the very few people who experienced problem with film transport with the RF645. Your comment about the Mamiya 7 getting used instead of large format is echoing in my ears - that would be part of the job the camera I am considering now should do ...

    ETRSi is indeed a nice camera - but there rather small supply of Zenzanon PE lenses out there (I mean eBay).
    I recently had my Bronica RF645 serviced to correct the film winding problem, so the issue isn't confined to Robert.

    Tom

  3. #63
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    First up, let me admit that I skipped a few pages and haven't read all of the posts in this thread, but hopefully this might still be usefull for someone.

    I've been using a Pentax 645 system for the past five years or so. One of the first ones, with the push-buttons. It is my all time favourite camera of any I have ever owned, beautiful hand-holdability ans erganomics (it balences very well in my hands) and great for the times when 4x5 would be a too slow or cumbersome. My lens kit includes the 35mm, 55mm, 75mm and 150mm. They are all fantastic lenses, I have occasionally lusted after the 120mm macro, or the 300mm, but in reality, the only other lenses I would ever make any real world use of would be either of the leaf shutter lenses for outdoor portraits with lighting.

    My ONE and ONLY complaint, which was never really an issue until I started to use 4x5 a few years ago, is that the backs can't be changed mid roll. I would LOVE to be able to have backs with both b&w and colour transparency that I could insert depending on the shot... but hey, for what I think is the perfect camera system (for me), is it really such a big price to pay? (...actually, somedays I think it is! But a little forward planning most times can fix that...)
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  4. #64

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    Boy, if you love those Pentax 645 lenses and like the original P645, do yourself a favor and pick up a 645N sometime and prepare to be amazed. Like a lot of other Pentax gear the manual lenses coupled to a newer AF body (with upgraded metering options and brighter, better viewfinder screens) is a really sweet combination. I like the VF of my P645N better than any of my Nikons or even my Pentax LX, for all its real estate and brightness. It's a camera that rapidly becomes transparent to the image making process, and that's a really good thing.

    I personally feel that MF film is so inexpensive in 120 ($4/roll and change, something like 6 bucks a roll for developing and scanning Ektar, is what I'm paying) that to wind-on and to waste 1/2 a roll to change film types on the rare occasions that I can't buzz through 16 frames, seems not such a penalty to me. If I need shot-to-shot ISO changes, I've always got a DSLR for that. For the bargain that my P645N was (~$350 a couple of years ago) I can't complain about mid-roll changes. The inserts are really easy and rapid to swap out with the 1/4 turn fastener (mere seconds and I can do so one handedly in bad weather conditions of blowing snow, etc), although I will admit that reloading them in the field is a tad fiddly.

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by slnce-z-gsi View Post


    I am still looking for the weight of Bronica ETRSi, Mamiya 645 Pro (Pro TL) and mybe Bronica SQAi. The main problem for putting together the weights is to find out the weights of:
    - waist level finder
    - AE prism
    - motor winder / grip
    as the producer usually say the weight of the lightest package: body, 120 mag, WLF and a lens.
    Here are weights of some different Bronica ETR-Si items:

    Body with screen---------------------------1 lb.,1.1 oz.

    Latest back w/insert and dark slide:-------------10.4 oz.
    Insert-------------------------------------------4.7 oz.
    Dark slide-----------------------------------------.5 oz.

    EI Winder (2nd of the 3 models made),
    with 6 alkaline batteries----------------------1 lb.,5.5 oz.
    w/o batteries, with battery holder--------------1 lb.,.6 oz.

    AEIII Prism Finder--------------------------------12.1 oz.

    Plain Prism----------------------------------------9.6 oz.

    Speed Grip---------------------------------------11.0 oz.
    w/hand strap------------------------------------11.3 oz.

    Bellows Lens Hood---------------------------------8.1 oz.
    w/telephoto mask----------------------------------8.5 oz.

    62mm plastic front lens cap--------------------------.4 oz.
    Rear lens cap---------------------------------------.9 oz.
    finder bottom cap-----------------------------------.4 oz.

    Rotary Finder w/eyecup---------------------------15.4 oz.

    Action Prism Finder w/eyecup-----------------1 lb., 8.4 oz.

  6. #66

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    - Tom -
    yes - indeed there are users that had a problem with the RF645 film winding mechanism, however it does not seem to be a major issue. Anyhow - would you mind to share approximate cost of such a repair?

    - SteveR -
    The Pentax is indeed an interesting camera although I would preferably choose the 645N or 645NII. The inability to change films mid-roll is something I could miss so I keep thinking about it. I have similar experience with my Rolleiflex from a longer trip where it would have been nice to be able to change films based on conditions (say Provia 100F and Fuji 160ProS). However what attracts me is the 33-55/4.5 zoom that could be really nice for travel and landscapes. Problem is that sample images are very scarce and some users have reported spherical plane of focus and some distortions (one would expect some).

    So my next question - I would love to hear more about the Pentax 645 33-55/4.5 lens - some samples would be great too.

    - lxdude -
    thank you - that is more than I wanted to know As I guess you have all the equipment you listed - in particular I would like to ask on your opinion about the speed grip. I see it as a lighter replacement of the motor winder. Is it comfortable to use? Does it have a shutter trigger?

    In the meant time I have looked for MF gear rental possibilities in Germany. I found quite some (mostly Hamburg, Berlin, Munich). while it is rather easy to find Mamiya 645 Pro or the Contax 645, I found only 1 rental place (Munich) where it would be possible to rent Mamiya 7/7II.

    Should you know more rental places where Mamiya 7/7II could be rented in Germany (apart from the www.delight-rent.com in Munich) it would be great.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pupfish View Post
    Boy, if you love those Pentax 645 lenses and like the original P645, do yourself a favor and pick up a 645N sometime and prepare to be amazed. Like a lot of other Pentax gear the manual lenses coupled to a newer AF body (with upgraded metering options and brighter, better viewfinder screens) is a really sweet combination.
    Well, if one shows up for a good price, I might just give it a go! A brighter viewfinder is always a welcome adition.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pupfish View Post
    I personally feel that MF film is so inexpensive in 120 ($4/roll and change, something like 6 bucks a roll for developing and scanning Ektar, is what I'm paying) that to wind-on and to waste 1/2 a roll to change film types on the rare occasions that I can't buzz through 16 frames, seems not such a penalty to me.
    Generally I agree, but it can on the odd occasion be annoying, say your four shots into a fresh roll of FP4, thinking and shooting in b&w, but then a scene comes in front of you that would look amazing in colour, what do you do? When I travel I'm usually in the outback for a good month or so at a time, so would dread the thought of nearing the end of the trip and find I'm running short of film because I wasted half rolls here and there. Just my thing, born and raised of Scottish stock, my value for money is my one care in life :P
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  8. #68
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    The Bronica's Speed Grip is lighter and less bulky than the winder, though the Winder EII (the newest version) is close to the same size. The Speed Grip is comfortable and well balanced, and is in my mind more practical unless you need a winder. It does have a shutter trigger, which will also activate the AE-III metering prism with a half-press when the meter is turned on. It also has a hot shoe; TTL flash, though, is controlled through a cable connected to the body.

    While I'm at it, and as a general FYI, some thoughts on the AE-III prism: It's nice, but it makes the ETR-Si less of a bargain. It has spot and averaging metering, manual and AE modes. The AE is aperture priority. The manual is not fully coupled. That is, it's not a center-the-LED or LCD indicator kind of thing. It knows the aperture you set, then tells you what the shutter speed should be to match, but is not coupled to the shutter speed, so you just set it manually. Or put another way, you set the desired shutter speed, and turn the aperture ring until that shutter speed appears in the readout. I prefer to use AE and the AE lock to freeze a desired speed, as I find it faster. I seldom use AE, but would have liked to have a fully coupled manual meter. The meter LCD is nice, and illuminates automatically in dim light. In AE, it will set exposures as long as 32 seconds; in manual, it indicates shutter speeds to the maximum on the body, 8 seconds.

    In top shape, the AE-III is about $300. That would go a long way toward a Pentax 645n's cost, and the Pentax has spot, center-weighted averaging, or matrix metering; Av, Tv or Program AE; data imprinting on the film rebate, and built in winder. And, of course, autofocus with AF lenses, if that's desired. So unless interchangeable backs, interchangeable prisms, or leaf shutter usage is paramount, and TTL metering is needed with them, I don't recommend buying an ETR-Si with the AE-III finder instead of a Pentax 645n. The ETR-Si as a simple setup is a great bargain, and I think that's where its strength lies compared to the other 645's. I like mine a lot, but would just as soon use the plain prism most of the time and meter separately. It has higher magnification and is less fragile. The Action Prism Finder is great for macro, as I can have my eye 6 inches from the camera with it on a tripod, but it has no meter.
    TTL flash metering is always available, as it's contained within the body.
    Last edited by lxdude; 04-19-2010 at 10:20 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #69

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    - SteveR -
    I do share your concerns about the film backs. Even though I would probably not carry BW and Color films for longer trips, but still - to be able to switch from, say, Velvia to Astia would be often a plus. But it makes ordering images in time more complicated (especially few weeks after they were taken). Hmmm.

    - lxdude -
    Thank you very much for the details about ETRSi. It is very helpful for ordering the 4 candidates. I guess the Pentax or Contax are closer to what I would like to get. Let's see.

    -----
    My questions from the post Nr. 66 are still valid

  10. #70
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    I am midway through selling off my Contax 645 gear, but that has more to do with changes in what, and how, I shoot than it does with any flaw with this camera. I love my Contax, and I've sold it with more than a trace of regret. (JP, I hope you're enjoying it!)

    Biggest pluses are its ergonomics, and its exceptional lenses. It feels better in my (medium-to-large) hand than any other MF camera I've ever used. The control layout is well-considered and implemented, so that the controls you need most often just fall under the appropriate fingers for the job. Controls are firm and stiff, not sloppy, and feel solid and purposeful. Lots of knobs and buttons, no annoying menus to navigate. I used mine with the battery grip all the time, and the grip only improves the ergonomics. The rechargeable Lithium 2CR3 batteries for it are a must, since the disposables are something like $9 or $10 a pop; but with the battery grip (which I always used, and which makes the ergonomics even better) you can use NiMH AA's for even greater convenience.

    Lenses are excellent across the line. Particular standouts are the 35, 80, 140, and 350, but they're all good. I owned all of them except for the 45 and the zoom. The 80 has a bit of barrel distortion wide open, but it's not over-the-top objectionable. They are almost clinically sharp, surgically sharp and contrasty in their rendering, more so than the Mamiya 7 and RZ glass I'm also familiar with; those in turn seem more so than the Hasselblad lenses I'm currently using. I'm not saying that one is sharper than the other, but that they render quite differently in their individual excellence. This is an eyeball impression; I've not done formal testing. I'd not turn my nose up at any of these systems, nor at their lenses.

    I've heard the complaint about the viewfinder being small and/or dim, but I never really found this a limitation if true. I used the AF regularly, and could always manually adjust focus if needed. The AF was always spot-on for me.

    My reason for selling is that I'm really fond of the square or near-square formats like 6x6 and 6x7 for the kind of work I'm doing these days, and came to find the 645 a bit too rectangular. I was regularly cropping off some of the long dimension of the 645 frame, which made my negative even smaller by comparison with its larger MF cousins. So I shoot 6x7 (Mamiya 7, some RZ) and 6x6 (Hassy) and crop very little from either.

    If I were still shooting in a more fast-moving way as in my past, the Contax would be nearly ideal, given its ergonomics, portability, and decent (not great, but decent) AF. Wedding shooters seem to love it, and swear by it.

    I'd not worry too much about service and parts for the camera itself; bodies are now so cheap that the best insurance is to simply buy a spare body. It was discontinued in early 2006, with the promise of parts and service for a decade through Kyocera, who owns the brand. Don't know whether there's 3rd-party service availability, since it never was an issue during my use of the system.

    A larger problem is the relative scarcity of accessories. The waist level finder (which never made much sense for the 645 format unless all you shoot is landscape orientation) is really tough to find; the exceptional Really Right Stuff L-bracket is no longer offered on the RRS website; and the cylindrical aluminum lens hoods are dear, and pricey.

    Hope this helps. Great camera, great system.
    Michael Sebastian
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