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  1. #1
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Looking to add an SLR system, Hasselblad or Mamiya 645?

    I'm having some trouble deciding which SLR system to invest in. I currently own a mamiya 6 with all 3 lenses, a Bronica RF645, and a hasselblad SWC. What I've found I'm missing in my photography is some of the things an SLR excels at, which is depth of field preview, faster lenses, and telephoto lenses.

    For these reasons I want to buy into a medium format SLR system and have narrowed it down to two, either a Hasselblad with 80, 150, and 250 lenses, or a Mamiya 645 with 80, 150, and 210 lenses.

    I'm surprised at the huge price difference between the two systems, mainly the lenses. How do the Mamiya lenses hold up against those of the Hasselblad system? Particularity the telephoto lenses. Is the price of the Hasselblad lenses worth the price difference? I mean the Hasselblad 150/4 CF is $450 while the Mamiya 150/3.5 N is $100. That's a huge difference! I found I could purchase an entire Mamiya 645 system for less than the price of just two Hasselblad lenses.

    The other question is reliability. I would imagine the Hasselblad system would stand up to use better than the Mamiya 645. How about the electronics in the newer 645 models? And problems?

    I guess I'm just looking for some suggestions and help making this decision. I like square and rectangle equally as much, so that's not an issue.

  2. #2
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brian steinberger View Post
    For these reasons I want to buy into a medium format SLR system and have narrowed it down to two, either a Hasselblad with 80, 150, and 250 lenses,
    Excellent choice. There are lots of them out there are it is easy to get parts and service. Hasselblad is a real system so you can expand later if you want to. Zeiss glass is very good and nothing beats a good piece of glass.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian steinberger View Post
    I'm surprised at the huge price difference between the two systems, mainly the lenses. How do the Mamiya lenses hold up against those of the Hasselblad system? Particularity the telephoto lenses. Is the price of the Hasselblad lenses worth the price difference?
    In a word, YES.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian steinberger View Post
    The other question is reliability. I would imagine the Hasselblad system would stand up to use better than the Mamiya 645.
    You are right the Hasselblad is more robust.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian steinberger View Post
    How about the electronics in the newer 645 models? And problems?
    Ever take photographs in cold weather? Batteries get weak and fail. A V series Hasselblad is all mechanical. The only part that could give problems is the light meter in my PME finder, and that has never happened to me even in snow storms. But if it did I would estimate the settings and bracket if possible. With electronics there is always a possibility of failure in cold weather.

    Hasselblad - Ask the man that owns one. [Credit given to Packard Motor Company.]

    Steve
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  3. #3
    wclark5179's Avatar
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    When I was film based I had a Mamiya 645 system. It suited the various different photographic situations at gigs I would do. It is lightweight and the lenses are superb. Women photographers liked the Mamiya because of its size and weight. I then started with Hasselblad stuff and I do like it better.

    I do like the shutter in each lens on the Hasselblad versus the focal plane shutter in the Mamiya. Perhaps that's a reason why Mamiya lenses are less expensive. I also like the square format better than the 645 format. I've never had any trouble with either system.

    Both are very good and capable systems. I would try each of them out and see which you like. You may like the way one feels, the controls, the backs & accessories on one better than the other.
    Bill Clark

  4. #4
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, yes the focal plane shutter in the Mamiya vs. the leaf shutter lenses in the blad, that's a huge difference. Any more thoughts on this?

    Bill, I too like square better, but some things work well in the rectangle. The nice thing is that 6x6 offers the ability to do both which is a huge advantage, and also not have to flip the camera on a tripod. Another advantage is that I have two backs already for my SWC, which I could switch back and forth from the two blads.

  5. #5
    lns
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    Since you already own the SWC, I think you should expand your Hasselblad system.

    -Laura

  6. #6
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lns View Post
    Since you already own the SWC, I think you should expand your Hasselblad system.

    -Laura
    I have a Hasselblad 503 CX and a Hasselblad 903 SWC and four A-12 film backs. Do not underestimate the advantages of moving the backs between camera when shooting a subject.

    Steve
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  7. #7
    MattKing's Avatar
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    The two systems are both of excellent quality, so it is a happy choice you have for yourself.

    Do you use a lot of fill flash in high pressure circumstances (e.g. weddings)? If you do, you should probably make your comparisons using the leaf shutter lenses that Mamiya offers, rather than their more usual versions.

    And if you do, you should probably factor in the cost for the appropriate Mamiya power winder, and special connecting cables.

    If high pressure fill flash isn't important, I'd suggest handling both systems, if that is at all possible. Their ergonomics are very different. Personally, I find my Mamiya cameras and lenses much better suited to me than the Hassleblads I used to sell.

    As for the square vs. rectangle issue, my judgment is probably affected by a couple of factors:

    1) I have Mamiya TLRs to satisfy any need I have for square format, as well as leaf shutters and easy close focus;
    2) I have a flip bracket that makes tripod use and switching to portrait orientation quite straightforward; and
    3) I really like the Mamiya left hand bracket.

    If I were you, I'd also check things like close focus distance for the lenses you are interested in. You can still get the info for the manual focus Mamiya lenses from the Mamiya UK website.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  8. #8
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    Thanks Matt, I don't use any flash what-so-ever, so that is not an issue. Can you explain why the Mamiya system works better for you?

    Also, weight and bulk are considering factors too.

  9. #9
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Brian:

    If you don't use flash, then the leaf shutters won't matter to you.

    My preference for the Mamiya system is influenced by cost, but there are other factors as well.

    Most importantly, the ergonomics of the Mamiya 645 cameras (and lenses) work better for me. I am very left handed, and with the left hand grip and focus assist lever, the Mamiya cameras work well for me. The Hasselblads don't work as well - for me.

    A couple of other things that matter are:

    1) The 55mm f/2.8, 80mm f/2.8, 110mm f/2.8, 150mm f/3.5 and 210mm f/4.0 lens all share the same 52mm filter size and all can be used with the same focus assist lever. I've settled on a favourite kit of 55mm, 110mm and 210mm lenses (plus a nice 45mm f/2.8) and they all are reasonably small and reasonably light and they work together really well.
    2) I like the fact that with the left hand grip and terminal adapter, I have a shutter release that is off camera, and easy to release at very show shutter speeds. I also like the hot shoe.
    3) I like the relative availability and relative low cost of standard accessories like filters and extension tubes.
    4) I like the film insert system that Mamiya uses - all manual focus bodies and backs use the same inserts, and you can switch between 120 and 220 by just switching the inserts - which are quite inexpensive. The changeable backs (for the Super and Pro/ProTl) models are very reasonable as well.
    5) I like the fact that with an electronically controlled focal plane shutter, I get consistent shutter speeds with all lenses. Unless you get a focal plane shutter Hasselblad, you will have to make sure that the shutters in all the lenses are kept calibrated in order to get the same result from them.
    6) I particularly like the fact that the more esoteric lenses (even the slightly more esoteric ones, like my very nice 45mm f/2.8 N lens) are much more reasonable in cost than their Hasselblad counterparts.

    I notice that your list of lenses doesn't include a wide angle. You should probably try the 55mm f/2.8 lens on the Mamiya before you discount that possibility.

    Hope this helps.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  10. #10
    alexmacphee's Avatar
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    I was recently in the same position, wanting to try medium format, looking at the Mamiya 645 and the Hasselblad 500CM, and not being sure which I preferred. Having come in to a small amount of money, I did a wicked thing (if you believe The Boss) and bought both, a Mamiya 645 Pro with 55/80/150, and a 500CM with 80/150. So far, I'm only in play/familiarisation mode, so I'm only offering impressions rather than advice, of course. I found the transition from 35mm SLR to Mamiya 645 very easy. Instant return mirror, mirror lock-up, AE finder (very affordable in Mamiya). Changing backs on the 645 is a breeze, and the Mamiya has a place to stick the darkslide when the back is ready for use, whereas the Hassie doesn't. The Hassie is requiring more 'dry use' familiarisation, since you have to keep the shutter cocked state of the lens in synchrony with the wind-on state of the back. The mirror on the 500CM is not instant return, and instead of mirror lockup, has a pre-release button, which moves the mirror out of the way ready for separate firing of the shutter. However, it's not the same as mirror lockup, because you can't bring the mirror down to re-focus or re-frame without firing the shutter, as you can with the Mamiya. The Mamiya backs have individual ISO settings that communicate with the meter prism, so swapping backs is a breeze as the ISO is automatically set. The Hasselblad lenses use that EV system, where you set an EV on the lens and the speed and aperture are coupled, and you need to press on a release in order to decouple the shutter speed settings from the aperture settings. As it happens, I'm used to that because my little Yashica rangefinders use that system, and I rather like it, but it's just something to be aware of.

    If you prefer, say for flash synch reasons, leaf shutter lenses, be aware that there are a few Mamiya 645 lenses with leaf shutters too. Shift lenses on the Mamiya won't break the bank or strain marital contentment states (OK, in my own situation I may now be stretching that latter claim).

    My entire Mamiya 645 Pro with WLF, AE Finder, power winder, three lenses, electronic release, three backs and inserts, 220 insert, cost significantly less than the 500CM/80 with one back. Beyond the glass (I discovered Zeiss about a decade ago and now I understand), I'm finding it more difficult than I thought to choose, because each has strengths in different areas. And whilst my save-in-a-fire choice would be the Zeiss, the Mamiya lenses are no slouches.
    Alex

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