Looking to get started in medium format
Currently I shoot almost exclusively 35mm, only stopping to shoot a little digital if I don't want to carry my Zeiss Ikon. I'm now interested in trying medium format, and have a few questions.
I'm looking to blow up pretty big, maybe 40" across if I take a photo worthy of it, is it worth getting a 6x7 camera vs. 6 x 4.5 to squeeze out a bit more resolution or is 6 x 4.5 enough for most things?
I don't like the idea of buying into a dead system, I think it make investing in lenses a bit of a worry, so I'm currently considering:
Mamiya 645 AFD - These are inexpensive, modern and wide angle lenses are cheap.
Mamiya 7 - 6x7 negative is probably a good thing, the range finder system I am used to, and they are pretty portable, only downside is the price of the body and a wide angle lens. And the range finder, much as I like them, does not allow precise framing.
Hasselblad 503cx - Inexpensive, legendary, but maybe the most cumbersome to use.
Fujifilm GF670 - The most expensive, 80mm lens may not suit me, but it's drop dead gorgeous and it's portability is probably the best.
At the moment the 645AFD is winning, on price, modernity, and cheap wide angle lens availability. I wonder about portability though. Is there anything else I should be considering?
Thanks a lot!
You mentioned the 503CX, saying that is the most cumbersome to use. And i take my cue from that. ;-)
You focus, set the shutterspeed and aperture, press the shutter release whenever you feel like it, wind on.... what's cumbersome about that?
If you're looking for max image quality, get 6x6cm or larger especially if you want to use 400 film some of the time.
You should not disregard the Pentax 67 (and 67ii) system if you are looking for a system. The 67's are cheap and high quality.
A TLR from Rollei or a later Yashica would be good too, but not interchangeable of course. If you are interested in "trying medium format" as you say, this is an easy route where you could resell the camera for similar money if you don't like it. You might be out a CLA service at most, but that could be easily recovered by mentioning it in the sale.
I would look for a 6x7 or larger, maybe 6x9, or why not make the jump to 4x5. I have a 6x9 Kodak folder that's capable of tack sharp negatives, and a couple of 4x5 mono rail cameras. You need to think large negatives if you want super large prints. There are those that will argue that 6x4.5 or 6x6 quite capable of enlargments the size you are suggesting, IMO thats really stretching it thin. Obviously, the larger the negative, the better the quality of the enlargment, and that requires super-sizing negatives. I would even go so far as to recommend 8x10 and larger for your desires.
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Thanks for the input, 4x5 for me is a step too far, I need/want a camera which can go in a bag, and be used without a tripod if required. I don't see myself using 400 speed film very much at all, I tend to use mostly Velvia 100 and Ektar 100 on 35mm, I don't see that changing for medium format.
I see that Hasselblad is very simple to use, but not so much for handheld I don't think, whereas the range finders can be used much like a 35mm range finder I expect. The 645AFD seems built for hand held use more than the 'blad too.
The 645AFD looks good as the wide angle lenses are cheap, and the whole shebang is less of an investment than the rest, except maybe the Hasselblad. Maybe I need to settle on a negative size first though, 6x7 I guess really is quite a lot bigger and will enlarge easier.
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I used a Hasselblad almost exclusively for years until I got seriously into large format and contact printing. To me, it was an absolute natural to use handheld. To be honest, it's lighter and more compact than a Mamiya 645 AFD. As has been mentioned though, I'd go to 6x7 for non-cropped enlargeability (is that even a word??) or 6x9. For a 6x7, a Mamiya 7 or 7 II would be the ticket, although they have limited lens selection and they're not cheap. An RB67 would be the bees knees budget wise, but it's much less friendly for hand-holding than a Hasselblad, in part because the operation is not one-hand intuitive. The Pentax 67 is another option, and they're certainly hand-holdable, but they're big and chunky. The Bronica GS-1 is also a 6x7 SLR with many of the advantages of the RB without all the bulk and complexity. However, they're relatively scarce and Bronica is definitely no longer in business, so repairs for them are getting harder to find.
Given your preferences, I'd look for one of the Fuji GSW 670 or 690 models - the I or II, not the III. You can pick up the I or II for a reasonable price, you get an outstanding 65mm wide-angle lens, and a 6x7 or 6x9 negative in what's been called a "texas leica". Lenses are not interchangeable, unless you get a Fujica BL 690 (earlier model) but anything other than the 100mm "normal" lens for that camera is ridiculously expensive.
One last option would be a Crown Graphic 6x9 press camera. Cheap as chips, extremely common, takes interchangeable lenses. And it folds up into a self-contained box for hauling around. You can get 6x7 or 6x9 rollfilm backs for them, and if you want precise composition, you can use them with a ground glass back on a tripod.
From my experience, a Hasselblad is a very easy camera to handhold, being just as easy to handhold as my Mamiya M645 system.
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You might check into the Bronica Gs-1. The Zenzanon glass is superb and the camera is easily hand-held either by itself or with the accessory Speed-
Grip however I would highly recommend that you use a tripod on most occasions and especially when you plan to make enlargements of 40 inches. You'll appreciate the Gs-1's 6x7 negative when making those huge enlargements.
"A certain amount of contempt for the material employed to express an idea is indispensable to the purest realization of this idea." Man Ray
I wouldn't worry too much about investing in a "dead" system--after all, film has been pronounced dead many times already.
I have a Pentax 6x7 and (thanks to GAS) now a Pentax 645, and there are plenty of lenses and accessories available on the used-equipment market for both, as well as ample technical expertise for repairs, etc. Which is not to say you should get involved with either system, but that there are plenty of options among what has been suggested, almost all of which you could enjoy without much trepidation.
Personally, I'm now lusting after a Crown Graphic myself. Although a nice 6X6 TLR also has its appeal. (Don't tell my wife.)
I personally don't find a Hasselblad easy to handhold. Perhaps because I have small hands. I do occasionally handhold it, using a string monopod, and that works fine, but most of the time I use the Hasselblad on a tripod. The Hasselblad also has much bigger and heavier lenses. Garry wants a small setup, and he wants to use slower film without a tripod. I think he's right that he'd be happier with the medium format rangefinder.
I can highly recommend the Mamiya 7, having owned one. It has the usual rangefinder disadvantages: you can't focus close and you're not viewing through the lens. And the usual rangefinder advantages: great lenses, reasonably compact. It can be carried in a small or medium bag with its lenses. If you're happy with your Zeiss Ikon, which is a great camera by the way, you should like the Mamiya 7. I'm not familiar with the 645AF.