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  1. #1
    one90guy's Avatar
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    Advice needed for 1st Medium Format

    Hi All
    I have been wanting a medium format camera for sometime, I have looked at them on ebay and prices seem to run from low to way out of my reach. I want just a decent camera, light meter preferred but I use a Argus C-3 and so I do not think it would be a big problem. I have reached a point where the more I read on different cameras the more uncertain I am My main concern is price and getting a useable camera. Sorry if I sound like a money grubber but a few years ago I had to retire, so The Boss keeps me on a tight budget. Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you
    David
    “In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took,
    but how many moments took your breath away.”
    ― Shing Xiong

  2. #2

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    I've bought a couple of Yashica TLRs. I have an A and a D. Neither has a meter. Both take nice photos. It takes some getting used to the waist level viewfinder, and I cannot focus without using the built in loupe, but I'm getting used to it. I use a tripod, since I need the loupe. I plan to try some magnifying drug store reading glasses to see if I can use this hand held, but my biggest interest for MF is landscapes anyway, so a tripod isn't a big issue.

    These cameras are relatively inexpensive, between $50 and $200 depending on condition.

    Repairs on these are reasonable cost. I got a CLA and shutter repair for my D for just $56. Quick service to boot.

    I also have a Pentax 645 with several lenses. Really nice, though I'm keeping my eye out for a 645n. This is a SLR, includes a light meter and Auto exposure. Obviously it is much more expensive, several hundred for body alone.

  3. #3

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    TLR's are a good choice, have you thought about the Mamiya RB67? Look up KEH and they have good prices on them.

    Jeff

  4. #4
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    I started MF back in high school with a not too flash Rollieflex in the Camera Club loaner camera drawer. That set the hook on loving TLR's.

    I have had a Yashica C as the first MF of my own, then sold, then bought back, then sold agian after buying a Mamiya C330f.

    I do like the flexibility of interchangeable lens from my 35mm SLR side of life, but the C330f is a lot to lug; I call mine the Brick.

    I have since then owned and sold a Yashica A, with close up lenses, and borrowed a Yashica D for a holiday. The D was a real treat, but alas not suited to portraiture which is where my C330f gets used a lot with a 180 or 135 lenses.

    I would support a modestly inexpensive Yashica as a great starter in MF camera.

    It can be a very good thing to get back to one lens and no onboard electronics to whittle back the noise that otherwise can get in the way of capturing many great image opportunities.

    Sniff around at a camera show, or look to KEH. You should be able to find one at a price that keeps workers and mangement happy.
    my real name, imagine that.

  5. #5

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    Was going to recommend a TLR, specifically a Yashica D as a good starting point - seems I'm late to the party. They are cheap, don't have a lot to break, and work well. Personally I like the square image - if you don't then TLRs might not be right (I think all/most produce a square neg).

    The Yashica 124 has a meter, and can be found under $200, but it might be more economical to buy a Yashica D (as an example) and a hand held meter which you can use with other cameras.

    One other consideration (besides negative shape/size) is the film advance. The Yashica D and A use a knob to advance the film. Not terrible, but i think the standard on other cameras is a crank handle that is a bit more ergonomic.

  6. #6
    CGW
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    With respect--and knowing nothing about you, what you like to shoot, or if camera weight matters--it's tough to advise but here goes. You've got three format choices, right? And I'm leaving out rangefinders in favor of SLR models.

    First, I'd avoid relics. Old Yashica, Rollei, Mamiya, Minolta, Whatever-Flex TLRs can quickly become money pits unless you want to add camera repairmen to your circle of friends. You may get a gem but I'm off them after watching friends suffer--sorry, TLR fetishists.

    645: Most like 35mm and the lightest. Mamiya 645(Super, Pro, ProTL--not the old heavy metal types) and Pentax 645 are good value. Great glass. Plentiful. Cheap and getting cheaper. Bronica ETRS(i)is probably the "best buy" MF champ.

    6x6: Hasselblad. Bronica SQ(A, Ai, B). I have a Bronica SQ-B and love it.

    6x7: Mamiya RB/RZ67. RB is mechanical; RZ electronic. RB67 Pro S and Pro SD bodies are the latest and best. RB is not petite but neither is it just a studio camera. Good affordable and plentiful glass in standard focal lengths. Rotating back(RB) feature on both models is killer. I have a RB 67 Pro S kit and shoot it more than my 645 and 6x6 cameras.

    Pentax 67: Baby-sat one for a couple of years and liked it. Giant 35mm-like layout. Good lenses. No film backs(no mid-roll changes). BIG, heavy and surprisingly awkward off a tripod outside of studio work with strobes. Affordable.

    Bronica GS-1:Probably the smallest, lightest 6x7 SLR system camera. Good lenses. Never a huge seller relative to the Pentax 67 or even more popular Mamiya RB/RZ 67 making it harder to find accessories and lenses.

    Unless you have a home darkroom and/or a pro lab with good survival prospects, MF might not work for you. Sad but part of the new reality for us APUG inmates.

  7. #7
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    It depends on what you want to shoot with it, and how much "fiddling" you mind doing.
    2F/2F

    "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)

  8. #8
    hpulley's Avatar
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    I'm similarly interested. This wouldn't be my first medium format but it would be my first in 25 years or so...

    What I'm interested in knowing for the Bronica SQ and GS-1 is what all I need for a kit, something I'll be able to take pictures with. Unlike an SLR which is what I'm most familiar with, a 'body only' MF camera doesn't include things like a back, prism, finder and other stuff that an SLR user would assume you get in 'body only' sales. I realize I need a body, a back, a lens, finder? prism? What should I ask about to make sure I'm getting a completely usable kit so I don't have to scrounge for other things before I can get started using it? What is a good standard lens to start out with?

    I'm wondering if it would be best to buy one locally so I can handle it first. See if someone is selling their parents or grandparents old stuff or something... but if I really know what I need I could buy online with confidence so please let me know what is the minimum setup.

    If I'm hijacking this thread let me know and I'll take it elsewhere.
    Last edited by hpulley; 10-15-2010 at 04:32 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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  9. #9
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Why do you want to shoot medium format? What are you after that 35mm is not giving you?

    Do you want an SLR, a TLR, or a rangefinder?

    Do you want interchangeable lenses? (If you answered TLR above, this leaves the Mamiya C system and the 6x6 square format as your option and you can stop here.)

    Do you have any physical trouble carrying and lifting slightly heavy loads (Shy away from 6x7 SLRs if you do, and look at SLRs with smaller frame sizes.)

    Do you want interchangeable magazines? (Scratch Pentax 6x7's and compact rangefinders such as Mamiya 6's and 7's if you do.)

    Will you shoot it on a tripod or hand held, or both, how often, and in what circumstances? (If handheld often, lean toward systems with faster lenses – f/2.something.)

    Are you technically careful enough to bother getting the ideal exposure, or do you prefer to just point, read the in-camera meter, and shoot? (How important is the meter, really?)

    I'll ignore frame size for now, as any frame size can be cropped, and quality will still be better than 35mm. I'll also ignore price for now, just so we can determine what the OP actually wants in an ideal world first.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 10-15-2010 at 04:42 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "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)

  10. #10
    CGW
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    Quote Originally Posted by hpulley View Post
    I'm similarly interested. This wouldn't be my first medium format but it would be my first in 25 years or so...

    What I'm interested in knowing for the Bronica SQ and GS-1 is what all I need for a kit, something I'll be able to take pictures with. Unlike an SLR which is what I'm most familiar with, a 'body only' MF camera doesn't include things like a back and other stuff that an SLR user would assume you get. I realize I need a body, a back, a lens, but what should I ask about to make sure I'm getting a completely usable kit so I don't have to scrounge for other things before I can get started using it?

    I'm wondering if it would be best to buy one locally so I can handle it first. See if someone is selling their parents or grandparents old stuff or something... but if I really know what I need I could buy online with confidence so please let me know what is the minimum setup.

    If I'm hijacking this thread let me know and I'll take it elsewhere.
    For either camera you mention, a "kit" with body+lens+back+viewfinder is probably best(and often cheaper) unless you want to "build" a camera from assembled bits. For the Bronica SQ , both 120 backs and WLFs can be pricey. The Bronica GS-1 is relatively rare, thanks to slow sales. Not sure either would surface in or around Guelph. Henry's eBay "store" is worth checking out--quick, safe shipping and great service. There are several other Canadian eBay sellers who often carry clean MF gear. I've bought all my MF gear off eBay with no regrets.

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