RB67 vs 645
Just getting back into medium format and debating about a Mamiya RB67 Pro S system or Mamiya 645. Mostly interested in landscape photography. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.
I've used the Pro S many years ago and it's a fine camera. I've never used any of the 645's.
These are kinda on opposite ends of the spectrum, you probably should handle a couple to get a feel for the difference in size, weight, and the difference in negative size.
One thing about the RB's they're so dang cheap you could jump in and if you didn't like it should be able to get your money back.
By the way, welcome to APUG!
Final maximum print size might help you make a determination. The negative from the RB67 is big, but the camera and lenses are significantly heavier to carry than those from a 645 system. So, factor in how much hiking, if any, you will be doing.
Yes, the prices on the RB gear are ridiculously low now for such good quality. Another thing I like about the RB is that the images are very easy to focus using the waist level viewer, which is not always the case with some cameras.
The RB is a quality system and has a mechanical shutter (a real plus in my book). They are a little bulky, but not hard to handle. Recommended.
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I picked up an RB67 Pro-S kit for <$200. So the price factor is in your favour for that. I have been shooting alongside a photographer friend of mine who is using a Bronica ETRS (a 645 SLR). We just did some 16x20 prints in the darkroom. There was a slight edge to the RB67 for sharpness I think because he used a diffraction-limiting aperture on the negative he was enlarging and I didn't. But the tonality and everything for the two was pretty awesome.
We've been scanning with the glass carrier in a Nikon Super CoolScan 9000ED and the differences between the negatives is there, it just depends on how large you need to print or crop. I'd say look at the kind of system you want to use (different types of finders? replaceable backs?) and the lens lineup you would like.
I would say the RB67 lenses are a bit slow, and I'm jealous when my friend can shoot at f/2.8.
I think considerations regarding lens field-of-view requirements should help you decide. In particular the M 645 can go wider. There's nothing in the RB lens range that approaches the 35mm for the 645.
I have both systems and I am extremely happy with both. IF...you want to handle and use the camera more like a 35mm then you should go with the M645 if you plan on working from a tripod mostly the the RB is an excellent choice.
The negatives from the RB are beautiful because they are big...but compared to a 35mm so are the 645 negatives.
the other advantage of the RB is interchangeable backs...really nice. The back will rotate to change fro landscape to portrait without having the turn the camera. Also the bellows allow you to focus very close. Drawbacks with the RB could possibly be only 10 frames per roll of film opposed to 15 with the M645...personal preference there.
Um, if you're contemplating 645 why not go the whole hog and use 35 mm?
Sound silly, but in his book Field Photography A. A. Blaker makes the point that when going up in format increasing the size by less than twice in both directions (horizontal, vertical) makes little sense. The logic works for going down in format too, 24x36 is more than half as big as 645 so the loss in quality in the final prints probably won't kill you. And a light little 35 mm SLR has the size and weight advantages over a Mamiya 645 has over an RB.
Applying Blaker's logic to the 645 vs RB 67 decision, 645 is half frame 6x9, i.e., more than half as big as 6x7. So there 645 may be the better choice for you.
I bought the 645 Pro TL recently and am very happy. It is certainly more portable (& much lighter) than my 5x4 camera. As I tend to use a 6x9 rollfilm back with my LF camera I haven't bothered to date to go for a 6x7. One possible alternative, which resolves the weight-format equation, would be to buy a secondhand Mamiya 7 / 7II camera. I know a professional landscape photographer in London who swears by the Mamiya 7. I hope to buy one and its 43mm lens (the 35mm equivalement of a 21mm lens).
Reviews of Mamiya & series cameras:
Film Cameras currently used:
Large/Stort-format: Ebony 45SU (field camera), Medium/Medlem-format: Mamiya 7, Hasselblad 503CW
35mm/Små format: Nikon: F4, D800 (yes digital, I know)