Opinions: Pentax 67 / Mamiya C330 - landscape bang for buck
I currently shoot 35mm (Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-105mm, 70-300mm ED, 50mm f1.8), primarily B&W landscapes but with a bit of Velvia and a few other subjects thrown in. I usually enlarge to 8x10 and any good ones that I'm lucky enough to get are blown up to 16x12.
I'm currently thinking of adding a medium format system to my kit to try and obtain better image quality. Specifically, I'm after clearer detail and better tonality. I don't find grain is too much of an issue at the moment. I started off on a Pentax S1a, so the lack of a TTL meter doesn't worry me overmuch. I don't feel ready to move up to a view camera.
I'm lusting after a Pentax 67 with mirror up (lovely optics, lighter than the competition (I'm not after a rangefinder), quite readily available, familiar layout, TTL view, etc.). However, even with prices tumbling on ebay and in the dealers, I'm still looking at the thick end of ukp 1000 for a body and a couple of lenses in good nick. That makes it unaffordable until late next year at the earliest. (Mamiya RB/RZ's and Bronica GS's don't flick my switch to the same extent and come in at around the same price (or more) anyway.)
Having read Ailsa's thread a while back, and needing interchangeable lenses (ever foot-zoomed a waterfall shot?!) I'm thinking that the other main option is a Mamiya C330. A good condition body and pair of lenses will set me back ukp 400 from a dealer with a guarantee, probably less on ebay. I could probably shake enough small change out of the sofa to have that in just a few months time.
1) Am I right to be looking to medium format for clearer detail and better tonality? The scans of medium and large format work in the APUG galleries and various comments on various threads seem to suggest I am, but all opinions are welcome on this!
2) Anyone used a C330 for landscapes? I've shot a few portraits on one and I understand they're favoured amongst studio and wedding shooters, but I don't know how good they'd be for landscape work.
3) How easy is it to switch your compositional eye between square and rectangular formats?
4) If it were your hard-earned money, would you save, wait and get the Pentax or shake the sofa and get a C330?
All contributions much appreciated.
I personally think you should go with a 67 of any variety over square. This is my personal opinion since I see rectangular better than square. It's also easier when graduating from 35mm to stick with a rectangle. I love my RB67, but since that's not what you're looking for, I think a Pentax 67 would be nice. A reason I chose the RB67 over a pentax is that you have interchangeable backs with the RB. So if you're out in the field you can have a colour slide and a b&w neg of the same scene. Anyway, I think either camera will produce fine results... remember, it's not the arrow... it's the indian. -Grant
Check out my gallery. I think all the posted images were made with a C330f with various lenses.
I love the smell of fixer in the morning. It smells like...creativity!
Truly, dr bob.
I think the Pentax 67 will deliver better results over all. But i also believe that you would not be disappointed with the shots from the Mamiya C330. It really comes down to whether you want a rectangle or square format.
Good luck and enjoy.
Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
"I don't care about Milwaukee or Chicago." - Yvon LeBlanc
I have a C330 and I've always lusted after a Pentax 6x7.
The C330 works fine as a landscape camera. For me, it is at home on a tripod rather than used handheld. That makes it slow to use which is good for a contemplative landscape. It's adaptable to eyelevel or waistlevel viewing and has good interchangeable lenses. It doesn't have any superwide or superlong lenses, however. The 55mm is not as wide as a 28mm on a 35mm camera and the 250mm lens takes a lot of the bellows which limits close focusing with that lens. Despite these drawbacks, it works well if what you want is improved negative quality.
The Pentax 6x7 has several advantages. The negative size being the primary one. I seem to crop my 6x6 negatives most of the time to fit 8x10 and 11x14 paper dimensions. This gives the 6x7 even more of an advantage. The Pentax system includes longer and wider lenses with accessories like a 35mm camera system. While it can be used with a waist level finder, shooting verticals would not be as easy as with the prism finder. The Pentax lenses are reportedly outstanding.
As I said, I have wanted a Pentax 6x7 for years, especially for landscape/scenic/nature type photography. I've never been able to afford one. However, I recently bought a Pentax 645 with 45/75/150 lenses. I've been very happy with this equipment as a better handling alternative to the C330 (which I plan to keep). The lenses are excellent--the 75mm being outstanding. Since I crop the 6x6 negative most of the time, I've given up nothing in print quality. It's another option for you to think about.
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If you need handheld, check out an older folder, like a Voigtlander Perkeo II (6x6) I think you can still find them for less than the cost of that C330 and definitely less than a Pentax 6x7.
But, since you are doing landscapes, why not go 4x5? You can get a speed graphic and a 6x7 rollfilm back for about the same price as a C330 (if you really need 6x7). Maybe a little less even. If you are planning on using the C330 handheld, I could see why, but for landscapes you need the tripod anyway.
I have a Fuji GS645 folder which I use for handheld medium format stuff, but for a landscape I'll use the 4x5 whenever possible.
Just a suggestion,
"I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America." -- Alexis de Tocqueville
If you are looking at the Mamiya TLR's, another option is the Koni Omega 6x7 rangefinders. I am using one as my main landscape camera. A body, back or two, with 58/90/180 lenses seems to be going for less than $500 on ebay. I don't know what the availability is in the UK. It and the Mamiya C series are probably the most cost effective ways to get a wide angle lens in MF. Close focusing is not the KO's strong suit, but that may not be a problem with the landscapes you shoot. It is also hand holdable, with the side benefit of being a left arm weightlifting program Seriously, I've gotten some quite respectable hand held photos with it at 1/30 - I'm not sure you could say that about the Pentax 67, from what I have read about it.
I've made 2 different masks for the view screen on my c330f. Used a sheet of black foil to cut an 8x10 mask and 5x7 mask. I find it easier to compose with the aid of a crop based on my printing tastes. The square format works well enough for portraits, but I generally try to print with off the shelf frames and mats in mind.
Have 65mm and 135mm lenses and will keep this setup. It is handy when I need better resolution than 35mm, but not the bulk and weight of a 4x5 or 8x10. Best of both worlds. Good luck with your choice. tim
I have used all the medium format cameras pretty extensively. I currently use a Pentax67 with 4 lenses and I love it. I have always enjoyed the system but lately I seem to shoot everything with either the 67 or a 4x5. I highly recommend the Pentax. It is quick and easy to use and if you get one with mirror lock up, and use a cable release, there is no vibration problem. Another possible suggestion would be to go straight to 4x5 by getting a Speed Graphic. I use mine hand held. Using the rangefinder it is almost as fast as a medium format.
Last edited by ThomHarrop; 09-15-2004 at 04:34 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Good Morning, Frank,
Nothing wrong with the 6 x 6, but, personally, I'd favor a 6 x 7--unless you particularly like square prints. I'll also second Jon's thoughts on a Koni-Omega; Koni's may be old, but their lenses stack up very well with current stuff.