I'm a photo student and until last year had used mostly 35mm (and the odd dabble with large format thanks to my tutor). Once we were in 2nd year we were given access to the MF Bronica ETRSi and a Mamiya RB67. I instantly fell in love with both and a last October i bought an RB. The difference blows me away and the ability to do so much more creatively is hard to resist.
I couldn't rate it highly enough, honestly if you have the chance to buy one, do it. You won't be disappointed. My only problem with it is it's weight. But then i'm little and a wimp so...
You can indeed. I picked up a Mamiya ZD digital back for $3100. However, the adapter to use it on an RB67 is $1400... I wound up getting a great deal on a Mamiya 645 AFD and have been using the ZD on that system. I will probably get the RB67 adapter one day, but $1400 for an adapter is a pretty hard pill to swallow.
Originally Posted by hpulley
I love the versatility of these systems, the ability to switch between film and digital is (almost) priceless.
I have to disagree with the utility of a digital back on the RB67. The RB67 is a truly giant camera, since it's in actual fact an 8x8cm camera (supports a rotating 6x8cm back). The lenses have giant image circles, several of them cover 4x5in!
To stick a teensy less-than-645 digital sensor on this beast has a certain kind of retro cool (kinda like putting a modern high-performance motor in a 1930s Ford hot rod) but really doesn't make much sense. Stick with the big 6x7cm or 6x8cm images, I'd use a smaller MF SLR camera (Hasselblad, Rollei, or any 645 camera) for digital. You'd want proper wide-angle lenses on digital anyway, 50mm won't cut it.
I am taking my RB67 on a three-week road trip tomorrow through the less-inhabited parts of South Africa (damn, the kit is heavy! - packed in a backpack including a serious Gitzo Systematic GT5541 tripod) and I am so looking forward to all the use it'll get. Leaving my 4x5in at home this time, and packing about 20 rolls of 120 film - half of it Pan F.
If I survive carrying the beast, I'll post some results here on APUG when I get around to printing them.
I forgot to mention that I like the short rolls on the 120 back. Now I don't even like 24 on the 35mm film!
Breakdown of RB lens series
To the OP: The lenses were made in three series:
Original series (Mamiya-Sekor)
All lenses have chromed noses, and nice thick knurling on the lens locking ring on the rear. All of the are single-coated (amber/yellow reflections off lens) as per 1970 technology. Nothing to write home about, though - as with any decently-designed lenses of any area for MF cameras, can yield excellent image quality. More prone to flare, etc.
C-Series (Mamiya-Sekor C)
Green-colourd "C" suffix. All lenses except the fisheye have chromed noses. Finer beveled knurling on lens locking ring on rear. All of the lenses feature multicoating (purple/blue/green reflections off lens) - and what an amazing multicoating this was. You'll go blind trying to make most of these flare. Greatly improved performance. Top level of build quality for RB lenses, with best size/performance ratio also.
K/L-Series (Mamiya-Sekor K/L [L-A])
Quite uncommon on the mechanical RB system, as these lens formulations are more commonly used with electronic shutters on the RZ system. These represent the top level of performance. None feature the silver ring on the front. These lenses are really massive (particularly the 65 and the 140 Macro are a couple of centimeters bigger than their C-series predecessors, but it seems "wasted" space, i.e. the glass itself is not much bigger. Uses more modern materials (e.g. some plastic on the shutter sped ring, etc) and generally not as nice-feeling as the C-series, IMHO.
There are a couple of unusual, faster K/L lenses, like f/3.5 lenses in 75mm and 150mm. I myself prefer the C-series lenses on my RB - I compared one or two, but could not, for my purposes, see any difference, and the C-series lenses are smaller, prettier, and cheaper. If you use a digital back, though, I'd suspect you'd want all-K/L.
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I have the C-series lenses which I can say they are quite good.
Oh yeah. Certain ones, like the 65mm and 140mm Macro, are as close to flawless as a photographer could ever want.
Originally Posted by Jeff Kubach
I have a non-C 90 and a 150sf C, both do great work.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
The floating element ring is annoying on the KL lenses. It does make it sharper but makes focusing a two step process.
There are also a couple of other oddities - lenses which are labelled NB. This stands for new barrel and was used on lenses in between the earliest series and the C series.
And there are floating element rings on some of the C lenses. The two step focussing isn't too bad once you get used to it.
“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