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  1. #1
    agphotography's Avatar
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    "Budget" Medium Format options?

    So I'm dabbling with the idea (again) of picking up a medium format camera. This would honestly only be used for fun and probably some candid street photography (I can imagine the reactions of people seeing one haha!)

    Anyways I'm trying to figure out what my best options are going to be.

    Some facts: I am not particular to any one format, I'm thinking I would be fine with a fixed lens, but modular cameras are not out of the question (future expansion, especially if Digital Backs are available), I'm going to have about $4-900 to work with.

    I owned a Fuji GW670III for a short time, and while the image quality was amazing, I just didn't really care for how the camera felt in my hands. It felt a bit too "plasticky", I'm partial to metal cameras for some reason.

    Regardless of my prior fuji experience, the GW690II is still on the table of interest, but not the III. I am also considering a TLR (thinking Yashica Mat 124g?). Also possibly one of the Fuji 645s? The GS645s sounded interesting because it was manual focus and had a range finder (not just scale focus).

    Anyways I am open to suggestions from you guys. I am not looking to necessarily build out a kit right now. One lens would be fine (I am a big fan of 35mm and 50mm in 24x36 terms).

    So what are some of your favorites in that price range?

    - Abram
    - Abram

    35mm / 120

  2. #2

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    I've a GS645s and a couple of TLRs. The image quality from the GS645s is really high. The lens is one of the best I've used in medium format. The downsides -- the viewfinder is excellent, but the rangefinder is not. Mine is faint and hard to see, and I gather that's common. The shutter is surprisingly loud for a leaf shutter, and I've had a few reliability problems with the frame spacing on mine, although I've not read of that as a common problem. The lens with the bumper around it is quite fragile and prone to damage, though.

    By contrast, the Rolleiflex, which I also use, is much much quieter and much more robust. For me the image quality is about on a par, although I prefer the rendering from the Planar on my Rollei and the extra stop/half-stop of speed and slightly closer focus distance is handy. I think it would come down to whether you prefer a slightly wider field of view and whether or not you like the ergonomics of a TLR and a waist level finder. For me, it's definitely the TLR, but the image quality from the GS645S won't disappoint. I've gone on trips before with the GS645S as my main camera and been very happy with the resulting photos.

  3. #3

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    Other than a TLR how about a RB67. Even though a little on the heavy side, best bang for the buck.

    Jeff

  4. #4
    bushpig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Kubach View Post
    Other than a TLR how about a RB67. Even though a little on the heavy side, best bang for the buck.

    Jeff
    I'm gonna second this. I've owned a couple of other medium format cameras, and I haven't touched any of them since getting my RB67. I have the Pro S and I'd recommend that over the original Pro or the SD for you. It sells for less than the SD and the SD doesn't really improve on the Pro S much. And it usually sells for equal to or very, very slightly more than the Pro and it adds the interlock features which are a big help. So I'd go with the Pro S if you decide on a RB67, unless you find a spectacular deal for one of the others, in which case, you can't go wrong with any.

    As for a Yashica 124g, if you're looking for budget, skip the 'g'. Not worth the extra money. And check out other TLRs as well, most of them will give you quality photos and the Yashica 124 is popular; therefore costing more than you need to spend.

    I own a Koni-Omega Rapid M. It's a 6x7 rangefinder. It's a cool camera, but rangefinders aren't my thing, so I picked up the RB and am probably going to give away my Koni (I have a friend getting into medium format as well). But if you happen to like rangefinders, it's a fantastic system, cheap (I got mine from ebay for $75 shipped), and the lenses, being Hexanon, are effing fantastic. Konica made some fantastic lenses and some hardcore bodies. Shame they bit the dust.

    But I digress. Basically, unless you're talking about toy cameras, you can't go too wrong with pretty much any medium format camera. Feel free to ask questions. I've found that APUG is one of the best photo communities on the net and have had only pleasant experiences here. And if possible, find places or people that will let you test out the cameras before you commit. If you can make it to Bakersfield in less than a month (I'm going on a trip), You can test out my RB67.

  5. #5
    sandermarijn's Avatar
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    I had a GS645s twice and sold it twice. To me this is one of those cameras that is better on paper than in real life. Some cons are personal, others more arguable:
    - the shutter is loud for being a leaf shutter
    - the shutter release button's travel is not so smooth, which negates some of the advantages of the vibration-free (if noisy) leaf shutter
    - the default orientation is vertical
    - the viewfinder is rather distorted and not very accurate (not as good as my Bessa R2A at least)
    - the rangefinder spot is not as clear and easy to use as some others (Bessa R2A again, no comparison)
    - I never really liked the focusing tab
    - there is some clutter on the smallish lens, with the aperture, shutter speeds and focusing ring all next to each other
    - the camera feels plasticky
    - the lens protection bar is not pretty
    - the lens is sharp but also very contrasty (typically Fuji), a bit too much so for b&w to my taste
    - the mfd (1m/3ft) is too long for a wide (60mm) lens
    It's not a terrible camera, just one that I could never quite like, even after trying hard.

    In the price range that you indicate (400-900 USD) a Rolleiflex with a 3.5 Planar/Xenotar would be the most likeable choice for me. I would avoid the Tessar/Xenar models. The Planars/Xenotars are better at wider apertures and have (much) flatter fields. A used but well-working Planar/Xenotar 3,5 (not mint or near mint) should just fit your budget.

    There are many (types of) medium format cameras around to choose from given your budget and preferencec. Maybe you should try to find out first what type of camera fits you best (rangefinder, SLR, TLR). Admittedly this is a difficult task if you've never handled one of each category.

  6. #6
    ozphoto's Avatar
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    I use an old Kodak Folder 6x9 for my quick and easy shooting and my GS1 for the more complicated stuff. (Although the Bronica is currently in AU.)

    The folder is fixed lens, guess the distance, f-stop and shutter speed (I don't have a light meter here in BKK) and the results I've got have been great. You'd be amazed the number of people who look and point at it, nodding and smiling; some have even pointed to explain they'd like to look and hold it.

    Guess the Thais appreciate the older stuff as much as embracing all the new tech stuff as well. . . . .

  7. #7

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    I forgot to mention to look up KEH to see what they have.

    Jeff

  8. #8
    lesm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozphoto View Post
    I use an old Kodak Folder 6x9 for my quick and easy shooting .
    I'd second an old folder and would add a Voigtlander Perkeo to the list. Great lenses, almost silent shutter, easy to load, dirt cheap, 6x6 format and slips into a jacket pocket. Stick a Voigtlander or some other rangefinder in the flash slot (try saying that after you've had a few), get a cheap light meter or just use sunny f16 and you're away.
    Another option is a 645, of which there are legions well within your price range. I love my Mamiya 645 1000s because it's solid metal and largely mechanical, but I believe the Pentax is excellent if you don't mind noisy motor drives.

  9. #9

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    If You are into metal cameras, then You might check what Jurgen Kreckel offers http://certo6.com/cameras
    If I am not mistaken, recently, SuzanneR got herself an Agfa folder from Jurgen.
    The discussion was over here http://www.apug.org/forums/forum51/9...e-formats.html

    When I need 6x6, I load super ikonta or messa, cant help it, runs in the family

  10. #10
    Jesper's Avatar
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    If you want something cheap and fun you could try a Moskva 6x9 folder.
    The image quality is not excellent but acceptable for most usage and it is a very non-threatening camera which is a good thing for street photography.

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