WL finders are great for handheld and shooting low. Not so great for tripod shooting as the camera lens ends up pretty low. I'm short so I probably have the problem worse than most. You have the prism so you can go either way. Personally, I'd stay away from the Salyut. Their reputation is a bit sketchy. The Russian cameras are a bit of a crapshoot... I have a great FED2.....and about 3 scrap screw mount Russian cameras!
I have C330f and a Pentacon 6. I have in the past had a Kiev 60 (not an 88 or Salyut).
My opinion is that the C330 is a very solid reliable first rate bit of professional kit. The C3 is similar, but with the added complication of separate shutter cocking. The lenses are pretty good. Now rather dated and not as easy to get repaired and serviced as it once was (it is officially out of support - although still probably easier to get repaired than a Salyut!)
It is still fairly easy to get lenses and accessories and there are a lot of accessories available. It can tackle pretty much anything - but the TLR layout means parrallex problems unless you use a paramender, which is a bit of a quirky work around.
The Pentecon 6 is less rugged and less reliable and also quite old, now. Get a good one and they are good. I'm quite fond of mine. It is possible to get them serviced by Pentecon or by a couple of independent technicians. The lenses range from reasonable to good for some of the Ukrainian ones to superb for the Carl Zeiss Jena ones. You can get better screens and also fit Kiev finders and prisms with an adaptor widget from Rolf Dieter (one of the service guys).
Being an SLR - it might be more familiar and comfortable for a 35mm SLR user, at the expense of a bit less ruggedness and reliability of the Mamiya.
If the Salyut is anything like the Kiev I had (and I think it is) then say well clear! They are cameras for enthusiasts more than photographers. Like a vintage motorbike or something - the appeal seems to be that with enough care and dedication, you can overcome all the difficulties and actually get it to work ;-)
just my humble opinion.
Last edited by steven_e007; 11-23-2011 at 06:52 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I have only ever have owned a Mamiya C330F from the cameras you list, but can support claims of reliability. I bought mine in the early 80's (used) when I was a student, and it is still going strong today (light amateur use). The lens' are good and take beautiful looking pictures (nice 'bokeh'?). The draw back for me is the widest lens is only 55mm. Otherwise I may never have bought another camera. Its my default camera for portraits these days and the 135mm lens will do an excellent job. The 105 is great for group shots, and the 65mm is a superb all-round general lens. I shoot mainly hand-held, and with the neck-strap tight and camera against my chest I can often get down to 1/15th sec without too much blur.
Best of luck with your choice.
The Mamiya is the conservative choice; sorta like choosing toyota over some unknowns. An interchangable lens TLR is probably the only tlr suitable for architecture.
If the Meyer lenses that come with the pentacon are trioplans, those could be a real treat for portrait / street use. I have a trioplan for my 4x5 camera and it's buttery bokeh smooth wide open, and sharp and smooth stopped down. Lots of aperture blades, nice "from another era" look at the wider openings without being softish.
I am a sucker for Mamiya too, I owned 3 over the past 40+ years. The C3 will give years of service with only basic service. I serviced mine a couple of times, including de-greasing the shutter blades and replacing the shutter main spring. I still use a C330f, but my C3 is still in service, a friend now uses it, along with my C220.
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Mamiya will be the safest choice mechanically speaking, they were built much better than the other two. The optics will be great on all of them depending on the lens (most lenses are good, save for a few of them). Past that, it's up to you if you'll be comfortable with a 35mm-like SLR, an interchangeable lens TLR or a system SLR.
A lot of good advice here, thanks all.
I have loaded the Pentacon (followed the strict procedure) so now I'll see how it feels in actual use.
Mamiya scares me a bit because it's so different. On the other hand, it's also the most intriguing of all three systems. Oh, and I was wondering what that "rail" among Mamiya's accessories was for. Then Steven (maybe someone else as well) mentioned paramender... so I have that too. The horror of abundance!
It's going to be fun, that's for sure.
One thing about the Pentacon Six is that it does not have an instant-return mirror. The mirror does not recover until you wind (with a very long stroke). This may or may not detract from the way you shoot. The optics are very good, the Biometar is a Planar-type and frankly is very hard to match at the price they sell for. The wide angles aren't necessarily expensive, but in my experience they are not particularly common. Watching a couple forums, I've seen maybe three in two years. The best name to look for here is Flecktogon. There's also an MIR(uncoated)/ARSAT(coated) 30mm fisheye that is very hard to beat for the price. I'm considering picking one up for this reason alone.
The Mamiya TLR system is solid. The lenses are all good for their design. Very good designs are available including a Heliar-type normal lens. It's also probably the heaviest and most awkward type, and if you don't like TLRs in general you won't like this TLR either. It does have enough bellows to get the lenses to focus closely, this is useful for portraits and the like. However, parallax is a killer for macro and if you want to do this I'd get a paramender. SLRs are better suited for this.
The Saylut is probably the best of the Soviet Hasselblad clones. It's still pretty finicky and the lens selection isn't as good as the Pentacon/Kiev. If I recall, parts like backs don't interchange with Hasselblad and are known to be somewhat fiddly. From what you mentioned it sounds like you won't really be happy with it. If you really want a Hasselblad, save and get one and don't waste your money now. If you really want medium format gear now, you could buy something else and eventually buy a H-blad too.
You should also consider a Kowa Six. Very nice cameras with great lenses that go for lots cheaper than Hasselblads. There's also the Bronica SQ too.
(disclosure: I have shot none of the above cameras, I'm speaking from reputation only. I shoot a Pentax 6x7, a Rolleiflex, and a couple folders)
Paul, thanks for advice.
Two lenses I will most likely look for, if I decide to keep the Pentacon, are the Flektogon 50/4 and Sonnar 180/2.8. Not exactly cheap, especially considering the overall price of Pentacon equipment, but apparently very, very good. The Orestegor 300/4 looks nice (in brand new condition) and, from what I've seen, can produce very nice pictures, but that thing is HEAVY even for me (weight of my bag is something I think about only when I return home tired).
I was actually surprised how solid Salyut-S feels in hands. I did pick it up from the pile only because I played around with the 500c and liked it so much, but it does not have that cheap feel many other cameras from USSR have. Like I said, handling it feels more natural to me than Mamiya C3. Primary reason for which I could decide against it is the lens selection and quality, though I could have a workable channel for that (getting the best from what exist, that is). Of course, at the moment all I say is what I hear so there is lots of shooting ahead for me before I come up with my own thoughts on quality.