Three systems to choose from, new to MF
I apologize for another "please help me I am clueless" thread, but I am sure you've got used to it by now.
I have been shooting 35mm since childhood and never thought about changing anything there, including the format. I love 35mm and that won't change. However, I have run into some equipment that made me very interested to try something bigger. I don't feel ready (and probably never will be) for LF but MF is a different story.
Anyway, there are three options that I am seriously considering:
- Mamiya C3
It's a like new looking, seem-to-be-fully-working system with four lenses 65/3.5, 80/2.8, 105/3.5 and 135/4.5. Various accessories too (hand grip, prism, plan film holders etc).
I like it because it looks great and TLR is in so many aspects different from my 35mm SLRs. Too bad a 180mm lens is missing (there's a leather case for it).
- Pentacon Six TL
Looks like new and there are two of them (one with problems could serve as a part source) with standard, WL and metering prisms, all kinds of accessories and four lenses: The standard CZ Jena 80/2.8 Biometar, Mir 65/3.5 and two Meyer-Optik Gorlitz lenses, Primotar 80/3.5 and Orestegor 300/4.
Being what it is this option feels like the easy way into the MF world, except my Nikons are about 10 times smaller and lighter. I know it has to be handled very carefully, which on its own would not pose a problem at all. General quality is unknown to me. Its finders are worst of all three systems. I have no idea how its lenses compare to Sekors and I only assume they are better than what I have for Salyut.
I took this one after realizing that the Hasselblad 500c had problems (flaps not working well). There are several of these cameras, all in fair to good condition (they all work though) and again four lenses: Vega 90/2.8, Mir 45/3.5 and 65/3.5 and Tair-33 300/4.5.
Like I said, Salyut was a consolation prize (Hasseblad is what I grabbed first and didn't look around much until I realized it wasn't in working state) but it doesn't seem too bad at all. Hasselblad's focusing screen is about million times better, but Salyut's is not unusable.
I like the WL finder, it's so big and fun to look in. Left being right and vice versa, not so much, but I believe I can learn to work with it. Finders, especially WL is a big plus for Mamiya and Salyut.
I like how P6 feels, being in like-new condition. Besides the size, focusing and handling in general feels like my Nikon. That's a plus.
I like that there are several Salyuts there and holding this type of camera feels just a bit more natural/simple than Mamiya. But Mamiya looks so interesting and fun... I have just run a roll of Ektar through the Salyut and need to get it processed to see what I've done. Working with it felt nice (though that Hasselblad was always on my mind).
Everyone is different so I know it's going to be up to me in the end. Nevertheless, I would like to hear if you think one system or another has characteristics that often attract people new to this format, or make them give up.
Basically, what would you start with?
Any other thoughts and/or advice will be appreciated too.
edit: damn, that's a long post...
Ouch, I forgot to say what I like to shoot. So, mainly architecture, street and portraits. I am highly mobile with my 35mm. Don't expect to be so with MF but I am not going to be standing somewhere for an hour planning the shot either.
Only have experience with the Mamiya (actually a C220) and they are solid, reliable beasts. The kit size and weight is great since the lenses are small and light. I never liked using it handheld though, but others do. There are prisms for the Mamiya (at least the later series). The lenses are quite good.
Thanks Mark. I have nothing against working with tripod, though I do expect to at least try shooting handheld because that's what I do 99.9% of time with 35mm. One of the things I like in WL finders is that it allows me to shoot low without having to lay flat on the ground (I am not 20 or 30 anymore). I do have a prism for C3.
Mamiya - better quality, easier to find repairman when needed, better lenses and it will likely be working when the others are trash.
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An interesting array of choices. I do not have the Mamiya, so I cannot comment there.
I do have both the Kiev-88 and the Kiev-88CM, and I just missed getting a nicely reworked Pentacon Six TL. There are eight lenses from the Zodiak-8B 3.5/30mm lens to the Tair-33B 4.5/300mm lens
The Pentacon Six is a solid performer once it has been checked and adjusted by a camera technician knowledgeable about the quirky FSU cameras. Trevor Allin at the www.pentaconsix.com web site is quite happy with his now. With the non-removable back, it does have an advantage over the Kiev Salyut, Kiev-88, and Kiev-88CM with its much greater resistance to light leaks. The frequent complaint about improper frame spacing can usually be traced to not following the correct procedure when loading the 120 film into the camera. The P-6 lens mount series is extensive, including tilt, shift, and tilt/shift lenses for architectural photography and wide panorama photographs, and there are tilt adapters and shift adapters for use with the regular lenses.
The Kiev Salyut, Kiev-88, and Kiev-88CM are a little different. The first two use the earlier screw thread mount similar to the original Hasselblad 1600F mount while the Kiev-88CM uses the Pentacon-Six or P-6 mount. Most of the lenses by the Kiev Arsenal were available in both mounts, and the Kiev-88CM can use the entire range of P-6 lenses including the CZJ, with a couple of exceptions where there are some physical incompatibility with one or two certain lenses. Some careful work may be needed to keep the backs or magazines light leak resistant. It can be a challenge. Many Kiev-88 owners just accept it as a way of life and use good quality black electrical tape around the magazine-to-body joint or a black hair tie around the joint to keep the light out. It usually works. The reliability can be really improved with the Kiev-88 cameras by having them checked by a good Kiev camera technician. We have a couple here in the United States, such as www.mechanicalcamerarepair.com in New York, and in Europe there is Arax Foto, www.araxfoto.com in Kiev, Ukraine. Both of these are known to be good, and Arax Foto will also do upgrades to your camera. These are only two on the list of people and organizations who still work on these cameras. I have more I can provide. By the way, if you talk to owners of the original Hasselblad 1600F and 1000F, they will also speak of their magazines being "temperamental."
Just as with the original Hasselblad view screen, there are other screens that are much brighter available for both the Pentacon-Six and the Kiev-88. In fact, if you want to, you can put a Hasselblad viewfinder screen and Hasselblad viewfinder onto your Kiev-88. They are interchangeable, and some Hasselblad owners have been known to put a Kiev Spot-TTL viewfinder onto their Hasselblad 500CM and other cameras. And, you can get some really curious looks from Hasselblad owners when they see you have a Hasselbland viewfinder on your Kiev-88.
And, for your future reference, there is a group right here on APUG for the "Bolshie Blads" or the medium format cameras from the FSU. Go to the "Groups" tab on the left side of the row of tabs along the top of the screen and look in the Groups Listing for "Bolshie Blads." I will probably be adding a list to the Files Section there providing information on many of the things just discussed with you here.
Ralph Javins, Latte Land, Washington
When they ask you; "How many Mega Pixels you got in your camera?"
just tell them; "I use activated silver bromide crystals tor my image storage media."
Ralph, thanks for that. I'll run some rolls through Mamiya and Pentacon and then see how it all feels. Good thing is I am not in a hurry.
Oh, and I will definitely check out the Bolshie Blads.
OBOS, Ralph is pretty knowledgeable on these things so you can trust him to give lots of info to confuse you even further You will have to be a subscriber to view/participate in the group area tho, so you might want to consider that.
As to what camera, well it seems that you have quite a collection to try from. Never having used either of those cameras myself I would suggest the Mamiya because they are a reliable camera. I do own several just not a TLR. as for the Pentacon, I have heard mixed reviews on them and there are several sites dedicated to them but again, I have never used one.
Thy heart -- thy heart! -- I wake and sigh,
And sleep to dream till day
Of the truth that gold can never buy
Of the bawbles that it may.
Ralph jumped ahead of me, on the Kiev 88's be sure to wind camera before changing shutter speeds. The Mamiya would be a keeper, but I would take any of the camera's. Steven.
My vote would be the C3. Of the 3 as they age, I suspect the C3 will stand the test of time better and as it was more plentiful in the US probably any repairs needed will be easier, especially if parts are required. I do like the series and had a hankering for something like the C330 Professional and a set of lenses but the timing was never right.