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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Build 35mm or add 645?

    Here's my current gear list..

    Canon EOS 3 (love it)
    Canon EOS 1000 (backup, rarely used)
    Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM (with hood)
    Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM (with hood)
    Canon EF 28-90mm f/4-5.6 USM (used only for the occasional wide shot)
    Holga 120S (i have yet to put a roll through it)

    I'm looking to spend about $600.00 USD on some new gear, and I'm a bit undecided at the moment. I've narrowed my choices down to three options..

    Option 1-
    Canon PB-E2
    Canon Speedlite 550EX

    Option 2-
    Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L USM

    Option 3-
    Mamiya 645E
    Mamiya-Sekor C 80mm f/2.8 N

    I usually shoot fine art from sprawling landscapes down to macros, and my commercial work consists primarily of fashion (I use a fellow photographer's RZ kit for this), product/advertising work, and the occasional portrait shoot. I enjoy the 35mm format which has worked for me just fine from day one, but I find myself wanting something more. I rarely shoot landscapes anymore (as much as I enjoy them) as 35mm just can't quite capture the detail I've fallen in love with thanks to images shot on larger formats. I like to print big.

    Now, I'm looking for some advice. Option 1 would be nice, though not necessary. I prefer to shoot with a grip and I could use the flash, though I can live without both. Option 2 would cure my desire for more reach as the 85mm leaves me wanting (I previously had a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM, but f/4 just isn't fast enough for me). Option 3 would get me the detail I long for and also lead me to purchase the Mamiya-Sekor C 45mm f/2.8 N and other lenses in the near future to build the system.

    I'm very tired, so this entire post may well be an intellectual trainwreck. I'll stop typing sans thought here and come back to revise once I've had a few pots of coffee. Thanks for any insight anyone can give, I really appreciate it.

    Rob
    robertaugust

  2. #2
    Canuck's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
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    Great White North
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    Greatest possiblilty for spending future monies lies with the 645 ... so my choice would be there

  3. #3
    Shmoo's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
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    Southern California
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    I went from an older Canon AE-1 with 3-4 lenses to a Mamiya 645E with comparable lenses...I haven't gone back to using the 35mm since. The only reservation I have is that the 645E model does not have a removable back like the 645 Pro TL. If I did it over again, I would get the Pro TL...or a Hasselblad...

    Of coure, after a year of the 645, I then went to 4x5...it's been downhill ever since!!!


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Westport, MA.
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    I was in a similar situation. I went with a Pentax 645. MF works much better for me.
    After having used the 645 for three years, I still want a larger negative.
    I don't really use my 35mm kit for anything more than a loaner for close friends or a rainy day walkaround camera. It's tough to say what would be best for you but i'm glad I bought my mf camera.

    ps- the zoom lenses for the p645 are supposed to be pretty nice. I know that's not what you were looking at, though..

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Cincinnati
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    I would look to adding a good flash to your Canon, but decide if you need all the bells and whistles of the 550, if not go with a 3rd party flash for half the money and think about picking up some used MF gear--prices are insanely low. I've gotten alot of mileage out of my TLRs over the last few years and am now actually dumping some of my 35mm gear to fund my new/used Mamiya 645 system. These are hard choices, but the difference in image quality is well worth it.

    Sean

  6. #6
    Allan Swindles's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Wirral, England.
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    I am a multi-format user. I use 35mm for macro and holiday walkabouts, 6x6 (Hass.) for portraiture/social/landscape and most other subjects if I can persuade myself to carry the gear and 5x4 for very serious stuff - 95% reversal. If I still had darkroom facilities, and time, I would do more with the Hass. and 5x4. If you like to print BIG go for at least 6x4.5. I, personally prefer square format (better for cropping, unless they now have rotating backs on 6x4.5/6x7). Bear in mind that med./large format gear is slower to use than 35mm. Does this matter to you?
    It's really down to the type of photographer you are and where your main interests lie.
    I could go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on..........
    Regards - Allan.
    I'm into painting with light - NOT painting by numbers!

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Do you have some specific role in mind for this new kit, or do you just have the money to spend? You can get a lot of film for 600 bucks, or go to some nice places to take pictures.

    David.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Well, since you mention not liking landscapes on 35mm, I suggest you get the Mamiya, or at least some other MF camera. 645 is three times the area from 35mm, and this is very noticable in prints, but I usually shoot 6x6 for convenience and because I happen to like square compositions. The case could be made for the Pentax 67 or whatever, but it'll be made by other people because I'm happy with my 6x6 SLR.

  9. #9
    Sean's Avatar
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    Aug 2002
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    New Zealand
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    I moved up to a Mamiya 645 Super kit, and absolutely love it, sorry not much to add, but you might want a Super that has removable back ability. I shoot polaroid 665 pack film on mine and clear the negs in the field, I can't get enough of those 665 negs

  10. #10
    Mongo's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Options 2 and 3 are almost in direct opposition to each other. MF is great for the detail you get, but long lenses in MF are still very expensive, and fast, long lenses are almost non-existant. To get the equivalent functionality in 645 as you'd get from the Canon 200/2.8, you'll probably have to sell your soul (along with the souls of some loved ones). I'll take the difference in these two options as a sign that you're looking for something to satisfy you, rather than something for a specific professional purpose.

    If I was in your shoes and had $600 to spend, I'd move on to option 4: A used Mamiya RB67 system. You can pick up an RB Pro-S, 120 back, waist level finder, and 127mm C lens for under $400 from KEH in Bargain grade. (If you wait a few weeks you'll probably find the same system with the 90mm lens at the same price; they just seem to be out of that configuration right now.)

    Admitedly, the RB isn't as easy to carry as a 645 system, but it isn't horrible either. You can use the system hand-held if you want to, but if it's detail in landscape that you're looking for then you want the biggest negatives you can get with good glass in front of them, all locked down on a good tripod. The RB is a great system for this. Plus, with the bellows built in, it's a decent macro system out of the box. For this price you don't get a light meter, but there are a lot of choices out there for less than the $200 you'd have left. (Igorcamera.com has a Soligar Zone VI modified spotmeter for $135...if ever there was a sleeper in light meters, this is it. Easy to use, easy to read, and very accurate...plus it takes regular 9V batteries. Mine's served me very well.)

    Don't be afraid of KEH's "Bargain" grade. They have a reasonable return policy, and the RB system I bought from them last year in bargain condition showed only wear around the back of the body and front of the film back; the rest of the camera was in amazing condition and has worked flawlessly from the day I got it. (KEH's Excellent, Excellent Plus, etc. grades are for collectors more than for users.)

    For detail in landscapes, nothing beats a bigger negative with good glass.
    Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.

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