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  1. #1

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    medium format rangefinder

    hi,

    i would like to know some first hand experience on any of 120 film rangefinder camera, i'm thinking of buying a bronica rf, mamiya 7 or a mamiya 6.
    We are looking for a semi fast action camera, i've already a nice mamiya rb with few lenses that i use mainly for slow down work, i love it but is a pain to take it outdoors and trying to do some street work with it.
    If i have to use a light meter and tripod my mamiya rb is my first choice, so i'm looking for something with accurate meter, fast response, and it must be lowlight friendly. I first tought that a nice rolleiflex, a pentax 67 or any fuji rangefinder will do the job, but not accurate meters or no meters at all and poor low light performance discard these options.
    My budget is 1000$, a 35mm rangefinder (like a bessa with 40mm 1,4) sounds appelling too, but i've also a complete nikon slr outfit and i don't know if i will gain that much in low light situations with a rangefinder compared to a 35mm slr.
    Any ideas? btw i would love to rent and try but here there isn't any rental shops around.

    jp

  2. #2
    Mark Antony's Avatar
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    Well I use a Fuji RF, sure you'd need a lightmeter but in my opinion its something everyone should have.
    I use the Fuji for some low light work and have found it pretty good for a camera with a F3,5 lens

    the above was wide open at 1/15 sec on Delta 3200 film.
    I can't imagine getting much better results with a 35mm with F1,4-F2 lens and 400 speed film and the Fuji is quite light.
    Mark

  3. #3

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    Unfortunately, if low-light performance is your goal, then I don't think any of the medium format RF cameras will be good choices, because you can't get fast lenses. The Mamiya 6/7 are awesome cameras, but the normal lenses are f/3.5 or f/4. You'd be forced to push film to EI 800 or use Delta 3200 to get the same shutter speeds you'd get with a Leica or Bessa and an f/1.4 lens at ISO 100. It's really too bad, as the Mamiyas are amazing cameras otherwise.

  4. #4
    brian steinberger's Avatar
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    JP, fortunately for you, I own all three of the cameras you are looking at! For what you want the Bronica RF645 would be the best fit you. The only thing that you might need to get used to is the vertical viewfinder orientation. Other than that, great lightweight camera with a very accurate meter, more accurate than the Mamiya 6 or 7. As far as low light, rangefinders are good in general since you're not looking through the lens, plus focusing is easier. The Mamiya 6 and 7 are excellent cameras and what makes these systems great is the optics. Amazing lenses! But I don't believe the meter is as accurate as the RF645 or are as quick and easy to handle as the RF645. The Mamiya 6 and 7 are almost identical to use, just one is 6x6 and one is 6x7. The Mamiya 7 has more external viewfinders to fiddle with when it comes to wide angle lenses. The 6 is nicer in this regard, as the framelines for the 50 is in the viewfinder, requiring no external finder. If I had to choose between the Mamiya 6 and 7 in your instance, I would go for the Mamiya 6. Plus the 6 also has a retractable lens.

    But overall I think your best fit would be the Bronica RF645. Hope this helps. Good luck with your choice!

  5. #5
    Leighgion's Avatar
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    I love shooting medium format, but if ultimate low light capability is your goal, it's not really a good arena to look in because you can't get fast enough lenses. Being stuck at f/3.5 is torture in dim light no matter where you push your film to.

    If you went with a Bessa and an f/1.4, what you'd gain over your Nikon kit is the potential for better handholdability at lower shutter speeds as well as access to even faster lenses should you eventually decided to throw down the cash for them. Cosina-Voigtlander just put out a 50mm f/1.1 that, while still pricey, goes for a fraction of the price of a Noctilux usury.

  6. #6

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    I used to own a Bronica RF645. I really liked it, but I lost faith in the film transport after it was replaced under warranty. So I sold it and bought a Mamiya 7II. Great camera, but I still use 35mm in low light because I can shoot at f/1.4 and still get fair DOF. I'm generally stopped down 2 stops on 67 to get DOF comparable to 35mm.

  7. #7
    keithwms's Avatar
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    I assume by "fast" you mean faster to set up and compose and shoot than an rb. Which is not a very tall order As mentioned, there are very few MFRF offerings with fast lenses, but something like a fuji ga645zi may fit the bill for your needs. I very much like the vertical 645 format and the camera is very useful as long as you don't need shallow DOF. A very good travel camera. I had a ga645zi and a ga645w for some time before going for the mamiya 6. No regrets on that move, but I did think *very* highly of the Fujis and they'd make excellent travel/walkaround companions. Very contrasty lenses well suited to landscape, documentary, and street styles of shooting. Not the right choice for portraiture and shallow DOF work in general, but... none of the MFRFs are IMHO.

    I think the dante stella site has some info on the fujis.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  8. #8

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    You can also get one of those little voigtlander on camera meters

  9. #9

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    than you so much for your comments, nice ideas!
    fuji rangefinders look good especially 6x7 (love this format) but i don't want to carry a lightmeter for snapshots (even a tiny one) and 645 fujis are autofocus (i hate them), well i saw a gs645 it looks good based on the specs and portrait orientation is what i do most, but fixed lens can be a little frustated in the future, otherwise is quite cheap.
    Bronica and mamiyas rangefinders are what sound more appelling now, i prefer big negs and slow lenses than ultra fast lenses on 35mm, and i've got quite a few for my nikons. Bronica and 6x4,5 negs turn to less film changing on the field and smaller format means better DOF so i start looking for one, quite tough task, there aren't much around.
    for Robert Budding: i've heard all that problems with bronica and their film transport, is that bad and usual??

    btw if you see one bronica let me know pls.

    thanks for your time!!

    jp

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by peri24 View Post
    for Robert Budding: i've heard all that problems with bronica and their film transport, is that bad and usual??

    btw if you see one bronica let me know pls.

    thanks for your time!!

    jp
    Happy to share my experiences. I used to frequent rangefinderforum.com and found that quite a few folks had problems with the film transport. My own camera did advance, but it felt rough and would catch. I'd jiggle the film lever and it would advance. Bronica replaced the transport under warranty, and it worked well for about 25 rolls. Then it developed a slight roughness, at which point I sold it and three lenses (I was lucky to have a hard-to-find mint 100mm lens).

    So now I have the gray market Mamiya 7 II which Mamiya USA will not service. No worries, though, because Precision Camera Works can do any service that's necessary. It's a great camera and lenses are readily available. The metering is very good, and it light and easy to carry.

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