mf rangefinder hunt....
i shoot mostly 4x5 and 35mm right now, but am starting to jones for a mf camera. so i have started saving for a mf rangefinder. i am looking for any of the following: mamiya 7 or 7II, bronica 645 or fuji 645zii autofocus. i mostly shoot landscapes or architecture style(when shooting with my 4x5). but i miss my old longing for a good 645 or 67 based rangefinder. anyone own any of these??? let me know your thoughts on them. i used to own a rollei tlr tessar mx and miss it sooo! would anyone here be able to help me out and maybe even post some pics to give me an idea of these cameras ability?? i look forward to your replies.
I shoot all the formats from 810 to 35mm and when I'm doing what I like best, I use a 57, but I have the Mamiya 7 (non 2) with 43mm, 80mm, and 150mm. A great combo. It doesn't do macro, but everything else is superb. When I take just one camera, this is the one. Quiet. Nice size neg. Good meter. Easy to use. I also use a Pentax 67ii, but it doesn't get much use except for closeup work. I had Hassies in the old days, but the square drives me nuts. I like Fuji 69s for the format, but the shutter was so LOUD and it didn't have a meter or any auto function. If I'm going to use a smaller camera, it is so I can work faster.
The original M7 bodies are pretty cheap, but the lenses have become fairly expensive. If you like wide angle, the 43 mm is one of the finest lenses made.
I've had a Mamiya Press Super 23 and a Universal for decades. They are versatile cameras, but heavy and bulky for carrying long distances. They can be fitted with a GG back, and the Super 23 has limited back movements - with limited usefulness. The lenses are pretty good - I have the 50, 75, 100/2.8 and the 150. The 50 is an astonishingly good lens, and impressively wide on 6x9. You can use it like a moderate shift lens on 6x6 or 6x7 (with the 6x9 back) - which is my quick and dirty way of doing architecture. I don't bother much with the 150 and have never bothered getting the 250. The film holders are among the best I've used. Prices are attractive. No metering, of course.
I've also had a Plaubel Makina 67 for ages, and added a W67 recently. I think that these are great cameras, but a lot of people don't like them. The shutter is noisy for a rangefinder. They both have excellent Nikkor lenses (80 mm and 55 mm respectively). The 67 is fairly easy to get, the W67 not so. Like other folders they are easy to carry. Good metering.
I got the Mamiya 7 II as an easy-to-carry replacement for the Press for those times when I might need a selection of lenses and so the Makina 67 would not be adequate. I have the 43, 65 and 150, with the 65 being my favourite. That's the widest of the lenses that doesn't need an auxiliary viewfinder. If it wasn't so bulky in comparison to the Makinas, I'd carry the 7 with the 65 much more because that is my preference in focal lengths. Good metering.
I am confused. You say you are getting a "Jones" for a MF RF. You mean with your "Johnson"?
I have had a Fuji 6x4.5 with a fixed 90/4. It was superb, but for some reason I sold it a few years ago. Deeply missing it, I bought a Fuji 6x4.5 GS645S (fixed wide 60/4) last year. A trustful companion that is light and easily fits in my smallest camera bag. The optics are great, the handling logical, and the built in meter is very accurate. I highly recommend it.
I have couple of RF645 bodies and the 65 and 45 lenses. Smaller neg, but a smaller camera (much more so than the specs suggest). I adore mine and if you want to use it for street stuff to, the vertical finder and more shots per roll, as well as the ability to generate grain on the smaller negs is the clincher. The lenses are really superb, not good, but astonishing and I would bet that they are in the league of the Mamiya 7 lenses.
If you want to save pennies, try Robert White, as he is doing the RF645 with 65 and 45mm for £650 (plus 17.5% tax for UK). That is just a give away.
As much as I like the Mamiya 7, it was too big, had too few shots per roll and the lenses are too expensive. The Bronny is ergonimically great, much more solid IMO, but the neg is an inch smaller ! But look at what you can get for £650...
I use a Mamiya 6 it is a 6x6, but an excellent camera:
good to great (in AE) meter;
an ergonomic masterpiece;
repairs are becoming difficult to impossible due to parts availability;
lenses are limited to 50, 75 and 150 (the 50 and 150 are fantastic).
I also have the old Mamiya Universal system. A very complete and clean system with 50mm, 75mm, 2.8 100mm, 127mm, and 150mm. It has at least 2 backs, 6X7 and 6X9 roll, and it has the ground glass viewer. The rangefinder works with 100 and 150 and it's easy to include the 127. The 50 and 75 have accy finders. It was my "color" camera for many years but the last time it was used has been about 3 years now so I suppose it could be sold. I did a large grant for Pioneer Territory Nevada and made 14 mural size photos that are on permanent display. It's one of the few system cameras that lets you choose between 6X7 or 6X9. There were also Polaroid pack film backs for it but I don't have one of those. If you're interested I'll price the stuff out and make a package price for you.
I'm pretty happy with my Moskva-5, though it's a little bulky for 6x6 if I put the mask in; it's also hard to hand hold steadily. There are a number of very nice Zeiss-Ikon 6x6 and 6x4.5 folders with excellent lenses and coupled RF; they're capable of producing excellent images and will fit in a suit coat pocket. Better, they can be had in freshly serviced condition for under $300, sometimes less, or can be purchased in "servicing needed" condition and brought up to snuff for even less, with a little care.
I doubt there's a lens you can buy for anything like a Mamiya that's a lot better than a Tessar, unless you enlarge to a huge degree -- and with a folder, compact light meter, and two or three rolls of film in a pocket, you're prepared at all times with hardly a bulge.
I have a Fuji Gs645 (the folder) which I really like. For the money I think it is a great camera, but they are easy to break and will need $100 worth of servicing every few years. Also, if the bellows has not been replaced already by Fuji then it will need to be done. There is a shop called CameraWiz that did a shutter repair for me. I believe they are considered the authority on fuji rangefinder repairs in the states. They certainly did a fine job on mine. Also, the flash mount does not work on mine, which I think is a common problem. The PC does work though. And the lenshood/filter holder is hard to find and takes 40.5mm filters. But, you can find one for around $450 probably.