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HiNDri

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Hi all,

Newbie here. I'm a semi-pro I guess, and shoot regularly with a pair of pro-body Canons accompanied by the appropriate equipment. I for one am truly appreciative of digital and the opportunities and new abilities digital has provided. That said, I have found myself of late bothered by some of its limitations. I began shooting in the 60's with a battered Leica IIIc only in black and white and there was a purity and simplicity in that experience that I've lost in the complexity of what I now do. Also, I find that no matter what approach I take, I am not pleased with the results of my B&W conversions, particularly when I print them large. With all this in mind, I've been looking at getting into some sort of medium format B&W kit.

It was thru some sort of serendipitous banging around that I stumbled upon this collection of curmudgeons and antiquarians :smile: and I'm glad to have found you! Quite a collection of experience here and of course no shortage of opinions!

I have been pleased to find that even legendary cameras are now affordable. Wow! a Hassy for $500 USD! Given the current economic melodrama, I don't have a great deal to invest in this venture so I've been looking at the Mamiya 645 which seems to provide quite a bit of "bang for the buck." I intend to use this camera mostly for landscape, still life, and "art" whatever that is.

I've found a Mamiya 645 Pro without viewfinder, lens, or back for about $100 USD. It is in excellent shape and seller warranties it to be working. That seems to be a reasonable price. My question to this group is how do I determine what accessories will fit to this camera and given the uses I wish to make of it what do you recommend in the way of finders, lenses, and backs? Also, Is this the best of the 645s to work with? Can the Pro take a digital back? Would someone direct me to a link providing me with comprehensive information on the Mamiya 645? So far I haven't found one.

Any direction you can provide this obvious tyro would be greatly appreciated! I've been sitting here trying to recall the steps necessary in developing B&W film. Had to go searching the Net cause I couldn't even remember. Sheez!

Robert
 

Mark Antony

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Welcome to APUG. There are quite a few bargains in MF cameras the one you mention as well as 6x7 Mamiya RB are nice cameras.
There is loads of info on the internet KEH seem to have 645 bodies at about $70-150 USD and standard lenses for $50-100 backs $50-90 so I guess that is about the rate. I see whole camera kits for $300-500 likewise for Bronica ETRS and prices lower (200ish) for bargain condition.
I would rather have a 6x7 RB at $300-500 for a whole outfit.
Mark
 

photomem

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You would have to use an adapter to put a digital back on a 645 Pro, at least that is my understanding. It might be worth it to consider getting a Mamiya 645AFD if you want immediate digital compatibility or get a Mamiya 645 AF if you are wanting the ability to go to digital eventually (you can send it into Mamiya and have an upgrade done, but it is around 400.00 if I remember correctly.) Thing is, on the Mamiya 645AF has the viewfinder integrated into the body.
 

keithwms

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I've found a Mamiya 645 Pro without viewfinder, lens, or back for about $100 USD. It is in excellent shape and seller warranties it to be working. That seems to be a reasonable price. My question to this group is how do I determine what accessories will fit to this camera...

A chart like this may helkp you. I think this is for the super not the pro, but it is quite similar. as you see it is a rather modular system.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...tem.svg/800px-Mamiya_645_Super_system.svg.png

and given the uses I wish to make of it what do you recommend in the way of finders, lenses, and backs?

I'd start with an 80/2.8 or 80/1.9, a waist level or metering prism, and an ordinary 120 rollfilm back, that would be my recommendation. You might want the electronic winder... but I normally use the camera without one. I like the smallest configuration. but bear in mind that compoisng with the WLF with the camera held sideways is a *pain*.... if you plan to do a lot of vertical comps you will quickly want a prism finder.


Also, Is this the best of the 645s to work with? Can the Pro take a digital back? Would someone direct me to a link providing me with comprehensive information on the Mamiya 645? So far I haven't found one.

Yes but as noted above, there are now several generations of afd cameras better suited to digital because they share the lens info with the back.

And I agree that I would also consider the rb/rz systems.... especially if handheld quickshooting isn't your normal mode.
 

Mike1234

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I agree with Mark. The RB67 is tough to beat for the money and the 67 neg is noticibly better than a 645. If portability is an issue then the 645 may be a better choice but I'd go for the 67.
 
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HiNDri

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Thanks, for all the responses. As noted above, I'm starting from the ground up. I've gone looking around at RB based on the collective wisdom here and found a RB67 Pro SD body at $185 USD. To this I would need to add at a minimum a finder, a lens and a film back. How do I determine which accessories will work with this model of RB? Also, Isn't the RB said to be heavy. I thought I'd read that it weighted approximately 6 lbs though I don't know what that included.

Robert
 

Steve Smith

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Yet another vote for the RB67. Possibly the best bargain in the MF world at the moment.


Steve.
 
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I have to also endorse the RB67. I use mine all the time. I purposely purchased a nice Pro-S model so that I didn't need adapter rings for my lenses (you're supposed to use lens adapter rings on the Pro-SD, except with the shift lens and the f/5.6 500mm, which take advantage of the SD's wider mouth, but you can fudge it and go without the rings...personally, I would not). If you purchase a Pro-S, then you can't use the tilt lens or the f/5.6 500mm (the slower 500mm still works fine), but they are so expensive anyway, I would purchase a nice large format setup and have money to spare before I buy those two lenses.
 

Mike1234

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Yes, the RB67 is big, heavy, and clunky. But it's tough as nails and the lenses are excellent though I suggest you look for the MC versions. However, the SC ones are quite good so if a bargain comes along don't hesitate. Second the Pro-S version.
 

Pasto

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I agree with most of what was said about the rb as a good choice. This was my first MF camera. However, I quickly began to dislike the lenses. In particular, the 80mm Sekor C was not a good lens. It had very poor sharpness and contrast. I was really wondering about my jump from a Nikon system to MF. I then bought a 50mm Sekor C. This one was better but still not great. I photograph store fronts and builiding sides a lot (i.e., flat fields) and the poor sharpness of the lens, particularly away from the centre of the lens, ruined many pictures. I even tried different versions of the 50mm and never did find a lens I liked. I sold the RB and spent considerable more for a Mamiya 6. Now I'm in heaven. The M6 lenses are increadibly sharp. When I want a softer look (e.g., a portrait), I just put on a filter. I regret not investing in the M6 earlier. Yes, it is more expensive than an RB, but.............just my 2 cents....
 

Mike1234

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I had an RB Pro-S (long ago) with the 50-C, 90, and 180 lenses. All were excellent but I wasn't shooting flat subjects straight on.

Oh, I also had the fisheye which was quite good too.
 
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An RZ67 can use many RB67 items. While it might cost a bit more, they tend to be a little bit better overall. The downside of both of these is that they weigh a ton. Of course, for something truly weighty, try out a Fuji 680 (not the rangefinder).

One thing to remember with medium format is that you really do not need a ton of lenses like you would use with 35mm. There is so much more film area, that cropping becomes an often used choice when printing.

Ciao!

Gordon Moat Photography
 

keithwms

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I agree with most of what was said about the rb as a good choice. This was my first MF camera. However, I quickly began to dislike the lenses. In particular, the 80mm Sekor C was not a good lens.

There is no such lens for the rb.

I do agree that the 50mm for the mamiya 6 is superior to the 50 for the rb. The rz 50 uld is also considerably better than the rb 50, alas there is no 50 uld for the rb. Anyway, the standout lenses in the rb lineup are, in my opinion, the 65 KL, the 127 KL, and the 210 KL apo. I also have the rb 90, the 150 SF and the 180 and do not regard them quite as highly (though they are still very good). I had the rb 50; it was the only rb lens I totally couldn't get along with.

~~~

One mustn't forget that the rb is a 6x8 camera... you can 6x8 with the motorized 6x8 back, and there are other options as well. It is very modular. At the moment I am playing with shooting glass plates in my rb.
 
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The prices you're listing really aren't that great compared to some of the deals you can find. My brother just bought a 645 1000s body for something like $40, and I just sold a RB67 Pro-SD body on ebay for $90 (i think..) and i've seen them for even cheaper. In any case, they're both great cameras, though I prefer the bigger negative of the RZ/RB cameras.
 

Mike1234

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You don't know on which site you sold your RB Pro-SD for $90?? How much was the shipping?? What condition was it in??
 

keithwms

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While I agree that a bigger neg or slide is usually preferable to a smaller one, it isn't terribly helpful to keep stating that point over and over, ad nauseum, without remembering that the rb lenses are quite slow compared to several excellent (and very affordable and very compact) 645 lenses. If the decision were all about neg area per dollar then we might all be shooting crown graphics.

Yes, the size of the 645 neg is ~half that of the 6x7 neg, the simple math is (there was a url link here which no longer exists). But... and this a big but, many of the 645 lenses are also a stop or more faster than their 6x7 counterparts in the rb/rz lineup. (N.b. the rz 110/2.8 is the fastest lens in the rb/rz lineup; the fastest rb lens is f/3.5, IIRC) Also there is but one zoom in the rb/rz lineup, and it's a slow one... and that is an issue for some. So I'd ask a newcomer to keep those things in mind.... let the lenses guide the decision, not some theoreticals & hypotheticals about format advantage that may not even apply in your case. Especially to someone coming from a 35mm background, it can be quite a surprise to see just how slow many MF and LF lenses are. You might jump in expecting to see all kinds of format advantage... but when shooting at ISO 800 and beyond that all goes to heck. The same available light shot that you can do at ISO 400 on 645, you might be shooting at 800 on 6x7. (or ISO 160 in 35mm format!) And then there is the annoyance of trying to compose in low light through a fairly dark lens when you have no focus confirmation.

So... different tools for different purposes. One really has to keep that in mind. Listen, I am a huge fan of the rb/rz... but .... 645 has its undeniable strengths.
 
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You don't know on which site you sold your RB Pro-SD for $90?? How much was the shipping?? What condition was it in??

It was on ebay. I think it was about $90 but i don't remember exactly, Shipped in a regular flat rate box and in relatively good condition. I've seen whole cameras, body, lens, back, finder and all, sell for less than twice that.
 

2F/2F

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M645 is a good choice to get back into shooting film, IMO. It has a lot of the benefits of small format, and a lot of the benefits of medium format. They are simple, affordable, and solid cameras.

I would wait and shop until you find one that comes as a kit, rather than buying a bare body and adding the necessary components with separate purchases. The best deals are in kits. Separate components add up.

You will spend more for a Pro than you will for one of the earlier models, but you do get exchangeable magazines that way. If you get a Pro in kit form, it still won't be all that much, considering how much you can do with the camera.

I love my M645 system. I have two '70s bodies (one plain, one 1000S), the 55 and two 80s (2.8 and 1.9). It is an almost flawless system, IMO. I can do most things I set out to do with it, with very little hassle. One day, I will get a Pro, just for the exchangeable magazines, but for now I just use my RZ for situations which require this feature.
 

keithwms

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P.S. One extra thing, there are three new lenses in the Mamiya 645 lineup that permit flash synch to 1/1600 sec.... the 55/2.8, 80/2.8, and 110/2.8 LS D lenses. They are Schneider designs and I think they are going to cause quite a stir (if the crazywide aspherical 28/4.5 didn't already). Something else to keep in mind.

P.P.S. Just to expand on my comment about rb lenses being substantially slower than the 645 counterparts... the fastest rb lenses are the 127 and 90/3.5. Next there are the 65 and 150 SF f/4 lenses. All the others are f/4.5 or slower. So, excellent lenses... but slowish for some purposes.
 
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[...] So, excellent lenses... but slowish for some purposes.

True, I wouldn't shoot birds with my RB67 (well, I have, but I find it easier to get good DOF and speed with 135 format, when shooting birds).

For people, like me, who hardly ever shoot wide open (I like to stop down up to 2 stops, except on telephotos/super-telephotos), shooting at f/5.6 to f/8 with an RB67 is no big deal at all. Like what was said, it depends on your purpose.

If lens speed is the main priority over image size, you can't beat 135 format cameras (especially the quality and choice of lenses at extremely reasonable prices).
 

Pasto

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There is no such lens for the rb.

Absolutely correct, I meant to say 90mm C. I still think that the rb lenses are inferior to those of many other MF cameras I've tried including the modestly priced Mamiya C-series TLRs, and several MF folders including the Perkeo II with color scopar. On the other hand, if you're looking for a system camera, the rb is hard to beat. You'll just have to choose the camera that will help you acheive your goals.
 
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HiNDri

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Lots of helpful information here and certainly no shortage of opinions :smile: I appreciate all of it.

I've been doing due diligence on the RB67 and it is interesting. I'm seeing the two systems like this:

Negative size: advantage obviously to the RB but the 645 is still a big enough neg to provide for good enlargement.

Price: advantage seems to go to the 645. Best I can tell full systems are running $150 to $200 less than the RB67. Lenses seem to be significantly more expensive for the RB.

Handling: again the 645. Appears that the RB was intended to be a studio camera which is why the lenses are also slower. I'm guessing it was designed to work in controlled lighting. Also, at 6+ pounds, needs a tripod. The grip on the 645 seems to make it fairly manageable in the field which is where I would be using it.

Durability: probably goes to the RB67. The thing is akin to a rock.

Accessories: Clearly the 645 is in the lead here. Quite a bit available.

The real advantage of the RB67 in my mind is its larger format. I don't have the experience to know how important this greater scale will be but then there is nothing that says one can't have both :D

I noticed an ebay seller wkcrs in Hong Kong that claims to be selling new RB67 with two lenses, two backs, for $990 shipped. Has anyone heard of this guy? Is it possible that there are still new RB67s around?

Finally, does anyone have a suggestion on how I can understand the difference between the capabilities of the 6x4.5 negative vs the 6x7 negative? I understand the numbers, but what does this mean in terms of resolution and how large one can create prints and images?

Thanks all,

Robert
 

Q.G.

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Finally, does anyone have a suggestion on how I can understand the difference between the capabilities of the 6x4.5 negative vs the 6x7 negative? I understand the numbers, but what does this mean in terms of resolution and how large one can create prints and images?

Take a negative. Doesn't matter at all what negative.
And make a print.

Then make another one of the same negative, 1.3x larger.

The image quality in the larger print represents the image quality of a 6x4.5 negative in terms of grain and resolving power, compared to the smaller print, which represents the 6x7 image quality.
 

MattKing

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I noticed an ebay seller wkcrs in Hong Kong that claims to be selling new RB67 with two lenses, two backs, for $990 shipped. Has anyone heard of this guy? Is it possible that there are still new RB67s around?

You may want to review this thread:

(there was a url link here which no longer exists)

Matt
 
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