lens considerations for MF

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lilmsmaggie

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I've tried searching the threads but no clear results with the exception of maybe several shooters choose a 50 mm lens for wide angle shooting.

I guess by now most APUG'ers know I'm a newbie. And now it appears I've taken my initial steps into the MF pond by acquiring a 6 x 4.5 120 back for a RZ67. No body yet, but I'm working on it. :D

I like shooting with my 28mm lens on my 35mm camera. Although at times, I find myself in situations where I wish I had a 24mm. My photog interests draw me towards landscapes and architecture. I don't think I'm a portrait photographer by nature. However, I will walk around with a 85mm lens just to see how I can compose the subject. I tried a somewhat Cartier-Bresson approach with my point and shoot digital and got some fairly good results.

Anyway, I need to start thinking about lens selection for MF.

So, "Damn the flaming; :tongue: - suggestions full speed ahead."
 
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I am guilty of using my 50mm on my RB67 the most. It just seems that the larger the negative, the more suitable it is to shoot with wide angle lenses, for me, at least. I must say that you may just like the 6x7 format better, I know that I do (I definitely shoot less in medium format compared to 35mm). I hardly ever shoot 220 these days, but I do keep a 220 back because they are so very cheap. The reason that I got an RB over an RZ was that I was going to use RB lenses anyway, even if I got an RZ, and no batteries (I like fully manual, mechanical cameras the best).
 

Mike1234

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Do you crop your 135 negs to 8x10 or your prints to 6.7x10? This makes a difference in effective "normal" FL. If you crop 135 film to 24x30mm then a normal lens is 38mm but if you print full frame then normal is 43mm. A normal lens for 6x4.5 is 70mm if you don't crop the film (print 8x10 proportions).

For FF w/ 645:
24/43*70 = 40mm WA to achieve the same FOV on 645 as a 24mm on your 135.

For FF w/ 67:
24/43*90 = 50mm

Why not use the 6x7 back? The RZ 50mm is excellent and is quite wide on 67.
 
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lilmsmaggie

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My photography instructor has us print FF - no crop. But even before this class, after reading one of Katrin Eismann's books, I've always tried to crop in camera. I realize that you sometimes capture undesirable elements in the frame because its unavoidable. I would think proper lens selection and composition would contribute considerably to the decision or necessity to crop.
 

polyglot

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The reason Mike asks about cropping is because it changes the aspect ratio. However, 35mm and 645 are not real different 3:2 and 4:3 so if you want to find a similar field of view, multiply the focal length you want (24-28) by the ratio of film sizes (56/36), which says you need a 37-43mm lens, which doesn't exist for RZ unless you want a fisheye.

I would recommend you buy a 6x7 120 back (about $75 from KEH) which will give you the full field of view provided by the RZ lenses. With 6x7 and the 50mm lens, you get about the same field of view as a 24mm. 65mm is like 32mm on a 35mm.

Edit: if you get the 6x7 back, you're down to 10 shots/roll instead of 16, which raises your costs a little. OTOH, you get to make bigger enlargements and they fit most paper sizes (multiples of 8x10) nearly perfectly, which means either less wasted paper or less negative cropped from the print.
 
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markbarendt

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The choice of lens, angle of view, essentially defines the "natural" viewing distance for the print.

For most shooting I like lenses to be close to "normal" in length because scenes look more normal in the print.

In my case, for a normal 16x20 print and 3-foot viewing distance, I'd probably use a 90 mm lens with 6x7 format film.

Shorter or longer lenses can distort the viewers perspective. If I used a 50 mm lens instead, the viewer would need to stand closer to the print (or want the print larger) to make the perspective look "normal", if I used a 150 mm lens the viewer would need to back away (or want a smaller print).
 
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lilmsmaggie

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OMG! you mean I need another 120 back for 6X7 ? I guess I've got much more to learn about this MF thingy than I thought. I was assuming there was an insert for 6x7 but obviously my assumption was wrong.

What's the purpose for the different 120 inserts versus different 120 backs? Replacement? Confusing is starting to set in.

So how do I get a better handle on my MF equipment needs so I'm not buying stuff I may or may not need or want? This will be my first foray into MF.
 
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I think that the "insert" that you mention is the part that goes inside the actual back and has the place to hold the spools and the pressure plate. Every back that I have seen for sale always includes that "insert," but I am certain that at least one unscrupulous seller has sold a back without the "insert," in an attempt to purposely mislead someone, so it can't hurt to ask a seller what parts are included, before purchasing.

I can honestly say that it is almost always much cheaper to purchase an RB67 or RZ67 as a kit (body, back, viewfinder, a lens or two, and so on), and then sell off what you don't use and buy what you will use, then it is to buy one part at a time...back, "insert," dark slide...and so on...

Make sure that you know what exact model that you want, instead of accidentally purchasing the wrong one...for example, I set out to buy an RB67 Pro-S, not a Pro, and not a Pro-SD. Note that RB lenses will work on an RZ body, but RZ lenses will not work on an RB body. RZ lenses are on average, noticeably costlier than their RB equivalents...at least, here they are.

Make sure to do your research on exactly what you want/need, and also, ask questions here, if any arise and cannot be answered through various searches. From my experience, the world of medium format is much simpler than the world of 35mm. Do not be intimidated.

And yes, your back is only for shooting 6.45cm. There are also backs for 120, 220, and 70mm formats, as well as various third party backs (like 6x6...hard to find)...there are 6x8 backs (a bit smaller than most 6x8 formats), sheet film backs, instant peel-apart film backs, and more. Why would you think that something advertised for one size would also work for another unadvertised size? If they did mislead you, then you should return it.
 
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lilmsmaggie

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Why would you think that something advertised for one size would also work for another unadvertised size? If they did mislead you, then you should return it.

Note I said in my post "I was assuming" No one mislead me. I just don't know enough about this particular camera but I appreciate the information you included in your post. Lots of good info there. Now I have a better idea what to expect and what to ask (relatively speaking that is).

The 6.45 120 holder I won on eBay is new complete with warranty registration card, dark slide (I can see it). I haven't broken any seals, or removed any tape so I could still sell it if I decided I don't want it.:smile:
 

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IMHO, there are really only three reasons to use a 6x4.5 back on a RB67 or RZ67:

1) you get more shots per roll when compared to a 6x7 or 6x8 back;
2) the rotating back is great for any rectangular format; and
3) if you like rectangular, and want to shoot and project transparencies, and your medium format projector isn't one of the relatively rare and expensive ones that are big enough to project 6x7.

I would reiterate what was said above - don't try to put together the core of your system by buying individual pieces. There are a lot of basic RB and RZ kits out there that include the basics - body, back, finder and lens.

Matt
 

polyglot

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Keep your 645 back if you want: having multiple backs is a good thing because it means you can load them all up with different films and swap them over while shooting and without having to finish a roll. Normally you'd use all the same format though.

Note the back has a window/gate that the film is exposed through: this defines the format. It's the area that the darkslide covers.

Since you have no body or presumably lens, definitely get a 110/2.8+body+WLF+120/6x7 kit (or put a kit like that together from KEH BGN-grade parts). Keep or resell the 645 back as you see fit. Buy a 50 once you're familiar with the camera and happy with how it works. The non-ULD 50 isn't very good (bad field curvature, soft corners) but the ULD is so expensive. Just use the 110 while saving for the wideangle.

The 180 is great too and very cheap.
 
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lilmsmaggie

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OK - lets start by clearing up any misconceptions: My intent is/was NOT to piece together a MF system.

I have my eye on three sources for a kit - KEH, B&H and Josuha Cohen (not necessarily in that order)
I have even priced out a new RB67 from B&H and have it on my wishlist there. I just happened upon this particular 120 back on eBay and went for it not expecting to win it, especially after seeing what a new 6x4.5 120 back goes for retail.

For less than $80 including shipping, I walked away with NIB 6 x 4.5 120 back. Not a bad deal; and now I'm beginning to realize that this particular format (6 x 4.5) is not that popular - hence the low, low price.

My REAL intent is to learn as much about this camera/system BEFORE I start laying down some serious money. I've always been drawn to Mamiya's cameras and lenses but up until now, they've been just way too expensive to seriously consider.

So-ooo, considering that I would be shooting mainly landscapes and architecture. I thought maybe a 90 or 110 might be handy as part of a kit (no rationale here: - just guessing) and something in the range of 50 to 65.

Remember - I'm a newbie, prone to dumb inexplicable choices. Help me out. Point me in the right direction so I can hit the ground running instead of hitting the ground stumbling.
 
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lilmsmaggie

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Just for giggles, this is what I have on my wishlist at B&H:

RB67 Pro SD w/ waist level finder
120 film back for SD
Mamiya KL 127 f3.5
Mamiya KL 65 f4

If there is any rationale for the choices above, it is to establish a pricing benchmark - nothing more.

I've also handled a used RB67 w/ 90mm lens, WLF and 120 back at my local camera store and I feel comfortable with the weight.

From my initial research, I know I can put together a kit with either the RB/RZ, 120 back, WLF and 90 or 110 for around $1K give or take a few bucks. Don't want/can't depend on the local camera store for much info. They're busy and I'd like to maintain my rapport and reputation as a "buying" customer not someone that hogs the sales staff time with umpteen questions.
 

Mike1234

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Okay then... I suggest you sell the 645 back for a profit and use the cash to buy a RB67 Pro-S system... or just go LF/ULF.

The question remains... what do YOU want? Perhaps a RB Pro-S w/ a 50/90/180 is a good choice??

How much do you want to spend and what are YOUR needs??
 

markbarendt

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So-ooo, considering that I would be shooting mainly landscapes and architecture.

You really need to nail down what format you want to use exactly because the 90 is normal on the 6x7 format and the 65 is wide. On the 645 the 90 is long and the 65 near normal.

Onward, the landscapes are typically no issue with lenses on the wide side. Architecture is tougher, straight lines and distortion can get ugly with the wider lenses if you are not careful. Similar problems in portraits BTW.

If architecture is truly a big and important part of what you like to shoot Tilt and Shift lenses are probably in your future so that you can "square up" your buildings. Also, if that is truly the case a Large Format camera, 4"x5" and up, may be a better choice. The LF cameras can "square up" better than any medium or small format camera.
 
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lilmsmaggie

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If architecture is truly a big and important part of what you like to shoot Tilt and Shift lenses are probably in your future so that you can "square up" your buildings. Also, if that is truly the case a Large Format camera, 4"x5" and up, may be a better choice. The LF cameras can "square up" better than any medium or small format camera.

Therein lies the rub -- I'm having trouble deciding between MF & LF.

tilt/shift lenses whether they be for 35mm or MF are an expensive proposition for someone not a professional. And yes, I have been considering going 4 X 5 instead.
 

keithwms

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And yes, I have been considering going 4 X 5 instead.

Well then get a complete crown graphic and put a 6x7 or 6x9 or 6x12 rollfilm back on it later if you want. If you hate the crown then you can turn around and sell it for ~100% of your investment. (If you hate the rb or rz, you will not get as good a return on your investment, they are depreciating rapidly. N.b. I am not saying the depreciation is justified; nor am I saying that the price of a film camera is in any logical way related to its value as a tool. I am just saying that this is the situation....)
 
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lilmsmaggie

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I know I want a larger negative than 35mm. I know what I want in terms of my photographic vision and pursuits (landscape & architecture), I'm just not sure how to get there from here. If money were no object, I'd probably buy a RZ67 PRO II D, and an Ebony 4 X 5 but I don't have the financial means to do that.

I think the best thing for me at this point is to hone my 35mm skills until such time that I can afford to make decisive decisions in terms of other available film formats.

To all those that have contributed responses - Thank you. With all due respect, at this juncture, I'm not sure we're on the same page in terms of my original post and I take full responsibility for perhaps not articulating clearly.
 

markbarendt

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Therein lies the rub -- I'm having trouble deciding between MF & LF.

tilt/shift lenses whether they be for 35mm or MF are an expensive proposition for someone not a professional. And yes, I have been considering going 4 X 5 instead.

If you are already thinking about 4x5 then I'd find someone close to you that that is giving a large format class or workshop and go play.
 
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lilmsmaggie

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If you are already thinking about 4x5 then I'd find someone close to you that that is giving a large format class or workshop and go play.

The college I attend only offers LF in the Spring. I need another class as prerequisite to take the LF class, so I'm looking at Spring 2011.

As far as workshops go -- there are none nearby. The only offering in California I'm aware of is $900+ otherwise I'm looking at traveling to New Mexico, Arizona or Colorado.
 
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lilmsmaggie

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BTW - those workshops are offered by Kim Weston and John Sexton.
 

polyglot

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While LF is where it's at for perspective correction, if you're scared off by the price of a shifting lens for RZ (~$800) then LF is not for you. While the cameras are cheap, the per-shot costs are much, much higher and there's a fair amount of learning to do. I would recommend using an MF camera for a little while and seeing if it suits you and/or makes a good replacement for what you're using 35mm for now. If you have it only a few months and shop carefully, you will lose nothing in depreciation.

For reference, I paid $160 for RZ+back+WLF and $220 for 110/2.8 on eBay, $72 for a second back and $130 for 180/4.5 from KEH. So about $750 with shipping and I have 2 backs and 2 lenses. I bought and sold a 50/4.5 W (didn't like corner quality) for no loss over a 3mo period. I think that's a pretty normal price for 2009, so if you're looking at $1k for a basic kit, that's too much unless maybe it's minty and really you don't need minty. While RBs are cheaper, RZs are lighter (still bulky) and have an electronic shutter that will never drift - worth the small premium. RZ-II really only gives you half-stops on shutter speed, which you don't need because you can select anything on the aperture for perfect exposure. The IID being digital-compatible is pointless as 35mm DSLRs have far overtaken what the only available mamiya d-back can do.
 
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lilmsmaggie

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so if you're looking at $1k for a basic kit, that's too much unless maybe it's minty and really you don't need minty.

polyglot,

Yeah, I been looking at minty stuff.

At this point I don't even feel like I know enough about MF to even pose any more questions :sad: but thanks for your input anyway. I received the latest marketplace brochure from KEH in the mail today.

Think I'll just sit back and browse throught it.
 

markbarendt

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Polyglot, you really are right about the per shot cost, but the reality is that the shot count with LF is much lower. Probably a wash in real dollars.

The LF gear can be had cheap too. I paid $100 for my calumet 4x5 with the 150mm lens, 7 holders, case, cable releases, polarizer, dark cloth, changing bag... That leaves me with $650 for film compared to your scenario.

Also LF isn't all that tough, it will take pictures just fine without adding movements and an RB in mirror up mode is just as complicated to operate, the LF just doesn't have the safeties.

If lilmsmaggie was interested in shooting weddings MF would probably be a choice but that's not the case here.
 

polyglot

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IMHO, minty costs much more than it's worth. If you're like me, you buy a camera to use, not to look at on a shelf with original papers and crap. Doesn't matter if there are a few scuffs on it as long as the optics are in perfect condition and all the mechanical/electrical things work as advertised. For an electronic camera like the RZ, you can get BGN grade at KEH (and which is often in better condition than "EXC+" stuff on eBay) that will serve you perfectly well. Getting E or LN stuff from KEH is nice, it will look a bit prettier but it won't take photos any better or be more reliable. And you'll pay 50% more for it.

markbarendt: Where on earth can I get such a deal!? Actually it's probably best if you don't tell me (SWMBO will kill me), but I would like to know for the near future :smile:

Obviously you expect to shoot less with LF but then I expected to shoot less with MF than 35mm. While it's true, it's not very true and I can easily burn a few rolls wandering around in a day, particularly if there's some event on. I have a DSLR for snapshotty things, high-speed stuff (birding/sports) and affordable colour (not as good as a 6x7 chrome, but still pretty damn good) but if I didn't then I would be shooting a hell of a lot more MF film.

I think a similar relationship between MF and LF would exist - if you don't have some other means (like an MF system) of taking technically-basic but high quality shots then you will use the LF system for many more shots than is otherwise necessary. 90% of the time you don't need movements or the ability to enlarge past 20x24" so for that 90% of the time, IMHO it makes sense to use something like an MF system to take those shots. I'd like a 4x5" for the last 10%; it just hasn't entered my life yet :wink:

As for maggie - browse the KEH catalogue, get a feel for the numbers. If you're keeping your 35mm system and/or have a DSLR, then I don't see much point in a 645 system because you've already got the portability bit covered; I'm assuming what you want is something that can be put on a tripod, used in a considered way and get you bigger/finer enlargements than you can from 35mm. Go the whole hog and get 6x7, for which (IMHO and plenty will disagree here) the RZ is the best choice, but you do need the 6x7 back. You can shoot an RZ handheld but in a much more limited way than 645 or 35mm because the lenses are longer and slower. KEH sells complete kits, but (if buying all from KEH) I've noticed you can often do better than the kit prices by picking and choosing the individual parts you want. Picking and choosing separate parts from separate sellers is madness because of the shipping costs, especially if you're outside the US like me.

Once you have a complete kit of body, back, WLF and a lens in your hands, it will all make much more sense. Don't worry that you don't know enough about MF, just get the camera and use it and it will all be clear.
 
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