Medium Format Camera Buyers Guide

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by JADoss23, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. JADoss23

    JADoss23 Subscriber

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    I recently acquired a Mamiya m645 and after shooting with it a bit decided it may be overkill since I already have an RB67. the 645 doesn't do anything the 67 does just a bit smaller and can get a few more frames out of it with the 645 format. I know it's all objective but was curious what people thought as to whether or not to keep the 645 or go with another route. I love the RB67 and it works great with portraits which is what I will primarily use it for but have taken some nature photos as I don't mind handholding it. Any advice on picking a different medium format that does something the RB or 645 doesn't do or would I be wise to keep the 645. All opinions but curious to here people's experiences.
     
  2. mnemosyne

    mnemosyne Subscriber

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    For me the RB67 is a studio camera to be used from tripod. The 645 is a highly portable camera that can be easily shot handheld. So, quite different camers with different applications and capabilities in my eyes. BUT, as you don't mind schlepping around the RB67 and handholding it as you say I really don't see what the 645 could do for you that the 67 can't. Apart from the quite different aspect ratios of both formats, which are a matter of taste or personal preference.

    Two suggestions to answer your question, I personally would choose the following cameras for the two applications you mentioned (portrait and nature): Pentax 67 for handheld informal portraits (if this is what you are after) and view/field camera style medium format camera for tripod bound nature photography
     
  3. OP
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    JADoss23

    JADoss23 Subscriber

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    That's sort of what I was thinking since the 645 is smaller but still not the smallest camera in the world. A TLR would be more portable if wanted to go that route. Also hate not a big fan of the battery life with the 645 when using a prism, the battery door is impossible to get open too! Just small nitpicky things but important when investing into a camera.
     
  4. Chris Livsey

    Chris Livsey Member

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    Medium format cameras just about all do the same thing unless you go to Contax 645/Hasselblad H1 etc and have autofocus which is "different" . The most different, from your current pairing, and I note the image count on a 120 roll doesn't seem to be an issue, so what about 4 shots on a roll? Go panorama: Fuji GX617 :cool:
     
  5. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Just about. You can shoot a RB/RZ with a prismfinder but it will still not be as agile as a P67 and while the P67 had a waistlevel finder its not as pratically as the RB/RZ
    The 645 cameras offers a different ergonomy with lighter bodies or faster framerates with motor and a more 35mm alt handling with interchangeable backs.
     
  6. WilmarcoImaging

    WilmarcoImaging Member

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    An RB is a portrait machine. I’ve done them in the studio, on location with tripod and handheld. It does nature quite nicely also. And landscape, and architecture, etc.

    My view with medium format is to capture the largest image size you can. If 6x9 fits your aesthetic, one of the Fuji cameras would be my suggestion. If you want a fully built-out camera system that works in the studio and field, with a nice 6x7 negative, the RB is hard to beat.

    The RB wouldn’t be my go-to for street, event or reportage, although these genres are certainly possible with an RB.
     
  7. mnemosyne

    mnemosyne Subscriber

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    MF rangefinders like the mentioned Fujis have one big drawback in portrait applications: minimum focus distance will limit you to rather "loose" head & shoulder portraits. Also limits possible applications in nature photography. Not a good choice for the OP, IMO.
     
  8. guangong

    guangong Subscriber

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    .As for medium format, thr Hasselblad was initially designed by Mr. V. Hasselblad to be handheld for bird and nature photography. This explains its continued success despite, from my personal experience, the unreliable shutters of the early models like the 1000F. No other SLR MF camera fits the hands like a Hassy.
    Another, more limiting because non interchangeable lenses, would be a Rolleiflex TLR.
    For strolling about with a MF camera handy, try a folder such as Super Ikonta B.
    All of these cameras have fantastic lenses.
    Best if you can go to a camera show and fondle different cameras and see what fits you. Or borrow different cameras from friends. What you will get from this thread are biased personal opinions such as mine. We are all different, that’s why there are so many different cameras out there. I would avoid cameras with a track recor of unreliability such as Kowa and perhaps Bronica. Your Mamiya is a good machine.
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I appreciate owning both an RB67 and my Mamiya 645 equipment, but the 645 equipment I have has some advantages over yours.
    Mine is a 645 Pro, which means it has interchangeable backs, has a skookum left hand trigger grip and a more modern AE finder. It also is lighter than your camera.
    The lenses are also individually smaller and lighter than my RB67s lenses.
    Even if on a tripod, the 645 Pro is much more maneuverable than the RB67.
    And hand-held? Much more flexible:
    A self portrait - using a monopod:

    14A-2014-08-17A-APUG resized.jpg
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    If you love the RB67, the 645 really does nothing for you. The larger negative is a big plus.
     
  11. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    Do you absolutely need an SLR besides the RB? After I added some medium format rangefinder gear, I find that I hardly use the medium format slr's anymore. It's mainly dependent on what your subject matter is but in my case, it's worked out well. The lenses have fewer optical compromises on the wide to medium focal lengths and some believe the film flatness issues are handled better with the simpler film paths.
     
  12. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    I used to own a Mamiya RZ67. At the same time I also owned a Pentax 645Nll. The Pentax was fun to carry around and shoot people with. It had matrix metering and autofocus. I could take it to a party and shoot all night. The RZ was more suited to a tripod with my studio lights. I did use the RZ handheld with the "L" grip some but it got heavy fast.
     
  13. M Carter

    M Carter Member

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    I love my RB, but I do darkroom printing, and I love the power that masking gives me - the big neg is a real plus for that; but I've masked 6x6 negs, and some of those have essentially cropped into a 645. I may do an overseas trip this spring and am considering a 645 (along with the RB) as I really don't like 35mm negs for my stuff. All that to say, it's pretty personal. Keep 'em both for a year and see which one ends up covered in dust.

    There are several iterations of the 645 - the super and pro are much like a 35mm SLR on steroids, without leaping into the P67/Arax 60 realm size-wise. I could see being really into that if my stuff wasn't more "methodical".
     
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  15. David T T

    David T T Subscriber

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    If you don't mind the weight of the RB, its the most capable camera in the world. I handhold mine for shoots with models, and carry it for long walks. No problem. It does everything! Flash sync at all shutter speeds! Macro! Rotating and interchangeable backs! Huge beautiful viewfinder! I'm such a fan. :smile:
     
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    JADoss23

    JADoss23 Subscriber

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    I love my RB and agree about the negatives. Nothing like looking at a 6x7 negative unless you are shooting large format. I've sort of come to the same realization as Sirius that if I love the RB then the 645 isn't really doing much. Would love a Hasselblad but a little out of my budget these days. Used to own a Yashica 124 and sold it unfortunately so may go back down that TLR route since they are pretty easy to use and more portable.
     
  17. jspillane

    jspillane Member

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    The best companion to a MF SLR is either a TLR or an rangefinder, I think.

    One for interchangeable lenses and tripod work, the other for handheld work and travel.
    Ironically, one of the reasons I went for a Hasselblad over an RB/RZ was portability. I tend to use a Rolleiflex for that and the Hasselblad largely for tripod/studio work, where the size wouldn't be an issue. But now that I am bought into it and enjoy it, I don't feel a lot of reason to switch from the Hasselblad over to a larger negative... Plus I think it is good for me to work (almost) exclusively in 6x6.

    If you've never used one, TLR's are a really specific and (in my opinion) special experience to shoot. Rolleiflex's are often pricey, but if you hunt around there are good deals to be found. Rolleicords and Minolta Autocord's are also excellent, lighter, and can be found for reasonable prices. I use a beater Rolleiflex 2.8D that I got for $300 and has slowly become my most loved camera.

    I've sometimes wished I bought an SL66 instead, and have considered trading systems... but the cost to get the same set up as a Hasselblad is daunting, and availability of accessories and replacement parts is MUCH lower. If I were to have a cash windfall, I would probably do it, as I rarely use flash sync and I would really enjoy having bellows/tilt.
     
  18. Ai Print

    Ai Print Subscriber

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    Aside from a rather expansive Hasselblad V system, I use a Rolleiflex 2.8D and just love it for how compact, quiet and simple it is. The image quality is truly outstanding as well and I really don't miss being able to change lenses on a camera that good.
     
  19. film_man

    film_man Member

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    Depending on budget you could look for a Mamiya 6 or even a Fuji GF670. These are amazing cameras, very light and small (for MF standards). You could even look for one of the Fuji/Bronica 645 RF cameras.

    Also, I found that the look you get in 35mm from a Leica 50/2 or a Nikon 50/1.2 to be quite comparable to the RB (just like a Zeiss 50/1.4 gives you a comparable look to a hasselblad 80mm).
     
  20. paul ron

    paul ron Subscriber

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    what are you planning to shoot?
    i hand hold my rb almost everywhere.... but for combat shooting.... i love my ETRS.

    if you dont like whatever you get, sell it! you'll get your money back, maybe minus a small rental fee.
     
  21. k.hendrik

    k.hendrik Subscriber

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    Stella M..jpg
    1st ; keep that 645(never sell a camera; you will always regret, maybe not the first years but then the nagging starts, what if..) 2nd; Rolleiflex sl66se. Portrait/Nature/Still/or whatever your silly eye wants to remember.
    Handhold; no problem. Is she 'better' then an RB I don't know, I use a RZ on the side and 'see' there is difference in 'diction' (don't know the right translation from the Dutch 'voordracht') attached picture made with sl66se.
    Happy hunting because these babies aren't easily available nor cheap.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  22. Jim70

    Jim70 Member

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    Well, I have an RB and a 645 Pro tl. I carried the RB around for several years; loved the negatives! However, I've gotten older and the RB seems to have gained weight as well. My son is interested in Photography, so I "loaned" him the RB and I use the 645. I still have access to the RB when I need it - I just don't seem to need it nearly as often.
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I understand. Every time I pick up one of my 4"x5" cameras and walk around with it, they feel heavier.
     
  24. Kiruna69

    Kiruna69 Member

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    Hi
    My advice is the same as k.henrik above - keep the645 if you like it, and don't need the money. And I suggest you try a TLR for a different experience if you like 6x6.
    Why not go for the Mamiya C-series TLR's? The C220 or C330 are the "newer" models (C220/C220f or C330/C330f/C330s) Great quality, you can switch lenses, and they are really fun to use:smile: You will find a lot of them for sale and at much cheaper prices than Rollei's
    http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Mamiya_C
    They are a bit bigger than Rollei, Yashica and other TLR's but not too heavy to carry around.
     
  25. johnha

    johnha Subscriber

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    The main advantage of 645s is their portability and handling, especially the Mamiya, & Pentax with their focal plane shutters, fast lenses and instant return mirrors (not sure about the Contax?). I used my M645 Pro (with TTL prism & winder) for air shows with the 210mm lens and a x2 teleconverter - you'd need whopping 6x6 or 6x7 lenses to do this - and you'd need a good eye-level finder. The M645 Pro does this easily with good film economy and fewer reloads, the Pentax 645N will do it with AF & matrix metering if you want.

    For me though, the Mamiya 645 Pro with prism & winder (to get the 35mm style handling), isn't much smaller or lighter than a Pentax 6x7 with metered prism. As long as you don't need 'long' lenses, the Pentax 6x7 is a reasonably 'compact' 6x7 camera (the 300mm lens is just-about hand-holdable, longer lenses lose open aperture metering, the 800mm is simply colossal).
     
  26. Larry the sailor

    Larry the sailor Subscriber

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    I won't denounce anyone that insists the RB67 is a "studio camera", to each their own. But, I regularly sling mine around my neck and monkey about on the fore-deck of sailboats under sail.
    Also, I don't know how common they are but there is a 6x4.5 back for the RB67 as well. I have one that needs light seals but don't feel a pressing need for it.
     
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