Medium Format Redux...Again

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by ReginaldSMith, May 16, 2018.

  1. ReginaldSMith

    ReginaldSMith Subscriber

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    I love the big negative. I love the idea of MF. But, I have tried and failed so many times to get a camera that will work for me. The main problem is not so great eyesight, and having much trouble finding a MF camera that is easy to focus. I have owned Ikontas, Rolleicord, Mamiya 6 and 645, Yashica Mat, Fuji GA690, and now a Bronica GS-1. Ok - yes, a bit of a camera whore, I know. I have taken some great pictures with the Super Ikonta, a few good ones with the Fuji rangefinder, but mostly, and consistently, no matter which camera I try, I fail to get sharp focus so often that I cry when the film comes back.

    In the 35mm world, I had to move to strictly AF cameras. I have had great luck with Canon EOS-1v, and my current favorite the Minolta/Dynax alpha-9. My digital rig is a Fujifilm X-T2 and that works fine too. But dang it, I want to shoot MF!

    My feeling was the TLRs were so dim in the finder I could barely see focus at all. The rangefinders were nice and light and the Fuji had an amazing viewfinder, but still no joy. The Mamiya 645 was just too damn heavy, as is my current Bronica.

    The Super Ikonta was a romantic relic that was lovely, but just a bit too eccentric what with cocking shutters and all.

    Ok, is there a question here? :smile: Yes. I can't afford the few AF MFs that are out there. Just not in my budget. So, is there an MF that makes focusing a DREAM for those with glasses and 70 year old eyes? You know, just from your personal experience. Also, not too darn bulky like this Bronica.

    I know, I am asking too much, but it's worth a shot.
     
  2. Dennis-B

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    You may want to consider a TLR which has the same aperture on both the taking and viewing lenses. In many instances the taking lens is an f/2.8, but the viewing lens is f/3.5. That can make a real difference. On the Mamiya's there were/are six interchangeable focusing screens.

    Another option is to experiment with different viewing screens on the SLR's. Many screens are a bit dark, but there are a number of "bright" screen options which are of tremendous help. There are also split-image, and other types of screens which really aid in focusing. Microprism and split image ground glass can also help you focus more accurately.

    If you already own Mamiya 645 lenses, you may be able to find a 645 AFD, since it will provide focusing info in the viewfinder. If you want to change systems, Pentax 645's can be had in A/F.
     
  3. spijker

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    I read good things about the Fuji GA645 series on this forum. Autofocus, fairly small & lightweight, not overly expensive and good optics. I never owned or used any of these cameras so I can't speak from experience.
     
  4. RattyMouse

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    A Fuji GA645 autofocuses with decent accuracy. It's not bullet proof and you have to watch the distance reading to make sure it is focusing on the right subject. I am mostly happy with my GA645.

    For manual focus, the Fuji GF670 has an *ENORMOUS* viewfinder. It is very large, and crystal clear. Nothing at all like the older Fujifilm medium format rangefinders. The focusing patch on the GF670 is at least 5 times larger than the older cameras if not more. It is super easy to focus. One look through the viewfinder and you will know immediately what I mean.
     
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    ReginaldSMith

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    Thanks Dennis. I looked up the Pentax and Mamiya AF body prices and the Pentax is somewhat in my budget. Seems like these were much higher a few years back when I was looking. If anyone is using one of these Pentax or Mamiya AFs, let me know how you like it, how well the AF works and such. Of course, 6 x 4.5 is not as nice as 6 x 6 or 6 x 7, but I'm willing to try anything that works.
     
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    ReginaldSMith

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    rattymouse,

    I think the GF670 looks like a wonderful camera, but I think it is over my budget by a lot. Maybe I can aspire to it! OTOH, the GA645 is do-able. Please toss me a few more comments about your experience with it. Anything you don't like about it? Thanks!
     
  7. film_man

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    I have owned quite a few medium format cameras. I must say the ones that I found the easiest to focus were:
    Hasselblad 50x with Acute Matte D screen (I finder the old screens unusable)
    Mamiya RB67 with Bill Maxwell screen (though the stock one wasn't that bad, in any case this is too big for what you want)
    Mamiya C330s TLR with stock screen
    Rollei 2.8FX with Bill Maxwell screen (stock screen is just too dark)

    I don't use screens with focus aids, just plain matte. I wear glasses.

    Beyond that you can always look at rangefinders, I had a Mamiya 6 and that was easy to focus. The Hasselblad H2 was easy to focus (AF was fast, manual focus was easy as the finder is great) but it is big, heavy and just silly expensive.
     
  8. GLS

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  9. mweintraub

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    I'm going to throw the RZ into the ring. My favorite viewfinder when using a WLF.
     
  10. Paul Howell

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    I worked as a professional vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Blind and Visually Impaired, in the mid 90s I worked with a consumer who was losing his vision due to age related macular degeneration. He was a very busy commercial photogprher and was having issues focusing. Although he had an assistant who could fine focus for static shots he hated being dependent on others. He was shooting with a Hassy and a Canon EOS 1 later 1N. What he decided to do was remove the focusing hood and used a loup for find focus. I think he used a 5x loupe. When working outdoors he used a dark cloth.
     
  11. GRHazelton

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    I have a Pentax 645n which is autofocus with AF lenses, of course. I can;t afford AF lenses for it, but it has a focus confirmation LED in the viewfinder, and a beep tone if you want it. The indicator and my visual focusing seem to agree very well. The lenses are excellent, and in manual focusing not too expensive. There is a flip-up viewfinder magnifier, BTW, if you can find it. The 645nii adds mirror lockup, which according to The Luminous Landscape isn't needed, and doesn't justify its higher price. I'd avoid the original 645 which isn't autofocus; the 645n is much better.
     
  12. GRHazelton

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  13. Frank53

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    Fujica 645zi, has autofocus and diopter adjustment and a really good zoomlens.
    Regards,
    Frank
     
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  15. Sirius Glass

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    Time to stop wasting your money and do what you should have done a long time ago, buy a Hasselblad V Series build 1990 or later and CF [or later] lenses. If you have a focus problem, then the body needs to be put on a jig and adjusted which takes just minutes. The B60 filters fit all most all the CF or later lenses so that you only need one set of filters. I use the 45 degree PME finder which gets rid of the left right reversal and the camera is held at eye level.

    Welcome the APUG Photrio







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  16. RattyMouse

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    The part I like least about the GA645 is how it shoots in portrait mode at it's natural orientation. This is common of most 6 x 4.5 cm cameras. To shoot landscape, you have to rotate the camera by 90 degrees. I would get a GA645i version of this camera as it has a second shutter button to facilitate shooting during times when you have the camera rotated for landscape shots.

    Other than the occasional focus errors, I have no other issues with the GA645. It's a phenomenal camera that is astonishingly portable. The lens focusing as well as the film winder make some noise so it's not a quiet shooter. The lens is slow at f/4, but I'm OK with that. The lens is incredibly sharp and contrasty.

    There's a wide angle version as well as a zoom one. Read up on GA645W and GA645Zi.
     
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    ReginaldSMith

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    WOW! You guys are fantastic. I see many wonderful tips to consider. I am so glad I asked. Rather than answer each individually right now, I am going to write down all these ideas and do some pricing and linking to see what some of these accessories and such are about. I'll report back later today. I am especially interested to find out what all this "Bill Maxwell" talk is about. That was a new name to me.

    I also didn't realize the Fuji 645's shoot normally in portrait mode. Not sure I would dig that. I guess that's "obviously" the way a 645 film would go through the camera! Again, thanks for helping out this geezer and newbie to your forum!
     
  18. Sirius Glass

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    I buy my equipment from Dead Link Removed because they have a wonderful return-replace-or-repair policy and they grade their equipment very conservatively. Usually I buy Ex+ grade or better.
     
  19. BrianShaw

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    I'm in a similar demographic...

    It distresses me to write this in public, but I completely concur with the advise of SiriusGlass (post 14).
     
  20. RattyMouse

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    Yeah, the portrait mode of the GA645 is a bit off putting at first, but I would still explore this camera if you can. It has a lot of benefits, especially if you want something small and easy to travel with.
     
  21. winger

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    I love my Pentax 645N. Out of all my cameras, it's the one I would give up last. It's basically like a 35mm on steroids. I know the negative isn't huge, but it's still big enough (and I have 4x5 if I want something bigger anyway). I have the 75mm and 120mm lenses in the AF version and the 45mm in non-AF. Though I rarely use auto-focus, the in-focus-indicator light is still a big help (and accurate). My vision isn't too bad, but the camera is easy to focus in manual.
     
  22. tedr1

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    Perhaps a solution to the focusing difficulty would be the use of a focus magnifier? Some cameras have them built in, my RB67 has one in the WLF, the magnifier is an option for the prism finder. When making critical focus adjustments this is my first go-to focusing aid and I can imagine someone with less than perfect vision would find it even more useful. Look for cameras with focus magnifiers.
     
  23. RattyMouse

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    Another great thing that I forgot to mention about the GA645 is that is has a built in flash. That's pretty rare for medium format cameras and is very useful for portrait photography. It works really well.
     
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    ReginaldSMith

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    Some quick comments......

    1. Hassleblad lust might be setting in....
    2. Yes, I've use KEH for years and give them an A+ rating. Probabaly bought 10 cameras from them. And yup, I looked at the Hassies they are offering - - Ha ha.
    3. Love the small size of the Fuji RFs......And I have had some of the non AF Fujis and liked them. I had the "Texas Leica" for awhile - the G-something 690! WOW, those were some big negs!
    4. The Hassie talk got me remembering how much I love 6 x 6 square format. I love never rotating the camera. It's why I tried the Rolleicord and the Yashiica MAT.
    5. And, the Pentax 645n looks affordable.....

    Still looking up stuff.....
    And, I have to dispose of my Bronica GS-1.
     
  25. bernard_L

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    Fail to understand this recurring complaint about 645 cameras having "wrong" orientation. Why should landscape be "right" and portrait be "wrong"? After I started using my GS645W I realized the natural prevalence of landscape orientation was partly a result of laziness.
     
  26. faberryman

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    Well, you can't blame the camera for laziness.
     
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