Best option?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by roman_thorn|1, May 28, 2015.

  1. Hi folks! So I'm really interested in moving into medium format, though I know so little. I've been told it can be a steep learning curve. I'm not a newb when it comes to photography, so I think I will catch on quickly...hoping. I "think" I have decided on Bronica as a good budget oriented system. My Niche would be portraits. I'm thinking 6x6 or 6x4.5 maybe? There seems to be a number of models to choose from, (ec, ec tl, sq) My question is, which would be best for studio work. I want to use my nikon speed lights and radio triggers. Do all models have a hot shoe and sync port? Also I want a 40mm + 80mm equivalent in 35mm terms. Any advice would be much appreciated...cheers!
  2. There are lots of people on who are much more familiar with the huge range of medium format than I am, but often i've read something like the big Mamiya twin lens reflex cameras with removable lenses are wonderful except for their size, making them suitable for most people for tripod/studio work only. So if that's where you would use them, maybe you should look at them.
    I use Rolleiflex SL66 and Mamiya 6 and neither are really the best for portraiture in a studio if you're using sophisticated flash. So I'm not much help there.
  3. I'm more familiar with Hasselblad, which is a good choice due to the ready availability of bodies and lenses. The learning curve is nothing special, if you are familiar with manual camera settings.
    Flash synchronization is best done using a leaf shutter in the lens. That gives you more control over ambient light by synchronizing up to 1/500 second. Focal plane Hasselblads are more expensive, and only sync up to 1/90 second. Synchronization is established via a PC jack on the lens, which can be connected to a flash unit directly, or via a radio transmitter. There is no hot shoe on a V series Hasselblad. Prism finders have a cold shoe, suitable for mounting a flash unit or radio trigger.
    For a 6x6 format, the equivalent focal length would be 50-60mm and 120-150 mm for a similar field of view of a 40mm and 80mm lens in 35mm film cameras. 150 mm is the classic portrait lens for Hasselblad. For environmental portraits, a "normal" 80mm lens is quite useful, or a 40-50mm wide angle. 60mm is the classic choice for weddings and receptions.
    Some bodies have TTL flash capability, including the 503CW and most of the 200 bodies (focal plane shutter) when used with shutters in the lens. Only dedicated flash units are compatible with this TTL, but it does not work especially well, in my experience, using a Q-Flash TTL adapter. You are better to set exposure and lighting ratios using a flash meter. In a studio situation, everything is controlled, and TTL is neither necessary nor desirable.
  4. What is your budget. There are a lot of good MF systems out there.. and every type has it's fan base. SLR or TLR are probably better in studio than range finder but you could even get that to work.
  5. Many years ago I use a Mamiya 330 in a studio and I was very please with the results. However, they are starting to age. Recently bought a Bronica SQB and very happy with results so far. The 180 mm lens was outstanding both for portraits and for landscape.
    I think that the square format is very easy to use although I have not used it recently for portraits.
    I can recommend Bronica having used a variety of kit including Hasselblad, Mamiya 330f, Mamiya 645, Mamiya 7 and now Bronica. My kit is now Bronica and Nikon having disposed of a lot.
  6. Hi. Thanks for all the handy info. I've been doing more digging around and think I will settle on a bronica SQ A or ai? I like the size, totally modular, pretty inexpensive, 6x6 format and has a leaf shutter:)
  7. AS far as a big learning curve, it is probably more challenging to spend five minutes learning to load the film correctly that any and all other functions of the camera of your choice. Buy the system that fits best in your hands and never look back.
  8. If you're leaning toward Bronica SQ, the SQ-B is worth looking into, especially if you don't need metered finder or motor drive options. Basically a stripped-down SQ-Ai, usually sold as a kit with 120 back, 80/2.8 and a WLF. The old S series 105/3.5 and 150/3.5 lenses are sweet. Everyone has a film loading moment or two--mine were not winding on and loading the film with the backing paper side out. Probably the key thing you'll learn quickly, especially in portraiture, is that MF DOF is shallower than 35mm, especially at large apertures at close range.
  9. "I've been told it can be a steep learning curve."

    Don't be intimidated by medium format. If you're already shooting film, there is no learning curve to speak of. Cameras that use a magazine load a little differently than 35mm but nothing you can't figure out in five minutes. Otherwise, f-stops are f-stops, shutter speeds are shutter speeds and focusing is focusing. If you're coming from digital, medium format is actually easier -- everything is manual so there aren't six metering modes, a dozen autofocus modes and 100 pages of menus full of custom settings to master.

    Most medium format cameras do not have a hot shoe but all have a PC contact for flash. While a few can do TTL, flash is usually manual, which means you can use any flash you like (in manual mode). You can use your Nikon speedlights, but not in TTL mode since TTL is usually specific to a camera brand. (There are Metz, Sunpak, other flashes with modules to match TTL modules on the MF cameras that do TTL.) You can use your current radio triggers, again in manual mode. (Most people who are shooting MF like to have control over everything, so they prefer to shoot in manual anyhow.)

    The three most common lens on a 6x6 MF camera are a 50mm wide, 80mm normal and 150mm short telephoto for head and shoulder portaits. The numbers can be slightly lower for 645 (normal is 75mm) or higher for 6x7 (normal can be 90-100mm).

    Bronica is an excellent choice in either 6x6 or 645. Their SQ line is 6x6 and SQ-A or SQ-Ai are merely more recent versions of the same basic camera is more advanced metering prisms. The SQ-B is all-manual with no metering available. In 6x6 you can use either a waist level finder or a prism. The ETR line is their 645 camera line. You have to have a prism finder with 645 since you can't really shoot vertical with a waist level. Both Bronica lines use leaf-shutter lenses, which will sync with flash at any speed as opposed to focal plane shutters, which have usually a limit like in 35mm. Bronica went out of business several years ago but you can buy a complete system -- body, prism, magazine and three lenses -- for $1000, maybe less.

    If your budget is a little higher, Hasselblad is the gold standard of MF. You can get a body, finder, lens and magazine for $1000 and up.
  10. Roman, I think the Bronica SQ system is an excellent choice, especially the SQAi because it will provide you with TTL flash automation with the proper SCA300 module and a flash such as the Metz CT-4 or CL-4. Since you're planning to do studio work, having TTL flash automation may be a handy thing for you to have. Also, because the SQAi is a square format camera you don't have to worry about flipping it for vertical shots.
    I own a ETRSi, the 6x4.5 equivalent to the SQAi. It works great in TTL mode when using the SCA 300 module with my Metz CT-4. I also appreciate the fact that I have flash sync at all shutter speeds. Its only drawback is I have to flip it on its side to take vertical shots.
    Anyway, if you can find a clean SQAi -- preferably one owned by an amateur and not a pro so it will have some life left to it before requiring an overhaul -- that would be the one to look for, IMO.
  11. Medium format is different, but not a huge learning curve. Just go with films you know. Overexpose Portra and 400H,
    shoot Ektar as rated (maybe a Half stop extra), know how to push Tri-X, etc. you will be just fine. Just know that the FOV
    is wider, but the DoF and the "compression" is true to the lens.
    For lens, I wanted a 2 lens system with FOV similar to yours. I went with a 60 (35mm equiv) and a 150 (85mm equiv) and
    have been very happy. The 60 is a great walk around, landscape, and environmental portrait lens. The 150 is a great
    portrait lens and I love it for what it is.
    The 645 is a great focal length, but not for hasselblad or Bronica portraits. The way the film feeds makes a 645 a wide
    ratio. Can't really flip these WL cameras side ways. It would be fine for environmental portraits... But not better than a
    6X6. Stick with the square IMO.
    You found the right forum, these guys are great.
  12. One thing I forgot to mention, once you get the number of lens you want - you will be focusing on film backs. 1 is OK, but
    2 is more the norm. I have 3 and that covers the scenes I shoot. I may add a 4th for pushed film...
    When getting these backs, make sure they are designed to take 120 film. You should always go with a back designed to
    take 120 film ( or 120 and 220). Why not a 220back? 220 is slowly disappearing (I think only Portra is available in 220).
    Make sure the serial numbers on the back and the back insert match and the dark slide is in great shape.
  13. My experience with MF has been a Hassy 500C back in college (in Germany, no less), and a Mamiya C330 I used to own.
    Hasselblad=as I recall, excellent all around but expensive. True SLR so what you see in the finder is what you get on the film. Loads of lenses and accessories available but again really pricy. Since the school owned the cameras I got to shoot them a lot and loved using them, probably the nicest cameras I've ever laid hands on.
    Mamiya=big and somewhat clunky twin-lens probably best suited for studio use, pretty good image quality, interchangeable lenses a big plus, very good value for MF. Look for the Porrofinder accessory (manufactured by Nippon Kogaku/Nikon, if I remember correctly), it gives you eye-level focusing like an SLR, good for portraits.
    I have no direct experience with other MF systems, although I've been interested in the Bronica lineup for a long time. Just out of square-format habit I would probably go with the SQ (rightly or wrongly, I've always thought it might be like a poor-man's Hasselblad) but you'd probably prefer something like the ETR** for portraits, rectangular images right out of the box, no need to crop, etc.
    Billy S.

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