(Film)Medium formate SLR for landscape?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by calvin_shia, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. Hi guys,
    I have been shooting 35mm and always tempted to join medium format.
    6x7 would be an ideal ratio but size is a problem. I have been looking at the pentax 67and scared by its huge size and weight(which is an important factor because I will be doing a lot of hiking and camping). Mamiys rz67 is also ok but seems it is specialised for portrait rather than landscape. I also looked at 6x6 and the bronica sq-a but worry it's hard to repair as it is a dead brand? Hasselblad of course is out of my reach for the moment. I have zero knowledge in medium format camera so could anyone give me some advice on this? Big thanks in advance!
  2. SCL


    Think perhaps about a TLR rather than an SLR (much lighter) - lots of good ones out there at reasonable prices. YashicaMat 124 is excellent.
  3. A Mamiya 7 (rangefinder) is better suited to hiking and camping than any MF SLR. You need to figure in a sturdy tripod too. Without a tripod, a 7x6 camera will have less sharpness than a more ergonomic DSLR, but with less grain/noise. On top of that, film will cost over $20/roll, including processing, and you get only 10 frames/roll.
    Get into medium format because you are passionate about photography, and willing to deal with the size, weight and cost of ownership. "Hiking" within a 100 yard radius of you car is probably more realistic.
  4. I think the ultimate for light weight and compact size is a rollfilm folder.
    I carried a 6x4.5 folder for years when hiking. It fit in my pocket. There are too many fine classic folders in different 6x formats to even start to list here, but they might be worth a look.
  5. Medium format cameras can take a (almost) infinite variety of forms, much more than 35mm cameras. They vary in picture format, camera type (TLR, SLR, Rangefinder, etc.), feature set (e.g. interchangeable film backs), etc etc etc.
    One approach to the problem is indeed to start defining the format you want to shoot, then look for cameras within this format. What do you want to do with the pictures? Scan? Print? Project? (in case of slides). Projecting is relatively affordable up to 6x6, becomes incredibly expensive for 6x7 and as good as impossible for larger than that.
    Another approach would be to define your priorities in terms of camera equipment: size/weight, price, focal lengths (do you want one, or more? rather wide, normal or tele?) Do you shoot one film only or do you want to be able to change rolls mid-film?
    Sorry I came with more questions than answers :) If you give us a bit more details we will be able to help you.
  6. Regarding the Pentax 67 and its weight; a good part of that weight is from the prism finders. If you opt for the lighter finders (rigid magnifying hood or folding focusing hood) you can save some weight. It was primarily designed as a field camera so it does well for landscape work. It has 30 lenses to choose from.
  7. Press cameras such as the Crown Graphic or Speed Graphic were made in 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 format and roll film holders in 6x6, 6x7, and 6x9 formats are readily available. 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 is 5.715 x 8.255 cm or the size called 6x9 for convenience. There is also the Century Graphic 2x3 that is basically a 2x3 Crown with a molded bakalite body that will take the same roll film holders. The Speed graphic has a focal plane shutter allowing for the use of barrel lens and is a little heavier than the Crown or Century. Linhoff made a similar model as did Busch Pressman. Most will have a side rangefinder and optical viewfinder and a wire frame sports finder. These cameras equipped with a roll film holder are more compact and lighter than Mamiya RB/RZ 67 and similar cameras. The drawback is the rangefinder is calibrated to one lens only at a time. Their advantage is you can focus and compose on the ground glass then attach a roll film holder when ready to make the exposure.
    Pacemaker Speed, Pacemaker Crown, Century graphic. The Miniature Speed Graphic is a 2x3 camera but an older design and heavier than the Pacemaker series or Century.
  8. If I'm close to the car, Mamiya RZ67, two or three lenses, solid tripod. If I'm backpacking, Rolleiflex, monopod.
    On the topic of Graphics: for backpacking trips, I used to carry a Century Graphic with two or three lenses and two or three 6 x 7 rollfilm holders. This is slow going, but it gave me some excellent negatives.
  9. I've owned several of the systems mentioned above. I don't agree that the Mamiya RB/RZ 67 system is specialized for portraits--although that's primarily what I used it for. In all honesty, it's probably the most versatile medium format system out there, with its large range of lenses and finders, universal filter size, and closeup abilities. And the 6x7 ratio--which, as you know, obviates the need for much cropping when printing on standard paper sizes, if you're doing your own darkroom work--is quite handy.
    An RB/RZ system can be fairly heavy--probably not as weighty as an equivalent Pentax system (haven't owned one of those, so can't assert that with certainty), and likely less mirror slap/camera shake...if you use mirror lockup, which is generally very easy with the Mamiya system, you'll get zero vibration practically with the leaf shutters. If you go with the RZ, which has more plastic and is lighter than the RB, and limit the lenses you haul around with you, the Mamiya might be your very best choice.

    The RZ lenses are superb, too. And very cheap at the moment--the RB equivalents are even cheaper, and you have the advantage of a fully mechanical camera.
    I had to sell my extensive RZ system to help finance my move from London to the US (I kept my Hasselblad gear, as it offered the most versatility for me, being useful in both the studio and outdoors, as I generally only used my Mamiya gear indoors because of its bulk and weight). However, I will be re-purchasing a RZ67 system at some point, when I've built my finances back up, as it is quite brilliant, and I really loved working with it. And I believe you'd find it so for your own personal requirements, too.
    (Although, as pointed out above, your lightest and most compact 6x7 option--although not nearly as inexpensive as the RB/RZ system--would be a Mamiya 7 rangefinder. The lenses are almost universally alleged to be brilliant--I've not owned one of these either, so can offer no personal experience--but like with all rangefinders, there are some limitations that you'd have to decide if they're deal killers for you or not.)
  10. Check out the Pentax 645. It handles much like a 35mm SLR, and has a selection of lenses ideal for landscapes.
  11. How much film are you planning on carrying on your hikes? Honestly, because I love the amount of control over the
    image, i would skip medium format SLRs and rangefinders and insyead I'd get a 4x5 field or technical camera - Canham
    DLC, Linhof Technika, or Toyo - but the DLC is easily the most versatile of these - and a 6x9 rollfilm back.

    Either that or a Canon 5DSr, Nikon D810, or Sony A7R II digital camera.
  12. Hi Calvin,
    I'd endorse Edward and Ellis' comments on a medium format rangefinder folder if you're worried about weight (I use a Mockba 5 or an Ensign Selfix, though both are sturdy pieces of metal, so not light. The Mockba has a rangefinder, which the Ensign does not, but the Ensign has a colour fidelity to be envied). The Mamiya 6x7 has a great reputation. They benefit from a monopod, which can always double as a walking stick. I've also used a Bronica ETRS 6x4.5 (most recently on a hiking tour of New Zealand), but to be honest, though the shots were good, it was far too much trouble for what it was worth. If you are not so concerned with weight, and can come at a proper tripod, I'd endorse Calvin's suggestion of going the whole hog to 4x5. I've got a backpack setup to carry a Shen Hao - I only use it occasionally (actually, rarely), but for IQ and tonal range, it cannot be surpassed.
    Arthur (Apiarist1)
  13. Sorry Calvin, I meant Ellis' suggestion of a 4x5. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
  14. The Pentax 67 is not the full issue with weight. Choosing lenses wisely for the subject is where the wisdom is as its the lenses that can get heavy. When using my Pentax 67II, its with large prints in mind I work at knowing what lens to carry for the scene in mind. Rarely do we nail the scene on first look. With 135 its not unusual to take 3 or 4 lenses on a hike. Adjustments are made with MF.
  15. Hello everyone. Here is my cup of gasoline for the fire. At 73 years, I am a bit to "young" for bashing about with my fleet of large format cameras, so use my two RB-67's when hiking that 100 meter radius from the car, as suggested...works wonders. Five years or so ago I got into Classic Manual Cameras with an Agfa Isolette III off Ebay. Had it completely restored for less than $150 and have not looked back. Modern B/W films (my primary media) with 6x6 cameras are super good, and self developing/scanning keeps the cost "relatively" inexpensive. I spend 6 months a year in my Ohana in Hawaii (Oahu) and wonder about with a small moped/scooter with a folder kit (pistol case) and tripod, stoping whenever I want, for another view. Two years ago I "moved up" to the 6x9 format with an Agfa Record II, also restored for less than $150. I sell prints (up to 16x20) in Hawaii, so critical focus and quality are within the reach of these CMC cameras.
    This picture was from the Record camera, 400Tmax @ 250asa, Obsidian Aqua developer and V600 scan. Bill
  16. Bill - that's a lovely image. Do you know how the Agfa Record compares with the Fuji 6x9 rangefinders? I have 6x45 and 6x6 TLRs, but I'd like to try out a decent 6x9 camera without shelling out a fortune.
  17. Hi,
    My favorite medium format camera for landscape photography is the Bronica GS-1 (6x7). I use mine with the waist level finder and it's very light. I usually only have to use a mono-pod. The prices are at an all time low, you can probably pick up a body, 2 backs, finder, and 50, 100, & 200mm for under $500. I did.
    But all said and done my full frame D750 outperforms my medium format cameras. I only use film these days for nostalgia.
  18. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I can understand that the current low prices of much, previously expensive medium format equipment has provoked a re-appraisal in your mind. You have to bear in mind though that cheap to buy doesn't mean cheap to fix; that much of the equipment available is now very old and has mostly not enjoyed the servicing that these cameras were built to need- the volumes and processes behind them were far different from the way dslrs are made today. Many of the cameras mentioned here are rather old, and age isn't your friend unless you know its been well looked after. IMO the results you get from most MF slrs don't vary too much and
    • Buying something you're prepared to carry and integrate with your lifestyle is important. Buying something too bulky/heavy isn't fun
    • Buying something where the seller is prepared to allow return or a meaningful warranty is important - more important than brand IMO.
    • Buying something that feels good in your hands and where the way it works Is understandable to you id important but most people ignore it because they buy at a distance at a price. Spending an extra $100 on a camera you enjoy using and which works properly is $100 well spent IMO.
    • Buy a camera that you know you can get fixed. Sort out a route to repair-or two- before you spend.
    And think about why you're doing this. For the vast majority of people, they can get all they need from a camera in terms of images from a dslr. It is the case though that if you want or need very large prints you can make bigger, better, from a MF slide or neg than you can expect from all but the very top end dslrs. Of course you need to factor in scans or scanning into that and a decent tripod because those cameras don't have IS, and you need a great scanner ( not a consumer flatbed or a low res scan from a processor) to realise the quality potential you voted for. I'd be willing to bet that most people buying aged MF gear today either don't need MF quality images or never take the steps they need to achieve them.
    Which brings me to the other reason some people adopt MF. Its a different process to take a photograph for most people. Slower, more contemplative- though I might argue that using a decent dslr in Live View can recreate quite a lot of this. Some find it more satisfying, some more fussy and frustrating. But regardless, you do pay for this, and by the time you buy film, get it processed, scan anything you want to print appropriate to the size and quality you desire, and store the negs/slides its going to cost quite a lot just to press the shutter (aside- the real costs of MF photography aren't in buying the camera. I might argue that if you can afford film etc then you're wrong to discount a Hasselblad if you actually want square pictures) .
    Finally I do think that MF slrs offer reasonably easy, reasonably light solutions, and good quality images.. I used them for many years without being tempted by large format's weight, longer set-up, and cost to press the shutter. If you want to make massive prints fair enough, but I have 36" sq prints from scanned 6x6 that you don't need to view from a distance to consider them sharp and detailed. I can't do that with my FF Canons- though I don't need to either.
  19. The Fuji MF rangefinders are an option not mentioned. Wonderful lenses, lightweight, and all the various formats are available. Your budget will determine the frame size, anywhere from $350 for 6x4.5 to 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, and even 6x17. There are some 6x9 Fuji's on the 'bay right now for about $300, which IMO is a great deal. They're also known as the Texas Leica. Big, but they don't have the weight of the RB/RZ, and are easily packed about. Just another option for you.
  20. Hello again everyone. Raj, the Record I have is the II model, 105mm Solinar lens, top end for the period (early 1950's). The lens gives super sharp edge to edge negs when used f11 thru f32...f45 is "there" when the slider is moved to it's stops. I also have Ercona II and Bessa II 6x9 cameras, both with the prime lens and these give similar results. None have range finders built in, so I use a FSU Smena range finder (all cameras are metric).
    All three of these cameras are available at Certos6.com. Jurgen restores them with CLA's, new bellows and whatever is required to make the cameras "workers". None of the cameras I have purchased from him over the years has failed or gone wonky. Check his website for current prices ($300-225). Accessories (lens hoods, series adapters, filters) are findable on Ebay. Each of my cameras has it's own traveling case, which is a reasonable priced, hard plastic shelled, pistol case.
    If your 6x6's have Yashinon lenses, or better yet a Rollei !, stay with them and concentrate on getting a film/developer combo that works to your liking. I have Yashicas and several Isolette III 6x6 cameras and the results are also excellent with attention to detail in all steps of developing thru scanning. Using my Better Scaning carriers for my V600 Epson will yield 20x20 prints that are faultless.
    The picture below is from an Isolette III (6x6), using what is "now" my go-to film & developer combo. Ultrafine Xtreme 400 (UFX 400) rated at 250asa and developed in Obsidian Aqua. V600 scan. Enjoy, Bill
  21. My internet is being "strange". . . Here is the 6x6 picture. Bill
  22. One fact that so many of us "photogs" forget. Tripod ! The bigger the better ! Bill
  23. Hi Bill,
    Thank you for your detailed response!
    I have a few 6x6s, and the extraordinary results, especially from the 'better' ones, led me to wonder about trying a camera yielding even larger negatives (but short of going all the way to large format). So your insights are very helpful. I'll probably just try to get more mileage out of the 6x6s I have, with which I'm very happy! One day, I might try out a 6x9, just to scratch the itch :)
  24. One last thought...look into the Horseman VH/VHR system. Interchangeable lenses, the option of rangefinder focusing (with the VHR) plus view camera movements. Not too heavy and it folds for transport.
    It may not be your cup of tea, but it's a very capable picture making tool.
  25. Well, you've gotten a lot of good advice. I would lean toward cameras such as the Linhof Technica or Horseman with roll-film backs for their flexibility. But if you can do with a bit less flexibility, then I'd recommend you take a look at the 6x9 folders out there. There's the Zeiss Super Ikonta C, Voigtlander made a Bessa model in that format, I believe. But the best deal is one of the rugged Russian folders. I have a Mockba 5 that is a great, light, 6x9 folder with a very nice lens. The 4s are good cameras too, and look like Zeiss SI C knock-offs. The 5 is a bit more modern looking but functionally about the same.
    I've been happy with the quality of my Mockba 5's images and I especially like the stretched landscape format you get with 6x9.

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