First MF camera? Buying off eBay?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by john_s|14, Jul 19, 2008.

  1. I started thinking about trying medium format out, and I'm thinking about buying a minolta autocord. I've just
    decided this because it sounds like it is a good quality camera that seems fairly cheap. Does this sound like a
    good intro to MF? I've also heard that buying medium format cameras on eBay when you cannot view it is not
    recommended. I think I read this when looking at rangefinder cameras specifically, but does this apply to all
    MF? What things do you need to look for in TLR cameras? I also wondered if TLR cameras can be hand held
    realistically? They look like they may be awkward to hold and shoot without a tripod. I've got a few 35mm
    SLR's, but nothing digital, if anyone wondered what experience I have.

    Thanks for all the help
  2. Be safe. Try KEH.
  3. Yeah I forgot to ask about KEH or adorama. It seems like people have good experiences with these places right?
  4. I've had excellent dealings with KEH, both buying and selling used gear.....
  5. Autocords really are excellent cameras. Try to find one with a Citizen lens - easier to service.
  6. With respect, I'd buy the newest system MF camera I could afford. Nice as they are, Autocords and other fixed lens TLRs are virtual relics. If you have to have a TLR, look into the late model Mamiyas. 645 SLRs are probably the best value now in MF: Mamiya, Bronica and Pentax are relative bargains. KEH might be best as a starting place. Quality on the big auction site is extremely variable.
  7. KEH in general is more true to their ratings. Adorama is great for the new stuff but their idea of "excellent" is my idea of "bargain."
  8. "I also wondered if TLR cameras can be hand held realistically? They look like they may be awkward to hold and shoot without a tripod."

    TLR cameras (and Hasselblads, too) are wonderful to use once you get the hang of it. A lot of the "brick" shaped medium format cameras allow you to gently squeeze the shutter release between your index finger on the release and your thumb at the back of the camera, resulting in much less shake being applied to the camera than with shutter release on many 35mm cameras.

    My opinion, though, is that the object of medium format is image quality. So I recommend using a tripod any time you have to shoot slower than 1/125 second.
  9. In the old days, the camera of choice for pros to shoot baby pictures were TLR's. I'm not saying you will use it for that. But, just to give you an ideal of one of the many things that people loved TLR's.
    Another thing about leaf shutter cameras like the TLR's, is that with no mirror slap, they can be hand held at slower shutter speeds and are quieter than SLR's.
    Michael, I got a Mamiya RB67 Pro-s with waist level finder in Excellent condition at Adorama for $166.00. But, the thing is, even though it wasn't mentioned, it also came with a 220 Pro-s back. And, the only marks on the whole thing are on the memo clip of the back.
    This is without a lens.
  10. An Autocord (or similar) is a good choice. Even if you get an interchangable lens camera at some point, it will still be a great, lightweight alternative. I'd get it through KEH. Ebay has a few bargains here and there, but KEH doesn't charge much, if any, premium over ebay if you go with their bargain grade (which is quite good). They also do have a good return policy/attitude so you can always return it if it has a problem. I only had a problem once when they shipped the wrong item and they took care of it quickly and professionally.
  11. John, how much are you looking to spend exactly? You can get a Bronica SQ-A, 80 f2.8 lens, 220 back, and a WLF or
    prism for around $200 from KEH. Something similar to this will give you room to grow and expand as you get accustomed
    to shooting MF as opposed to something with a fixed lens. Also, I prefer KEH over eBay because, well, you just can't
    really go wrong with KEH. You'll always get a good deal, and they have a wonderful return policy.

    I've purchased two cameras off eBay in the past, and both of them needed overhauls before they'd work properly. I've
    never had a problem with anything I bought from KEH. Also, it's never a good idea to buy ANYTHING without a picture on
    eBay :)
  12. ---

    i also had an interest in the autocord a couple years ago, and posted here with a short inquiry. pertaining to the mechanics of the camera(i have the LMX version of the camera), it's one of the most reliable and the original lens has been nothing short of fantastic.

    i've taken the camera all over the place and it really has never let me down. if your camera has a potential issue with light-leaking, just tape up the sides and click click click. a lot of my film work these days are done primarily on the autocord (for examples of mine, you can check out this page).

    here's the original thread addy.

    hand-holding the camera does get a little used to doing with a finesse or style of your own. i usually hold the weight of the body and adjust the focus lever with my left hand underneath the bottom, and use my right hand to hold the body steady, and release the shutter.

    using it on a tripod is not at all awkward. you would just need to be able to make sure the threading is proper for the attachment, and be able to see down into the camera first to compose and focus, if you were potentially shooting from a height taller than your eyes.

    another issue with some models i've seen has been the peeling of the original leather. whether or not this is an issue or not, here's a good site for replacement leather skins kits

    other than that, good luck and have fun with it!

  13. dude, buy good overall Rolleiflex or even Rolleicord and FORGET the rest. Rolleiflex is the best camera ever made for MF, so silent, so nice to nadle, easy to use, and Planar /Xenotar model produce photos you won't even imagine. I have 3 rolleiflexes, all of em (1 rolleicord, cheaper version of Rolleiflex) are excelent camera. I won't touch havey Mamiyas, won't spend my money for expensive new MF cameras. No need. I love my Rollei, and its results are sharp, top notch quality and this is 6x6, it says all.
  14. "Nice as they are, Autocords and other fixed lens TLRs are virtual relics."

    Can't agree with this. TLR's are simple and reliable designs. They are easy to service, and many will still be working fine 50 years from now.
  15. I recently purchased a used Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar from and was amazed at the excellent condition of the camera. The meter is dead-on accurate, the shutter accurate, and it operates as smoothly as a new camera. I bought a Maxwell screen and am having a great time with this quality camera, so much so that I've been using my Contax G2s less, and the DSLR not at all. :)
    I would definitely look to Keh instead of ebay...for obvious reasons.
  16. "I also wondered if TLR cameras can be hand held realistically?"

    Yes yes yes yes and yes. In fact, hand-holding a TLR is MUCH more natural than hand-holding an SLR. No mirror slap and you are holding the camera against your chest instead of out in front of you with your arms. You can also brace a TLR much easier on a knee or a table. I've hand-held a Mamiya TLR at night shooting 100 speed film and gotten great results... and it's by far one of the heaviest TLR's out there! The combination of waist-level view and leaf shutter makes it a great choice for hand-held photography. You just need to learn and practice good hand-holding techniques.... it's free to learn and it will end up being far more valuable than just buying a tripod which can be a crutch and honestly tripods are only good for certain situations, not eveyone shoots landscapes! a TLR is not really a camera for every situation but it's more versatile that you might think at first.
  17. "[...] and you are holding the camera against your chest instead of out in front of you with your arms [etc.]"

    You can hold an SLR in exactly the same way (against you chest, etc.).
    Mirror slap is often mentioned, but not (!) something you need to worry about. Maybe when the camera is on a tripod, and you need every last bit of sharpness... then you flip up the mirror before making the shot. No problem.
    But when handholding?
    First, mirror "slap" is a hugely exagerated way of describing what happens. Second, the movement of your hands is orders of magnitude bigger than whatever movement the mirror causes.

    A TLR is quiet. And the Rollei TLRs are most excellent cameras (i do not know about Minolta Autocords and the Mamiyas).
    But the 'advantages' of TLRs mentioned here are not real. ;-)
  18. "Can't agree with this. TLR's are simple and reliable designs. They are easy to service, and many will still be working fine 50 years from now."

    Design isn't the issue. Function compromised by old age is, though.What matters more: making a retro fashion statement or shooting a reliable camera that allows John S to enjoy MF fully? Old Yashicas and Minoltas often need at least a CLA--and often repair--that can enter "diseconomy" territory quickly relative to a newer, lower-mileage model. Besides, the "easy to service" pitch can fall a bit flat since quality, competent service doesn't grow on trees, especially for oldies like this. There's simply too much else available in used MF gear that's more pleasureable to use.
  19. I bought an Autocord off Ebay and had good luck with it. I think I paid under $200. So as long as you don't overbid and you do your Ebay homework on the seller, you have a good shot at getting a fun, quality camera. If you live near a city, you might keep an eye on your local Craigslist. Bargains do crop up now and then. Whatever you buy, the beauty of medium format today is that you don't have to pay much to play.
  20. Rolleis are excellent cameras, yes. I just did a search on
    They do have a Bargain grade Rollei with a 28 Planar for $1,170.00. a 3.5 for $616.00. I doubt if John wants to spend that kind of money.I would get the Minolta,or a Mamiya. Maybe Rollie was able to come out with the best lenses. But, Mamiya did one thing that the others could never accomplish. Having interchangeable lenses. That makes it far more cost effective. Plus,the Mamiya's have a built in bellows for closeups. The others, their minimum focusing is measured in feet.About being virtual relics. Well,my WW1 cameras are alot older and work fine. Old cameras, being mechanical, have a longer working life that the newer electronics.
  21. Q.G. Even with the mirror locked up, a focal plane shutter is dramatically shakier than a leaf shutter. I can easily hand-hold my Mamiya C220 at 1/15th of a second with the 80mm lens. It's not just quieter, there is less motion period. Also, I sometimes use a cable release even when shooting hand-held to reduce camera shake. And mirror lock-up brings up another point... with a TLR (as with a rangefinder) you get continuous view of the subject which means no guessing about the image. You can see if your subject blinks or their eye-ball moves suddenly... although honestly I've gotten into the habit of ignoring the viewfinder altogether during the moment I fire the shutter to look directly at the subject.

    And yes with a medium format SLR you can hold the camera against your chest, I guess I was thinking about 35mm SLR's.
  22. Look, if you want to give medium format a try then I don't think you will go wrong with a TLR. They are easy to use as
    handheld cameras because they were designed to be used as hand held cameras. The better ones have very light shutter
    releases which helps keep things steady once you learn to gently squeeze the shutter button instead of stabbing it. I use
    both a pair of Mamiya C220 TLR's and a Hasselblad 503 SLR. I can usually hand hold the Mamiya down to about 1/15th
    sec. I can do it with the Hasselblad too, but less often. Interestingly enough, it is not the mirror slap in the 'blad that causes
    troubles. There is virtually none there. Rather, the extra bulk and weight of the Mamiya brings more inertia, and with it
    more stability, to the party.

    But be aware that virtually all medium format TLR cameras deliver a square negative. This introduces a completely different
    approach to composing your image. It is a challenge that you must be willing to tackle if you've never composed for a
    square before. Sure you can crop, but to get the biggest bang for the buck from these negatives, it is best to compose
    your image to look good as a square picture. Crop to the ubiquitous 4/5 aspect ratio and you are using the equivalent of a
    6 x 4.5 cm. negative. Square can be cool when you learn to use it.

    I'm not at all thrilled with the idea of buying one of these things from Ebay. Go to KEH ( and see what
    you can find there. They are a first rate dealer with a very conservative product rating system. They also have top notch
    customer service. If you have a problem with a purchase, they will work with you to make it right.
  23. "Even with the mirror locked up, a focal plane shutter is dramatically shakier than a leaf shutter. "

    That may be true.
    But the 'main' SLRs to consider also use leaf shutters... ;-)

    Anyway, all this no-moving-mirror=better-handholding talk is myth. Pure and unadulterated myth.
    Fact is that (as mentioned) handholding alone is far, far worse than whatever a poorly dampened mirror might or might not do.

    Using a cable release when handholding is not common practice. And that is because it does not make sense. ;-)
    The camera is held by shaky hands (don't get me started on claims that you can get sharp shots at slow shutter speeds handheld... ;-) ).
    And one hand has to move to trip the shutter. And with most camera designs, that is easiest (= needs the least movement = causes less blur) by just pressing the shutter button, the way the designer designed the thing to be used.

    Mirror lock up, as mentioned, makes sense when a camera is fixed firmly on a tripod. It is not (!) something we need to discuss as long as we are talking about handholding cameras.

    A continuous view is indeed an advantage a TLR (or rangefinder) camera has over SLRs.

    Now do not misunderstand my intentions: i am not trying to say that TLRs are 'bad'. Not at all!
    I just do not like those silly falsehoods that are spread all too often to 'show' that they are 'better', when they just are not.
  24. Sorry about the above link. This one should work:
  25. "But be aware that virtually all medium format TLR cameras deliver a square negative."

    This is why I shoot with Rolleis, it is a plus for me, big plus, not a minus:)) - best format ever. Seems so natural, instead of 6x4,5 or 6x9 - at least for me 6x6 is perfect. Easier to compose for me as well.

    give Rolleiflex (or even Rolleicord) a try, they are wonderful cameras. Easy to learn, tack sharp if stopped down to f/8 or f/11 (planars and Xenotars work nice even at f/4 but I love f/8 on these cameras)

    a small problem you might encounter is gentle release of shutter button. I have problem with this an many photos come out not sharp, yet plain release cable works great. Some older types do not have cable socket, one of my old Rolleiflex Automat from 1935-1945 series hasn't one, yet this one has very soft release.
  26. Q.G. de Bakker - a solution to handling and shaky photos with TLR is good strap - I use old Revue camera strap,
    it is pretty wide and keeps camera almost stoned in my hands. You put the strap over your neck, look down,
    compose, press, bang, there is the photo. Very easy. No need to worry about shaky hands as long as you do not try
    to compose for 5 minutes :)
  27. H.S.<br><br>A strap can indeed help to improve steadiness, and so help get better results.<br>But even at 1/500,
    you will get better results by putting the camera on a tripod. (Just try and compare, and you'll see. Without fail:
    handholding is not (as) good.).<br><br>So one thing about handholding is that every time we do that, we are
    indeed losing image quality. The slower you go, the worse it will be.<br>But i know: you can get many pictures
    handheld that you could not get if a tripod was mandatory. And a blurry picture is better than no picture at all (well..
    most of the time anyway ;-))<br>Still: when we think that we can 'still' get sharp results handheld, at 1/15, we are
    only deluding ourselves. We do indeed "need to worry about shakey hands", even at fast shutterspeeds. But
    when doing that we must also weigh other things, like "will i get the picture at all if i first need to set up a tripod?",
    or "do i feel like lugging around a tripod to begin with?" ;-)<br><br>So do not try to fool yourself (and/or others) that
    is perfectly fine, no problem whatsoever, to take pictures handheld.<br>Instead, make it a conscious decision, to
    take a picture handheld, and (!) knowingly and willingly accept the consequences of doing so.<br><br>The other
    thing about
    handholding (and the thing that has become 'on-
    topic' in this thread) is this TLRs-are-better-at-it thingy. They are not. None of the reasons why they might be are
    valid. No matter how often they are given.
  28. The best item I've found in hand holding a medium format camera. Be it a TLR, SLR,or a Mamiya Universal is that if you can find a grip holder that will work on your camera Get it! Makes it easier to carry, too.
  29. But, in the old days, because the taking lens is below the viewing one. They were the camera of choice for children photos.
  30. Q.G - sure, you rare right, but this is truism, isn't it? Noone can compete with tripod if it comes to stability, sure thing. But the point is, at least my point, that TLR handheld will give better results at low speeds than regular SLR with the same speed - the slower speed the more TLR shines compares to SLR. One friend of mine can shoot with TLR a 1 second photo handheld and you would have problem to say it was handheld or tripod - unfortunately I am not that good heheh, I am ok with 1/15, but of course prefer 1/60 and more. Anyway, would you notice ANY difference between tripod and no-tripid with speeds like 1/250 or 1/500? Don't think so , and even if, difference would be negligible.

    so, tripod vs handhels - tripod is always better
    TLR handheld and SLR handheld - TLR is the winner, escpecially @ slower times.
  31. Although KEH always stands behinds its used equipment (in addition to selling more and more NEW equipment), I have found that sellers with lots of positive feedback on eBay are likewise quite reliable and will accept returns, if one can show that the item does not indeed fit the description. The reason is simple: they know that they cannot afford negative feedback and still do mass volume buying and selling on eBay.

    I bought a ton of Bronica stuff on eBay near the end of 2007, and most of it turned out to be very, very good. Why a "ton"? Because it was so cheap,and because buying two or more copies of the same thing was the only way that I knew that I could have a backup if something failed--and this had to extend to nearly every essential accessory. When dealing with a bankrupt company, there is no other way to be sure that one can have backup: buy the backup when you buy the first copy. I was still paying a dime on the dollar, and the overwhelming majority of it has functioned exactly as promised.

    Some of the equipment is darned near perfect, and the lenses are typically awesome--not quite Zeiss but in many cases very close in quality. The build is very substantial and heavy. I bought all the way from ETRSi to SQAi to GS-I, with all accessories. I have moved away from the ETRSi stuff, preferring to focus on the 6x6 (SQAi) and the 6x7 (GS-1).

    Someday I will no doubt go through it and decide what can be discarded, but I cannot lose too much money: I didn't put that much money into the whole "spree."

  32. With regard to rangefinders, I am indeed leery of buying off eBay. The shutters and the light meters are just not reliable, especially if you go back in years. Medium format is quite a different thing, in my experience.

  33. H.S.,

    You appear to have missed my main point, which is:
    No, a "TLR handheld will [NOT !] give better results at low speeds than regular SLR with the same speed".
    Not only is there no reason to assume they might do, but they really do not.

    My second point was that claims like "One friend of mine can shoot with TLR a 1 second photo handheld and you would have problem to say it was handheld or tripod" are complete nonsense too.
    I am sorry, but i have to appear harsh: anyone who cannot tell whether a shot taken at 1 sec. was taken handheld or from a tripod needs his or her eyes seen to in a hurry! The difference will be bigger than that between shots taken with a Rollei and a Holga. There is no doubt about that at all. So i hope your friend has not spent money on anything more expensive than a Holga... (and even when, he's not getting all he can out of that Holga). ;-)

    And yes, you can indeed tell the difference between a tripod-shot and a handheld-shot, both taken at fast speeds, generally held to be 'safe', like 1/250.

    Notice that though it indeed is a truism, 'some people' still do not know? :p
    But that was not the main point.
  34. I wouldn't buy an (old) TLR on ebay if it were my first experience with that form/format/model. KEH is great. I think i would
    also trust for Rolleiflexes.

    "hand-holding a TLR is MUCH more natural than hand-holding an SLR. No mirror slap and you are holding the camera
    against your chest instead of out in front of you with your arms."

    Gotta disagree with that. What's "natural" to one individual is what that person is used to or expects, and that has to take into
    account his lifelong experience with cameras. If a person has always used an SLR, that's what's natural. Rangefinder?
    Same thing. Secondly, i can't imagine that looking down into a groundglass could be more natural than looking FORWARD,
    directly at the subject matter. And, that doesn't even take into account that the TLR's groundglass is laterally reversed. How
    can that be more natural? Sorry to 'pick' - i understand your point, but i completely disagree with it. : )
  35. I recommend the Pentax 645 or 645n.

    They're built like tanks and incredibly cheap for a starter Medium Format camera. Accessories and lenses are cheap but good quality as well.
  36. "I think i would also trust for Rolleiflexes."

    Derek is right, but I only found out about Kevincameras by browsing on eBay. Maybe the operative maxim ought to be, "Browse there, but buy elsewhere--if you can." The problem is that sometimes eBay is the only place that has what one needs.

    Bryan is also right to recommend Pentax over some of the other brands, in my opinion, but, from what I have seen, the 6x7 line would be my preferred format--if one is going to take time to set up on a tripod.

    John, have you given much thought to what you are going to use to scan?

  37. I have lots of Bronica SLR equipment now but I still sometimes use an old TLR. I find that with no moving mirror a TLR can be very stable at slow speeds even hand held. A tripod will always keep your camera steadier at slow speeds but in general I find TLR cameras easy to hand hold. Any TLR you get will not be very new. I would recommend that you spend the extra money and get it serviced before you use it. You will want to take some care in focusing properly and metering. Getting the camera serviced will give you the extra confidence that the shutter speeds are close to being correct.
  38. I've bought and sold a Mamiya 645 Pro on Ebay, it was in the exact condition that the seller described and was in the same condition when I sold it. 6x4.5 isn't holding it's value as well as 6x6 and 6x7. I also bought a Mamiya RB67 on Ebay for very cheap. It was exactly as described. I tend to stick with sellers who have excellent feedback and who put up a lot of pictures of the equipment.
  39. QC,

    Arent you a Hasselblad SLR user? I state this because with my Mamiya 7 I get very different results than I would get
    with my Bronica SLR handheld.

    With the Mamiya 7 I can achieve quite good results with 1/60th. I try and shoot at 1/125 every time but often depth of field constraints force a slower shutter speed. At 1/125th I can equivocally say that with a full frame schneider loupe I cannot tell the difference between these and those images taken on a tripod.

    I never use my Bronica ETRSI without a tripod and MLU employed. Just not worth it. I even can see image degradation at 1/125 with the normal lens if I look close enough. I've come to the conclusion that all the MF SLR's from Mamiya, Bronica, Hasselblad etc (excepting Pentax with its superior mirror damping system) require the use of a tripod for critically sharp results.

    Rangefinders have their purpose in Medium Format: Handheld photography. A Tlr should give near similiar results to the Mamiya 7 Rangefinder.

    I'm of the opinion that a tripod is of marginal use for daytime photography with either a Medium Format TLR or Rangefinder.
  40. david_henderson


    John - in general I'd agree though my numbers are different and I have to start by saying that I accept a point of view that you can pretty much always tell the difference between a photograph taken on a tripod and taken handheld. Its just that there are people to whom the achievement of ultimate quality is really important, and some to whom it isn't. And there are circumstances in which getting the ultimate is important and others where it isn't - for example low enlargement sizes , long viewing distances. So there are times when the use of a tripod may not result in a photograph that is materially sharper, albeit that it may be measurably sharper.

    But where I agree is that I can get a usefully better result handheld from my Mamiya 7 than with a Bronica. In the former case I have a better than even chance of a usable transparency at 1/30 and if I need it, then 1/15 is worth a shot. By "usable" I mean it could be printed/projected and would pass my stock agency's QC procedures. Using a Bronica with a prism and Speedgrip, I need two stops faster. I don't know why, and have no evidence to support any conclusions about mirrors, ability to hold each camera steady and so on. I just know that it's so and that I have a deal of experience leading to this conclusion. It may simply be the case that the shape and weight of the Mamiya helps me to hold it steadier, or that I might get a similar result with the slr if I took off the prism and Speedgrip from the Bronica and used the camera in a different way.
  41. David H wrote: "there are people to whom the achievement of ultimate quality is really important, and some to whom it isn't."
    I couldn't agree more. It seems very common in many of the threads on PNet, that people get hung up on resolution, sharpness, grain/noise etc, when the photographs themselves are rarely worth the time it takes to look at them, at least in my opinion! Some of my all time favorite photographs (composition, timing, lighting) by my favorite influences would probably fail these silly tests miserably, even those shot with MF. There are other aspects of MF that distinguish it from 35mm. For me it's the longer focal length perspective on a larger frame. Yes, sometimes a tripod is called for, but sometimes it's just a hindrance. I would never venture to say "always use a tripod". These discussions comparing microscopic analyses are ridiculous. No offence, people, but you guys need to get out more often!
    Back to the main topic... buying off EBay has become less appealing than when I first joined EBay in 1999. Prices tend to go much higher, there are too many "power sellers" who don't have the resources to provide personal service, and there are more con people out there. HOWEVER, one can still find fair deals on good cameras: look for a private seller (high number of ratings but not in the stratosphere) with near 100% feedback, preferably based in the USA, who accepts PayPal, who posts several detailed photographs of all angles of the gear in question, and who has a fair return policy.
  42. Asher,<br><br>You should see all this in the right perspective. If claims about sharpness (at ridiculously slow
    shutterspeeds for handholding) are made, sharpness is the issue.<br>And if then someone goes on to claim that
    that would be a matter of "microscopic analysis", it is indeed time again to use the word "ridiculous"... ;-)
    <br><br>Speaking about perspective: you do not get a " longer focal length perspective on a larger frame" when
    using MF, unless you are using a really long focal length lens (500 mm and up). Those are rather rare in the MF
    world.<br>Perspective depends only on position: where you are relative to what you are looking at (or taking pictures
    of). You use longer focal lengths to capture the same field of view on a larger frame. But then do not get a different
    perspective as well, unless you move away from your subject. But then you change the field of view again, needing
    an even longer focal length lens to keep that constant. And eventually, you end up needing one of those very long
    lenses that are rare in MF to begin to get a convincing long focal length perspective in a larger frame.<br>Or short: if
    you want a long focal length perspective, you would be far, far better of using smaller formats, like 35
    mm.<br><br>No offence, but you would know that if you would get out more... ;-)
  43. QG,
    I've been shooting MF + 35mm for over 30 years- I get out PLENTY and actually use these tools in practice much more than I write/talk about them...
    For a fixed position at a given scene with a "normal" field of view: An 80mm "normal" lens projected onto an MF frame provides a very different "perspective" vs. a ~35mm "normal" lens projected onto a crop frame DSLR, vs. a 300mm "normal" lens projected onto an 8x10 ground glass vs a ~15mm "normal" lens focal length for a digital point and shoot. Perspective does NOT only depend on position. The size of the film or sensor on which the lens projects certainly affects "perspective" of the resultant image.
    AND.. with respect to all this miniscule sharpness BS, if your subject is moving at all, your tripod is not going to do squat. So unless you're exclusively shooting landscapes in zero knot wind, a tripod will have a very limited effect on your magnified image quality. Subject matter being personal preference, you will of course see differing opinions on the value of using a tripod.
    I'd love to debate more, but I'm heading out! Have a lovely day ;-)
  44. One last point- the definition of "perspective": "The appearance of objects in depth as perceived by normal binocular
    vision." Ergo, different "normals" focal lengths projected onto their respective formats will yield differences in object depth,
    ie, different perspectives, as I described above.
  45. Asher,<br><br>I'm sorry, but you have got it completely wrong. You really have!<br>From the same point of view, there only is one (!) perspective. No matter what you are using to capture that.<br><br>And "with respect to all this miniscule sharpness BS": you're right, it is complete "BS" to think it is miniscule.<br><br>And yes, a moving subject will cause blur. So will a moving camera.<br>Simple, isn't it? ;-)<br>
  46. QG,
    You seem to be a knowledgeable collector, but there is no way you can be a practicing photographer and still believe what you're writing. You can keep telling me how "completely wrong" I am until you're blue in the face, but until you try this, your opinions (not facts) have no credibility:
    Keeping in mind the definition of perspective verbatim from the dictionary: "The technique of representing three- dimensional objects and depth relationships on a two-dimensional surface.":
    1. Take one of your MF cameras with a normal 80mm lens and position it to photograph a scene with both near and far objects.
    2. Right next to your MF camera, place a small digital point-and-shoot with the lens set to 10-15mm (i.e. approx normal focal length)
    3. Take a photo of the same scene from the same position with each camera.
    4. Actually LOOK at the photos
    What you will see is a stark difference in the depth relationships of the near and far objects
    . The MF will tend to compress the objects together, magnifying the distant objects while the digi P&S will render the distant objects as much smaller and the 2D perspective in the image will therefore make those objects appear further away.
    AND Regarding tripods and sharpness: I am fully aware that any movement of camera and/or subject will affect sharpness. My point once again is that if your subject is moving, any benefit of a tripod will be negligible, and may in fact hinder your ability to get the shot, which is all the newspaper and magazine editors I've shot for care about. If you're saying that "personal work" (i.e. "fine art", a term I don't like...) requires supreme sharpness, all I can tell you is that some of the most stirring and compelling personal work exhibits I've seen were far from technically sharp.
  47. Asher,<br><br>You should really try that before posting about it. It is perfectly clear that you
    haven't.<br><br>Perspective is the same as long as you do not change viewpoint. You can change anything else:
    focal length, frame size, digital or film... anything: perspective will be the same.<br><br>So go ahead and do what
    you suggest, Try it! Please!<br>Also sit down, think a while, get some paper and a pencil, and try to understand
    perspective. Than you will see not just with your eeys, but with your grey matter too that it cannot be any other
    way.<br><br>Re tripods: i already made that point.<br>I also mentioned that we should knowingly and willingly do
    that.<br>And that we should not (!) do is fool ourselves into believing that you can handhold and get 'sharp' results.
    Have you read the boasts? There is something for you to rail against. ;-)<br><br>Anyway, this handholding thing is
    usually, as here, used to extol some perceived advantage TLRs would have over SLRs. It's not real, only
    imagined.<br><br>Finally: let's keep this friendly. I can assure you that i not only know and understand what i am
    talking about. And i will not begin about what we should think about a self-confessed "practicing photographer"
    who ... no. i will not. ;-)
  48. John S.: I have good luck with eBay, but generally I have not spent more than $200, the sellers had close to 100%
    feedback, and there were photos of the item from several angles. Overall, if KEH has what you want, I would still go with

    Asher: QG is referring strictly to geometric perspective, which is set by location, direction, and view frustum (read field
    of view). The image formed by a lens will also show the effects of the apparent depth of field, and that *is* very different
    for normal FOV lenses at the same f/# for different formats.

    QG: Asher is referring to how the images look as formed by a lens, not an idealized, diffractionless pinhole, but I'm sure
    you know this.
  49. QG<p>

    Re: Perspective- upon re-reading all of our collective posts, I see that you are right and I am wrong- my apologies.
    P. Jeffrey is correct above as well. It seems I was confusing my understanding of depth of field with relative depth perception (NO! Please- I do NOT want to start another debate! :-0). I should probably not engage in debates while doing too many other things...<p>

    Now, the hand-holding/sharpness/TLR vs. SLR debate truly does seem ridiculous to me, for lack of a better word, in that the vast vast vast
    majority of people who look at photos (myself included), either recreationally or professionally, do not examine photos so closely for
    relatively insignificant differences in sharpness. And that comes from my experience, in practice, as a photographer and a viewer of photographs.<p>

    Since we seem to have gone totally off topic from the OP, I will leave it at that.
  50. P. Jeffrey,<br><br>Two thingies.<br>Perspective does not depend on field of view either. An important point, since mentioning that it does suggests that a different frame size also comes with a different perspective. Which of course is not so.<br>And perspective does not depend on diffraction or lens faults. Any lens, good or bad, at any f-stop, with little or lots of diffraction, produces the same perspective.<br><br>Asher,<br><br>I totally agree that the handholding TLR vs SLR thingy is ridiculous. What is ridiculous about that are the particular claims that were made on the TLR-side of this here.<br>We can debate the sharpness issue further (and despite that you rather not worry about it, there are indeed relevant and real/"significant" points to make. People who "get out more" know that ;-) ).<br>But - as said before - it is not the main issue.<br><br>Off-topic it is not, since it was put forward to underpin claims that a TLR would be a better choice than a SLR. It may be, but not for that 'reason'.<br>But most of all, it's not off-topic because the OP asked about the 'handholdability' of TLRs. ;-)
  51. QG, you wrote: "We can debate the sharpness issue further (and despite that you rather not worry about it, there are indeed relevant and real/"significant" points to make. People who "get out more" know that ;-) )"
    Can't you leave well enough alone? ;-) Please do not mis-interpret my error and misunderstanding as a reflection that I don't get out enough, but rather that I am at times too busy to think straight. I shoot plenty and I have been published in newspapers and magazines. I also study photographic works and approaches of many photographers, both PJ and other artists, and I can tell you that in only a fraction of instances do these hyper-analytical quantifications of sharpness really matter. Worry? The only worries I have are for the well-being of my family and friends. When it comes to photography, I'd rather enjoy the art of making photographs my way, both documentary and personal work, rather than get bogged down in relatively insignificant issues. BUT to each his/her own, so if supreme sharpness turns you on, live long and prosper, and may the force be with you ;-)
  52. Asher,

    "Can't you leave well enough alone? ;-)"

    I can. As said before, it is not an issue. Unless someone makes it an issue. And then... then the answer is "no". ;-)

    And do not get me wrong: i am not 'against' handholding. Not at all. And i certainly do not believe that sharpness is the begin all end all of photography. If i did, i would have been 'through with' photography many, many years ago.
    I'm just against false claims, and the way false claims are used in forums like this, where people come to find good advice.

    Finally, i do apologize for using your "get out more"-thingy so often. But i couldn't leave it be, found that indeed too hard to resist. I think you would have too! ;-)
    So i'm glad to see that people who do not agree with you now may have his or her own instead. You can get out too much too, you know, so...phew! Thanks! ;-)
  53. QG: True, perspective does not technically depend on FOV, which really just sets the size of the screen onto which the scene is
    projected. FOV is just about magnification, but since your screen has a size set by the format, it, too, matters, and sets what you
    capture and so affects what may more loosely be called the "photographic perspective" in an artistic sense.

    My point about referring to images formed by lenses rather than diffractionless pinholes was about how the image looks, including DOF,
    shape of the entrance pupil, etc. -- it isn't just geometric perspective and magnification and so under typical circumstances,
    format/focal-length matters.

    You may now have the last word.
  54. John:

    Back to your question, my experience is yes, a TLR is a very good starting point to MF.

    I often use my TLR's handheld, but I strongly recomend you to have a good tripod and to use it when you want to take pictures below 1/125.

    I've heard that the Autocord is a fine camera but, of course, Rolleis are better and stronger. I have two and also a Yashica Mat 124G. All of them take excellent pictures, but from a mechanical point of view, the Rollei stands out, clearly.

    If you can't afford one or if you don't want to spend what a good Rollei costs, a good Autocord seems to be a good choice, at least for me.

    Mamiya's TLR's are also excellent cameras and have the advantage of interchangeable lenses, but they're also a lot heavier than the rest of TLR's and this could be a problem. Before buying one I suggest you to have one in your hands and see if you can deal with its weight.

    Good luck!
  55. All this long silly thread aside. A TLR is easier to get acceptable hand held shots from than a SLR. Anyone who thinks
    differently either drinks way too much coffee or hasn't used a TLR much. Just the fact of holding the camera at waist level
    puts it at a more stable place on your body. It does take experiments and practice to get good at hand holding but you will
    find the TLR is better for it. All the rants to establish the opposite are motivated by a need for personal delusion.
  56. Many of the posts I've read state that TLR's are better for handholding because of their waist level finders.Keep in mind that SLR's also have the ability to use waist level finders, which allows them to be held against your chest/waist just as you would a TLR. Also keep in mind that it is not a law that every TLR has a waist level finder. It is not uncommon to see them with laterally corrected prisms, which you hold up to your eye as you would a 35mm SLR. I'd also like to add that, in my opinion, pressing the shutter button will cause more movement than the largest, most undampened mirrors will.

    One more point, the mirror slap on a medium format SLR isn't an earthquake. I feel that many posters here have exaggerated the mirror slap. I have used my RB67, which is probably one of the largest MF SLR's out there, handheld down to 1/30 good results. If I really wanted to, I'm sure 1/15 would be okay, but I prefer to use my tripod.

    Which brings me to another point about tripods. The main purpose of a tripod is not only to prevent movement and blur, but also to compose, and simply aid the shooter. When I shoot a skateboarding or rollerblading competition, my camera will never leave my tripod. This way, my pictures are always level and composed exactly as I want them, shot after shot, even when I started to get antsy a few hours into the event. Even when using my D2X, I would keep it on a tripod.
  57. "All this long silly thread aside. A TLR is easier to get acceptable hand held shots from than a SLR. Anyone who thinks differently [...]"



    Listen to Chris. He's a sensible man.
  58. Sensible enough to think he can achieve printable results at 1/15th a second with an RB? wow.

    Geuss those handheld RB shots dont get blown up that big because I have it hard to believe that they would stand up to much scrutiny.
  59. I don't think I've ever printed a handheld shot slower 1/250, and the largest print I have made was an 8x10. I'm stuck using my school's darkroom for now, so I don't have the ability to make prints as often as I'd like. I suppose if I printed all of my shots to relatively large sizes I would have a better informed opinion. Sorry to offend.
  60. I'm not going to get into about this hand holdability TLR vs SLR issue. But, this Mamiya TLR's being too heavy? I'm not some superman, but, back in the 70's I had a Mamiya 500DTL, found the 35 neg too small. So, I bought a C330 and 330F with the grip holder. I carried them very easily. Never found the weight to be an issue. Having the RB , C220 and Universal, I would't carry any of them without the grip holder. I carried the RB at a bike meet, and didn't find the weight to be an issue with the grip holder.But, for all day, the TLR or Universal would be easier.
  61. Chris,

    Sorry. Perhaps my response was a bit harsh.

    I geuss the reason I got into medium format, back when it was exorbitantly expensive for a "system" from any
    of the players, was to make large prints. Using MF SLR cameras handheld at low shutter speeds never cut it for me. Of course if you are shooting not to print large and or dont care about critical sharpness at big print sizes then my comments have no meaning. Also, its possible for stuff like Fashion that it just doesnt matter and people shoot handheld Medium Format for the tonality.. in these instances its understandable so I digress.

  62. About TLR's weight, a Mamiya 330 weights around 1800g, my two Rolleis weights 1200g (the 2,8f weights the same than the 3,5f but this one feels more comfortable to use, more equilibrated) and the Yashica even less, about 1000g. Just to compare, my Leica IIIf weights around 600g, about the same that my Nikon N70 without lens.

    As you may see, there is a difference. Of course, I heard about people who felt comfortable with Mamiyas TLR's or Pentaxs 67's (another big horse), but this is probably an exception, not the average rule for the average guy.

    John ask us about a TLR camera that could be used -comfortably- to take handheld photos. IMHO, in that case, (high) weight could be a problem, not to mention that, if you travel, you have to carry the camera plus the lenses and a tripod.

    So, don't misundertood me: I think the Mamiya is an excellent camera, surely one of the best. But it really has this disadvantage, so, if you're not a big or strong guy, you should consider this issue before buying one.
  63. Maybe to some the Mamiya TLR is too heavy. But, I've seen in various publications of the Mamiya Medium Format cameras of the 60'-70's. That many newspapers used the Mamiya TLR exclusively.
    With all the advantages that they offer, interchangeable lenses and built in bellows for close-ups. I feel that a person should at least consider them. And, about the travel part, if a person would carry a tripod for the Mamiya, then, why would they not carry one for any other camera? For the average guy. Back in the 70's when I had the 2 C330's I was 5'10"-5'11" and weighed 134 lbs. I'm not saying to buy the Mamiya TLR, As, I said, at least think about it.
  64. Thanks for all the feedback, I didn't think I'd get this much so fast! I was a little busy the last week or so, thats why I didn't reply right away.
  65. "I'm not saying to buy the Mamiya TLR, As, I said, at least think about it."

    Me too Jack. In my opinion, John should seriously consider a Mamiya as his first TLR. It offers one of the best -if not the best- quality/price ratio in the market.

    For me, the main rival of the Mamiya in this "quality/price ratio" race is the Yashica Mat 124 (not the "G" model, their predecessor): it offers good quality with a relatively low price. It have the plus that can use some Rollei gadgets like those excellent close up lenses and even offer those not so good (to say the least) Yashinon Tele and Wide Angle add on lenses ...

    I didn't have the chance to try a Minolta Autocord, so I cannot say it's better or worst than a Yashica. I read many articles that said it's an excellent camera, but I really don't know.

    Check this opinions John:

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