G.A.S rangefinder or mediumformat?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by nikkolee, Jan 26, 2020.


What will it be

Poll closed Feb 9, 2020.
  1. Leica M6

    1 vote(s)
  2. Zeiss Ikon

    0 vote(s)
  3. Bessa R4M

    1 vote(s)
  4. Mamiya 7ii

    2 vote(s)
  5. Pentax 67ii

    1 vote(s)
  6. Others please comment options

    5 vote(s)
  1. Good day fellow internet people,

    I was gifted a Nikon FM2 along with two lenses (Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AI and Nikon 35mm f/2 AI-S) for Christmas from my Ex. Have been hooked on photography since.

    I’m a fan of Fan Ho, Brassaï and Sebastian Salgado. That rich contrast and vivid detail look. Please feel free to share similar photographers. I am always on the look out to learn more.

    To the main point. I’ve caught the gear acquisition syndrome bug and am looking to either acquire a rangefinder or medium format camera. Preferably I would like to get a camera which will still operate without batteries. For rangefinders I’m looking at the Leica M6, Bessa R4M or Zeiss Ikon. (yes i know the Zeiss Ikon needs batteries to operate however from my research it seems like its worth putting into the mix) As for medium format I’m looking at either the Mamiya 7ii or Pentax 67ii (yes i know both require batteries)

    Are any of the options i've listed the right direction if I want to get similar vibes as the great photographers I’ve mentioned above? If not what are your recommendations?
    I know that the camera doesn’t make the photographer but G.A.S and I’ve saved up a bit of money and feel like living it up a little.
  2. Fan Ho used a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex. I believe this is what Vivian Maier used also, it was definitely a TLR. Why don't you have a Rollei TLR on your list? I suspect many of those are w/o batteries. Have you looked at Vivian's work?

    On another note, please enlighten me, what is G.A.S. supposed to mean?
    nikkolee likes this.
  3. Hi movingfinger, i did look into TLRS however i prefer a camera with an interchangeable lens system. Yes i have looked at Vivian's work, i would describe her images as a softer looking William Klein, if that makes any sense? Anyways G.A.S stands for gear acquisition syndrome. Thanks for the reply :)
  4. @movingfinger
    GAS = Gear Acquisition Syndrome
    IOW, I gotta buy more stuff :D

    As @movingfinger suggested, what about a TLR or even a Hasselblad?
    In 2004 I bought a used Hasselblad for less than I paid for a Nikon D70.
    The looking DOWN to look into the camera makes you think a bit slower and more deliberate than a 35mm RF.
    Ricochetrider and nikkolee like this.
  5. I too suffer from Gear Acquisition Syndrome! With film, the quality difference between 35mm and medium format is night and day. I also like the abstraction that a TLR viewfinder brings to the game- reversed and very 2d. OTOH, the Leica is out of my price range, not being willing to put much money in film, but it would be a very nice toy to have.
    nikkolee likes this.
  6. Hi Gary and Conrad, same rationale as to what i said to movingfinger. Looking for something with an interchangeable lens system.
    Gary, i know it sounds silly considering that for most people they would choose a Hasselblad over a Mamiya or a Pentax easily but the option of a rangefinder/slr style viewfinder is very appealing to me. Although the Hasselblad does have a prism style viewfinder, it does seem some what silly to use a Hasselblad with a prism.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  7. SCL


    Not casting a vote, as that is ridiculous. Rather, suggesting before you commit, if you've never used a rangefinder, which some people never seem to be comfortable with, that before jumping to Leica, that you try an inexpensive model for a few months...not interchangeable lenses, as that merely adds another complication. Same with a TLR if that interests you. Ask yourself a couple of questions along the way: 1) do you wear glasses and is there either a diopter adjustment or readily available diiopter correction lenses; 2) do you need or want a light meter, 3) what do you expect to do with your pictures...make mega prints (I have a bunch of 30x40 inch prints on my walls), share with friends on the web, sell professionally; 4) how will your films be processed...by you or via a lab. I know this sounds like a lot, but if you can reasonably answer all these questions, you may make better decisions and save money in the process. I could have saved tons of money over the last 60 years had I answered these questions honestly when I began in photography. And yes, GAS is a serious affliction which hits us all somewhere along the way.
    nikkolee and stuart_pratt like this.
  8. Well now that I know what GAS is, I will ask my physician for a preventive vaccine ;)
    BTW, IOW, don't LOL at my attempt at humor. If I had written more I'd have prefaced this post with TL;DR
    nikkolee likes this.
  9. I am enjoying the rangefinder as a matter of simplicity.
    As for prints, I don’t see myself going beyond 5x7 for what I display, and 8x10 isn’t beyond 35 mm for a good photograph.
    I have a Nikon S3 2000 with an excellent lens because I wanted to get a late model classic fully manual rangefinder with a good build quality.
    As for interchangeable lenses, the lens that came with the camera is a great little 50.
    I can’t see ever changing it.
    If I want different lenses, the Classic SLRs have more than enough lens capability at great old manual prices.
    As for image quality below larger print sizes, take a look through this site.....

    Film Camera Week for January 24
    (Specifically post #26)

    W/NW 2020 Pic-O'-The-Week #4
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2020
    nikkolee likes this.
  10. Recommend a Leica M-A. It's a brand new camera yet purely mechanical with no electronic component. Not even a meter.
    ruslan and nikkolee like this.
  11. Not sure why a 'Blad with a prism is silly. Heck, put the prism or mirror finder on a Mamiya C330 and you'll have a serious interchangeable lens anchor when you need it. No batteries at all. What I don't like about RFs is that you have no focus info other than the point where the images line up. They're great for scenics but not for controlled DOF shots. Horses for courses, depends on what you like to shoot.
    nikkolee likes this.
  12. As implied, we can't vote because your choices are not logically parallel.

    Different formats are for different purposes.
    Ricochetrider and nikkolee like this.
  13. Well, you could get a medium format camera that's also a rangefinder.

    Fujica made a variety of them. Some with interchangeable lenses and some affectionately referred to as "Texas Leicas". Fujica is not the only company to make them, there's a ton of medium format folders with rangefinders.

    I do agree that you might want to pick up a cheaper rangefinder to see if you like that method of focusing. I did not at first but eventually got the hang of it. Now I have a mild preference for it.
    Ricochetrider and nikkolee like this.
  14. YMMV. FWIW you nailed it as GAS. All the cameras you listed are eye level cameras rather than a classical medium format WLF look down approach.

    For someone who has a dSLR, a Nikon FM2 for film and a Hasselblad 500CM and 2 RB67s. For myself I found over these years since mid 2016 for medium format film and 2006 for 35mm film after getting into dSLRs first (other than the family film SLR from 2000 and didn't know anything about photography). To me it is kinda so what .... It loses the novelty.

    If you enjoy the different approach with film, operating such camera - that is OK. The battery issue a personal call but don't let a stupid battery stop you. I am still using the original battery on my Nikon FM2 since 2006 (bought here photo.net second hand). Even if you buy 2 batteries a year for hobby what ..... so what.

    I used to have the same thing with digital earlier ago when it was exciting. Ie I got the Nikon D70, but I never bought anything else but I always on the lookout to read reviews, download brochures, watch videos by product ambassadors, downloading product user manuals, the Nikon lens brochure database sheet. D70? Then it was the D80, D90, D200, D300, D2h/x, D3 ..... LOL. The thing with film is you get a different look, it has a different approach to it, you can do different things with film or digital more easily. I used to also shoot film and digital alongside and come home and compare but don't do that anymore. They are just different. Also unless you have a dedicated medium format film scanner or outsource your scans to have them done by an Imacon you have to reason to yourself many or most people out there probably just use a flatbed scanner. Yep, I have a 35mm Nikon scanner and I have also outsourced scans (Imacon X5).
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2020
    nikkolee likes this.
  15. Oh no, if you go MF (or LF) you just got to set up a wet darkroom :D
    For me, that is the other half of the fun of shooting film.
    Schatek, Jochen and nikkolee like this.
  16. There is no ONE right answer. Do whatever pleases/works for you.

    Depending on WHAT you shoot, looking down into the waist level view finder (WLVF) lowers the height of the camera relative to the subject, compared to an eye level viewfinder. This does make a difference.
    Example, I have seen way too many pics of children shot by a standing adult, so the image is looking down on the child.

    But if you are NOT comfortable with a WLVF, don't use one.
    Ricochetrider and nikkolee like this.
  17. Now my bit ! Before you jump into the RF camera and a Leica (any model) why not get one of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) Fed or Zorki models? I got a case of G.A.S. a few years ago for the RF cameras Retirement funds did not allow a Leica M-3, so a Fed-2 with a Jupiter-8 (50mm) was acquired. Since the early 1960's I have own'd a series of Nikon SLRs and now have no regrets for getting the Fed's, and of course, some Zorkis. . .of late even several Kiev-4s (Contax copies).
    If your game on for the RF's, private email me for my source of these FSU cameras, all CLA'd, from Ukraine. Around $125 with shipping to CONUS.
    Just to let everyone in on the G.A.S. thing. . .there is NO vaccine. . . No 12 step programs. . .but, it is a nice addiction ! Aloha, Bill
  18. Just tell your wife that GAS is cheaper than booze :D and chasing other women :eek: then DUCK and RUN.
    nikkolee likes this.
  19. As said, if you've never used a rangefinder it's a bit of a learning curve.

    These days, if were itching for something different from a 35mm SLR, I'd skip a rangefinder and go straight to an MF SLR or TLR.

    Depending on how cost sensitive you are-I will mention that I was in the local camera store where I hang out a lot and a young guy(maybe my age, maybe a bit younger) was in looking for an inexpensive starter MF camera. The shop actually had a decent-ish selection at the time, but the one I was sort of pimping that they had in stock was a nice Mamiya RB67 Pro-S outfit with a body. WLF, 120 back, 90mm lens, and the accessory grip(which totally transforms how the camera feels). This is a beast of a camera to carry around, but it's part of a very comprehensive system, gives you great 6x7 images, and it's not expensive these days to build a good system(I have 2 bodies and cover the FL range from 50mm to 250mm with 6 lenses).

    90% of my MF shooting is with a Hasselblad 500C, and I shoot more MF than I do 35mm these days. The Hasselblad is the 3rd 6x6 system I've owned and the 5th or 6th MF system overall. It has its quirks and the price of entry both for some of the popular lenses and accessories, as well as ongoing service, can be eye popping. I also don't get caught up on the claimed Zeiss fairy dust magic glow, and in fact the pentagonal apertures can give OOF highlights a really weird look if you're not careful with them. None the less, it's overall the nicest and best handling MF system I've ever used. Given their popularity, accessories-both factory and aftermarket-are also easy to find if not inexpensive.
    nikkolee likes this.
  20. I can’t tell you what you should do but here’s what I did. Four Nikon F2 bodies, three F4S bodies and a couple others. For MF I have always liked the RB 67 Ben mentioned and have a Pro S and some excellent lenses. Cost for the whole thing from KEH was under $400. I like the flagship Nikons for their simplicity and ease of use and the RB is uncomplicated as well. If that system is too big and heavy the Haselblad is smaller and lighter. A 645 like Bronica ETR system is quite good and Mamiya has one too. Both are smaller and lighter than the above. Lots of good choices.

    Rick H.
    nikkolee likes this.

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