Hand-Held Med.Format

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by d_f|11, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. What is the best choice for hand-held shooting at Med.Format(for film)? Seems the Mamiya 7II is the obvious choice, not that there seems to be many, other than a Fuji 6/7. I see mostly positive reviews, with some negative reguarding construction/durability and something about having to have the rengefinder "adjusted" occasionaly.
  2. Personally I find the Hasselblad 500C/M very easy to cradle in my hand, especially with an A-12 back. With an A-16 back and portrait vs landscape orientation, it takes a little getting used to, but can hand hold the thing with a 150mm lens attached at speeds down to 1/125 without camera shake problems. With the 80, I can go down to 1/60 and with the 60 and 40 I can usually get down to 1/30 but that is pushing it a bit.
  3. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    For some reason, people seem to think that rangefinders are easier to handhold at slow speeds than slrs. My own experience with Mamiya 7 and Bronica bears this out, and whilst I can reliably get a printable neg at 1/30 and maybe 1/15 with the Mamiya with a normal to wide lens , I'm not feeling confident with the Bronica until I get to 1/60. I'm not able to explain this difference though I'm pretty clear it exists.
    Two other things though. The first is that I said "printable neg" not " as sharp as the camera is capable of." For that you need a tripod.
    Second, the disadvantages of the Mamiya aren't really to do with robustness or reliability. You need to understand - if you don't already- that you can't assess dof through the lens and the lens barrel markings are very optimistic. That you can't get long lenses and you can't get lenses that focus close to the subject so no macro, no frame -filling head & shoulder shots and so on. Also that the metering is pretty primitive compared to what you might be used to. I use a handheld meter with the Mamiya 7. Positioning grad filters well is not possible as far as I'm concerned though some others differ. That said if these limitations don't matter too much its a great camera- it does what it can do very well indeed, and none of these issues are specific to the Mamiya 7.
  4. I shoot a Mamiya 7II when traveling. Excellent camera.
    For hand holding, I use faster film rather than pushing the limits of how steady I can hold the camera. Also, I generally carry a small tripod. The camera has no mirror. By using the camera's self timer, I can get great, vibration free photographs on a cheap, easy to carry tripod.
    I had a Hasselblad but sold it after getting the Mamiya. The Hasselblad is a great camera also. I just prefer the Mamiya. A good friend of mine had exactly the opposite experience. He tried my Mamiya for a week end trip and decided to buy a Hasselblad. If you can, try renting both to see which fits the way you shoot and fits your vision.
  5. If a 645 negative is big enough for your needs, it makes hand-holding much easier. I have a bronica etrs and with the speed-winder and a prism finder it handles a lot like a slightly oversized 35mm camera.
  6. I have two Fujifilm 120 cameras (latest III series) and can vouch for their ease of hand holding. My Mamiya 6 is also good, provided I keep my left hand under the lens barrel, but the grip on the Fujis, whether with the left hand at laft side of the body, or under the barrel, is I feel a bit more stable.
    The Fuji GW 670 III also benefits from an f3.5 wide diaphragm f-stop. With two little used and mint GSW 690 and GW 670 cameras as well as the Mamiya 6 system, I would like to reduce my number of 120 film cameras (I also use an older Autocord for its multi exposure capability) and would perhaps sell the 670 (the newer of the two) if anyone needs that format and is not hamperd by a fixed lens equipment.
  7. I use a Mamiya M645 1000S with left hand grip and metered prism finder and have no problems hand holding with it. Some find it awkward in portrait format but it is pretty comfortable to me, although I rarely shoot in portrait format any way.
  8. Nothing better than an H2 IMO. It is heavy enough to be very stable handheld. The camera and lenses are so solid, better than any other camera I have used to date. I use them for aerial work, all handheld. But I have also had and used Hasselblad V's, Mamiya RB/RZ's, 645af's and the Mamiya 7 all handheld. I just never got into the Mamiya 7. I used it for a time for personal work, but I guess I like the slr type camera better and found myself always reaching for one of them instead of my Mamiya 7. Probably because it is as bulky as the others and gave no savings with regards to space, or not appreciably.
  9. I can use my Pentax 645N handheld with the 75mm lens, but not the 120mm. It's basically a 35mm on steroids. I'm not a very big person or very strong. I've used my Hasselblad handheld, but it feels much more awkward to me.
  10. With a TLR you can shoot hand held down to very slow speeds since it hangs from your neck (I've managed sharp shots at 1/20 sec). Attach a string to the tripod socket, step on the string and pull on the camera with your neck in the neck strap, and you hold the camera almost as steady as when putting it on a tripod.
  11. Mamiya have not a top class construction, all metal or perfectly aesthetic finishing... They are far from Hasselblad or Leica in this respect. Many parts are made in plastic, some have cheapily painted numbers instead of engravings (f-numbers, distance scales, etc.) or even worst, some have mixed painted&engraved numbers on the barrels (Mamiya 6 lenses) which produces a not so exquisite looking.
    Having said this I think that they are plenty functional, professional level top quality cameras. Ergonomics and pro features are by far the best to my liking. BTW, I`m still using two Mamiya 6 bodies with all lenses, with only two issues... a bellows leak on one of them (easily fixed with blackout tape) and a non full-opening diaphragm, fixed by the Mamiya service. My cameras are sooo used. I have been always fear about the well said advance mechanism failure, but perhaps I`m so lucky, I haven`t experienced it yet.
    About the rangefinder adjustment, certainly mine has appeared misaligned anytime, but it`s extremely easy to adjust. It`s not needed to dissamble nothing but a little cap designed for this task. I try to remember that the 7s are pretty similar.
    Everybody knows that Leicas are top quality, construction, durability, etc. but nobody says they also enjoy non full-opened diaphragms and rangefinder misalignments (in my own experience).
  12. Dampening of the hit of the mirror is exceptionally well achieved in Pentax 645N (and probably in NII).
    Holding it tightly is also very easy due to its ergonomics. These two do contribute to hand holdability.
    I agree with Bethe that shooting hand held especially with a 75mm lens is perfectly possible with it.
  13. As a general rule; a heavy camera will let you go slower than a light camera
    While not the sharpest I've done this picture was taken under poor lighting with my Kiev 6C and the Arsat Volga3 80mm. Film was Fuji npz 800 Nothing else done to it than resize and spot some dust specs. Shooting was 1/8 th and f4 Handheld
  14. If you want sharp pictures when hand-held, use an electronic flash. If you don't use a flash (or a tripod), medium format won't be any sharper than 35mm (which won't be sharp either). Forget about "mirror flop" - your shaky hands will make the mirror vibrations inconsequential at any speed.
  15. I think it's a matter of taste. I do use my Hasselblad (V series) hand held from time to time (subject permitting). A Rolleiflex is designed so that it can be used hand held very conveniently.
  16. The SLR's in this format seem so heavy/bulky for hand-holding, not that they wouldn't take great photo's. I really like the Pentax 6x7, but on a tripod, not as a dumbell. It makes sense to stick with 6x7 rather than a square (6x6), 6x4.5.
  17. It makes sense to stick with 6x7 rather than a square (6x6), 6x4.5.​
    I'm not sure I know what you mean by this statement. Personally I like my 6x4.5, It makes sense to me to stick with what you like. 6x45 gives you 5 or 6 more frames from the same roll of film as 6x7 and, both are landscape oriented so why does 6x7 make more sense? Unless you are going for huge enlargements, then I wouldn't think hand holding would make much sense regardless of equipment.
  18. I hand hold my Rolleicord and Mamiya C330 equipment routinely, both TLR's, as Marcus suggested above with a slight difference. No string to your feet for me. I always use a cable release hand held regardless of shutter speed. With the Rolleicord strap around my neck, I pull on the camera with my left hand and trip the shutter with the cable release with my right hand. This is done while looking through the finder on the top of the camera.
    With the C330, I usually use the eye level finder in similar fashion to an SLR. I press the camera against my face and again use a cable release.
    Both methods produce sharp results similar to a tripod for 8 x 10 prints from these 2-1/4 square negatives. The Rolleicord method is probably superior.
  19. I've taken a good number of shots down to 1/10 with a Leica M3, just being steady and resting against a wall or whatever. Don't hold your breath, but fire during exhaling. I knew a guy years ago who could make beautiful 10x8 prints from 1 second hand-held exposures, using a TLR Rolleiflex. I was there - I saw it happen.
    Full marks to Erwin Baeyens for the image posted above. I would always slow down the shutter at the expense of a little sharpness, rather than miss the moment. And a flash would absolutely kill this picture. For capturing the atmosphere, available light is the way to go, until there is none at all.
  20. Mamiya 7 seems to get alot of flack for it not being a "sturdy" camera, given it's partly plastic construction. Is this really a problem? If it was all-metal, it'd weigh that much more, and being too heavy for hand-holding possibly?
  21. DF,
    I would welcome that weight. The mass of the camera body does have some damping effect on hand shake. If for example Linhof were to make an all metal 6x7 or 6x8 rangefinder, with a diecast chassis like the Technorama, and a decent Rangefinder, like a big Leica M,
    .... mate, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

    Something like this:
    All-metal die-cast body
    Lens: Super Angulon 58mm
    Format: 6x8 cm
    Film chamber: 70 mm cartidges with inserts for 120/220
    Viewfinder has inbuilt grid screen, brought into / out view with external lever.
  22. ... and it looks like this:
  23. Whilst thinking Linhof, the Technika was the Medium Format choice for many years. With the shutter way out there in the lens, and no other mechanical movements at the time of the exposure, it's all up to the photographer as to how much vibration there is. And remember, this 6x9 was considered the "baby", because many press photographers wielded 4x5 versions ... hand-held .
    When you've done your point and shoot stuff, the same camera can be set up for architectural work with rising front etc., or just about any other project requiring camera movements.
    One has the choice of 6x6, 6x7 or 6x9 Super Rollex magazines, using 120/220 or 70mm. Wow! What a system!
    Medium format - Hand held
  24. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    DF. The only aspect of build quailty on the Mamiya 7 thats caused me the slightest grief is the flimsy handle for the shutter curtain that you need to use to change lenses. The basisc construction seems fine, plastic or otherwise.
  25. Kevin, how much does this dream (Linhof) weigh?
  26. Also, as I've been doing some more reading, and discovering LOTS of things wrong with Mamiya 7, 7II. You can't shoot hyperfocal because something about markings on the lenses are "off" - why is that? Seems nuts. Most of my shooting is at hyperfocal - f22 & the infinity sign, so I'm gonna have problems. And then there's the rangefinder having to be readjusted/35mm adaptor jams. Still, It's worth it - or you guys have lots of $$ to spend? A Jaguar is a nice car, but it needs constant tuning.
  27. I've been pondering this issue for a while, and am thinking of taking the plunge with a Fuji GA645i (although a Pentax 645n or Bronica rf645 might get a look-in). Nobody has mentioned any of the 645 format Fujis - but having looked at the various cameras available, this one seemed to scream out "hand-held", and comes in far cheaper than a Bronica rf645 or a Mamiya 6/7/7ii, at least here in th UK 2nd hand market. Any thoughts on it? I'm presuming given its essentially 'point and shoot' design it gets largely used without a tripod.
    I do possess a Rolleiflex 2.8E, and that's easily hand-held with the neck strap; in fact I have never put it on a tripod, and get readily printable shots down to as slow as 1/30.
  28. I've been doing aerial photography (no tripods allowed!) for about forty years with a variety of medium format cameras, each of which has it's virtues.
    I love the big wooden handle on my Pentax 6X7, and my old Hasselblad 500EL had a 70mm back that would let me shoot without worrying about having to swap magazines very often.
    Lately I've been using a Mamiya AFD with both a digital back and Ektar 100 film backs. The Ektar, scanned on a Nikon CS9000, gives me a 49 megapixel image, which lets me do 18" X 24" prints that have my clients clapping their little hands and jumping up and down. But I've yet to try Ektar in the ol' Pentax 6X7. That should be fun too.
  29. Kevin's Leica-Linhoff dream 6x8 is nice, but we will probably never see it.
    Nowadays, you can have a Fuji GW670III 6x7 f3.5 90mm lensed very maniable camera (available used and mint) or a more automated and for about 4X the cost, Cosina Bessa III (a Fuji 6x6/6x7). These two are probably as good as it will get for a relatively handy and light quality modern 6x7 camera (ignoring the Mamiya 7 system camera, available at equally high cost to the Bessa).
  30. If durability and precise operation is a concern, I have had two Fujis and two Mamiya 6s (predecessor to the 7) for some years and the Mamiyas and one of their lenses has been to service 4 times (two minor service). This has not yet been required on the Fujis, which also have a shutter counter to indicate time for adjustment on shutter, although I admit I am not there yet (anticipated as somewhere around 5,000 to 10,000 clicks)
  31. Some of the nay-sayers may be lacking in technique, or may not have sufficient arm or upper body strength to pull it off, but the higher mass of medium format cameras can make them extremely qualified candidates for working handheld-- better than 35mm SLRs, in many instances.
    Case in point, I find that the Pentax 645N is eminently handholdable, down into the silly-slow range of speeds with the 35mm f/3.5 lens I use it with exclusively. I could easily make optical 16x20's from most of the images I've shot at 1/8s. If a photographer can't get a tack sharp image with a P645N handheld, all I can say is that it won't be this camera's fault for having a clunky mirror or heavy release.
    Given a choice of a dozen cameras to shoot with in a variety of formats from APS-C DSLRs to 4x5 my current favorite camera to compose through is the P645N. I has a gorgeous screen, accurate framing, a DOF preview lever and a very intuitive uncomplicated interface and VF display. When working handheld in color transparency, the in-camera spotmeter is invaluable. They're also common enough to find cheaply, and most haven't been used in heavy professional rotation.
  32. I read that 1/15 is a no-go zone for medium format SLR's due to mirror slap. It's not the handholding...assuming you could handhold it with MLU.
    I experienced it for myself using a digital back and a tripod. The image shake around 1/15 was shockingly visible. Not sure if you'd want to go below that anyways handheld.
    So I try not to go below 1/60, which gives good subject motion protection, and should protect against my handshake at 110mm and below (on 6x7 printed 11x14 or smaller).

  33. Greg, good handholding technique is sometimes preferable to a tripod, particularly one that resonates (because hands do not transmit vibration and oscillate at a resonant frequency, as can both aluminum and carbon fiber). FWIW, one widely-used technique to stablilize a resonant camera with a tele lens is to press down on the camera and/or lens which effectively adds mass and dampens vibration.
  34. Ivan,
    So, are you saying 1/15 might be less of a problem handholding, due to dampening?
    Not that I should be shooting at that low a speed anyways. But it's a good excuse to justify me never shooting from my tripod. ;-)
  35. I own a 'blad but for hand-held I always switch to my Pentax 645N. Well balanced with a built-in grip that just feels right. And can be had for a song these days.
  36. Koni-Omega, Graflex XL, Mamiya Press and the Linhof Technika 6x9 that Kevin brought up are all good hand-held rangefinder cameras in either 6x7 or 6x9 format, interchangeable lenses, interchangeable backs, and plenty heavy!
  37. Don't some of the heavier SLR mf's have waist-level finders, such as Pentax 6x7? Looking down while it's firmly held to your lower gut/waist while hanging from the strap via-neck seems firm enough support? Though I guess that mirror starts to slap getting down to 15th of a second.
  38. One important consideration in this discussion is the situation that you are in when you want to take a hand-held photograph. For me, it's when I am out hiking, canoeing or kayaking and want to carry a light-weight and compact camera. For medium format, my choices have evolved to a Fuji GS645S and a Fuji GS645W which meet my criteria. I have previously tried a Fuji GW690, but it was too large and heavy, and a Rolleiflex which, although it produced fine results and was a mechanical thing of beauty, did not have a sufficiently wide angle lens and was, for me, difficult to get used to.

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