Hasselblad vs. Mamiya

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by kevinbriggs, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. Is it just my imagination, or when it comes to landscape photography, do more people choose Mamiya over Hasselblad (when it comes to medium format film and/or digital cameras/lenses...)?
    (This certainly seems to be the impression as I have had the opportunity to peruse a number of medium format forums...)
    If you had to choose between Mamiya or Hasselblad for landscape photography, which one would you choose...? Why?
    Thanks!
    (... And yes, I would like to limit the conversation to a choice between either Mamiya or Hasselblad -- thanks again!)
     
  2. It might partly be due to the huge variety of camera styles and image formats from Mamiya:
    Film: 645 SLR, 6x6 rangefinder, 6x6 TLR, 6x7 rangefinder, 6x7-6x8 SLR, 645-6x9 VF/rangefinder.
    Digital: 645 SLR, 6x7 SLR
    With Hasselblad, it's a much narrower choice:
    Film: 645 SLR, 6x6 SLR, 6x6 VF.
    Digital: 645 SLR, 6x6 SLR, 6x6 VF.
    Which would I choose? Well while I do more than just landscapes, I'm now down to two basic systems:
    - Mamiya 645 - for its lenses (fastest & widest choice); for covering both film and well-integrated digital; for relatively lower cost; and for speed and compactness
    - Mamiya Universal Press - for very large film area (6x9) and image quality, and for some excellent lenses; for when "slower and bulkier" doesn't matter, I know the shot I want, and I have the time to get it right.
    Bear in mind that with medium format digital, the sensors are all smaller than 645 film, so you're not really getting a 6x6 or 6x7 digital camera.
    If you mainly want to shoot digital, you could say it's a straight fight between the Mamiya AFD series and the Hasselblad H series. Buying new, the latter seems to hold its value better; buying used, the former is far better value.
    For film, the Hasselblad V system has much of the compactness of the Mamiya 645s, and much of the larger image quality and leaf-shutter considerations of the Mamiya RB/RZ. To many people it's the perfect compromise; to others it just falls between the two stools. It's best to study the systems carefully and to try them out first if you can.
     
  3. I like taking landscape pictures, but I want to carry a light camera. I considered RZ and RB, but they were too big for me. I bought the Mamiya 7, as it is the lightest 6x7. It's a nice camera, except the lens choices were limited, and the indirect rangefinder viewing was not so precise. I, then bought the Hasselblad 500C/M. Although the negative is a little smaller, the 6x6 slides made by the Zeiss lenses, especially the 50mm and 60mm, are very sharp. I have the ability to crop 6x6 any way I choose. And, I like the more direct viewing capability of the SLR design. Plus, there are so many more lens choices. So, I sold the Mamiya 7. That's my story.
     
  4. stp

    stp

    My story is very similar to that of M Allegretta. I had a Mamiya 7II for it's lightness, exceptional lenses, and 6x7 format. While I got some great photos of forests with the camera, for some reason I had great difficulty with marine landscapes. I remember one roll in which every single image was discarded because of poor composition, exposure, etc. Clearly, that's the fault of the photographer, but it's also a sign that I was having difficulty with the camera. I think the basic problems were the center-weighted exposure meter (although I used such a meter successfully several decades ago) and the rangefinder viewing system. I sold the Mamiya system and have opted to try a Hasselblad V-system (with my main cameras still being a Pentax 645 and Canon 1DsIII, both of which I know very well and like very much). This Hasselblad SLR and the use of a spot/incident exposure meter has already given me more confidence and comfort in using the camera. It's still early (I'll get my first roll back next week), but already I'm glad I made the switch. I just picked up a shoulder bag that will hold the system very nicely, and I'm looking forward to seeing the world in terms of squares rather than rectangles (my goal is to keep cropping to a minimum).
     
  5. Hasselblad= Metal
    Mamiya= Plastic
    I choose metal..............
     
  6. I decided on a Mamiya 7. It's a mixed bag of nuts, all these advantages/disadvantages. In addition to things already mentioned, you may want to give some thought to how the camera feels in your hands. The controls and layout are set up like 35mm cameras. To focus with a rangefinder is a different experience than through the lens. Although the Mamiya 7 is bulky, it is light and you might (or might not) have better luck hand-holding it or leaning against a tree or rock instead of carrying a tripod. It's worth a thought if you plan much hiking. Might also compare how well you see through the viewfinder in blazing sun and in very low light.
     
  7. Good question. I have been hiking, as well as climbing with two Mamiya 6 hanged from the harness (50 and 150mm), but I`d never use my RZ in the field (actually I have used it a couple of times, one of them for portraiture with a specific peak in the background + longer lens).
    For landscape photography I`d not use, nor I used to use either of them.
     
  8. Hasselblad= Metal
    Mamiya= Plastic
    I choose metal..............​
    Because metal cameras take better pictures??
    Seriously, have you never seen an RB67, an older M645, any of the Mamiya TLRs, any of the Mamiya Press cameras? They would satisfy your metallic cravings. The modern 645AF line might look plasticky and have that lighter heft, but look under the hood - you'll find a rigid titanium chassis.
     
  9. I thought the "plastic vs metal" debate was put to bed after the Glock handguns came aboard c 1980's? You can drove over one with a truck, and then fire it.
    That said, I'd have to give a small edge to the Zeiss glass on the 'blads. But in reality stopped down a few stops, the Mamiya glass does a fine job. So the real issue is square vs rectangle. Durability and cost are to be considered too. Advantage here goes to Mamiya.
     
  10. For medium Format, I shoot with Hasselblad. I used to have a Pentax 67, and was impressed with the quality, but didn't like it that when the battery went dead, the mirror would hang up in mid-cycle. I switched to Hasselblad: smaller, lighter, mechanical. More comfortable hand-held shooting. But as a long-time Leica user, I have sometimes thought I'd like an MF rangefinder. And the one I would want would be the Mamiya 7 II. I've seen what those lenses can do. And so if I ever switched, that is the camera I would want.
     
  11. Many thanks for all responses -- it has been truly educational thus far!
     
  12. I think that maybe the Hasselblad makes more sense for landscape shooting. Mamiyas RFs are great for its lightness but not so comfortable with lenses longer than "normal"... lenses that I`d miss in the field.
     
  13. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    What " more people" choose is not relevant to your decision. What is relevant is how well it fits with what you want to achieve, and you haven't said which leaves everyone in the air a bit, making assumptions about what's important to you, without which any advice is valueless.
    Here's some things that I might be thinking about in your position.
    • What am I prepared to carry? If most of your work is from the back of a car, the answer might be "anything". If OTOH you're into long wilderness hikes you might well find a mamiya RB/RZ kind of heavy not to mention heavy lenses and the sort of tripod you'll need to turn a camera like that.
    • Related to the question above, how do you see the eventual "outfit"? There's no point acting like you're prepared to carry a Hasselblad (or whatever) unless you've taken into account that you might want to end up with 3 or 4 lenses, flash, filters, a handheld meter, tripod, ballhead and so on.
    • Do I want to make use of grads, long lenses and precise depth of field control? If so a rangefinder might not be for you. Do you want very precise framing for your shots, or to use macro? If so the Mamiya rangefinder may not be for you.
    • What formats do I want to print or see in whatever I regard as a "final photograph"? I know you can crop anything to any ratio, but composing for a crop isn't always easy; making a crop can be a PITA . I'd want a format where I was going to use it uncropped most of the time, so if I want to make square prints then I'd look to buy a 6x6 camera.
    • If you bought a Mamiya 645 would you end up cropping the images substantially? If so you are eroding the "medium format advantage" somewhat.
    • Do you have any deep-seated preference for either brand? There are people for whom only a Hasselblad will really satisfy them, and if they buy a Mamiya will question their own choice every time they pick it up. If you're like that get a Hasselblad now rather than perpetually post-rationalise or regret you decision.
    • What size do you want to print to, and how? Frankly you can make big prints from any of these cameras, but if you want to really push the boat out on print sizes and especially if you intend to make traditional optical prints, then perhaps you shouldn't opt for 645.
    • Do you care about batteries. Some people prefer a purely mechanical camera. I don't care- I just carry spares.
    • Do you plan to do a lot of photography where you just have to use a camera handheld, to escape the attentions of security guards etc, in which case a rangefinder might be a good choice.
    To be frank, if you can answer these questions you may have arrived at a decision for yourself, or at least you'll be aware of the compromises you need to make . Its possible that you'll conclude that there is no single ideal camera for all your applications. That's why I use two MF systems
     
  14. There is a British photographer (Waite?) who put out a lanscape photography book containing many nice images shot on 6x6 Hasselblad and/or Bronica - so I have seen it done.

    However, I personally tried 6x6, and it did not work for me.

    I recently began to use a Mamiya RB Pro SD. The 6x7 frame is in actuality even more elongated than it's nominal ratio. I have also tried the 6x8 back for it - aside from still working out mild corner vignetting, I can already see it works very well for landscape potentially.

    As a person who shots 4x5 Toyo Field camera for lanscape occaisionally, I feel that any landscape camera that lacks shifts (and to a smaller extent, swings) is compromised. I use the Toyo Field camera with 6x7 and 6x9 backs.

    To emphatically answer you original question, I would go for Mamiya 7 (for it's zero distortion wide angle lenses) or Mamiya RB (for its ultrasharp 127 KL, 210 Apo, and 250 Apo lenses, waist level finder view, mirror lock up, bellows focusing, durability, and 6x8 back).

    I really would NOT want to have to use a 6x6 for landscape photography again - Frustrating.

    6x7 negatives are rewarding sight to behold on a light table. I wholeheartedly recommend Mamiya 6x7 format for landscape.
     
  15. There is a British photographer (Waite?) who put out a lanscape photography book containing many nice images shot on 6x6 Hasselblad and/or Bronica - so I have seen it done.

    However, I personally tried 6x6, and it did not work for me.

    I recently began to use a Mamiya RB Pro SD. The 6x7 frame is in actuality even more elongated than it's nominal ratio. I have also tried the 6x8 back for it - aside from still working out mild corner vignetting, I can already see it works very well for landscape potentially.

    As a person who shots 4x5 Toyo Field camera for lanscape occaisionally, I feel that any landscape camera that lacks shifts (and to a smaller extent, swings) is compromised. I use the Toyo Field camera with 6x7 and 6x9 backs.

    To emphatically answer you original question, I would go for Mamiya 7 (for it's zero distortion wide angle lenses) or Mamiya RB (for its ultrasharp 127 KL, 210 Apo, and 250 Apo lenses, waist level finder view, mirror lock up, bellows focusing, durability, and 6x8 back).

    I really would NOT want to have to use a 6x6 for landscape photography again - Frustrating.

    6x7 negatives are rewarding sight to behold on a light table. I wholeheartedly recommend Mamiya 6x7 format for landscape.
     
  16. What " more people" choose is not relevant to your decision. What is relevant is how well it fits with what you want to achieve, and you haven't said which leaves everyone in the air a bit, making assumptions about what's important to you, without which any advice is valueless.​
    Hello David,

    You bring up an excellent point. I should have included further information.

    To be as brief as possible (some of these points you have raised, some you haven't):

    1. I have absolutely no problem with a heavier camera. I am 6'6" tall and about 280 pounds (amateur bodybuilder, believe it or not) and I enjoy hiking a great deal. So whenever anybody talks about the weight of the camera, it's just not that big of a deal for me.

    2. I'm definitely leaning more towards digital, even though there are many, many people who are telling me to stick with film.

    3. As everyone else has noted, there are impressive aspects to both the Hasselblad digital and Mamiya digital models.

    4. I absolutely intend to print my works. I'm currently getting an increasing number of requests from family members, friends, acquaintances, and others who would like prints of my current work with my Canon 1Ds Mark III. I'm moving into the medium format realm to improve the overall quality of the photos, especially the prints, of course. On this note, I'm looking to print at at least 20" x 30" (without having to use any enlargement algorithms, software, processes, etc.), preferably 24" x 36"... perhaps even a little bit larger.

    5. I do care about the battery life. Yes, I can always take an extra battery -- no problem. But battery life is indeed important, especially when I'm out in the field all day (usually the back country of Alaska).

    6. I'm ALWAYS going to be shooting with a tripod, never handheld.

    7. I don't need to bring along any flashes for my landscape photography; just filters and generally one lens (maybe two at the most).

    8. I do not want to have to crop anything, by the way. I hate cropping!

    I hope this information proves helpful in providing further advice. Thanks again!
     
  17. I thought the "plastic vs metal" debate was put to bed after the Glock handguns came aboard c 1980's? You can drove over one with a truck, and then fire it.
    A truck exerts no more than about 100 psi on something under its tires (or whatever inflation pressure is used). You may recall an high school physics experiment where you weigh a car with a pressure gauge, a jack, four sheets of graph paper and a sheet of carbon paper. The Glock demonstration made good press, but has little scientific significance. Someone dropped an unloaded SIG P220 500 feet from an helicopter onto asphalt pavement without dropping the hammer. I wouldn't want to be standing under it holding either an Hasselbald or a Mamiya ;-)
    If landscape photographers prefer Mamiya cameras over Hasselblad (and not 4x5?) it is probably for the larger 6x7 format. However, I've not seen any statistics supporting this premise, nor are any valid studies likely forthcoming. It may not be representative, but photos in Outdoor Photography (the US version) seem to be shot using either 4x5 film (mostly the Muench brothers) or a variety of DSLRs. Luminous Landscape photographers use (mostly) Phase One backs on a variety of platforms, but the Leica M8/9 and several nominal P&S cameras make frequent appearances.
    I use an Hasselblad for landscapes because that's what I have. I find it a convenient size for general photography too, and have a decent collection of lenses and bodies. I respect those who use Mamiya cameras. These cameras and lenses are of high quality. I have owned several largely plastic cameras, including a Nikon F100 (which also has a magnesium frame). Engineering plastics have come a long way since the first World War (or second).
     
  18. Mamiya RB67 is a workhorse, just as well made as Hasselblad, and perhaps more reliable too. I had one for a few years and loved it, but it is big and heavy. Overall I like the square format better but that's just because I love Rollei TLR cameras more than Hasselblad.
     
  19. Hasselblad + 80 Planar + Back is a bit over 1500 grs, I guess.
    RZ + 110 + Back is 2500grs. aprox.
    If a complete RZ doubles the volume of a Hasselblad, how much an all metal complete RZ, could be? 3000grs? 3500grs? 4000grs?
    Fuji 680 series cameras are around 4000grs. I wonder how many people would like to have their 6x7 Mamiyas in that league.
     
  20. lwg

    lwg

    Kevin,
    I know you said you wanted to limit it to Hassleblad or Mamiya, but I would skip right over medium format and go for 4x5 in your case. I have a 4x5 and more medium format cameras than I need. The 4x5 consistently gets the best shots when I use it for landscape. The Mamiya 7 is a close second, but the lack of a ground glass and movements is too limiting for me to have it as my only landscape camera. On the right shot the quality is almost equal to the 4x5, which I found shocking at first.

    I found the RZ to be too heavy for the quality it gives, at least out on a hike. My 4x5 is lighter, and takes better pictures. The Mamiya 645 is very nice, but the negative size is too small for the enlargements you want. I picked up a Hassleblad yesterday, but my plans for it don't extend to landscape. I really want it to replace the Mamiya 645 as a walk around camera that I can actually use the waist level finder on. Unless you like square, the Hassleblad will give you the same size negatives as the 645, which I think is too small for quality you seem to want. I will soon be selling the RZ and either the 645 or the Hassleblad.
    Good luck in your search. And don't be afraid to just buy a camera and try it for a while. You can almost always sell it for what you paid if you shop carefully and don't rush the sale.
     
  21. Well I figure it's about $5 a pop shooting 4x5 unless you do your own dip and dunk developing. Can't afford that myself. Medium format film can give as good of performance as 4x5 unless you're enlarging bigger than 16x20. I'd stick with 6x7cm or 6x6cm format. Mamiya 6 or Mamiya 7II are both excellent, and not nearly as heavy as RB or RZ.
     
  22. Great camera is the Mamiya Press. Can shoot up to 6x9. Also, a viewing hood gives it a View camera viewing, but, without the movements, of course.
     
  23. A willingness to crop is the price of admission to rangefinder-land, but the payoff is the rectangular format. The tools are both phenomenal.
    I suggest, go out with some cardboard with square and rectangular cutouts and see if one format feels more natural to your sense of composition.
     
  24. For landscape I use (beside 5x7) a Mamiya RB system with 6x8 back.
    6x6 I shoot with the Mamiya 330s.
     
  25. Hi Kevin,
    I chose a couple of Blads - the 500 c/m and 553 elx... that's my story and I'm sticking with it!
    Nothing wrong with any of the other camera systems but it always boils down to personal likes and dislikes. I quite like the square format but it certainly does require a different way of "seeing." It simply works for me.
    Btw, those Zeiss lenses are preeetty darn spectacular!
    Cheers
     
  26. Thanks again for everyone's input here!
     
  27. Hi Kevin,
    I've used a Hasselblad w/ 50/80/150 for 20 yrs for landscapes, portraits, you name it. They're precise but not light once you get all the pieces you want. The used prices are pretty good now. I can also use it w/ a friend's CFV39 though I don't like shooting 645 verticals with it.
    I got my Mamiya 7II for a trip to the UK and Hungary. I rented 43/50/65/150 lenses in NYC. I shot a friend's wedding B&W and shot street scenes allover Budapest and landscapes in remote parts of the country. I got the M7 primarily because I wanted to get the street scenes without setting up on tripod, etc. The M7 is lighter and quicker to operate. I also ended up buying a 50mm lens. If the $$$ permitted, I'd have more. At the time the prices were much better in the UK (Robert White) but you can't get service through Mamiya in the US. The external viewfinders for the 43/50 are not as accurate, the 150 hard to focus, and depth of field through the RF a little disconcerting. The lightness of the camera permits lower shutter speed handhelds in a pinch and it has a pretty good meter too. I was very happy w/ the M7 for the intended purposes. Having said this, I wouldn't use it for head and shoulders portraits (but this wasn't your issue anyway)
    Both are very sharp if you take the appropriate steps! Good Luck.
     
  28. 6x6 can be nice, but I used to crop a lot of the time, particularly for landscapes. So for me, the larger neg size of the RB
    trumps the Zeiss glass.
     
  29. 6x6 can be nice, but I used to crop a lot of the time, particularly for landscapes. So for me, the larger neg size of the RB trumps the Zeiss glass.​
    How wonderful would the world be if we could persuade Zeiss to make lenses for the RB/RZ series??? Erm, at a reasonable price, although that's probably asking well more than a bit too much.
     
  30. I have used & owned both systems when I was a pro. After I quit that, the Mamiya systems were sold. The Hasselblad still works for me and I like the 6x6 format. I'll 'fess up that my Pentax 67 usually does my outdoor landscape stuff, tho. If it was one choice only I would favor the square format for no other reasons than I find it comfortable and i like the workflow. BTW; I own & shoot a Glock too. No problemo on the "plastic!"
     
  31. On this note, I'm looking to print at at least 20" x 30" ... preferably 24" x 36"... perhaps even a little bit larger ... I do care about the battery life ... I'm ALWAYS going to be shooting with a tripod, never handheld ... I don't need to bring along any flashes for my landscape photography; just filters and generally one lens (maybe two at the most).​
    Skip MF altogether. Get yourself a nice 4x5 field view camera kit. For the highest possible technical image quality nothing is as important as film area. Camera movements is a plus too, and very few MF rigs have any.
    Pack a high megapixel count advanced digicam or low end DSLR as well. When the 4x5 can't be set up in time, shoot a few frames handheld with the DSLR and stitch. A 4 or 6 frame composite will generally exceed 645 MF quality (i.e., 6x6 cropped down to more common aspect ratios) in most technical parameters.
     
  32. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    A decade ago you'd have needed LF to make quality prints the size you mention. Not any more. The processes of film scan and print(from film) or starting with a digital MF original have pretty much put paid to that and you can get great prints the size you mention from either of the systems you're considering, and from either the film or digital versions.
    To me the only big advantage of LF is camera movements if you need them. There's plenty of photographers producing great landscapes who don't feel they need this. Bear in mind the speed of set-up, viewing a reversed world from under a black cloth, the considerable expense of the film and processing, the cost of scanning, and the space requirements of exposed and unexposed film on a trip. No denying that you could get some great pictures, but there is a price to pay, and if you like to shoot a lot that price will be considerable.
     
  33. Don't they call MF the "great compromise" format, or something along those lines?
     
  34. MF has been called "the great compromise" format, and I agree. As much as I enjoyed my 4x5 Wista field camera, it was a chore to set up and shoot. Lugging LF gear around isn't exactly what I'd call portable. MF has also been dubbed "the ideal format," referring to 6x7, in the form of the Mamiya 7II, and RB67.
     
  35. MF has also been dubbed "the ideal format," referring to 6x7, in the form of the Mamiya 7II, and RB67.​
    Why is this known as "the ideal format"....?
     
  36. Because 6x7 fits common print formats like 8x10 and 16x20 without having to crop the negative appreciably. Getting a 6x6 square negative to fit the same print dimensions means not being able to use a sizable section of the film.
     

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