How would you spend $6,000 in medium format

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by marco_v|1, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. I've read about all of them, from the $300 bronica to the $40,000 H4D. 6x9, 6x7, 6x6 and 6x4.5.
    Rangefinders, SLRs, TLRs, and everything in between.
    I own a nikon f100 and 1 nikon d200. I want to get into medium format photography. I am looking for advice on what is the best way to spend $6,000.
    I love wide angles, will probably need a normal lens, a nice portrait lens and maybe even a macro lens.
     
  2. You can't go wrong with Hasselblad. Get a 503CW body with a prism finder and an A-16 back, CF lenses 40mm f/4, 60mm f/3.5, 50mm f2.8, 150mm f/4 and a 120mm f/4 Makro. you will be very pleased.
     
  3. Before even thinking about the camera system, start by placing an order for a Nikon 9000 scanner and the glass carrier. This will blow $3k of the budget.
    This single purchase is the largest determinant of the technical image quality coming out of whatever MF system you end up buying into. Don't bother with Epson flatbeds, not even the 750.
    Buy a nice Epson wide carriage inkjet. Price varies (a lot.)
    Buy into a camera system with the budget left over. Look into the Mamiya RB and RZ, and start with the standard 90mm or 127mm lens. The system is flexible; the bellow focusing is a big plus. The 6x7 film gives large amount of usable film area without cropping.
    Don't go crazy buying lenses. You won't truly know what appeals until you've significantly used a camera.
     
  4. Nikon CS 9000 with the glass carrier is the first step. Then, a Hassy CWD with a 60mm ,120mm and 150mm lenses, if you will still have cah to spare, buy the Hassy SWC/M or 903 0r 905, that's all you will probably ever want. or need.
     
  5. A good scanner makes sense unless you just want to do darkroom work? Anyway, I wouldn't look for an MF zoom as I haven't seen any that are really very good, including Hasselblads.
    If you can swing it, Hasselblads are nice, but so are the RB's. I recommend an RB over an RZ because it is all manual and you don't lose any functions because of a battery. The quality is every bit as good and the minor differences in the use is easy to learn (extra stuff with RB and a bit closer to large format). And RB's are dirt cheap, I know, I sold a whole system--RZ & RB's--and cried at the prices! You will also like the big negative and hate the fact that you can't get a roll in a single film sleeve that fits a normal binder! But they are big and beautiful!
     
  6. The main problem is that the Nikon 9000 scanner doesn't exist anymore. Nikon has all but abandoned film users so the only real option is to buy it used. That is if you don't mind spending more money for something used then it cost when it was new! So it's your choice if you want to spend $2500+ on a used scanner from ebay that might up and die on you in a month leaving you stranded!

    I'd buy a Nikon in an instant but as they don't exist anymore I was forced to buy an Epson 700. It's perfectly fine for this as long as you also upgrade your film holder to a betterscanning holder. I've heard the most absurd statements from people here who really should know better. Statements such as, "A MF scan on an epson is no better then a negative from a 1930s folder" and "a flatbed MF scan is worse then a high quality 35mm scan" are completely absurd and are the ramblings of people who are more techno-geek then photographer, which you shouldn't be listening to them in the first place.
    I have a Minolta 5400 35mm scanner, which in reviews and tests was even higher in IQ and Color Accuracy then any Nikon scanner and the MF scans I get from my epson 700 blow away any high quality 35mm scan I've gotten from my minolta. I'm sure the Nikon 9000 does scan better then the Epson, but a lot of the posters here have the attitude that if you aren't going to spent $2000+ dollars on a 6+ year old used scanner then you have no right to be shooting Medium Format. Don't let those people discourage you. An epson should be fine for at least up to 11x14 prints and let you get in the game. And don't let people tell you different - you WILL see a difference between MF and 35mm using an epson. Even my 4x5 prints I make from MF using the epson to scan blow away any 4x6 I've gotten from 35mm.

    Anyway, if you take a photo that you want to enlarge to a huge amount like 40x50, common sense would dictate that you would get a drum scan and do it right. Even the Nikon isn't good enough for super-huge enlargements. Unless you want to use a home scan for a $300 or higher mounted print. But if I'm going to spend that amount on a print, I'd rather spend an additional $100 or so on a scan as well and get the highest quality I can.
    If you can find a brand new Nikon scanner, with a warranty for $2000 or so, I'd say buy it but I wouldn't advise you to spend half your budget on a used scanner.
    I do hope eventually that Nikon gets its head out of its ass though and starts making these scanners again as Nikon and Minolta were the only real makers of high quality consumer MF film scanners. Although the probability of Minolta coming back from the dead and Nikon getting its head out of its ass are practically nil. Maybe a 3rd manufacturer will come out of nowhere and fill in this gap with some product.
     
  7. The main problem is that the Nikon 9000 scanner doesn't exist anymore.​
    The Nikon CS9000 is currently available new from B&H, Adorama, and Freestyle for $2200. It's available from other sources as well if for some reason you don't like the Big 3.
    This scanner is basically a build to order item, and has been that way for years. Mine came in from Adorama maybe two months after the order went in. This was just prior to the latest $200 price increase toward the fall of '09.
    Unless the lead time is unacceptable, do not pay above list for a used 9000 at the moment.
    I use a Nikon CS5000 as well as the CS9000 for film scans. The 5000 is a 135-only scanner but is otherwise identical to the 9000 in digitization result.
    It's instructive to see what actual, unretouched scans looks like. First, this is a crop from the 5000:
    [​IMG]
    Second, this is the same frame scanned with my Epson V500 flatbed.
    [​IMG]
    The Epson V700/V750 scan quality is between these two.
    Practically, much depends on the target print size. With 6x7, the V500 yields a real 20MP. This gives excellent 8x10 prints. Keep in mind, however, the same negative nets 80MP from the 9000: 16x20 prints from the 9000 (and the RB-67 system) are simply gorgeous. This is particularly the case with high resolution, sharp, fine grained film like Fuji Acros.
     
  8. stp

    stp

    Couldn't agree more with the above posts about getting a Nikon scanner. I'll only add that a used 9000 or even an 8000 may be viable alternatives. I got the 8000 when it first came out, it works perfectly, and would currently sell for about $800-$1000. Find one like that and you'd have a great deal.
     
  9. I'd buy a used 'Blad with a lens or two, and bank the other $4K.
     
  10. Although the Nikon 9000 does make better scans, I'm not convinced that actually buying one is the most cost-effective way to go. Most photographers will find that they do NOT need that type of quality for every frame. In fact, just a few frames per year may need that kind of scan. And in that case, one may be better off farming it out. Epsons are perfectly suited for proofing, making small prints, or scanning for the web. The example scans above are very tight crops. I have example of 11x17 prints from both the Nikon 9000 and Epson, and the problem is that the Nikon is not an order of magnitude better. The Epson can get 80% of what the Nikon gets, and that extra 20% is very expensive. Unless the poster knows he is going to be making a consistently large quantity of large prints--and those kind of photos that require hi-res scans--I would put the $2500 into something else.
     
  11. In Canada, Vistek has one in stock.
     
  12. If I could forget macro, or leave that to my 35mm SLR, the top MF system for me would be a Mamiya 7-II RF 6x7 camera, a 43mm very wide angle lens, an 80mm and possibly a 150mm lens. Unless I bought second hand mint quality, there might not be enough left over for a Nikon CS 9000 scanner, but the complete combination would be a good choice for the highest quality (short of drum scanning) MF system.
     
  13. ... and the problem is that the Nikon is not an order of magnitude better.​
    That's pretty much the way these things go. However, the V500 is $120 to the V700 at $500: neither is the higher end Epson flatbed 4x better than its cheaper stable mate.
    What it really comes down to is how best to apportion the purchasing budget. The choice of scanner shows, and rather obviously, through to (a sufficiently large) print.
    The camera system almost has no bearing on technical image quality. Be it Mamiya, Hasselblad, Pentax, Fuji, Contax or Bronica - these were all truly professional systems that photographers depended on for a living. A specific model or lens might be superior in some way and in some applications, but it's frankly hard to go wrong with any of these.
    Rather than selecting by make, decide first instead on the specific MF format. A prime reason to use MF is the relatively large film area. The resolution and tonality improvements over 135 film compensates for the additional hassle, so it's worthwhile keeping this in mind.
    Personally, I prefer 6x7. The aspect ratio fits the common 8x10 and 16x20 print sizes almost perfectly: meaning all that delicious negative area makes its way onto paper. 645 is just a bit too small in absolute terms. 6x6 is really no better once cropped down to fit. 6x8 and larger roll film cameras tend to be a bit more rare and esoteric.
     
  14. $6000??
    Myself, I'd spend $50 and get a late 1950s German 6x6 folder with Solinar or Tessar lens, a hood and a second-hand light meter. Then, I'd spend a couple of hours to get new grease on the focus threads, and re-collimate it. Then I'd spend about $80 on film....
    ...and then with the rest of the money, I'd head to...I don't know...Portugal...or maybe go back to Sweden...or Transylvania...or Taiwan...or....
     
  15. it

    it

    Hope you're kidding. With the price of used MF stuff you'd have to work pretty hard to spend $6K.
    I sold my 645N package, worth 8K-9K new for $1500.
    I would buy a used Hassleblad and a lens or 2 for $1000 and the rest on good lenses for the digital bodies.
     
  16. Do you want to be shooting film or digital? I wouldn't advise trying to get a whole digital system for $6K or even basing it on the Hass V which is not so suitable for digital use. For one thing, if you like shooting wide I believe you will need the 40mm lens and the good ones are several thousand dollars. It still won't be very wide due to the crop factor. A decent back, even used, will be $5K and up. There are many more reasons but I hope this has already made you reconsider. You just don't have the budget for a full working digital system. If you want to shoot film and have no digital ambition, $6K should get you a very decent system regardless of the platform. To answer the question as to how I personally would spend it, I already did. I got a Rollei 6008AF with 40, 80, 110, 150 and 180 lenses.
     
  17. I did not ask for advice on scanners but thanks anyway. I'm planning on getting my films developed at a local lab then scan them on a V500 and select which ones I will print manually (not digitally) myself and which will be outsourced. Probably do black n whites myself. I have printed 35mm negs before. I would like to print a few wall sized prints per year but mostly 8x10 and 16x20 I don't know if I will be able to do 16x20 at home. Also I have no idea of what the cost of decent enlargers are.
    I am planning to get a contax with a 35, 80, and 120makro. I like that it is a very flexible system, easy to use, has autofocus which I might find helpful for street photography, and it is compatible with digital backs if I ever decide to go digital. I like the 645 format because I might be able to shoot hand held. Mamiya RB/RZ 67 cameras are huge and Mamiya 7 is not very versatile. I agree with Robert on the 6x6.
     
  18. Excellent choice of format and camera. Those Contax Zeiss lenses ought to be capable of out-resolving any of the above-mentioned scanners including the 4K dpi Nikon, so when outsourcing the best work look for a drum-scanner operator with an 16-bit Aztek, Howtek or ICG scanner capable of non-interpolated resolution of 5K or more. (Tangos won't do better than a Nikon 9000, and are 8 bit.)
    Except for the digital back-swapping limitation, you might find that the Pentax 645N and NII system also meets your needs. I discovered the Contax to be much less available here in the US, and the system is typically 4X-5X pricier used. The Pentax lenses are also stellar and relatively common and therefore tend to be better bargains (not so with the 35mm f/3.5 SMC-FA, a rare beast that costs as much as the Contax equivalent. But I'm delighted with the superb optical quality of my $300 manual focus version, that I most often use at hyperfocal distance).
    If you've done 16x20's on an enlarger from 35mm you'll find 645 easier: less of an enlargement, less light loss, fewer dust and reciprocity problems. Same enlargers with different neg carriers, and these are as inexpensive now as they've ever been.
     
  19. You might check it out, but there was an issue with the Contax when it first came out. I considered it myself, at that time, but a friend who was also a pro got one and had issues with that AF system with b/w filters. It just wouldn't focus at all and I think it was with a red filter, but don't remember for sure--long time ago but I know he returned it. I do think it was fine except in that case, ...for what it is worth!
     
  20. Before even thinking about the camera system, start by placing an order for a Nikon 9000 scanner and the glass carrier. This will blow $3k of the budget.​
    What has scanning got to do with it?
     
  21. You can get fantastic prints from film, but the scanner is another option the OP might want
     
  22. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Ivan Eberle asserts
    Tangos won't do better than a Nikon 9000, and are 8 bit.​
    I don't think either of these statements are correct.
     
  23. You definitely need to keep those equipment costs under $2000. $6K is not enough to get the top-end digital everything accessories, so you're aiming mostly for film and its conversions. For under $2K, you should be able to get some really good optics and a film body from someone who has moved on to something else.
    • Equipment below $2K, maybe well below $2K
    • $2K on supplies
    • $2K on follow up costs like travel on a big trip, printing up a small book, framing a collection of prints, or paying fees and costs associated with art fairs or small shows.
    I would encourage you to spend maybe a maximum of a third on the hardware. Spend more than half on utility. You'll thank yourself later.
    The year that I purchased my Pentax 645 I paid out a lot of money in equipment, by my standards. Within a calendar year, those hardware costs were below 10% of what I had purchased (photo related stuff). Fuel, even though I didn't often go very far, was an unforeseen radical expense increase. I made a lot of day trips with the camera.
    It's up to you: how you spend your money. How you budget things out. Yet, I recommend you budget to unleash the beast. $6K means keep those equipment costs down.
     
  24. Pay to unleash the beast. You want bricks of film and buckets of Dektol & fixer. You want a thousand dollar flight somewhere. You want two grand in gasoline, oil and vehicle maintenance. You want to go to the grocery store so that you can save out there to stay another day if you want. Well, your version of this is your version. Maybe you would have chosen differently on the particulars.
    Pay to unleash the beast. Budget for utility. Every item you buy is money that can't be devoted to using the other items.
     
  25. Dave, I've thrown away considerable money on Tango scans only to figure this out. To wring everything that's there on a small format neg, 35mm and 645 call for more critical scanning-- higher res than a Tango can muster-- because these formats are not as lens-limited or diffraction-limited in resolution as are larger formats. They're film-limited, but only when the scanner itself doesn't become the bottleneck. If one is going to bother with the recurring film costs of MF, might as well achieve better final results than what can be achieved with digital-capture gear for the same or lesser money.
    I was already making cropped 16x20's from my best 35mm transparencies and negs off my Minolta DMSE 5400 (as in 5400 dpi) that were quite satisfactory. Excellent tonality but could see in my macros there was a level of detail I was missing and perhaps room for improvement in resolution. Two of the reputed top Tango operators returned numerous scans that were not better resolving, and which were posterized.
    One of the lab owners--old prepress guy who's been in this since dirt was invented-- admitted to me that above 2800, the Tango hardware interpolates. At a hardware level, it's also an 8-bit conversion.
    I deduced that this is the reason Tangos do so poorly with negs.
    Tangos are repurposed cheap magazine and ad layout scanners (yes, back in the day $50K was cheap) but they're not particularly well suited to fine-art photographic needs.
    The best 35mm and 645 format lenses resolve close to 110 lp/mm on Velvia, Astia and Provia. Nyquist frequency calls for doubling that when sampling. There's a reason why the highest end scanners don't quit at 4K dpi.
    So for my money the best $6K one could spend on 645 would be to buy a ubiquitous and cheap camera capable of high res (Pentax) and an 8K dpi Aztek (barring that, scans from one).
     
  26. If you like the "feel" of 35mm SLR bodies, consider the Pentax 67II or 645N or 645NII. There's lots of quality glass out for both of them.
     
  27. Why don't you buy a used enlarger and try traditonal color printing. I saw an add on cragslist for a 4 x 5 omega with a dichro II for 125.00
     
  28. What'cha gonna use this stuff for?
    Some cameras are better suited for certain types of photography.
    I love Mamiya TLR cameras! I've got several of them. I'm using a C3 today. They have interchangeable lenses, great optics, great quality camera bodies.
    I just bought a Mamiya C33 from KEH for $120.00, plus 9 bucks for freight.
    Wonderful machines!
    Not very suited to action or photojournalistic photography.
    And if they don't work out for you, they are heavy and make excellent doorstops.
    HA! Smiles! Just kidding.
    Check out Mamiya TLR's!
    Cheap & wonderful.
     
  29. I'd wait a few weeks and check out the Pentax 645d
     
  30. I have had and used most of them. My favorites are a Mamiya RB67 for rectangular pictures, a Hasselblad for square. If I had to pick one it would be the RB with a 127mm. The pro sd model, with KL lens.
     
  31. If I ran the zoo...
    <br><br>
    $2K for a dedicated scanner, probably the Nikon. (For another $1, you can probably find a used Imacon.)
    <br><br>
    $2K (+) for a 6X17 kit.
    <br><br>
    That leaves a little less than $2K, which will buy damn near any 6X6 ~ 6X9 system you like. Or you can buy one of each at ~1K each.
    <br><br>
    Spend a few hundred for developing equipment. If you intend to actually USE any of your toys, at-home developing will save you plenty.
    <br><br>
    The fact that you don't know what you want, much less need, does worry me a little. All this smacks of the "Should I upgrade?!" anxiety the Pixel Peepers and Gear Dweebs are famous for. Before blowing umpteen grand, you really should get some hands-on time with several systems.
     
  32. Do like I did, get a mint Mamiya 645 AFDII with 80mm lens and back for about $1500 U.S. It is a wonderful camera to shoot with and handles much like a large 35mm camera. The optics are incredibly sharp. Then add a few lenses (used) like the 35mm or 45mm for wide, the 120 f/4 for macro (extension tubes are great with the 80mm although a bit limiting as far as distance from subject goes), and maybe the 105-210 zoom for tele. You may still have enough left over to buy a Nikon Coolscan 9000 for scanning color film, but I definitely recommend darkroom printing for black and white, it's too fun to ignore if you are shooting film to begin with.
     
  33. $500 for a used Rollei TLR
    $2000 for film, paper, and chemicals
    $2000 for travel
    $1500 for mats, frames, bumpons, and invitations to your exhibition.
     
  34. Why not go digital?
    Last year I bought a mint Mamiya AFDII with a ZD back and the following: 35/3.5, 45/2.8, 55/2.8, 80/2.8, and 150/3.5, 3 extension tubes, 5 batteries, and a cable release. I got the entire set for $7,000, and that price has no doubt dropped since then.
    You could also get a Mamiya AFD with a Kodak DCS PRo back 645M. It's a bit slower in operation than the ZD back, but the output is as close to velvia as I have every seen from a digital camera. When I post images to various photo forums many people assume they are medium format film images, and not digital. The Kodak backs for Mamiya bodies are a bit hard to find, but an AFD with digital back and 80mm lens set can usually be found in the $2,500 - $3,000 range. That leaves a lot of money left pover for travel, AND you won't spend any time scanning.
     
  35. Why not go digital?
    Last year I bought a mint Mamiya AFDII with a ZD back and the following: 35/3.5, 45/2.8, 55/2.8, 80/2.8, and 150/3.5, 3 extension tubes, 5 batteries, and a cable release. I got the entire set for $7,000, and that price has no doubt dropped since then.
    You could also get a Mamiya AFD with a Kodak DCS PRo back 645M. It's a bit slower in operation than the ZD back, but the output is as close to velvia as I have every seen from a digital camera. When I post images to various photo forums many people assume they are medium format film images, and not digital. The Kodak backs for Mamiya bodies are a bit hard to find, but an AFD with digital back and 80mm lens set can usually be found in the $2,500 - $3,000 range. That leaves a lot of money left pover for travel, AND you won't spend any time scanning.
    00VjyU-219447584.jpg
     
  36. khi

    khi

    Buy yourself a mint Fuji GA645Pro for $350-400 and use the other $5k for travel :)
     
  37. I like the square format and would be tempted to spend your dollars on a Hasselblad 503 and a used CFV 16 digital back for it. Or use the $6000. as a down payment on the CFV 39 back. Jeff L has a nice square image posted from his Mamiya digital, which could be a very nice way to go as well. If you have the time, rent some of what you think that you might like before you buy.
     
  38. I've bought a bronica rf645 (45/65/100mm lenses + flash+double shoe+pol) a hassy 903 swc for wide.Now looking for a linhof technorama 612 pano camera with schneider 65 or 90 5,6 mc lens!!!
     
  39. Jeff, where did you get your mamiya + zd back?
    What digital back choices are there for Contax 645? (well under 10k, or maybe in the near future will be under 10k)
     
  40. these are my top picks. i would at least get one rangefinder and one slr.
    rangefinder:
    • fuji gw690iii or gsw690iii
    • fuji gf670
    • mamiya 7ii
    • bronica rf645
    • fuji ga645i
    slr:
    • pentax 67
    • mamiya rz67 pro ii
    • hasselblad 501cm
    • rollei 6001 or 6008
    • hasselblad h1 or h2 of fuji gx645af
    • contax 645
    • pentax 645nii
    tlr:
    • rolleiflex 2.8f or 3.5f or rolleiwide or tele-rollei
    viewfinder:
    • hasselblad swc
    • alpa 12
    panoramic:
    • fuji gx617
    • linhof technorama
    • ebony 6x17
    technical:
    • linhof super technika 6x9
    • linhof technika 70
    • horseman vh
    • plaubel 69w proshift
    view:
    • arca swiss 6x9
    • toyo 23gx
    • linhof technikardan 23s
    • linhof m679
    • ebony 6x9
    of course, that's almost everything out there...
     
  41. Hasselblad (501 CM or newer), 50, 80, 120 macro, and either 150 or 180 for portraits. CF T* versions or newer. Get an extra back so you can have two rolls of different film going at the same time. You will also need a light meter.
     
  42. Buy a good scanner and an inexpensive MF camera and a few lenses to test the waters. The Bronica ETRSi (or a Bronica SQ if you like square) is very good, and inexpensive. It's small and light enough to carry about, and the leaf shutter lenses sync at all speeds. Gain some experience with it and then decide if you need something else.
     
  43. Marco, the Contax is a good choice if you can squeeze it in at that budget. The Zeiss 120/4 Macro is second to none including with super high resolution digital backs ... but that lens is not inexpensive. The other (hard to find) great lens is the Zeiss/Contax 55/3.5 ... one of the hidden secrets of that system IMO. For film look for the vacuum film back which sucks the film flat to the pressure plate to mitigate the film curl issue.
    Contax 645 takes most every common digital back out there ... but IMO the best is the Phase One which looks like it was designed specifically for the C645 and integrates the battery with-in the back so it doesn't hang off the bottom like with Leaf, Hasselblad CFs, and Kodak Probacks. A Phase One P25 can easily be had for well under $10K ... and unlike a square sensor back provides good WA coverage with a scant 1.1X lens factor rather than a 1.5X like a ProBack 645C does.
    The Contax 645 isn't state of the art AF, but it's faster AF than a Hassey V ... LOL!
     
  44. Lots to be said for spending about a third of this on actual gear...a third on materials...a third on travel/getting to locations - but these suggestions, no matter how well meaning, may well be moot - as you did not mention if this 6K is your total budget available for photography....or just for the hardware side of photography.
    If 6K is indeed your total budget for everything photo-related, and if you sink all of this into equipment, then just be aware of the dangers of being "all dressed up, and noplace to go."
    That said...you also need to think about output. In other words, are you thinking digital or analogue...or both? Color or black and white..or both?
    If I had 6K which I absolutely had to spend on one MF system (camera gear only), prioritizing film use (got to assume this at 6K, unless you want a scanner) - with your listed requirements, then I'd go with a Hasselblad 501CM, plus 50mm CF-FLE, 80mm CF, 120mm CF, and 180mm CF lenses... waist level and PME-90 (metered) prism, 32mm extension tube, two A-12 backs plus 645 frame/mask set for the occasional 645 photo with an A-12 back - and a photo gadget bag and/or backpack. And if you're a smart shopper, you should still have enough left over for a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with a nice magnesium head, and a few filters.
    If you want to go the film/scanner route...you can subtract the 180 lens and PME-90 finder from the above, and have enough for a Nikon 9000 series scanner. But then this would assume that you have other necessary tools of output - like a computer/software/printer setup capable of making the most of your investment in camera hardware. So my parting words would be to be very careful to identify potential weak links in your total imaging system...and consider how you can achieve the appropriate component balance to realize a maximum return from all the bits (and perhaps bytes) and pieces.
     
  45. I shot this pic to illustrate my response to a different post in the forum, but it fits here as well. I have an extensive 35mm tool set on hand, both film and digital. I have used Hasselblad gear since the late 60's (lucky kid who's Mom was working for Paillard back then). I still use 6x6 gear from time to time when weight is a major factor, but for me, the ultimate in medium format drool factor and flexibility is the RZ67 series. I don't care for the RB so much as it can't handle RZ lenses and updated accessories, while the RZ can do it all. The polycarbonate side panels also save a half pound of weight at no cost in durability, and having the film advance and shutter cocking take place with a single lever stroke, as opposed to "press this, wind that" makes the RZ the choice for me.
    That said, the RB is still an awesome 6x7 camera. Anyway, the RZ67 series is fully modern, in current production as a minor update to accept new Maniya digital backs, has very reliable up to date film backs, finders, and a full suite of other accessories, including several digital backs for older RZ cameras available. Aside from needing to match digital backs to series vintage, all versions of the RZ67 series accept the latest versions of lenses and all system accessories without modification or adapters. RZ lenses are optical jewels, and stand tall compared to any other major system lenses on the market, including Hasselblad.
    The big difference is that Mamiya RB/RZ had such tremendous market penetration among Pro photo users over the years that even lenses that are in current production, and sold for insane prices new can be purchased used for a song and a dance.
    This is my pick for a well rounded starting kit in 6x7 film. The RZ67 body, waist level finder with the "checker pattern" focusing screen, a pair of 120 "II" series film backs (you can add 6x6, 6x4.5, 8x8 image on 4"x5" sheet film packs, Polaroid, and other backs later). A neck strap really makes a world of difference in handling.
    The lenses I picked for a basic kit are the 110mm f/2.8 W (standard lens), 65mm f/4 L-A wide angle floating element lens (32mm equiv in 35mm SLR format), and the 180mm f/4.5 W-N mid tele lens. They are all current production "best in class" lenses that can be found used in perfect condition for shockingly low prices. Teamed up with the focusing system on the RB/RZ cameras, they also cover most needs from macro to landscape, to portrait of any style, and beyond. Don't worry though. Over time, I found a "need" for a couple of APO tele lenses, an ultra-wide, a 1.4x tele-converter, and I'm sure more "needs" will pop up :).
    There are various grips, motor drives, a handfull of finders, including AE prism finders, other focusing screens, electronic triggers, and you name what else available in the syatem, but the layout pictured below will get you well on the way, and if you shop smart, you can put it all together with EX grade components from a place like KEH for under $1500. That leaves plenty to spare for a proper tripod, a high end film scanner, film, lens hoods, another lens, extension tubes, etc.
    Good luck!
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