Is There an Ideal 6 x 6 for Me?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by markdeneen, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. I am really getting hooked on MF. I started with a Yashica A, then got a Nettar, then a Yashica MAT, and I am now waiting for a Bronica SQ-A kit to arrive in the mail. I am enjoying all of them, but really looking for the ideal camera for my photographic style (that's just in the first couple weeks!) I shoot street scenes, landscapes, outdoor portraits, a little bit of architecture and pattern. I don't work inside, or with flash, or studio style shots. I carry a tripod and use it when it works.
    I really liked the TLR, but felt cramped by the fixed lens. The Zeiss was fun too, but again the fixed lens. I lusted a bit for the Mamiya 6F, but it feels out of my price range. The lenses are spendy. I do like 35mm rangefinders and use those, so an RF seemed a natural. I expect the Bronica is going to be a lot to haul around, but it sure was affordable.
    I am just wondering if I left out any important ones to try? $1K is about my max.
  2. So you spend $1K on a camera and lens - what do you do with the results? Store printing is barely tolerable, and you can't buy a good B&W printing service. That means getting a film scanner (if you can find one), printer and a computer capable of handling 500MB files. Medium format requires a serious investment in equipment, time and materials. If you don't want big prints, it's probably a waste of time to get into medium format, and a huge money pit.
    A Bronica SQ-A will do all you have listed very well. It is not a particularly "discrete" camera for street photography. The Mamiya 6 is compact and quiet, and arguably better suited for candid photography. An SLR is much more flexible, especially for careful composition, portraits and closeups. If you eventually go digital, an Hasselblad is a better choice than either of these. That's something to think about, considering the number of roll film labels which have been dropped this year. Even a big city like Chicago only has two or three labs which process roll film.
  3. Does it have to be 6x6 exactly? How about 6x7? When I started researching MF equipment earlier this year, I decided I wanted either 6x6 or 6x7, and ended up narrowing my choices down to the Mamiya RB-67 or the Pentax 67. I went with the Pentax partly because its SLR design seemed easy to get used to, partly because of its lighter weight, and partly because the lenses seemed more affordable. I now have four lenses, a set of extension tubes, and two finders (the TTL meter pentaprism and the rigid vertical finder) for the P67 and I'm happy with the results I'm getting from it. Total investment for all this is probably around $2000, but I got started for about $800 (for the body, the pentaprism finder, and a 90mm f/2.8 lens).
  4. stp


    I can offer only my limited experience. I used a Rolleiflex for some time and greatly enjoyed the camera, but in the end I like to be able to change lenses; I see compositions that are other than what a normal lens can accommodate. I'm now using a Hasselblad 501cm with three lenses (50mm, 80mm, and 180mm), and I'm really enjoying this camera. Both the Rolleiflex and Hasselblad brands can be bought at widely varying prices, depending on the system you choose. My other thought is a fixed lens 6x9 rangefinder - again top quality, but again only a single lens.
    Since you're just getting started with medium format, let me suggest you consider my favorite medium format system, the Pentax 645. Considering what you like to shoot and your (initial) budget, this might be a good way to go. The only downside with Pentax is that lenses are much harder to find as it seems many Pentax owners are hoping the digital 645 will be released soon in this country. However, the 645N or 645NII are great cameras, and the lenses are top quality for relatively low price.
  5. Edward - Yup. I hear ya. I got some recent 120 film developed at my local camera shop and it was very so-so. Today I ordered my own chemistry and I will take a stab at developing the film. I have a Epson 4990 scanner, and lots of computers. If I can't get acceptable scans there is a lab that has been doing a great job scanning my 35mm, and I will have them do it. Admittedly, this 120 film thing is an arcane process, and sensible people just get a digital camera. I have some of those, and for me (and I am only speaking for me here) digital has proven to be a bore. I like puttering with the risky film. But then, when people come to my house we listen to LP records, so I don't mind being out on a limb tech wise.
    I generally carry a small 35mm rangefinder when I am out with the bigger cameras. Sometimes even an SLR.
    Well, I sure do LOVE that 6 x 6 format! I just dig the composition in square. I realize I can crop a 6 x 7. But for a first pass at this, I wanted to keep it to 6 x 6. I have definitely looked hard at the Pentax, and maybe that's a compromise (format) that I will have to take, I dunno.
    If money didn't count, I probably would have gotten the Mamiya 6MF with three lenses. But then I'd have to sell my house, or at least my car, and that won't do!
  6. You have the SQ-A coming. Familiarize yourself with it, then use it. And use it. And use it.
    That's how you will improve. As you use the Bronica you will be able to figure out if it is right for you.
    It works similarly to a Hasselblad, but without some of the quirks of a Hasselblad, and is of course much cheaper when it comes to lenses. The lenses are good, but not Zeiss. But if you're not producing great images the lenses you use don't really matter. And you might still like the SQ-A better. If and when you feel limited by the Bronica you will know what direction to go next.
    Maybe the Mamiya is for you. Time will tell. If it is you'll probably find a way to get one.
  7. I have used a Hasselblad for about 12 years now and candid street shots are imho not it's forte. Outdoor "posed"portraits, landscapes, architecture etc. are just great to do with the Hasselblad however. Your Bronica has the same modus operandi. Jeff is right, use it, use it, use it and eventually you will get great results. Good luck, Frank
  8. hasselblad all the way, for 6x6. you ought to be able to get hold of a reasonable set-up for your budget - perhaps even for 3/4 of it.
  9. Mark, you say: "Admittedly, this 120 film thing is an arcane process, and sensible people just get a digital camera." ... simply means you have much to learn about the qualities of film, which is a good thing. You'll be busy.
    However, I second Jeff's advice > when the Bronica comes, use it. I have a bunch of Hasselblad stuff that I would never part with.
    The main advantage of the Bronica over the others you list, will be enjoyed when you have additional film magazines and another lens or two, .. one wide and the other longer for portraits perhaps.
    Have fun, Jenny.
  10. If you a okay with TLRs, how about the Mamiya C series (C33, C330, C220...)? Interchangeable optics, very affordable system, awesome close-focusing capabilities.
    If you just want square pictures, there are a couple of exotic vintage cameras that can do this with 35mm. The Zeiss Ikon Tenax 1 (aka Taxona) and Tenax II shoot 50+ 24x24mm images on one roll of film. Sure, the former camera is zone-focusing only, but the other has a nice coupled rangefinder and looks pretty funky (but a collectible and somewhat expensive).
  11. No mention of Rollei SLRs? I sometimes wonder why they are overlooked when people are suggesting 6x6 SLRs.
    If you eventually go digital, an Hasselblad is a better choice than either of these.​
    It is indeed better than them, but it is not necessarily the best choice. If you love shooting square, it's a quirk of the market that the best choices are 6x6 cameras (duh, obviously!) for film, and *645* cameras for digital. Because no MF digital back, past or present, shoots a square image larger than 37x37mm native or 41x41mm cropped - these digital formats fit better inside the 645 format outline than the 6x6, and you can use effectively wider angle lenses (less "crop factor").
    I appreciate that you find the Mamiya 6 too "spendy" at the moment, but that never seems to deter people like us from dreaming of what better system we would get if or when we had the spending money! What I'm saying is to think carefully about whether you would be better off disconnecting your "potential future MF digital choice" from your decision process on which 6x6 film system to invest in now. The best solution for you might not be the single system which at present appears to do both quite well. Separate choices for 6x6 film now and square-crop MF digital later might be the better route: say, Bronica SQ now, Mamiya 645AFD later? (Ebay is full of adapters to use Bronica SQ lenses on the Mamiya, BTW)
    It's great to have so many choices to navigate in this area, and a lot of the fun is the research, discussions, window-shopping and daydreaming that goes along with it!
  12. Some excellent landscape photography with film here, including a beautiful image made with Bronica SQ ai.
  13. Ha! :) Yes, the "daydreaming" Ray speaks of got out of hand when I designed this one, a 6x8 rangefinder, an imagined collaboration between Leica and Linhof. You may recognise the obvious.
    It appeared in a previous thread about hand-held MF
  14. Kevin,
    What, no starp lugs???? :)
  15. That means getting a film scanner (if you can find one), printer and a computer capable of handling 500MB files.​
    Or an enlarger.
  16. Anthony !! Yep, you nailed me.
    Actually, aside from a grumble about both weight and the price it would be, being effectively a sawn-off Linhof Technorama, with an oversized Leica rangefinder, the only question I've had about it, and it was offline, was how many prototypes have we made and could he have one. I took it as a compliment, cause I'm no expert when it comes to digital art, and I used Photoshot Elements 3, and way too much time. But it was fun.
    Ok, when there's a moment, I'll get to the strap lug thing. It's just that I'm out of development funds at the moment.
    But back to Mark's question about a 6x6, there's a view I need to re-photograph in Australia, from the top of Mt Buffalo in Victoria. I have images taken with a Yashica TLR 124G in 1976. As I study them now, I do wish the same focal length, was opening up on even a 6x7 format, or better, 6x8. I have long since been through a Bronica 6x6 experience and now have Hasselblad for medium format work.
    If the Mamiya 7II were robust enough (robust for my work) or a Fuji MF rangefinder camera, I would give them a serious look too. For landscape on the move, climbing or hiking, they certainly are a lot easier to manage in terms of weight, bulk and all the trappings of the modular outfit.
  17. Mark- I don't really have enough experience with MF to offer you a comparison, but I will say that I have been enjoying my Hasselblad 500cm very much. I paid about $1200 for the set (body, finder, back and 80mm lens ex condition from KEH). I love the 6x6 format as well and I have not regretted this purchase for a second! The learning curve is not bad at all and even the 5x5 proof prints are beautiful.
    That said though if you already ordered a Bronica you might as well use that for awhile :)
  18. Nice info here folks - - thanks. Hmmm... the Rollei 6008 escaped my gaze. Interesting one there. I guess the Bronica was about budget, Stacy. I got it for about 1/2 of that nice Hassleblad you describe. I was a bit hesitant to put all my chips out too fast on one bet. Trying the "type" of camera was more important. That's why I have bought so many so quickly. Reading about it one thing, holding, setting the dials, looking through the finder, that's a whole 'nother thing.
    For me, the 6 x 6 format is kind of forcing more discipline on my composition, that's what I like. And, that I don't have to keep twisting the camera. So for now, I am running with that idea. Everything changes - - of course in due time.
    Like most things, I expect there is no one perfect choice. Maybe I'll just keep them all!
  19. One alternative I've thought of for going into medium format- make traditional contact prints, then scan on
    a flatbed scanner. For photos I want to print, I'd have drum scans made. Or, scan the negs on a
    relatively cheap flatbed and then do the drumscans for a select few. However, I may eventually bite the
    bullet and get a medium format Nikon scanner.

    One could for quite some time just make contact prints... they're large enough to enjoy, and you could accumulate work and print the bulk of it at some point later.
  20. Fuji g690BL, easily adaptable to 6x6, legendary camera with incredible lenses and outstanding image quality,17315,23628,23670,23756,24692,24813,24878,24879,25834,26328,26569,26614,26751,26762&sugexp=ldymls&tok=58kF3n7rQM_eoZCAZrSOiw&xhr=t&q=fuji+g690bl&cp=12&pf=p&sclient=psy&site=&source=hp&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=Fuji++G690BL&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=4e781b66e30e329a
  21. One thing that kept me within the 6x6 format choices for decades was the primary enlarger, a beautiful Durst 6x6 with movements for Scheimflug and control of image geometry. To go up in format size meant the investment of upgrading the darkroom, which was not so cheap then.
    Now in addition I have a Kaiser 6x7, which makes it feasible to buy 6x7 magazines for the Linhof 4x5 Technika (for table-top projects), and consider cameras such as the Mamiya 7 or similar. I've used a Leica M3 for years too, so am comfortable the direct working method of rangefinder cameras. (With the Linhof, came 4x5 Omega which is a beast of a thing and will find a new home for it. I shall wait until the right 5x7 enlarger comes along, because that's where it's all going for me..)
    When I started, the quality of film emulsions was nothing like it is today, so the scope of 6x6 film photography is far better now. .. I mean in terms of cropping an image for various reasons.
    Content with darkroom work for B&W, colour I scan with Epson V700, correct and clean up with the Photoshop Elements 3 (packaged with the scanner), and deliver files to a lab for printing if needed.
  22. Brett--When you say adaptable to 6 x 6, what does that mean?
  23. Mark,
    You will have lots of fun honing your technique and approach with your new Bronica camera which can deliver excellent images. It will probably be a while before you feel it is a weak link in your potential to make high quality prints. By that time you will have depreciated its initial cost by the pleasure factor, and will know what the next step (if a next step is indeed needed) will be. I have a Fuji 6x9 and find it great for rectangular shots and especially panoramic type frames, but do most film shooting with a 6x6 and the 50mm semiwide lens.
  24. I've really enjoyed all the cameras. I took this with the Yashica-A a few evenings ago.
  25. And I took this with the little Nettar. I was surprised that doing fixed focus with no rangefinder would come out this nice. I really am loving that little compact thing.
  26. The Yashica was my first entry 6x6. The 80 mm Yashimar f3.5 lens has very good out of focus rendition smoothness or "Bokeh". A keeper.
  27. Kevin, sweet! Could you do a Blue Velvet version for us Hopper fans?
  28. The Bronica ETESi (645 format) is a workhorse when it comes to weddings. I've used this (in the past) and a 45-90mm zoom with quite success. The Hasselblad 500 C/M is great for studio work and would not use outside due to its lack of durability. Both systems can sync with flash up to 1/500 sec.
    Generally the TLRs are limited in lens selection but are much lighter; this is great for general purpose and/or street photography. I have used the old and reliable Rolleiflex 2.8 C.
    However, times have changed and the DSLRs have improved to the point of placing the emulsion/film cameras on the shelf. Processing is much more cheaper than film and the results are quite amazing. Besides, when one becomes adept with Photoshop, image making in post production adds a new dimension in one's ability to create wonderful photography.
  29. Ken,
    You obviously know Hasselblads, that you would not take one outside, "due to its lack of durability"...
    What have you been smoking?! ;-)
  30. I have a Rollei and a Hasselblad and a Mamiya 7ii. I enjoy both the Rollei and the Mamiya. But I love the Hassey. I prefer the other two when walking a lot as the weight is so much less. But for versatility, nothing beats the Hasselblad. For your budget you likely can find an older Hassy. Or easily a Rollei then trade up down the road. The Rollei will most like hold its value if you start with a clean model.
    Regarding Edwards comments: the huge money pit is going digital. My Rollei is over 50 years old and holds its own against my Canon 1DS Mark ii which new was 10 times as much as the Rollei. The Canon will be lucky to be more than a door stop after 10 years let alone 50. I just bought a digital printer for $4500. My 4x5 enlarger cost less than 10% of that. I suspect that my enlarger will outlive the printer by 10 times.
    You can also get great commercial development of 120 film through mail order and have the film scanned at the same time if you want to have digital output. Try the NCPS lab mentioned by Ken Rockwell.
  31. "Try the NCPS lab mentioned by Ken Rockwell."
    Right. I've been using them for my 35mm and they do a great job. For 120, I am just now doing developing in the can, and I am scanning myself. The results have been pretty good and fun. Mostly these first rolls of 120 have been just practicing with the new cameras, so not horribly critical.
  32. If you like the Mamiya 6 (not much reason I think for a 6 MF), it and the 75mm lens with both in mint condition go for about $1200. There is a chap in Japan who turns these up regularly and in top condition. A great buy I believe. I was convinced and bought one from him. The 150mm lens should be obtainable for about $300 or so, or even less. The 50mm is a rarer one, and may cost you $600 or $700, or a bit more, again in mint or near mint condition. The body and three lenses will go for less than these cumulative figures, but you can always buy as you need.

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