looking for a silent medium format camera

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by timon_lee, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. hey,I‘m a amateur street photographer, was shooting 135 for years but recently want to try some 120. tried out my friend’s Hasselblad 500 last week but realised that it doesn't really fit me——too loud!
    so what I‘m really looking for is a 120 rangefinder. silent compact and easy to use. here's my research:
    makina 67: too expensive
    mamiya 7, I can buy a used one on ebay according to my budget, but it doesnlt looks compact.
    fuji GS645 or GA 645, decent price and size, but I do have a Klasse with EBC lens, and based on my experience, it's still not as good as german stuff.
    any other suggestion here? I appreciate any info from you all, and sorry about my poor english
    Timon lee
  2. Does it have to be a range finder? I'd be surprised if you find something more compact than a Mamiya 6/7 as a TLR that is reasonably priced (and even for me the Mamiya 7 is rarely reasonably priced.)
    I would take a look at a TLR: you can get a Yashica D for under US$100 on the auction sites, and this is an excellent 6x6 camera which you can use to get your feet wet. If you want interchangeable lenses, the Mamiya C330 provides this for you. You can also look for old Rolleicord or Rolleiflex TLRs, but their price points are often quite a bit higher.
  3. TLR rollei 'flex/cords/yashica/mamiya's
    Mamiya 6 rf
    Bronica 645 rf
    Zeiss ikontas...
  4. Depending on focal length you want, If you like wide angle......the Hasselblad Superwide is very near silent. Easy to zone focus, very light and fast to use.Cant beat the optics. Other than that a rangefinder is what you want....
  5. I'd also say, try the Mamiya C330 or C220 TLR. I haven't used a rangefinder but I've used a Mamiya C220 for street photography and I'm well pleased with it. Most of the people on the streets don't even realise this is a working camera so you can take great candid photos. And it's lightweight and almost silent.
  6. A Hassy superwide is one of my top 3 'street' cameras, in decent lighting - scale focus, very quiet, and easy to frame without a viewfinder once you train your eye. I carry 100, 400, and 3200 film with me, and am covered for about any shot, and having film backs means I don;t have to plan ahead too much.The fuji RF's just don;t have a bright enough rf patch for me, although the AF ones may make that a non-issue. The Mamiya 7 is really excellent for this kinda work, it's not THAT big, and just a fantastic camera. Otherwise, a TLR has advantages for street shooting, the waist-level approach is the biggest draw there.
  7. Quiet= leaf shutter
    Compact= folding camera
    BTW, although I have never used Fuji RF cameras, I have some prints taken with them that look extremely sharp (I`m used to Mamiya 6x6 and 6x7 sharpness). I believe these were taken with a Fuji GS and GSW? (6x7 or 6x9). I don`t know about 645 Fujis.
    Leslie suggestion is quite interesting about SuperIkontas... but they are expensive and/or difficult to find. If you want something designed for compactness, the Bronica is worth a look... but it`s a somewhat "extreme" camera and... 6x4,5.
    With every passing day, I`m getting more convinced that the best non-studio MF camera ever is the Mamiya 7. But I agree that it`s a bit awkward for storage.
  8. Actually the Mamiya Super 23 is has leaf shutter and a big, bright rangefinder. Very quiet. Being 6x9cm, it's not exactly stealthy or rapid fire, though.
  9. I think you have some great choices listed so far, and no attacks yet. That's weird......
  10. I think you have some great choices listed so far, and no attacks yet. That's weird......​
    Okay...you don't really need a silent camera for street photography. It's all about your mannerism and luck. Don't be sneaky, be courteous and smile alot. I have done some with my old (looud) bronica S2A back in the days. I hated it for being heavy. Trust me, the shutter was feaking loud. Anyways, being portable is way more important than silence.
    Jose, I found a Ikonta 6x6 folder for fairly cheap a few years ago. And, yes, i have never seen such compact 6x6, ever, though I never got pass the winding mechcanism. It was a pain...
  11. You can't (IMHO) beat a Franke and Heideke shutter for near-silence - so I'd suggest a Rolleiflex from the 1950's to late 1960's. Just make sure the crank/advance mechanism is well lubed, as this can otherwise be a bit noisy.
    My other suggestion, given your requirements/situation, would be to look at a Mamiya 6. More compact than the 7 due to folding lens carrier, shutter about as silent as the Rollei's, and quiet wind mechanism. Just don't break it!
  12. I have both a Rollei TLR and a Mamiya 7. The Rollei is a lot more compact, might be less obtrusive sound-wise, but on the other hand, it seems to make people friendlier when they notice it, which may not get you the picture you want, but could prevent some aggravation. Other thing is, you can get an idea of what a narrow depth of field looks like both through the viewfinder as well get an idea of it through the help of its detailed and visible DOF scale, where with the 7, you're on your own. The 7's viewfinder is bright, works well day and night. And there are other significant issues in the composition department. Other thing to consider is that the Rollei's controls are positioned differently than with rangefinders and SLR's, and might feel awkward. And then there's the choice of fixed vs. interchangeable lenses. One is an antique, the other contemporary. One square, other rectangular. Both inspire.
  13. Another point for a tlr is that you can take the picture using the waist level viewfinder and by leaving the camera at stomach height no one will realize you're actually taking a picture.
  14. I own both a Fuji GS645S and a Mamiya 7. Both shutters are quiet (the Mamiya is quieter) and both lenses are extremely sharp. The Fuji is more compact and considerably less expensive. Before buying the Mamiya I owned a Fuji GW690. Although it took great photos the shutter was quite loud so I would not recommend that camera for your purposes. Another good choice would be the Fuji GS645W for wide-angle photographs.It has enough depth-of-field with it's 45mm lens that you could scale focus for an anticipated distance and leave the focus in this position.
  15. Try the new Voightlander Bessa III . A cheaper alternative is a used Bessa from ebay.
  16. I use a brinica SQ ,, noisy as you could ever get but if you lock up the mirror it barely makes a sound
  17. Surely a Hasselblad would fit the fit bill nicely ;-) As long as people are about a mile away, they can't hear a thing!
  18. I have used an extensive array of medium MF cameras and find that the best is the wonderful Bronica RF 645. The 45, 65 and 100 mm lenses are outstanding performers - and the camera is quiet! This marvel of a camera even has aperture priority and program setting in addition to manual control.
  19. Get a Kiev 60; It's very silent compared to the passing traffic, and general noise in a city or even a regular town;
    And if it needs to it can double up as your security device; Doing more harm to the assailant than ever gets done to the camera. ;-)
    You might get sued for excessive violence, even when only defending yourself :-D
    Just kidding, for most street work the noise of the camera is not an issue, given the general street noises. What you want to look for is portability.
    Frankly for street 35 mm is better suited imho, it's small light and even with some thing like a 80 mm or so. If you want that view in MF you'll end up with something like a 150-180 mm which is not exactly the way to spell 'inconspicuous'.
  20. I have a Fuji GA 645 - quiet shutter but the automatic, electric winder is very loud and you cannot turn it off.
  21. If you want to spend a lot of money, then you can have a lot of choices. If you don't, then see about getting a TLR. I happen to like the Mamiya C220 and C330 cameras. Aside from some of Peter Gowland's Frankencameras, they're the only TLR's I know of that take interchangeable lenses. The quality is better than good. The cameras are simple and sturdy, and they won't cost you an arm and a leg. Just an arm.
  22. Hi, the Bronica RF645 has been mentioned here a couple of times and I had this for about 3 years. It's a very quiet camera and the built in grip is great for street carry. I also really liked the exposure compensation dial on the back. However, I never got used to the "portrait" orientation required for the 645 format, plus the shutter release didn't have the same feedback/feel as some of my other cameras. A problem that I run into with working in the street with medium format is reloading film quickly, although the RF645 is probably the fastest MF camera in this respect (along with the Mamiya RF's) - this was usually a deal-killer for me with street stuff. I haven't had enough experience with other MF RF's to speak to their use, though I've always wanted to get a Mamiya 6 with the wide angle lens for travel. Good luck with your search and let us know how things work out.
  23. Does a waist level finder on a TLR buy you any "stealth" on the street? Despite possibly being harder to focus, you wouldn't have to hold it to your eye.
    If you got good at fixing your focus, it could work. :)

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