mamiya 645 afd or hasselblad 500cm

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by david_love|2, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. I have decided to add mf and have settled on either a mamiya 645 afd with a 80mm 2:8 and 150mm 3:5 or the hasselblad 500cm with 80mm 2:8. My concern is focusing with a WLF as I wear reading glasses, but I would really prefer the 6x6 format. I have also read some comments that the auto-focus on the mamiya afd is not all that great...that it can have a tendency to hunt. My photography is almost 100% portraits in the studio and nightime historical buildings/street scenes. The price on the hasselblad outfit is about $100 less than the mamiya items listed. I would appreciate any comments and insights. Look forward to your replies
  2. David, I have both cameras and here is my take. I too wear glasses and focusing on the Hasselblad using the WLF can be quite easily accomplished because it has a pop-up magnifier that enlarges the image. I believe it is a 5X magnification. This allows me to fine focus so long as I have some vertical line that I can focus on. By turning the focusing ring the two lines will come together and you are then in focus. You can do this similarly with a chimney finder although mine only has a 2X magnification. My experience is that one has to be willing to take a little time to get your subject in focus.
    I bought the Mamiya 645AFD so that I could have the auto focus for the times when I need to be able to focus quicker. I too have the 150mm f/3.5 as well as the 55-110 zoom. The AF is slower than on a 35mm SLR especially when that lens has a built in motor such as the Nikon AF-S brands. The 150mm Mamiya does seem to hunt a bit when there is not a clear contrast between your subject and the background. I used it earlier this week while taking some street photography, and the AF was plenty fast enough due to the good amount of contrast.
    The Mamiya does have a little green spot that lights up when you are in focus. It also tells you via two arrows that flash which way you need to turn the lens to achieve focus. The focus indicator is at the very bottom of the viewfinder and I found that I have to hold the camera at exactly the right angle in order to be able to see the focus indicator. Since I have only just started using the camera I am sure that I will adjust to it. You do hear a satisfying click on the AF lens once it has found focus.
    Given what you will be shooting you should have no trouble focusing the Hassie while shooting buildings so long as you have time to set up. Since you are shooting at night you will be using a tripod, and so you should be in good shape. I haven't used either camera for portrait work yet, and so I can't really comment one way or the other.
  3. What do you wear glasses for, is it astigmatism? If so you can get a lens cut to fit in the hasselblad finders. I user them in my NC2 finders. Because the camera shoot square you don't rotate the camera so the correction works. If you were to correct for astigmatism on a 6X4.5 rotating the camera would make the correction worse.
    I started out with Mamiya 6X4.5 in 1975, switched to Hasselblad in 1980 because of the issue above. I love not ever having to rotate the camera, and I sell lots of square images. Yes AF would be nice....but I guess you just have to weigh the issues yourself. But in my opinion the mechanical camera will long outlast the electronic one too. I have had no problems with my 4 Hasselblads in over 30 years ...
    The so called dreaded Hasselblad (lock up) is a user induced problem, if you always keep the lens cocked and the body cocked you will have no problems.
    I find the Hasselblads hard to beat in the studio or out, you can add a ELM body cheap, less than $200 and have electronic release. This is great in the don't have to hang around the camera. You can walk over to you subject and talk to them while just pushing a button, can't beat that. Sorry if I am over selling ...
  4. My personal experience: I had convinced myself that I wanted a Hasselblad 503CX (Same WLF as the 500), but once I rented one to try I changed my mind.
    I wear glasses too and had a heck of a time trying to focus it with the WLF, even with the magnifier. I didn't get a specially cut diopter or anything, but the standard system was very rough for me.
    Loading the film backs was MUCH more cumbersome than I expected too. It's like a 10 step process, so they want you to buy lots of backs and load them in the studio.
    Since tons of pros do this without a problem, I'm sure it's just me, but it was very finicky compared to, say, the Contax 645 inserts.
    I'm sure the next post after mine will be "Oh my god, how could you say such things since I didn't find it hard at all". Well, all I can say is what I experienced and we all experience things differently.
    I'd encourage you to rent each system if possible and try them to see if they fit you.
  5. Graham: thanks for this quick reply...really helps!! If you could only have one of those two cameras, which would you choose. Is the hasselblad a better image? Do you find any practical advantage with the 6x6 over the 645 when it comes to cropping, printing and presentation. Thanks again
  6. Russ: you almost have me convinced..actually, it is the hasselblad that I would is just this manual focus issue..are the WLF bright enough at night? I have been using a Nikon F100...upgraded from the F80, mostly because the autofocus on the F100 is amazingly good, and so much better than the F80.
  7. Well I have old eyes, just had cataract surgery last week. Its not always easy to focus in low light, but you can do it, if you have to you can guess at the distance and shoot candids and get most of them right. The old Metz 402 and fast film you can easy shoot at f 11 or better. I would use 1/15 or 1/30 shutter speed to allow the ambient light to fill in the background.
    I have never had problems in the studio.....I upgraded to the brighter screens when they came out, and added a critical focus magnifier when it came out.
    I guess I just have never used auto-focus so I don't miss or need it.
    I also use hand held light meters, but its what you are used to. I always shot wedding and candids everything with the hasselblads..... so I just learned to do it.I would sometimes carry a CanonF1 with asa 3200 B&W for grainey black and white shots, mainly with a 85mmf1.8 or a 20mm F2.8. Could shoot in the dark with no flash....kinda fun.
    I would have trouble with any camera with auto anything....just because I want to make all the decisions. Heck I don't even use zooms. I use manual flash units in the studio (photogenic studiomasters), and old Metz 402s on location. I do also have a old 283 modified with a barebulb for use with my superwide. Its neet, lights everything in the room, no fall off on the edges.I found that on e-bay cheap, just added a quatum battery pack for fast recycle.
    Anyway you may or may not like it, but it can be done....and has been done for years. Yes its much easier with a automatic everything digital..... but the guys before me did all this same stuff with 4X5s and flash bulbs, they thought Hasselblads were cheating when they came out.
    I guess I'm just from the stone age.....dont answer.
    I did not like the 6X4.5 format much, because of having to rotate the camera either. If I were to do rectangle I would want a rotating back on the camera.
    But I do love square.....but you mileage may vary.
    Anyway what ever you decide I hope you have fun with it, I always have.
    I used to worlk in a camera store years ago. When people would come in and ask which camera they needed, I would first ask it they had a predetermined idea of which would be the best for them. If they did I would say buy that one and don't look back. But if not I would suggest they handle all of the cameras and figure out which one they liked the best. Because in reality you can do most anything with any of the cameras, its not the equipment its the photographer.
    What I like may not be what you like....good luck.
  8. If you could only have one of those two cameras, which would you choose. Is the hasselblad a better image? Do you find any practical advantage with the 6x6 over the 645 when it comes to cropping, printing and presentation.​
    If I had to choose one over the other I would choose the Hasselblad because it makes me work in a more "focused" way. With an A16 back I can get 645 prints. Even with the 6x6 I can still crop to 645 without a problem. The 6 X 6 format is almost like going for a haircut. You can always get your hair cut shorter but, once its cut, you can't make it longer. Same with 6 X 6.
  9. Thanks to all for your response and help. They really went right to the point. I have my F100 for all the things it will do..and it does them very well. It looks like when the itch gets scratched, it will be with the Hasselblad.
  10. With all of the respect to Mamiya I would go for the Hassel. 500 C/M, some how I feel it is more practical when I use it and use the 503CW.

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