Mamiya 7 or Pentax 67

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by ryan_kalivretenos, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. I know, I know, this question has been asked 50 billion times. I have done research. I dont have access to try one out. I am a very experienced photographer traveling to Kenya to work on a portrait project for a charity. I will be taking my Canon 5D kit for most of the work, but want to take a film camera as well. I have worked with an RB67 extensively and love the chromes I got from that camera, so I figured to stay with that format. I will be renting the body and two lenses. I believe I understand the pros and cons of each, but am unable to ascertain the extent to which the cons affect the camera. Weight is a minor issue, I am a big strong guy and wont be using the film camera too extensively due to the budget and film costs. My main concerns are ease of use, reliability, durability, and focus. Focus and sharp images are crucial as the images will be printed up to 4x6 ft. I have used 4x5's focusing with a loupe, to the advanced autofocus systems in high end Nikons, but the main complaint I hear is focus issues with the Mamiya 7. If anyone could weigh in and give some advice, that would be great.
  2. I've never used a Pentax 67, but I've owned several different medium format kits, including a Mamiya 7II. The Mamiya 7 is excellent for me, but I take environmental portraits, so the lack of close focusing does not bother me.
    I've noticed that many folks who complain about focus issues are using the 150mm lens. They're probably the same folks who complain that the Mamiya lenses are too slow. So I'd expect that they're new to MF and don't understand the DOF limitations of the longer focal length lenses when used in closer. Having the rangefinder properly adjusted is important, of course. And, if you're off to Kenya, you may want to learn to do this yourself.
    There have also been complaints about the M7 being 'plastic'. Pretty silly since it has a very strong metal alloy frame and the non-structural plastic keeps weight down.
    You've mentioned that weight is a minor issue. If that's true, you may want the additional versatility of an SLR. For me, weight matters; I can toss my M7 in a shoulder bag and carry it about all day without an problem.
  3. Focus with An RF camera like the 7 can be an issue. It all depends upon what you are shooting, at what distances and whether you can afford to close down to moderate to small apertures (without running the risk of diffraction effects). My Mamiya 6 gives me everything I usually need in that regard, but it cannot take the place of a groundglass screen and SLR for certain close-up images I may want in good detail. It is great in terms of weight and lens quality (I believe the 7 has equally good lenses).
  4. david_henderson


    You can't use the Mamiya to take tight headshots or even head & shoulders shots without cropping because the lenses don't focus close enough. An slr can get you closer.
    You can't see dof through the lens on the Mamiya; you can on an slr. Further you won't find the dof markings on the lens barrels a huge help because they're exaggerated and in any case too close together for precise work.
    Some people find rangefinder focus more difficult to learn than others. You might have no problems, but then you might question whether an important project is the right environment to be struggling or learning.
    If these things don't bother you, get the mamiya. Its very good indeed at what it does well. If they do worry you then you need an slr.
  5. For portrait work, focus can really be an issue with the M7. It is fairly easy to knock the RF mechanism slightly out of alignment (and back into it again) merely by changing lenses, bumpy travel and backpacking, etc. I periodically check the RF on my M7 with a laser rangefinder; after one day in the mountains, it might be off on the scale by a millimetre; the next day, it might be fine again.
    As a landscape and nature photographer, this does not matter to me at all, since I work with hyperfocal distance and aperture setting and a tripod practically all the time. For that purpose, I feel that the M7 still is the best solution available today (short of a view camera) due to its portability and the outstanding resolution of its lenses. The detail which can be extracted from an M7 negative is simply mind-boggling.
    But for critical portrait work - hmm, I wouldn't feel comfortable with the M7's focus accuracy at all in such close quarters. Besides, the one metre close focus limit and the resulting inability to get close enough to overcome the angle of view of the 80mm standard lens is another problem, as already mentioned. And getting the focus right with the 150mm lens is even more of a challenge.
  6. I own a pair of Mamiya 7IIs, and love them, but wouldn't recommend them for traditional portrait work. The only M7/M7II lens of quasi-portrait length that focuses semi-close is the 150mm f/4.5 (the 210mm f/8.0 has a minimum focus distance of 23 feet).
    The 150mm only equals 71mm in 35mm format and has a minimum focus distance of almost six feet (I would optimally prefer a 200mm lens in 6x7 format for traditional, closer portraits). Also, as has been alluded to, focusing the 150mm at minimum focus distance, you have to be right on the money or the shot is out of focus- even with an M7/M7II rangefinder that's in perfect alignment, close-focusing the 150mm is demanding.
    I've used Pentax 67s and have owned Mamyia RBs and RZs. One reason I bought RBs and RZs was that every lens had a leaf shutter, allowing me to sync flash down to 1/400th. Currently, there's only one leaf shutter lens for the Pentax 67- the 165mm f/4.0:
    If you'll be shooting indoors, you may not care about syncro-sun capability.
    My only other observation was that I didn't find Pentax 67 bodies or lenses all that much less heavy or bulky than RB/RZ bodies or lenses.
  7. I use both systems and find that the Pentax stays home most of the time unless I'm certain I may need slr attributes that day (macro or more extreme telephoto). They're both capable machines and it takes about 11x14 magnifications to show much glass advantage of the Mamiya. The Pentax optics vary from one to the next, so that's a bit of a lottery while I've never heard of a Mamiya 7 clinker. I've not found the 150 minimum focus to impede me very much but your style or needs may not mirror mine. Every medium format camera and system has distinct limitations and compromises.... whichever you select, you'll be second guessing at some point of your travels!
    The bigger difference in system bulk and handling boils down to the support system needed. The RF takes minimal equipment to control while the Pentax is well known for needing some serious tripod support to function to its capabilities.
  8. I haven't used the Mamiya 7, but I use a Pentax 67 quite a bit. It's not a small camera of course, but overall it's not all that big either. The big top of the line digital models of Canon and Nikon are actuall larger and heavier, and in practice, with two lenses (normal and wide angle) the Pentax 67 is no heavier to carry around than a DSLR and a couple of big lenses. A tip, if you decide on it, is that a lot of the bulk is in the prism finder, and you may find a waist-level finder to be worth it both for the reduced weight and for the better contact you can establish with people when you don't have a camera covering your face.
  9. How about a Rolleiflex with Rolleinar 1 for really tight head shots, from a tripod, of course, with 400 ISO film ... such a s Porta VC 400.
    But why film at all, if the MF cameras you know give you troubles with head shots as your desired subject matter?
  10. I have never used a Pentax 67, but have fiddled with them in stores. Big & beefy. Seemingly robust.
    I have used a Mamiya 6 (precursor to the 7/7II) extensively, and it is the cat's meow, if you indeed like shooting 6x6. Then lenses are silly sharp, resistant to flare, and the whole thing (even unfolded, like a Mamiya 7 in terms of size) is still quite small and light.
    I personally feel the most rewarding stuff I've done in the past two years, is overwhelmingly taken with the M6. I don't use the 150 lens much - focussing is difficult, for me. The 75 and 50mm are much easier.
    Another stab at logic: you're already taking one SLR, and a very capable one at that. Try the rangefinder, loaded with 220 film if you can source it. It goes without saying: test, develop, test, develop before you leave for your portrait project.
    Good luck, it sounds like a rewarding experience awaits you.
  11. Ryan
    I've had both these cameras and a Mamiya 6, my advice would be a Mamiya 6 with a 50mm, in my opinion about as perfect a setup for enviromental portraits as there is I can't imagine going to Kenya and shooting portraits without some enviroment. In fact the M6 is the only camera I regret selling the lens retracts and makes it very compact and the 50mm lens is a masterpeice. Only complaint about the Mamiya is they are fragile, where as you could fight off a lion with a Pentax 6x7 and then still use it.
  12. One vote for the Mamiya 6 (or 7) is the leaf shutter: with a small flash for fill, you'll get better results for portraits. Isn't the Pentax 6x7 really slow for sync?
    I would, however, carry a spare Mamiya body.
    Guido, I find it strange that your rangefinder could drift so much day to day. I don't have that problem, and use my 150 successfully on a regular basis. It's too bad someone out there can't invent a Leica-style viewfinder magnifier.
  13. I have worked with an RB67 extensively ... Weight is a minor issue ... My main concerns are ease of use, reliability, durability, and focus. Focus and sharp images are crucial ...​
    Hmmm... Describes the RB-67 pretty well. So, why not take the camera you're already familiar with?
    The early Pentax 6x7 didn't have MLU. The slower shutter speeds might not produce as sharp an image as you'd like on these.
  14. Thank you for all the responses. I have never used a rangefinder, but am a very fast learner. Regardless, as I went through all the responses I started thinking, Why not just rent an RZ?... I wanted the quicker handling of the Mamiya 7 or Pentax, but an RZ w/ prism wont fall too far behind, and I am familiar with them. With the waist level finder I can hold it rock steady. I would take my RB but it has a light leak. I will be capturing more posed portraits, and not environmental. I have a very large canvas that I will hang and use as a BG, then shoot images of the environment separately to give context to the portraits for the overall project. As much as I loathed taking a tripod, it seems to be my best option. Unless anyone can find a flaw in my thought process...
    Thanks for all the responses!!
  15. Are you comfortable with a rangefinder, its advantages and limitations? If you aren't completely sure what you will encounter in a remote shoot, I think the Pentax (reflex) would be a better choice of the two.
    That said, you won't come close to the potential of 6x7 unless you use a tripod. By hand, the results will be no sharper than with a small format camera. An RB or RZ would be better than the Pentax on a tripod, since you can rotate the back instead of flopping the camera on its side, and you have already put some mileage on an RB. An RZ is simpler to use, and the winder is no harder to use than on a Pentax, except it's on the side rather than the top.
  16. The RZ sounds as if it will meet your needs. And you'll get flash sync at all speeds vs. 1/30 with the Pentax.
  17. With the 80mm on the Mamiya 7II almost anyone can take environmental portraits. What you want to worry about is motion blur if your are shooting hand-held.
  18. The light Mamiya wins hands down for travel work, IMHO. It is also very quiet, and you can handhold it at much slower speeds.
    It shares all of the advantages of Leicas for this kind of work.
  19. The light Mamiya wins hands down for travel work, IMHO. It is also very quiet, and you can handhold it at much slower speeds.
    It shares all of the advantages of Leicas for this kind of work.
  20. Well, yes, the Mamiya wins when light and compact really matter and if you don't need tight head shots. But that's not important to the OP.
  21. "ease of use, reliability, durability, and focus."
    Focus is fine with these cameras, and IMHO their ease of use is second to none. I've bashed mine around the world and they're still going strong (although if you're driving nails, the Pentax is the way to go). Rangefinder focus is quick and great in low light. You'll shoot more and capture more successful shots with a good, quick Mamiya 7 than a heavier, more cumbersome camera that doesn't get pulled out as much.
    Google "mamiya 7 portraits" for many excellent examples and cautions of using the Mamiya for this type of work.
    Also, I might suggest considering the small Hasselblad and 150mm for travel portrait work.
  22. Slightly off topic, but HC Lim's photo reminded me of Phil Borges' Mongolian work - have you seen his work - very much specializing in environmental portraiture
    I read he uses a Hasselblad, mainly 150mm and daylight balanced with fill in flash with a large diffuser.
    Co-opting a local assistant to hold the flash or reflector would eliminate the need for a tripod.
    With the M7, P67 or Hassy, leaf shutter lenses are available.
    A big advantage of a Hassy over the other two is the polaroid back for proofing.
  23. I reread the original post a few times and am missing something. If the Canon 5D is the primary camera and you want something capable of producing sharp 4'x6' prints, I am thinking the 5D is to be used for smaller prints and you are looking for something to produce larger output? There are several good suggestions previously, but have you considered a Contax 645AF or another medium format capable of AF & digital?
  24. I wont be using any sort of flash, primarily an open shade type of lighting, or early morning or twilight. I will primarily be posing the photos against a canvas background. I want to have this camera to not be dependent on large amounts of electricity, as digital would. What is the difference in using a rangefinder? Keep in mind, I wont have any testing or real practice time with the camera, but I have used many different types of cameras, except rangefinders.
    I am starting to consider an RZ as I am very familiar with the RB and it would largely do the job, plus I can buy one for what the rental rate would be... But am still very interested in the Mamiya 7 for the handholding, considering the lower light levels I will be encountering.
  25. Hand holding in very light low levels and printed to 4x6ft. hmm, all the best. Yes, you can do that for 4"x6" but not 4x6ft without flash.
  26. I'd use large format for 4' x 6' prints. You can't get much simpler than a Crown Graphic with a properly adjusted rangefinder.
  27. Large format not an option... I am aware of the technical limits of handholding, a slightly soft image capturing the moment your subject trusts the camera is better than a "flat" image (not talking contrast) that is tack sharp... All said, I am leaning towards the RZ, high speed film (I love grain anyway) when I need to handhold, low speed when I have a tripod available to me...
    Thanks for everyone's input!!
  28. Ryan, I think you are narrowing your scope as you sift thru all the choices. What work flow are you familiar with? What fits your hands and is easy to use? The SLR vs rangefinder workflows are slightly different and there are compromises with each. You seem to prefer the SLR approach . . . then go for it! I have used all the above at one time or another except for the DSLR. If it were me, I would likely leave my P67 at home and take my Hasselblad because of the size (I have small hands) and the format for the tasks that are expected. The RZ & lenses are terrific tools & flexible format.
  29. Why only M7/7II and P67 for Africa? Old good, all-metal and cheap 6x7 RF-cameras: Koni Omega Rapid, Omega Rapid 100 or Omega Rapid 200 (better) with their Hexanon/SuperOmegon's: 60/58mm, 90mm(best), 135mm, 180mm do their job very well in any conditions. They are just underpriced.

Share This Page