Medium Format begginer, which camera should I buy?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by america_perez, May 25, 2010.

  1. I have been wanting to buy and try a medium format camera. I thought of buying a cheap Holga but recently, while browsing B&H's catalog I came across to some other options under 300 USD such as a Seagull and a Lubitel. I could easily upgrade my budget 250 dollars if I am to get a better camera. I am an artist and I will probably use this for longer. Any advice?
  2. stp


    IMO, the best value in medium format is the Pentax 645. At least that was the case before the digital version (645D) was announced, and now lenses are not nearly as easy to find. It's a great camera, the lenses are superb, and the cost is relatively low. Personally, I like having a camera that can accept a variety of lenses (wide to telephoto) rather than having a camera with just one focal length. I think the increased versatility can lead to increased creativity. I strongly recommend buying a used camera from a photo site, such as,,, or It's much easier to ascertain the honesty of the seller, the condition of the equipment, and the prices are generally the best (compared to ebay, KEH, or the used departments of B&H or Adorama). However, I have purchased a number of items from KEH, simply because they are conservative in their ratings of their products, and they have a very generous, no-questions-asked return policy.
  3. you don't need to blow a huge wad of cash to start out in medium format - try picking up a yashica d [1960s tlr] & a hand-held meter, for about $80, or so; they're Really great - i had mine for several years, before upgrading to a rolleiflex 2.8f.
  4. The Seagull and the Lubitel do not have a reputation for reliability. And the Holga is its own thing, don't buy it if you really want to try out medium format.
    If you want a rig for $300, have a look at the Yashica D as mentioned or the Yashica 124 model. You can also pick up a Mamiya RB67 kit, a Mamiya C330 or a Koni Omega Rapid.
    But what are you going to be using this for? Each camera system will fit different kinds of shooting in different ways.
  5. I'd second the call for a good inexpensive TLR. I started out in medium format with a Rolleicord that belonged to my late uncle. My aunt gave it to me after I had borrowed it for a while. It was a great experience and it really taught me to slow down and compose.
  6. wrong question in many ways. lots of great shooters here using different MF systems which mostly all of them are great. all of them are thinking that their MF gear is the best out there, and they're all probably right, at least for themselves. if you had tolds what type of shooting you're planning to engage yourself into it would help. :)
  7. Certainly, knowing your use would help, but if you are looking at Lubitel or Seagul as satisfactory for you use, then the Yashica or Mamiya TLR's might be more in line for your budget and getting quality. Mamiya offers interchangeable lenses, which would allow you to grow with it. The RB67 is pretty serious stuff and bulky, great camera and all, but I would be surprised if you could get a quality rig for $300--a body yes, but lens and back?
    On the other hand, if you just want to play a bit, the Holga is wonderful, but you will only learn that a bigger negative is pretty cool. Otherwise, it has not real controls and so learning about exposure etc will only be a go, no go experience.
  8. I scan Craigslist on a daily basis. I got very lucky several months ago an found a Mamiya 645ProTL kit for $250, which included the camera, 80mm, 50mm, 120mm, an extra back, powerwinder grip, and two shutter release adapters. Finds like this don't popup very often and you've got to quick to contact the seller and have a good idea as to what you are buying.
    I also have a Yashica D that I've had for years and probably wouldn't part with. As others have mentioned it's a good MF camera to start out with.
  9. For $200 or less, you can find a 645 SLR w/lens. These are easiest to use for a 35 SLR shooter that's stepping up in negative size. Twin lens cameras , with their reversed images, can drive a new shooter insane. And 6x7 SLR cameras are many times larger and heavier, than 35mm cameras.
  10. Mark, $250 for all that was an incredible deal. The 120mm macro lens alone usually sells for more than that. [Where's the envy emoticon when you need it?]
    Tania, please tell us some more, as the range of variables to be considered in selecting a medium format camera is very significant. What do you want to shoot as an artist, how much weight are you willing to carry, how much automation can you live with/without...?
  11. $300 is a standard price for RB67 kit from where I come from. 127mm lens, 2x120 backs, hood, body + wlf, sometimes with original mamiya aluminum case. when I mean standard I think of the deal I don't consider a best buy because they go cheaper than that.
  12. Check out as well. I would avoid EBay like the plague. Or, try a local camera collector's show. That is how I bought my Hasselblad 500cm kit. I had a little more of a budget, but could not be happier.
    Don't go for a Holga- I am sure they are fun, but it's not "real" medium format photography. I do have to say, that Mamiya 645 kit a few posts above looks very, very nice. Something like that might be ideal.
  13. There are enough well made used cameras out there to skip plastic-bodied or plastic-lensed cameras.
  14. I second the motion for a Pentax 645 series. It's what I have, and therefore it's the best. LOL, just kiddin'. Predrag is right, most of these responses are just votes for their own systems without knowing a darned thing about what YOU want.
    Seriously though, if your desire is to not have to fiddle with external metering and manual offsets for filters and upside down viewing, etc, then I would actually recommend the Pentax 645n. It's usually not much more than the 645 first gen, but because of the AF capability and built-in metering, it's a lot like a modern 35mm, only with a larger negative. I prefer the rotary dial of the 645n over the 645's up/down buttons. Also, you have the option of using AF lenses with the 645n, but it will work with the MF lenses of the older 645 too. The jump in price to the 645nII doesn't make sense IMO. It adds a [largely not-needed] MLU function and a couple of other configuration options without factory assistance, but the defaults of the 645n seem the correct choices to me anyway.
    The downside to the Pentax system is that the backs aren't interchangeable, so you're stuck with the same roll until it's done. Other systems allow mid-roll switching, but I think those systems are substantially more expensive, without adding much else. Leaf shutters might be the exception though. Only certain lenses in Pentax are leaf shutters.
    A 645n with a 75mm AF lens is probably within your budget, at least on eBay. I agree that it's safer to go with KEH, but it will certainly be more. I would (and have) trusted eBay sellers with hundreds of + feedback and positive ratings of 98% or more. I have bought half a dozen cameras and a dozen or so lenses across 3 different camera families, and I can't recall a time I ever bought a dud that way. I did run into a leaf shutter lens that had a problem the seller didn't know about, but the guy worked out a partial refund deal I was happy with. That's the power of people wanting to keep their very good feedback ratings. Many even have return periods.
    Good luck, and let us know what you wind up with.
  15. Just got a RB67 Pro S Body, Waist-Level Finder, Pro S Back and 90mm F3.8 all for US$325 from a combination of Ebay, KEH and B&H. Picking the eyes out of each.
  16. The reason why I bought into Hasselblad is that you are not just buying a camera, you are truly buying a system. it is beautiful and elegant in it's simplicity. And, it simply, goes, and goes. My 500cm will likely outlive me. The accessories and equipment available for it are endless. I bought into Nikon as a 35mm system. I bought into Hasselblad for many of the same reasons.
  17. I'd recommend you look out for a Mamiya TLR (C3, C220, C330) or a Yashica 124. The Mamiyas are good solid, reliable cameras.
  18. Tania, welcome to Your question gets asked here frequently, and I think the answer is 'it depends'. As you can see there are many answers to this question, and they're all correct. Everyone has a favorite camera, depending on what (s)he uses it for.
    You didn't say whether you have specific needs, like interchangeable lenses or the ability to make big enlargements. Another factor to consider is whether you want to work handheld on the street, or on a tripod indoors. If you give examples of the kind of work you want to do, I bet people here will come up with a narrower range of suggestions.
  19. There's only three MF camera's you should not buy as they are a complete waste of money. Certainly as your first Medium Format camera!
    That's a Holga, a Lubitel or a Seagul.
  20. The perfect system for me is the Bronica SQ series , the down side is that they are heavy , noisy and no longer made ,the up side is they are tough ,reliable , you can find them at good prices( less than half the cost of hasselblad) and the lens quality is right up there with the best of them .
    I have no trouble using one hand held all day but I am a large man , my wife is exhausted with it after about 20 mins
    It is the best for me but it may not be the best for you .
    so far in this thread there is all the advice you need to choose a camera to suit what you wish to do .
    As for the Holga well I have one and I love it but I don't think it would be an ideal first MF , but for the price maybe it is a good choice , I got mine from eBay for A$33 posted
  21. rolleiflex with 3.5 lens
  22. I actually bought a Holga as my first MF camera... it only cost me $20 and it was mostly a cheap road into having my own MF film to learn darkroom stuff with... I actually love the camera, but admittedly it's a novelty and just a fun thing to shoot with. That being said... I've also just bought an RB67 kit (Pro S body, 120 back, WLF, 90mm C lens) for $195 and a second Pro S body (mostly for parts or a backup) on EBay. I'm crossing my fingers that it was a good deal, and will at most need a good CLA or less to be ready to rock. I'm always a bit leery of EBay... but the price seemed decent, so why not!
  23. Yashica all the way! You can get excellent (and in some cases in near mint condition) cameras on Ebay.
  24. How are you going to process the images ??
    I assume scan and a good scanner will cost more than than a starter camera.
    I personally dont care for 645 that much. I prefer 6x6, 6x7, 6x9.
    If you are on a budget and want a traditional 6x6 then a TLR like mentioned above or a Kowa Super 66 is a good one.Just make sure the film advance gears are good. There are other good cameras too. I am personally after a Bronica S2.
    If you want a rangefinder (IE light) then one of the later fixed lens Fujis.
    RZ67 is a good caemra, but heavy.
    You want at least an Epson V700 scanner for those.
    If Money is no object then I would go for a Nikon 9000 scanner, and for a traditional 6x6 a Rollei 6008 or for a rangefinder a Mamiya 6 or Mamiya 7 is about as good as it will get. With any of those 3 you really need a top film scanner.
  25. To respond to the scanner comment above, I respectfully disagree with the notion that you need a V700 or better. Like a lot of people have said about camera selection, it's all about needs. I have a V600, which weighs in at half the price of a V700, and for my needs (small prints and/or web) it's great. I figure for the number of times I'll be doing large prints (so far: none), I can just take the negs and pay to have them drum scanned... OR, the local camera club has a Nikon 9000 for use by members.
    If money was no object (or I was shooting film for clients), I'd definitely get a 9000, without hesitation... but for someone who's on a budget, some of the lower-end scanners are good options.
  26. If Money is no object then I would go for a Nikon 9000 scanner,....​
    You got that right. No one has them in stock and I don't see any on eBay.
    It may take more than money - like your first born son or something to buy it from someone who has one.
    From what I can see, if you want to scan MF, you're going to have to go with a V700 or with a Flextight at $13,000+.
  27. what's wrong with 8000ED?
  28. Nothing.
    If you can get one, get one.
  29. Minolta Autocord great lens very nice TLR
  30. I second the vote for the rapid omegas. Heavy, but the glass is sharp as hell and you can't beat the 'shotgun' style film advance :)
  31. I second the vote for the rapid omegas. Heavy, but the glass is sharp as hell and you can't beat the 'shotgun' style film advance :)
  32. I would also vote for the Pentax 645n. I've had one for 12 years, it's been all over the world and hundreds of miles on my back and never one problem. Also, if you can't find a Nikon scanner, look for a used Imacon FlexTight Photo...probably about the same price used as the Nikon and it's superior
  33. Just went through that myself. My suspects were the Pentax 645, various Bronies and the 67 Pentax. Probably the best thing to do is decide your priorities. I had doubts about the 6X4.5 frame, so I opted for something larger- the square. Luckily for me a curious offer surfaced and I went the Kiev road. In the end I got a kit of Kiev 60TTL+45mm f/3.5+65mm f/3.5+80mm f/2.8+250mm f/3.5 all FSU glass in near mint condition complete with filters and leatherish cases. In adition I got an ancient flash with a mounting frame and a leather case. The TTL prism was a bit optically defective so I tried to fix it and broke it a little, believe it or not- that actually helped. For the whole lot plus two developing tanks I had to pay about 120$... And that's more than 7 kilos of equipment!
    I may cause a major firestorm, but... It might be worth checking out those Kievs. Just beware of the roulette. On the bright side- there are legends of some Kievs being called good cameras and well... If you get a good Kiev body then you always can swap the soviet glass for more prestige Zeiss. Just scrape off the "Jena"!
  34. If you think that you may want to move to digital MF in the future, consider the Pentax 645 system. I picked up an original 645 and 45, 75 and 150 A-lenses and an AF 400 FTZ flash for under $600. Later i found a 645n body on craigslist for $200. Easy cameras to use as the controls are the same as contemporary 35's. I haven't found that the loss of interchangable backs a disadvantage, especially since extra bodies and inserts are generally less than the backs of other makes.
  35. Dave B; there are 7 Nikon 9000's on Ebay right now.
    Type in "Nikon 9000" in the search box
    If you search other ways; ie title and description; sometimes one finds even more.
    They have been on Ebay about always since they first came out many years ago.
    There have been over 100 sold this year by my rough tally .
    I got one new in the box 3 weeks ago as a spare
    When I started looking at them again on Ebay this year; I am not sure if I ever saw a day where there were no Nikon 9000's on Ebay.
    A couple of months ago once there were about 18 at once with half brand new in sealed boxes. Earlier in the year some vendors listed auctions that had more than one available and they were less in price then too
    Thus even several months ago others too said non were on ebay; when at the same time a brick and mortar store had 4 available then at 2200.
  36. For $250 you may be able to find a PENTAX 645.
  37. I've read on the Pentax 645 have a dim view finder. Is that true and is it an issue for you P645 owners?

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