Medium Format with "M-type" focusing

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by sprouty, Jan 15, 2004.

  1. To keep this appropriate to the forum...I was wondering if anyone
    might recommend a medium format camera (prefer square format) that
    offers the split image type of focus like my M?
    It doesn't have to be a RF, it doesn't even need a meter, and
    completely manual is fine too. I'd would prefer that it had
    available a fast lens (f2 or so) in a focal length that was
    equivalent (or slightly wider) to a 50mm lens in the 35mm format.

  2. Mamiya 6 of one of the Fuji rangefinder MF cameras. You can forget about fast lenses, but the shutters in those cameras are very smooth and the mass makes them more hand-holdable.
  3. Well, if it's to have split-image focusing, it does need to be a rangefinder. The Mamiya 6 comes to mind as a nice square-format MF with Leica-type focusing.
  4. Should state "Mamiya 6 OR one of the Fuji rangefinders."
  5. As far as I know, f2 lenses are commonly available in MF only for SLR cameras (Rollei, Hasselblad, and Contax 645). Rollei TLR's have f2.8 lenses as you probably know, and there's an accessory, the Rolleimeter, which is an add on RF. Works quite well but framing is not too accurate.

    You can use a 80mm f2.8 Xenotar cammed on a Linhof 70, which has an excellent RF/VF (1:1 mag) with framelines for 3 lenses (53/80/180 on mine). There are also relatively fast and excellent wide lenses (53mm f4 Super Angulon and 53mm f4.5 Biogon) available but rather rare. I have no problems handholding it with the left hand anatomic grip, you can add an extra grip in the tripod socket or on the right side if you prefer. Of course the camera allows quite a bit of front and back movements, a whole new world of control.

    The cons are that the camera cannot be folded with the 53mm or the 180mm lens, only with the 80mm, so they must be removed when packing the camera in a bag. Though the camera back rotates the VF is in the vertical orientation only, but I've gotten used to horizontal framing with practice.

    There are also the Linhof Press cameras which can use the f2.8 lenses and the 53/180 mm lenses in special focussing mounts; much less or no movements but there are no bellows so they are less vulnerable to damage. But accessories are dedicated and not too common. The Linhof 220 is a press camera with a fixed 95mm f3.5 lens (very good) but condition is everything.

    I've also heard of a Fuji 6x9 with some fast interchangeable lenses but these seem to be pretty hard to come by. Maybe they're easier to get hold of in Japan.
  6. A possibility is a Plaubel-Makina 67 or 670 in very good condition. They run for $900-1300 in good condition where the meter wiring is intact. The camera has a Nikkor F2.8 80mm lens, whcih appears to be very highly regarded, but is 6x7 format. You could mask off the viewfinder if you wish. I have the 670. Picture quality is impeccable in the corners, even relatively wide open. Remember, depth of field is much reduced relative to 35mm, so those indoor shots are going to look quite different if you use the same films.
  7. If you can live with f/4, the Mamiya 6 is your first, best, choice for 6x6 and Leica like functions.
  8. m_.


    love my Fuji GW690 III that gives 6x9 negative size on a 120 or 220 roll film. It comes with a sharp Fujinon 90/4 lens with built-in hood.
  9. If you're interested in a 6x7 SLR, Pentax makes a very nice 105/2.4 and a 98/
    2.5. The latter can be had with a leaf shutter.
  10. Wow that was quick, thanks for the info guys. At least I know what to keep an eye out for now. Though I was hoping for an f2 lens, I don’t suppose the focusing screens are replaceable on the SLR’s?
  11. Since your definition of "M-type" focusing is so liberal that it includes pretty
    much anything: Why not a Hassy 500CM w/ an f/2.8 80mm C T* lens (the C's
    are more trim and compact than the CF's). The whole thing is surprisingly
    compact and it's a med. format SLR! The system is modular, so you can
    change focusing screens....I like to have one with a split image (w/microprism)
    and a grid etching. Since its SLR you have full field eye focusing on the
    ground glass as well. Also, interchangeable film backs. Totally
  12. If you can live without interchangeable lenses then the Super Ikonta B will give you a 2-1/4 “ square picture in a folding camera not a hell of a lot bigger than a Leica. It has an 80 mm / 2.8 Zeiss tessar in a compur shutter. The range finder is one of the best I have seen on any camera. Post war versions are synchronized for flash, and the Soviets continued to make it under another name after they confisticated the Zeiss plant and tooling. One model had an attached metermost of which are inoperative now but probably can be re-activated. I traded mine off several years ago and have been kicking my own butt ever since. If you like t TLR then the Rolleiflex offers the same lens and shutter and some other goodies. Good luck.
  13. If you can live with f/4, the Mamiya 7 is an excellent choice for 6x7 and Leica M7 like functions. I use a Mamiya 7 and a Mamiya 7II. Look at the results of their large negatives and you will not complain about Mamiya's f4 or f4,5 lenses. Better than any Leica lens.

  14. I'm with you Frank. Although not 6x6 the Mamiya 7II is the best compromise. Regarding the slower lenses with a 6x7 neg or slide you can afford a faster film for hand holding. The quality of Tri-X holds up much better with a vastly larger neg over 35mm. Whatever the fuss is about with an f2 lens I can't see. Any advantages of an 80mm f2 'standard' lens for a Mamiya 7 would be wipped out with a ridiculously small DOF making focusing super critical in low light. How often an f2 lens would be usable is open to question.
  15. <<Hassy 500CM w/ an f/2.8 80mm C T* lens (the C's are more trim and compact than the CF's).>>

    Awful, terrible advice. The C lenses are becoming difficult to find parts for, they have shutter and aperture rings which must be held apart to set them independently of one another, and the focusing rings are stiff, narrow and of scalloped metal with sharp edges. The CF lenses are much more user-friendly.

    I also caution about the Mamiya 6. It is notoriously unreliable in the film transport mechanism, the proof of which is Mamiya has no more of the parts that chronically break. Finally all the Mamiya RF's do not have TTL metering, so the longer lenses you actually end up metering more than the lens sees! Unless you're really laid back about exposure errors, expect to carry and use a handheld meter like a Sekonic L408 or L508 or a Lunapro with the narrow-angle viewer.
  16. Another vote for the Plaubel Makina. The 67 is like an M6 classic with a "45mm" lens - reliable RF, reliable built in meter. Super sharp lens, compact (when folded).
  17. This website might help you decide between 6x6 and 6x7, or other formats:

    If you're making enlargements, it is a consideration in terms of whether your end result is going to be a square or a rectangular print.
  18. That's an intersting link Vic. And thanks for all the rest of advice. At least I have a starting point as I start to poke around my local shops.

  19. Stephen,

    I would look at the Bronica 645RF too. Not a square format, but same proportions to 35mm. It is pretty well built (actually very well built) and relatively small (not as small as a leica though). The major shortcomings are slow lenses (f4) and range of lenses. The equivalent to 35mm terms for the lenses are 28 for the 45 - 40 for the 65 - 65 for the 100. There are some very good reviews of this camera on this site under the equipment-medium format pages. The viewfinder of this camera is very good, great focusing. I used to have this camera with the 65mm lens and sold (money needs and brain farting). I just recently bought it again and very happy I did. The camera is also inexpensive. I think a new camera with 65mm lens can be had for 1100 dollars with the rebate. Good luck
  20. "Not a square format, but same proportions to 35mm."

    I know the picture area is not the same as the format implies, but:

    4.5/6 = 0.75

    24/36 = 0.667

    You're SOL WRT Leica style RF with a 2.0 lens. The best you'll find is 2.8. I can't help you.

    I shoot with a SWC, so if scale focusing is Leica style, then this is another example of a slow 6X6 to think about. It has many Leica like features.

  21. 1) there are microscopically few MF lenses that go to f/2 - Mamiya makes an f/1.9,and Zeiss makes a couple of f/2s for Hassy and Contax 645. All fit SLRs - not M-type rangefinders - and the mirror shake of the SLRs negates the advantage - you have to shoot 2 shutter speeds faster to avoid blur. 2) MF rangefinders - a lot already mentioned. Mamiya 6/7; Plaubel (comes in 80mm f/2.8 or 55mm f/4.5 versions); folders from the 30's-50's from a lot of sources (Zeiss, Minolta, Fuji, the original Voigtlander, the original Mamiya Six, Agfa, etc.); the "Texas Leicas" - Fuji 6x7, 6x8, 6x9. I just ran across an interesting one - soviet-made 6x6 "Iskra" ("Spark") - folder with rangefinder from c. 1960. This one seems to have good mechanicals and a lens about equal to the best Yashica TLR lenses. Bought it. An aside - the only MF format that matches a Leica's format in proportions is a 6x9 - 6x4.5 and 6x7 do not. 6x4 would if someone made such a camera. Since Stephen asked for square - the Mamiya 6, or a fair proportion of the folders, including the Iskra and Mamiya 6 and Zeiss Ikonta B - and the Hassy SWC (if you count its scale-focusing) - are the options. I use the first and last - they are both fun.
  22. American frog - Soviet camera - Iskra @ f3.5
  23. One other note: Stephen mentions "split image" focusing.

    Except for the Mamiya 6/7 (and perhaps the Fujis - never tried one) most MF rangefinders have a soft edge to the rangefinder patch, so you can't easily focus by using the edge of the patch to split/unsplit the halves of a vertical line. They are 'coincident' rangefinders - you have to align the overlapping images in the middle of the RF patch.
  24. The Bronica SQa and ai come to mind since used they are at give away prices
  25. Once again, thank you all...

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