Pentax 67 buying advice

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by jessevad, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. Hello all,
    First post here so I appreciate any advice y'all can give. I'm considering buying a Pentax 67 to begin experimenting with medium format. I have experience with 35mm film photography but not medium format. It seems like eBay is basically the only place to buy the 67. Anyone have any other recommendations or is eBay the best bet? Also, I'm hoping to get the 105mm 2.4 lens but it seems like the glass on most have yellowed. Is this avoidable and how much of an impact on pictures does the yellowing have? Any info is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Congrats on wanting to move up to medium format

    I don't own a Pentax 67 myself but reading descriptions on eBay revealed they have problems like any other used camera

    They are a bit complex, so know what you are getting into -

    Link ...
    Pentax 67

    If I was buying a used Pentax 67, I would only buy and pay top dollar for a near mint camera, but if there was any less than six description photos, I wouldn't even consider it and simply skip past it. Also the verbal description must be believable, any doubts, again skip past it.

    Not sure about "yellowing" of lens glass but there could be haze, fungus or significant scratches, be alert to those
    jessevad likes this.
  3. Thanks for the advice!
  4. My two cents worth :) Go for it. The 67 model is the most expensive so I bought a mirror lock up model of the 6 x 7. Love it. The light meter is handy but not essential. A selection of lenses is not expensive. I have noticed the yellowing but I’m guessing it has to do with the multi coating. I’ve only shot black and white and the negatives have that WOW factor. Just check for proper operation of each part eg film rewind crank closes properly after using. Enjoy the journey.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
    jessevad likes this.
  5. this reply may cause some controversy, but check out the cameras on sale on eBay from Japan. I’ve found their descriptions accurate, refunds available and good service, in fact no regrets on many purchases.
  6. Thanks for the advice! Yes it seems like most good options come from Japan.
  7. What kind of Photography do you do? The Pentax 6 X 7 only has a sync speed of 1/30 very slow.

    Depends on what type of Photography you're doing.

    He pretty much have to shoot it on a tripod because it has a lot mirror flap which causes vibrations you have to mount it on a hefty tripod.
  8. I can second the consideration for Japanese-located cameras. I've bought a number of cameras and lenses from Japanese dealers, and they're all rated far below their actual condition. Their "good" condition ratings usually translate to near-mint around here.

    As to the "yellowing" of their lenses, I'd suspect the sample photos, and not the coating. I have a bunch of Pentax 35mm lenses and they don't exhibit any yellowing. I'd suspect that the yellowing might be the reflection of the Canadian balsam used to adhere the lens elements.

    Some early 50mm f/1.4 Pentax Takumars did have Thorium (a radioactive metal) in the coating, exhibited yellowing, and still measure a minute amount of radioactivity.

    If you decide on 6x7, but not Pentax, keep the Bronica GS-1 in mind; very portable.
    jessevad likes this.
  9. pretty much mostly portrait photography
  10. Thanks so much for the advice, good to know!
  11. Well you won't be doing any high speed sync and the sync speed on the Pentax is extremely slow.

    It does take very very beautiful pictures but you might want to consider something else if you're going to focus on portraits.

    Mamiya RZ Pro 2 or Bronica gs1 both excellent cameras and they both use Leaf shutters in their lenses which means you can sync all the way up to the fastest shutter speed on the camera which is about 1/500 of a second it makes a big difference.

    I would say both of those cameras take just as good a pictures as a Pentax. Both can be had on eBay for very good prices.

    Another good Japanese site to go and buy camera equipment is called have every camera ever made it's a site in Japan and you can find really hard to get stuff there good luck.
  12. Thanks great advice!
  13. Hello, as a long time owner of the P67 II, including all glass upto 300mm, my advice would be to buy a Hasselblad 501CM with a 80 or 100mm lens. The P67 needs servicing more than a Hasselblad, and the transport mechanism is more fragile. A501CM can also operate without a battery in case necessary. I am also the owner of a Mamiya RZ67 as well as Hasselblad equipment, so i think i know the subject more or less from own experience. THese days my analog equipment does not get so much use anymore unfortunately, and i am looking at diy projects only to do a conversion of the Mamiya RZ to a digital version. Any questions on P67, do not hesitate to ask. Please be aware that the chain mechanism for the lightmeter in the viewfinder is very fragile. If the mirror is locked up, and transport blocked, there is a procedure you must follow after replacement of the battery. But .... in conclusion, i have made some very nice pictures with the P67 in the past :)
  14. L-o-n-g post follows:

    As a long-time Hasselblad owner, I wouldn't necessarily agree that a Hassy would be less problematic overall than a Pentax 67. They both have Achilles Heels that can (and will: count on it) bite without warning, and both employ arcane Rube Goldberg mechanisms that fewer and fewer local repair technicians are skilled at fixing (at ever-escalating nosebleed fees).

    The biggest advantage of the Pentax (focal plane shutter in the body, instead of a shutter in every lens) is also its biggest drawback. Advantage of consistent exposure with every lens. Advantage that you don't have multiple hysterical-diva leaf shutters just waiting to crap out and hit you with a $400 repair bill. Disadvantage of huge focal plane shutter is vibration and curtain bounce issues, and near-useless 1/30th sec maximum flash sync. Also, shutter is housed in body thats a ticking time bomb of transport issues. OTOH, if you can live with 1/30th flash sync, chances are your Pentax body will only die once, and after repair stay reliable for quite some time.

    Hasselblad owners have no such luck: you may end up owning more shutters than fingers, every one of which could potentially cost you hundreds to repair, perhaps several times over the course of your lifetime. The film backs are a boon but also another source of breakdowns and repair headaches, and Hassy bodies themselves are subject to mysterious seizures and failures. Used prices may have tanked after digital killed the Hasselblad Vs as a professional tool, but they're still expensive to buy and the maintenance costs are astronomical. When sold new, the V system was the premier professional tool, designed for regular servicing at professional prices that professionals could write off. If a studio could afford $2200 for a new 150mm Sonnar portrait lens, $300 per year for leaf shutter maintenance was a pittance to them. Sure, we can buy that same lens used today for $300, but the service fees have climbed closer to $400 (a Sword Of Damocles few amateur photogs are truly prepared to live with). Hasselblads are incredible pieces of engineering, and the Zeiss lenses can create a look like no other, but they are still very VERY costly to own (take it from someone whose empty wallet can testify). If you want the largest practical vertical-oriented medium format frame size, Hasselblad is off the table anyway since it tops out at 645. Your choices in 6x7 are the Mamiya RB/RZ, Pentax 6x7, or Bronica GS1.

    The Bronica GS1 is an outlier: always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Bronica was immensely successful in 645 and 6x6, but their 6x7 system never caught on: it was neither as handy as the Pentax, nor as versatile as the Mamiyas. Such underwhelming popularity means parts and repairs are more difficult to come by, and many accessories are unobtainable. The interchangeable film backs are an advantage over the Pentax 67, but they make the GS1 much bulkier and clumsy even with a grip. The backs don't rotate, which means you will have a heavy prism finder permanently attached to the body (unless you like shooting horizontal-only portraits with the WLF). The GS1 lenses are very good, and of course electronically timed leaf shutters are great for flash sync up to 1/500th.

    The Pentax is something of a niche, acquired taste: people either love it or hate it. Strictly eyelevel handling, which isn't always the best workflow for portraits. Shutter vibration issues have become urban legend at this point: a lot of people cannot get a sharp frame out of a Pentax if their lives depended on it, lots of others never have a problem (you can't know how it will/won't work for you until you try one). Flash sync is dismally slow, so the pros who loved the Pentax for fashion/portraits tended to use it outdoors in exotic daylight locales. Most of the lenses are stellar, and a couple did have a leaf shutter for studio flash. The lack of interchangeable backs makes the Pentax more nimble, but slows down film reloads. Mechanical or electronic issues can strike at the worst possible time, and since the body is entirely integrated you're dead in the water unless you have another complete backup body.

    The Mamiyas were the de facto standard for many portrait pros, and were toe-to-toe with Hasselblad in most every tripod-based scenario. Mamiya is the most plentiful, least-expensive 6x7 system available used (tho prices have climbed sharply in the past couple years as MF film photography replaces vinyl record playback as the hot hipster hobby). The Mamiyas are large, heavy cameras but surprisingly comfortable to hold once you get used to them (with amazingly low noise or vibration: far less than Hasselblad or Pentax 6x7). The standard 127mm Sekor lens is very inexpensive yet one of the best general purpose/portrait lenses out there.The interchangeable back helps with film reloads, and it rotates from horizontal to vertical: a killer feature for portraits. This allows you to shoot verticals while still keeping the convenient waist-level workflow (WLF is much lighter weight than a prism, and facilitates rapport between photographer and subject).

    Of all the second-hand leaf-shutter-lens MF systems available, the Mamiya RB67 Pro-SD may be the most practical and affordable for the layman portrait shooter. You get flash sync up to 1/400th, the shutters are historically far less prone to needing repair than Hasselblad's, and most important if they do break there are so many lenses around you can discard your broken one and replace it with another for half the cost of repairs. The RB67 body itself is tank-reliable, if the film transport goes out you just slap on another film back (and backs are pretty reliable as long as you replace the seals every few years). The RZ67 has electronic shutters in each lens instead of mechanical: a debatable advantage. Some people prefer the mechanical RB, some the electronic RZ, but for all practical purposes they're identical. Unless you're inexplicably jonesing to add a three pound AE meter prism to your already six pound basic camera, just for bragging rights of owning the worlds first auto-exposing cinderblock.

    If I did mostly portrait photography, I'd go with an RB67 ProSD in a hot minute. Seven-eight years ago, when MF film camera prices sank to their lowest point ever, I went a little crazy and bought all five systems I'd ever dreamed of: Mamiya RB67, Hasselblad 500cm, Bronica S2A, Pentax 6x7, and Mamiya C330 TLR. I loved all of them for different reasons, but after a while sanity prevailed and I reluctantly sold off three of the five. The RB67 was great with standard focal lengths but I didn't care for its viewing/handling with wide or teles, so it went first. The Pentax I liked in theory but never enjoyed using, despite its wonderful glass: that went second. The Bronica S2A shutter noise could reincarnate Napoleon, and it was twice the size/weight of the Hasselblad for the same 6x6 format, so off it went.

    That leaves me with two 6x6 systems: Hasselblad SLR and Mamiya TLR. After a lifetime with eyelevel Nikon 35mm, the square/WLF is more appealing to me in MF than 645 or 67. The Hasselblad is beautiful to behold and use, I'm in love with the Zeiss glass, but service costs have nearly bankrupted me. The Mamiya TLR system just makes me smile any time I use it: kind of the best of both worlds (TLR silence and low vibration, but close focus and interchangeable leaf-shutter lenses like an SLR). Best of all, the Mamiya TLR lenses are dead easy to self-service (no pricey distant tech necessary).
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
    iangillett likes this.
  15. I vote for RB 67, no circuit and mechanical undestroyable
  16. The Pentax 67 is a huge camera, an SLR on steroids. It should come with hearing protectors.

    My vote would be for an Hasselblad 500c/m or later, with a CF (or CFx) 80/2.8 for starters. The Hassy is smaller, quieter, and more flexible than the Pentax. It offers interchangeable backs, so you never have to decide which type of film to load in the morning. There is also a lot of used equipment on the market, although the selection is rapidly thinning in the Digital Age. You can also upgrade to a digital back, from one of several manufacturers.

    Hasselblad has its quirks, including some unique to the body-lens coupling. However once I had my gear serviced, and upgraded from C to CF lenses, I went trouble-free for the last 15 years.

    If this is just a toe in the water, Bronica gear is pretty much the same as Hasselblad, but less expensive. That said, you would have no trouble selling used Hassy gear for near (or more) than you paid.
    charliegardener likes this.
  17. While you're looking, don't overlook the Pentax 67II. Also the yellowing you're hearing about on 105mm 2.4 lenses will not happen with the 67 lens designation, verses the 6X7 designation. The recent release 67 lenses should be a buyers focus. The 6X7 designation, are old and utilize old technology glass.
    charliegardener likes this.
  18. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    I have been using a 1989-vintage Pentax 67 with top-drawer SMC Pentax 67 lenses in a professional production capacity since 2008, and I can vouch for the quality of the images produced by the lenses, and the idiosyncracies of the P67 and 1969-era Pentax 6x7 camera.

    Firstly, all of these cameras are now quite old, the 1969 cameras very much so. Prior to the plunge in analogue caused by digital, these cameras would have experienced very heavy professional use, chiefly in studios (with strobe lighting and leaf shutter lens(es) ), and aggressive winding practices common to medium format camera use. This pro-level use has been observed to tax the cameras to the point where somewhere along the line in amateur use, a failure of a component will be experienced. Pentax ceased making parts for all of the Pentax 6x7 / 67 cameras more than 25 years ago, so repairs take like-parts from cameras that no longer work. Unfortunately this introduces a cycle of redundancy and unreliability, but it is the only way to go.

    Examples of failures include:
    • winding mechanism -- subject to pawl stripping, frame overlap and "freewheeling" (complete breakage);
    • derangement of shutter speeds caused by latent storage of the camera with the dial set to anything other than Bulb. This is an electronic problem and not as easy to repair as other things.
    • corrosion of the copper plate nodes under the shutter speed dial -- can cause "dead"/ inaccurate speeds;
    • laziness or locking of the mirror actuating solenoid;
    • TTL meter circuit derangement -- a normal consequence of advanced age, particularly those meters from 1969 (revised metering circuit in 1989 release of Pentax 67);
    • corrosion of the battery compartment (very difficult to repair as it involves stripping down the camera to remove the entire compartment);
    • TTL meter coupling chain -- a well-known Achilles Heel that will break if stressed repeatedly through incorrect docking of the TTL prism and the lens (a specific procedure must be followed regarding this);
    • dropping/banging which can misalign the mirror and focusing screen calibration...
    These are just a few of the most common things to go wrong. Mint condition cameras are now very rare, and those that are advertised as mint, chiefly in Japan by over-zealous sellers out to make a lot of money from ignorance, are generally not in mint or even very good condition on very close personal inspection.

    Large numbers of the Pentax 6x7 and 67 cameras come with mirror-lockup. This is exceptionally useful for reducing vibration caused by the combination of mirror movement and shutter travel/stop, which introduces blur. The MLU is activated first, then the shutter (preferably with a cable release). The result of this more refined technique, most usually tripod-based, is a resulting excellent quality in the image. For portrait use, this would be essential for the absolute best outcome, provided you also have a decent lens e.g. the 105mm f2.4 or 75mm.

    In 1989, commensurate with the incoming Pentax 67 with numerous small engineering improvements, Pentax released a new, revised lens line up with the designation SMC Pentax 67.... This replaced the old Takumar lens line-up forward of 1969, with revised optical designs and better glass. Mind you, you are still using the time-proven Distagon and Variogon base designs! Yellow glass is thorium tinted and inconsequential (other than a talking point about becoming a zombie through radiation...), and was common in early Takumar lenses, as well as Pentax 67 right angle viewfinder attachments (thorium ceased to be included in lenses a long time before 1989).

    The camera is a major consideration in view of the foregoing, but your thoughts and money should also be put toward the newer generation SMC Pentax 67 lenses, especially the optically-superb ED/IF or aspherics such as the 75mm f2.8 AL, released at the same time as the Pentax 67II camera came out, and still very popular AND very pricey.

    A medium format system only makes sense if you are going to print, and print BIG for display/exhibition. Getting 6x4 prints done is silly -- the image quality will not ever be appreciated from a tiny print. Get prints are up to 1 metre across done (the frame them!).

    If your application is portrait photography, seek out one of the excellent leaf shutter lenses which allow sync speed up to 1/500. Two versions are available: the 90mm f2.8 LS and the 165mm f4 LS. I have both lenses and they are also excellent in the landscape/scenic context. Mirror lockup (described below) can be used with the 90mm in LS mode, but not the 165mm LS. With a leaf shutter lens in place, the body-side shutter speed is set to 1/8sec (FP shutter actual sync speed) while the LS is set to anything at all up to 1/500 for studio strobes.

    I would put problems with Hasselblad cameras well before perceived or actual problems with the Pentax 67 cameras. Both systems however, require familiarity and fluency of operation and either/both are not always suitable for amateurs as their first MF camera.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  19. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    ^^ As a postscript to the above, consider investing in a multi-function hand-held lightmeter, e.g. incident/spot/multispot. The Pentax 6x7 / 67 TTL meter-equipped cameras meter effectively down to 1 second; longer than that and you need to do the metering yourself. Also, when using any viewfinder other than a TTL prism (non-TTL viewfinder, waist-level finder, chimney finder or no finder at all), a separate meter will be necessary.
  20. I've been using the same 6X7 for over 20-years. My 105mm hasn't yellowed but has developed a mild separation at an inside edge of the rear element.
    You can find waist-level and and vertical magnifying viewfinders readily on the bay if you're not partial to the eye-level prism.
    I've heard that the film advance mechanism can wear out so confirm it winds smoothly.
    Another possible gotcha is the tiny chain inside the front mirror box area which couples the metered prism to the aperture ring.
    I also have the SMC 45mm for wide and a much older 200mm which is a phenomenal portrait lens.

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