Pentax 67 --Can I hand hold in a pinch?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by henry_stanley, Feb 27, 1998.

  1. I'm about to buy either a Mamiya TLR or a Pentax 67 for those times I need a larger format, but can't use the 4x5. Both are great, and I really like everything I have read here and in other locations about the Pentax 67. But I've also read SO MUCH about the P67 requiring a big tripod bean bags and MLU! So my question to you all -- who have been so helpful -- can I shoot handheld withour MLU in good light at shutter speeds (1/60+ etc) if I really have to, for print sizes not exceeding 16x20"?

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    Also, is the prism viewer a necessity, or can I usu the WLF which I prefer? What other accessories are basic needs for this camera?

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    Thanks guys! ---Henry
     
  2. Hi Henry

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    In my experience you can handhold the pentax and more than in a pinch, I've handheld with a 165mm 2.8 lens down to 1/30 with sharp results at 10x8. It does take practice though and friends unused to the camera cannot manage it at much higher speeds. I do accept that a long period of handheld shooting is likely to be very difficult as the weight takes its toll on your shoulders.
    I've managed with light gitzo 200 series tripod and no bean bags etc, you do need a strong tripod head though to grip the camera firmly especially for portrait compositions. I've used the gitzo low profile and the Manfrotto super heavy duty ball and socket heads - its just a question of matching the head to the tripod for balance.
    Portrait compositions also being the main reason why you need the prism - especially for handheld shooting.
    I traded my Pentax67 for a Hasselblad outfit on the spur of the moment and have regretted it (in retrospect I should l have lived with less pentax gear to reduce the weight I had to carry about than change down from the 67)

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    Tapas Maiti
     
  3. I've not used the Pentax, but while stuck on a business trip I watched the "making of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition" on cable. Hey, it's photography right? ;-) Anyway, most of the photographers were using the Pentax 67, handheld. A lot of shots were with strobe, which helps, but lots weren't. One thing though, they all had the extra wooden handle on the left side of the body. One photog was rather small so the camera should be hand holdable by just about anybody.
     
  4. Henry,

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    I hand-hold mine when I need to, with no problems. Its heavier than many cameras, but I think that actually helps you to keep it steady.
    Just think of those early photographers who used to hand-hold their 8x10 "field " cameras! :)

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    Clive
     
  5. Obviously the results are going to vary from person to person. I believe it is widely known that it is possible to handhold the Pentax 67 at shutter speeds of 1/125 and above. Anything lower than that is risking a soft image.
     
  6. Hello Henry,

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    I just got back from a snowboarding trip at Lake Tahoe,
    where I carried the Pentax67 and 2 lenses 55/4 and 90/2.8,
    in a backpack. I shot scenery and some action, all handheld.
    I've gotten great results with landscapes at 1/125 and even
    1/60, blown up to 11x14 ilfochromes (ASA100). I think holding
    it against a tree or on a fence, etc, you might get away with
    1/30 even without MLU.

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    Phil Lau
     
  7. I've also had good success with hand-held P67 shots. For a lens at or below 105mm, any shutter speed at or faster than 1/125 should still give you quite sharp results. It helps to think creatively about ways to brace yourself against walls, buildings, trees, even other people (hopefully someone you know (or would like to know)).

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    One thing to try, in a really tight pinch, is hand-held with MLU. It's harder than it sounds <g>, but doable.
     
  8. Henry, I've owned both the c330 and the Pentax 67, as well as the Mamiya RB and Fuji 6x7. I also primarily use large format. I'll try to address your questions as briefly as possible.

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    Both the Pentax and RB are SLRs--they both have a large mirror, and focal plane shutter, that needs to move out of the lightpath before the exposure is made. The c330 and the Fuji both use only leaf shutters in their taking lenses, neither of them have moving mirrors, or focal plane shutters, blocking the lightpath.

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    Consider the amount of different moving parts set in motion when
    depressing the shutter releases of most SLRs (MF or 35mm). It's really amazing how many parts move in the blink of an eye! Also consider that the larger the mass (the Pentax and RB both have large mirrors, shutters, etc.), the greater the chance of vibration.

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    Now compare this with leaf shutter- only cameras, such as TLRs and rangefinders (and 4x5 lenses). Apart from operator movement, the only moving parts set in motion when you depress their shutter releases are the leaf shutter blades themselves.

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    More importantly, and in sharp contrast to the sudden and abrupt linear forces exerted by horizontal-traveling focal plane shutters and vertical-traveling mirrors, the leaf shutter's vibrational movement is further lessened by the counteracting forces exerted by the concentric nature of the leaf shutter blades' movements. That is to say, leaf shutter blades open simultaneously in all directions, at the same time, exerting equal and counteracting forces, which are distributed equally throughout their 360 degreees of travel. These counteracting concentric physical forces are inherently less vibration-prone, resulting in sharper negatives.

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    On the downside, leaf shutter-only cameras give increasingly less accurate exposures as the shutter speeds get faster and the apertures get wider. This is also due to the concentric nature of the leaf shutter blades' travel. As the shutter speeds increase and the apertures widen, certain sections of the film area receive increasingly more uneven exposure. This is much the same phenomenon as light fall-off or vignetting. Since the leaf shutter's blades linger longer at the edges of the image area, the central area of the film area gets more light than the film's edges, as the apertures get larger.

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    This is not a problem, generally, at the shutter speeds most leaf shutters provide, and at smaller apertures. If you consistently plan on shooting wide open, and using shutter speeds in excess of about 1/250 or 1/500, you will get more even exposures across the film plane with focal plane shutters. Particularly with slower transparency films.

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    I believe most reasonable people will agree that, after discounting the potential for operator movement, leaf shuttler-only cameras vibrate less than SLRs. Not only do leaf shutters vibrate less, the forces exerted by the leaf shutter's movements are inherently less prone to causing un-sharp negatives. Why else would camera designers advertise mirror lock-up features on their best cameras? And why would they tout their camera's vibration damping mirror and focal plane shutter designs?

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    I have consistently handheld both my c330 and Fuji, at speeds as slow as 1/15 second, and gotten decent exposures. I'm sure these images would have been sharper if taken on a tripod. For large prints (16x20 or larger) any little bit of additional sharpness helps.

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    I honestly cannot say I got the same results with either the Pentax or RB, handheld. Using MF SLRs handheld, with flash, is another matter completely--flash photography tends to freeze motion.

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    I'm sure that everyone out there has some excellent anecdotal evidence showing that their particular SLR cameras take sharp images at ridiculously slow shutter speeds. But, If sharp images are the only criteria, I believe that, all things being equal, leaf shutter only designs will always provide sharper negatives than SLRs. This will probably prompt a lot of controversy.

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    I personally like composing with the ground glass on TLRs. If you're used to the 4x5, you will probably feel comfortable without the prism finder on the c330. Not having used the prsim finder on the c330, I cannot comment. The Pentax usually comes with either the TTL metering prism or the non-meter prism. You can get a folding hood and use the Pentax's ground glass if you like.

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    Parallax error is another thing with the c330. Mamiya sells a parallax correction device for the c330. This is essentially a device that physically raises the camera a couple of inches after composing. You can do this yourself with your tripod's geared center column. Also, later models of the c330 have a built-in parallax correction device just below the ground glass. At any rate, parallax error with the c330 should not be a problem, unless you do a lot of close-up photography. SLRs don't experience this problem.

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    Good luck with your choice. Sergio.

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  9. Actually, the RB uses exclusively leaf shutters.



    So if you wanted to, you could lock mirror up, then release the shutter on the lens.



    Not that I would do that. But I've been shooting with it, and my feeling is that the mirror-flip-up procedure takes a LONG time. I can hear the mirror going up, count maybe 1/4 second, then hear my strobes go off and the shutter go "flick".



    Which means that it's really hard to catch fleeting expressions. I have this problem with my Elan II, as well, so it's more a mirror problem than anything.



    On the other hand, with my Canonet QL17 GIII (which is a rangefinder and exclusively leaf shutter) i don't have this problem -- watch for expression, finger goes down, catches expression.



    -jon
     
  10. Follow up: I got several messages pointing out that the RB has leaf shutter lenses, no focal plane shutter. Sorry, my comments were only about the handholdability of the c330 versus the Pentax. I only mentioned the RB, in passing, because it, like the Pentax, has a large SLR mirror. Sergio.
     
  11. In his lengthy response to this question, Sergio Ortega stated, in part:

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    "On the downside, leaf shutter-only cameras give increasingly less accurate exposures as the shutter speeds get faster and the apertures get wider. This is also due to the concentric nature of the leaf shutter blades' travel. As the shutter speeds increase and the apertures widen, certain sections of the film area receive increasingly more uneven exposure. This is much the same phenomenon as light fall-off or vignetting. Since the leaf shutter's blades linger longer at the edges of the image area, the central area of the film area gets more light than the film's edges, as the apertures get larger."

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    I'm surprised that no one objected to this statement, which appears to be saying that a combination of high leaf shutter speed and large aperture causes vignetting. The fact that the leaf shutter's blades linger longer at the edges of the image area does not mean that the edges of the film get less light. Since a leaf shutter is right at the center of the lens, the degree of opening affects the film in about the same way the degree of opening of the aperture does. The total illumination is less at a smaller opening but the entire picture is affected evenly. Vignetting at wide apertures is a function of lens design and is not affected by the physics of leaf shutter design.

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    Peter Caplow
     
  12. I have gotten superb results handholding the P67. In fact, the first time I tried it I was so surprised that I had to sit down with the chromes and a loupe and carefully remember if I had used a tripod after all. Sure there is a huge mirror that has to flap out of the way, and sure, that is one heck of a big shutter too, but I think if you practice your technique, you can get some really great results! I am a fashion photographer, and shoot people 99% of the time, so having some freedom with this camera was a must. I can say I am more than happy with its handheld performance. (especially for a 6 x 7cm)
     

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