Pros & Cons of 6x6 on 6x7 camera

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by eric_m|4, Apr 21, 2021.

  1. Hello All,
    I have a good amount of gear for my (SLR) Bronica 6x7 and a 6x6 (TLR) Mamiya C330. I like switching between square and rectangular formats but was thinking of getting a 6x6 film back for my 6x7 because there are times when I want to use filters on the Mamiya but its just a little too tricky with a TLR, but I don't really want to invest in a whole new 6x6 system. I know you can shoot 6x7 and then crop to a square but I like to see a square when I'm "thinking" square, so cropping is a no-go. So my question is what are the advantages or disadvantages of getting a 6x6 back for a 6x7 camera. Thanks.
  2. Perhaps make a 6x6 mask for the finder?
    mag_miksch likes this.
  3. Hi John,
    Yeah, I plan on doing that. So far I only see minor inconveniences that are easier to deal with than buying and carrying another MF system around. I'm actually a little concerned about how 6x7 lenses differ from 6x6 lenses. Will they just cover more area? Or will the image look a bit "off" somehow.
  4. I've no specific knowledge of Bronica 6x7 lenses but I guess the only issue will be the slightly longer focal length of the standard lens, 100mm on 6X7 vs 80mm on 6X6.
  5. For a number of years, I used an RB67. I also had a couple of 6x6 backs for it when the occasion arose. While the "standard" 90mm lens was just a tad long, there were no issues using it with 6x6 backs. The 6x6 format just uses the "sweet spot" of 5mm on the long side.

    6x7 lenses are actually designed for 7x7 format, and I don't believe that there is any visible difference in using the larger format lens in lieu of a "made for" 6x6 lens.
  6. Another vote for making a mask for the view and cropping in printing....
    q.g._de_bakker likes this.
  7. I find that when using my Mamiya 7 my prints often wind up cropped to square. No mask needed. Thinking of selling that camera and replacing it with a 6x9 Fuji, a truly undeniable rectangle for when I want it.
  8. With a 6x6 back you get 12 frames on a roll of film, compared to 10 with 6x7. Since most 6x6 images will be cropped to a rectangular format for presentation, you would probably need to compose to a 645 aspect ratio. In my TLR days, I drew lines on the finder proportional to a 5x7 print, both horizontal and vertical. I've you have ever experienced the reaction to cropped an elbow on a bride, you'll understand what that was important.

    With a mask on 6x7 film, you have a choice just where to crop the final image, or not crop at all.

    The best way I've found to make a mask is to print one on transparency film, using a laserjet. The lines are much finer and cleaner than using a pen or wax pencil. The transparency is cut to fit over the ground glass and held in place by the hood or prism.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021
  9. Unless, of course you "like to see a square when I'm "thinking" square" when you "like switching between square and rectangular formats".
    You ignore the premise of the question, Ed. That most of your 6x6 images will be cropped to rectangular does not make it a universal thing. People like square format for being square format, from capture to presentation.
  10. I don't mean to be rude but the advantage would be that you'll be able to shoot 6x6 with your 6x7 Bronica ... A perceived disadvantage might be the price to obtain a 6x6 back. One on the Bay at the moment is US $329.99, quite a dent in your wallet, but that's no where near the price of a ETRsi 35mm W at US $800, in case the time ever arrived that you might want one of those.
  11. You've got a square format camera, so shoot it. GS-1 6x6 backs are rarities and are priced accordingly. Wasn't there a 6x6 framed focus screen, too?

  12. Not sure why you think most square pictures are cropped to rectangles. I've shot hundreds, perhaps thousands of squares and never made one into a rectangle. With 6x7 I'm more likely to crop to a square.
  13. I use 6x7 and 6x6 backs on my Bronica GS-1 and the 12 shot capability of the 6x6 back is useful for situations where a new film or new filter is being tested. Doing a +/- one stop bracket per subject gives me four tests on the 12 shot roll but only three on 10 shot 6x7 back.
    And there are times when a square format just suits the subject; centred face portraits for instance.
  14. Hey Guys,
    Thanks for the replies. I guess I was hoping to hear the response that dennisbrown gave about shooting 6x7 and just using the sweet spot on the lens without any funky surprises before I plunk down $400 (including ship & tax) on a 6x6 back. kmac, maybe I missed something but I don't think you were being rude at all - just pointing out the cost. 6x6 backs are pricey but the Bronica SQ-A (6x6) setup would probably cost about $2000 if I got the same setup as my GS-1. JDMvW, I know some people are totally into squares, others into rectangles and others don't care, but for me it's more about the approach to composition. Obviously you can mask now and crop square later but many times I don't process film 'til weeks or even months later and I might not "feel that square vibe" anymore, or I might just forget I even intended to shoot square, which maybe even opens the door to a whole new creative direction, who knows? Just like when you shoot large format you think differently because of the slower pace and 35mm has another approach because of the "faster" pace, Similarly, the square makes me arrange things differently when I'm shooting and printing. It's just one of those creative quirks I got - go figure... Ed_Ingold, I think most cameras do view the scene in rectangular format but I wouldn't say everyone wants a rectangular print. Wedding photographers were big on the 6x6 scene but I don't think everyone that shoots 6x6 is using it to avoid "cropped elbows." (thankfully I didn't start shooting weddings until digital came around). There are plenty of people who like the square for being square (the hard-core Hasselblad crowd!!) and others think its a crime to even think about cropping no matter what format they shoot. c_watson|1, I think you missed the point. I don't just want to shoot a square, I would also like to use filters with a square, which is tough to do with a TLR. Always interesting to get everyone's take.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2021
  15. Please explain, why are you having a problem using filters with a TLR? I have been using them on my Rollei TLR since the mid-70's without a problem. The one filter that requires some effort is the polarizer but once you get the SOP down it is not difficult at all. If you are having a difficulty seeing what the filter does to the scene then just buy 2 filters, one for the view lens and one for the taking lens.
  16. The polarizer does seems to be a bit of a hassle. I've also been wanting to use grad ND filters with sky shots (which I've only done with digital) and I suppose you could do the same with two filters but that seems even more frustrating. I know it can be done and sometimes I like getting into all the little details of composing a shot but other times I like to take the path of least resistance. Most of the time a TLR is good enough but I don't want to fidget around too much with filters. What's an SOP?
  17. Re using filters: it is, of course, possible to use filters on your Mamiya TLR. You'd be looking through the unfiltered lens, yes, so you will not be seeing what the filter does constantly. But you can know what a particular filter does by holding it up to the eye or mounting it on the viewing lens.
    I know and understand the inconvenience but i do not think it is a big obstacle. I think the main advantage of carrying a 6x6 magazine for the Bronica would be not having to carry the Mamiya as well should you also want to have the option to use 6x6.
  18. Standard Operating Procedure.
  19. Sorry Arthur, but you're in a severe minority there. That's why square format printing paper is, and was, like hen's teeth.

    Historically, plate, film and paper sizes have always been rectangular. It was only with the invention of the TLR and its lack of rotating back or ability to be easily used sideways, that the square format became 'popular' - (not!). And even then it was supposed that the square could be easily cropped or printed vertical or horizontal, as needed.
    peter_fowler likes this.
  20. That is all, point for point, historically incorrect.

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