Replace 35mm with Mamiya7?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by benoit_doloreux, Jul 3, 1998.

  1. Hi guys,

    <p>

    This is it! I'm letting go of my 35mm equipment. Tried all sorts of
    lenses, I always found myself going back to the 35mm and 85mm. Hated
    zooms with a passion and that mirror...

    <p>

    I'm looking at the Mamiya 7 system with the 65mm and 150mm lens set-up.
    I already am aware of the advantages of this medium format rangefinder
    but I would greatly appreciate some feedback on the consequences of its
    shortcomings.

    <p>

    Minimum focus is one to two meters
    Ok, fine but how do the lenses perform when at their minimum focus?

    <p>

    F4 is the fastest you'll get
    Again, I'll manage, but again, do these lenses do a good job at max
    aperture?

    <p>

    Also, a fact that eludes me still is why there's nothing faster than
    400ASA (save for Konica's 3200 (terrible in 35mm, maybe better in MF?)
    and Agfa 1000) for MF. Fuji should have their superb Neopan 1600
    declined in 120 considering almost all of their MF bodies are slow
    rangefinders. How do pushed 400asa film react with 120 rolls? Are the
    results better than 35mm?

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    How does the Mamiya 7 handles when shooting verticals? Would the easier
    handling of its older brother, the 6, be an important advantage here?

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    Would a good spot meter be an important addition or is the meter
    accurate enough?

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    Thank you!

    <p>

    Benoit Doloreux, Montreal
     
  2. Here's another question for the list (based on some experience with a 6): can you do double exposures?
     
  3. I think it's a mistake to try to replace 35mm with MF. There are things that each does best.
     
  4. Benoit,

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    Have you thought about considering the Leica M6 system? The 35mm Summicron f2.0 or Summilux f1.4 ASPH lens are the best 35mm lenses available on the market. They also currently make 2 lenses in a 90mm focal length and a 90mm Summicron f2.0 APO lens should be available soon. Superbly made, silky smooth in operation, accurate built in meter and no mirror slap.
     
  5. I've both a Mamiya 7 and a Nikon. There are uses for both. If I have to shoot quickly and need to trust the meter I use the Nikon. The Mamiya can get a bit expensive to shoot - $1.20 per frame of C-41 (w/4x5 prints).
     
  6. Kodak now makes a 1000 ASA film in 120. and Fuji has come out with an 800 ASA film NHG II.

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    Verticals. The camera feels more comfortable for horizontals but taking verticals is no a big enough inconvenience to give up on the bigger rectangular format.

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    I wouldn't ditch the 35mm format completely. I agree that each format has its uses. While the minimum focussing distance is not a reason not to get the M7, it is one reason to keep the 35--for those times when you want closer focussing. There also may be times you want a camera loaded for 36 exposures. There may be times you want something more compact. So keep the 35 and 85, ditch the zoom and get the M7.

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    If you hate mirrors that much then the Leica suggestion above is the best way to go, but you'll probably have to win a lottery to get both the Leica and the Mamiya.

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    I think the meter is accurate enough, but if I could afford one, I would get a spot meter to supplement it.
     

  7. I have the Mamiya 7 with 65 mm and 150 mm lenses.

    <p>

    <Minimum focus is one to two meters Ok, fine but how do the lenses perform when at their minimum focus?>

    <p>

    <F4 is the fastest you'll get Again, I'll manage, but again, do these lenses do a good job at max aperture? >

    <p>

    The performance at minimum focus (1 meter for the 65, 1.8 meters for the 150--about 6 feet) and maximum aperture (f4 for the 65, f4.5 for the 150) is very good. I have done a lot of shooting wide open at these distances.

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    It is also possible to hand-hold this camera at shutter speeds well below what you can do with an SLR. What works for you will depend on your capabilities and technique, but I would think you could gain 2-3 stops based on what you can do with an SLR.

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    This minimum focal distance with the 150 may be the most annoying thing about the camera. You cannot take a head and shoulders portrait without cropping, for example.

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    Optimum performance with both lenses is probably f 8 to f 11. I am basing this on real pictures, not lens tests. If you want tests, there are others on this forum who have tested these lenses.

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    <How do pushed 400asa film react with 120 rolls? Are the results better than 35mm? >

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    I have read that "you cannot tell the difference between MF and 35mm until you get to 11x14." It is not true for me. I have shot Tri-x with the same subject and lighting conditions in 35 mm and 120. The difference is striking in an 8x10. The tonal range is better and the grain is less pronounced. I have not pushed more than a stop, but I expect the results would be similar.

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    I have wondered about the trade-off between a 6x7 negative with a three stop disadvantage (f 4 vs f 1.4) against the better rendition of grainier film by comparing, say, Tri-x at 400 in 35mm vs Tri-x at 3200 in 120, and printing to 8x10 or 11x14, but I haven't done any practical experiments.

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    <How does the Mamiya 7 handles when shooting verticals? Would the easier handling of its older brother, the 6, be an important advantage here? >

    <p>

    This sounds more like a religious issue :). The 6 costs less, which is the only thing to recommend it (some would argue that the folding lens is a worthy advantage). Although I neither own nor intend to own the 43 mm lens, the availability of this lens as a rental would be enough to convince me that the 7 is the better choice.

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    As for shooting verticals, I find the 7 works fine for this. The right quick-release plate on the bottom (or a home-made handle which mounts to the tripod socket) could help by providing an easier left-hand grip, if you wanted to do a lot of vertical shots without a tripod.

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    My advice: if you are going to print rectangles, get a 6x7. If you are going to print squares, get a 6x6. If you shoot a 6 and a 7 both vertical and decide to crop horizontal, you will get the same results (although the 6 does give you two more shots per roll).

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    <Would a good spot meter be an important addition or is the meter accurate enough? >

    <p>

    It all depends on what you are shooting. This camera is not appropriate for, say, table-top photography. Table-top photography, live performance (theater, ballet, etc.) and landscape photography are the main applications where a spot meter would help. It is also nice for checking lighting on background, but this can be done with a reflected meter held close.

    <p>

    Based on your questions about large apertures and 1-2 meter distances , it sounds like you will be working without a tripod, at close range and, presumably, taking pictures of people. For this use, the onboard meter is accurate enough. Just use your head to deal with back-lighting and very dark or light elements that dominate the scene (snow, brides dresses, tuxedos, black backdrops). In any case, you must really use your head with a spot meter or it will do you more harm than good :).

    <p>

    If you are not using a spot-meter now, I suspect you don't need one. If you are trying to do serious landscape work, or in some other way are using the zone system, it might be worth it. Photographing performers on a stage with theatrical lighting would be a good reason to have a spot meter.

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    If my guess is correct and you are taking pictures of people, than an ambient meter (the kinds with the white domes) would be your best choice. But you could also buy a gray card for under $20 and get effectively the same results with proper use.

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    Will you be using strobes? If so, I suggest a flash meter might be your best addition. The 7 is not set up to meter flash, so if you plan to use more than one or do anything fancy with strobes, a flash meter would be an excellent investment. Again, ambient reading of flash would probably be best in most cases.

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    You can get a meter that will do both ambient and spot metering. There is a 5 degree spot attachment available for most professional meters, and the sekonic 408 and 508 have spots built in (down to 1 degree on the 508).

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    <Here's another question for the list (based on some experience with a 6): can you do double exposures? >

    <p>

    No. The only way is to run the roll through the camera a second time (although someone might figure out how to alter the camera ;-)

    Another note, check the point of focus carefully with each lens. Quality control at Mamiya is a bit slack in this area.

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    Other than the shortcomings discussed, the lenses are outstanding and the camera is a pleasure to use. If I could have only one camera, this would be it, but I do find a lot of use for 4x5 and 35 mm.

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    The last thing I will say is probably the best advice I could give you: rent before you buy. This is a very expensive camera, and you can learn a lot by trying it out. $30-40 will give you a weekend to try it out and develop some film.

    <p>

    Look at the results for yourself and see how the camera works for you--are there things which annoy you or make it difficult to take the pictures you want. I would also suggest that you rent with one lens at a time.

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    Since your preference is the 65 mm and 150 mm lenses, I suggest you start with the 65 mm for one weekend and the 150 mm for another weekend. $60-80 in rental and the cost of film and processing will teach you a lot about the system and how it works for the type of pictures you like to take.

    <p>

    Derick
     
  8. Derrick Miller's advice is all good, but I'll put in a plug for the Mamiya 6. If you are interested in a system with two lenses at focal lengths equivalent to 35mm and 85mm in 35, the 6 (with 50mm and 150mm lenses) is a good choice. Its disadvantage compared with the 7 is smaller negative size. For me this has not been much of an issue: I often compose and print in squares, I don't enlarge over 11x14 very often, and I find that for equal print sizes, the lenses on the Mamiya 6 produce prints as sharp as I get from my Pentax 67. (I think the biggest disadvantage of the 6 is that it doesn't have a really wide lens like the 7's 43mm, but if you only need a 35mm equivalent, this isn't important.)

    <p>

    Advantages of the 6 over the 7 are (1) the 6 is much more compact, especially when folded and stowed (the difference feels much greater than the respective cameras' dimensions unfolded would suggest), making it an ideal travel camera (you can fit the 6, three lenses, film and accessories in a small LowePro Photorunner fanny pack) and (2) the 6 is much cheaper, especially on the used market. Also, the smaller size may allow you to get away with a slightly smaller tripod.

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    I strongly second the recommendation of renting before you buy, but you may want to try renting the 6 as well as the 7. Try making enlargements from each and see whether the extra negative size makes much of a difference to you.

    <p>

    Finally, my opinion is that you do need a hand held meter for either the 6 or the 7. You won't have to use it all the time, but there are times when it's necessary. The Sekonic L-408 seems like a good choice if you need both a flash and spot meter.
     
  9. >>This is it! I'm letting go of my 35mm equipment. <<

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    Dont! Save your 35mm and all it's flexibility. At the least the 35mm (if it's an SLR) will make a superb light-meter.

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    >>Hated zooms with a passion and that mirror... <<

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    I went through that phase to. Zooms suck and are for amatuers. Are you talking about the mirror in an SLR or in a mirror lens?

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    >>F4 is the fastest you'll get Again, I'll manage, but again, do these lenses do a good job at max aperture? <<

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    Haven't used M7 series lenses but typically MF lenses don't perform well wide-open. F8 or F11 is prime for that bunch.

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    >>Also, a fact that eludes me still is why there's nothing faster than 400ASA (save for Konica's 3200 (terrible in 35mm, maybe better in MF?) <<

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    Nope, Konica 3200 is available in 120 but it still has grain like snowballs. Fuji's NHG II 800 is absolutely superb and is far superior to most of Kodak's 400 speed films and easily better than Agfa.

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    Somebody said::
    >>Have you thought about considering the Leica M6 system? The 35mm Summicron f2.0 or Summilux f1.4 ASPH lens are the best 35mm lenses available on the market. <<

    <p>

    This is off the subject but...
    Leica builds some superb SLRs and rangefinders bodies, but when it comes to "mirror slap" I'll take on *ANY* Lecia SLR vs my venerable Nikon FE-2 and inertia dampening.

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    As for lenses, well, Leica is over-rated and much over-priced. This goes back to the 1950's when it was thought that anything built German was superior than anything built Japanese. I've never seen a lens test confirming that Leica lenses offer superior optics over Nikon or Canon glass.

    <p>

    //scott
     
  10. I also like the 85mm focal length on a 35-mm camera. It's what I "see" plus I like the subject isolation it gives me if I shoot close to wide open. The only 6x7 system with an identical focal length is Pentax and the 165mm lens. That's one of the reasons I recently bought a system.

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    It's big and heavy but very sharp and a good price. The M7 is an interesting system, but very expensive for what it is.

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    As others have said, you pretty much need a 35-mm SLR system -- to do copy slides, if nothing else.

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    I recently augmented my MF system with a Contax G2 and 28, 45 and 90mm lenses. The price was recently droped a lot. I really like the system and it fits my needs. Popular Photography rated the lenses the best of ANY 35-mm lens they have tested. I haven't made a big print yet, but am going to this week.

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    When I got into photography again, a few years ago, I bought a Nikon N90s and AF zoom lenses (20-35, 35-70 and 80-200 all f/2.8). It's a very nice system, but if I had to do again, would have just used my old MF Nikons and put the money in my Pentax system.

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    In summary -- you need one (or two) of everything! Every system does seem to have it's place.

    <p>

    joel Sampson / joel Sampson Design / Dallas
    www.joelsampson.com
     
  11. Well, my two cents worth: I also have the 7 with 65 and 150 lenses. I'm very pleased.

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    The 150 up close has a very shallow depth of field, so watch out. The 65 is, as far as I can tell, essentially free of distortion, straight lines out to the corners, light seems very even out to the corners as well. The 150 (when I've focused it properly) is very sharp, too. Mamiya says (at their web site) that closer focusing would have required a bigger camera.

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    I used to use 6x6 and print rectangles. There is a clear superiority of my 6x7 prints compared to the 6x6 (which is effectively 6x4.5 when cropped to 8x10 aspect ratio).

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    I use a Pentax digital spot meter. By wonderful coincidence it uses the same battery as the 7.

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    Hope you enjoy yours.

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    Don
     

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