Shooting landscape in 6x7: which wide angle and sharp lens?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by slecoanet, Apr 26, 2004.

  1. Hi there!

    I plan to switch to MF system for landscape shooting, since even
    Velvia 35mm slides don't allow me to get the prints I'd like...

    I'm interested in 6x7 format. Mamiya seems to have pretty interesting

    I know SLR and RF are different (for many reasons), my question is
    rather: what would you choose for a sharp lens giving you around 60
    degrees (or more, but no fish eye like...) field of view?

    Given the fact that I plan to buy used and couldn't afford 'Blad
    system with Schneider optics, would you choose anoter system than
    Mamiya (Rx67 ou 7II) to get sharper lenses?

    I could get used to any sytem (even twin lens reflex I guess) since
    my aim is to shoot beautifull and well lit landscapes, even if I need
    6 month training (-;

    I thank you in advance for any hints on MF, it will help me to spend
    my money well!
  2. Stephane,

    The mamiya 7II might be a good choice for you if you prefer wide angles. Not
    being an SLR it's wide angles lenses are not retro focus so they perform
    exceptionally well. The mamiya Rx67 cameras are quite large and heavy and
    may be too big a change for you from 35mm.

    "my aim is to shoot beautifull and well lit landscapes, even if I need 6 month
    training (-; " I wish it only took 6 months.
  3. For 6x7, I think you have four choices.

    1) Mamiya 7, if you like rangefinders. Certainly more than adequate for any type of shooting, but personally I would look for an SLR for landscape. Not that there aren't people shooting landscapes with this camera.

    2) Mamiya RB/RZ67. Good choice, good lenses. Currently available. Downside is it's relatively big and heavy. Depending on how much hiking you will be doing, this may or may not matter.

    3) Bronica GS-1. Another good choice. However, it's recently been taken out of production. Prices are very good now in the used market. If you find a good one, I think this is a good choice. But for support reasons, some people may not like the idea of buying into a discontinued model.

    4) Pentax 67II. Yet another good choice. Some people say the mirror slap or even the shutter (using mirror lockup), causes vibration problems. Others say it's not an issue. But overall, this is a good and reasonably priced system.

    Personally, I'd go with the GS-1 or Pentax 67II. I think all of the above systems have great lenses, so "sharpness" probably is not a worry in any case. Most important is how comfortable you are working with the camera and if it has the functionality you seek (exchangable backs, selection of lenses, built-in metering, prism/waist-level finder, weight/bulk, hand-holdablity, flash sync speed, etc.)
  4. If your main aim is to shoot landscapes, you need to think carefully about rangefinder vs. SLR. The rangefinders are much smaller and lighter and are therefore more portable if you like to hike. On the other hand, SLRs are much better for using filters, especially polarizers and graduated neutral densities, two of the most crucial filters for landscapes. I use a Pentax 67, along with many other landscape shooters, because I just want a simple, rugged camera that gives big negatives. If you need interchangeable backs and other features, then the Pentax is not for you, but if you want a camera that operates like an old manual focus SLR, then take a look. The Pentax system is also very inexpensive, readily available, and has a full complement of accessories. Like all brand names, some lenses are sharper than others, but there are some real jewels in their lineup. The fact that you are using 6x7 format, though, will upgrade the quality and sharpness of your prints so much that even an average lens will look incredible compared to 35mm. The 55mm is especially good. Read through the archives of the Pentax 67 forum for more info.
  5. One more vote for the Pentax 67 system. The prices for used P67's are very
    low right now, and the wide angle lenses are top-notch lenses. The shutter
    vibration problems are nonexistant with normal and wide lenses from my
    experience. The camera is a tank, it's heavy, but still lighter than the mamiya
    RB. I have the 55mm SMC lens, which gives a equivalent view of a 28mm on
    a 35mm camera. They also have a 45mm (~24mm equiv) and a 35mm
    fisheye. The 55mm is an amazing lens, great for landscapes.
  6. P.S If you like rangefinders, also check out the Fuji 6x7 rangefinder (Gw 670).
    They're quite a bit less expensive than the Mamiya 7, and their optics are very
    highly rated.
  7. Stephane, I don't know where you live, but here in the US used Hasselblad equipment (500C/M and CT* Zeiss lenses) is a lot cheaper than Mamiya 7. Perfect condition. If you need help in locating such equipment at good prices, feel free to email me privately.
  8. GSW690III!

    OK, it's not 6x7, but it is a nice, sharp, light, cheapish wide angle with beautiful huge output.

    Do you carry your gear far? Up big hills? Consider weight and bulk. If you work next to your car it is no big deal, but the mamiya 6x7 SLR's are big and heavy.

    TLR's are quite nice too, but you won't get a wide angle. The oft-mentioned yashicamat is really nice at f/11 and smaller where you would be shooting it.
  9. I can second the Bronica GS-1 suggestion. However, the prism is pretty much a must if you want to shoot verticals (try to frame a vertical in WLF and you'll know what I mean). But with prism and speedgrip, it's just really big SLR, all controls are quite logical and easy to reach. The two things that I do not like is the lack of close focus (I think normal lens goes only to .7m) and the lack of rotating back.
  10. If I was shooting only landscapes, I would go with either a view camera with a 6x7cm rollfilm back, or a Pentax 67 SLR. But I don't shoot only landscapes, so I use a Mamiya RB67 Pro-S system. It's big and bulky, but it's built like a tank and it'll cover all your bases. It has more useful features for landscape/nature photography than any other medium format SLR on the market, but the trade-off is that it's heavy and bulky. Some of those features are the rotating back (no camera flipping!), huge bellows extension (great for close-ups), totally modular (everything is interchangeable and widely available on the market), totally mechanical (no batteries), interchangeable backs (polaroid!), and so on. Also, you can use lenses up to 360mm--remember that landscape photography is not limited to ultrawides (although the 50mm is sweet as well).

    A rangefinder is nice if you need to travel fast and light, but you want the quality of medium format. The problem is that you'll find yourself at the limits of the camera pretty quickly. Most rangefinder systems only have a view lenses available, and it's a pain to use ND filters and polarizers. Also, no interchangeable film backs. Ideally, you'd have both an SLR system and a rangefinder, but most of us real people can't afford that. A TLR is a nice alternative as a light MF camera.

    Good luck! If you can, try before you buy. There are big differences between medium format cameras.
  11. Nicholas, you can have a TLR with wide angle lens. I believe Rollei makes wideangle version of Rolleiflex (big money though) and then there is Mamiya TLR-C line which has interchangeable lenses and two of them are wide angle (55mm and 65mm, 55 is said to be very sharp, I have only 65 and it's on par with 80 (which is excellent)). Mamiya TLR is not 6x7 (it's 6x6) but definitely quite portable and much lighter than MF SLRs (especially 6x7s).
  12. rmi



    I shoot landscapes with a Mamiya 7II. The lenses for the Mamiya 6/7/7II are the sharpest in existence. Truly remarkable lenses. I have made 30 x 40" prints from my 6x7 Velvia 50 slides that 4x5 shooters are amazed at. They have told me that they could not do any better with their 4x5--they would just get a larger tranny. Of course they have camera movements and I don't. Have to live with that.

    I chose the Mamiya 7II rangefinder for two reasons: 1.) Incredible lenses, and 2.) lightweight. I do a lot of backpacking and my primary camera is a Canon dSLR. Because of this, I did not want to carry the bulk of a 6x7 SLR and lenses in addition to my digital camera and lenses. The 7II is an ideal trade-off. When I want the most detail and clarity in an image that I can get, I pull out the 7II and put the digital away.

    There is a polarizer designed specifically for Mamiya 7II which works great and allows to you meter through the polarizer and then swing it down for the shot. Great design, you just have to remember to swing the filter down before you take the photo! I have not tried a grad ND filter yet. Would be difficult but probably do-able.

    If weight and bulk are factors, I would recommend the 7II rangefinder. If not, then you have other very good recommendations above. Good luck!

    P.S. For some examples of images taken with the 7II check out my website:
  13. rmi


    Forgot to mention that the 7II has numerous lens options:


    No super telephoto but then as a landscape shooter, you probably are not looking to capture that tiny little bird in the tree 600ft away.

    The 43mm is a great wide angle lens. It is probably my most used lens. I've used the 43, 50, 80 and 150 all with spectacular results. Yep, I love my Mamiya 7II! (No, I'm not sponsored by Mamiya, or anyone else!)
  14. Stephanie, seems like everyone missed your first comment. 35mm slides don't let you get the prints you want. Well, that is the key. Slides rarely give satisfactory prints due to the nature of reversal prints. I get good 16x20 landscapes from 35 mm negative and even slides by doing it right. Most commercial labs don't do it right.

    Even 6x7 slides, often don't print well due to their tone scale and color reproduction. I know, you see good prints in magazines. Yes, but they use highlight reducing masks and color correction masks which are built into color negative films.

    Good luck to you whatever you choose.

    Ron Mowrey
  15. david_henderson


    A couple of points.

    First I don't think you're looking at this decision with the right
    criteria in mind. All "mainstream " MF systems are capable of
    getting you sharp photographs. There isn't really much
    difference in lens "quality" between Mamiya , Pentax,
    Hasselblad, etc. I think you need to find other bases to

    Second there's a huge difference between rangefinders and
    slr's. I have a Mamiya 7 and I wouldn't be without it because it
    allows me to make photographs I wouldn't get with a slr. But I
    use an slr too, for most of my work, because there are a lot of
    things that a rangefinder isn't good at and if they coincide with
    the sort of photographs you like to make then that's a path you
    shouldn't tread. No long lenses, not being able to see depth of
    field, fairly primitive metering; difficulty using nd grads accurately
    (polariser is less of a problem actually) ; inability to focus closely;
    are all issues depending on how you want to use a camera.

    Finally the point about getting good prints from slides. It's
    perfectly possible to get great prints from slides. It's just not as
    easy or as cheap as getiing decent prints from negs. Moving to
    MF will undoubtedly improve your prints, but it isn't all you need in
    itself. Unless you're playing at top of the market labs - or you're
    very skilled at creating files and printing yourself - then its easier
    and cheaper to print from neg film. If what you want is to get
    decent quality in reasonable volume from the Frontier shop
    down the road, I'd agree with Ron Mowrey. If what you want is
    to have a small quantity of superb prints that you don't mind
    paying a lot of money for, I'd prefer on balance to start with a
  16. Thank you so much to all of you who answered my questions, it really helps me to (re)think about what I -really- need.

    What I meant about prints is that I scan 35mm slides with Nikon LS 5 scanner, always keeping 300dpi (or at least 250dpi above 10"*15"=20cm*30cm) for final print. Playing carefully with RGB and Y curves allowed me to get the results I'd like as far as tone and shadows are concerned, but I wouldn't dare stepping up to bigger sizes (50cm*70cm) since the few slides I really like (2 or 3 out of hundreeds) are 35mm and were taken with a rather decent but not outstanding lens.

    That's the reason I thought about MF, but I had no clue about system and lenses quality.

    If I understood well, most MF systems have good optical performances and I should think about the ease of use: focusing and using filters seem easier on SLR for a MF beginner like me.

    It's good for me to have all the parameters in mind, since I plan to buy my system during my next trip to New York (I live in Paris and retailer seem to want to steal my money: for example a USED Mamyia7II with USED 80mm for more than 2500$, no joke)

    Another addition to my initial post: when I meant "I'm ready to spend 6 month", I mean 6 month to manage to have a technically decent picture, and maybe 60 years to have a picture I could be proud of (at this time I hope I would be old and wise enough to know one should never be proud of a picture, but rather thankfull to the sun and the chance)

    Thanks again to all of you for you patience and understanding

  17. Stephane, contact Robert white in the UK for good deals on mamiya 7II:
    They are a very reliable and professional dealer, I got my mamiya kit from
  18. I think you are barking up the wrong tree so to need
    to spend the six months working on your scanning and
    photoshop skills. Photography is a life long learning experience,
    moving to medium format may help your photogaphy over time. I
    would buy the best lenses I could afford for 35mm and work on
    my could try renting different systems at the
    weekends and see what suits...don't go out and buy a Mamiya 7
    just because it works for somene else, what if you hate
    rangefinders! As you can see everyone has given you their
    preference I can only add I've used everything out there in MF
    wasted a lot of money buying and selling....for me a small Pentax
    645 has turned out to work best for but great lenses
    and yes on a par with Hasselblad...I've got both so don't get
    caught up in equipment it's an endless money pit.
  19. Oh, go cheaper yet- get a Mamiya Universal with a 50mm lens and a 6x9 back. Meets none of your above specified criteria but is cheap and takes great pictures- and is wonderful for the type of photography you want to do as long as you don't NEED to see through the lens.

    Save the several thousand for film and processing...


    (Get the Mamiya 7 and the 43mm- it's good. I've got a picture up on if you wanna see:
  20. Stephane, with cost in mind, I was able to purchase an used Mamiya 645e, with 45mm, 80mm, and 150mm, for appox. US $1000.00 The camera is very light, compact and portable. The optics are very sharp too.
    Another option, would be a Mamiya 6. I don't have one, but I have heard that the optics are very good.

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