Suggestions for medium format camera needed

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by rifqi_dahlgren, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. A while back I got my first ever analog camera, a Mamiya C330. It's a lot of fun to shoot with and I love the results. However, it does start to weigh a bit after a while, so I'm looking around for something a bit lighter. Also something in a bit better condition (got this one fairly cheap). I've spent a fair amount of time looking around myself but I'm sure there are people here with a lot more knowledge who can help me narrow down the options a bit more.
    One camera I'm developing a serious crush on is the Hasselblad 500cm. Gorgeous to look at and I hear only good things about the glass.
    This is what I'm looking for in a camera:
    * Smaller/lighter than the C330.
    * Cheaper is better. The 500cm is as far as I can go, but I would prefer it if you could persuade me to spend less :p Let's just say 1000 USD as the upper limit for convenience sake.
    * Sharp 80mm f2.8 lens. I feel that the lens for my C330 is on the soft side wide open, though some of that might be because focus isn't perfect.
    * No need for interchangable lenses. I'm fine with a single lens as long as it's good.
    * No smaller than 6x6. I would be happy to shoot 6x7 or 6x9 but I would assume that throws smaller/lighter out the window. So 6x6 is probably the way to go.
    * Waistlevel viewfinder is preferable, there's just something about it that appeals to me. I wouldn't rule out something like a rangefinder though.
    I intend to use the camera mostly for snapshots, which is why I want it to be a bit easier to carry around. I would however definitely use it for my portrait work as well if it's reliable with flash, something which my C330 isn't (sometimes fires, sometimes doesnt, and it doesn't like my radio triggers at all).
    I hope that's enough information for you to give me some recommendations. Looking forward to agonizing for hours over all the choices...
  2. Hello Rifqi,
    What about a Rolleiflex 2.8?
    The lens is every bit as good as a Hasselblad 80mm 2.8 (or so they say... I never shot with Hassy, as a matter of fact I'm longing after one myself). The Rollie is much lighter than both the Hassy and C330, though.
    * The 2.8F is often considered "the best", although prices can be quite high, above $1000 in good condition.
    * My suggestion would be to look for a 2.8E, they are cheaper than the 2.8F's. Compared to the 2.8F, you lose the removable hood and coupled meter. Chances are that the meter will not work anyway. For this reason, you might want to look for a model without meter, it will be less expensive than a metered version. For your info, no sooner than last month I found an unmetered 2.8E Planar in bad cosmetic condition but perfect mechanical condition (the camera just came out of CLA) for just €550. It is a joy to use.
    * If you can stretch the money, look for a 2.8GX or even FX: they have multi-coating and a working built-in meter. Build quality is said to be lower than 2.8E/F. This is rubbish. I own both the above-mentioned E and an FX and can confirm that build quality of all those models is equally good.
    * There are older 2.8 models also. Lots of info around the net. Avoid the 2.8A but 2.8B/C/D should be good too.
    * You might want to look into Rolleiflexes 3.5, generally less expensive than 2.8 models. The lens is said to be sharper. I cannot comment on that one, as I only have had 2.8 models. Accessories such as filters, Rolleinar close up lenses etc. for 3.5 (Bay I or II?) are definitely less expensive than for 2.8 (Bay III).
    * Zeiss Planar vs Schneider Xenotar is a recurring question on internet forums. Both are excellent. Planars might command higher prices due to the Zeiss name, though.
    Hope this helps!
    Whatever you do, be sure to budget a CLA.
    A side note, a Mamiya 6 or 7 rangefinder could match your description quite well too. I never had one (or even seen one in a shop, for that matter), hence I will let more qualified forum members comment on those.
    Happy shooting!
  3. Another one. If you are into flash photography, the 2.8GX/FX support TTL flash.
    Good luck!
  4. I don't think you have many options really if a requirement is
    Sharp 80mm f2.8 lens. I feel that the lens for my C330 is on the soft side wide open, though some of that might be because focus isn't perfect.​
    The obvious choice is the 'blad or a Rollei f2.8. The only others I can think of would be the Yashicamat, but although these are good they probably do not have the stellar lens that is found on the Rollei 2.8s. I think in your shoes I would go for the Yashica and see how you like it. If it is not for you then you will need to embark on finding a Rollei, which I think is never so easy these days and will cost you.
  5. Bronica SQ-A
  6. I stopped using my mamiya C220 after getting Rolleicord V. Rollei is substantially smaller and lighter than mamiya TLRs. Paid $250 and after another $250 spend for CLA it's a pleasure to use, many images in my portfolio were made with it. Cons are: focusing screen a bit dimmer and it does not focus as close as C220 or C330. No experience with flash.
  7. Another suggestion is the Mamiya 6, if you prefer square, or the Mamiya 7 for 6x7. They are very light weight, compact and rangefinders with extremely sharp lenses, and the 7's lenses have been tested to be sharper than either the Rollei or Hassy, with the 6 about the same.
  8. Thanks Etienne Winkelmuller, lots of good info there. A rolleiflex is on my radar as well but I've had trouble finding one for a good price. I'll definitely be looking for one without meter that you mention, since I'm fine without one. The're not as sexy as the hasselblad but they are rather cute :p Definitely seems to win when it comes to small/light. I don't need TTL flash since I do everything manually anyway, just need it to trigger properly.
    Robin Smith, I'll have a look at the Yashicamat, thanks for the suggestion.
    Louis Meluso, I've seen that mentioned elsewhere, I'll have to take a closer look at that.
    Thomas K, what's the difference between a rolleicord and a rolleiflex? How do they compare in terms of lenses and size? Anyone that can enlighten me?
  9. Rifqi,
    I just looked at your online portfolio: great stuff no matter what camera you are using.
  10. what's the difference between a rolleicord and a rolleiflex? How do they compare in terms of lenses and size? Anyone that can enlighten me?​
    I do not have personal experience with Rolleiflex. According to brief online search I made when getting Rolleicord, Flexe's are heavier, can have brighter/sharper 2.8 lenses and are more expensive - usually at least 2x Cord's price.
  11. Back in the 50's - 60's, Rolleicords were the entry-level models of the Rollei line, the Rolleiflexes being the top-of-the-range models.
    Rolleicords have 4-elements Tessar or Xenar f/3.5 lenses whereas 'Flexes have 5-element Planars or Xenotar in either 2.8 or 3.5 versions.
    'Cords are generally lighter and a bit smaller than Flexes and lack features such as automatic film winding with shutter cocking, automatic loading, etc.
    If you search for Rolleicord and Rolleiflex on the net you will find many sites listing all models. There is also an excellent book by John Philips called "The Classic Rollei" with loads of info about all Flexes, Cords and what not.
    Hope this helps,
  12. You state that you think the Mamiyaflex 80mm is a bit soft wide open, but you also say the flash sync sometimes doesn't work. I suspect the example you have is not the greatest - I would not expect a Rolleiflex or Rolleicord with a Tessar or Xenar lens to perform better. A Planar (whether on a Rolleiflex or Hasselblad) certainly would be better wide open.
    Differences between Rolleiflex and Rolleicord … how long have you got? Once upon a time there was a German camera industry. This was engineering-led, which means engineers worked to get maximum product quality regardless of cost. In many cases this resulted in products which were too expensive. The German makers then produced a down-specced version to sell for less money. Since they could not bear to actually reduce quality, the cheapo version always had a couple of features less (Rolleicord has knob wind for film and separate shutter wind instead of combined lever wind). One of the down-specced features was usually ostentatiously cheap (Rolleicord has a crazy push/pull lever to wind/fire shutter which must have cost about the same as the much better shutter release on a Rolleiflex). Rolleicords (apart from the very earliest) have Xenar lenses, which most people feel are as good as the Zeiss Tessars on Rolleiflexes.
  13. Thanks Thomas K., glad you like my stuff.
    Thanks everyone for the clarification of rolleiflex vs rolleicord. I think I'll keep looking for a flex. Even though I could probably live with a 75mm f3.5, I would always keep pining for that 80mm f2.8.
    David Bebbington, you're probably right that the lens on my C330 isn't the best. There are some marks on the coating and that might also be contributing to the softness, though it does seem plenty sharp at f4. I got it pretty cheap though. As my first venture into analog, I didn't want to spend too much on it.
  14. I have both a Mamiya C330 and a Yashicamat 124-G. If you want a camera that is slightly smaller and considerably lighter but still has a sharp lens, try the Yashicamat. As for the Mamiya, in my experience the 80 on mine is tack sharp, but obviously that can vary from lens to lens and the condition it's in. Never ever had a problem using it with flash. What kind of radio trigger are you using? With some of the cheap ones, you get what you pay for.

    If your budget is $1000, you can definitely pick up a Hassy with an 80 for that these days. If you want something small and light, look at a Bronica ETR or Mamiya 645. You can pick up a body, lens, back, prism finder (waist level doesn't work in 645 when you do verticals) and possibly also a wide and tele all for under $1000.
  15. The Rollei or the Blad.
    Both have excellent lenses.
    The Rollei is much lighter than the Blad and more portable.
    The Rollei is also a bit more fragile construction wise.
    Although you say now you do not need many lenses, your statement may change in time. So, the Blad.
    There are many more Blads on the used market than Rolleis.
    Either way you choose, you'll be "shooting with the legends"!
  16. Hi Rifqi. Variations of this question come up fairly often. Here are a few more random comments.
    (i) If you're looking for weight savings, go with a Rollei TLR. My Rolleiflex 3.5E is about 1100g, and my Rolleicord Vb is 940g. The C330 is around 1700g and a Hasselblad 500CM with lens and back is around 1550. (The weight savings makes the Rollei TLRs excellent for backpacking trips, which is where I use them the most.)
    (ii) Having said that, a great advantage of Mamiya TLRs is they have a very straight film path. This is a good thing, particularly if you leave film in the camera for a while between shots. Most compact 120 film holders put a wicked kink in the film as it bends backward 180 degrees coming off the roll. The Mamiya TLRs are configured so the film comes off tangentially.
    (iii) Rollei supposedly applied the high same standards of design and quality control to the Rolleicords and the Rolleiflexes. They're all ridiculously good cameras. (A partial exception may be the Rolleiflex T, which has been said to have been built to a price point, and wasn't as over-engineered las other Rolleiflexes. I can't comment on the veracity of this.)
    One difference between 'cords and 'flexes is this: most Rolleicords were bought and used by amateurs, and many Rolleiflexes were used by professionals. This may mean they were ridden hard and put away wet, so to speak, and may have tens of thousands of frames put through them. Dan Colucci has a useful rule of thumb for gauging the wear on a Rolleiflex, on this page. It's something to look out for, anyway-- good Rollei CLAs are expensive.
    (iv) Why is your Mamiya 80 a little soft wide open? I wouldn't lose sleep over this, particularly if it's sharpening up at f/4.
    FWIW, there was a discussion about the Mamiya TLR lenses, years ago, on the old Monaghan medium format site. Bob Shell (remember him?) alleged that the Mamiya lenses had been re-engineered so as to not be too contrasty, at the request of pros who used them for portraiture and weddings, and did not want a hard 'commercial' look.
    (v) FWIW, I have both Rollei and Mamiya (and other) TLRs, and nearly all my medium format work is now shot with the Rolleiflex E. But I'm a normal-lens kind of guy, and I like TLRs. YMMV.
  17. Craig Shearman, I'm using Cactus V5 triggers. They're solid quality but certainly not the most expensive out there. My guess is that the problem lies with the lens/camera.
    Dave S, lots of info there that I'll keep in mind. The part about Mamiya lenses being designed to be less contrast might very well be true and would also explain some of the perceived softness. I actually add a bit of contrast to the scans (not doing my own scanning yet).
    Dani Heller, as much as I would love to be convinced to get something cheaper, those are the two I keep coming back to as well.
    Here comes my inner monologue, so feel free to skip this part: I don't upgrade or change systems very often. Over the 4 years I've been shooting (late starter) I've only had two digital cameras (we're talking real cameras here, not point and shoot) and one analog. I got the C330 because it was cheap and I simply wanted to try my hand at some film and medium format. Now I've realized that this is something I want to shoot a lot more of, so the next camera I get is intended to be the one I'll shoot film with until it (or I) bites the dust. As such, I don't want to compromise too much, I want a camera that really clicks with me (horrible pun semi intended, apologies). Because of this I've ruled out any Rollei with a 75mm or 3.5 lens; I just know I would keep wondering what it would be like to have the 80mm f2.8 that I wanted from the start.
    The Rollei is probably the best fit for my main use, snapshots, since there's no question about the size/weight advantage. On the other hand, I do quite a bit of studio portraits, so the ability to shoot that with a longer lens sometime in the future speaks in favor of the Hassy.
    Another thing the Hassy has going for it is the interchangeable backs. I don't shoot a lot, the roll currently in my camera has been there a couple of months already, so the option to get a second back and have them loaded with, say, one ISO 100 and one 400, would be really nice. The flip side is of course added costs and more stuff. With the Rollei it's a done deal from the start, everything you need right there.
    On top of all this I made a mistake last night. I went on youtube and watched a couple of videos that showed of the Hassy's shutter sound. I think I fell in love. Damnit. Wonder how I should break that to the Mrs...
    This might end up with me getting the Hassy just to satisfy my curiosity. If it turns out to be a quick fling I can always sell it without losing any money (great advantage over digital) or, if it turns out to be a lasting love, I can stop looking.
    Sorry for the rant.
  18. I am also a huge fan of the Rollei GX. The TLR is a great compact format and the act of composing while looking down on the ground glass has always worked really well for me. it gives you an opportunity to consider the scene carefully in a way that eye level viewing just can't duplicate. The fact that the GX has all the mod cons is just icing on the cake! Good luck in your search.
  19. I am late to this thread, but will add my two cents for what it might be worth. I have some of the cameras you are considering (once had a Mamiya C330 but no longer). The Rolleicord wins for lightest weight and gives an excellent negative. The Hasselblad V series wins for practicality, that is, interchangeable lenses and backs. The Rolleis, (2.8F and Tele-Rollei) win for ease of use and plain old fun of using. If I am shooting only one kind of film (I use B&W the most) and have the space, I'd much rather use the Rolleis than the Hasselblad. The Hasselblad is preferred if I am using more than one kind of film. Interchangeable lenses, in my opinion, are somewhat overrated in medium format. At one time or the other I've had Hasselblad focal lengths of 50, 60, 80, 100, 120, 150 and 250. Now I have only an 80 and a 150. These pretty well match the 80 of the Rollei 2.8F and the 135 of the Tele-Rollei. Since I am now older and shoot mostly for fun, if I had to choose I think I'd keep the two Rolleis. Whatever you decide, use it a lot and be happy!
  20. Because of this I've ruled out any Rollei with a 75mm or 3.5 lens; I just know I would keep wondering what it would be like to have the 80mm f2.8 that I wanted from the start.
    The answer is very simple - Tessar/Xenar lenses have good micro-contrast, good central sharpness even at full aperture but a need to stop down quite a long way to get sharpness in the extreme corners. Older Planars have lower micro-contrast but better flatness of field. I base these remarks on ownership of several Rollei T models (and also Mamiya TLR) and use of a Rollei 2.8D at one of the studios I worked for.
    One point that is worth making is this - the original designers of the Rollei would be very surprised to find people making "art" pictures and printing the whole of the negative - the original intention was for photographers to shoot square pix with a semi-wide (75mm) lens which would give picture editors plenty of freedom to crop to either a vertical or horizontal or leave blank space for magazine titles etc. If you are going to be printing full-frame, a modern (higher-contrast) Planar is just what you need, even though this will be costly. In particular with Hasselblad, it seems that a basic camera with 80mm lens was priced relatively low - you would then subsequently find that a wide-angle lens would cost the same as the whole camera. Hasselblads are great, but I've never felt able to justify the cost to myself as a private individual - I've simply rented them when nothing else would do and the client was paying!
  21. I would like to thank everyone who's contributed with your knowledge, it's much appreciated. Last night I pulled the trigger on a Hasselblad 500cm. I think I got it for a fair price, around 905 USD if I convert it. It looks to be in good condition, the only more obvious marks I could see from the pictures was around the hooks where you attach the back and the corners of the back itself. Can't wait to have it in my hands so I can play with it. If it turns out it's not love at first sight, it shouldn't be a problem to sell it with no or minimal loss. Definitely a great advantage over digital.
  22. It seems there are some things that nobody told you... and i think i have come late to the party since you already bought a camera. But anyways:
    - The hasselblad 500C series have strong vibration issues; handholding at less than 1/60 might give you some sharpness issues because of that. TLRs and some SLRs (like the RB67 or the SL66) have none of such issues and can be handheld at slower speeds. It is also not the most reliable of MF cameras, to say the least. Of course, since there is an aura and romanticism about the camera, people seldom acknowledge these faults.
    - There are no heavy cameras, just inadequate camera straps...
    - If you require great sharpness wide open, and you're not satisfied with the Mamiya 80/2.8, try the 65/3.5 lens. It is very good wide open.
    - The Mamiya 105D or 105DS lens is reputed to be sharper than the 80mm as well, plus it has been specifically engineered for a smooth bokeh.
    - At f2.8, a 80mm has very narrow depth of field; so i'm not sure why would you want to use such a wide aperture. Pushing HP5 to ISO 1600, on medium format, allows using smaller apertures and the end result is extremely sharp pictures with fine grain.
    - If the lens isn't sharp enough or isn't reliable with flash, you can always try buying another 80mm lens. They're cheap.
    - On the C330, have you checked that the internal foam padding that sits around the top of the focusing screen is soft and bouncy? An extremely common issue is that such foam rots, and then the focusing screen will not sit fully, causing sharpness issues.
    - For all your requirements list, the Mamiya 6 or Mamiya 7 rangefinders were the best fit. Lenses are to be likely sharper than even the Zeiss Planars on the Rolleiflexes or Hassies. Seriously.
    - But then, in medium format, at f11 apertures, even a good 3-element lens can get excellent results...
    - If you definitely need very sharp f2.8 performance in a 80/2.8 TLR, get a Rolleiflex with the Xenotar. Schneider = heaven.
  23. Flavio Egoavil, thanks for the feedback, I'll try to provide some answers.
    - I've heard about vibration issues but I don't think that will be much of a problem for me, as I do most of my shooting in daylight. I can always lock the mirror if need be.
    - Tell that to my neck and shoulders :p
    - 65mm is wider than I would like, so no go there.
    - Perhaps a good compliment for portraits but too long for general shooting.
    - Because the reason I got an analog camera in the first place is that I love the medium format look:
    - Certainly true and something I did consider for a while.
    - I'll take a look at that, thanks for the tip.
    - I did have a look at those but in the end I just couldn't say no to the different experience a waist level viewfinder provides.
    - Only time I would shoot at f11 is for landscapes, which I shoot very rarely.
    - That was certainly on my list but they're harder to find than the hasselblad and often more expensive.
    In the end I came to the conclusion that I would always wonder what a hasselblad is like if I don't try it myself. It remains to be seen if it's the camera I've been looking for or if I'll sell it again after satisfying my curiosity. Either way, can't wait to get my hands on it.
  24. Hi Rifqi,

    congrats on your purchase! Where did you get it from?
    I've been looking for 500CM opportunities in the past months and it seems to me that 900 USD is a good price, especially if the camera
    is in good condition. I've recently seen two Hassys which caught my eye, one in like new condition with 80mm and back for 1500 USD
    and a black one in good mechanichal but bad cosmetic condition with lens, back and hood for 1200 EUR.
    Although they are both from reputable stores these prices seem a bit excessive to me. And looking for a Hasselblad,
    I found this cheap Rollei 2.8E hence I'm set for a moment I guess.

    Please let us know what you think about the Hasselblad. Especially if it is "love at first sight" as you expect.
    Having never shot a Hasselblad and wanting to buy one myself I am looking for such information!

    Concerning vibration issues mentioned in another post, indeed the large mirror can create camera shake at lower speeds.
    However, the camera features a mirror lock-up function which you can use for pre-release. And with interchangeable backs
    you can always carry one back loaded with high-speed film to avoid lower shutter speeds.

    Good luck and happy shooting!

  25. PS. Looked at your Flickr link from your last post, Amazing portraits.
    Alyzza in particular is very cute.
  26. Thanks Etienne Winkelmuller. I got it from someone on a Swedish photography forum (I'm from Sweden). I've seen similar condition ones on ebay for around 1000 USD, though that would usually mean added shipping as well. I'm sending my dad to pick this one up, so no extra costs. I just hope that the seller didn't leave out any flaws. The waiting is always the hardest part...
  27. Well, good luck :) I'm told one thing to look for is the light seals between backs and body. (they are located on the
    backs). The good news is, Hasselblads are quite common and servicemen are plenty should a problem arise. Enjoy your
    new camera :)
  28. Riqfi, I forgot you're Swede. Well, that means there will be no problem to find a competent technician to keep the camera in good shape. Once you service the light seals there should be no light leak problems.
  29. Flavio Egoavil, I hope you're right, though hopefully there won't be any problems to begin with. I'll have to go through a roll of film as soon as I get the camera and send it in immediately.
  30. A good and trusted place to look for Rolleiflex 2.8F, or 2.8E (or the 3.5 models) is KEH. I purchased several items including a Rolleiflex 2.8F and can write that their grading system is a benchmark; their prices are also comparable, and KEH has a return policy. E-bay is another place for bidding / buying, and there are some risks, e.g., the seller may not know the quality/condition of the item, and the grading system varies. My preference is KEH, and have no reservations in recommending KEH. I cannot write about selling gear to KEH as I have not sold any item to KEH.
    Roy Ramavarapu, 21 Oct 2014
  31. Roy Ramavarapu, Thanks for the tip. However, I would have to add shipping costs to Sweden and I wouldn't be surprised if I had to pay some form of import tax as well. I'll keep it in mind if I decide to switch to a Rollei in the future though.
  32. Mamyia 7 would be my choice. Here is Spencer Tunick using his for his latest project I noticed in the papers today.
  33. An update in case anyone is interested. Got the camera in my hands today and I absolutely love it. It's in even better condition than the pictures led me to believe and everything works great on it. The only thing I'm pretty sure I want to change in the future is the focusing screen. My eyes aren't the best so an acute matte screen to help me with that would probably be a good investment. Anyways, it's loaded with a roll of portra 160 and ready to go. Can't wait to shoot with it.
  34. Congratulations Rifqi. Like I said you are now shooting with the legends.
    I definitely agree that the focusing screen is a must. I own the Acute-Matte with grid and split image rangefinder (42170) and it is a pleasure. Incidentally this is one area where the Hassy is superior to the Rollei. The Rollei's are darker.
  35. Another update. Got the first roll back the other day. I shot pretty much whatever just to test the functions but I like this one: Love the camera, it's a joy to use. Also managed to get an acute matte screen with split image for around 65 usd on a Swedish auction site, so I'm a happy camper. Second roll loaded and ready to go, though I'll be more patient and wait for good photos now that I know that everything works.

Share This Page