Unsure of what to get for my needs...

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by tom_patrick, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. Hi
    I want to buy a medium format camera, to be used for some landscapes etc but mostly street style photography. I am not rich but want something i'll get okay sharpness with that isnt made from cheap plastic!!! Probably round about £300 I would hope to pay, but am flexible!
    What i want is a quick enough shutter (500 min), not huge and heavy and ideally with a meter, or option of using a metered prism. Also want to be able to use it manual, and if possible the option of aperture priority. Want a 35mm equivalent lens or thereabouts, so it would be good if the model i chose has a decent standard lens available at not too high a price!
    I have looked at hasselblad 500's, and mamiya 645's, and ideally would like the 645 format, but could deal with square if other factors made it more attractive.
    Any ideas? And tops for buying second hand (ie what lens to look for etc)
    Any help will be very much appreciated!
  2. Okay what are the down sides of square for (street photography) you don't have to flip the camera from landscape to portrait mode while shooting. So its faster.......
    Also square images have a very nice natural look in a lot of shots I think, yes its an acquired taste.
    But saying that also a twin lens camera will run less money, but will also be square......
    I started out with a 645 camera when I went medium format in 1975........I grew tired of flipping the camera very fast......went all Hasselblad in 1980.......and still love it. I can find no down side. I can print Vertical Horizontal or square all from the same image. But everyone has a different opinion.....just don't rule square out yet. Find a camera that fits your style first.
  3. Hi Russ
    I tend to prefer a landscape frame, but i guess i could get used to it, as i have seen lots of beautiful street shots in 6x6.
    Thinking about it, i assume looking through a 645 viewfinder would be in portrait, and to get landscape would need to be turned on its side? With waste level VF surely this is impossible!?
    Also, obviously with 645 i lose some size, so really would be just the same shooting square and cropping? (providing i can visualise properly when shooting)
    So i assume your advice would be to get a hassy 500?
  4. Mamiya 645 Super or Pro would fit the bill, with the appropriate AE prism. It shoots natively in landscape format (this is common with 645 cameras that feed the roll vertically; horizontal feeds usually give portrait orientation), and, while the outer covering may be composite, they're pretty damned sturdy. They offer a wide selection of lenses and accessories and they don't cost the earth. Throw on a WLF and use a handheld meter, and they're light and portable enough to be carried all day.

    A Pentax 645 or 645N would also work if you are happy with a fixed eye-level prism.
  5. Thinking about it, i assume looking through a 645 viewfinder would be in portrait, and to get landscape would need to be turned on its side? With waste level VF surely this is impossible!?​
    The other way round. landscape normally, rotate ninety degrees for portrait (except for the Bronica RF645 which is as you describe but is a medium format rangefinder camera).
    It's not impossible to use a waist level finder sideways but it's not easy!
  6. I really think you should hold and try all types of cameras first. See what feel natural to you.

    But yes a CM is what I started with, but for instance if you like wide angle and a fast camera the superwide is amazing.

    Saying all that you need to get the one that feels the best to you. As I stated I started with Mamiya 645 in 1974 when they first came out, I was not impressed with the optics or the camera build, and last and foremost it always needed a battery change at the worst time.

    My hasselblads don't need battery's, and shoot square, if you have not guessed I have grown to love the square format.

    But lots of people here love Mamiya and the optics. I could not ever seem to get larger than 16X20s that looked good with it. I have gone over 60X70 with my Hasselblads on a tripod with the older VPS film with great results. Same film size as the 6X4.5 ......go figure?
    They make different cameras because all people are different.....good luck with your quest and I hope when you find the one that works for you you will tell us about it. I found what I like.....no love.
  7. You want a Bronica ETRS. Does everything. And, if the prices get any lower, they will be free with every cup of coffee.
  8. Thanks everyone.

    The mamiya sounds about right. Looked at a Fuji rangefinder with a 60mm lens but looks a bit rubbish and i assume it
    won't be as nice an experience.

    Why the bronica etrs over a mamiya 645?
  9. If you shoot from eye level than the Mamiya 645 will work well. If you can get a Pro / Pro TL as they are newer and sturdier. If you shoot from the hip then hassy / bronica and the square format may be worth considering. With your limited budget you probably have to go Mamiya or Bronica as hassy glass and bodies are quite a lot more expensive.
  10. Hi Philip
    I would ideally like the option of shooting eye level but with ground glass waist level there too. I have always thought of this way of composing as something quite poetic for some reason. Probably from old photography documentaries or something!
    So say i opt for a hasselblad 500, what body is the better and why? Also what half decent lens at around about 50mm (as i want about 28/35mm field of view in 35mm film terms)
    Same goes for a mamiya or bronica, which of the 50/60mm or thereabouts lenses are ones to watch for?
  11. .... what about the mamiya sekor 45 and 55mm lenses, both 2.8?
  12. If you like wide only, shooting fast, a small and light camera, with some of the best optics in the world.........borrow a superwide for a day from someone. Its a 38mm, very small.......no mirror movement........amazing camera. Used about $2k is what I bought mine for about 10 years ago......

    But the 500cm with a 50mm will suit you too, the nc2 finder is cheap and will give you eye level shooting, and waistlevel finder gives you lower shooting ability. The older c series optics are the cheapest, but check slow shutter speeds as will probably need service. I bet you could put together a CM , 50mmCt* and a nc2 finder, well under $1.
  13. Yes the super wide looks like an absolute dream. Checking its results on flickr makes me want to weep. Far too pricey for now though, i'll put it on the list next to an M7!
    So a CM is what i want, although i would prefer a metered finder. And if i can only afford an older lens i have to make sure i check it with slow shutter speeds. I would have thought this would have been to do with the body though? I know the shutter is in the lens but surely it is timed by the body? Perhaps not it seems to make sense if i consider it! The body is basically just a mirror then.
    (edit) - Just checked and the 50mm lenses are going for about £800. Thats double my absolute maximum budget with no body.
  14. The shutter is in the lens.........timing of the body just about never gives any problems. Where are you located......if you were near me I would let you try any of the combinations we are talking about. Yes you can get a metered finder for a few more hundred bucks but stay away from the older metered finders as they do not work well.
    But if you must have one to find out I have an old metered finder I would give you free. I like the nc2 finders better, they are cheap light and bright. I always use handheld meters......Good luck with your journey.....
  15. I live in England so that ones out! Shame as that would have been useful.
    It looks like for now i can only afford a cheaper kit. Mamiya or Bronica by the sounds of it. I assume mamiya has the better optics, but will need to research which are best to go for. I have found reasonably priced 45 and 55mm models and their pics look okay but need someone with experience with them.
  16. The bronica etrs also have shutters in the lens if you ever need flash at high shutter speeds. Yes it is a shame as I would be glad to let you borrow a camera......... but the Mamiya has to be a better camera than the early ones were.......please stay away from the original ones, they were turkeys. I learned the hard expensive way, bought high sold low. good luck.....
  17. You want beef? Go for a Pentax 6X7. Good glass in a variety of lenses. Built like a tank. And now very reasonable. You want lightweight beauty? Go for a Rolleiflex or 'cord. Fantastic lenses, with a variety of diopter and other accessories. You can even shoot at eye-level in "sport" mode. The Fuji rangefinders also make for great street shots. There are a great many affordable MF cameras.
  18. Just to review the OP, budget is around 300 pounds and primary use is street style photography with limited landscape work as well.
    I've never used a Hasselblad, primarily because I can't afford one. But I think the price might be an issue for Tom as well. So in terms of budget, Mamiya 645 (various versions available), Bronica (GS-1, SQ-xx, or ETR-xx depending on format desired) and Pentax (645 or 645n) are all possibilities.
    Dana suggested the Pentax 6x7 but personally I prefer having that camera on a tripod.
    Rangefinders are also a possibility but the ones with a fixed lens may be somewhat limiting if doing street and landscape. And as far as I know, the ones with exchangeable lenses (like the Mamiya 6 and 7) are seriously expensive. The ancient Mamiya Press is a rangefinder and can be had cheap, but it's manual only, which could be a hindrance for street work.
    I'm only a hobby shooter and I know there are lots of members here who know way more than I do, but based on my own experiences with all of these cameras I would suggest the Pentax 645n. If staying with manual focus lenses it is a very affordable system and I find the metering accuracy, ergonomics, and build quality to be exceptional. The drawbacks are lack of ability to switch film mid-roll, and lack of modular options (viewfinders, film backs, grips etc.). But it is quick and easy, not too heavy, has excellent optics and just plain works!
    Having said all that I think you could also be very happy with any of the modern Bronicas or the later versions of the Mamiya 645.
  19. Ditto Jim's message above. The Mamiyas and Bronicas were made in large numbers, they are not that old, (Mamiya 645's are still produced, though far above your 300 pound limit), all used components for both are plentiful, and inexpensive, (compared against other models/brands mentioned).
    With a little patience, you should be able to get into either system, used, within your 300 pound limit, and if your choice doesn't work out for you, get out of said system, with little or no loss.
    Any discussion regarding lens quality across the different brands of MF is sort of a moot point.
    Medium format demands good lens quality, so all of the manufacturers of MF have good lenses.
    (Those of you that want to flame me for that statement, go ahead, I can take it).
    As a footnote, the Bronicas are often referred to, or called, baby Hasselblads.
    (I'm sure I'll get flamed for that statement, too).
    Also, for something that looks like or handles like a Hasselblad, do a search for Kiev 88's.
    I'm not promoting a Kiev, (nor am I knocking them), having never shot one, but given your budget,
    it may be worth your time to read-up on them as well.
  20. What i want is a quick enough shutter (500 min)​
    The Mamiya 645 models 1000s/Super/Pro/Pro TL, all have speeds to 1/1000 sec.
    not huge and heavy​
    With a WLF and standard f2.8 lens, the Mamiya 645 Super/Pro/Pro TL are the lightest MF SLR kits.
    and ideally with a meter, or option of using a metered prism.​
    All these Mamiyas can take a metered/AE prism.
    Also want to be able to use it manual, and if possible the option of aperture priority.​
    With the WLF or any other finder, you can use it in manual exposure. With the AE prisms, you get metered-manual and aperture priority (and spot metering on the Super/Pro/Pro TL).
    Want a 35mm equivalent lens or thereabouts​
    The Mamiya 645 55mm corresponds to 34mm equivalent. You could not get closer.
    so it would be good if the model i chose has a decent standard lens available at not too high a price!​
    The 80/2.8 standard lens goes for about $50 on its own. (Compare that to a Hasselblad 80/2.8 price).
    .... what about the mamiya sekor 45 and 55mm lenses, both 2.8?​
    The 55mm N lens is really excellent. I have one. It is also very close focusing, and has a floating element (and not one of those awkward ones that you have to remember to set manually depending on the focus distance; it does this automatically as you focus). It is very small and light. As for 45mm, I only have experience with the older C lens, which was very sharp centrally even at f2.8, but more astigmatic in the corners. The N version is probably better (it is a different optical recipe, and smaller). The 35mm N is an excellent superwide, which I use often.
    There are so many lenses in this system that you can upgrade and expand to your heart's content later. Plus the manual focus lenses can be used on the AF bodies, should that be one of your future additions (it was one of mine!).
  21. Thanks very much people....
    Decided on a mamiya i think! Looking for a pro TL at a reasonable price. Or perhaps just a pro, as there does not seem to be a lot of difference (???)
    As for the lenses mentioned, they are both C, not N, models. They are however fairly reasonable compared to ebay prices. Are they worth getting or is it a lot better to hold out for N versions?
    Thanks again for all help!
  22. You will enjoy it! I got mine for next to nothing and the lenses are so affordable that I just keep accumulating more and more. Here is my kit.
    I haven't done proper comparisons of C vs. N on the lenses so I'll leave that to others. But just yesterday I shot a roll with the 80/1.9 and can verify that it is one very fun lens!

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