Which medium format camera?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by eva_k._salvi, Oct 25, 2009.

  1. Hi everyone,
    I am new to this forum but very often found the answers I needed here so I thought I should subscribe and give it a go.
    I have used medium cameras before, but I would now like to buy one. The thing is, I am not sure what camera would best suit my needs while being within my budget limits. I also need it for one particular project so I need some specific options on the camera too.
    What I need is basically:
    • a medium format camera, 6x6 (Square images only)
    • a camera that would have a waist level finder (very important too)
    • a camera with a timer (for this project I mentioned above, I need to photograph myself with someone, and I don't want any remote in the frame...)
    • a camera that's well-built, good lenses
    • my budget is around 400€, I am going to get a second hand camera
    What would you recommend? I have been looking at Hasselblads, Mamiyas and Bronicas, but I am unfamiliar with the different models etc. so I am not sure what to get.
    Any help would be much appreciated! Thank you!
  2. You wont get a Hasselblad for this budget, so my immediate preference would be for a Bronica SQA. These are great cameras but for the self-time you're going to need to buy a seperate clockwork one that fits into the cable release socket. A very under-estmated but excellent camera is the Mamiya Twin lens series, for your budget you'll be able to get a C330 or C220 with maybe a couple of lenses. The only drawback is the dim viewfinders on the older models which means the C330 is the one to aim for.
    My old C3 had a 105mm lens which I'm sure had a self-timer built in. But again you can buy a mechanical timer seperately which will fit any camera with a cable release.
  3. Well my choice of course would be the Blads. I have had a 500C/M for years. But as Tony pointed out, you're not likely to find a Blad in your price range, unless it looks like it was used to pound railroad spikes, though not recommended, their high level of construction would probably allow you to do.
    I got a terrific deal on mine on E$bay several years ago, for around $850 USD, it was practically mint, with a 150mm f/4 C T* Sonnar, but it is unlikely you are going to find that kind of deal nowadays. But when all else fails, go to Ebay and check.
    As Tony pointed out, the Bronica SQA is probably your best bet. The older Zenzanon lenses were actually made by Nikon, and are top notch.
    Check out this listing, this is a whopper of a deal! (Just remove the 3 $$$ as this forum won't let us post links to Ebay.

  4. If you don't need interchangeable lenses, consider a Rolleicord or Rolleiflex TLR.
  5. I would second Dave: if the standard lens is ok with your project, get a good Rolleiflex. If you don`t find one with a self timer, there are mechanical self timers available that you just screw into the release button.
  6. Thank you for your quick answers!
    I actually need interchangeable lenses which is why I decided not to go for the Rolleiflex although it was advised to me before. Just wanted to know what you guys thought of those:
    One last question: is the Zenza Bronica ETRS 6x6, I think I read somewhere that it produced negs that were 6x4.5 but this ad does not mention anything:
    PS: Scott, I am definitely following that Bronica! Thanks!
  7. etrs is 6x4.5. The rollei;s are lovely but the mamiya TLR's do the same thing but miles cheaper and have interchangeable lenses.
  8. Rollei cameras are nice and I have a couple and probably will until the day I go to the big camera show in the sky. Bronica cameras are very underrated cameras and will do everything a 'Blad will do. My very first medium format slr was a Bronica S2A with a 75mm Nikkor and I shot many weddings with it before switching to Hasselblad. It was a fine camera, a little noisy, but great optics. The newer SQA was a work of art compared to the older S2A and the price used is very good right now. The truth is that the best "bang for the buck" for your requirements and fully capable of everything and more, that you want to do is the Mamiya TLR cameras. The C220 or C330 would be the one to get, but I havbe owned C3's and C33's and the 33 works great also. The only lens for the Mamiya TLR's that I thought a little soft was the 55mm at wider apertures, but the others I had (80mm, 105mm 135mm 180mm) were tack sharp. I have also seen some sweet deals on Hassy 500C cameras on the big auction site. If you can find one with a standard 80mm and a 12 back you might get it in your budget, but it will be tight. My vote, for your requirements, is still the Mamiya tlr cameras.
  9. You wont get a Hasselblad for this budget...​
    400 Euro is approx. $600 USD, with which it is certainly possible to get a Hasselblad. It might not be a mint condition 'blad with a T* lens, but it is possible. In fact, KEH (a camera dealer in the states) has at least two Hasselblad kits with 80 2.8 Chrome C lenses and A12 backs. One is $522 and the other is $636 and in fact does offer a Carl Zeiss 80 2.8 T* lens and A12 back. If I didn't just purchase a new RB67, I might buy one. I have read that the KEH 'BGN' condition is pretty decent, but I can't attest to this personally.
    I also like the suggestion of the Mamiya C330, and have been on the lookout for one, but the problem here is finding one that is in great condition. Mint condition C330's and "inexpensive" are not always easy to find but are certainly within your budget.
  10. Hi,
    I think for this amount you can just about get a 500c + cosmetically horrible A12 + 80mm in ok condition.
    I got a 500c body +a12 recently from the pro center in london for 150 pounds. The rest can then pay for the lens. Beyond cosmetic issues, it works well.
    However, I wouldn't advise getting old stuff like this on ebay. It's important to have an option to return/repair the camera.
  11. I know this isn't what you asked for but, you could get a Mamiya 645 with your budget. It has interchangable lenses, waistlevel finders, and a self timer. It isn't 6x6 but I guess you could crop it square and have 4.5x4.5.
  12. Mamiya RB67 can be had with a 6x6 back and may fit into your budget.
  13. The SQ-A sounds like the preferred choice if you're on a budget. I don't know the availability of repairs where you live, and Bronica has been "out of the game" now for years, but they don't seem to be particularly complex cameras.
  14. Koh's Camera in New York seem to be the Bronica people. Spares are still being made for another year, so service is easy. Koh's are easy to work with, in my experience, and reasonable in price. Get a machine CLA'd and it should be good for years.
  15. I am with Mike, get an RB67. Crop to 6x6. Frame lines on the ground glass will easily enable you to compose for the square. The only advantage of a 6x6 back is it will give you 2 more frames per roll.
  16. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I'd imagine that someone who quotes their budget in Euros might not find USA terribly convenient for repairs and servicing of Bronicas. Certainly the Bronica repair centre for the UK is still functioning, but you'd need to check the availability of repairs in your country before you buy a Bronica or any other discontinued camera. Bronica was latterly owned by Tamron, so the Tamron distributor in your country will be able to advise.
    If you only want to take square images I can't see any reason why you need to buy a 67 camera and crop every frame as well as coping with the extra size and weight of bodies and lenses.
    I've used Bronica SQA-i cameras for many years, and IMO you'll be hard pressed to find a difference in the photographs between those and a Hasselblad. It will do what you want. A Hasselblad would do just as well but for your budget you'd be buying a much older camera. You need to be aware that buying a camera that might well be 20 years old or more, and hasn't been serviced for a while, is not a guarantee of reliability. These cameras were designed to be serviced once in a while. Any form of warranty on a camera of this age would be very desirable. Oh, and get a handbook.
  17. Oops, right you are, David. Forgot the OP said euros. My US-centricity showing.
    I certainly wouldn't use an RB67 in place of a 6X6 camera, given the size and weight of the RB series. A Bronica GS-1 would make more sense for that approach.
    To me it makes a lot of sense to get the SQ series camera, which is similar in layout, size and handling to a Hasselblad. It can later be sold and a Hasselblad obtained when finances allow. One nice thing about the SQ series is the possibility of using a 645 back instead of cropping the square if a rectangular image is desired. That's some great versatility and a more cost-efficient use of film.
    New parts and service through Tamron are supposed to be available through October 2010. So I would expect it to not be really difficult to get service in the EU. I have no real knowledge of it though.
  18. I, too, have become increasingly interested in purchasing a medium format camera. Coincidentally, my requirements are roughly the same, as is my price range, so I'm hoping Eva won't mind me piggy-backing on this forum (no need to worry about bidding wars- my purchase will be further down the road ;)). My dad has an old Yashica-MAT LM that he was always so fascinated by, but the condition is toast, so I thought it might be a cool idea to pick up a Yashica 124G. However, I know very little about these types of cameras. Is the 124G comparable to the Mamiya C330 or the Bronica SQA? Are we playing the same ballgame here? I've seen 124Gs in great condition on eBay and craigslist for $200-$300US.
  19. i found a yashica 124G for $180 at a used camera shop. it is mint, looks hardly used, works beautifully.
    the newer the better, generally. some of the older ones are OK, too but the features were improved over time [crank winder vs knob, for ex.].
    you'll need a separate, handheld meter. the built-in one will be unreliable if it works at all.
  20. Get a motorized Hasselblad EL/M and a radio frequency remote control with delay timer (I have a source for that remote control) . You can arrange the setting and make the photo without running to the camera and back which would be pain i..t..a...
  21. my MF experience consists of two rollei TLRs, two yashica TLRs and a mamiya 7. so i don't know much about bronica or any others. the mamiya 7 is hasselblad quality. but there's nothing wrong with the results from any yashica, rollei or mamiya TLR that i've seen or heard. just a matter of condition, repairs and maintenance. can have issues such as scratched lenses, fungal growth in lens, light leaks, calibration out of adjustment on slower shutter speeds. replacement viewing screens for older TLRs can be a nice improvement, since the screen is sometimes dim, making focusing more difficult. my yashica 124G is bright enough as is.
    mamiya TLR is unique, being the only TLR to have interchangeable lenses. they are a bit heavier than fixed lens type. might be a nice feature -- the typical 75mm or 80mm fixed lens TLR won't take a head shot. from the minimum focusing distance of 3 ft or so, you get the head and the upper body. you could crop, of course, but maybe you're like me and like to always use the full frame.
  22. Haven't seen it mentioned so i'll go ahead and do it.
    There is always the Hasselblanski, or as its called normally the KIEV88. Hartblei sells some upgraded versions of them that word is they are more reliable. They still aren't Hasselblads in that way, but theyare sold for much much less. Plus you get a guarantee.
    You can also choose to use the Pentacon Six mount, and use those amazing Carl Zeiss Jena lenses.
    For 400E you can get a great kit together, with multible backs and 2-3 Zeiss lenses, like the 180 Sonnar, or the 50 Flektogon...
  23. I am thinking of buying a camera from the Arax people.
    Specifically this one. It looks like a big ugly SLR but comes with a waist viewfinder too. The price is certainly OK and they sell lenses too.
    I am sure someone here has had some experience, the reviews I went looking for are favourable and all mention excellent customer service.
  24. I recommend the older Yashica Mat like the Yashica Mat or the Yashica Mat LM or EM. These can often be found for less than EUR 100 and they're equipped with the excellent yashinon taking lens (nb I believe the early Yashica Mat had a different lens). These cameras deliver true professional image quality at a fraction of the price of a Hasselblad or Rolleiflex.
  25. @ Chrise - do you recommend the LM/EM over the 124G?
  26. Ryan, although I haven't used a 124G I know they have a reputation of failing film advance mechanism. I have no idea why they're so much more expensive and attractive to buyers than the older models. If you can find an older model in ok working shape go for it! If you can live without the light meter of course since it will likely be inoperative. I have a Yashica Mat LM. It's a phenomenal camera!
  27. Good to know. Think I'm gonna try to pick up an LM, EM or 12. Thanks!
  28. No-one's mentioned the Pentacon Six TL - 6x6, WLF, and a built-in self timer. Ticks all your boxes. Also, extraordinarily light and compact.
    Excellent and huge array of lenses - especially the 120mm Biometar and 180mm Sonnar; both are perfect for portraits.
    Typically 200 Euro in mint condition with 80mm Biometar. Only half your budget!
  29. Eva, if you are still there, have a look at the Rollei SLR ad of today (Oct. 30) in the Photo.Net classified section. Quite a system for $500.
  30. Have about 10 Yashica TLRs. A good choice is the Yashica D. The film wind knob is more reliable than those that have the film crank. Also recommend the Mamiya C220 over the C330 for the same reason. Have had the 220, 330 and 330F. Now, just have the 220. It can do about anything the 330 can. The 105Ds has a built-in timer. Some people complain about the 330's weight. Never thought it was too heavy. But, the 220 is lighter.
  31. In the end, I bought the Bronica SQA Scott pointed out, it turned out to be within my budget and includes two lenses, 3 backs and some accessories... Quite a bargain!
    Thank you ever so much for all the answers!
  32. Hi everyone I have now bought this Bronica (that I am still waiting to receive) and I still need to buy a self-timer for it. I looked into universal self-timers and I haven't been able to find anything so far! It seems all the online boutiques do not sell them anymore and there are non on eBay... Does anyone know about them and where to get them?
    Thank you!
  33. Eva,
    Search for "Autoknips" on eBay, and you'll find more than you need. ;-)
  34. Ooooh indeed, there are loads on eBay. From what I have read on the forum and on various pages while doing research, I am not sure what the different features are. Which model should I get for a Bronica SQA? Also which model has the longest delay?
    Thank you for your help! :)
  35. Eva,
    I've had a few Yashica TLR's and they certainly did the job well. If you see one on Ebay that looks like a good find, you can always have it CLA'ed by Mark Hama. I did this with a Yashica EM that I was very happy with. You should be able to get one pretty reasonable. I now have a Bronica S2A that I love. That is also an option. Good luck.
  36. Thanks, Eva, for starting this thread. For the past 30 years I've shot only 35 mm, and my supply of Kodachrome 25 is nearly exhausted. I'm looking to move to medium format for its detail-capturing ability. But I must confess that I don't know a thing about medium-format cameras. I think I would prefer 645 to 6x6, a camera that has a built-in light meter (if medium-format cameras have them) and something that could possibly be shot hand-held (although I would probably continue to use my Leicas for this purpose). I would likely buy something used.
    Thanks much, everyone.

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