Which one would you choose

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by cameragary, May 20, 2020.

  1. Sort of OT, but there are some low durometer resins that can be 3D printed. It might be possible to 3D print a "difficult" seal that's hard to do by hand. I still do OK with the stick-on foam from Walmart or the craft store.
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  2. I have never seen the point or attraction of the TLR design, and that goes in spades for the bloated weight-training equipment that is a Mamiya Cxx0 camera.

    It was part of my college course in photography to use one, since we were supposed to familiarise ourselves with a variety of camera types. Worst day of the entire course!

    At least there was a hefty tripod on hand to take some of the strain... and a paramender to rectify the viewfinder displacement. But really; what goes through the mind of a designer that recognises a fundamental flaw, and then produces an even more cumbersome device to overcome what should never have existed in the first place? A lever to move the viewfinder frame, or to squint the mirror down - that would at least have been an elegant and compact solution. A paramender? Lunacy!
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  3. I read your responses to various threads about all sorts of topics and I do hold your responses in high regard.
    So with that said ,would you look at a bronica etrs or elsewhere. Now I will say that money is an issue.like anyone I am looking for a deal of sorts.what do you say sir,
    Thanks - gary
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  5. To completely dismiss the TLR cameras in general, or the unique Mamiyas specifically, is a perfectly legit subjective reaction. Not everybody gets on with every conceivable camera, no matter how legendary (I've lost count of how many times I've bought a Leica rangefinder, tried to love it, then raced the clock to sell it before my hatred of it drove me to throw it repeatedly against the nearest brick wall). But a subjective reaction should not be interpreted as a universal caution: TLRs have their place and their merits over SLRs, even the large clunky Mamiyas (if they don't serve your purpose, you can't stand them, if they do, you love them: I use my C220f system a lot more than my Hasselblad SLR).

    That said, cameragary, its pretty clear you seek another SLR as a more practical backup to your problematic Bronica S2. The most popular median choice for that (if you want to maintain 6x6 square capability) is the Bronica SQ, which followed on the heels of the ETR when Bronica realized the market for a square 6x6 electronically-enhanced Hasselblad knockoff would be even more lucrative than selling a Mamiya M645 knockoff with leaf shutter lenses and removable backs (simplifying, but that was the gist). The ETR and SQ are extremely similar aside from the ETR being slightly smaller due to 645-only format. The most desired features of medium-format SLRs (in their day) were leaf shutter lenses for versatile flash sync, and interchangeable film backs for rapid reloading in the studio. Both Bronicas offer this, plus several modern conveniences that are either unavailable or not as well-integrated in similar competitors. Choose based on your preferred framing format.

    Other options have their appeal, of course. Choices boil down to European vs Japanese, and focal plane shutter with instant return viewing (but slow flash sync) vs fully-synced leaf shutters (but no viewing until you advance/recock). Some of the European systems trade dismal reliability against a wide array of interesting lenses from multiple mfrs, most of the Japanese systems are much more reliable but limited to their proprietary, fairly uniform lens lineups. Fewest problems with Bronica or Mamiya, more crazy fun with the European stuff: dedicated MF fans own both types for different projects.

    The huge Mamiya RB67 is very reliable, offers a huge rectangular 6x7 negative, is very well damped for an SLR at slow shutter speeds, and has the unique revolving film magazines that allow one to use its magnificent WLF easily for both horizontal and vertical framing. But it is the bulkiest SLR in common use (70% larger than your S2), and prisms turn it into a monster.

    The older, all-metal Mamya M645 and M645 1000S are compact and rugged, with reliable focal plane shutter and a lineup of mostly-excellent affordable lenses (esp if you favor the longer focal lengths). A handful of leaf shutter lenses were available for daylight flash fill, but otherwise the M645 is not suited to flash work, and lack of interchangeable film backs is a dealbreaker for some users (OTOH, non-removable backs avoid all the added mechanical and leak problems that come with them). Handling is not as ergonomic as the Bronica ETR: the advantage of the Mamiya lies in some of its lens options (fast 80mm f/1.9, affordable superb APO teles). If you plan on sticking to the standard 50-80-150 lenses, the ETR offers more bang for the buck.

    Pentax 67 is a 35mm SLR on steroids: people love them to pieces or find them unusable. Large negatives, excellent lens lineup, esp later wides. No interchangeable film backs, s-l-o-w flash sync with its huge focal plane shutter. Pentax 645 is similar to Bronica ETR, but trades the interchangeable back for a built-in motor drive, built-in prism and autoexposure. Nice lenses (mostly), unfortunately now harder to find in the wake of the surprisingly cheap digital 645D and 645Z bodies hitting the used market. Slow flash sync with focal plane shutter.

    Contax 645 is similar to the Pentax 645, but with interchangeable backs/finders and highly regarded lineup of stellar Zeiss AF lenses. Bodies and accessories getting expensive again, the incredible lenses are priced reasonably considering their quality, but as an orphaned bespoke fully-electronic system repair parts and service are becoming an issue.

    Rolleiflex SL66 was basically a Hasselblad (the lens lines were twins) with focal plane shutter, Bronica S2-style skeletal lens heads, and Mamiya RB67 integrated bellows focusing. More a collectors item now than user camera, tho in some countries its affordable enough to still be practical. The newer, uber-electronic Rollei 6000 system is very automated and sophisticated, with some amazing Schneider and Zeiss leaf shutter AE and AF lenses, but a bit pricey and much more available/popular in Europe than North America. Your location often determines whether the Rolleis make sense or not.

    Hasselblad is, well, Hasselblad. Far more affordable now than when it ruled the medium format film era, but thats just the initial buy-in: maintenance costs are as high or higher than they've ever been, and 'blads need servicing to work their best. Like a used Rolex or Rolls Royce, not something you buy unless you're prepared for the upkeep costs. Beautifully made, great lenses, but quirky and decidedly 1950s operation (no modern conveniences whatsoever, unless you opt for the rare expensive electronic-metered 200 bodies). Incredible versatility: any accessory you can think of was probably made for it. But realistically, the Bronica SQ or ETR come pretty darned close for most practical purposes while requiring little to no maintenance costs.

    Kowa was the "poor mans Hasselblad" in the '70s, with nice leaf shutter lenses, but today bodies are trouble-prone and lenses scarce. In the same repair minefield as your Bronica S2.

    Kiev/Salyut was a Unkranian Hasselblad knockoff simplified with focal plane shutter. Very very popular for awhile as the system is cheap and the lens line very broad. Reliability is a sore point (very sore), but people put up with it to access some of the interesting lenses.

    Pentacon Six (Praktsix) is like Pentax 67 in its blown-up 35mm SLR design, only in 6x6 format. Reliability is as bad or worse than the Kiev/Salyut, but here again people put up with it to access the extensive affordable lens lineup.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  6. A lot of truth here. The first TLRs were tiny in comparison to what Mamiyas evolved into. A "coffee can" Ikoflex is about HALF the height of a C33 and about 1/3 the weight. Yes, others will be quick to point out the feature benefits of the C3, 33, 330 and they will be correct, though at-a-cost. You can haul so much more dirt in a dump truck than you can in the trunk of your Mustang, so "to each his own". From an ergonomic, features, and "system" perspective, the 6x6 SLR was the better direction for the square format IMO.
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  7. Hear! Hear!

    I shot a boatload of weddings with a Yashica 635, then Yashica Mat 124, before I bought my first Mamiya C220. I was also thinking in terms of "system", adding interchangeable lenses, etc. However, at the end of the day, I usually only used 2 lenses, and several rolls of 220 film. The "C's" eventually sat on the shelf in favor of the Mamiya 645 1000s. I could use the leaf shuttered 70mm for flash sync, and sometimes get away with using one lens, depending... 200ws of Armatar and Lumedyne flash always solved a lot of lighting issues.

    I eventually went the Hasselblad route when I retired, and it offered the advantages the C's did, but lighter and even more flexible. I sold all of my gear, but decided I wanted medium format. I've now reacquired a Hasselblad, and finally a Bronica SQA. Please don't make me decide between those two!
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  8. I see myself leaning towards the bronica etrs as it is somewhat affordable.i appreciate the amount of options everybody have outlined.i would like to get a mamiya 645 1000s but it is getting out of my price range. I do shoot 35mm predominately but the s2a is being used for some flower shots and experimenting with some macro with ext tubes I have for it.i would use the etrs more often than the s2a only because of the fear factor.it shoots great now so I don't want to abuse it too much.this is why im looking at the etrs.its like my canons ,I shoot more with my a1's then my f1 or ef.
    It's like driving a Chevy compared to a porsche.
    Appreciate all your input on this.just need to get this virus stuff done now.
  9. The only drawback of the ETR for closeup work is the limitation on accessories. The very thing that makes the ETR so reliable (electronic shutter control of its lenses) also prevents the use of cheap or homebrew closeup devices. The camera requires electronic contacts in any extension tube to control the lens shutters, so you're pretty much limited to the two ETR-specific extension tubes that cost approx $40-$50 apiece second hand. The electronic ETR bellows runs about $165.

    By contrast, the Bronica S2 or Mamiya M645 can happily use a beer can as an extension tube, and the Mamiya TLRs or RB67 can get down to near 1:1 with their built in bellows and a wide angle lens. So when shopping the ETR (or SQ or Hasselblad or any other leaf-shutter SLR), be aware you'll need to set aside additional funds for properly-coupled closeup accessories.
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  10. I have the 105 mm macro lens and the Bronica bellows ( for the Etr)for those great flower shots .
    The bellows are a challenge to use compared to the macro lens . Something to consider , but
    the 105 mm macro is no petite lens either :) , Peter
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  11. i wanted to try using my 135mm and an extension tube set up for some flowers on my s2a ,that are blooming now.it is a large spray of blooms so i was thinking the 135mm would keep me far enough away plus an ext tube might give me some nice bokeh.i have not tried this yet so i dont even know if it is feasible.i'm thinking along the same lines of when i use my 100mm macro fd on my canon cameras.gets me close but far enough away for the full effect.any thoughts?
  12. and i would probably get an extension tube or 2 for the etrs down the line if all this pans out.
  13. 135mm lens on the S2 would be equivalent in perspective to 85mm on your Canon (fairly close to 100mm), so should work fine with an extension tube for the flowers. If its the 135mm Nikkor f/3.5, you might need to stop down to f/8 - f/11 to maximize performance close up: this lens was best used for people portraits at distances of two meters or so.
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  14. I appreciate your help and input.I will definitely post a couple of pics after I get them back.takes a while now with the lockdown going on.this site and its members are a wealth of information
    Thanks -gary
  15. Really? I'm surprised to hear that.

    Last time I looked you could pick up the old metal-bodied M645s for chump change. Especially if the covering and paintwork were a bit tatty. And the only lens that seems to hold its price is the 80mm f/1.9 (not worth the premium over the perfectly good f/2.8 version IMO).

    Those old Mamiyas aren't without issues. Expect the self-timer on the 1000S to be sticky. Solution - don't use it!
    The light seals will almost certainly have turned to goo if they haven't already been replaced. That's an outlay of a few £s or $s and half a day's work to fix.
    Old eye-level prisms (essential to use the camera in portrait orientation) often have separation that causes a black line across the finder. Avoid.
    The metering prisms were never terribly accurate, but close enough for B&W use.
    The leaf-shuttered lenses (55mm or 70mm) will almost certainly need work to get them reliable and the shutter speeds anywhere close to accurate.
    The frame counter might get sticky and not return to 'S' when the film insert is removed. This can usually be fixed by winding the cog inside the camera a few times to work the frame counter loose again.
    Early model battery covers are easily broken. Check the battery compartment and take care with the plastic catch, if fitted.

    All the above, apart from the leaf-shuttered lenses and separating prisms, are trivial issues and easily fixed.

    I can only add that my metal M645s have been the most reliable medium format cameras I've ever used. OTOH, the plastic-bodied Supers, 645TLs and ProTLs I wouldn't touch again with a 10 foot pole!
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  16. i guessing you have no regard for the etrs then.i've noticed you mention the mamiya 645 every now and then.i assume you shoot digital now by recent posts i have read.i think if i can pick this bronica up for a song i will.if not no harm as i am only a hobbyist that has taken way too long to come back to film.i have plenty of 35mm cameras to play with. i am easily 40 years behind you guys.i never thought there was any intrest in film until last year.thanks for your insights.
  17. The older (and superior) metal-body Mamiya M645 were giveaway cheap as recently as four years ago, but the latest wave of medium format film fetish has driven even former "bargains" up into a non-trivial price range. High enough that you now need to think hard and compare them to other options, rather than automatically jump on them because they're so cheap. Random local "finds" aside, there are no more dirt-cheap medium format bargains (even the Mamiya TLRs, which were literally free a few years ago, are now priced in SLR territory).

    A few months ago, rodeo_joe and I participated in a Mamiya 645 thread where we extolled the virtues of the longer lenses, and that gave me a momentary itch to hit eBay. The current body listings chased that thought right out of my head: the lenses are very well priced, but the asks on good M645 bodies (at least in North America) are way, way up. In terms of what you get, still reasonable, but double their historic post-digital average. Not that long ago, you could pick up the original M645 complete with 80mm f/2.8 and prism, for the price of a beat up Nikon. Not anymore: instead of a lark, the M645 is now as much of a commitment as an RB67 or Bronica SQ. Week to week, the M645 and ETR are now within shouting distance pricewise: at current ask$, the ETR offers a lot more versatility (removable backs, nicer AE prisms, fantastic integrated ergonomic side grip with hot shoe). The Mamiya APO tele glass between 200-500 is truly special: if you favor teles, the Mamiya is compelling, but for typical midrange lenses and uses the ETR edges ahead.

    cameragary, just for curiosity, which extension tube do you have for your Bronica S2? When I owned mine (below), the only Bronica-brand tubes I found were a complete set of threaded plain tubes that screw into the helicoid throat (as pictured with my 75mm Nikkor). These can be adjusted to a variety of length combinations, but I never found a standard, modern type of tube. Did you find a single-piece thrid party tube of some kind?

    Bronica S2A Blk 75 Nikkor Extn Tubes.jpg Bronica Tubes.jpg
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  18. No I have the same set as your second picture. When I use surfing the bay i came across a new set in its velvet lined box.compared the way things are packaged today it was like opening a jewelry box.
    And I am now convinced to pursue the etrs now.
  19. Back when, I picked up a fine Mamiya 645J body with a metering prism for a pittance and got an adapter just to use the range of excellent lenses I had for my worthless Pentacon 6. Added a new 30mm to the mix when they were totally undervalued and even picked up one of the 1.9 lenses just to have a "native" lens for the Mamiya. It is pleasant to use (even with the stop down metering) and has served me well. The Zeiss lenses are incredible, especially the 180 f/2.8 and the 300 f/4 (which work well with extension tubes also). I had a Bronica S2a once and the less said about it the better. A friend has the 6x7 Bronica and, from what I've seen of his work with it, one would tempt me.
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  20. Circling back to the TLR concept, if you've never actually seen or handled one the pics below of my own cameras should give some context to the "OMG Mamiyas are huge to the point of useless" trope. Compared to a tiny svelte Rolleiflex 3.5F or Yashicamat 124G fixed-lens TLR, among the most portable, toss-around medium format cameras ever made, then yeah: the Mamiya TLRs are 60% larger and heavier, not as streamlined, and certainly not as pretty. If you want a 6x6 camera for traveling via horse, bicycle or backpacking, the fixed lens TLR is def the way to go.

    For anything else, the Mamiya TLRs are no larger or heavier than the typical 6x6 SLR, many of their lenses are much smaller than SLR versions, the lack of flipping mirror means zero shock and awe problems, the bellows focusing provides continuous range from infinity to near-macro without disruptive accessory swapping, and the ambidextrous rack/pinion focus knobs are an ergonomic joy compared to most any on-lens helical focus ring.

    In the specific case below compared to my Hasselblad, the Mamiya has the 55mm wide angle mounted and the 'blad has its 50mm mounted. Note the 'blad is actually taller when positioned comparably. In normal handling, the 'blad 50mmm is huge and very front-heavy while the Mamiya's is no larger or more awkward than its 80mm standard lens. The Mamiya bellows will rack its 55mm lens down to almost 1:1 macro, while the 'blad requires interruption to mount an extension tube. Of course, for fast paced work in this close range, the 'blad will be quicker to frame with and its lens is better close-corrected, but for typical slow-paced flower and nature shots? Not much difference. Even at longer focal lengths, the Mamiya holds its own. With the razor sharp 180mm Super mounted and racked out, its still within size and handling range of the Hasselblad with 180mm (which requires adding the pictured extension tube to match the 1:4 magnification of the Mamiya setup). The Mamiya does become more front heavy and awkward in this closeup configuration, but on a tripod it won't matter.

    The price gap between the two systems is breathtaking: the Mamiya 180mm is commonly found for $90 and can be serviced by the mechanic at your gas station, the 'blad 180mm Sonnar costs $600 and runs $400 for specialist repair when its shutter goes out. Performance of both lenses is indistinguishable: the Mamiya 180 Super was one of the finest 6x6 teles ever made. Other practical considerations are flatter film transport of the TLR, and focus screen brightness and contrast: the excellent standard screen of the Mamiya C220F and C330S can't be matched in the Hasselblad without a costly optional Acute Matte screen. AM screens cost $200- $400 each, and while bright can be surprisingly difficult to focus. The refined standard-tech Mamiya screen nails focus easily every time.

    Both systems have their place in my photography, depending on the specific project. I was fortunate to buy my Mamiya kit before prices really shot up, but even today they can be a cost-effective solution for those who can roll with the TLR workflow. The 8" x 4" jewelry box was shot handheld with the Mamiya 180mm at full bellows extension. mamiya tlr vs hasselblad 02.jpg mamiya tlr vs hasselblad 01.jpg Mamiya Chest Test.jpg
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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