ISO: A decent MF setup

Discussion in 'Medium and Large Format Cameras' started by randy, Apr 19, 2017 at 7:24 PM.

  1. randy

    randy FF Regular

    28
    Nov 3, 2015
    While I was putting some freshly scanned negatives into a binder of all my films from the past 15 or so years, I started looking at my old 120 negs from when I had a Yashica Mat 124. Scanned a couple on the Epson V700 and was immediately amazed at the quality and questioned why I sold that old TLR in the first place. As such, I've been hunting for another MF camera. I've read good things about the Mamiya M654 line (in particluar, the 1000s but also the Pro/Pro TL) but I've also briefly looked at the Bronica as well (though, not enough to know the differences between models). Hasselblads are generally out of my price range for a hobby camera.

    That said, I'm looking to spend less than $500 US ($300 would be even better) and wondering what other options I could/should look at. I'm open to other form factors too.

    What I will most likely be shooting: landscapes with the occasional family portrait

    Here are some criteria to which I've been trying to adhere:

    - Solid lens lineup with a decent wide for landscapes
    - Not terribly heavy/bulky
    - Prefer a build in meter that is at least somewhat accurate for negative film
    - prefer an SLR type or RF style

    Any pointers/opinions would be much appreciated!
     
  2. RichardB

    RichardB Super Moderator

    61
    Mar 23, 2015
    Maryland, US
    The Mamiya 645E is a good entry point to Mamiya's 645 system because it is less expensive than other bodies in the family. It has a metering prism that is not interchangeable, and its construction is more modern/plastic than its predecessors, but it uses the same lenses as other 645 bodies. I have a 645E waiting patiently on my shelf for a trial, so I can vouch that I think it's a good buy although I don't yet know that it's a good buy.

    I have no experience with the Pentacon Six, but I've heard that it's a good value and I've seen nice shots from it.

    The Kiev 88 is an East bloc version of a Hasselblad.

    The various Bronica systems seem nice.
     
  3. randy

    randy FF Regular

    28
    Nov 3, 2015
    Thanks for the info Richard. I had forgotten about the Kiev... but I just did a quick search on ebay and I can't believe how much people are asking for some of these, Zeiss glass or not. I think I also forgot to mention that I'm leaning away from the 6x6 format. :)
     
  4. José

    José FF Regular

    141
    Mar 25, 2015
    I'm on a similar quest...

    Probably will go for a Bronica SQ-A, mainly for the reasons below:
    - shooting mainly outdoors, it might be relevant that some Bronicas like SQ-A (but not, for instance, SQ-Ai) have a 1/500 mechanical speed, while Mamyias normally only have 1/90 (not sure about all models). This is useful if we run out of battery, but the main advantage is that on a long term perspective, reduces the risk of it becoming a brick...
    - A Bronica SQ is almost the same size and weight of Bronicas or Mamiyas 645s and so you can have 6x4.5 backs while keeping the 6x6 option open.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017 at 9:02 AM
  5. José

    José FF Regular

    141
    Mar 25, 2015
    Overlooked this last reply (edited above post to also address the different back options). Combining this, why not a Pentax 645? I do own one, but the lack of interchangeable backs is proving to be a strong downside for me, hence my current search for alternatives. If this is no issue for you, might be a good candidate.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017 at 9:02 AM
  6. randy

    randy FF Regular

    28
    Nov 3, 2015
    I agree @José@José... I'm more inclined to to find something with interchangeable backs as well. The more modular the better. Some Mamiya's will take a digital back... not that I can necessarily afford one, but the possibility exists! ;)
     
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  7. MoonMind

    MoonMind FF Regular Subscribing Member

    180
    Mar 24, 2015
    Switzerland
    Matt
    I think there might be slight problem with your budget limit - not for MF in general, but for the modularity thing ... I think you can't do better than a Zenza Bronica ETR-Si (the last model they made) - great 6x4.5 camera, fully modular, and can be had for under $500, though mostly with a twist.

    Anyhow, I'd advise to at least don't write off old MF folders - the good ones aren't as cheap as some may think (or say), but you get a supremely portable MF solution. Even if you don't like 6x6, the likes of the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta, Agfa Isolette III (beware of leaky bellows) or Voigtländer Bessa II (expensive!) are really fantastic if you can get a fully working device; 6x6 makes available even more nice ones - like the Voigtländer Perkeo; depending on the model, you get a tiny powerhouse of a camera (if you don't mind using an external meter and/or rangefinder).

    Even the simple ones without a rangefinder are capable of quite astonishing results. I really love shooting my old Nettars, even though they're the cheapest MF cameras Zeiss Ikon made in 6x9 and 6x6; some of the images are of impressive quality, even from the f/6.3 Novar triplet (that's actually said to be quite sharp, but it's really a bit flimsy, plus its closest focusing distance is two meters ...). Still, if you stay away from the simplest ones (f/6.3 Novars in Vario or Velio shutters) and get a Pronto - or even better, Prontor or Compur - shutter and a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.5, maybe even a Tessar, and you'll have an inexpensive and portable camera that outguns most 35mm offerings.

    Finally, here's something odd and somewhat pricey that's still a treat to shoot (once you got it down ...): the Lomo LC-A 120. Plasticky, quite expensive for what it appears to be, but the lens (a crisp 21mm equivalent) and the simplicity of the fully automatic metering make this a uniquely practical camera for urban and street photography. Put in an ISO 400 film, and you can just let it roll (which is a bit dangerous ... you can burn a lot of film with that thing). It's a bit fiddly to load, and by no means can it be called sturdy, but the results are really, really nice.

    M.
     
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  8. phigmov

    phigmov FF Regular Subscribing Member

    169
    Mar 23, 2015
    I've become increasingly wary of discontinued film camera vendors and battery-operation (beyond just the meter) as they can be difficult to troubleshoot/repair.
    A good external meter and a fully manual body may be a better long term bet.
    Another consideration is the format you like to shoot - 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8 or 6x9.
    For landscapes, 6x9 will get you some sweet shots out of something like a Fuji GW690 if you can find a 65mm lens version. Plenty of 90mm ones on ebay under $500USD.

    If money wasn't an object then a Fuji TX1 or Hasselblad XPAN would be cool - they still seem to be hideously expensive though :-(
     
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  9. randy

    randy FF Regular

    28
    Nov 3, 2015
    Yes, 6x9 would be great. I actually found several GSW690s on eBay... I find it helps if you look for the right model number ;)
     
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  10. MoonMind

    MoonMind FF Regular Subscribing Member

    180
    Mar 24, 2015
    Switzerland
    Matt
    6x9 ... You actually gave me an idea: Mamiya Universal Press ... so I looked around on the *Bay ... trouble is, the only desirable offer is way beyond your (and, for that matter, my) budget:

    Mamiya Universal Outfit // 29174,28 | eBay (no idea if the link works for you ...)

    It may seem a bit expensive - but look at the list of lenses and accessories ... You'd end up with just about everything you could ever need. But of course, five times your (maximum) budget. I know it's crazy, but look at that viewfinder window ... and there's the 100mm f/2.8 ...

    M.
     
  11. randy

    randy FF Regular

    28
    Nov 3, 2015
    Haha... yeah, just a tad beyond my budget.

    I was just in a "pawn" shop and they had a relatively nice looking 1000s on the shelf with grip, AE finder and 80mm f/2.8 lens, but they wanted $350 for it and while it was nice, there was some leatherette pealing up in some areas. They also had a M645 Super (I think) and a Bronica ETRsi. I was in there for a different reason and didn't have time to stick around. Perhaps one day I'll venture back, they had quite a camera collection but they were essentially eBay "Buy it Now" prices in a brick and mortar store.
     
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