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07-17-2010, 10:32 PM   #1
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If i was going to get into Medium format - tell me why Pentax (or other)?

I cant say Ive got any medium format experience (bar the 3D holga ) but after feeling the 645D the other day, its got me wondering about getting a medium format film camera, especially for the enlargement size capability (I do know my way around a darkroom well enough) and possible mucking around with digital medium format in future...

So apart from all the Pentax tragics/fanboi stuff on here if i was going to muck around with medium format, anyone tell me why i would go with Pentax? Although i like having Pentax SLR gear as a counterpoint to Canikon, I have no investment in Pentax medium format so far...

Why not Mamiya or other? What do other brands sell like on the second hand market these days? I gather Hasselblad are expensive still...

Are Pentax just way cheaper or something? Easier to navigate/better options? Good with a digital option and lenses used across from 645/645D?
Is 6x7 even bigger?? Whats the differences between 645 & 6x7, Pentax or not?

So many questions, so much enthusiasm & interest, yet so little knowledge!
thanks in advance

07-17-2010, 11:11 PM   #2
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When fully loaded (body+prism+winder), P645 should be the smallest package available. If you want big, why stops at 645? Why not go P67? Or Mamiya M7?
07-18-2010, 12:58 AM   #3
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I own two Pentax 6x7, lenses from 45 to 400mm (and used a chinese TLR for a while). What I like in the 6x7 :
- Built as a classic 35mm SLR : same design, same commands at the same place
- Relatively cheap body, cheap lenses too (from 75 to 200mm, they can be found for less than 100)
- Excellent quality lenses
- The 6x7 format, which is different from the 645 (just bigger than 24x36, with the same lengh/width ratio)

Its problems could be that the 6x7 is bulky, heavy (approx 2,5kg with the prism and the 105mm), noisy, and if you are not experienced, slow speeds should be avoid (I personnaly reach 1/30s with hardly any shake movement with the 105, but some users say you should not go under 1/125s)
07-18-2010, 05:12 AM   #4
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It is the usual used market tradeoffs: the Mamiyas and Bronicas and Hasselblads are plentiful, and this keeps prices in check (relatively speaking, for the Hassy). Same thing as in 35mm film era stuff.

Go check out Keh or just do a few queries on ebay, see the relative quantity of, say, wide angle lenses.

But that's part of being a Pentaxian

07-18-2010, 07:10 AM   #5
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My first choice would be Hasselblad if I had the money, though the square format puts people off. Rectangular backs are available though.
When I bought into medium format I didn't have the money, and so I looked at the Japanese offerings instead of Hassy or Rollei.
I'd used Mamiyas, both 645 and RB67. The 645 was OK, the RB is an overweight (and I found unreliable) camera. OK in the studio, too much weight in the field.
I owned a Bronica for a while and had problems with it.
I didcovered I didn't like 645 because of the negative orientation in the enlarger. OK if you are shooting verticals, not so good for horizontals, which most of my work is.
So, I settled on the Pentax 6x7. The lenses are good and the camera is solid.
And though it is pretty chunky, it is nowhere nearly the porcine pig that the RB is.
The 1/30 flash sync never really bothered me that much, and eventually I was able to find the leaf shutter lenses.
07-18-2010, 08:13 AM   #6
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P645 is just plain fun

I haven't tried anything but Pentax 645, but I regularly see Mamiya, Pentax, Bronica and even Hasselblad medium format cameras show up on local Craigslist. They are so plentiful and inexpensive because all the wedding photographers have moved to digital and are finally dumping film.

The Hassys are always a bit expensive, and don't seem to move very quickly. 645N body runs $350-$500. Prime lenses $150 - $350, although wide angle and zoom are a lot more expensive. You could get a full kit for under $800, including a couple lenses, backs and often a bag. I sometimes even see three or five lens sets, or a second body.

I like the 645N because it feels so fun and easy to use. I love the non-modal, physical knobs with green-for-go auto indications. You can see exactly which knob has been moved to manual: aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, bracketing. I wish my digital camera was similarly idiot proof, 'cause I'm such an idiot I always get lost in the menus. (Can't do TV clickers either.)

Auto focus is really fast, but the manual lenses have amazingly smooth focus mechanics. For wide angle, hyperfocal focussing might be more useful than auto, which is good as it's hard to find the 35mm FA lens.
07-19-2010, 10:34 AM   #7

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First, there is no one compelling reason for a Pentax MF over another brand, IMHO. There always seems to be trade offs somewhere - size/bulk, noise, auto features, price, etc. It all depends a lot on what and how you shoot. You may find it takes more than one MF camera to cover a multitude of situations. Some MF cameras are at home more in the studio than the field while others are better suited to the field shooting than the studio, for example. Not that each can't be used in both situations it's just that features and design make it a better camera for that situation.

The newer Pentax 645 cameras seem to attract those that want the convenience, versatility and automatic features of 35mm without much extra size and yet get better IQ from the increased negative area over a 35mm.

The Pentax 67 has a much larger negative of course. And you can see the difference because size matters with film. But as you go up in size with film, convenience, automatic features and speed pretty much decreases. You can scale the P67 down with a waist level finder but convenience has decreased even more. But yet that may not be a problem at all for a lot of shooting. It all depends.

And a camera like the older Hasselblad 500C/M in good condition still commands a much higher price than a Pentax as well as the price of their lenses. But you get features such as hot-swapping backs and lenses with the same filter sizes. For example, carrying the right combination of three of these Pentax 45/55/75/90/105/165mm around, shoot BW and you need three lens hoods and three sets of BW filters if you don't want to mess with stepper rings. With a modestly newer generation of Hasselblad lenses, you could carry a 50/60/80/100/120/135/150/250mm lenses and only have one set of BW filters and a minimum of two lens hoods (three ideal). That might not seem like a big deal but I found it to often be a deciding factor which camera I take along either my P67 or the Hassy.
07-19-2010, 11:06 PM   #8
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I was about to buy a 645n with 75mm lens when Adam convinced me to think about it, and if I'd really use it. Sure I hope to get a 645D one day, but for now the $50 Ricoh shot from the waist gives me great prints... no batteries and almost no noise... i am limited to the lens I can use, but for what I use mf (portraits and landscapes) it is has a great lens. the 6x6 size lets me crop later if I want. I can develop the BW in my darkroom and really it just sort of helps me scratch the itch at 1/6 the cost...

07-20-2010, 06:20 AM   #9
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That is a good point, Jord... I enticed myself to a P645 with the idea of seeing what a 'modern' interchangeable-lens SLR would be like. Definitely capable of excellent results, but it's also bulkier and heavier than any of the fixed lens TLRs or folding cameras. For a day out hiking, I go for the TLR or folder.

These are also a much cheaper way of getting a taste of everything involved with 120.
07-24-2010, 05:03 PM   #10
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Original Poster
OK some interesting things to ponder...

I guess im not familiar with the range of lenses available for P645 and P67 (and even if there is anything interchangeable between them) or how Pentax options compares with other brand lines also.

And also not aware of rough 'maximum' enlargement size of the medium formats, compared with my K7 and 35mm bodies (which am lead to believe is about A2 size for both)

I know my way around a darkroom, have all the gear myself (though dont have big enough trays, lol) so like the idea of being able to do big B&W enlargements myself if possible.

edit: and also thinking about all of this in regard to maybe one day picking up a used 645D
so maybe look for a used 645 & 67? hehe!
Is there much interchangeability with these lenses across systems?
and can someone point out the focal length conversion ratio compared with 35mm? ie the 645 55mm = Xmm equivalent angle of view in 35mm etc.

Last edited by JayR; 07-24-2010 at 05:20 PM.
07-24-2010, 05:58 PM   #11

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Why Pentax MF? Affordable quality would be my answer. The 645 and 67 bodies are quite reliable, solidly built and affordable. The lenses are the real bargain however. There is a large lens selection on both the 67 and 645, with nearly all priced below their competition. There is no sacrifice on optical quality due to the lower price point. There was a reason why Pentax used to say Asahi Pentax on the finder. They were an optical company(Asahi Optical Co.) primarily. There are 30+ optically different lenses for the 67 but much fewer for the 645. The 67 lenses are usable on the 645 body with the Pentax made adapter.

You will notice that the normal lens for the 67 is 90 to 105, or about double that of a 35mm normal. I believe the normal for the 645 is a 75mm.

Enlargements for the 67 can handle 24 X 30 inches without too much trouble, especially with RMS 8 or 9 film and the best of the lens line.

Last edited by desertscape; 07-24-2010 at 06:04 PM.
07-26-2010, 07:11 PM   #12
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Great glass* and bodies are cheap - also I like to use my 645N as a weapon when shooting in bad parts of town. Sure other MF cameras might put a dent in a guy's skull but Pentax bodies can not only give a beating but take one too.

*There was a nice review of normal MF lenses (80mm Hassy, 75 mm Pentax, and I think 75mm mayima and Pentax had the best characteristics and is a bit cheaper)
07-27-2010, 06:51 AM   #13
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You could read this one... or did anyone else mention this link already? - Classic Cameras
07-27-2010, 10:24 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rense Quote
You could read this one... or did anyone else mention this link already? - Classic Cameras
Great article on the 6x7, 67, 67ii, etc.!

Almost makes me want to get one...


(Almost...need to amortize the 4x5 first...)
07-27-2010, 10:33 AM   #15
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As far as the 645 series is concerned, here's my two cents why I preferred it over any MF:

- Comperatively low cost for lenses, sometimes lower than the ones for the 35mm format.
- A spare body (manual) costs less than the repair cost.
- Less vibration compared to many MF SLR, great asset for handheld shooting.
- Almost all 645 lenses deliver top IQ and fine bokeh.
- Switch to the 645D and still use all your lenses. The samples shown so far exhibited that the existing 645 lenses work great with the 645D (probably better than any other Pentax MF lenses).

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