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01-02-2012, 06:59 PM   #1
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Focal lengths and large format - Noob Questions

I was recently reading an article by Ken Rockwell on Large(r) format (Film Formats Compared) which led me to a review of the Mamiya 6 which he highly regards (Mamiya 6).

I could not help noticing that this "recommended for landscape" camera has lens sizes of: 50mm, 75mm and 150mm: however, it is my understanding that wide-angle lenses are most highly treasured for landscape photography.

Do lenses of these focal lengths behave differently on a large/medium format camera in comparison to a 35mm camera? I am sure the focal length and picture projection must change somehow with the larger frame, but I am too inexperienced to understand how...

Incidentally, are large format camera's really the quantum leap ahead of 35mm for landscape photography as Ken Rockwell claims?

Thanks for the help,
Dave



P.S.: I apologize for the non-Pentax content here, but that bit is really besides the point of my question...

01-02-2012, 07:45 PM   #2
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I owned a Mamiya 6 with the three lenses years ago. The 50mm was equivalent of a 28mm, the 75mm of a 50mm, and the 150mm was roughly a 90mm in 35mm format. As far as image quality, the camera was great, the lenses were superb. The medium format images it could produce were exemplary, and the differences were more noticeable the more you enlarged the image. I wish they made a digital equivalent (at non Leica prices). The 50mm worked well for landscapes for me. The big difference in the Mamiya 7 were the 6x7 format as opposed to 6x6, and the addition of the 43mm wide angle, roughly equivalent to a 22mm lens on 35mm.
While the images could be easily surpassed by larger formats like 4x5 and up, you won't get better image quality in such a small package anywhere. Yes, it was that good, and still commands a high price today. If you still use film this is a great choice. Matt
01-02-2012, 08:15 PM   #3
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I remember seeing a table comparing field of view across the APS-c, Full Frame, 645 and 6x7, that I believe Adam or Ole had posted some time ago. I don't seem to be able to find it now......

01-02-2012, 08:56 PM   #4
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The Mamiya 6 is a great camera--I owned 2. The 50mm is about a 27mm on 35mm, the 75mm about 40mm, and the 150mm is 80mm. The collapsable lens mount is really great. And the jump in quality from 35mm to medium format (large format starts at 4x5 sheet film) is very large. But there are plenty of medium format cameras out their. The Mamiya 6 is a rangefinder which has its own set of limitations--close focus and parallax, for example. You also want to make sure the rangefinder is not out of collimation or it will not focus properly--I had to send my 6s back a couple of times over a 10+ year period to have the rangefinder calibrated. I also needed to send the 150mm back to get the lens cam calibrated--be careful not to have the body calibrated to an uncalibrated lens, that just makes focus off for the other lenses. I did not use the 150mm much--long focal lengths on a rangefinder are not easy to use. The 75mm and 50mm lenses are excellent. I still have one of my 6s with the 75mm lens.

The easiest way to compare formats is to divide the focal length by the length of the format image diagonal. That product can be used to calculate equivalent focal lengths. For example the diagonal of a 6x6 is 80mm--75mm/80mm=0.9375. The diagonal of 35mm is about 43mm. 43mm x 0.9375 = 40mm.

01-03-2012, 09:37 AM   #5
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Yamanobori>> Thanks for that, I had a feeling there would be a straight forward mathematical relation.

I am really doing the typical plan for your next purchase sort of thing, even though I am a beginner and a few years away from the thousands of dollars a Mamiya set-up would seem to be demanding. You guys are definitely right about them holding value. It also seems there is a general consensus that the Mamiya 6 or 7 is a brilliant camera.

For myself, I really enjoy film and am focusing entirely on black and white at the moment. I don't really see this changing over the years and have already made some inquiries into the use of a darkroom at my school. As such digital is not really my thing. Also, I enjoy landscapes, cityscapes and architecture. I occasionally go backpacking, so I will be taking my new hobby with me. I have little interest in shooting people or studio work.

The Mamiya 6 or 7 seems to fit the bill nicely, but is there a Pentax medium-format that has the same portability and low(er) weight? Are the Pentax lenses for medium format of comparable quality?
01-03-2012, 09:50 AM   #6
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No Pentax Medium format could be termed compact (or lower weight by mamya RF standards)
Aside from the Mamitya 6 abnd 7 there is also the mamiya press series (23 and Super 23) which precede the 6/7. the can tkae 6x7 and 6x9 backs as well as 6x9 sheet film backs. they also have some tilt shift functionality with the cut film backs.they are a lot older and will likely need service when you find them (mine did)
super 23



Aside from that there are also a number of very capable Medium format RF from Fuji shooting from 645 to 6x12

and then there is the Bronica RF645 also a great camera (though the standard shooting orientation is portrait not landscape mode)
01-03-2012, 09:51 AM   #7
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The Mamiya 6 is a medium format camera and produces an approximate square 6x6 cm image projected on 120 roll film. Mamiya also makes the 7/7II which is a 6x7 format. I have the M7II and its a fine camera but rangefinders have advantages and disadvantages too. They make for a good street and backpacking camera.

Yes, with film, size matters when it comes to image and tone quality.
01-03-2012, 10:02 AM   #8
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I'd go with the Pentax 67II and its superb lenses. Mamiya has great lenses, too, no question about that, but the Mamiya 7 with its standard 80mm still is quite expensive (1000+ Euros) whereas you can get the 67II body for around 500 to 600 Euros, add the 55-100 zoom to it and you have a great system. Heavy but, to my knowledge, better for landscape than the M7 which is, tuco said it, more of a street cam to me.

Ian Cameron uses (or used to use) the 67II and the zoom. Terrific pics.

01-03-2012, 10:23 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by David-C Quote
The Mamiya 6 or 7 seems to fit the bill nicely, but is there a Pentax medium-format that has the same portability and low(er) weight? Are the Pentax lenses for medium format of comparable quality?
The Mamiya 6/7 is probably the lightest medium-format camera you can get (the Pentax 67 is a tank). And the 6's collapsing mount, makes it one of the most portable. A Bronica 645RF might be smaller and a brilliant camera with the quirk that the camera held horizontally will make vertical images. You can also look at Fuji's 6x4.5, 6x8, and 6x9 rangefinders, but the lenses are fixed.

But there is no question that the Mamiya 6 and 7 are probably the best medium-format rangefinder cameras made. Great for landscape and documentary work. I carried my 6 up mountains and around the world. If it had not been so impractical to keep running my color darkroom, I would still be carrying them.
01-03-2012, 10:24 AM   #10
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Note too for landscape, these M6/M7 don't need a very large tripod at all thereby making them excellent for hauling by foot long distances to get those landscapes. My M7II with 43mm lens weighs less than a k-5 with a 16-50mm zoom lens on it and you can easily get by with a compact tripod.
01-04-2012, 06:23 PM   #11
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Tuco>> You bring up an excellent point there, in my musings I had not thought to consider the tripod.

Phonoline>> I checked out the link you posted. That guys work is brilliant to the point of making a comparison between Pentax 67II performance and Mamiya performance a moot point. Also, Ian Cameron obviously manages to move his gear around without much trouble.

From what I can tell, the Mamiya super 23 and associated lenses are of a comparable price to the Pentax 67II and lenses. In about two years I will have to re-evaluate price and budget and make a final decision then. For now I really appreciate all of the opinions and experiences you all have shared with me.

If you don't mind me posing just a couple more questions to this thread:

Am I correct in assuming that Rangefinders induce effectively no "shake" at the time the shutter is released, due to the lack of a moving mirror?

The reference to close focus and rangefinders: Is this indicating that as you get closer to the subject the parallax becomes more pronounced? This I'm presuming is due to a growing difference between the "angle of incidence with the lens" and the "angle of incidence with the prism"? How bad is it in your experience?

Thanks again.
Dave
01-04-2012, 07:10 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by David-C Quote
Am I correct in assuming that Rangefinders induce effectively no "shake" at the time the shutter is released, due to the lack of a moving mirror?
Yes, and they are quieter. The shutter is also electronic on the 6/7 and so you do not need a lot of pressure to fire it.

QuoteQuote:
The reference to close focus and rangefinders: Is this indicating that as you get closer to the subject the parallax becomes more pronounced? This I'm presuming is due to a growing difference between the "angle of incidence with the lens" and the "angle of incidence with the prism"? How bad is it in your experience?

Thanks again.
Dave
The minimum focus distance with the Mamiya 6 75mm and 50mm is 1m, which is consistent with the normal and short lenses. The minimum focus distance with the 150mm is 1.5m and the 210mm on the 7 is a little over 2m.

Yes, because the viewfinder and lens are on a optical axis, you get parallax. It is not bad and you get used to compensating for it. Rangefinder and viewfinder framing is not as accurate as an SLR, but I found the Mamiya 6 viewfinder very good. If you are a control freak, and I mean that in the nicest sense, you may find a rangefinder a little too loose and goosey.

I have always used a handheld meter with the Mamiya 6. I found that the most accurate way of getting the exposure--the in camera meter can easily fooled in complex lighting. But I have also had a great deal of experience with separate light meters as I started using them in 1984--the same one in fact, a Gossen Luna Pro SBC.
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