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06-25-2008, 04:07 PM   #1
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Entry level Pentax 67?

I've been reading with interest on the imaging abilities of the medium format camera, especially for landscape work. I've checked KEH and others for Pentax mediums and the prices seem to run all over the board. I have no idea what to be looking at if I want to simply dabble in medium format landscape shooting. I'd like to buy Pentax, but if there's a better entry level model, I would like to hear about it.

What would be gear to look at if I wanted to simply "try out" the medium without going over the deep end? What lens/viewfinder accessories should I consider?

Thanks in advance for your opinions!

germar

06-25-2008, 05:23 PM   #2
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The original 6x7 didn't have a mirror lock up. Avoid them. Any 6x7 with mirror lock up should do well for you, but there are a couple of considerations. The film advance is clutched somewhat, and is prone to wear. Kodak T-Max film, which was very popular with medium format shooters for reasons unkonwn to me, was a little thicker than other films, and a little stiffer, and was harder on the film transport.
My 6x7 went from having perfect film advance to needing an adjustment within 50 rolls of T-Max 100...
The first roll of film you shoot should be inspected for even frame spacing. If the frame spacing is overly erratic (some is acceptable), then the film advance needs work.
Also on the orinial 6x7 bodies, there was a very fine chain that ran the light meter. This chain is rather fragile.
I believe Pentax recommended that the meter prism not be mounted to a body that had a lens on it, as this could damage the chain mechanism.
This is a very difficult repair, so if you decide to get a meter prismed 6x7, be aware of this. I don't know of any way to check for damage other than to see if the meter deflects as the aperture is changed.
The meter prism came with a thumb wheel that went onto the shutter speed dial before the prism was mounted. Make sure your meter prism includes it. If the seller is trying to sell it seperately, he isn't playing fair.
I expect older 6x7s will be fairly inexpensive now, as they were superceded some time ago by the 67, and 67II. I never bothered with the newer versions, as to my mind, all they offered was automatic metering, which wasn't important to me with that format.
There are whole slew of inexpensive medium format rangefinders out there. Fuji made some excellent 645 rangefinder cameras, but IIRC, they didn't have interchangable lenses.
Also, don't discount the Mamiya and Pentax 645 medium format cameras. The Mamiya 645s are all very nice, the RB67, while a fine camera, is not my idea of a landscape camera due to its size and weight, which I recall is substantially heavier than a 6x7 Pentax.
06-25-2008, 05:47 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Also, don't discount the Mamiya and Pentax 645 medium format cameras. The Mamiya 645s are all very nice, the RB67, while a fine camera, is not my idea of a landscape camera due to its size and weight, which I recall is substantially heavier than a 6x7 Pentax.
You are right about the Mamiya RB being heavy, but if you are shooting landscape, it's best to use a tripod anyway - unless you're referencing lugging the camera there and back.

The RB67 is/was an excellent camera and you can get some great buys on ebay. It was superseded by the RZ. The biggest draw back was it came standard with nothing - just the body. No lens, not even a back. Of course if you were buying a second body, this wasn't an issue, and sellers quickly began offering them complete with back and lens. The standard viewer was the flip up model that looked similar to the old twin lens Mamiya's. A prism viewer was optional and easy to add. The number of back options became pretty fantastic: 120, 220, Polaroid, and even a bulk film and motorized back. I often wondered why no one came up with a digital sensor back like they did for Hasselblad, but suspect money played a huge roll.

Last edited by Tom S.; 06-26-2008 at 05:34 AM.
06-25-2008, 06:01 PM   #4
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The one I have been checking out is the mamiya 645 afd because, if i am correct, it takes digital and film backs

it costs about a grand i think.

06-25-2008, 06:47 PM   #5
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My first "try" with medium format was a yashica 124G, a 6x6 twinlens. The downside is the single focal length lens, and a meter that takes some getting used to. The good is nice big negs, And the lack of a moving mirror, small size and square format so you don't need to rotate for vertical, make it easy to handle at slow shutter speeds, and lightwieght tripods work very well. I've always wanted a mamiya twin lens with interchangable lenses.
Ryan
06-25-2008, 08:32 PM   #6
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I am just popping in to read along as I too am ready to jump into the medium format realm
06-26-2008, 03:34 AM   #7
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First, I'd like to tell anyone looking at MF SLRs, especially Pentax 67, but the other brands: go find a store or someplace to actually SEE and FEEL the damn things. They are HUGE. There was a 6x7 set at the camera store the other weekend, and the camera wasn't actually that heavy seeming, but it was LARGE. And the lenses were very thick. Gargantuan, coming from 35mm. The Bronicas and Mamiyas are also very heavy, larger than they may look in a photo.

Just so you know what you're getting into. I think one does adapt to the size scale quickly, it's just funny...

The non-interchangeable MFs tend to be smaller and lighter. A decent TLR is a great way to get started... I did a phylogeny / ontogeny thing: started out with a couple of folders, couldn't get over the conditioning for focusing/framing so that lead me to a couple of TLRs. Eventually I'll get to either a SLR or one of the Fujis.
06-26-2008, 05:24 AM   #8
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What about lenses?

Thanks for the feedback, all excellent.

What about lenses? I see used "kits" that have 90-105 lenses on them. Is that the normal lens for this format? Does that change from 6x7 to 645?

Also, my home scanner will take 120mm format negs. So I need to find something that comes with a 120mm back, correct?

Again, thanks in advance for the guidance.

germar

06-26-2008, 06:35 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote

Also, my home scanner will take 120mm format negs. So I need to find something that comes with a 120mm back, correct?
120 and 220 film differ primarily in the length of the roll of film; there is no difference between the size of the individual negatives produced. If your scanner will take 120 it will also take 220.
06-26-2008, 06:36 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by germar Quote
Thanks for the feedback, all excellent.

What about lenses? I see used "kits" that have 90-105 lenses on them. Is that the normal lens for this format? Does that change from 6x7 to 645?

Also, my home scanner will take 120mm format negs. So I need to find something that comes with a 120mm back, correct?

Again, thanks in advance for the guidance.

germar
The 6x6/645 format standard lens is ~75mm, 6x7 is 105mm. The 90mm would be sort of a "wide standard".
The definition of medium format is 120/220 film. 120 film is a strip approximately 3' long with paper backing. 220 film double the length of 120 film, but only has paper on the lead in and lead out. The paper backing protects the film from light when it is out of the camera.
I believe that most MF cameras will only take 120 film with the backs that come standard, and if you want to use 220, you need to buy a back designed for it (the pressure plate is in a different location to accommodate the absence of paper backing on 220 film). The Pentax 6x7 will take either or, there is a sliding adjustment on the camera back to move the pressure plate to where it sould be, and a switch for changing the film counter over to 220, which allows it to count the correct number of frames.
If this all sounds complicated, it isn't. 220 film wasn't really common when MF was popular with the pro boys. Now that they have mostly switched over to digital, and aren't shooting film anymore, 220 is rare enough that you will probably only see 120 film anyway.

I have an Epson 2450 scanner which will, in theory, scan film up to 4x5 inches, I've never found it to be satisfactory. Be aware that flatbed scanners aren't necessarily the best solution for scanning film.
06-26-2008, 09:35 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
I have an Epson 2450 scanner which will, in theory, scan film up to 4x5 inches, I've never found it to be satisfactory. Be aware that flatbed scanners aren't necessarily the best solution for scanning film.
Sorry for the thread hi-jack, but why aren't flatbed scanners best?
06-26-2008, 04:08 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom S. Quote
Sorry for the thread hi-jack, but why aren't flatbed scanners best?
Film flatness, focusing problems and bit depth. To be fair, my Epson was, I believe, the first flatbed scanner that they made that would also scan film, and it is several years out of date, so some of the issues may be resolved. I have a friend with an old LEAF drum scanner, one day we compared results from my Epson and his LEAF. It was quite embarrassing how bad the Epson was by comparison.
I don't have a clue about what's available for film scanners for medium and large format film that will give a quality scan. For me, film is best printed in a darkroom, and my intent is to build myself another one this winter and make use of the Beseler 45 dual dichroic enlarger that I bought a few years ago and have not used yet.
06-30-2008, 08:01 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Film flatness, focusing problems and bit depth. To be fair, my Epson was, I believe, the first flatbed scanner that they made that would also scan film, and it is several years out of date, so some of the issues may be resolved. I have a friend with an old LEAF drum scanner, one day we compared results from my Epson and his LEAF. It was quite embarrassing how bad the Epson was by comparison. .
The newer Epson scanners do a reasonable job, i have used both the v700 and the 4990 and find that both do a satisfactory job, and will also do my 5x4s.
06-30-2008, 08:17 AM   #14
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Pentax 67 lenses just keep going down in price making the format more approachable. I'll quickly plug the 67II's...I love 'em. I'm an aperture priority shooter and the AE Pentaprism offers a low-tech matrix metering option which works great with my shooting style--almost all landscape and almost all from a tripod. I select the depth of field by selecting the aperture on the lens, the body selects the shutter speed (I may exposure compensate as well). Exposure accuracy has been extremely trustworthy and the image quality obtainable through medium format glass is stunning. Just be sure to use mirror lock up to minimize vibrations...I usually use a remote release too.
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