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05-02-2016, 08:20 AM   #1
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considering medium format - need advice

I loaded some film into my MZ-7 this weekend, and this Back to the Film movement reignited my old desire to try medium format. To be honest, I don't know anything about medium format, and don't even know how to approach it. A couple of quick searches introduced me to the different 645 models, and the fact that they are cheaper than the 6x7. The problem is that since I've never tried it, I am not sure I want to spend around $600 to find out that I don't like it. I tried looking up rentals, but so far found only digital medium format, which is not something I am considering at the moment. If I were to buy something, I guess it would be the cheapest camera possible, which made me think of soviet medium format cameras. A brief look at their forums showed that people say they are great when they work, but it is easy to get a lemon. The cheapest medium format Pentax is the first 645 model. Is this something I should go for as a beginner?

Thank you for any advice!

05-02-2016, 09:10 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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That is what I did. I got a 645 with the 75/2.8 lens for a few hundred dollars. It's been great and I still shoot it now and then. The older prime lenses are pretty affordable (especially the 45/2.8 and 200/4) and then if you really want to commit they will work on a modern digital body too. I still love running a roll of Tri-X or Velvia through it when the mood strikes.
05-02-2016, 09:51 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattb123 Quote
That is what I did. I got a 645 with the 75/2.8 lens for a few hundred dollars. It's been great and I still shoot it now and then. The older prime lenses are pretty affordable (especially the 45/2.8 and 200/4) and then if you really want to commit they will work on a modern digital body too. I still love running a roll of Tri-X or Velvia through it when the mood strikes.
Here is a cheap one, but really, I have no idea if there is anything wrong with it. Aside from the missing lens... I need an adapter to put a 6x7 lens on the 645 body, right?

Pentax 645 Medium Format Film Camera Body 120 Film Holder From Japan 612 1 027075210653 | eBay
05-02-2016, 10:02 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
Here is a cheap one, but really, I have no idea if there is anything wrong with it. Aside from the missing lens... I need an adapter to put a 6x7 lens on the 645 body, right?

Pentax 645 Medium Format Film Camera Body 120 Film Holder From Japan 612 1 027075210653 | eBay
My opinion is that this is not the right camera model for someone just getting into medium format, with no experience in it. I advise looking at the 645N or 645NII models. But what I really advise is getting one of the fixed lens (prime or zoom) Fuji 645 models, or even the 6x7 ones. Great cameras, compact (the 645's, at least), easy to use (although you might want a separate meter...), should be good prices if you look hard enough.

05-02-2016, 10:10 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
My opinion is that this is not the right camera model for someone just getting into medium format, with no experience in it. I advise looking at the 645N or 645NII models.
I think the Pentax 645 is an excellent choice for someone just getting into medium format. The 645N doesn't add much except autofocus, and you pay a premium for AF lenses.
The push button controls aren't the best, but they work well once you get used to it.

---------- Post added 05-02-2016 at 10:20 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
Here is a cheap one, but really, I have no idea if there is anything wrong with it. Aside from the missing lens... I need an adapter to put a 6x7 lens on the 645 body, right?

Pentax 645 Medium Format Film Camera Body 120 Film Holder From Japan 612 1 027075210653 | eBay
The body you posted is missing the grip. The grip is removable, but the camera will not function at all without it.
Not really sure why the grip is removable...
05-02-2016, 10:38 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
Here is a cheap one, but really, I have no idea if there is anything wrong with it. Aside from the missing lens... I need an adapter to put a 6x7 lens on the 645 body, right?

Pentax 645 Medium Format Film Camera Body 120 Film Holder From Japan 612 1 027075210653 | eBay
Yes you need an adaptor for 67 lesnes. I got the Fotodiox one for my 67 300/4 and it has been working very well. That is another good value of a lens as well.

QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
My opinion is that this is not the right camera model for someone just getting into medium format, with no experience in it. I advise looking at the 645N or 645NII models. But what I really advise is getting one of the fixed lens (prime or zoom) Fuji 645 models, or even the 6x7 ones. Great cameras, compact (the 645's, at least), easy to use (although you might want a separate meter...), should be good prices if you look hard enough.
I'm curious why you think that.
I found the original P645 easy to use, durable, and reliable. Also it's not very expensive. Not sure what else someone would want when just getting started in MF. I'm still relatively new to the format as well so there's surely a lot I don't know.
05-02-2016, 10:51 AM   #7
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I got into medium format with the 6x7 and it is possible to start with it. The cost above the 645 is nil, especially if you choose the right lenses ( 75 Takumar, 150 Takumar, 200 Pentax). You will probably find the P67 shape more similar to your MZ-7 than the 645. Both the 645 and 6x7 had pro users in mind when designed, so the build quality and reliability are superior to the MZ-7.
05-02-2016, 10:54 AM   #8
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Here's one that looks pretty good. $278 BIN price seems reasonable too. What it doesn't say is if there is a back/film holder included or not so you would want to clarify that but it appears to be a decent buy.
Typically they are included and it's the 120 back.

---------- Post added 05-02-16 at 11:56 AM ----------

If it doesn't come with one KEH has them starting at $47.

05-02-2016, 11:25 AM   #9
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If staying with film:
In my experience it all comes down to film grain ( for b/w) or dye cloud artifacts (for C41).
If you have a smaller monitor and mediocre scanner, it is probably OK to stay with the 35 mm format until those are upgraded.
If you are going to use b/w and make wet prints , then 35mm does a beautiful job.

:There is a good range of 35mm lenses, 35mm film is cheaper than 120, kit is hand carry etc.

After I upgraded to a better scanner, there was a noticable improvement in using 6x7 and 6x9 over the 35mm size.
That is especially when using Ektar 100 and Fuji Pro 160ns on the 6x7.
I don't have any 645 backs and I would question whether the color film artifacts are reduced enough by stepping from 35mm to 645.

I find that film artifacts are the worst on:
larger areas of blue sky, clouds, and the shiny paint on the vintage cars I like to photograph.

If taking "busy" photos and portraits with dof etc, the film artifacts are less of a problem.

If there is any consideration for upgrade path to amateur grade medium format digital in the future,
then I would suggest to consider starting a collection of either Mamiya R_67 (old, heavy and cheap)
or one of the Mamiya 645 series ( more practical size but more costly).

While most mainstream digital backs are not directly interchangeable with film bodies, there are adaptors,
and from my reading Mamiya gives a path to widest range of digital backs, bodies,
legacy lenses and accessories, for cents in the original dollar price.
05-02-2016, 11:36 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Swift1 Quote
I think the Pentax 645 is an excellent choice for someone just getting into medium format. The 645N doesn't add much except autofocus, and you pay a premium for AF lenses.
The push button controls aren't the best, but they work well once you get used to it.
Doesn't the N have improved metering?

I have an original 645 but I rarely use it because it is pretty hefty. But whenever I do I am impressed with the results. They are also generally a lot cheaper than the N models.

Edit:

From Ken Rockwell:

The Pentax 645N adds autofocus, matrix metering, a shutter-speed knob, an exposure compensation knob, a self timer, a much brighter and sharper viewfinder with far more displayed information and film-edge data imprinting! The finder's diopter control clicks in nicely and doesn't move around as it does on the older 645 and other cameras.

The 645N has none of the glaring omissions of the original 645. The 645N allows exposure compensation in third stops, has an auto exposure lock and manual metering reads to thirds of a stop with a six-stop range bar graph!
05-02-2016, 01:34 PM   #11
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Thank you very much for your suggestions. Mamiya seems to be cheaper than Pentax, so that might be a way to try out medium format for me.
05-02-2016, 02:16 PM   #12
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I had a mamiya m645 and three lenses (55mm, 80mm and 150mm). It was a good camera system. Lenses are very good in IQ. I just did not like how it handled.

also take a look at mamiya's TLR camera system. It is another Cheap médium format system to get into and my personal favorite.
05-02-2016, 04:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mr Bassie Quote
The Pentax 645N adds autofocus, matrix metering, a shutter-speed knob, an exposure compensation knob, a self timer, a much brighter and sharper viewfinder with far more displayed information and film-edge data imprinting! The finder's diopter control clicks in nicely and doesn't move around as it does on the older 645 and other cameras.

The 645N has none of the glaring omissions of the original 645. The 645N allows exposure compensation in third stops, has an auto exposure lock and manual metering reads to thirds of a stop with a six-stop range bar graph!
And so that is why I think it is better. The N seemed a much more modern camera when I compared them. It has many of the things we have come to rely on. That said, I still have one film camera: The Fuji GSW690II. Now that is a simple camera----does not even have metering, can't even see TTL, as it's a rangefinder. It does have a leaf shutter, though....But for a beginner in MF I think it's handy to have a few modern conveniences.
05-02-2016, 07:23 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mr Bassie Quote
Doesn't the N have improved metering?

I have an original 645 but I rarely use it because it is pretty hefty. But whenever I do I am impressed with the results. They are also generally a lot cheaper than the N models.

Edit:

From Ken Rockwell:

The Pentax 645N adds autofocus, matrix metering, a shutter-speed knob, an exposure compensation knob, a self timer, a much brighter and sharper viewfinder with far more displayed information and film-edge data imprinting! The finder's diopter control clicks in nicely and doesn't move around as it does on the older 645 and other cameras.

The 645N has none of the glaring omissions of the original 645. The 645N allows exposure compensation in third stops, has an auto exposure lock and manual metering reads to thirds of a stop with a six-stop range bar graph!
In actual use, most of these don't really make a big difference. I have an original 645 and have used a 645N a fair bit. KR makes it sound as if the original wasn't a good camera. I've always found the viewfinder in the original to be excellent. The self timer is handy but not a big deal, the shutter speed knob is just a different mechanism for changing shutter speeds. The exposure data printing is a really cool feature, but not huge.
Having autofocus is the biggest reason I would get the N over the original.
Other than AF, probably the biggest improvement in the N is the battery holder, which is very weak in the original and can be easily broken if not careful.

They are both great cameras...
05-04-2016, 07:38 PM   #15
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This is going to sound like a stupid question, but I am trying to figure out the difference between 67 and 645. The 67 has a bigger format, but both use the same film, right? How does that work? There is also quite a price difference. I see a 645 body listed for $50 canadian on Ebay, but the cheapest 67 goes for around $300. Is it that much better?
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