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12-12-2018, 03:53 AM - 1 Like   #1
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It's all about the size (of the viewfinder)

As I said somewhere, I don't consider myself a photographer, I don't consider myself even a hobbyist. I'm in this world because I needed an excuse to share time and experiences with my daughter.

BUT, time passes, and you get used to it. Few months after purchasing my first Pentax (the mighty K-5), I noticed I was "seeking" frames around. For me, a good picture is most about the frame (forget the rules, just find a soothing/shocking frame, and you've got me).

More time have passed (five years) and more cameras (K-5IIs, *istDS, MG, a jinx D700, and now a 645D), and I still see photography as "the act to put images on a frame", or better "the act to frame images".

So, after put my hands over the 645D (or better, after put my eye rear its viewfinder) I noticed I take less pictures and just peek through it most of the time. As I said somewhere (and my apologies for the iteration), I like to compose, put the focus where I want and once the click sounds, I lose all interest in the picture.

I reached a conclusion: I don't like pictures the most, I just fell in love with viewfinders. The bigger, the better. The most de-focusing, the better.

The next step, then, is to find the largest viewfinder available. I would spend the rest of my photographic life just walking and looking at my waist


I know some of you (most of you) come from still at the analogic path, and most of you have used these cameras.

As a self-claimed pentaxian, I would love to put my hands on a 67 or a 6x7 just because the brand, but the ones at my range (EU ebay) are out of my economical range (there are a lot of speculators). I must check other options.

I have two different options, and I would love you to give me some experiences about these.

Option 1: the classy and versatile cube
Something like a Kiev 88, in the Hasselblad-like line, but cheaper (I don't care about the quality of the pictures -yet-). My option is to purchase one of these, with a lens and three loaders: BW low ISO, BW high ISO and colour. It will allow me to take the images in any format, and gives me some freedom (less "I cannot take this picture").

Option 2: the oversized FF
Like the Kiev 60 or the Practisix. They are cheaper, and seem less prone to break. I'm not sure if they have other advantages over the cubes. BUT their main disadvantage is you are forced to keep your cartridge until it's full.

Am I missing anything? Any thoughts?

Really, any hint, experience, thought will be highly appreciated.
(and for those suspicious: no, I'm not trolling you, I'm just this weird)

12-12-2018, 05:12 AM - 1 Like   #2
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Way back when I was new at photography, using a Pentax S (with f2.2 preset), I switched for a while to Bronica S2 with 75mm f2.8 Nikkor, 250mm f4 short-mount Nikkor (made for the rangefinder Nikons) and a set of extension tubes. I could never rely on focusing with the camera @ waist-level, only by flipping out the magnifier, and even then it was more difficult to focus than the Pentax.

As to various options: Practisix had some good lenses, but I don't think it had a good reputation for reliability. Cannot say for the Kiev. Bronicas are not too expensive, many models including 6X7 format, reasonable selection of very good lenses, but at least my S2 was not as reliable as it should have been for the price (overly complex mirror mechanism). Hasselblads are way up there in reliability. If you can deal with not having interchangeable lenses, there are many, many TLRs out there. Rolleiflex is the best but $$$, Yashicamat and Minolta are much more reasonable, and the late Yashicas are excellent, more reasonably priced than either 'blads or Rolleis, and more reliable than Practisix or Kiev 60. There is also the Mamiya 6X7 SLR, and their unique interchangeable lens TLR. The former is a MONSTER, IMHO not realistically hand-holdable. The Mamiya TLR is also MUCH bigger than a Rollei, Yashicamat. etc. If I wanted for some strange reason to go back to those beautiful 21/4 negatives, I would look at a TLR if I didn't want to lay out the $$$ for a 'blad or Pentax 6X7.

Last edited by WPRESTO; 12-12-2018 at 05:17 AM.
12-12-2018, 05:18 AM - 1 Like   #3
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12-12-2018, 05:35 AM   #4
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I'd recommend a Japanese 6x6 SLR or TLR over the Kiev 88 or 60 - they were built properly. Rumours abounded at the time that Kievs were re-worked by the UK importer to make them good enough for the 'western' market (even so tales of light leaks on new cameras were frequent). If looking for a 6x6 I'd look at either the Bronica SQ range or Mamiya C330 - the Bronica & Mamiya 6x4.5 are really dependent on a prism finder for verticals. If you want a really big finder, the Mamiya RB/RZ 6x7 might be a good choice.

Hassies are undoubtedly very good cameras, but prone to jamming unless you follow their rules - most Hassie fans claim it's 'user error' but it seems to be a frequent problem. The Rollie 6xxx series is very interesting (IIRC you can 'rotate' the 6x4.5 back) but they rely on bespoke NiCd batteries, most of which have already failed, there are earlier Rollie SLRs that I'm not familiar with.


Last edited by johnha; 12-12-2018 at 06:04 AM.
12-12-2018, 05:37 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Way back when I was new at photography, using a Pentax S (with f2.2 preset), I switched for a while to Bronica S2 with 75mm f2.8 Nikkor, 250mm f4 short-mount Nikkor (made for the rangefinder Nikons) and a set of extension tubes. I could never rely on focusing with the camera @ waist-level, only by flipping out the magnifier, and even then it was more difficult to focus than the Pentax.

As to various options: Practisix had some good lenses, but I don't think it had a good reputation for reliability. Cannot say for the Kiev. Bronicas are not too expensive, many models including 6X7 format, reasonable selection of very good lenses, but at least my S2 was not as reliable as it should have been for the price (overly complex mirror mechanism). Hasselblads are way up there in reliability. If you can deal with not having interchangeable lenses, there are many, many TLRs out there. Rolleiflex is the best but $$$, Yashicamat and Minolta are much more reasonable, and the late Yashicas are excellent, more reasonably priced than either 'blads or Rolleis, and more reliable than Practisix or Kiev 60. There is also the Mamiya 6X7 SLR, and their unique interchangeable lens TLR. The former is a MONSTER, IMHO not realistically hand-holdable. The Mamiya TLR is also MUCH bigger than a Rollei, Yashicamat. etc. If I wanted for some strange reason to go back to those beautiful 21/4 negatives, I would look at a TLR if I didn't want to lay out the $$$ for a 'blad or Pentax 6X7.
Didn't think about the TLRs... I was focused on interchangeable lenses, but I think you'd be right: just for walking and "the feeling" I don't need to exchange lenses (I was thinking in a single 80mm). I suppose I was biased because I thought about pentacon six mounts and the 180 monster to share between analogic and digital cameras.
I'll check those cameras, I liked their finders too.


QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
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I'm not sure if you were joking, but all this crap comes from a local meeting where a colleague carried one of those, just a little smaller...


I must admit I thought seriously about it, but every picture took ages to take, and it's not practical when most of my walks are with colleagues...
12-12-2018, 06:46 AM   #6
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Ricoh should make a FF camera with a 100% viewfinder. That would really sit it apart and it would be an investment in the one thing EVF camera's don't have. The direct optical path. Never mind being compact.
12-12-2018, 07:57 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by VellMerlot Quote
Didn't think about the TLRs... I was focused on interchangeable lenses, but I think you'd be right: just for walking and "the feeling" I don't need to exchange lenses (I was thinking in a single 80mm). I suppose I was biased because I thought about pentacon six mounts and the 180 monster to share between analogic and digital cameras.
I'll check those cameras, I liked their finders too..

Go on EBAY and search YASHICAMAT. I just did and there are many available at very reasonable prices. I think its normal lens was 75mm rather than 80mm (insignificant difference). Also BTW: Way back I spoke to (or read an article by) someone connected to Rollei who noted that in the USA, the Planar f2.8 had a better reputation and was more desirable, while in Europe, the Xenotar f2.8 was more popular. Chances are there's essentially no difference in the performance of these lenses. Also heard people say that the Yashicamat, while not as beautifully constructed as a Rollei, had a lens just as good, but the brand could not make headway against the reputation of MADE IN GERMANY for prestige, so it was always "the poor man's Rolleiflex," only purchased because you couldn't afford "the real thing." Reputations as I've commented many times, you must either live up to, or live them down. Rolleiflex did live up to its reputation, but it rested upon it for too long.
12-12-2018, 09:38 AM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by VellMerlot Quote
...
Am I missing anything? Any thoughts?

Really, any hint, experience, thought will be highly appreciated.
(and for those suspicious: no, I'm not trolling you, I'm just this weird)
Weird is OK . Are you missing anything, well if you just like to look rather than take pictures then you are definitely missing out. Nothing sharpens and focuses the photographic mind like looking at the upside down view of the world via a view or monorail camera under a focussing cloth loupe in hand
Excuse the crepe mock up

https://blog.lesterpickerphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/hood.jpg

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12-12-2018, 09:45 AM   #9
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Yay, but remember, most of my pictures come from walks (some of them long ones) with other people with digital or handled analogical cameras. Usually I cannot tell them "hey! hold on for five minutes while I go under my blanket to look downwards". They will leave me as if I was James May in a trip through Africa...
12-12-2018, 11:02 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by TonyW Quote
Weird is OK . Are you missing anything, well if you just like to look rather than take pictures then you are definitely missing out. Nothing sharpens and focuses the photographic mind like looking at the upside down view of the world via a view or monorail camera under a focussing cloth loupe in hand
Excuse the crepe mock up

https://blog.lesterpickerphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/hood.jpg

I've heard more than once, from those who have used one, that composing on the upside down & backwards glass of a view camera forces you to consider composition = the arrangement of shapes, lines, light & dark of a potential image. With a a typical rangefinder or SLR, it's too easy to concentrate on the main subject and not notice and evaluate everything else that will be included in the final image.
12-12-2018, 11:29 AM - 1 Like   #11
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It's all about the size (of the viewfinder)

If you get a Kiev 60 or 88, spend the money to get one touched up by Arax (araxfoto.com). These should NEVER be bought without return privileges and a warranty.

I have an 88CM-MLU that Arax overhauled, and it works reasonably well of you take a marker and cover up “1000” on the shutter dial. It takes most Pentacon Six lenses, but not all—some can’t insert into the recessed mount far enough. Put an old Hasselblad chimney finder on it—one of the best ways to look through an 88.

The Kiev 60 is built like a cheap alarm clock. It never works really well but it keeps on working. The mirror boxes are shiny and need to be covered with flocking—Arax does that for the camera’s they sell. The plastic Kiev label will eventually melt, too. I have three of them, including one from the final production run in 2000. On my best one, the shutter speeds are over by as much as a stop—which never was a problem for color negative film.

When Arax says “new”, they mean new old stock, but probably tested before they go out. Most of this stuff has been out of production since the turn of the century. Gevorg is a good guy and the last of the quality Kiev dealers, but he can’t work miracles and you have to be prepared to send one back if it isn’t functional (perfect is probably unattainable).

Pentacon Sixes (and this goes also for their more modern incarnation, the Exakta 66) suffer from Excess Design Syndrome. They are designed in a way that requires slightly better production quality than they ever received. Their main weakness is the film advance, which uses a star wheel rotated by the passing film. It can stick on smooth color film, which will desynchronize the film advance. I have a Pentacon Six TL and an Exakta 66 Mk. II and both have suffered that fault from time to time. Also, their prisms are like looking in a cave. Use a waist-level finder, or adapt a Kiev 60 prism (baierfoto at least used to make the adapter). They also made a decent chimney finder if you can find one.

I have never owned a Hasselblad, but I have handled them. They are not quite the measure of the legend, but they are pretty good all the same.

I own a vintage Rolleiflex, and it’s like a fetish object. But TLRs are compact and light, if that’s what you want. Mine is old enough to have a Xenar (the Schneider version of the Tessar), and it’s still pretty darn good. I’d be every bit as happy with a Xenotar as with a Planar in a newer model.

But give me a Pentax 67 any day. More consistent operation, serviceable in the US (if you don’t dawdle), superb lenses. I have three now, with TTL, standard prism, and folding waist-level finders. All are excellent, but the prisms don’t see right to the edge. (They get a lot closer than the Pentacon finders, though.)

To summarize, remember that the Second-World stuff is junque, and adjust expectations accordingly.

Rick “none of these can match a view camera for viewing experience, however” Denney

Last edited by rdenney; 12-12-2018 at 11:50 AM.
12-12-2018, 11:35 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by VellMerlot Quote
Yay, but remember, most of my pictures come from walks (some of them long ones) with other people with digital or handled analogical cameras. Usually I cannot tell them "hey! hold on for five minutes while I go under my blanket to look downwards". They will leave me as if I was James May in a trip through Africa...
Ok. So why mess around with any awkward cameras? Buy (or make!) one of these, set your chosen aspect ratio, close one eye set the distance from your eye to the frame to mimic focal length. Explore to your hearts content and when finished just slip into a shirt pocket.

Clicky

Last edited by TonyW; 12-12-2018 at 12:43 PM.
12-12-2018, 12:01 PM - 1 Like   #13
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That's kind of weird to just like looking through a view finder and pushing a shutter button and not care about nothing else of the image. You don't even have to meter the scene because you don't care if it's a good exposure or not.

So I can see you wouldn't want a view camera. Those are not fun to carry around, setup and look through the ground glass. A very slow process just for viewing. In medium format a Pentax 67 with a waist level finder (aka folding hood) will give you a bigger view than that Hasselblad. And with the WLF on that P67, it will weigh about the same as that Hasselblad and a more convenient size to carry around.
12-12-2018, 12:25 PM - 1 Like   #14
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Super sized viewfinder

Check out the later models of the Crown & Super Graphic in 4x5 WITHOUT focal plane shutter. Have to develop some serious arm muscles but much easier to use than a view camera. If you want to take the picture you see, must insert 4x5 film holder (which costs almost same as camera). The Kodak Ektars (127 to 210 mm) are super sharp. The later Kodak lenses are almost as good but bigger apertures. I used a Speed Graphic 4x5 in Army (shortly after Civil War?) for publicity shots complete with monster flash bulbs. Would take 1 pix with Graphic then ask for some backup shots with Spotmatic which were actually used for release. Great joy when the official unit photog dropped the Graphic overboard in a helicopter hard landing - maybe deliberately. As a much lighter & cheaper option, get a movie director's framing scope. Good hunting.
12-12-2018, 12:50 PM   #15
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Jokes apart, I care about the pictures, but not much really. It's the process of taking them that makes me feel fine. So it discards @ToniW advice (although it's welcomed).

I am catalan, so my market prices are the european sellers' ones. It means speculation, speculation, speculation and the cheapest P67 is over 500€, just the body. I can have a TLR for less than 100€, and it comes with the lens :P

@rdenney I'm looking the Arax site... it's still more expensive than I want to spend "on an experiment", but looks pretty impressive.

@zoneV the cameras I find under that name have just a small viewfinder.
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