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08-30-2016, 03:38 PM   #1
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Thinking of going Medium Format... need suggestions

I've been thinking about adding a new camera to my collection. I have a K-5 which has been like a trusty sidekick for the last few years. I have an irrational emotional connection to my K-5. I'm considering the new K-1, but also I'm thinking maybe it's time to go medium format instead. Plus I loves me some film. I've narrowed it down to a few options:
  • Waist-level viewfinder camera, such as the Mamiya RB67 Pro II or Hasselblad. I guess these cameras are beasts. Due to their clunky nature and slow setup, I would expect them to augment my existing setup. Not a good walking around camera I'm assuming, I'd probably still use my K-5 and 35mm for travel, snapshots, street photography, etc.
  • Medium format SLR, such as Pentax 645 or Mamiya 645. These cameras are tempting but I'm not sure how well they'd do for all-day shooting. Not sure if this would be a replacement for my 35mm. I also heard that the large mirror and shutter are noisy and make hand-holding at slow shutter speeds tricky. I also understand that waist-level finders are available for some of these cameras in case I want to give that a go.
  • The rangefinder, such as the Fuji GF670 or Mamiya 6 or 7. Rangefinders seem to offer good portability, although I heard they're not good for serious shooting, I think mostly due to the inaccurate framing (I think). Again, maaaybe a replacement for my 35mm??? I've never used a rangefinder, so I'm not sure what to expect in terms of framing, focusing, and metering.
I'm not really considering a TLR since they don't seem to have any real benefits over waist-level viewfinder cameras like the Hasselblad. And, yes I know that all these cameras are in different price ranges, but bear with me. I've also never used any medium format camera, so all opinions are welcome.

08-30-2016, 04:08 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by turboast4 Quote
Waist-level viewfinder camera, such as the Mamiya RB67 Pro II
The RB67 is an SLR with interchangeable lenses, each having an in-lens leaf shutter.
08-30-2016, 04:35 PM   #3
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I have a k-5 and I recently got a 645, which has become a replacement for the 35. I really like the 645 and the quality of the photos it produces. It is not too bad carrying both of them for a day, although I found the last time I did it, I had a CZJ Sonnar 180mm lens on the 645 and that combination is a bit heavy. Just the lens is 1.5 kg... Haven't tried those other cameras, so can't comment, but I really feel like the 645 is replacing my 35mm camera. I usually take either k-5 and 645 or the MZ-7...
08-30-2016, 06:25 PM   #4
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I have shot with a Mamiya 6 and a number of other fine medium format rangefinders, and whoever told you that MF rangefinders are not serious cameras/not for serious shooting is simply full of it. Hassies, RB67s and many other waist-level finder SLR cameras can be equipped with eye-level metering finders. I shoot with a number of MF cameras, but my go-to outfit is a Zenza Bronica GS-1 with either a normal (105mm) lens or a wide-angle (45mm) and a pretty accurate eye-level finder. It's not light, but it's manageable (the GS-1 outfit is much lighter than the RB67). I also shoot with a Mamiya 645 (once again, with normal and wide angle lenses). I do not recommend telephotos for medium format work unless you are doing portrait shooting with a tripod. MF telephotos are very heavy and their shallow depth of field is quite unforgiving for small focusing errors. I also like 6x7 much better that 6x6. 645 is fine, but the normal orientation of the camera is portrait, which to me is a minus.

Shooting MF will require some adjustment, especially if you are moving from a smallish APS-C sensor. DOF is inversely proportional to the surface area of the sensor, so manual focusing takes some getting used to. If you can afford a Contax 645AF, that would make things a bit easier. I personally learned MF using a Mamiya 6 rangefinder with a 75mm normal lens.

These are a couple of examples of photos taken with the GS-1 and the 645.
https://flic.kr/p/d5mrVo
https://flic.kr/p/a8LeaN


Last edited by ggrpitt; 08-31-2016 at 09:28 AM.
08-30-2016, 06:59 PM   #5
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You should consider a Pentax 6x7/67/67II, handles just like a BIG 35mm SLR. Great set of lenses/finders/focusing screens to choose from as well.

A 6x7 positive on a light table is a thing of beauty!

Phil.
08-30-2016, 09:13 PM   #6
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ahh yes good thread, Have been debating whether to get a 645 or 6x7 or one of the variants. 645 might be a little more easily handled out and about perhaps.
08-31-2016, 05:41 AM   #7
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Well I'm sure you'll be happy with any of the choices being as you already have an idea what you will be getting into by purchasing any of those choices.

I started with the 67II because i wanted the largest negative possible. I added the 645n because I wanted something more handheld/potable. So if you want something more portable I'd start with a 645, its pretty comparable to carrying a DSLR rig. You may eventually want the even larger negative of the 67 at some point, and the weight doesn't have to be a big deal, I like to hike with just my 45mm and 165mm for the 67 and keep it somewhat portable.

One thing to consider is that you can build up your 645 glass and upgrade the digital body to a 645D or Z.
Another thing to point out is that the 67 glass can be picked up for a song these days.

09-05-2016, 05:17 AM   #8
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Good responses, thanks everyone for all the input.


I feel like I'd prefer the larger 67 format, but the Pentax 645 system is sounding more and more tempting. The Mamiya 67 is a pretty badass camera, but I'm not sure I'd really feel like carrying it around everywhere.


How does the Pentax 645 do with handheld shooting?
09-05-2016, 07:10 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by turboast4 Quote
How does the Pentax 645 do with handheld shooting?
It was designed for people who want a small format shooting style so it does well. The only reason 645 is called medium format because its uses 120 roll film but otherwise it is still a pretty small negative among all the cameras that project an image on 120 roll film.
09-05-2016, 06:16 PM   #10
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If you'd like a big negative on roll film, shoot 6x17. Or find a Cirkut camera. No matter what you choose, there's always something else with a bigger format. You're going to face the same issue with any of these systems: how to get from 120 film to whatever output you're after. Enlarge? Scan? DIY or lab? How big?

As much as I'd like a bigger image than what I get with the Pentax 645n, it's still a big negative, about 2.7 times the area of a 35mm negative. 6x7 is about 1.7 times the area of 645; a significant jump, but not as big a jump as from 35mm to 645. The Pentax 645 system is a great value, if you like the lenses in the system. If you want shallow DOF you might wish for a Pentax 67 with the 105/2.4 instead.

The shutter/mirror return sound isn't bad on the P645, it's the film advance motor that is really noticeable. So it's not a stealth camera by any means. But neither is the P67.
09-06-2016, 12:21 PM   #11
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If you're sticking to the same aspect ratio, the next size up from 645 is 6x9. And that is more than 1.7 times the area.

As a general rule, the bigger the negative the slower you shoot. Even my 6x9 rangefinder can be slower than a 645 rangefinder because you will spend more time changing out rolls of film at 8 frames per 120 roll of film on a 6x9.
09-06-2016, 01:01 PM   #12
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I shoot APS-C digital, 35mm film and medium format film.

No medium format camera will replace 35mm for the ability to take a shot quickly. The closest you'll get would be a 645 SLR of some kind, and a wast-level finder would be slower to use than an eye-level one. My Pentax 645 (the original model) is not bad in this respect, but it's much bigger than a 35mm and it makes much more noise when shooting. Shake is not a problem - the mechanism is extremely well damped. It's comfortable to use all day, but not so much as a 35mm is.

For travel I use either 6x6 folding cameras because of their small size and light weight (but they're not very flexible in what can be done with them) or one of my two Yashica Mat 124Gs, almost never my 645. The 124G is a 6x6 TLR and despite producing a larger negative, is slightly smaller and considerably lighter than the 645. It's still not small but it's not bad. It's also quite unobtrusive because of the WL finder and has a quiet shutter - one advantage it has over an SLR with a WL finder.

So, it depends on what you want to do with it. Everything is a trade-off - size, weight, negative size, speed of use, flexibility etc etc. There's no one camera that will do everything well.
09-06-2016, 02:35 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
If you're sticking to the same aspect ratio, the next size up from 645 is 6x9. And that is more than 1.7 times the area.
Double, in fact. (More or less; the MF numbering convention is hardly exact.) OP seems to want a system camera so 6x9 options are limited. Press cameras; any other 6x9 sytems?

Some 6x6 shooters say they like shooting square format and leaving cropping decisions for later. Crop a 6x6 and what you're left with is rather like 645.
09-06-2016, 02:36 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by baro-nite Quote
DPress cameras; any other 6x9 sytems?
Right in my signature. Fuji, the Texas Leica.
09-06-2016, 04:35 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Consider the Fuji GX680. It is basically a 6x9 that isn't lying about it's negative size. It is unlikely you would shoot it hand-held.
I love my Kodak Medalist II. It is a heavy 6x9 rangefinder beast. You won't find a more "serious" camera in its class.
If you just want to fool around with 6x9, get an Agfa Clack or an Ansco Pioneer. Then decide if you need something that weighs 10x more.
If any of this sounds daunting, the Pentax 645, 645n, and 645nII will shoot hand-held all day long without wearing you out.
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