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07-31-2011, 08:04 PM   #1
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Getting into medium format film

I'm looking into making the jump to medium format film shooting.

I'm going to be testing my father-in-laws Hasselbald 500C/M next month, and after trying it a few times, this camera is top of my list.

I would be happy with this camera and the 80mm lens for medium format photography. I like being able to switch between color and black and white film too.



However, I don't want to discount other options... Pentax 645, Mamiya, Rollei's

If you were making the jump, what would be your choice or top choices and why?

Price is a concern, so I'm definitely interested in keeping this under 1000$

07-31-2011, 08:29 PM   #2
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The least expensive brand to get into would be Pentax body and lenses in a perfect world but it isn't the other brands purely based on price are much more expensive overall.

BUT

if you like the square format look at some TLR offering like Mamiya 330s and similar. There are also cheaper Chinese Seagulls (can't remember their new name) or Russian Lubitel

Last edited by Clicker; 07-31-2011 at 08:34 PM.
07-31-2011, 09:49 PM   #3
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I just got a Pentax 67 camera body and 105 f2.4 lens from ebay for less than $600. I do suggest perhaps renting a camera and lens to see what you like and then go from there. Good luck on the move up to medium format.
08-01-2011, 01:30 AM   #4
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Rollei 6X6 SLR cameras are rather dependant on batteries and become expensive paperweights without them they also do not like getting wet.

I have only worked with mamiya 67 and 645 cameras for a solid week and my lasting impression I got is that they are very awkward to use.

Bronica 6X6 SQ-A cameras are very good IMO very underrated - and some of the Zenzanon PS lenses beat their Zeiss equivalents the 80mm f/2.8 PS is sharper in the corners than the equivalent 80mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens.The Bronica SQ-A has a 1/500th emergency shutter speed for when the battery dies which is very handy.

the pentax 645N and 645NII are superb cameras though I personally have a preference for the NII model.


Last edited by Digitalis; 08-02-2011 at 05:26 AM.
08-01-2011, 07:48 AM   #5
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I've been shooting a Pentax 645 for the past year and have acquired a modest set of A lenses for it. It's been a inexpensive way to get into MF film. I wish I'd held out for a N or NII version though as for one, they both encode the negative with the shot parameters and two, can use auto focus lenses. MF film presents new problems I've had to learn to deal with - like scanning for example. 645 is an odd size and I think I might now actually prefer a square negative like 6x6 or 6x7. Regardless, by going with a 645 camera on the cheep, I've been able to learn a lot. While someday I'd love to own a Pentax 645D, for now my 645 does a lot and rather well at that.

By the way. I was able to get a 645 with a 75mm for about $300. I've added a 45, 55, 135LS, 150, and 200mm, plus extension tubes for about $800.
08-01-2011, 08:25 AM   #6
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I would second the Mamiya TLR option.
There are a number of bodies out there and they are built like a tank.
Plus they allow for a good range of interchangeable lenses; 7 lenses, I believe, from 55mm to 250mm.
Good luck.
08-01-2011, 12:59 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
the pentax 645 and 645NII
And the 645N?


Steve
08-01-2011, 01:37 PM   #8
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The Pentax 645 body handles extremely well. While the control dials are better on the N and NII bodies and the more advanced metering is a nice addition the original Pentax 645 is still quite usable and you could probably pick up a body, lens and back starting at around $300.

I've shot at a couple of medium format film days alongside people with Hasselblad, Mamiya, Bronica and various TLR systems. The Pentax 645 handles and shoots faster than the older manual systems but it lacks interchangeable finders and the ability to swap backs mid roll. If you have more than one back and pre-load them then changing backs at the end of a roll is very fast, but I do miss the ability to shoot more than one film type at once. On the other hand I paid less for a basic Pentax system than a bare Hasselblad 500 series body goes for.

You could get a Pentax 645 body and at least 3 lenses or a 645N with 2 or 3 lenses for less than $1000 without too much work. The various other systems do have their advantages depending on what features you need.

08-01-2011, 03:43 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dj_saunter Quote
I'm looking into making the jump to medium format film shooting.

I'm going to be testing my father-in-laws Hasselbald 500C/M next month, and after trying it a few times, this camera is top of my list.

I would be happy with this camera and the 80mm lens for medium format photography. I like being able to switch between color and black and white film too.

Some years back (six or seven) I purchased a two lens Mamiya 6 outfit from a wedding photographer who went 'all digital.'

I couldn't be happier with this camera. It is, for medium format, very compact and light weight. (Certainly smaller and ighter than most full-frame rigs.) The lenses are razor sharp. (And they all have leaf-shutters.) Film change is fast and easy.

As I recall, I paid $900 for the body with the 75mm normal lens. The 150mm was, I believe, an additional $400. The 50mm wide angle lens tends to be expensive, however.

You might want to check it out, especially if going into the field (landscape) is your thing. It's size and weight make it a very 'packable' camera. The leaf-shutters also provide great versatility for fill-flash. The only disadvantage I can think of is that the camera doesn't have interchangeable backs or cartridges (a mixed blessing.) Though you can't change film mid-roll, with 120 this is not such a big deal. (The camera also shoots 220 and the '6mf' version--the one I have--will take 35mm with an adaptor kit.)

These cameras regularly appear on Ebay.

Oh yes, this is a RANGEFINDER camera. Focusing can be a bit tricky at first. If you want an SLR this is not a camera for you.

Last edited by Byrd-2020; 08-01-2011 at 04:15 PM.
08-01-2011, 10:29 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steinback Quote
You could get a Pentax 645 body and at least 3 lenses or a 645N with 2 or 3 lenses for less than $1000 without too much work. The various other systems do have their advantages depending on what features you need.
That was my conclusion after a little market research on the 645N. I am just finishing up a month with a 645N loaner (from a generous forum member) and am very impressed with the camera. It is easy to shoot with, very quiet and smooth, and very intuitive in use. I am still ambivalent about purchase, but the quality of the gear and/or price is not the matter of concern. The relative light weight and compact package of the Hasselblad is pretty seductive. (The 645N with FA 35/2.8, A 75/2.8, filters, and hoods weighs about 6.5 pounds and occupies 9x8x7 inches in the pack.)


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08-02-2011, 02:51 AM   #11
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The Bronica is seriously seducing me. And the price point might having me jumping to medium format earlier than I expected.

I think it will be be between the hasselblad and bronica. The swapping between color and b+w is something I really want.

It looks a lot easier to find a good condition Bronica at a good price than Hasselblad, which seem to vary in price quite drastically. But Bronica is out of business now so who can predict how long spares will be available.

This is something I love and hate about photography^^
08-02-2011, 05:02 AM   #12
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I think I have paid about 1500 for my 500 C/M three lenses and three extension tubes and that was over a two year period. If you like being able to change film stock whenever you want and the square format the Hasselblad is a fine system and you should be able to sell it for what you paid. The Bronica square system is less expensive to purchase and you would get less for it upon selling and the Rollei is far more electronic so could be more expensive to repair. TLR are limiting, cannot change lenses on any of them other than the Mamiya C series and they are heavy (almost bought one three decades ago just after got a Rolleichord, but passed it on to my friend instead).

If not wanting the square format than you have lots of options, Mamiya, Pentax and Bronica as mentioned above and several Fuji systems as well The Fuji option extends to 6X8 as well just do not look at the GX680 as it is so large it makes the Mamiya RB and RZ look like pocket cameras.

Just remember that you do not have to buy it all at once and whatever system you go for it must be one you will enjoy using. Anything other than perhaps the Keivs will do nicely. Make sure whatever you do buy is in good condition or leave enough in your budget for a CLA. I paid I think 425 for my 500 C/M from a highly respected Hasselblad repair person so it was already freshly done.

Medium format is great and I hope you really enjoy whatever system you decide on.
08-02-2011, 06:24 AM   #13
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And just to be complete...let us not forget to mention the Bessa III. Expensive, yes, but so very nice and compact...and 6x7/6x6 switchable as well.


Steve
08-02-2011, 06:41 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by dj_saunter Quote
I think it will be be between the hasselblad and bronica. The swapping between color and b+w is something I really want.
of course you can get the same effect with two cheaper cameras, just swap the camera to swap the film.

In this hobby - for me at least - there are the triple considerations of 'entry fee', i.e. how much does it cost to buy the bits I'm interested in; how widely available vs. rare these items are; and what the end point 'rent' will be assuming eventually I'd sell.

All the cameras (save the Seagull) are excellent. Some are big and heavy, more for studio, others are lighter and more nimble. Condition and usability are a personal preference, as is one's relationship to the three considerations above.

If P645 has any draw backs, it is this: the availability is, well, Pentax like. The digital body has caused a price jump especially in the wider lenses. The positive is that once you find what you need, the prices aren't going to go down as long as the digital body is around.
08-02-2011, 07:08 AM   #15
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Like Digitalis I would recommend the Bronica system. The drawback is it's an orphaned system, but that's what keeps the price low
My ETRSI kit (40mm,50mm,75mm,150mm 3 back, prism and WL finders, Speed grip and a meter cost me about $850 CDN after careful shopping. and SQ-Ai will operate similarly but cost about $1000 from what i see (6x6 format seems to hold greater appeal)
Since the launch of the 645D the price for Pentax lenses has gone way up so any Pentax kit will be more limited (and no interchangeable back system like the others) - that being said if you think at some point you may make the jump back to MF digital then the pentax has an advantage (as would the mamiya 645 systems and some of the hassy)
The bronica is really compact for MF and is a true workhorse (it was the camera of choice for a lot of wedding guys)
It's probably the only thing in my camera collection i wouldn't give up easily

EDIT; as for the comments on resale value, From what I see the bronica prices have stabilized so resale should be about what you pay from what i see when i track the value of my kit - Actually I could probably sell mine for more than i paid if i was patient
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