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Old 11-04-2018, 05:14 PM
Johndeere Johndeere is offline
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Default The search for a medium format camera

I know nothing about a medium format camera. That was my first problem when deciding to finally get into medium format. The second problem was I did not understand the film size. I knew what 120 and 220 film was, however what was that 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 and so on.

Then there were Twin Reflx, range finder, box, fixed lens, folding so just deciding on a camera or system was perplexing.

So where do you start?

Well you start reading, asking questions and do a heck of a lot of research.

I'm in that stage of researching right now. I'm leaning towards 120 film. The main reason there are more film choices. I think i want either 6x7 or 6x9. The reason is you have a larger negative size.

Next I am really stuck on the camera. I simply don't know what I want. I have ruled out the twin reflex lens. I have one of those and it doesn't work for me. My issue is that I don't like a top focus view finder. In addition they feel unbalanced in my hands. Don't get me wrong my Yashica takes great photographs.

If I get time I will try to update this thread so maybe it will help others who want to move into medium format.
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Old 11-04-2018, 09:44 PM
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Jim Jones Jim Jones is offline
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I agree that 6x7 or 6x9 is a better format than the smaller ones. 6x9 is a familiar ratio to us who were raised on 35mm. One may crop a little from the ends to fit many frames or mats, but we have that extra width for some scenics. Distortion free vertical captures of buildings and other tall structures are practical by cropping the bottom. Cameras in that format have been made for about a century. The better old ones have decent lenses, although uncoated lenses have to be used carefully to reduce glare. As 35mm began to displace 120, lens designers concentrated on lenses for the smaller cameras. We now have super fast, extra wide angle, and wide ratio zoom lenses for them. Comparable lenses for 120 are often bulky and heavy. 120 cameras with the flexibility of true view cameras are scarce. Many photographers are content to do without these features. For them, a compact folding 120 with one of the better lenses can produce impressive enlargements with a modest investment. Some fit in a pocket, while my 3/4 digital outfit weighs 3.5 lbs. I must admit that most of my photography has been done on 35mm or 4x5 film or digital, and rarely on 120. If I didn't have 4x5 equipment, 120 would have been much more logical.
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Old 11-04-2018, 11:29 PM
Johndeere Johndeere is offline
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Winger and I may try to get together. If we do she will let me try her MF bodies. She mentioned something about sheet film too. Maybe I will get an even bigger treat.

Another factor on the search is price. Bronica just about leads in this department. I also noticed a lot of the cameras on eBay have seen some heavy use.

My top two manufactures that I am researching is Pentax and Bronica. The reason is a combination of what I want and price. I am spending a lot of time reading camera reviews.

I will get to try a Pentax 645 and Hasselblad 503cxi.

I'm excited, there is just so much fun to have when you don't get stuck on one single format or medium.
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Old 11-05-2018, 03:56 AM
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Bethe uses a light weight 4x5 Chamonix from China, and does some good work with it. Over several decades I've accumulated a variety of 4x5 and 5x7 cameras. Some decent older ones can be bought used for little over $100 without lenses after careful shopping. Some older but good lenses may cost a bit more than that. Large format cries for a sturdy tripod, but a photographer should have that for smaller cameras anyhow.

Last edited by Jim Jones; 11-05-2018 at 04:00 AM..
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Old 11-06-2018, 12:59 PM
Johndeere Johndeere is offline
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Lol I now waiver between several brands and actual size. The top contenders change each day. The leading brands right now are Pentax and Bronica. What I have found out there are key differences in each of the models. For me I like the second or third updated model in each line.

I spend most of my time split between researching each model and trying to figure out if there is a large difference between a 6x4.5 and 6x7 negative in real life. Do I want and older or newer body. Do I want to be able to change rolls mid stream. Are the number of shots on a roll that important to me.

Pricing is all over the place. Does that mean you get what you pay for?

My process is slow by intention. I call it learning before you buy.
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Old 11-08-2018, 11:03 PM
Johndeere Johndeere is offline
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I think I may have decided on a body. I did decide that I would go with a 6x7. That brought three contenders into the search. Mamiya RZ 67, Pentax 6x7 or 67 and the Bronica GS-1.

The GS -1 is the leading candidate. I settled on what I liked. To be honest price and condition was a factor. You get a better camera cor the buck. To get the same with the other two cameras the price is two times or more the cost of a GS-1.

I did not care for the bellows focusing with the RD 67 so this killed this body. A personal preference but not what i wanted for my first MF camera. I just love the Pentax but so does everyone else thus they are expensive. I could get the Pentax 6 x 7 but they are well used and everyone that was reasonable lead with dust in finder and lens. Again not what I wanted.

The GS-1 fits just about every thing I want.

I can not even count how many reviews and instruction books I read.

Now I have to find one that is in the condition and price that I want to spend.
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Old 11-09-2018, 05:15 PM
Johndeere Johndeere is offline
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I just got back the two rolls that I shot with my Yashica A. Wow!!!!!

I have no idea why I waited over 5 years to run some film through that body.


Look I love both film and digital. I have been a very big fan of the 35 film format.

That all ended today. What a difference. I am now a 120 medium format convert. That changes my entire thought process on my search for a medium format camera.

Nothing compares to the photographs I have taken on a simple TRL body and 120 roll film.
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Old 11-12-2018, 01:31 AM
Johndeere Johndeere is offline
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The range finder. First of all they are a nice concept. However they have way to many short comings for what I want. They were designed for short rolls leased or rented to tourist. A short roll was a half roll of 120 or 220. They can use full rolls but the idea was to have a camera that tourist could use to take a few shots. They took a bus to a place, hot out took a few shots got back on the bus and left with their film. That is the short version of why range finder for MF became a big thing.

The two popular brands are Mamyia and Fuji though IMHO Bronica made the better one of the three. Most come with a fixed lens.

Now the short coming is in the lens and shutter speed. You are limit to smaller f stops and slow shutter speeds. No bokeh and bright days can be a problem. The camera is really best at doing landscapes. That's just to limiting for me and doesn't fit my need.

On top of that expect to pay $1,000 or more. Just a lot of money for a plastic body that has too many short comings for me.

Other than that they are neat cameras and if I wanted a second system it might be my choice.
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Old 11-12-2018, 03:09 AM
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When rangefinder 120 cameras were more popular, the major camera makers produced some fine ones. The Kodak Medalist and the Kodak Medalist II have a loyal following. They were produced for the military services in WWII and for civilians for several years afterwards. They are limited in having a fixed, but fine, lens when Kodak products were among the best in the World. The Medalist is large, heavy, bulky, and to me ugly. However, it's the look of the pictures, not the look of the camera that should matter.

Zeiss Ikon produced some neat compact folding rangefinder cameras for 120 film. I still regret not spending my last $40 on one many decades ago. It was fitted with a Tessar formula lens, but a few of the finest lenses I rigorously tested were also that formula.

A few of the old Japanese camera makers also made rangefinder roll film cameras. I would expect them to also be good.

Someone wanting a 120 roll film camera with more versatility can try the small Speed Graphics. Most are interchangeable back and all have interchangeable lenses. Most have rising and tilting front standards, although the tilt is inconvenient when compared to good view cameras. Some have focal plane shutters, which lets one use a variety of lenses for special effects. Their most conspicuous flaw is the lack of attachments for neck straps. The connectors for the hand strap could be used for this. They may or may not come with a rangefinder. At least a complete one does have an optical finder and an open sports finder. They all permit composing and focusing on the ground glass.
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Old 11-12-2018, 05:38 AM
Johndeere Johndeere is offline
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I agree those are very fine camera's. Down the road I can see me getting one of the older camera's. Actually there are a lot of the older brands out there such as the Mamiya Press. All good cameras, I really think the baby Speed Graphics is cool. Even the Yashica Model A that I have does a really good job.

But for my first one I want a much newer body in 6x7 which narrows the search. It is either going to be a Pentax 6x7 MLU or Bronica GS-1.

There is a very big learning curve for the Pentax as they made several versions. Without learning about the different versions you could end up over paying for one very fast.

The Bronica GS-1 is really cool however the down side is that getting repair parts can be hard.

These two bodies really fit what I'm looking for. The big thing is that they have to be so called portable. I want them to be able to cover as broad of a shooting scenario as possible. For example the two 6x7 Mamiya bodies are great. But they are more of a studio body.

In fact the Mamiya 7 range finder would be a great contender but I think they are very over priced.

Some day down the road after I get what I want in will probably follow some of your suggestions on the older bodies.

Now when I do move into the LF I'm not going to do any research. I'm going to make it easy and just have you tell me which one to get.

Then Bethe can teach me how to use the darn thing.
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