Hello film shooters.
I've been working solidly in 35mm for a while and I think it's time I stepped up to using MF. My question is - what is a good medium format camera for use both in the studio and on location (for model shooting - natch)?
As I'm just experimenting at this point I don't want to drop a huge chunk of money on the top of the line Hasselblad. So I'm thinking something that has a reasonable compromise between cost, image quality and portability.
A waist level viewfinder would be handy too
I've been offered an RB67 but that looks like a bit of a heavy beast - possible to use on location?
Dec 10 12 02:38 am Link
So many options. The RB is a legendary camera with great glass and was the de facto model/fashion weapon of choice for years with good reason. Personally I didn't like the ergonomics for handheld shooting, but that doesn't detract from the fact that you can get big, beautiful negatives. The rotating back is a big bonus.
Many here will say that 645 (6x4.5 cm) is too little a difference in negative size as a jump from 35mm, but I strongly disagree. I find it to be an excellent starting (and landing) point for MF introduction, with many options and minimal cash outlay.
I've owned and shot both Mamiya and Bronica 645 SLR systems. I stayed with the latter, but I don't think you can go wrong with either. With a prism viewefinder (but both have WLF options as well) and a grip, these handle like oversized 35mm SLRs, and you can get them for pennies on the dollar these days. Something like a Pro/Pro TL or an ETRS with a winder and a normal (75/80 mm) and medium tele (I like the 150 mm length for portraits) and you're good to go.
If you buy one and decide you don't like it, you can resell it for what you paid.
Much of my current portfolio was shot with a Bronica ETRSi system.
Dec 10 12 03:07 am Link
Thanks! I like the look of the Bronica 645's (as they're cheap too!) but doesn't look like you can shoot portrait with the wlf
Dec 10 12 04:41 am Link
Valencia, California, US
Bronica SQ-B, great camera, low cost now, 6x6 so you shoot square and crop later... Hassy was that way only for ??? Years. Rollei also was 6x6.. but no interchangeable lenses.
Dec 10 12 05:17 am Link
Martin, Tennessee, US
I have an RB67 w/3 lenes.
I love the images that come from it, but it IS A BEAST. You throw a 180mm on it, and your talking some luggage.
If I had it to do all over again, I would have opted for a lighter, possibly smaller form factor like a blad or Rollei.
When I shoot with my RB, I use the 50mm on it, just to help reduce weight, and even then, I use a tripod. I don't have a WLF as well. Another reason why I use the tripod.
Now that I'm hooked on 4x5, not even sure I'll pick the RB up again..
Just my side of things.
Dec 10 12 05:18 am Link
SAG Photography wrote:
Hey, I just checked out the Bronica SQ series. Shooting 6x6 and cropping might be a nice idea. I'd prefer 645 if I can get it, but I'm, starting to see the options for portrait (Ie. 4.5 x 6) are pretty limited.
Dec 10 12 05:42 am Link
Cleveland, Ohio, US
You can find a good deal on a 500c/m w/ waist level finder, 80mm and a 120 film back. That rig fits in your hand beautifully, its still a top of the line camera system and coupled with Carl Zeiss glass, you cant go wrong. I shoot with mine all the time and I invested in Phase One back. AD's love the square images too.
You can find some good deals on eBay or poke around on camera wholesalers.
Dec 10 12 05:48 am Link
Lancaster, England, United Kingdom
intense puppy wrote:
You can, it's just potentially awkward.
Dec 10 12 06:11 am Link
Jhono Bashian wrote:
True, but it's harder to justify the cost of a 'Blad system to someone who clearly wants to dip their toes in on the cheap. The bare bones system you detail is going to be somewhere between 2 and 4 times the price of a Bronica SQ or ETRS system. A12, A16, or A24 backs are not cheap. I bought a boxed 150/4 PE lens from KEH LN- for $160; a 150/4 C T* is likely double that or more, and the OP is going to want a portrait lens.
Dec 10 12 08:03 am Link
Dec 10 12 08:12 am Link
Hasselblad 500cm with an 80mm and back aren't that expensive. I've seen them around here in fine condition for around $600.00.
90% of these were taken with that combination.
Dec 10 12 08:19 am Link
This pretty much.
Dec 10 12 08:25 am Link
I love my Rolleicord and its optics, but lacking interchangeable backs and lens, it has decreased versatility for shooting models, in my opinion.
Dec 10 12 08:32 am Link
Fort Collins, Colorado, US
The Bronica GS-1 is the smallest and lightest of the 6x7 SLRs. Superb optics based on Nikon designs (but manufactured by Bronica). It's an all-electronic camera with modern in-lens leaf shutters. I carry mine when I'm hiking in the mountain west.
Dec 10 12 08:34 am Link
Yeah, I really want to try out and get to grips with the wlf. I thinking it'll hopefully help me experiment with my shooting style.
Dec 10 12 08:44 am Link
Yup! It's all a tradeoff. But the PC port will sync with a cheap e-bay trigger for multiple off camera lighting, and I couldn't beat the $40 pricetag. Hard to beat for a "starter" MF camera. Or a good "suplimental" MF to toss in the digital camerabag.
intense puppy wrote:
Probably get into a Rolleicord (6x6) for
Dec 10 12 08:50 am Link
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US
First you have to decide on format. Do you want 645, 6x6 or 6x7 ? If you like square there is only one choice. If you want rectangular then decide if you want the smaller or larger negative. Remember, the bigger the negative the bigger the camera. Then decide if you want interchangeable lenses.
If you pick 6x6 with interchangeable lenses then you can't beat a Hasselblad. Lenses that were $3,000.00 new can be purchased on eBay for $400.00. There is nothing sharper than a Hasselblad lens.
Dec 10 12 09:05 am Link
I _just_ tried this out last week with my Rollei, a cheap PC cord, and my Yongnuo RF602 to see if it I could. Lo and behold, worked like a charm.
Dec 10 12 09:20 am Link
Oakland, California, US
Most of my portfolio is done with Mamiya AF 645...Auto focus, TL metering, cheap lenses, much lighter than the 6x7..I know some will say that 645 isnt that much different than 135 But I as someone who uses both, the difference in results is definitely noticeable. You will obviously be able to enlarge much easier with a 6x6 or 6x7, but the trade off, for me at least wasn't worth the extra latitude in size when printing.
Dec 10 12 09:34 am Link
intense puppy wrote:
You get 12 shots on 120 with the Hasselblad.
Dec 10 12 09:38 am Link
Thanks! I wasn't 100% sure
Dec 10 12 10:00 am Link
Saint Louis, Missouri, US
I like my Pentax 645 works well and they are cheap to buy.....
Dec 10 12 10:10 am Link
Batavia, New York, US
I have a Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, a Hasselblad 500C/M and a Rolleiflex. As well as a problem with buying cameras (looking for a Leica M4 not that I need one)
All of course all are classics. I use each for different applications, all three will do the same thing, except macro for the Rolleiflex. I use the RZ67 for studio and macro work, including macro in the field. For me, the 140mm macro lens with a selection of extender tubes cannot be beat. It is big and the bellows, that works so well for macro, does make it hard to hold in some positions. But if I have space when I travel and a tripod it is my go to camera.
The 500C/M is great for hand held shooting. Fairly light and easy to carry all day. I also use this for macro shots with extension tubes when possible. I just carried mine around England for a week. Because it is a kit camera too, it can be dressed up and down for studio work or anything else. I do carry a spare back with me loaded with a different type, or speed, of film for changing conditions or moods. The 80mm 2.8 lens is very versatile, I like to shoot it wide open quite a bit.
My Rollieflex is a 2.8C. I like having the 2.8 lens over 3.5. It is the lightest of the three and the easiest to carry. I use it as a general purpose carry camera when I plan on only shooting one type of film (typically B&W) Hand held you can shoot it slower than the others because it does not have a mirror slapping up causing more shake. I like it for street photography (Ilford Delta 3200 pushed to 6400 works well for bars and night), people are not threatened by it and because there is not moving mirror it is a little quicker to shoot and catch the scene at the exact right time. It is also very quite.
I started shooting with a Ciro-Flex TLR that was also a good camera, if you want to buy in cheep most of the TLRs still around work great. You will love the look of the larger format. Look around some of the groups on flicker some of the images from these old cameras are amazing.
For me for Fashion, I would use the RZ67
Fresno, California, US
intense puppy wrote:
I use to shoot the RZ67 and RB67 both were fine on location weight was not a issue. Later I use Fuji GX680III http://www.dannyburk.com/fuji_gx680iii.htm that weighed more like a B52 but was a awesome camera. I am thinking of converting one to digital. If weight is a major issue then you may want to look at mamiya m645.
Boulder, Colorado, US
Film Hasselblads (like a 500 series) are pretty cheap these day. You can't beat those Zeiss lenses either.
Dec 10 12 11:33 am Link
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Check this thread. Lot's of advice and discussion
Dec 10 12 11:55 am Link
Tampa, Florida, US
I hope this isn't threadjacking but I'm curious, never having worked with film MF, what accessories are required? For example, I'm pricing an RB67 at $150 what else is mandatory? Prism, back, etc.
Dec 10 12 12:03 pm Link
Portland, Oregon, US
intense puppy wrote:
My first medium format camera was a Bronica ETR (645). It was fine -- it had lots of options, including a thingy that attached to the eyepiece for waist level focusing, a speed grip for 35mm film advancing (thought you had to pump it twice to advance one frame) -- the speed grip also included a hot shoe; you could even get motorized film advance. The best news is that the glass was excellent.
Dec 10 12 12:20 pm Link
Looknsee Photography wrote:
Square is art.
Dec 10 12 12:29 pm Link
Michael Pandolfo wrote:
Bare bones RB67: body (focusing screen is usually included, but make sure, same for the rotating back adapter)
Dec 10 12 12:52 pm Link
Buffalo Grove, Illinois, US
@Michael: I used RB 67s for years. Amazing camera. This is what I used and you should consider this gear: 2 bodies, Waist Level Finder, CDS Prism Finder, Dual Cable Release, 220 backs, 120 backs, 6 x 4.5 back with insert for viewing screen, split image viewing screen, 77mm clear optical glass filters for these lenses: 90mm, 127mm, 180mm, and optional: 140mm soft focus, grip handle for handholding. Get a really solid tripod like a Bogen 3035 leg set and 3047 Head. RBs are tanks and I so regret at times selling my outfit. I made lots of money with them and the image quality is superb. You will love working with one! BTW: RB stands for rotating back and is standard on any RB body. It is removable if you were using cut film holders or Polaroid Backs.
Dec 10 12 01:12 pm Link
Blackpool, England, United Kingdom
Why buy a secondhand camera (which may be up to 30 years old and have a questionable history) when you can buy new?
Arax make fantastic medium format cameras. http://araxfoto.com/cameras/
I have both an Arax-CM/MLU and an Arax-645/MLU. They are my main cameras.
Dec 10 12 01:14 pm Link
Fort Collins, Colorado, US
intense puppy wrote:
The SQ B is quite a bit lighter than the RB. Unless you plan to shoot square the majority of the time, you'd be better off with a 645 camera since you get a lot more frames from a roll of film. Personally, I think 6x7 is really the best option since it's 25% larger than 6x6cm and preserves the 4x5 aspect ratio of view cameras.
Dec 10 12 02:12 pm Link
Exactly, the best bang for the buck!
Dec 10 12 02:49 pm Link
Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
The cheapest option is a Bronica ETR, get the ETRSi version its a 645 camera with shutter in the lenses, ttl options, different backs (120, polaroid and 35mm) and silvestri and kapture group make an adapter for hasselblad, with it you can place any digital back designed for the hasselblad V system. And the lenses are really good, just check the bronica flickr group and see the quality by yourself.
Dec 10 12 07:37 pm Link
Daytona Beach, Florida, US
I'm experimenting too with MF...
I recently picked up a pristine condition Pentax 6x7 with a TTL pentaprism and a 105mm f/2.4 and am having a blast. Last week I got a 45mm f/4 from the same person and next week the last of his lenses, a 165mm f/2.8
The more and more I play with of my P67 and see prints taken with it the less and less I want to look at my DSLR. Digital is great don't get me wrong but 120/220 is absolutely fabulous.
Many great body and format options to decide on so take your time before you make a purchase.
Dec 10 12 07:56 pm Link
Brooklyn, New York, US
Lots of good suggestions, many great cameras.
I have a brand new never used and in the box Seagull twin lens (6x6, 120 film). A cheap Chinese copy of the famous Rolli twin lens. I believe they stop making them. If you want it to start out $100.00 plus postage. Hey, they are fun and you get a big neg. Like I said new in the box.
Dec 10 12 08:07 pm Link
Mine looks just like that. The handle will come in handy for beating off the zombie hordes when that happens. The thing is truly a weapon, and takes a damn fine photo to boot.
Dec 10 12 08:16 pm Link
Los Angeles, California, US
Pfffff... the RB is a bit chunky, but the beast is the Fuji GX680
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I love my RB but the cost kept me from kitting out as much as I would've liked...
I feel that Bronica is a great option as far as bang for the buck. I picked up an SQ-AI with two 120 backs, one 220 back, a Polaroid back, a grip with cold shoe and winder, a metered prism, a waist level viewfinder and a 50mm 2.8, 80mm 2.8, and a 150mm 3.5 all for $550 on craigslist. All in great shape. It's not the be-all-end-all of MF camera rigs but I love it.
PS. I love love love the 6x6 format. Squares are where it's at these days; just ask instagram.