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Entry to medium format?

Discussion in 'Everything Film' started by bmul, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. bmul

    bmul Well-Known Member

    Hello all

    I currently use several Olympus 4/3rds bodies, and am currently experimenting with a couple of OM Zuikos.

    For various reasons, my interest in medium format has been piqued and I am interested in getting an 'entry level' kit with which to experiment.

    I understand the various formats (in a superficial way), but am unsure where might be a good starting point - Rollei, Hasselblad, Mamiya... others?

    If anyone could point me to a good source of information, or suggest a 'starter' body and lens combination, I'd be very grateful.

  2. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    My own view would be to look at the Mamiya 645 range of MF SLRs. They are durable, around in reasonable numbers and are not expensive to buy these days. Also, with a prism the viewfinder is not daunting. The lenses are of good quality optically, but some can suffer from sticky iris blades, test them by removing the lens from the body and moving the lever on the inside of the mount, the diaphragm should move smartly.

    With all medium format cameras it pays to try and find an example that has not suffered hard professional usage. These cameras are now at bargain prices anyway, so a good example is worth seeking out. A good starting point might be a Mamiya 645 1000S or Pro with an 80mm f2.8 lens.
  3. bmul

    bmul Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the thoughts Nimbus - I'll look into that and see what other suggestions I receive.

    I do quite fancy a waist finder, but haven't really used one in anger, so that may change!

  4. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    The wlf has it's uses, but makes portrait format photography interesting! Many kits will come with one of these anyway, they are fine for landscape format work where there is no pressure, but a prism transforms the camera for most work. Also to those accustomed to a 35mm or digital SLR they make the camera feel more familiar.
  5. bmul

    bmul Well-Known Member

    Thanks Nimbus - exactly the sort of thing I need to know having not really thought about the practicalities yet!

  6. JJM74

    JJM74 Well-Known Member

    Although the Mamiya RZ and RB have the revolving back and masks in the viewfinder which helps no end.

    Do you know anyone with a camera you can handle/play with to get an idea of what you'll want?
  7. mediaman

    mediaman Well-Known Member

    Consider also the Bronica range 6x4.5 [etr etrs etrsi]
    and sq sqa sqam [motordrive built-in] and the sqai
    All accept wlf/prisms and interchangable backs/inserts.
  8. bmul

    bmul Well-Known Member

    Thanks both - some more ideas to check out over the weekend.
  9. Gordon_McGeachie

    Gordon_McGeachie In the Stop Bath

    I can reccomend the Bronica ETRSi with the 75mm lens, AEII prism and the speed grip, this was the only m/f combination I had and it was great, I part exex it all for some 35mm gear though as it was not getting enough use, and at that time, I could not afford more glass.. :(
  10. bmul

    bmul Well-Known Member

    Thanks Gordon - I'll check that out also.
  11. mick_m

    mick_m Member

    Might be worth looking at TLR's, can be a really cheap way in to med.format and if it's not for you you aint lost much. As these, like some of the SLR's are square format, the wlf/ landscape / portrait question is'nt such an issue
    I have the Mamiya 645 1000s. and only use the wlf because thats how I like to work with the camera, although now and again I'll crop an image. As Nimbus say's trying to use a wlf in portrait format can be a bit of a challenge to your normal body shape
    Image quality aside, I just enjoy using the medium format camera and it will carry on living happily alongside the digital one
  12. mick_m

    mick_m Member

    Sorry, forgot to mention there is lots of info on medium format cameras on the web, older and newer cameras. Look under Classical Medium Format Cameras or reviews under a camera name, ie Bronica camera reviews
    Some of this stuff is good,and may help with your choice
    Good Luck
  13. bmul

    bmul Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the thoughts Mick - I'll try to find somewhere with some secondhand stock and have a play.
  14. mick_m

    mick_m Member

    Let us know how you get on
  15. bmul

    bmul Well-Known Member

    I see there's a guide to secondhand medium format gear in next week's AP, so I'll see what the have to say also.

  16. Merri64

    Merri64 New Member

    I'm also really interested in Medium format but am also a complete beginner. I've handled the Bronica ETRS and loved the feel of it but would prefer 6x6 format. Does anyone know how the SQ A/Ai compares size & weight wise? What about a Mamiya C220/330. Anyone have any experience of these?

  17. JJM74

    JJM74 Well-Known Member

    When I was looking I quite liked this site.
  18. Merri64

    Merri64 New Member

    Thanks so much JJM74. That did help answer some of my questions :)
  19. FujiSigmaNolta

    FujiSigmaNolta Well-Known Member

    I dunno if I am too late nor I know how much is your budget, but a nice Kiev 6C kit is inexpensive and the lenses are high quality. Starter kits come at about £150-£200 if not less. The kits come with either a waist level finder or a eye-level/prism finder and take Pentacon 6 lenses. Sometimes you can find them with both finders. The cameras have a few quirks but with care they will last you an eternity (mine is about 40 years old I think). The only thing is how keen are you on a SLR style MF camera? Some people don't like them but I surely love it, as the handling doesn't change much from a 35mm or DSLR.
  20. Benchmark

    Benchmark Well-Known Member

    The Mamiya 645 Pro system is probably the most up to date. Ffordes still keep a few brand new lenses for these, and used parts are reasonably priced. I can also vouch for the quality of both lenses and bodies.

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