Film ISO: A decent MF setup

sesser

Regular
Location
California
Real Name
randy
While I was putting some freshly scanned negatives into a binder of all my films from the past 15 or so years, I started looking at my old 120 negs from when I had a Yashica Mat 124. Scanned a couple on the Epson V700 and was immediately amazed at the quality and questioned why I sold that old TLR in the first place. As such, I've been hunting for another MF camera. I've read good things about the Mamiya M654 line (in particluar, the 1000s but also the Pro/Pro TL) but I've also briefly looked at the Bronica as well (though, not enough to know the differences between models). Hasselblads are generally out of my price range for a hobby camera.

That said, I'm looking to spend less than $500 US ($300 would be even better) and wondering what other options I could/should look at. I'm open to other form factors too.

What I will most likely be shooting: landscapes with the occasional family portrait

Here are some criteria to which I've been trying to adhere:

- Solid lens lineup with a decent wide for landscapes
- Not terribly heavy/bulky
- Prefer a build in meter that is at least somewhat accurate for negative film
- prefer an SLR type or RF style

Any pointers/opinions would be much appreciated!
 

RichardB

Regular
The Mamiya 645E is a good entry point to Mamiya's 645 system because it is less expensive than other bodies in the family. It has a metering prism that is not interchangeable, and its construction is more modern/plastic than its predecessors, but it uses the same lenses as other 645 bodies. I have a 645E waiting patiently on my shelf for a trial, so I can vouch that I think it's a good buy although I don't yet know that it's a good buy.

I have no experience with the Pentacon Six, but I've heard that it's a good value and I've seen nice shots from it.

The Kiev 88 is an East bloc version of a Hasselblad.

The various Bronica systems seem nice.
 

sesser

Regular
Location
California
Real Name
randy
Thanks for the info Richard. I had forgotten about the Kiev... but I just did a quick search on ebay and I can't believe how much people are asking for some of these, Zeiss glass or not. I think I also forgot to mention that I'm leaning away from the 6x6 format. :)
 

jssaraiva

Top Veteran
Location
Porto, Portugal
Real Name
José
I'm on a similar quest...

Probably will go for a Bronica SQ-A, mainly for the reasons below:
- shooting mainly outdoors, it might be relevant that some Bronicas like SQ-A (but not, for instance, SQ-Ai) have a 1/500 mechanical speed, while Mamyias normally only have 1/90 (not sure about all models). This is useful if we run out of battery, but the main advantage is that on a long term perspective, reduces the risk of it becoming a brick...
- A Bronica SQ is almost the same size and weight of Bronicas or Mamiyas 645s and so you can have 6x4.5 backs while keeping the 6x6 option open.
 
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jssaraiva

Top Veteran
Location
Porto, Portugal
Real Name
José
- Solid lens lineup with a decent wide for landscapes
- Not terribly heavy/bulky
- Prefer a build in meter that is at least somewhat accurate for negative film
- prefer an SLR type or RF style

I'm leaning away from the 6x6 format. :)

Overlooked this last reply (edited above post to also address the different back options). Combining this, why not a Pentax 645? I do own one, but the lack of interchangeable backs is proving to be a strong downside for me, hence my current search for alternatives. If this is no issue for you, might be a good candidate.
 
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sesser

Regular
Location
California
Real Name
randy
I agree @José... I'm more inclined to to find something with interchangeable backs as well. The more modular the better. Some Mamiya's will take a digital back... not that I can necessarily afford one, but the possibility exists! ;)
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
I think there might be slight problem with your budget limit - not for MF in general, but for the modularity thing ... I think you can't do better than a Zenza Bronica ETR-Si (the last model they made) - great 6x4.5 camera, fully modular, and can be had for under $500, though mostly with a twist.

Anyhow, I'd advise to at least don't write off old MF folders - the good ones aren't as cheap as some may think (or say), but you get a supremely portable MF solution. Even if you don't like 6x6, the likes of the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta, Agfa Isolette III (beware of leaky bellows) or Voigtländer Bessa II (expensive!) are really fantastic if you can get a fully working device; 6x6 makes available even more nice ones - like the Voigtländer Perkeo; depending on the model, you get a tiny powerhouse of a camera (if you don't mind using an external meter and/or rangefinder).

Even the simple ones without a rangefinder are capable of quite astonishing results. I really love shooting my old Nettars, even though they're the cheapest MF cameras Zeiss Ikon made in 6x9 and 6x6; some of the images are of impressive quality, even from the f/6.3 Novar triplet (that's actually said to be quite sharp, but it's really a bit flimsy, plus its closest focusing distance is two meters ...). Still, if you stay away from the simplest ones (f/6.3 Novars in Vario or Velio shutters) and get a Pronto - or even better, Prontor or Compur - shutter and a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.5, maybe even a Tessar, and you'll have an inexpensive and portable camera that outguns most 35mm offerings.

Finally, here's something odd and somewhat pricey that's still a treat to shoot (once you got it down ...): the Lomo LC-A 120. Plasticky, quite expensive for what it appears to be, but the lens (a crisp 21mm equivalent) and the simplicity of the fully automatic metering make this a uniquely practical camera for urban and street photography. Put in an ISO 400 film, and you can just let it roll (which is a bit dangerous ... you can burn a lot of film with that thing). It's a bit fiddly to load, and by no means can it be called sturdy, but the results are really, really nice.

M.
 

phigmov

Probably Not Walter Kernow
Location
Aotearoa
I've become increasingly wary of discontinued film camera vendors and battery-operation (beyond just the meter) as they can be difficult to troubleshoot/repair.
A good external meter and a fully manual body may be a better long term bet.
Another consideration is the format you like to shoot - 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8 or 6x9.
For landscapes, 6x9 will get you some sweet shots out of something like a Fuji GW690 if you can find a 65mm lens version. Plenty of 90mm ones on ebay under $500USD.

If money wasn't an object then a Fuji TX1 or Hasselblad XPAN would be cool - they still seem to be hideously expensive though :-(
 

sesser

Regular
Location
California
Real Name
randy
I've become increasingly wary of discontinued film camera vendors and battery-operation (beyond just the meter) as they can be difficult to troubleshoot/repair.
A good external meter and a fully manual body may be a better long term bet.
Another consideration is the format you like to shoot - 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8 or 6x9.
For landscapes, 6x9 will get you some sweet shots out of something like a Fuji GW690 if you can find a 65mm lens version. Plenty of 90mm ones on ebay under $500USD.

If money wasn't an object then a Fuji TX1 or Hasselblad XPAN would be cool - they still seem to be hideously expensive though :-(
Yes, 6x9 would be great. I actually found several GSW690s on eBay... I find it helps if you look for the right model number ;)
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
6x9 ... You actually gave me an idea: Mamiya Universal Press ... so I looked around on the *Bay ... trouble is, the only desirable offer is way beyond your (and, for that matter, my) budget:

Mamiya Universal Outfit // 29174,28 | eBay (no idea if the link works for you ...)

It may seem a bit expensive - but look at the list of lenses and accessories ... You'd end up with just about everything you could ever need. But of course, five times your (maximum) budget. I know it's crazy, but look at that viewfinder window ... and there's the 100mm f/2.8 ...

M.
 

sesser

Regular
Location
California
Real Name
randy
Haha... yeah, just a tad beyond my budget.

I was just in a "pawn" shop and they had a relatively nice looking 1000s on the shelf with grip, AE finder and 80mm f/2.8 lens, but they wanted $350 for it and while it was nice, there was some leatherette pealing up in some areas. They also had a M645 Super (I think) and a Bronica ETRsi. I was in there for a different reason and didn't have time to stick around. Perhaps one day I'll venture back, they had quite a camera collection but they were essentially eBay "Buy it Now" prices in a brick and mortar store.
 

sesser

Regular
Location
California
Real Name
randy
get a Pronto - or even better, Prontor or Compur - shutter and a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.5, maybe even a Tessar, and you'll have an inexpensive and portable camera that outguns most 35mm offerings
Kind of like this?

shopgoodwill.com - #39025826 - Zeiss Ikon Nettar 518/16 Folding Camera - 4/26/2017 6:13:00 PM

This would be a challenging task for me. It would make me be even more deliberate think about each shot. I think I'm more concerned about focusing and becoming comfortable with estimating distances by eye. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just a challenge. I just loaded some film in an old Kodak Tourist II I acquired from my father in-law's estate. Only taken a couple pics around the house but the weather is ugly and wet since then so I haven't finished the roll just yet. Time will tell.
 

sesser

Regular
Location
California
Real Name
randy
From the Tourist II.
hp5plus-ddx_6.jpeg
 
Location
Switzerland
Real Name
Matt
@randy Sorry for not replying earlier; I was away and pretty much offline (except for the most pressing necessities) last week. Yes, a Nettar such as this was what I was talking about. Good shutter (which is very important!), decent lens - f/3.5 is the brightest version, but needs stopping down for good sharpness, f/6.3 is sharpest, but dim, f/4.5 occupies a middle ground in both respects.

M.
 

docfox

Veteran
Location
Hatfield, PA
I think I might like to part with my 1976 Bronica EC-TL system (50, 75, 150 & 200 mm lenses; 2 backs; chimney finder; 2 waist level finders; extension tubes; 11 filters). I just don't shoot film anymore and it seems a shame to leave it inactive. I'm not sure what this collection is currently worth and I would be willing to consider offers and/or swap proposals.

I posted a comparison of this camera with my Hasseblad 500C/M >>> Hasselblad 500C/M versus Bronica EC-TL - a 6x6 cm comparison
This PDF contains lots more photos of the camera and scans of shots made with it. I swapped that Hasselblad for a very nice pistol some years ago, and never looked back - I always felt the EC-TL was the better tool.
System%20LoRes.jpg

6/24 UPDATE: This system has found a new home! Thanks for looking, but it has been sold.
 
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sesser

Regular
Location
California
Real Name
randy
George, that is a nice setup. I just did a quick search and found a recently sold listing on ebay that was about $550.

Bronica EC-TL Medium Format Film Camera w/ 4 Lenses & 2 Film Backs | eBay

Looks like most of what you find are the standard EC-TL + 75/2.8 kit that goes for around $300. That said, as much as I would love to take this off your hands, I'm really looking for a 6x4.5, 6x7 or 6x9. It's really tempting though.

Cheers!
 

sesser

Regular
Location
California
Real Name
randy
Welp, just to update this thread; procured a Mamiya 645 Pro TL and 80mm 2.8. Just ran a roll through it. I'm happy to report that it works quite well. :)

20170519_005.jpg


Side note: first time developing color film and I have to say, it's actually easier than B&W. I may have either over developed this roll or overexposed (Ektar 100 @ 80). I think the next roll I'll stick to EI100.
 

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