What to buy?
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Old 05-18-2010   #1
Alpaca
 
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Default What to buy?

I have about $600 to spend and I want to buy a medium format camera! I've looked on ebay and Keh until my head started swimming. I'm leaning toward a Pentax 645N, but I'm considering a used Hassy to, if I can find one. Then there's the Bronica, why are they so cheap, are they junk? What about their optics, do they compare with Zeiss, Pentax? A Bronica would sure fit nicely in my budget but I don't want something I'm going to be disappointed with, especially since I'm not getting any younger and this will probably be the last MF camera I ever buy.

Can someone help me decide what to buy?

Thanks,
Ray

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Old 05-18-2010   #2
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Default Re: What to buy?

I have a Mamiya RB67 Pro SD. It is a nice system, built like a tank. The optics are really good and inexpensive if you purchase the older lenses (C type). As a minimum you need a camera body, a lens (normal focal length is cheapest), a film back, a waist level finder (WLF) or a prism viewfinder. Anything other than the WLF finder will cost more money. The later KL lenses cost more. Lenses without a C or KL designation might be uncoated or just very old. Medium format cameras used by studios might be worn out. Mamiya also makes a 645 AF camera that is good. I went for the 6x7 negative.

Bronicas are decent cameras but are not in production (and have not been for a long time). That is why they are cheap. All their parts are old. Bronicas where very popular in their day. To be honest, if you find a good bronica you can't go wrong. I know a guy with a Bronica and he really liked it.

Hassys are expensive for anything that is optics related (lenses and viewfinders). An older hassy 500 series is probably affordable with the older film backs and the older lenses. You will have to find a hassy site to learn to identify the newer part numbers vs the old. If anything KEH gives a good indication based on price.

The thing with Medium Format lenses is that most of those optics are really good. When new most lenses cost into the many thousands. With Mamiya I have found the optics to be excellent.

You could start with a TLR system to go inexpensive. You would get a square 6x6 negative for a lot less than a Hassy. Mamiya had TLRs with interchangeable lenses, the C330 and the 220. I have a C330 too.

I can talk about the Mamiyas but do not own a Hassy or Bronica. At the studio I worked I learned about the Hassies and Bronicas from the guys who owned them.
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Old 05-18-2010   #3
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Default Re: What to buy?

Thanks for all the info, it is very helpful. Though I should've mentioned that I'm not new to MF cameras, I had a Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar TLR for years and with it, I took the sharpest images I've ever taken, I guess it's hard to beat Zeiss optics. This time around though, I'm thinking that I want an SLR. Plus, my eyes aren't what they used to be and that's why I'm considering the Pentax 645N, it's autofocus. I'll take a look at Mamiya's autofocus model too, but I think they may be outside of my budget.

Thanks again for your help.
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Old 05-29-2010   #4
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Default Re: What to buy?

Any of the older "system" medium format cameras will be worth the investment - Pentax, Bronica, Mamiya, and Hasselblad. The digital age has greatly reduced the value of these cameras. The Hasselblad V system, with Zeiss lenses, is your best investment. I've owned and used them continuously since 1972. Today I shoot the older V camera with a newish Hasselblad digital back.
FYI - the Pentax 645 is the only one of the system SLR bodies that does NOT have interchangeable film magazines.
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Old 06-03-2010   #5
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Default Re: What to buy?

I'd recommend either the Mamiya RB67 or the Bronica ETRS....

Both are fantastic camera systems....

The Mamiya can be a bit heavy......so you might want to handle and compare the two (and/or others)

The Bronica seems to feel cheap....but it's fantastic....I find mine is every bit as good as the Hasselblads I used at a fraction of the cost....
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[Bronica ETRS][50mm f/2.8][75mm f/2.8]
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Old 06-10-2010   #6
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Default Re: What to buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunaray View Post
I have about $600 to spend and I want to buy a medium format camera! I've looked on ebay and Keh until my head started swimming. I'm leaning toward a Pentax 645N, but I'm considering a used Hassy to, if I can find one. Then there's the Bronica, why are they so cheap, are they junk? What about their optics, do they compare with Zeiss, Pentax? A Bronica would sure fit nicely in my budget but I don't want something I'm going to be disappointed with, especially since I'm not getting any younger and this will probably be the last MF camera I ever buy.

Can someone help me decide what to buy?

Thanks,
Ray
Bronica is ok and their optics are fine, but the Hasselblad has stood the test of time. You will have much better luck finding lenses and accessories for the Hassy. I went through the same process a few years back and bought Bronica first and then bought a Hassy. After using both, I made the best choice for myself and sold off the Bronica. It will be more difficult to resell than the Hassy. I know my 201F Hasselblad has gone up in price since I purchased it. I think you mentioned that you were not new to MF, and if that is true you already know Zeiss lenses and that should help make your decision easy.

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Old 06-22-2010   #7
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Default Re: What to buy?

Before buying my Bronica 6x6 body and a few lenses last year I spoke to professionals who'd used them; they assured me the Bronica would present few problems but to try to avoid dropping it. I'd used a Mamiya RB67, 330f, and a Fuji 645 rangefinder years ago so am not completely new to medium format.

It would have been nice to buy a Hassy but the outlay was way beyond my budget; I've not been dissappointed by the Bronica so it doesn't even feel like a compromise. I've only had one issue with the Bronica which I enquired about here; I chose to have a professional sort it out for me and it cost very little even though a few parts needed replacing.

After a prolonged period of years during which I rarely used a camera I did not want to spend too much in case I found it too difficult; so whilst I theoretically knew the basics carrying them out was not so easy for me. Consequently my first medium format camera this time round was a Yashicamat 124G (now sold) and then a Minolta Autocord CDSIII TLR; the lens on the latter renders colours in a unique and three dimensional way and I get good results even when I shoot with the lens wide open. Seeing images from Autocords on Flickr is what sold it for me. It's small and lighweight too.

I am saving for a new computer and was looking through my cameras and lenses to see which I would keep and which I would sell, I thought the Minolta TLR would be one of them because I now have the Bronica but I made the mistake of putting a transparency film through it just to check it was still working well; after seeing the results I cannot bring myself to part with it.

Buying second hand means you should not loose out financially if your first choice of MF camera does not work out as you'd hoped; you can just sell it and put the money towards something else.


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