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  1. #1
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    Best 6x7 medium format camera

    Hello everyone. I am new to this forum and thought I would say hello. I am very new to medium format and really do not know anything about it. I love to shoot landscape but when I blow up anything from a 35mm camera the pictures do not look as good. I asked around and everyone says go with a medium or large format. Well large format is out of the question but medium seems to be the best solution.

    I am asking for help selecting a camera. There is a local shop where I live that has a Pentax 67 with the wooden handle, meter-prism, 55mm and 165mm lens with filters and instruction book for $895. I have no idea if that is a good deal or even if the Pentax 67 is a good camera. My photo 1 instructor has a Pentax 6x7 and loves it which I believe is an earlier model to the 67. Anyway I could really use your help.

    Thanks,
    Dan
    Last edited by Dan1984; 12-11-2009 at 03:25 PM.



  2. #2
    I am Big, I am Mike Site Moderator
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    I recently picked up a Mamiya RB67. That thing is a beast. They are built like a tank, so they are usually still in good shape.

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    From what I remember the Pentax 67 is not a bad camera but it does have some problems. The main one for me is the fact that you can't switch backs. With the RB 67 that Big Mike is talking about or a Hasselblad, you can shoot color, B&W, Polaroid (if you can find any) or digital all in the same shoot by just switching backs.

    I used a Hassy myself because 1/ that's the good deal I found when I went looking for a MF camera and 2/ I really like its weight compared to the RB67. As Big Mike says, that thing is a beast and, if it doesn't matter for a lot of studio work, I wouldn't want to be carrying it around all day...

    I think that overall most used MF cameras you will find should bit in good condition because they were used by pros and pros tend to take care of their equipment better. It is their tools after all. Of course they are idiot pros too.

    The price on the Pentax, even if the lenses are decent (you need to google the specific camera and lenses to find reviews), does seem high. But I'm not an expert on this camera so I could well be off and you usually pay more buying from a reseller but it can be a form of insurance as you will have some kind of recourse if there turns out to be some major problem which you would not have when buying from an individual.

    By the way, I've seen Hassy 500CM with the T* 80mm and a couple backs going for $6-700. The RB67 is usually cheaper.

    Some people prefer 67 (6x7 negs) to Hassy 6x6 since it is a larger neg. Some people also have a hard time shooting for square and if you crop a Hassy neg to fit a standard regular size, you are basically dealing with a 6x4.5 neg. Personally, I loved the square format.

    Different strokes for different folks...

    If you are only starting to think about MF, I would let that Pentax go and take the time to study and understand the MF world before deciding on a buy.
    "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up."
    Pablo Picasso

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by c.cloudwalker View Post
    From what I remember the Pentax 67 is not a bad camera but it does have some problems. The main one for me is the fact that you can't switch backs. With the RB 67 that Big Mike is talking about or a Hasselblad, you can shoot color, B&W, Polaroid (if you can find any) or digital all in the same shoot by just switching backs.

    I used a Hassy myself because 1/ that's the good deal I found when I went looking for a MF camera and 2/ I really like its weight compared to the RB67. As Big Mike says, that thing is a beast and, if it doesn't matter for a lot of studio work, I wouldn't want to be carrying it around all day...

    I think that overall most used MF cameras you will find should bit in good condition because they were used by pros and pros tend to take care of their equipment better. It is their tools after all. Of course they are idiot pros too.

    The price on the Pentax, even if the lenses are decent (you need to google the specific camera and lenses to find reviews), does seem high. But I'm not an expert on this camera so I could well be off and you usually pay more buying from a reseller but it can be a form of insurance as you will have some kind of recourse if there turns out to be some major problem which you would not have when buying from an individual.

    By the way, I've seen Hassy 500CM with the T* 80mm and a couple backs going for $6-700. The RB67 is usually cheaper.

    Some people prefer 67 (6x7 negs) to Hassy 6x6 since it is a larger neg. Some people also have a hard time shooting for square and if you crop a Hassy neg to fit a standard regular size, you are basically dealing with a 6x4.5 neg. Personally, I loved the square format.

    Different strokes for different folks...

    If you are only starting to think about MF, I would let that Pentax go and take the time to study and understand the MF world before deciding on a buy.
    Thanks for the advice. I really do need to just learn about MF before buying something. Honestly I didn't even know that Hassy cameras can have different backs put on them. I guess I am just still thinking in the 35mm world. Is there a site that can really help me learn about MF or is it just best to keep reading this site?

    Thanks again for your help,
    Dan

  5. #5
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    I love my Pentax 67.

    And, they're holding their value very well these days if in clean condition.
    A mint P67 with a normal lens (90 or 105mm) and metered prism can fetch
    $400-$500+ on eBay. But, it's gotta be really clean. Even more for the later
    P67 "II" model. But, worn models can sell for much less.

    Note that there are different versions of the P67. See this page:
    Pentax 67 - Camerapedia.org

    Above prices are for the mirror-lockup version or later.

    You didn't say which 165mm lens (there are two) but the regular 165
    and 55 lenses can go for around $200 each if in mint condition. Less
    if they show some wear.

    If you buy it be sure to read the instructions for attaching the metered
    finder or you are apt to think it doesn't work when it really does. Don't
    force anything.
    Last edited by compur; 12-11-2009 at 05:57 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan1984 View Post
    Thanks for the advice. I really do need to just learn about MF before buying something. Honestly I didn't even know that Hassy cameras can have different backs put on them. I guess I am just still thinking in the 35mm world. Is there a site that can really help me learn about MF or is it just best to keep reading this site?

    Thanks again for your help,
    Dan
    You are most welcome. I tried to find an exploded view of MF cameras recently for someone else but I couldn't. I will look for a site about the basics for you but just in case I don't find anything, here's the very basics:

    Unlike 35mm, there are a few very different types of MF cameras. The first one looks just like a 35mm but is much bigger and the Pentax you talked about is one of those. That's what I call a two part camera: body + lens.

    Then you have the three part camera: RB67 and Hassy are like that and it's body + lens + back. The body is just there to hold the lens and back together.

    Then you have TLRs (Twin Lens Reflexes). Those can be either one or two parts cameras. Some you can switch lenses, some you can't. But the lens(es) is always a dual lens. The top lens is what you view your image thru and the bottom one is the one you actually shoot thru.

    TLRs are kind of like the RangeFinder of MF in one way. There is no mirror that moves out the way when you press the shutter release button so very quiet and great for some situation. But overall not the best of MF because of the lenses imho. Plus they have the big problem of no interchangeable backs which again, and imho of course, is the best aspect of MF.

    Now, interchangeable backs are great with film and Polaroid but they cost a fortune when you venture into digital. The Hassy digital back is the price of a small car But prices are always coming down and I saw a digital Hassy recently for only $16,000. LOL. Used of course.

    The thing is that you start as an amateur with a film back or two and if you ever become a pro and need a digital back, you can just go into digital by spending the money on the back rather than entirely changing your camera.

    And, btw, it is the same with Large Format. In LF the camera (body) and the lenses are the same whether you shoot in film, polaroid or digital. Only the back is going to change. I am looking for an 8x10 myself but I can't tell you what a digital back costs since I have not even bothered to look. LOL. Probably as much as a nice little house.

    One thing to remember is that the larger the format you choose the more expensive it all gets. No necessarily because of the body because, if you look at LF some of them are actually quite simple. People used to build their own. But the longer the lens get and the more glass is involved and that is where the big difference in cost is.

    A 35mm camera's standard lens is 50mm. A MF's standard lens is 80mm. A 4x5 's standard lens is 150mm. And it just keep on going.

    As I said, it is worth spending time doing some research on the different formats so that you can really decide what it is you want. Also, you don't work quite the same with each format. I will try and find you a site that explains more but start looking around yourself.

    If you don't find ONE site, there is still a lot of good articles about that stuff on the web. Cheers.
    "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up."
    Pablo Picasso

  7. #7
    Mr. Rain Cloud
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    The Pentax 6x7 has both a huge winging mirror AND a large, clunky focal plane shutter, unless you're using one of the few leaf shutter lenses that were made. The focal plane shutter spells vibration,and makes the camera less useful for flash shooting. In today's market $895 for that setup seems overly high to me.

    I'd look for something more modern, more versatile, like a Bronica GS-1, a multi-format capable camera that uses accurate, electronically timed shutters in each lens,and which will allow you to switch films, and backs, in just a few seconds. If you have three backs, you can have one loaded with your Minus development B&W, one with your Plus development B&W, and one with your normal development B&W, or color stock.

    With the 6x7, everything revolves around that big focal plane shutter, which more rightly ought to be called its "focal plane shuDDER". it was always a popular camera with a certain set, mainly because it was a low-priced camera to begin with. The 85% pentaprism finder is, well, 85% accurate...if the body's shutter gives up, you're done for the month. And don' t think about using it without a really,really solid tripod and head at slower speeds.

    JUst a few things to think about that Pentax 6x7 shooters know about, but will not willingly tell you...

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    Thanks everyone for your help. There is a lot to learn before diving into MF. I will continue to ask questions as I learn new things about this format and again I thank all of you for your help.

    Dan

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    See this short video on the Pentax 67 vibration myth:
    http://www.pdmlpug.org/VIBRATION.mp4

    (that's a coin balanced on the focusing screen)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derrel View Post
    In today's market $895 for that setup seems overly high to me.
    I agree. I was seeing some Hasselblad kits for that price this week while I was looking at used Medium format SLRs. For an RB67, 90mm len and three films backs I paid about $340. Buckster also recently got a similar kit for $150!

    Keep hunting, you can get into the format for much less money.
    K. Praslowicz - blog - gallery - twitter

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    Been spending a lot of time on here!
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    Quote Originally Posted by c.cloudwalker View Post
    You are most welcome. I tried to find an exploded view of MF cameras recently for someone else but I couldn't.
    Here is one.
    K. Praslowicz - blog - gallery - twitter

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    My suggestion better go for Mamiya RB or RZ as they were more felxible to use especially their revolving back really usefull fo composition....
    And Mamiya's are a good quality build camera, a Hasselblad it's wonderfull but you will end up paying more for accessories and lenses for the brand.

    I own Mamiya RB since '92 and still in excellent shape.
    Good luck !

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by compur View Post
    See this short video on the Pentax 67 vibration myth:
    http://www.pdmlpug.org/VIBRATION.mp4

    (that's a coin balanced on the focusing screen)
    That is simply RIDICULOUS--I just placed a US nickle on the top of my glass computer desk and slammed my four fingers down on the desk HARD...guess what, the nickle didn't move. That video proves absolutely nothing at all.

    Try it yourself....balance a nickle on a desk or countertop and slam your fist down two inches from the coin....it will move about as much as the coin does in that video.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derrel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by compur View Post
    See this short video on the Pentax 67 vibration myth:
    http://www.pdmlpug.org/VIBRATION.mp4

    (that's a coin balanced on the focusing screen)
    That is simply RIDICULOUS--I just placed a US nickle on the top of my glass computer desk and slammed my four fingers down on the desk HARD...guess what, the nickle didn't move. That video proves absolutely nothing at all.

    Try it yourself....balance a nickle on a desk or countertop and slam your fist down two inches from the coin....it will move about as much as the coin does in that video.
    Agreed. I have seen the problem admitted on more than one site or blog. The difference between the Hassy and RB67 must be, I think, the size of the mirror. A somewhat smaller mirror will cause somewhat less vibration. I imagine that 645s have less mirror vibration than Hassys.

    The main thing is to be aware of the problem and shoot accordingly.
    "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up."
    Pablo Picasso

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    The Pentax 67 is one of the most successful MF SLRs of all time, It is/was
    in production for nearly 40 years and used examples still hold their value
    extremely well, better than most Japanese MF SLRs.

    Does it really seem likely that such a success would occur if the camera
    actually had a design flaw causing un-sharp images?

    The camera was made in several versions and the first version had no
    mirror lockup. Users of this first version did experience some vibration
    problems at slow shutter speeds. Pentax agreed and added an MLU feature
    to all subsequent models. Obviously a mirror cannot cause vibration if it
    doesn't move during the exposure and the problem only existed at slow speeds
    when the camera should be tripod mounted anyway.

    Now, I'm sure some users of the later MLU versions of the P67 have taken
    some unsharp pictures and I'm sure some of them blamed the camera. I
    don't think a camera has ever been made that someone didn't blame
    for their poor images. That doesn't mean that was really the cause.

    I've owned and used several P67s over the years and never had any
    problems with unsharp images caused by shutter/mirror vibration.
    All have been MLU versions and I've always locked the mirror up when
    slow speeds were used.

    The P67 is intended for different usage then either the RB or Bronica 67.
    Yes, the Pentax is best used at higher shutter speeds and with natural light.
    It's also quite usable hand-held.

    It's not the best choice for studio work, especially with flash where the
    RB and Bronica would be better choices. Conversely the RB and Bronica
    would not likely be the best choice as a street camera due to bulk and
    weight, etc. but the P67 is quite usable that way.

    As a point of reference I've experienced shutter/mirror vibration problems
    with many different cameras including 35mm, MF and large format Speed
    Graphics but this was due to my not fixing the camera properly for the
    use at hand, not design error. It is no different with the Pentax 67 in
    my opinion.

 

 
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