Cheap Medium Format?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Call_to_Arms, Aug 17, 2007.

  1. Call_to_Arms

    Call_to_Arms TPF Noob!

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    Hey
    Im new to the forums but not to photography, ive shot film SLR since I was old enough to hold one, Im shooting digital SLR now too, I have a fairly broad collection of unassorted antique/vintage/retro cameras and equipement and I want to try my hand at medium format. I dont mean to brag or anything, im just giving you an indication of my levle of compitance (not icluding my spelling ability). I wanted to find a cheap rangefinder (id prefer SLR, but i doubt that will happen on my budget)medium format camera just for doddling with, Im teaching my daughter how to shoot right now so having some new equipement to play with while im going through the basics with her will make things more interesting for me. Also, can someone give me a rundown on medium format film? I live in a good sized urban city and there are professional camera shops around who can probubly supply me with what I need, but I dont even know what im talking about. let me know if I need more info.

    Thanks
     
  2. ann

    ann No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    the cheapest way to go may be with a twin lens reflex, a yashica perhaps.

    film, color or black and white? Basically, you will need 120 film and it comes in the most common types you have been using with your other equipment.
     
  3. gizmo2071

    gizmo2071 TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, as stated. Most of the 35mm films are available in medium format. Instead of buying 135(35mm) you buy 120(medium format). How many shots you get depends on your cameras film plate size. 6x4 will get a few more shots than a 6x6, etc...
    There are tones of great medium formats around.
    I'm pretty sure you could pick up a mamiya 645 at a decent price and as Ann stated... Yashica's are pretty reasonably priced aswell!
     
  4. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    To be honest you may find that medium format rangefinders (like the Fuji models) are actually more expensive than SLRs.

    The very cheapest way to get a medium format camera would probably be either an old folder, or a cheap Russian camera like the Holga... however if you want something a little better I'd also recommend a TLR. For relatively little money you could get a good Yashica, Mamiya, Minolta, possibly a Rollei TLR with a good taking lens. TLRs haven't changed a whole lot over the years, so you could get something more modern like the often recommended Yashicamat 124, or you could buy a 50-year-old model and as long as it's in good condition it will be fine (even if it needs a service these can be relatively cheap for TLRs).

    Then there's SLRs, and these may actually be cheaper than you think since the prices have dropped massively as everyone goes digital. The 645 (6x4.5cm negative) format is quite popular since you still have a camera that's relatively light and portable... options here would include the Mamiya 645 series, Bronica ETRS and Pentax 645. If you really want the advantages of a larger negative you could also look at the 6x7 format; however here you really do pay for that advantage in the size and weight of the equipment, for example the Pentax 67 system is great, but probably not something you'd want to carry around all day. Beyond that there's even larger negatives, including panoramic formats like 617 for which Fuji, Linhof and other companies make camera systems, but obviously these are more specialised (and a lot more expensive).

    Personally I think a TLR, although it may take a bit of getting used to, might be the best value for starting out with medium format.
     
  5. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I guess it reallly depends on what you consider cheap. This http://cgi.ebay.com/Bronica-ETRSi-M...oryZ3350QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD2VQQcmdZViewItem to me is extremely cheap. You can probably get an Etrsi with a metered finder and a speed grip for around $300 and no more than $500 this would be a great starter setup. At this point in time with prices thet way they are there is no need to get into a twin lens as this was usually the cheap way to get into medium format when prices were still high. As far as film formats go this has been explained sort of but with 120 shooting 6x45 you get 15 pictures and with 220 you get 30 this sometimes depends on your camera and always depends on format.
     
  6. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A TLR is just a tremendously fun camera to shoot. I own a couple of Yashicas but Minolta is supposed to have made a good one and Rolliflex is of course the Granddaddy of them all.

    If you are up to developing your own film and want to go lights out -off the deep end, look into a Speed Graphic! ;)

    mike
     
  7. Call_to_Arms

    Call_to_Arms TPF Noob!

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    This is the kind of information I was looking for, I am looking for cheap and im not looking for a "complete setup for serios shooting" I am interested in doing this as a novelty more than anything else, im pretty happy with what im shooting now, but that doesnt mean my collection isnt going to keep growing. I would love to find an old folder or box camera in usable condition. I have seen a few volgas and the like around, ive never really known what I was looking for. I dont even know what a roll of 120 folm looks like, does it load like 135mm? will I need a dark room or a loading bag? Thanks for all the info guys.
     
  8. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    There's no need to get into TLRs but there may be a reason... because they're damn good cameras :) 6x6 square negative and absolutely no chance of shutter or mirror vibration are advantages IMO.

    Call_to_Arms, a roll of 120 film is rather different from a 35mm roll in that whereas you buy 35mm in a self-contained canister, with 120 the film is just wrapped around the holder with only paper backing to protect it from the light, so you may need to be a little more careful handling it to avoid unwanted exposure. It has no perforated edges like 35mm film, so does not load in quite the same way... the specific manner of loading obviously depends on the type of camera used... but it's fairly easy to get the hang of it. No loading bag is required for loading the film onto the camera, nor a darkroom - though obviously one or other would be required for loading the film onto a reel when doing your own developing, same as with 35mm. There are some shots of a roll of 120 film here (halfway down the page) if it helps.

    Personally I would tend to avoid Holgas or box cameras since I prefer something with more control over aperture and shutter speed. Also since there is now basically a whole industry of selling novelty cheap Russian cameras, the prices are often not as low as they should be.
     
  9. Call_to_Arms

    Call_to_Arms TPF Noob!

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    Funny story, about 2 weeks ago I got a call from a friend telling me he had a good friend who was aparently a photographer and was changing all his equipement over to digital and wanted to know if I wanted his old camera, he didnt have any details for me and I would'nt get it until I saw him again in september. I assumed whatever it was was going to be some antique folding camera he had laying around after he sold off the good stuff, but reading what you guys just typed got me thinking, I tracked down the napkin I jotted some notes down on when I last talked to him on the phone and what do I find written there........ Hasselblad. At the time I had no idea what it was, ive done some research now, I have an idea what he was talking about. September should be an interesting month.
     
  10. sothoth

    sothoth TPF Noob!

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    I bought a Hasselblad 500 used online. I bought the parts separately (body, back, lens, viewfinder) and like the camera a lot. I got the body for $200, the back for $70, and the lens (80mm) for $195, viewfinder for $80 and of course I needed a decent light meter, which I got for another $80ish. The lens is ugly cosmetically but the glass is clean. I wouldn't call this "cheap" considering most of the parts are from the 1970s, but it wasn't totally unaffordable either.

    The biggest downside with the medium formats (and large formats) IMO is the price/weight of the lenses. 6x6 (or I suppose any square format) make more efficient use of the lens optics so they're probably the lightest (relatively) but I can't afford to buy a reasonable complement of lenses (tele, wide, mid-range) on my budget so I'm probably stuck with the 80mm only, which is kind of limiting. A very good local camera shop rents Hassy lenses, so maybe if I get serious I'll rent a few to try out. If you're doing landscape photography, plan on lugging around a weighty camera and invest in a decent camera backpack or something comparable.

    The quality of the photos is OUTSTANDING. Its a well built contraption that was fun to buy in pieces and assemble myself, and also has that that nifty antique feel to it. I just like old mechanical things, I think they're cool.

    120 film is easier to load incorrectly than 35mm film. The first two rolls I shot apparently went in the wrong way, so I was exposing the back of the film and not the front. Unlike 35mm, the back side is covered with paper, so I got my pictures developed and they were all black. :( Before I shot another roll I opened (wasted) an unused roll so I could unwrap it and look at it carefully so I was 100% sure I'd never load it with the paper side facing front again. It pretty much makes you feel like a colossal ass to get two rolls of blank film processed.
     
  11. sothoth

    sothoth TPF Noob!

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    Holga's are totally fun but obviously the image quality is very limited by the plastic lens and the light leaks. :) You can get one on Amazon for something like $20. I have taken some very interesting pictures with mine, esp since it's hard to remember if you already advanced the film or not, you're likely to get a bunch of double images whether you mean to do it or not.

    But again, this camera is meant to be for fun, so don't expect to do any Ansel Adams type stuff with it.

    Holga people seem to form something like a cult around this camera:
    http://www.holgamods.com/
    http://www.argonauta.com/html/holga_cameras.htm
    http://shop.lomography.com/holga/
    http://www.apogeephoto.com/july2001/plastic_fantastic.shtml

    It's OK to like a camera, but try not to go overboard like those Heaven's Gate guys did. :)
     
  12. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    That's what I was going to say, you can walk into about any camera store and pick one up for about $30
     

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