Rangefinder

Discussion in 'Medium Format & Large Format' started by Maxx640, Sep 27, 2007.

  1. Maxx640

    Maxx640 TPF Noob!

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    Hi,
    I'm actually planning a trip to India for early next year and am looking into a camera to bring for B&W. It has to be MF because I've been gobbled up by the system and it hurts me to even consider 35mm anymore (should I see a doctor?:mrgreen:).
    I was looking around on the net at 6x7 cameras and discovered the Mamiya Universal and Mamiya press (can't tell the difference). I also saw the equivalent Koni-Omega that looks roughly the same. Now there isn't very much information about these cameras so I thought someone might be able to help me here.

    First of all are these cameras idea for street and portrait (candid) shooting? They don't look too bulky to me and there is no mirror slap, ideal for handheld.
    The weight isn't too important because I'm used to carrying around heavy gear, in the past: Nikon F4, Kiev 88, Mamiya 645....:greenpbl:
    Last question is this stuff tough; I won't be throwing it against walls or dropping it on purpose, but when you travel you always end up knocking it around. A friend's plastic eos 3000 didn't survive a trip to Cambodia.

    Anyway, are these models tough trustworthy cameras I can bring superb pics back with? What are the differences between the models?

    Max
     
  2. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'd suggest looking into the Mamiya 6 and 7. I have limited experience with them but they sure felt well built and wonderful to shoot... I'm still kicking myself for not buying the used one for sale when my local camera shop closed.
     
  3. Maxx640

    Maxx640 TPF Noob!

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    I'll have a go at that forum. Not much information on the web though.

    These models are god but way too far from my budget limit. Universals and Koni-Omegas go for around 300$ max.

    Max
     
  4. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    I used to have a Press Universal and a Press Super 23 until earlier this year, having owned them since the late seventies. They are excellent cameras, but they might be bigger and heavier than you imagine. Those two models share the same sturdy breech-lock lens mount. The earlier Press cameras had a simpler mount.

    The Universal and Super 23 differ in the back: the Super 23 has back movements via a bellows system and four rods. This can be used to provide back tilt, and is useful for close-up work. You use a ground glass back when using rear movements. The Super 23 is an excellent and versatile camera, thanks to the rear movements. I used it more than the Universal.The Universal back is simpler, but it accepts Polaroid backs.

    The film backs for the system are excellent – some of the best rollfilm backs out there. Very good film flatness, thanks to the shape of the film path. You can use 6x9 backs.

    The lenses are also great, in particular the 50 mm, 75 mm and 100 f/2.8. The latter is well worth looking out for. The 50 mm and 75 mm need auxiliary finders. They couple to the rangefinder. The 50 mm rivals the legendary 43 mm on the Mamiya 7 and the 38 mm Biogon on the Hasselblad SWC, both in terms of horizontal angle of view and overall quality.

    I confess that I never travelled with either of them – they were too big and heavy for that. Because I don’t have a great desire to use different focal lengths, I’m happier with my folding Plaubel Makina 67, W67 and Bessa II cameras when travelling light. The Bessa II is the most compact, but the Makinas are also convenient for carrying. The Makinas are more complicated than the Bessa, and prone to expensive failure, I’m afraid. The Makinas have very good narrow-angle meters, the Bessa has no meter. I think that the Makinas have better lenses (Nikkors) than the Bessa II (though I have never used a Bessa II with the most expensive Lanthar lens option) – in fact the 80 mm lens on the Makina 67 is one of the sharpest lenses I have. All of those are more expensive than a simple Universal or Super 23 kit. There are other folding rangefinders that are simpler and cheaper than the Bessa II. I would be inclined to go for one of those if the Bessa II is outside your budget. Check out www.certo6.com

    Before I got the Bessa II, I used a Ross Autorange 820. That was not a bad camera. I have some B&W shots made by that in the pages in the first link of my signature. Those old, simple folding rangefinders are very robust, the lenses may need good shading from extraneous light but they usually perform well when stopped down to at least f/8, and 6x9 film is capable of superb quality, of course.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  5. Rick Waldroup

    Rick Waldroup No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would take a look at the Mamiya 6 or 7 or like usayit mentioned, or maybe a Bronica 645 rangefinder.

    I owned a Mamiya 7II and it is a fine camera. Very well built and solid. To me, the drawback to the system is the price of the lenses. They are really good lenses but a little on the pricey side. But the camera was a joy to use. I owned it for about 2 years and sold it when I went completely digital.

    Or maybe one of the Fuji MF rangefinders.
     
  6. Maxx640

    Maxx640 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for this very complete information! I'll keep looking around.
     

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