BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Kristy 
 

medium format camera for portraiture


Hello,
I am interested in starting a portrait photography business shooting both in studio and on location. I would like to specialize in family portraits and pets. I have shot weddings in the past just with my 35mm and would be interested in pursuing some more wedding photography also. Can anyone recommend a good medium format camera/lenses for the type of work I am interested in? I have been looking at the Mamiya 7II which I have seen advertised as the "wedding photographer's camera". I have worked with Mamiya's RB67 frequently in the past, but was interested in a medium format that was a little less bulky and easier to take on location with me. Thanks for any advice you can offer.


To love this question, log in above
6/26/2001 12:02:31 PM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Kristy,
Mamiya's little brother, the M645, is a workhorse; inexpensive and not nearly as heavy or bulky. They are relatively inexpensive on the used market. Because it's 645 and must be turned on its side sometimes, I recommend a prism finder for it instead of a WLF.

For 6x6, consider one of the newer Bronica models. Also workhorses and won't break the bank like a Rollei or Hasselblad will.

-- John


To love this comment, log in above
6/26/2001 8:16:07 PM

 
Jeff S. Kennedy   I'm an RB user so that's my recommendation but then I'm also a big guy (6'1" 240lbs) so the bulk doesn't bother me that much. The 7II scares me for portraiture. Maybe I'm just old fashioned but rangefinders always make me nervous when shooting close ups of people. Paralax correction or not.

The 645's are nice because many of them handle like 35mm SLR's which is nice for spontaneous location shots. I'm a bigger is better kinda guy so if you really don't want the RB I would go 6x6. They are light and you don't have to worry about vertical and horizontal crops while composing.

Now let me tell you why I like my RB for portraiture. First of all the format (6x7) is nice. You don't have to crop the proofs for your clients. I've found that the more in camera cropping, vignetting, and anything else the better. People just can't visualize what a shot will look like if you tell them you can crop like this, or have the lab vignette like that etc.. With the RB the proofs are already in the "ideal" format that people are used to seeing. One of the main things I like about the RB is the bellows focussing. It allows you to focus closer than the other MF cameras. What does this mean? Well I can shoot a very tight headshot of a person with my 180mm lens. To get an equally tight shot with a hassy you have to use a 150mm lens with a 2x teleconverter. That's another accessory to buy and it reduces your image quality.


To love this comment, log in above
6/26/2001 8:43:40 PM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  I will admit the 645 cannot be enlarged as much as a 6x7, but just as Jeff likes the 6x7 for its rectangular format it's also why I went 645 instead of 6x6. The 3:4 aspect ratio falls between the 5x7 and 8x10 aspect ratios making composition simpler, even if the body must be turned sideways some of the time. (I use a 150mm on the 645 for tight shots; nearly the equivalent of 180mm on a 6x7.)

If you do go with a 6x6, most have a focusing screen available with a pair of vertical and horizontal scribe lines on it to show you a 3:4 aspect ratio so you can compose the image for a rectangular print in the viewfinder.

Jeff:
Not certain why you would say 300mm on a Hassey (6x6??; 2X + 150mm) is the same as 180mm on a 6x7. A 2X with an 80mm would be close; the equivalent on a 6x6 is about 160mm.

-- John


To love this comment, log in above
6/26/2001 10:55:02 PM

 
Hermann  Graf   Kristy, for medium format, it's more a question of whether 6x4.5, 6x6, or 6x7, than of which brand of camera. I would prefer 6x4.5 or 6x7 (if you need the resolution), because I find 6x6 difficult (you have to crop almost always). Mamiya and Bronica burden the budget not as much as Hasselblad and Rollei do. For portrait, 6x4.5 will suffice, because most of the portrayed people appreciate not every of their wrinkles being reproduced sharply.


To love this comment, log in above
6/27/2001 8:08:05 AM

 
Jeff S. Kennedy   John, I thought that sounded a bit confusing after I submitted it. I don't mean that the focal lengths are similar. I just mean that to focus as closely as an RB you need to employ a teleconverter with a hassy. A 150mm lens (closely equivelent to the 180mm on the RB) on a hassy just won't focus close enough to compose a tight headshot.


To love this comment, log in above
6/27/2001 10:28:13 AM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Yes, it's clear now . . . same magnification at different distances. Seems that most of the Mamiya lenses (RB67 and M645) allow closer focusing than many others. I haven't collected data on this, so it's a general impression not based on factual comparisons.

One other possible consideration is lens speed. As the format size increases, the lens speed decreases. This is a generalization. Depending on brand and model, some super-speed lenses compared to most others for the same format are available, but there is a very hefty premium paid for that speed (new or used); sometimes over twice the price.

Yet two more factors to consider . . . focus distances of the system lenses and lens speeds. Camera systems are very much a personal choice; each photographer weights specific characteristics, specificaions and capabilities differently in considering which one to buy.

-- John


To love this comment, log in above
6/27/2001 1:03:57 PM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.