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Photography QnA: Medium Format Cameras

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Category: Best Photographic Equipment to Buy : Film-Based Camera Equipment : Medium Format Cameras

Are you asking yourself, How do I load film into a medium format camera? Or even, What is a medium format camera? Then you're in the right place! Check out this Q&A for all of your medium format camera questions.

Page 1 : 1 -10 of 13 questions

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Photography Question 
Karo Bean

member since: 1/11/2005
  1 .  Medium Format with Digital Back
I am considering buying both a medium-format camera, as well as a digital SLR and was wondering if a medium format with a digital back was the best way to get both? Do digital backs produce the same kind of quality images as pro digital SLRs? And, if so, which is better for both film and digital use: Hasselblad or Mamiya? Or should I go with totally separate digital and medium-format cameras?

2/14/2005 8:08:26 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/11/2003
  It's much, much cheaper to get a medium format and a digital SLR. A medium digital back may require being connected to a computer or a portable storage while shooting.

2/14/2005 9:12:47 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/11/2003
  I want to add that I was thinking of the EOS 1Ds Mach II. American Photo magazine says it's competitive with medium backs. You'll get up into the $20,000 area with medium digital backs.

2/14/2005 10:01:33 AM

Wilson H. Valentin

member since: 7/24/2003
  What kind of work are you going to do?

2/14/2005 10:01:40 AM

Karo Bean

member since: 1/11/2005
  I do mainly family portraits, fine art nudes and dance photography. (Thanks, Gregory, for pointing out the cost of those backs. I never thought it could be so high.)

2/14/2005 11:23:08 AM

Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  It's hard to beat the quality of a medium-format camera coupled to a 22mp back. But it will really drain your wallet. While a Hasselblad or Contax are not cheap (neither is the Mamiya), they are nothing compared to the cost of the digital back. Unless you can swing about $30,000 for a body, 3-4 lenses, and the back, you'd better just dream on.
Michael H. Cothran

2/14/2005 12:03:55 PM

Janet L. Skinner
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/31/2004
  I have a Mamiya RZ67 and checked into a digital back last summer......27K ouch!!

2/15/2005 4:07:39 PM

Mike Bowden

member since: 1/30/2005
  Have you considered renting the digital medium format outfit for shoots? I can rent one in Dallas very reasonably for an entire weekend. Also Photo District News has a great comparison of medium format backs in the Feb. issue.
Consider the size of the chip too, is the size of the imaging sensor going to give you better resolution than your lab scanning film at the time of processing?

2/15/2005 8:59:15 PM

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Photography Question 

member since: 10/7/2004
  2 .  What Medium Format Camera to Buy
I want a medium format camera. I don't need any special bells and whistles, but I would like a nice lens with a wide range of f-stops. I have 1,300 bucks (US) to spend. Buy used body and new nice lens? Any recommendations? What do I need?

10/7/2004 5:47:53 PM

Terry L. Long

member since: 2/12/2004
  Hello Brittany,

When I first entered the "realm" of MF, I went to that (in)famous Internet auction site and got a Mamiya 1000S. It's an old (to say the least) camera, but it's built like a tank. I asked the seller many questions before I bid on it. I wanted to make sure all the seals were intact ... which they were.
I also purchased/bid on a couple of lenses ... 80mm (the "normal" lens for MF), 210mm telephoto, and 110mm. They were all pretty inexpensive but good in quality. The only thing I need now is a wide-angle lens, such as a 45mm or 55mm to complete my ensemble.
All of the lenses are "fast" lenses (f/2.8) and use the same thread size for filters (58mm) ... which means I only have to buy one filter size for the lenses. Also, I purchased prism finders for the two bodies I now own.
However, the only nit to these cameras is the film inserts. For some unknown reason, the cost is higher (respectively) than the bodies and/or lenses. I've got three now ... two 120 and one 220.
All in all, if I can recall accurately, I think I paid less than $550.00 for everything. Remember, they're older bodies/lenses/finders - but they work like a champ.

New lenses cost quite a bit for MF cameras. Take a look at the prices at B&H.
Hope this helps.

10/10/2004 10:05:37 PM

Terry L. Long

member since: 2/12/2004
  Oh ... I forgot to add ... they're completely manual cameras with "spot" metering. If you end up getting a comparable camera, remember: You can use a "linear" polarizer filter, which means it'll cost less than a "circular" polarizer.
Good luck.

10/10/2004 10:09:53 PM

Jim Zimmerman

member since: 2/28/2004
  Another thought is the Kiev line of 2 1/4 cameras. I've never owned one, so I cannot speak from experience, but there have been several favorable articles on those models imported and upgraded by Kiev USA. Kiev USA does a lot of rebuilding on these cameras, and while they may not (or may) hold up to a full-on pro effort, I bet they'd be fine for an advanced amateur. You can definitely get the camera and an additional lens or maybe two for your budget. They have a web site (its not always the most user-friendly web site, but it'll get you the info on them). They also have links to the same articles I've seen.


10/12/2004 4:53:55 AM

Carl Schulz

member since: 3/22/2004
  I bought Kiev 60 off of Ebay. It was shipped here from the Ukraine and take excelent pictures. It's a 120 format camera, shutter speeds are below, lens is F2.8-22. Comes with macro rings, eye and waist lever view finders, eye level has a meter, flash attachment, yellow/green filter, neck strap, lens shade, lens cap, cable release and case.

Not bad for $120

Shutter speeds are 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000 and B.

10/13/2004 8:27:21 PM

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Photography Question 
Robert M. Dutton

member since: 9/9/2003
  3 .  Making the Move to Medium Format
I want to move to medium format. I like the idea of 6x4.5 and 6x7 aspect ratios for composition and reproduction. Because of the ratios, these cameras are in higher demand and thus more expensive than the 6x6 by respective brands. Is it wise to go ahead and get the 6x6 and compose by imagining the ratios through the viewfinder? Are there 6x6 ones with imprinted ratio lines? Or should I go with the 6x4.5/6x7 types?

4/8/2004 9:05:34 AM

Terry L. Long

member since: 2/12/2004
  It depends on WHY you're taking the photograph. If you plan on getting published with full page or cover spreads, magazine art directors prefer the 6x4.5 because there'd be less cropping. The 6x6 and 6x7 formats are more square and would have to be cropped quite a bit.

4/8/2004 3:18:56 PM

Robert M. Dutton

member since: 9/9/2003
  The main reason I want to move to MF is for portraiture. Both studio and weddings inside and out. I am really leaning towards the ETRSi because of its value per $. If I had indispensable funds I would run out and get a Mamiya AFD - I have held one before ... sexy! I'm really not concerned with the bulkiness.

4/9/2004 7:51:23 AM

Gregg Vieregge

member since: 11/10/2000
  With digital making it's big move in the market, You can pick up a Bronica ERSTI body for around $350 or a complete system for under $750. It's light weight and easy to use. Because of the 645 format you get more images per roll of film. I would really suggest exploring a digital camera first to be absolutely sure what direction you really want to go. If film is your preference, the Bronica is a great camera. Go to to see their used camera prices.

4/12/2004 7:23:05 AM

Robert M. Dutton

member since: 9/9/2003
  Yes I have been really eyeing that ETRSi. I have thought about digital. But the cost per/ image quality is the main concern. When I can get the same level of pixelization as silver halide crystals for a decent price I will go for it. I clearly recognize the benefits of digital imaging, as well as the cost. As I generate some revenue with my film based equiment, digital will be the spring board in which I advance in my endevors. Thanks for the advice

4/12/2004 7:45:12 AM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  I just picked up a used Minolta Autocord,in mint condition,I've personally found it to be perfect for my needs ,landscapes enviromental portraits,but it has been like breaking in new work boots, there surely is a learning curve,I am though,really enjoying the medium format adventure,and the images are very very sharp with a great feel to them!!!!

4/13/2004 9:47:22 AM

David Robinson

member since: 12/29/2002
  If you are going to use the camera for weddings I would not recommend 6x45.You will be straining your arm rotating the camera for vertical shots and then returning for horizontal shots.This is more especially so if you are using fill-in-flash. If you are going to have some control over the cropping of the final print I would strongly recommend using 6x6 and crop the image in the darkroom.It is much less tiring.The apparant attraction of 6x45 is more in the mind than in practice. Not for nothing is the 6x6 Hasselblad the industry standard for weddings,(that is before digital came along). Beware going headlong into digital though.Not enough space to itemise all the draw backs. Cost of professional gear being the prime one.

4/28/2004 12:56:56 PM

  Robert: A friend of mine shoots about 25 weddings a year and he bought the Pentax 645. As with any camera that does not produce a square image, that means rotating it for vertical shots.

On the other hand, unless you plan to make square prints, you'll crop much of a square image area if you use a 6x6 camera.

My view is to try to fill the frame with a subject using most of the image area (with 645, 6x7 etc.) and not need to crop all the time.

But lots of wedding/portrait pros use the 6x6 format so there is no right answer.

Cheers! Peter Burian

4/28/2004 1:06:40 PM

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Photography Question 
Jerrica Dalton

member since: 8/16/2002
  4 .  A Beginner Looking for Answers
I have always loved photography as my hobby, and now I want to turn it into a business. I know that I need to play around before I start a busniess. I have 2 small children so they can be my ginny pigs=-)! Anyway I have a Rebel Ti, but my question is... I am going to do portraits so should I stick with my 35mm, or go to a medium format camera? I will probably start with pictures outside only and then working my way inside. Any suggestion for a begginer would be greatly appreciated. I am having trouble finding good information.

2/29/2004 7:58:59 PM

  Jerrica, I started off with the same camera! Don't feel like you have to go medium format just because it's there. The most important thing for you is to get great pictures. Fous on consistency. No matter what camera you have, all that matters is great results. There will always be better and more expensive equipment, but if you take great pictures, you will take great pictures with whatever you use. The Rebel Ti is a great camera, don't let yourself be intimidated by what the "experts" use. Some of their pictures aren't terribly spectacular! Know your camera and have fun with it. At first I was intimidated to do studio shots because the lighting aspect was made out to sound so difficult. Well it's not! You may be a beginner but you have fresh eyes and fresh ideas, just express yourself in your work and have fun with it.

3/1/2004 10:44:15 AM

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/19/2004
  I like Jen's comments - I also would have to say concentrate on the camera you have. Good photography is not about who has the best equipment - use your imagination and you will be surprised what results you can get. As you know camera equip can be expensive so check out used first and go from there. Find a few basic poses etc that work well for you and stick to them untill you are comfortable and perfected them, then branch out from there.
Good luck - you are going to have tons of fun!

3/1/2004 1:18:58 PM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  In response,film choice is a really imortant factor in studio work,and lens and filter choice also IMHO will play a huge role in your finished product,and lets not kid ourselves,medium format is so so well suited to most studio work if you can afford the jump to it,Mamiya does make some TLR cameras that look to be well suited for the work you have in mind,with interchangeable lenses and can be had at a fairly reasonable price in the used marketplace allthe best!!!!

3/3/2004 11:30:46 AM


member since: 7/1/2000

I came across the question that you posted regarding either using the 35 mm format for doing portraits or using medium format. I noticed that you posted this question nearly two years ago, but I will comment on the subject.

Both 35 mm and medium format have their respective places in taking pictures. If you are happy with the results you're getting with your Rebel, then 35 mm will suffice. However, if you are serious about making large portraits, then medium format would offer you this advantage. If I know that I won't be enlarging beyond 11"x14", then I will usually shoot with either a 35 mm Leica R8 or a Leica M7 rangefinder. On the other hand, if I think there is a remote chance that I may want to make a print larger than 11"x14", I will use a Rollei 6008 Integral 6x6 square medium format. With 35 mm, when you start to enlarge beyond 11"x14", grain begins to show up versus with a square medium format, grain doesn't become a problem until you go past a 30"x30" size print.

3/19/2006 12:06:43 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  I agree with Michael and Dale. Also, while doing quality work isn't necessarily about having the best equipment, still, you need to try and match the format to the job. And, the camera itself isn't necessarily indicative of the kind of grain you'll get at higher magnifications. That's really more a factor of using fine grain emulsions suited to portrait work at least when you shoot with film.

You also want to have relatively good quality optics that provide sharp images, or at least be able to have sufficient light to have adequate depth of field on your subjects, especially when shooting head shots.

My own preference is the Hasselblad system which will likely be out of your budget at this point, but still there are some great deals to be had on used Hasselblad equipment and as many medium format SLR cameras, it allows you to build on the basic system. That includes a great series of lenses, film magazines, yes, even a digital back if you can afford about 5 grand.

Anyway, the larger the format you use, then the larger you can comfortably make prints, and the bigger the print, the larger the sale. In fact, a lot of guys with portrait studios only have large (really large) prints hanging in their reception areas just to encourage people to buy that size as opposed to 8x10 or 11x14 since there ain't a lot of money in that. Instead, you have to hike your shoot fees to compensate. See what I mean?
As an additional thought, you could buy a clean used crown graphic press camera that shoots 4x5 format and would allow you to use a polaroid back to check results. Say a 150 or 200mm lens and lensboard. Works great for portraits and will probably run you a lot less than other MF Slrs.

But before you go out and buy anything or even start marketing, you really ought to have put together a flexible, realistic business plan along with a budget for everything you can presently anticipate needing. According to the IRS, (among others) most small biz start-ups fail in 3 or less years because of poor planning and /or lack of start-up capitalization.

Take it light.

3/19/2006 11:38:05 AM

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Photography Question 
Amanda D. Austwick
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Amanda
Amanda's Gallery

member since: 8/2/2003
  5 .  How to Work with Paralax Error
I just purchased a used Mamaya 645J with a view finder,and realized thwt I have to work with paralax error.
Since the top of my photo will be lower than what I see through the viewfinder, will I have to lower my focal point to what I think the camera sees?

8/2/2003 11:54:24 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
The Mamiya M645j is an SLR (single lens reflex) complete with mirror and focusing screen. The "viewing" lens is the same as the "taking" lens. Unlike TLR's (twin lens reflex) and rangefinder or viewfinder cameras, there is no parallax error with an SLR. What you see through the viewfinder in terms of framing is what the film will record.

BTW, I own two Mamiya bodies, an M645-1000S and an M645j as a backup for it. They're virtually identical, with the "1000S" having a couple of rarely used features the "j" doesn't have. The M645j is a workhorse camera body. It has and continues to be one of the favorite 645 format cameras among wedding photographers. If it's in good condition and cared for, it will run nearly forever.

-- John

8/2/2003 10:53:23 PM

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Photography Question 
Laljit S. Sidhu
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/13/2002
  6 .  Choosing Medium Format
I am currently looking into medium format photography and have some questions.

First, are there any advantages to medium format photography over 35mm ASIDE FROM THE LARGER NEGS?

Is there an actual image quality difference?

What disadvantages would there be in switching from 35mm to medium format? With the newer AF 645's available, bulkiness seems to not really be a hindrance even for candid work.

I have noticed many professionals use medium format over 35mm? Is that primarily for the larger negatives or are there some other advantages as well in terms of the images made?

Finally, if one switches to medium format would there be a point in keeping 35mm equipment or would it be better to just sell the 35mm equipment to fund the medium format equipment?

I am not a pack rat and don't really see the purpose of holding onto 35mm equipment just for the sake of having it. But at the same time, I don't want to just get rid of it if there are significant advantages to keeping both formats.

I am primarily interested in outdoor photography ... portrait in the outdoors and on location and nature photography.

I am debating between picking up a 645 system and getting rid of my 35mm system or picking up a 6x7 system and keeping my 35mm for candid work.


6/22/2003 10:55:19 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  My thoughts about medium formt:

Not likely what you want to hear. It's all related to "LARGER NEGS." Whether or not it makes a difference in "image quality" depends on how you define "quality." It has the capability to deliver greater technical quality at larger print sizes and in projection of slides to a screen.

The practical magnification limit of film is about 12X its linear dimensions (length and width) before resolving power of the film becomes visible to the "unaided" eye. Some films (in general, the faster ones) exhibit this with less magnification. This puts the practical limit for 35mm format at about an 11x16 print size. Some place the limit at 16x20; it depends on what is considered "acceptable." A projection is viewed at much greater distance than most prints, and it allows more graceful degradation. Close examination of a projected image on a screen clearly reveals its resolution limits though (using an excellent projection lens). If one starts with a larger piece of film, 12X enlargement of it allows a larger print and screen projection shows greater apparent sharpness with higher detail.

The tradeoff is size, weight and agility when making photographs. There are additional tradeoffs with fastest lens speeds and in film reloading. The fastest 35mm format lenses are faster than the fastest equivalent lenses for medium format systems by one to two f-stops. It takes longer to reload a medium format film insert than to reload a 35mm camera body. [Extra film backs can speed it up considerably, but at the cost of $$$ for the additional backs.] This is why all the photographers I know with medium format systems do not abandon their 35mm format systems. They use them for different types of tasks. One excellent example is wedding photography. 35mm has the weight, size, agility, faster lenses and quicker reload time for the candid, photojournalism done before the ceremony and at the reception. Medium format offers ability to repeatably and reliably make much larger prints from the "formal" portraiture done just before and just after the ceremony.

Those who use both systems leverage their respective strengths when their weaknesses do not greatly impair accomplishing the task.

6/22/2003 8:12:31 PM

Laljit S. Sidhu
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/13/2002
  Thanks for the feedback. It would seem then, that if one was planning on retaining the 35mm system ... it would be wise to find a MF system that complemented it ... made up for its weaknesses and such.

A 67 system, it would seem, would do this ... the 35mm compensating for the lack of a 67 portability and speed; and, the 67 allowing for truly larger neg and greater enlargement ability.

In contrat, it would seem, a 645 system would be somewhat redundant ... somewhat larger negative, but enough to add it to a 35mm system rather than a 67?

In other words, if I am going to keep my 35mm system, why would I want to choose 645 over 67?

Do my questions even make sense ???


6/22/2003 8:29:15 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  This depends on how big you want to make a print (or project a slide compared to viewing distance). All the 6x7 cameras I've handled are significantly larger and heavier than a similar 645 model, making carrying them and hand holding them for any length of time tiring. In addition, the similar lenses for 6x7's are usually slower by yet another f-stop, even though they're physically bigger (and heavier). In a studio, this is much less a problem and some will mount them on tripods with castors (or a dolly) for studio work. When working "on location" when it must be carried and hand held for much longer periods, it can get tiring.

Most 6x7 systems do not have quite the range of lenses available for them too . . . although this may not be that much of a consideration for you.

645 compared to 6x7 is similar to the differences between 35mm format and medium format, although not quite as dramatic. IMO, there isn't that much difference between 645 and 6x6 for standard print sizes. The only advantage a 6x6 offers is the square format which means it need not be turned on its side. If a standard print size is the goal (and not a square print), then the user of a 6x6 must be mindful of this when shooting the photograph as it will have to be cropped to a rectangle for a standard print (some pro labs will print a square, but common frame/mat sizes do not come in squares). OTOH, a 645 is more efficient with film: 15 exposures for 120 and 30 exposures for 220 versus a 6x6's 12 and 24 exposures. A 6x7 gets even fewer frames per roll.

6/22/2003 11:38:10 PM

Tom Walker

member since: 3/12/2004
  When I bought my 1st medium format camera, a mamiya 645 about 20 yrs ago, I decided to sell my 35mm gear. Then I took it on a 3 day hike in the mountains
at the end of 3 days it weighed at least 200 lbs. Now if I'm driving to the site, I take the mamiya, if I'm walking, I take the 35mm.

And you did say outdoor photography????

3/13/2004 11:04:40 PM

Allan Yates

member since: 2/21/2004
  It's all about the big neg/transparency and image quality. If you want to get your work published, the big neg is more attractive to editors and art directors. Big negs/transparencies mean better print quality, too.

If you want a medium format camera that isn't a backbreaker to carry, take a look at the Mamiya 7II. It is small and light by compairson to other MF cameras and produces outstanding results.

The Hasselblad 501 or 503 with the 80mm lens is a light setup too, with the standard viewfinder. With any of the prism finders, it is heavy and a bit awkward to shoot hand held. If you shoot from a tripod, this is not an issue.

The Pentax 67II is a good camera/system - while big and heavy, the lenses are very affordable and the camera operates much like a 35mm SLR.

All medium format cameras have their strengths and weaknesses. Give some thought to what your needs are and which camera is the best fit for you before you invest in a camera/system.

3/15/2004 7:34:32 AM

Randall Stewart

member since: 3/20/2004
  To respond to your second question, there is little point to retaining your 35mm system and adding a 645MF system. A 645 MF system has part of the quality increase of the 67 system and most of its disadvantage is terms of extra cost, weight and slower usage. It is a compromise between 35mm and MF.
If you keep your 35mm system for its speed of use and flexibility, your investment in a MF system would be better served with a 6x7 system. [The 6x6 format is basically a 645 that you don't have to turn for portrait and landscape formats, offering about the same advanages and disadvantages of 645.]
Remember the down-side of 6x7 systems: weight, cost, more limited range of lens and accessories [except as to the Pentax 67 system, which seems to have everything you'd every need, except autofocus and magazine film backs].

3/20/2004 12:27:45 PM

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Photography Question 
Maryann Ianniello

member since: 8/1/2002
  7 .  Medium Format Camera
I am very interested in buying a medium format camera with auto focus. My eyes have really gotten bad over the years but I love taking photos. Any suggestions on what might be the best AF camera on the market. I do have my eye on the Mamiya 643AFD.


6/8/2003 4:42:30 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
I'm aware of three manaufacturers that have have auto-focus MF SLR's:
Contax 645 AF
Mamiya 645AFD
Pentax 645N II

If priority is given to lenses, the Contax tops the heap with Carl Zeiss glass, but you will pay some $$$ for the privelege of having that name on the front of the lenses. Cannot judge too much on the other two. I use a Mamiya M645 ("j" and "1000-S"), but it's manual focus and the AFD lenses are different from those for the original M645 through current E and Pro-TL . . . an important note to remember . . . and Mamiya's lineup of AFD lenses isn't as extensive as for their manual focus 645's.

I am in the "over 40" presbyopia crowd who cannot focus their eyes as closely as those who are younger . . . a phenomenon of aging . . . and I'm still using all manual focus equipment. A possible alternative to an entirely new camera system is exploring dioptric correction lenses on the viewfinder. If you have myopia or hyperopia (near/far sightedness) without too much astigmatism, you might be surprised at how much this truly helps. You shouldn't need any for pure presbyopia; viewfinder optics place the effective distance of the focus screen several feet in front of the camera.

I started using viewfinder dioptric correction for mild myopia years ago and wondered why I hadn't done that many years before. It made an enormous difference in focus accuracy and allowed significantly better use of the microprism ring and matte area of the focusing screen. Before doing that I was relying very heavily on the center split rangefinder circle. If you have been using dioptric correction, then how much you need may have changed . . . and this is also "normal" with aging. The dioptric correction I use has changed over time. It's much easier than trying to look through a viewfinder while wearing glasses.

-- John

6/8/2003 7:25:01 PM


member since: 10/3/2002
  I can highly recommend the Pentax 645N. I purchased mine the first month they were out and have not been sorry. I use it to do all my wedding work. With the advent of the newer version, you may be able to pick up the original 645N for a great price on the used market. The 200mm autofocus lens is great with this camera.

6/10/2003 7:21:38 PM

Suzanne Boulanger

member since: 6/9/2000
I know just what you mean! I purshased the Pentax 645-N in 2000 and absolutely love it! I did a lot of research before purshasing this particular camera and it has really paid off. I've covered 50 plus weddings since then and have never had one complaint about the quality of the photos. Another plus is the cost of the additional lenses compared to other brands...a lot cheaper! Pentax has won numerous awards and is well established so I had no hesitation in spending that much money for a camera. It is lightweight and the automatic focus is excellent. I have nothing but good things to say about it.

6/10/2003 7:28:44 PM

Gregg Vieregge

member since: 11/10/2000
  I am in the same situation with my eyes. I was reluntant to buy another medium format camera when digital is so much better for me. I do still shoot all my weddings with film. To solve the problem I bought a Beattie Intrascreen with grids and the split horizontal focusong screen. ($145)It took 5 minutes to install. The problem was solved. The image is so much brighter and the split image makes focusing a snap. It solved my problem and saved me $$$.

6/17/2003 7:52:25 AM

Gustavo Gil

member since: 4/1/2003
  How flash works with medium format?
For example a Vivitar 283 with Bronica?
Any suggestion?
Thank you.

6/19/2003 9:29:18 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
Very well, just as with 35mm . . . but that's likely not the answer you are looking for.

Depends on what make/model and what lens. Also depends on how old your Vivitar 283 flash is.

First . . . about the Vivitar 283:
The very old Vivitar 283 flash units have a high trigger voltage; about 300 volts. These old ones will fry the electronics in newer cameras that trigger flash electronically. Even with older cameras (up to about the early/mid 1970's) that have mechanical triggering (using a relay), it's still not good for them. Depending on camera, it can eventually burn/pit the trigger contacts. Vivitar redesigned their 283 (and 285HV) flashes when camera companies started making cameras with electronic flash triggering. By comparison, most of them should not be subjected to any more than about 10 volts on the flash trigger contacts. All this also applies to the very old Vivitar 285HV flash units versus the newer ones. Both the Vivitar 283 and Vivitar 285HV have sockets on the side that allow connecting a cord from the flash to a PC socket on the camera body. On the Vivitar flash end, the socket and plug are unique to Vivitar. If you connect a Vivitar flash to a camera PC socket, you must have a PC plug on the camera end of the cord, and the unique Vivitar plug flash end. Plugging one of these into the flash disconnects the shoe contacts (to keep them from shorting out in an all metal "cold" accessory shoe).

About the Bronicas:
Depends on which model Bronica, whether or not you have a prism on it, and which lenses you are using with it. Medium format SLR's typically have focal plane shutters inside the camera body and most of the lenses are pretty much like 35mm SLR lenses. Flash sync is on the camera body, sometimes via a PC socket which requires a PC cord to run to the flash, and sometimes via hot shoe on the top of the prism (if the camera has a prism mounted on it). With some models, the optional hand grip will have a hot shoe on top of the grip handle. Others will have an accessory shoe (cold shoe) without flash contacts. All these have an X-Sync shutter speed, which is the fastest shutter speed at which you can use a flash. Again, it depends on the specifics of your camera, and whether you can connect a flash to it through a hot shoe, PC socket, or both. Your options in how to connect the flash to a "Bronica" depends on model, whether or not you have a prism finder, and whether or not you have the optional hand grip.

Special Case with Leaf Shutter Lenses:
Many medium formnat SLR makes/models have a few lenses made for them that have leaf shutters inside the lens, including Bronica, Mamiya, Hasselblad, Rollei (and others). With these special leaf shutter lenses, the focal plane shutter operates at a very low speed and the leaf shutter inside the lens opens and closes while the body's focal plane shutter is open to make the actual exposure. ***IF*** you are using a leaf shutter lens, the flash sync will be operated by the lens, NOT the camera body. The leaf-shutter lens will have a PC socket somewhere on it and the flash is wired to it in the same manner as you would connect a flash to a PC socket on the camera body. The reason for these special lenses is nearly all leaf shutter lenses allow a higher X-sync shutter speed (which is set on the lens, not the camera body).

Hope this helps you out.

-- John

6/19/2003 10:38:25 PM

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Photography Question 
Christina Lee

member since: 9/14/2000
  8 .  Investing in medium format.
I'm hoping to go to school for photography, but the school requires me to have a medium format SLR. I have a feeling that my Holga isn't what they have in mind. What should I look for in my first medium format SLR?

11/11/2002 8:51:58 PM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  Camera choice is highly dependent on what kind of photography you plan to do. For school work you probably need something as generic as possible. I shoot 6x7 but you may not want to hassle with a big beast like that. Good basic MF's can be found in TLR's from Mamiya or Roleii. If you want to go really cheap you can get a TLR from Seagull. In SLR's Hassy's are going to be expensive and Mamiyas bulky. Bronicas can be found relatively inexpensive. There is a book on the market called Blooms Camera Blue Book (or something like that). It is very helpful since it lays out all of the possible used cameras you may find with a description of each camera and a list of what they are worth for different ages and conditions. Check it out.

11/12/2002 1:52:57 AM

Doug Harvey

member since: 2/7/2003
Paradise Falls, Thousand Oaks, CA
The popular choice for the college in the Palm Springs area is the Seagull 4A-107.

Cost will run you from $250 to $329.

Take great pictures and easy to use.

2/7/2003 9:46:14 PM

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Photography Question 

member since: 9/27/2002
  9 .  645 Medium Format - Mamiya or Pentax ?
I am about to go travelling in the far east and India. On my travels I want to build up a portfolio of travel and nature pictures for a stock agency and for travel articles. I am already using a canon eos 3 but would like to take a 645 camera with me also.

I have seen a few reviews of both the mamiya 645 afd and also the pentax 645, but would like your opinions. Most nature photographers seem to be using the pentax - although this doesn't have an interchangeable back. Is this due to better lenses .. faster focusing .. ?? What about the digital angle on all of this ?

Would really appreciate any insights into this as I need to make my decision in the next month.

Thanks !

9/27/2002 5:32:54 PM

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Photography Question 
Agustin J. Ortiz Jr.

member since: 7/21/2002
  10 .  Equipment: 35 MM vs Medium format
I understand the benefits of a 6 x 7 format over the 35 mm format, but my question is, is
there a "justifiable" difference between the 35 mm format and the 6 x 4.5 format?
Cropping wise and enlargement quality?

PS: Thank you guys, this is a great way to obtain much needed information!

7/27/2002 10:13:30 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  Where's John L.? This is one of his favorite questions to answer.

I'm sure John will be along to give you the technical and practical aspects. I will point out the common sense aspect. Do you think 645 would be such a popular format if there wasn't a justifiable difference? I guess the only one who knows whether it's a big enough difference is you. My choice was to go with the 6x7. I'm a bigger is better kinda guy and I like to be able to do large prints. What size prints to you want to be able to make? Also keep in mind that the larger the negative, not only do you get finer grain but the tonal gradations improve as well.

I'll let John fill in the rest. ;-)))

7/27/2002 10:02:15 PM

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