I'm thinking about getting an MF Rangefinder ...

Discussion in 'Equipment & Media' started by Hamish Gill, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    I've gone to use Petes Mamiya c3 a few times recently, but with the bad weather, not feeling confident i can look after it out and about and generally finding it a little large for much of the sort of shooting i enjoy its not getting used as much as i feel it should...
    So... Im thinking of some sort of MF RF ...

    Im aware of the Mamiya 6 and 7 and Bronica RF as interchangeable lens options ... but im not sure i want to go down that road for the expense and ... well, im not so sure having the option for buying more lenses is good for me ...

    That takes me to fixed lens options ...
    Id like something a little more modern than an older Voigtlander Bessa, but not as expensive as a new Voigtlander Bessa ...

    Fuji ... so many options ...
    And none it seems 6x6 which would be my format of choice ...
    6x4.5 looks as though it keeps the size down ... which narrows things down to the GS645 or GS645a ...
    or maybe go for a 6x7 and look at a fuji 670 of some sort ... but i get a bit lost on trying to find info on anything apart from the new one ... which is very expensive!!!

    Any thoughts?
  2. Larry Bolch

    Larry Bolch Member

    If you have found the X100 fits into your comfort zone, you might look for the similar Plaubel Makina 67. I used it in much the same way when shooting travel on medium format. It is built like a tank, but weighs somewhat less. The lens is on a massively rigid rig that lets it collapse while maintaining perfect alignment and allowing it to be much more compact. It has built-in linked metering that has proven to be remarkably accurate—far more than expected—even when shooting highly unforgiving chromes. The Nikon f/2.8 80mm lens is a gem.

    When the major stuff in the assignment was shot for the day, and I was wandering the area, going for dinner and the like, this was the camera I would carry. The difference between 6×6 and 6×7 is fairly minimal—10 shots on a roll rather than 12—and still the full 6cm wide film, with loads of room to crop a vertical if needed. However, the camera is very easy to shoot in vertical position if the shot is anticipated. The focusing knob surrounds the large, but short throw shutter button, and it has the usual thumb-lever film advance. Handling is very comfortable with lots of surface to grip. The 80mm focal length is just slightly longer than the X100, but hardly noticeable, and like the X100 you zoom with your feet.


    I have not priced them recently, but when they went off the market, I expected to buy one cheap. They went the other way and doubled or even tripled in price. I saw one advertised for as high as $2,995US. In 2000, I was in a camera store buying my first digital, the classic Coolpix 990. To my astonishment, they guy beside me was trading in a 67. The moment he left, I priced it. I assume the salesdude had not even booked it into stock or checked current selling prices. He said "$795"(Cdn) and my plastic flashed through the air for it as well. Superb, completely self-contained camera like the X100. Just carry the camera, without the need for a camera bag full of stuff.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  3. Larry Bolch

    Larry Bolch Member

    Another thought occurred. It is a long time since this camera was on the market, but if you find any, well worth glomming on. It was the ultimate system rangefinder with three different bodies, no end of backs and a huge variety of lenses—the Graflex XL system. For many years, it was my MF-RF workhorse.

    There was a standard rangefinder body, a body without rangefinder and a thin body for super-wide lenses. You could also buy body sections to add on for macro work. There were a bunch of off-brand, cheap lenses, but also things like the 47mm SuperAngulon on my wide-body so sharp you had to handle it with hockey gloves. Not only would it cover 6×9, but would also cover 3¼×4¼ Polaroid with p/n film which also yielded a fine negative. Yes, there was a Polaroid back. I also had a very impressive 56mm Rodenstock Grandagon w-a, and I have a 180mm Zeiss Sonnar that is spectacular. I never had one, but there were also Zeiss Planars available.

    It had a standard Graflok adapter, so backs from many companies worked—645, 6×6, 6×7 and 6×9. Both standard 2¼×3¼ sheet film holders worked as did Grafmatic magazines. All had dark-slides, so you could not only change film in mid-shoot, you could also change format! Standard Graflok focusing screens were available with or without fresnel lenses for brightness. Lots of accessories, hand-grips, focusing levers and so on. In essence a whole bunch of camera parts from which you assembled the camera you needed at the moment. Everything snapped together, so no tools were needed.
  4. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

    Hi Hamish, I think Larry's recommendation of the Plaubel 67 pretty sensible and probably fits the bill (mind they seem to sell for £1500 - £2000!). As he says, the difference between 6x6 and 6x7 is pretty marginal. As you know, I have a Mamiya 7II (they sell for about £700 - £800 with an 80mm lens). If I could have found a 6 in the right condition I would probably have gone with that. I tend to use the 65mm lens the most but the 80 is nice also. How about a Pentax 67 (Commercial Cameras has one and lots of lenses in at the moment). I'm sure that Rense could give you some pointers.
  5. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    Cheers for the thoughts, I do appriciate the effort, but to much money larry I'm afraid!
    Although the Pentax 67 looks interesting!
    Can I have a link Pete
  6. Pete Askew

    Pete Askew Admin

  7. Larry Bolch

    Larry Bolch Member

    Pure luck I stumbled into the deal. I suspect the salesdude had no idea what the camera was, and snatched a price out of the air. It showed a little wear on the film advance, but was otherwise in perfect condition.

    While the Pentax 67 is not a rangefinder, it has always been great value for the money, since it has a focal plane shutter and lots of options and accessories. Great if you are not using flash, since sync is only something like 1/30th of a second. No fill-flash outdoors in sunlight. It is large, but handles nicely. A great variety of excellent lenses are available at prices well below most medium-format lenses. If you think your D3 is loud, wait till you hear this. The mirror slap will alert the local constabulary who will think it a terrorist attack.

    The paper I worked for had one and I really liked it. However, my final SLR choice was the Bronica ETR 645. I was living in subtropics at the time, and fill-flash was vital for much of the day, with the sun mostly overhead. Handled well and did not weigh much more than a 35mm, but produced over three times the image area. Very good compromise. AE finder available for shooting aperture priority. Reputed to be much more robust than the Hasselflexes of the time, at a fraction of the cost. Of course, I had a variety of rangefinder stuff to cover the 6×6 to 6×10 range when more area was needed. It too allowed sync at all shutter speeds. I also had a Mamiya RB67 at one time. Super camera, but you really needed a domestic Sherpa to carry it and lenses.

Share This Page