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gsingh 26th February 2015 06:59 PM

Choosing a medium camera
I'm on the look at possibly getting a 6x6 medium format camera. Before I talk about the camera I have a few questions I hope someone can help me with.

1. Would I be able to develop the negatives myself or can only a lab do this with it being a medium format?

2. Can you get auto focus cameras/lenses in the medium format?

3. Generally speaking how fast are the shutter speeds? I don't want a camera where you can only have very slow shutter speeds. I would like to be able to set the shutter speeds high.

4. Do you recommend medium slr or range finder cameras?

5. Can you get flashguns for m. cameras like you can with most 35mm cameras?

6. With rangefinder cameras is it difficult to judge what the lens is seeing?

I have seen some m. cameras and the viewfinders are tiny. How come they are so small? Does anyone know a good 6x6 camera they could recommend me?

CambsIan 26th February 2015 07:55 PM

Hi gsingh

There are others on here with a lot more knowledge than me but here are my thoughts

1... Can definitely develop 120 film at home at home ( I do )

2.... Yes both manual and auto focus (Fuji for example), but think many more are manual than auto

3... Mine go up to about 1/400 but others go faster I have seen some at 1/500th, think my Fuji is a lot faster still.

4, 5, and 6 will let others with way more experience than me answer those.


CarlH 26th February 2015 08:07 PM

1. B&W is very easy to do, developing tanks will take 35mm or 120 film lots of youtube videos to watch.
2. I've not seen any and if there are will be very expensive i would think
3. Hasselblad 200 series cameras have focal plane shutters 1/2000 sec speed
4. slr easier to frame the image, use grad filters. Rangefinders easier to carry and very quiet to use.
5. yes get one that uses a pc cord
6. no

Mike O'Pray 26th February 2015 08:12 PM

The Pentax 645N is autofocus with a top speed of 1/1000th. It does not have the advantage of inserts that you can change mid-roll but unless you suddenly see a shot that cries out for colour when you have a B&W film in it then this isn't too much of a problem. With 16 shots per roll so probably all shot the same day it is likely that light conditions will remain much the same

However I have no idea how much you have to spend. It will cost several hundred pounds and with the standard 75mm lens you might need to budget for 450 at least

Have a look at the Ken Rockwell site. He has a good review of this camera

The older fixed lens folders are a much cheaper way into MF


skellum 26th February 2015 10:16 PM

Hi gsingh.
Before we suggest particular cameras, can you tell us a couple of things?

First, what kind of subjects are you hoping to shoot? (Some MF cameras are fairly compact and quick to use, others are really studio beasts)

What shape prints do you like? Square, rectangle?? The more you pick a format that suits your style the less you'll crop and waste film.

How tight is your budget? I'm afraid this is a very big question- an old 6x6 manual folder could be yours for 20 quid. A Hasselblad with 2 or 3 lenses could run to a couple of thousand easily. Remember, just a few years back top quality MF cameras were almost exclusively used by working professionals.

Last question (and the hardest)- why are you thinking of medium format? It usually involves carrying more (heavier) gear. The cameras are often slower to work with.
On a positive side, MF can make big, beautiful, creamy smooth prints. Have you seen prints made from medium format negatives to compare to 35mm? And I mean real prints, not viewed on the web.
I don't want to put you off, as I use medium format a lot, but picking the wrong camera can be a big disappointment.
The more we know what you're thinking the more we can help.


paulc 26th February 2015 11:15 PM


Originally Posted by skellum (Post 100942)
How tight is your budget? I'm afraid this is a very big question- an old 6x6 manual folder could be yours for 20 quid. A Hasselblad with 2 or 3 lenses could run to a couple of thousand easily. Remember, just a few years back top quality MF cameras were almost exclusively used by working professionals.

If one is to throw auto-focus in to the mix, costs increase - Any AF camera will require complex (and expensive) lenses, and there is greater costs involved if/when it goes wrong.

One advantage of medium format is the larger viewfinder - If you use a camera with a waist level finder, it usually has a pop-up magnifier so that you can get a closer look at some detail to check on focus. The downside to most MF cameras is the bulk and weight, a small folder will probably weigh about the same as a small 35mm SLR. A full blown Mamiya RB/RZ kit could give you a hernia :eek:

alexmuir 26th February 2015 11:20 PM

I think that autofocus is an unnecessary complication in this situation, unless you have a big budget. Only a few MF cameras were developed with AF systems, and they were expensive when new. If AF is essential, I would recommend sticking with 35mm where there is a vast choice of very sophisticated equipment at reasonable prices.
The other point is that many MF cameras have a maximum speed of 1/500. If high shutter speeds are essential, 35mm is again a better choice. There are reasons, however, why high speeds might not be as important in MF. The design of many MF cameras allows them to be hand held at slower speeds. They also tend to use leaf shutters which are different from the type used in 35 mm SLRs. They allow flash to be used at any shutter speed, which can be useful.
While I agree that the old folding MF cameras can be a good starting point, I think it can be difficult to find a good, working example, unless you have quite a bit of knowledge and experience. If you can afford it, I would suggest one of the 645 SLRs would possibly be a more reliable choice. I'm thinking of the Bronica ETRS, Mamiya 645 or Pentax 645. I would check out examples from dealers where you get some sort of warranty.
I hope this helps,

gsingh 27th February 2015 08:10 PM

Thanks for all your comments so far. Here are the answers to the questions raised:

I'm wanting to use MF for mainly portraight images like head shots. Still images mainly.

Ideally I want to shoot 6x6 but anything that is close to a square I don't mind. I don't want rectangular. I could get away with 6x7, what do you think?

Budget I would say 100.

I want to shoot on MF to be able to make large potraight prints. Not needing to crop would solve a lot of headaches and time. I also want to make small prints too from the MF negatives but as they will be mainly of head shots and people I think square images would be better. I will be looking at shooting mainly b&w and sometimes colour.

I have been thinking of this question over the last few days, why do I want to shoot on MF? Smartphones such as mine have decent cameras and for most people they are more than enough. When I first started using 35mm my big concern was I would not have enough shots per roll but that has proven not to be the case. I like I'm sure many other people have hundreds of images on their smartphones but I found that I had to delete most of them because they were rubbish. Since using 35mm film yes I have had less shots to play with but I have kept more of my images. Less waste and my time with film has been so much more productive. Using bigger formats though there are less shots available would suite me just fine.

I haven't actually seen real life prints from MF just from the web though I would like to though.

Argentum 27th February 2015 09:30 PM

have a look a Fuji GA645zi

its 4x3 aspect ratio in portrait orientation when camera is level.

Suitable for portraits and groups.

If you can find a good one then its worth considering.

But you won't get one for 100

Jakecb 27th February 2015 10:44 PM


Originally Posted by Argentum (Post 100975)
you won't get one for 100

I think he's right, you might struggle to get one for that.

Keep us posted though

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