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Thread: Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

  1. #1
    Steve Williams_812's Avatar
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    Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    I have been struggling for the past year with a decision to abandon the view camera as a tool in my photographic arsenal. The evidence (film shot) shows that I am not using it as I once did. Down from hundreds of negatives per year last year to a mere 15 this past year.

    For a variety of reasons my available time to photograph has changed and the projects I am working on run parallel to daily activities so I have been carrying my Leica with me most of the time. I have continued to work on a landscape project that has developed from my near daily dog walks. I have been using the Leica for this as well but am not pleased with the print quality much beyond 5x7 inch prints.

    So I have been considering an alternative to my 8x10 camera---the Mamiya 7. I toyed with the idea of going back to 4x5 but it would present the same issues as the 8x10---slow and not as mobile as necessary.

    I borrowed a Mamiya 7 from a friend and it certainly fits into my life and the dog walks. I suspect I will be happy with the print quality since I used to be pleased with negatives from other medium format cameras.

    I wish I could afford to keep the 8x10 and get the Mamiya but I just don't have the cash.

    And last, my back gives me occassional problems that carrying the big camera around does not help.

    So there you have it. Am I neglecting to consider something in my thinking?

    steve
    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  2. #2
    Scott Davis
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    Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    Look into something like a Speed or Crown Graphic, with a 90mm lens. That will get you the 4x5, but in a form factor designed for handheld use. You can put it on a neck strap and carry it with you, self-cased and ready to use. Don't forget to add a grafmatic 6-shot film holder. Then you don't have to worry about carrying film holders separately. That combo is not much bigger or heavier than a decent set of birding binoculars. If that's still too much, look into one of the 6x9 Graphic cameras - that will let you use rollfilm, and a wide range of lenses, and still give you some of the movements you've come to expect with your view camera, that you won't get with the Mamiya 7. And, the 6x9 Graphic will actually be smaller than the Mamiya 7. You can close it up and stuff it in a large coat pocket.

  3. #3

    Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    Steve,
    Unless you're contact-printing, the biggest difference is likely the ability to use movements. Since you're comfortable with the Leica, the Mamiya 7 will be an easy transition - it's a large rangefinder and works very much the same way.
    If printing digitally from good scans, the 6x7 frame will give you an astounding amount of detail (print quality is subjective obviously, but I find my 6x7 and 4x5 chromes produce comparable results up to 16x20 or so).
    The Mamiya lenses are some of the sharpest you will find anywhere. If it's a better fit for your lifestyle I say go for it. You can always pick up another 8x10 down the road, probably for the same or less than what you will get for your system today.

    Guy
    Scenic Wild Photography

  4. #4

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    Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    The Mamiya 7 is a fine camera, and the prices of them on ebay have been through the roof. How you can compare the print quality to an 8x10 is another matter. If the view camera doesn't fit into your work at this time, and you can not afford to keep it sitting around then sell it. Although to me cameras are like guns, and I was always told once you buy one don't sell it. That being said I have sold view cameras to upgrade, and guns all with regret. You may want that Mamiya 7, but find another way to fund it or wait until you can afford it. Again I think the price is a little high at this time.

  5. #5
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    I would quibble with Guy a bit in that I start to see the differences between 6x9 and 4x5 after 11x14 but tht is only a smallquibble and the Mamiya 7 has superb optics. OTOH as already mentioned the main thing you are giving up is the movements adn for my work they become critical in a lot of landscape shots. There are a wide variety of small form factor, light weight 4x5's that you can consider and you may even be able to keep using many of your current lenses.

  6. #6
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    Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    Steve, I've had substantial experience with all three of the camera types you mention - 8x10, Leica and Mamiya 6/7, and understand your frustrations with both the very large and the very small. Certainly, if the logistics of the 8x10 are making it impossible for you to enjoy photography, it's a good idea to consider a change.

    In my experience and for my taste, the Mamiyas, while excellent cameras overall, are an uncomfortable compromise. On the one hand, the Mamiya is just not nearly so comfortable or fluid or versatile in hand-held use as an M-Leica, because of the square or squarish formats, the longer focal lengths (hence reduced DOF), the slower maximum apertures, and the increased size and weight. On the other hand, the Mamiyas make for awkward tripod cameras, because the framelines depart very substantially from what you actually get on the negative for subjects from midrange to infinity.

    OTOH, these things may not bother you. If you've tried a 7 and are comfortable with it, it's not crazy. I'm not sure the lack of movements is a big deal, though I do miss front rise a bit when I'm working with wider lenses on a squarish format. I don't think a 2x3 Graphic is a substitute for a Mamiya 6 or 7 - the handling is wildly different, and to my taste, even less suited to quick and fluid snapshooting.

    As for 4x5, I think that whether that is a good compromise for you depends on whether you want primarily to do tripod-based work or hand-held snapshooting.

  7. #7

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    Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    >>> I have continued to work on a landscape project that has developed from my near daily dog walks.<<<

    What dog did you have that would wait around while you shot 8x10? My wife won't even do that!

    I compromised with the "Texas Leica" Fuji 690 III 6x9 rangefinder for "walking around" shots. Good decision.

  8. #8
    Doug Dolde
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    Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    The Mamiya 7 is a great camera and the lenses are incredibly sharp.

    The only real downside is you can't see through the lens. The meter looks at the lower right quadrant I found so there can be a tendency to blow out bright sky on transparency film Using a 1 or 2 stop soft threaded grad filter can be a big help in this regard.

  9. #9

    Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    I agree with Al. I had the GSW 690 II and loved it. I only sold it as I'm like a lot of us here, want a new toy you gotta move somthing.

  10. #10
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Giving up the view camera---am I nuts?

    Regarding my earlier post ... I do not own and have not used the Mamiya 7 extensively. OTOH, I have used a "Texas Leica" for some 12 years and it is now nearing 300 on the second time around on the counter. It is as close to indestructible as you can get in a camera and a joy to use. I can esily handhold it in most circumstances down to 1/15. No, it does nto replacea view camera but it does do yeoman duty in many instances.

    Another thought,if your dog has the patience to wait while you etup and compose with an 8x10 then what about the ultra lightweight 4x5 options, the Toho or the Gowland?

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