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

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2001

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

    I like to integrate the camera into my life (take it with me all the time)

    The Mamiya 6 is actually better for this than the 7. The size/weight specs look almost identical, but the lens mount on the 6 collapses while that on the 7 is fixed. That means that I can fit the 6 with lens and a few rolls of film into the same tiny little shoulder bag I use to carry an M-Leica, or into the corner of a case that I'm carrying for other reasons. Can't do it with the 7; carrying that is more of a production, where life starts to revolve around the camera.

    Another plus with the 6, at least for my taste, is that the lenses for the 7 are newer designs that have picked up a bit of the fuzzy-mealy OOF look that I dislike in Fujinons. The 6 lenses, especially the 75, are mercifully free of that.

    OTOH, the 6 is square, which some people find hard to get used to. Perhaps most important, and the reason I can't whole-heartedly recommend the 6, is that it's been out of production for about a decade now, and Mamiya America has run out of replacement winder assemblies. So if something breaks in the film wind and it needs a whole new assembly rather than just an adjustment, you're stuck. Not that the wind mechanism is especially vulnerable so far as I know, but if it does go, it's a problem now.

    Something to think about, anyway. If you don't share my Fujinon-allergy and don't need the utmost in compactness, I'm sure you could be really happy with the 7 as well.

  2. #22

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Orange, CA

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

    P.S. The Lowepro Photo Runner is a great little fanny pack for a Mamiya 7 kit. It will hold the camera, three lenses, film and filters without problem in a small, compact package.

  3. #23

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

    Hi Steve, I also recommend you have a look at the Mamiya 7. Like you, my gear inventory also currently includes Leicas, which are used for personal B&W shooting. But for my current documentary projects I use a Mamiya 7 for a walk-around camera when shooting with my 8x10 Phillips is not practical. The lenses for the Mamiya 7 are astoundingly sharp. As others here have mentioned, the quality up to 16x20 rivals 4x5. The drawbacks are the lack of close focusing ability (1meter/39 inches max) for the lenses I use, the 43mm and 80mm. The 43mm is amazingly free of distortion for such a wide lens. Many people, myself included, got into this system so we could use this marvelous optic.

    The Mamiya is a bit slower to deploy than your Leica, which is much faster in practical use. The Mamiya lenses also cannot be changed as quickly, and you get 10 shots to a roll of 120, or 20 with 220. Others have reported problems using 220 but I have never seen it. I carry the Mamiya 7 and lenses in a small Domke F3X bag, which is perfect and fits all the film and accessories I need. The Mamiya 7 bodies are not as well built as Leicas, but they are still plenty rugged and I have no complaints whatsoever. I clearly recall how pleasantly surprised I was when the first negatives came back from the lab. Despite the compromises of the camera, you will not be disappointed if first class image quality in a small package is what you need.

  4. #24

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

    Interesting thread that probably most of us can relate to. I'm always looking for a easier to use camera while trying to retain individual sheet processing and lots of film territory as I contact print. I also need to use ND filters.

    You didn't metion anything about using a tripod with the Leica. Do you not use one on your walks? It seems to me that a Leica should be able to produce better and larger prints then 5x7.

  5. #25

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

    I have always hankered after one of those 6x7 rangefinder cameras. I prefer the 8x10 but it is a project to set it up. I would say don't mess with 4x5 as it's almost as time consuming to deal with film holders and such.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jan 2001

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

    It seems to me that a Leica should be able to produce better and larger prints then 5x7.

    Wayne, that depends on your taste in print character. My M-Leica glass is superb, and I've done plenty of experiments with a Leica on a tripod using slow film, but I just don't like the look of a 35mm negative enlarged more than about 5x. I can very much dig Steve's point of view.

  7. #27

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    near Stirling, Scotland

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

    As others have said, the Mamiya 7 is an excellent camera in many ways. It has been my mainstay for landscape work for the past 7 years, and coupled with a Nikon 8000ED film scanner, gives me scans which deliver 20x30" prints. The lenses are as good as people say.

    People have mentioned the niggles -- a couple more to ponder on. I find the 43mm quite difficult to use, for two reasons: (a) the lack of close focus, which imposes limits on the close foreground / distant background shots I often like with a wideangle, and (b) the accessory viewfinder. It is, though, a VERY high quality wideangle.

    For landscape work, the 65mm lens is my mainstay. Used at least 75% of the time. If only buying one lens, give thought to this one.

    If buying on eBay, check out the UK prices (see Prices are often lower than in the US (true for medium format in general), and you don't face onerous import taxes, unlike us heavily taxed Brits. Right now there are none for sale, but once the holiday season is over, there is usually a couple of camera bodies, and a selection of lenses, posted at any one time. If cost is a consideration, don't ignore the original Mamiya 7 body -- the differences to the M7 Mk II are minor, and I actually prefer the operation of the original M7. In particular, the move of the remote release socket to the left side on the M7II precludes its use for me, since I like to use Kirk L brackets on my Mamiys 7 bodies, which block the socket on the M7II.

    Finally, if buying 2nd-hand, budget $100 or so for a service, to ensure the camera is working properly, and that the focus is right. One responder mentioned problems with the 150mm lens, which is common if the focus is not spot-on (sadly, this occurs all too frequently with the M7s, both Mk I and Mk II).

    BTW, I'm currently building my first LF system, based around a Wista DX 5x4, and enjoying it thoroughly. However, my Mamiyas are NOT going anywhere -- they are just too darn good!

  8. #28

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Newbury, Vermont

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

    You know, Frank might have a point about the need to "move on" once in a while. I'd like to suggest that you consider, as a walking around camera, a used Rolleiflex TLR. An F model (2.8 or 3.5) from the 60's, fitted with a Maxwell screen, is a wonderful device in its simplicity, precision, and design concept which for me facilitates an intimacy with both process and subject similar to that which I find with a view camera - with the major difference (the "moving on" part), aside from the lack of movements and film dimensions, being the embracing of the square format.

    I design and build view cameras, and will always use them. But I also use Leicas and Nikons, have used the Mamiya 6 but had troubles with the electronics frying.

    I've had an on again off again affair with Rolleiflex TLR's going back many years. I currently own a Rollei 3.5F, and with it both pop up and prism finders, plus a Rolleinar #2 close up lens. This camera combines some of the better attributes of both reflex and rangefinder cameras, as while offering reflex viewing, the image doesn't go blank while exposing. Used off the tripod, I find the Rollei to be very quick and unobtrusive around people - while as a tripod camera, peering down into the rich, bright Maxwell screen, I can lose myself in a subject much as I can with a view camera.

    I also find myself becoming more "visually resourceful" with the Rollei, due its the lack of lens interchangeability, which I often find both refreshing and inspiring. Having said this, I also must say that I once owned a Hasselblad SWC along with a Rollei TLR - and this pair was, right up with a Leica with 28 and 50mm lenses, my favorite "walking around" combo.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2004

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

    Perhaps the smartest thing to do would be to dump all the film equipment and replace them with a full frame Canon DSLR. The quality in a 16x20 print is outstanding, although lacking in absolute resolution compared to larger formats. You could add a 24-70 f/2.8 and some TS lenses. If your need for quality went up you could shoot a mosiaced image (static scene of course) and stomp LF into the ground.

  10. #30

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Massachusetts USA

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

    "I immediately found disappointment with the 150mm (retired portrait photographer so I may be picky on telephotos) and sold it back"

    May I ask, what is the problem with the 150 - particularly for portraits ? I have often thought that the Mamiya 7 with the 150 would be good for hand-held portraits.

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