Medium format cameras
Medium format (MF):
- Medium format cameras use 120 or 220 roll film, which is about 6
centimeters wide (2 and 1/4 inches). This size of roll film was introduced
in 1898 by Kodak for its Folding Pocket KODAK Camera. It thus seems safe to
say that the world has reached agreement on the proper height for a
medium-format negative. On the other hand, nobody has ever agreed on the
proper width. There are many standard widths for 120 camera frames: 645,
6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, 6x12, and 6x17. These numbers are ostensibly in
centimeters although in practice a 6x6 camera such as a Hasselblad will
expose a 56 x 56 mm frame.
- thus for a rectangle (6x4.5), a 6x6 or 6x4.5 camera
will produce 56mm x 41.5mm = 2324 sq mm, while a 6x7 camera 56mm x 69.5mm =
3892 sq mm and thus is nearly 1.7x the area (by comparison 6x4.5 is 2.7x the
area of 35mm film which is 36x24mm = 864 sq.mm)
- medium format film can be scanned (emulsion films
scan better than traditional B&W films) to achieve various resolutions
depending on the scanner:
- thus when scanning 6x6 film (actually
- at 1200dpi = 7 megapixels (ie.
- at 2400x1200 dpi = 14 megapixels
- at 2400dpi = 28 megapixels
- at 4800dpi = 112 megapixels
- see Image Science
- many film photographers feel that a 6x6 camera can be printed well to
16"x16", but larger prints start to lose the creamy tonality.
Likewise a 6x7 or 6x9 can print to 16"x20" for the same quality as
a 6x6 printed to 16"x16".
- note that the future of medium format is likely to
be 6x4.5 digital backs (even if using a 6x7 medium format)
- perhaps the best cameras for the future are those
that will be able to take digital backs and are designed to maximise the
advantages of medium format such as:
- Mamiya 645AFD $A6000 basic kit with one AF lens
and film back only
- Hasselblad H1D
(but very expensive) ?$A34000 with digital back (nb. H1 film kit =
- Fuji GX680III (very big but hybrid with view
cameras) $A6400 body only;
- if you want a MF camera that can do things
a 17mpixel DSLR such as a Canon or Nikon definitely can't do, then
this may be the camera, otherwise you may be better off getting a high
end DSLR with a great quality lens or two.
- if you can't afford the above, and you really want to do MF film work,
consider 2nd hand:
- Hasselblad 503cx/cxi/cw or 501cm for
general purpose (older models such as 500cm may be OK but more likely to
need expensive servicing)
- Mamiya RZ for studio based work or architectural work
6 x 4.5cm
- The 645 format is the smallest, lightest, and cheapest roll-film design.
Negatives are a little squatter than the standard 35mm frame (24x36mm) and
therefore full-frame printing on standard paper sizes such as 8x10 need not
require a cropping decision. What you get is a sharper deeper negative that
enlarges beyond 11x14 with more grace and is easier to handle if you do your
own darkroom work. Sadly, it is also vastly more expensive and difficult to
scan than a 35mm neg, so keep that in mind.
- Mamiya pioneered the 645SLR system camera in 1975.
- Fuji has done great things to promote this format. They make 645 lenses
that are just as good as Hasselblad's 6x6 lenses. They charge less than half
the price. Then they throw in a perfectly good body behind the lens for
free! Sometimes Fuji puts a meter in the body, something that apparently
costs 'Blad about $5,000 extra. Sometimes Fuji puts in an autofocus
mechanism (they were the first to do so in the medium-format world).
Sometimes Fuji adds a wide-to-normal zoom lens! Whatever they do, the
integrated camera, body, meter, and lens costs about as much as a Hasselblad
or Rollei film back.
- Zenza Bronica:
- discontinued in 2004; Bronica has been taken over by Tamron and
the future of these cameras seems limited as repairs will probably cease
- ETR (1976):
- electronic lens leaf shutter 1/8th-1/500th sec & Time;
mechanical 1/500th sec;
- film holders for 120 x 15exp, 220 x 30exp, & 70mm x 90exp,
polaroid x8 exposures backs
- interchangeable viewfinders - waist; AE finder; rotary prism;
plain prism; sportfinder;
- interchangeable focusing screens
- flash sync - X at all speeds;
- 75mm f/2.8 MC lens, 58mm filter; - avoid
- 50mm f/2.8 lens & 150mm f/4 lens take 62mm filter;
- Zenzanon PE lenses are the ones designed for the ETR system
- opt. motor drive or speed handle
- spare parts no longer available
- ETRS (1978):
- support for AEII & AEIII (spot and centre weighted) finders
which are much better than the AE finder
- ETRSi (1988):
- RF645 rangefinder:
- with 65mm lens = $A4555 (2005)
- Mamiya 645 (1975):
- Modular design camera with interchangeable film backs, screens,
viewfinders and motor drive grip.
- Mamiya 645 Super (1985):
- AE prism finder allows selection from three exposure metering
modes, average, spot and A/S matrix. G-mark product.
- Mamiya 645 Pro (1992):
- Updated design of M645 Super, featuring heavy duty mechanics for
continuous motorized use with optional Power Drive Grip.
- Built-in electronic self timer, auto coupling for dual shutter
operation with Power Drive Grip II to N/L Series leaf shutter
- 645 Pro SV pack (1995):
- Complete outfit including Mamiya 645 PRO body, 80mm f/2.8 N
standard lens, 120 film magazine, and new SV AE Reflex finder
with auto or manual exposure and built-in adjustable diopter.
- 645 Pro SVX pack (1996):
- Complete outfit including Mamiya 645 PRO body, 80mm f/2.8 N
standard lens, 120 film magazine, and new non-metering SVX
Reflex finder built-in adjustable diopter.
- Mamiya 645 Pro TL (1997):
- Updated design of the Mamiya 645 Pro, including all of its
features plus dedicated TTL flash capability.
- features TTL/OTF flash automation, when coupled with Metz, Quantum
and Sunpak TTL compatible flash units.
- multiple exposure and mirror lock-up as standard features with a
flip of a single switch
- The optional 645 Pro AE Prism Finder (included in the 645 Pro TL
Value Pack) with Mamiya's exclusive A/S Matrix Metering System
offers spot, average or matrix measurement in manual mode or
aperture priority auto.
- The 645 Series offers three 645 N/L leaf shutter lenses in the
most popular 55mm, 80mm and 150mm focal length for high synch speeds
to 1/500 second. These lenses allow flash synchronization at all
speeds from 4 seconds to 1/60 with the camera focal plane shutter
and 1/30 to 1/500 second, plus T with the lens shutter,
- Film advance, shutter cocking and instant mirror return are
accomplished with a fast, single wind of the folding rapid advance
- 2005: new price reductions to clear stock: body only was $A2400
- Mamiya 645E (2000):
- entry level with TTL metering but no TTL flash & no autofocus.
- Inclusive body design features include a built-in metered reflex
finder with diopter adjustment, 120 or 220 film insert capabilities,
multi-exposure control, in-camera center-weighted metering,
electronically-timed focal plane shutter, optional Rapid Wind Grip
and world -class Mamiya 645 lenses from fish eye wide angle to 500mm
telephoto, plus two zoom lenses.
- Mamiya 645AF (1999):
- Modular design 6x4.5 format autofocus SLR with interchangeable
Film Magazines, screens, and a new line of autofocus lenses.
Built-in autoexposure Prism Finder (P, Av, Tv, M, X, and T exposure
modes plus A, S, and A-S auto-shift metering patterns) and Power
Drive Grip, plus infrared focus assist, new TTL flash metering
technology, metal focal plane shutter with max shutter speed of
1/4000 sec and flash sync at 1/125 sec, LCD data panels on board for
both the camera body and the film back.
- Mamiya 645 manual focus lenses ARE NOT directly compatible with
the Mamiya 645 AFD Series. However, they can be used under strict
limitations; the non-AF lenses WILL NOT operate the diaphragm and
will ONLY operate in stopped-down metering.
- Mamiya 645AFD (2004/5):
- introduced 2004/5 - as for 645AF but with direct communication
links for digital backs.
- x sync 1/125th sec;
- body + 80mm AF + 120/220 back $A6000 (2005) - Ebay in 2008 ~
- Mamiya 645AFD II:
- Pentax 645:
- Pentax 645N:
- AF is slow and noisy.
- You can run the camera off six standard AA batteries that fit in
- There is no mirror lock-up
- Hasselblad H series autofocus cameras (2001)
6 x 6cm cameras:
- 12exp. per 120 roll
- Lenses project circular image disks. If you park a rectangular section of
film behind the lens, you're wasting much of this "circle of good
definition". If you expose circular frames of film, you're wasting much
of the film. If you expose square frames of film that fit exactly inside the
image circle, you're not wasting any film and you're wasting as little image
circle as possible. Thus the lenses for a Hasselblad (6x6) are much lighter
than the lenses for any 6x7 camera. If you're going to suffer with the
weight of medium-format lenses, then you should at least put film underneath
as much of their image circle as possible, something that only a square
format does. However, digital backs will only be 6x4.5cm and if you print to
8"x10" from 6x6 negatives the you are forced to crop.
- If you're rich and strong, try the Rollei
6008 single-lens reflex system. If you are travelling and want something
light, the Mamiya 6
rangefinder system is wonderful. If you're poor, you might consider a
twin-lens reflex such as the Yashica 124 or Mamiya.
- Rollei fototechnic:
- Almost all Zeiss lenses available in Hasselblad mounts are also
available with Rollei mounts and shutters but at considerably higher
- Film magazines are available for 120, 220, 70mm, and Polaroid film.
Square 6x6 and horizontal 6x4.5 formats are offered. The film magazines
are one of the best features of the Rollei system. Moving a single
handle rolls the dark slide within the magazine, simultaneously
protecting the film and mechanically enabling the magazine to be
removed. Each film magazine contains an ISO dial that couples to the
6008's meter. If one is using autoexposure, grabbing a shot with a
different emulsion takes seconds and there is no possibility of exposure
error, dropping a dark slide or other contretemps. The Polaroid magazine
lacks the sophisticated laminar dark slide but is otherwise functional.
In general, Rollei makes mid-roll film changing easier than any other
- Rollei 6003:
- cheaper version than the 6008.
- Rollei 6008 (Integral version 1995 has extended metering down
to EV 0 instead of 3):
- Metering with the 6008 is straightforward. A large knob on the
left side of the camera selects three modes: center-weighted; 1%
spot; automatic average of five spot readings. (Don't need to buy an
optional expensive cw metering prism as with H'blad 500).
- built-in motor drive.
- powered by a 9.6V NiCd battery. The camera becomes a doorstop when
this runs down, which is after about 300 exposures.
A low battery warning appears about 20 exposures before death and
swapping in a spare battery takes about 10 seconds. Spares are
compact and cost about $165. An amateur might be able to get by
without one since a 15 minute charge is good for 50 shots.
- Flash photography with the Rollei/Metz C70 adaptor/Metz 45CT-5
combination is disappointing after one has experienced the joys of
the Nikon flash system (even before the D metering of the N90). The
film speed set on the film magazine does not affect the exposure;
only the film speed set on the C70 adaptor.
- Mamiya 6x6 rangefinders:
- Mamiya 6 (1989):
- 6x6 rangefinder with 75mm f/3.5 lens.
- World's first 6x6 format compact rangefinder camera with
interchangeable lenses (50, 75 and 150mm) and retractable lens
- Large and bright view finder frames with parallax compensation and
fully electronic shutter with manual or auto exposure control.
- Mamiya 6MF (1993):
- Version of Mamiya 6 6x6cm compact rangefinder camera with built-in
frame lines and optional masks for multi-format capability in 6x6cm,
6x4.5cm and 24x54mm 35mm panoramic formats.
- Bronica 6x6:
- see Bronica SQ system for more
- discontinued in 2004;
- use Zenzanon PS lenses which are sharper than the PE lenses of the ETR
system and most have 67mm filters:
- 35/3.5 fisheye
- 40/4 - widest rectilinear wide angle but 95mm filters!!
- 50/3.5 - with a filter size of 77mm, is the widest that can be
used with Cokin P filters
- 80mm f/2.8 standard - good for full length people photos &
- 150/4 and the 200/4.5:
- Neither the 150, which focuses to 1.5m, nor the 200, which
focuses to 2.5m, can get close enough for a tight headshot
without a tube, and furthermore, both of those lenses have a
maximum extension of 17mm, meaning that there's a range of
distances corresponding to extensions between 17mm and 18mm that
are too short for the lens by itself but too long for the lens
plus the S-18 tube.
- 180/4.5 - focuses down to 1m
- Bronica SQ:
- Bronica SQ-A:
- introduced 1982; contact pins for viewfinder increased from 6 to
10 to allow auto-metering; mirror lock up; darkslides changed to
- Bronica SQ-Ai:
- introduced 1990; optional motor drive; 4x1.5V batteries instead of
1x6V battery; multi-exposure warning; 16sec shutter speed + Bulb;
- TTL flash; sync all speeds;
- older winder cranks don't fit; SQ-Ai AE prism has auto, manual,
spot or average metering; built-in eyepiece blind for long
- 2005: new price reductions to clear stock: body only - was $A2130
now $A1650; instant back was $A748 now $A440;
- kit with
80mm lens, back was $A3545 (2005);
- user manual here: http://www.butkus.org/chinon/bronica_sq-ai/bronica_sq-ai.htm
- Bronica SQ-B:
- introduced 1996 as an entry-level version; no metering; choice of backs: 6x6 120/220; 6x4.5 120/220; 35mm normal; 35mm
6 x 7cm cameras:
- see http://medfmt.8k.com/mf/g6x7.html
- 10 images per 120 roll; traditionally the standard size for stock image
- Photographers on portrait assignment for magazines often use the 6x7
format. The weight isn't a problem since they have assistants, rolling
carts, and advance planning.
- If you want a lighter kit, your only real options are the
Fuji rangefinders (very cheap but no meter) and Mamiya
7 rangefinder (meter in the body
and interchangeable lenses including a delicious super-wide lens).
- If you want to pretend to be a magazine portrait photographer, invest in
the unbelievably heavy and clunky Mamiya RB or RZ67 system
- If you want to pretend to be a starving artistic nature photographer,
throw a Pentax 6x7 II system into your beat-up full-size van. This is a huge
4-pound SLR body that includes a prism the result is what looks like an old
Nikon on steroids. Lenses are sensibly priced.
- All in all, your choice really depends on what you want and what you need.
If you shoot with superwides, the Pentax 45m or Mamiya 7 43mm are the widest
(by 5 and 7 mm's). If you shoot fill flash, the 7, Plaubel, Rz and GS1 (the
GS1 has TTL flash as well) all have meter coupled leaf lenses. If you shoot
studio, the Rz and GS1 have 'normal' interchangeable polabacks (the RZ has a
far wider lens range). If you shoot sports, the Pentax 67 has a 1/1000th
shutter setting and hyperfast ED teles.
- with the exception of the RZ, there isn't a camera
here that couldn't stand a heavy improvement. Even the newly introduced Mamiya 7 *needs* closer focus ability and faster lens options (a
Mam.7 100-110 mm option will be nice as well); in the face of that, any
choice here is going to be a compromise.
- "standard lens" is 90mm.
- currently, the biggest digital back sensor for the
6x7 is only just under 645...makes the 50mm wide angle on the RZ not so wide
- Mamiya RB/RZ system:
- great lenses for the RZ:
- 50mm floating element (eq. to 24mm; NO distortion whereas
the regular fifty is almost fisheye at the edges)
- 75mm SHIFT lens
- 110mm (excellent lens in terms of view and
performance, can shoot models with this lens as long as you don't get
- 140mm Macro
- 150mm (great lens for portraits - nice spacial
rendering and convenient working distance to the model )
- 250mm APO (a great lens)
- Mamiya RB67Pro:
- The original RB67Pro, which lacks dark-slide and wind-on/double
exposure interlocks, as well as lacking in-finder, horizontal frame indications
(the red bars that automatically position on back revolve. There are
indicators etched on the focus screen).
- RB = Revolving Back design - back rotates 90deg for
- Mamiya RB67Pro-s:
- differs from the earlier model in that it has interlocks for darkslide, double exposure/wind-on, a focus-knob
lock and the aforementioned 'red-bar', auto, in-finder frame indicators. A
new Pro-S back series was introduced and is needed for full function of the
D'slide/dbl. exposure interlock system.
- Mamiya RB67Pro-sd (1990):
- It's biggest improvement is a larger lens throat, built that way to
accept the newly redesigned K/L lens range. It is the only RB capable of using the new 75mm shift and 500/6
APO. Older 'C' lenses will still mount via a Mamiya supplied adaptor. Two
other new accessories were introduced with the SD: the 6x8 back that's only
usable on the SD model (I believe) and a motor driven back (for both the
ProS and SD models).
- full mechanical reliability.
- RB lenses with the old style shutters should NOT be used on
RBSD or RZ cameras, because they put too much stress on the cocking mechanism .
- Mamiya RZ67 (1982):
- Modernized version of the RB67 with electronic shutter; single stroke
film and shutter advance mechanism, Auto-masking, bright viewfinder.
Inter-locking AE auto exposure finder and other remote electronic
accessories. Computer designed lens system.
- The RZ/RB cameras are basically miniature Graflex Super D's and suffer from a size/weight problem. The RB takes two actions to advance
to the next frame and is much slower to use than the
others reviewed here.
- The RZ/RZ P2 is single step advanced and much faster to work with. The lenses are a step above the Ptx. 67 and the meter (with the
AE/AE2 prism) is exceptional. Faster glass is available (75 3.5, 110 2.8, 150
3.5 APO and a 500/6 APO ) and you can focus VERY closely. Problems arise
from the cameras balance at even mildly close distances though (It gets very
front heavy and the mirror action gets hard to control when handheld at
the closer end, forcing the use of faster speeds). The revolving back and
the leaf shutters are very convenient and, with a grip, the camera is very
handholdable ( just not for very long). It's beautifully made, has great
film flatness but is big, noticeable and very expensive.
- instantly change from vertical to horizontal composition with the
interchangeable revolving back design.
- Bottom line is that a Ptx 67 does better in the studio than this
camera does in the field, but when the slides come back, the RZ wins.
- Mamiya RZ67 Pro II (1993):
- Updated version of Mamiya RZ67 Pro, featuring 1/2 step shutter speeds,
dual track micro-fine bellows focusing and internal diagnostic circuitry
with audible warning signals.
- Differences between the Rz and the RZII are the addition of half step shutter speed settings in manual mode, a fine focus adjustment wheel and
icon etchings on the focus screen for the interlock warning lights (all additions are to the newer RZII body).
- A 1/400 second mechanical override is provided in case of battery
- flash synchronization at all speeds from 8 seconds to 1/400 second,
- built-in fast and accurate bellows focusing.
- Mamiya RZ67 Pro IID:
- direct digital ready version of the Pro II.
- advanced microprocessor technology for traditional film capture, while
enabling direct communication of many camera functions to digital
capture backs through its MSC (Mamiya Serial Communication) system.
- 2.5kg; $A2847 body only (2005);
- Mamiya 7 (1995):
- 6x7cm compact rangefinder camera with interchangeable lenses.
- Based upon the Mamiya 6MF, featuring four interchangeable lenses
including a super-wide 90° 43mm lens with optical finder.
- Optional 24x65mm 35mm panoramic capability.
- is a great choice if street photography is what you want to do, as it
is an easier to handle rangefinder, but it is expensive.
- Mamiya 7 II (1999):
- Updated design of Mamiya 7. New features include more contrast in
rangefinder, multi-exposure capability, one-touch exposure compensation,
quicker lens change design, three strap lugs to hang horizontally or
vertically on neckstrap and the option of black or champagne-gold
finish. Six lenses now available.
- It uses all Mamiya 7 lenses including the latest 50mm f/4.5 superwide
lens with optical finder and 210mm f/8 with optical finder.
- approx. 2005 new prices: black body with 80mm f/4 = $A3000; black body
with 43mm f/4.5 + optical viewfinder = $A4000.
- Bronica GS-1:
- discontinued in 2004; uses Zenzanon PG series of lenses.
- On the test front, its lenses are consistently great (especially the 100 3.5
which handily *killed* the competition in Foto magizin's tests) and the
comments that I've heard from users bear that out. In the size dept., it's design
is very definitely H'bladesque; it's small enough, but it's a little
strange to use vertically as is (to me 'as is' means w/ a prism but without the
- If you add the speed grip, the convenience factor goes up enormously
but the camera gets to be quite a handful. If you're going to be street shooting with this camera, you're going to need the grip; with the
grip, the camera is just too noticeable (Very sore thumb time). Then again, if
you're using fill flash on an SLR, the GS1 is a lot easier to handle handheld (in full AE prismed regailia), than the RZ is and its the only
67 to offer TTL auto flash.
- The GS1 lenses could focus closer and are the slowest of the
contenders (bar the Mam7), still, it's the best available execution of a 'do
everything' ideal in 67 SLR'dom. The GS1's greatest strengths are that
it's reasonably small and light, it's completely modular (w/interchangeable
backs), it's well built and reliable, has ISO databus connection between
each back and the prism and is well automated with the AE rotary prism (spot option) or the easier to use and far smaller AE prism.
- Pentax 67:
- This camera is designed as a field camera, for handheld SLR convenience (convenience is only relative with this camera). The camera
remains basically unchanged from its original form and, having been
intro'd about thirty years ago (and based on the design of the Pentax Spotmatic
35mm camera), almost every feature is archaic by modern standards. It's very large and heavy (by 35mm standards; small and light by 67
standards), fires off like a canon (Mucho vibration and noise) and is quirky like
the Ptx 645 (If you take off the TTL prism, then replace it, you've got to remove and replace the lens before you get a reading back. The meter
just goes dead). Some lenses focus very closely (55, 90, 135 and new 200),
others don't focus closely at all (300/4 and the old 200).
- Working with the camera is an exercise in indecisive relativity; it charms you with its fast lenses, its tanklike craftsmanship and its
versatility, but bothers you with its noisy, vibratory release and its 'retro' feature set.
- Viewing through the normal focus screen is dark and fairly coarse but
is extremely contrasty. Beattie and britescreens are thought of by many as
required upgrades because of this, though I find the standard screen
easier to focus. The Pentax offers the only 67 slr instant return mirror.
- great to shoot, very fagile and pretty
- to shoot it commercially you need two bodies,
one for film and one with an NPC Pol back
- digital back is not possible.
- I've read that Astrophotographers prefer the Ptx.67 because of its
straight line film path and resulting superior flatness but the side
gate rollers push the film edges away from the film plane. An easy fix
is to cut match cardboard into small pieces and insert them in front of
(under) the spring tabs.
- Fuji GW670 III:
- Linhof 679 view camera:
- Kapture Group have a digital back adapter for the Fuji GX680 - see http://www.kapturegroup.com/solution/two.html
- some digital backs require a One Shot solution $US495 for adapter ie.
only 6x4.5 format image crop
- some digital backs allow a stitching solution $US1995 for adapter to
allow 2 shots to cover the 6x8 format
- Imacon have a digital back adapter for the GX680 see FlexframeSolutions.pdf
- Fuji GX680III:
- see also: http://www.mcp.com.au/fuji/gx680.htm
- a bit too big for carrying for location work but possible & it is
the biggest non-View camera that you can use gradient filters and see
what you are getting.
- $A6380 body only (2005)
- you can hire a kit with one lens for ~$200 per day from http://www.baltronics.com.au/pricelist3.html
(50% more for all weekend)
- the largest of all SLRs,
takes 76x56mm image on 120/220 film but
can also take 67, 66, & 645 via insertion
of the proper mask, the camera knows which mask is inserted and
automatically adjusts film spacing and numbering; one must choose the
desired format prior to loading film, however, as format cannot be
- an ideal compromise
between the speed and convenience of medium format and the flexibility
of large format & makes a great landscape, commercial &
architectural camera & clearly outperforms the
best MF including Hasselblad and Rolleiflex.
- a cable release and heavy
duty tripod is a necessity for sharp images, preferably with mirror
lockup for each and every frame.
- a the prism is brighter
and easier to see focus, tilt, and composition than just using the
waist-level finder, although the AE prism metering is limited and you
would probably still use a hand meter.
- all lenses include a leaf
shutter, with maximum speed of 1/400 second. Maximum apertures tend to
be conservative, mostly f/5.6 -8, minimum aperture is generally f/45 for
shorter lenses, f/64 for longer.
- lenses are super sharp - the 180mm 3.2 lens is
a beautiful lens for people, the fall off is great
- While all lenses give
truly superb results, special mention is needed for the 50 and 500mm:
- the 50mm, despite its
great size, is the only lens in the lineup that cannot be used in
conjunction with full available movements due to its smaller image
circle. It will vignette if shifted more than 9mm, or if tilted
excessively; making this worse, the full image is never visible due
to the camera's mirror/body construction, meaning that vignetting is
impossible to determine without shooting a Polaroid!
- The 500mm is supplied
with a large mounting rail, which Fuji insists must be mounted under
the camera body (necessitating removal of any quick release plate),
along with a ring-and-roller gadget attached to the lens front. The
purpose is to allow the now-supported lens to roll along the rail
during focusing, eliminating sagging of the lens caused by its long
length. Naturally, this eliminates the possibility of tilt or other
movements with this lens.
- Among the many nice
features of the 680 are its film backs. Besides the multi-format
capabilities mentioned above, the backs revolve at the touch of a
button…no tipping the camera for verticals. They're also electronic
marvels with built-in motor drive & auto film advance, each with its
own LCD screen that displays frame number, format in use, film type, and
more. They will indicate (via flashing icon) such problems as an
incorrectly mounted lens or an unremoved darkslide. They are
programmable to imprint each film frame edge with a variety of data,
including time and date, aperture and exposure time, sequential number
and user data. For some reason they don't imprint the lens focal length,
which would have been useful.
- will accept many digi backs
- With the lightest normal
lens (135mm f/5.6) attached, it weighs just under 10 pounds.
- bellows focusing is
accomplished via a large rubber-coated knob on either side of the
camera, and ground glass viewing is bright and easy to focus.
- all normal view camera
style movements including tilt, rise/fall, swing and shift are available,
while movements are not as extensive as those of a true view camera,
they are sufficient for at least 98% of the shots that you may want to
- The camera has built-in
close focus capability with every lens, thanks to bellows focusing and
the availability of extension rails. Fuji makes these in 80mm and 40mm
lengths - buy the 80mm & the 100mm f/4 makes the best
"macro" lens, capable of 1.3:1 image size when used with the
- a convenient bubble level
is built into the camera's upper surface, but use of grid screens are a
great help in levelling horizons.
- Fuji GX 680 II:
- similar to the 680 III
- Kit on Ebay sell for about $A2000 2nd hand incl. 125mm lens and film
- new approx. $A4800 body + $A1000 film back + $A1700-$A3000 per lens
- 6x9 format is same aspect ratio (3:2) but 5x size of 35mm film format. 8
images per 120 roll;
- Fuji GW690 III:
- Fuji GSW690 III:
- 6x6 to 6x9 backs plus digital backs via adapters for Hasselblad V,
Mamiya RZ, Horseman 6x9, Linhof Rapid Rollex 6x9
- no rangefinder, only groundglass.
Technikardan S 6x9:
- combines the compactness of the classic Linhof Technika dropbed design
and the optical bench versatility of the 4"x5" Kardan series
- no rangefinder
- Linhof Super
- rangefinder style + ground glass focus screen but while the ground
glass focusing is very accurate, however it does not work well with 6x9
roll film backs due to a difference in sizes between the 6x9 sheet-film
it is made for which is 58x82mm and
roll-film sizes which is larger at 60x86 mm.
- version IV models were made 1956-64;
- III's and IV's have backs which have up to 20 mm movement available
for swings or tilts as well as front rise and front tilt, but not front
swings. The V has the increased front movements.
- with wide angle lenses movements are severely curtailed, as they are
'imprisoned' inside the camera box.
- III's & IV's have a single built-in rangefinder and viewfinder
whereas V has a rangefinder mounted on the side of the camera, and
a optical view finder mounts on top.
- III's & IV's employ an interchangeable 3 position cam, for three
different lenses. They had to be ground to fit individual lenses, and
are no longer available from Linhof. In other words, unless
you can find the craftsman out there who is still grinding Linhof III
and IV cams, you can not use modern lenses with RF coupling on these.
- Horseman VR:
- marginally better front movements than the Linhof
- ability to use tilts, swings, revolving back, optical viewfinder w/
frame markings, coupled rangfinder
- The current VH is the same camera as the VH-R, except it does not have
the rangefinder or focus cam linkage. The lack of the rangefinder on the
VH actually makes it the most compact of the Horseman models, making it
a very good field camera for anyone who intends to use it on a tripod
focusing and composing on the ground glass.
- The VHR has more front shift than the 980 (30mm left or right, vs.
14mm for the 980). This increased shift was added on the 985 model.
- Horseman 980/985:
- The Horseman 980 came before the VH-R design. The 980 did not have a
rotating back which allows for instant change-over from vertical to
horizontal and vice-versa. The back on the 980 is fixed in the
horizontal position. To shoot verticals, the camera must be turned on
its side. A second tripod socket is furnished for this purpose.
- The rangefinder focuses down to 1 meter (3.3 feet) for both models.
Closer focusing requires using the ground glass.
- The 980 has frame lines for 90mm, 105mm, 150mm and 180mm and the
entire viewfinder image is a rough approximation for the 75mm.
- Arca-Swiss F-Classic Compact 6x9:
- identical to the F-Classic but the Compact version has a 30cm
collapsible monorail instead of the telescopic monorail.
- 2.2kg kit includes front & rear standards, monorail, ground glass
with fresnel lens, universal 20cm leather bellows
- then you need to buy a few things to use it:
- large format lenses and lens panels
- these usually cost about 900 UK pounds new plus you need a
centre filter for each to minimise vignetting
- roll film holder adapter
- 6x9 roll film holders about 300 UK pounds each ( ~$US870ea)
- polaroid film holder to check the result in the field
- Arca-Swiss compendium lens hood or Lee filter holder and hood
- thus a kit with 47mm, 58mm, 90mm, 210mm lenses, 2 roll film backs
would set you back about 6500 UK pounds which is probably about $A15,000
- of course you also need a pro tripod and tripod head.
- optional binocular viewer ~$US800
- optional Rotaslide
Sliding Camera Back (~$US2300) allows focusing of photo then quick
shooting with roll film
- 4 images per 120 roll; big, heavy and bulky; requires a 5"x7"
enlarger to print;
- Scale focus is the only means of focusing a 617 camera; there is no
built-in rangefinder and no way of viewing through the lens to focus
- a 210mm focal length covers about same angle of view as a 50mm on a 35mm
- light fall off to edge of film:
- you may need to use a 2 stop ND centre filter for lenses 90mm and
- light fall off = cos4 theta where theta is tha angle
between the nodal point of the lens and the image point on the film
- The best aperture re light fall-off is any aperture
more than about 2 stops (maybe 3) down from wide open.
- generally shoot at f/22 or f/45
- Linhof 617
- system includes 72mm, 90mm, and 180mm lenses; Each lens requires a
matching viewfinder for proper framing;
- "The 72mm and 90mm lenses require a large (95mm) center filter to
correct light falloff common to all wide-angle view camera lenses; this
unfortunately eats 1.5 stops of light, but is a must when using
- Since there is no provision for a darkslide, mid-roll lens changes
must be done in a changing bag or darkroom.
- Fuji GX617:
- Fuji G617:
- "The things that it really could use are perspective control and
the ability to focus closer. What the market has delivered instead are 617
cameras with interchangeable lenses and breathtaking price tags. For the
same price, you could get a G617 and a 4x5 or 5x7 view camera system for the
times when you needed a different focal length, a closer focus ability, or
- The Fuji 617 is a big box with a 5x7" view camera lens in front and a
pressure plate for 120/220 film in back. The angle of view from the 105mm
f/8 lens is about the same as a 24mm lens on a Nikon but it is spread across
a glorious 6x17 cm (2.25 x 6.5") of film. Load up some Ektar 25 and you
can do a wall-size enlargement that will bear close-up scrutiny of any
- "My number one complaint with this camera is that the focusing
helical will only rack the lens far out enough for sharp focus at 3 meters.
Thus, one can't do the kind of near-far shots that wide-angle lenses are
best suited for. Even stopping the lens down to f/45 only brings objects at
1.9 meters into adequately sharp focus."
- Art Panorama 170:
- Ebay $A3000 2nd hand (2006)
- Canham MQC 5x7 camera with dedicated 617 rollfilm back:
- larger lens selection than the Linhof and Fuji bodies offer, including
450mm and 720mm long lenses, but also allows a full range of movements
such as tilt, swing, and rise.
- GILDE 66-17 MST 3D:
- see also: http://www.gilde-kamera.de/en/4771.html
- unique 6x17 camera custom built by Dr Gilde to overcome the issues
with other 6x17 cameras
- film back can be removed and image viewed on ground glass as with view
cameras and caters for 6x6cm, 6x9cm, 6x12cm, 6x14cm and 6x17cm formats
which can be selected mid-roll without changing magazine.
- incorporates lens shift mechanism for up to 35mm shift as well as lens
- can use most large format lenses
- Euro 4400 for body and Euro 2142 for 120 magazine
- Widepan 617:
- Chinese made; fixed 90mm lens;
- Fotoman 6x17 Mark II:
- Gaoersi GF 6x17 and GF 6x17S:
Using roll film backs on 4x5 view cameras:
see large format
If you already own a 4x5 view camera, a cheap way to get into 6x12
is with a roll-film back. You're saved the hassle of loading film holders
but the other operational annoyances of the view camera will still slow you
down. On the plus side, even with the very cheapest view camera and 6x12
back you get perspective control.
Roll film backs are available for all roll-film sizes to
6x12 the most common being 6x7 and 6x9. There are two types of roll-film
- Graflock-type holders:
- Some 4x5 cameras have a back (Graflock, this
standard was introduced on the Graflex cameras) where you remove the
ground-glass assembly and replace it with a roll-film back.
- There are
plenty of brands to chose from: Graflex, Singer, Linhof (super-rollex),
Mamiya RB, Horseman, some of which can be found for quite cheap.
- cheaper Chinese-made Shen Hao backs:
- Art Panorama 6x17 back: see review
- SH612 multi-format - has masks for 6x12, 6x9, 6x6 and 6x4.5 -
- Slide-in type holders:
- These holders are flat because the film spools
are at one end. They can be inserted under the ground glass like a sheet
- faster to use and it is said that the film
flatness is better
- Almost all the cameras accept them, but be sure to check
- The Calumet holders are quite cheap and are produced in 6x7, 6x9, 6x12 (the latter is quite expensive actually).
Sinar has a vario holder which allow you to switch format (from 6x4.5 to
6x12) at any time, for $US2500 new.
- see also 4x5 view cameras: