Best Camera for MF and LF : LUSENET : Bulletin Board for Medium and Large Format Photography : One Thread

After all the surveys and discussions in many forums, so what is the best camera for MF and LF? Any conclusion?

-- Raphael Wong (, September 12, 1998


I can suggest one answer. It is the system that you are currently using and are happy with the results!

Other answers;

Hasselblad, if you judge by the cost and hype.

Pentax 67, if you judge by the number of posts recently and the seeming loyality(defensiveness) of there users.

Mamiya, if you judge by the sheer numbers of MF cameras produced.

Rollie TLRs, if you judge by quality of construction and reputation for durability.

Fuji RF, if you judge by the most bang for your bucks.

From the above responses, can you guess which system(s) I use?

-- Gene Crumpler (, September 12, 1998.


-- Tim Brown (, September 12, 1998.


I'll show you mine if you will show me yours!!

-- Gene Crumpler (, September 12, 1998.

So you guys are suggesting just get any camera and stick to it. One day, this 'MINE' camera will produce great picture...

-- Raphael Wong (, September 14, 1998.

Well, I guess that is what we are saying since both of us have already made the decision about what system to purhcase. I have about $4k invested in my P67 and lenses, so it is incumbent on me to make the system work for me. My criteria for the choice of the p67 was cost of equipment new ( I no longer purchase equipment used as a matter of principle), the 6x7 negative size and retaining a high degree of portability for hand held shooting in the field. I do no studio work so the RB/RZ was not the best. I considered the fuji, but no lens interchangability.

The p67 operates just like my old and long gone FTn! 6x7 is the largest roll film negative size that fits 16x20 standard format, but keeps me out of having to deal with the hassels of 4x5, having done that in the past. I also don't care much for waist level viewing. I seem to do much better at eyelevel and the p67 is the best for that. I looked at the Mamiya 7, but the lens selection is limited to 3 and it is costly for what you get and my previous experience with the TLR C-series quality wise was not good.

So that's where I am right now. I have the new 55mm F4 lens and it is an amazing piece of glass! It stays on the body 80% of the time!!

-- Gene Crumpler (, September 14, 1998.

I have not abandoned my Nikon system!!!

-- Gene Crumpler (, September 14, 1998.

The Yashicamat 124G gets my vote for the best camera for the money in medium format. On the other hand, if money is no object, Hasselblad is clearly the top-end overall. Some of the rangefinder cameras like the Mamiya 6 or 7 or the Fujis have specialized applications.

The strict wording of the question was the best camera for MF or LF. If you're looking for one camera to cover both, the only option that comes to mind is a 4x5 with a MF rollfilm back.

Craig Shearman Baltimore

-- J. Craig Shearman (, September 14, 1998.

I am adding this to the thread in the spirit of getting this M&LF forum off the launching pad.

I remember when Consumer Report recommeded the Yashicamat as a Best Buy. I would agree if least dollars is the criteria, then it is the clear winner. However, I've had two yashica cameras, both purchased used and they both broke. When I had the Mat, I had not gotten into lens testing, much less 16x20 prints, so I don't know how the lens is compared to a 3.5 Xenar on a comparable rollei, for instance, of which I have also owned three over the last 45 years and two also broke. (I unloaded the rolleicord before it broke).

I don't buy used unless I am forced too, such as 10 months ago when I got an 80mm C-series Mamiya lens, to replace the 105 that broke(after a $125 factory repair). The 80 broke just outside the 90 day repair period, but the shop got a replacement 80mm for me anyway. I'm now waiting for this shutter to break. A that point the C33 goes in the junk box, as I now have invested $800+ in a system that is worth $250, has too many other problems and I would not consider foisting it on some one else for anything but parts.

After enlarging 6x7 negatives, the 6X6 negatives, with the need to crop a significant part to get to 16x20 (and even worse for 11x14), seen tiny!!

My vote for the best 4x5 would be the Crown Graphic, because of $ and I learned a lot of photography with it a longtime ago. I have considered buying a 6x9 graphic for oldtimes sake(I could also enlarge with my existing MF enlarger) and it is the only LF camera I have used(it broke too). If you have used one LF, you have used them all. Handling sheet film is a pain that I don't care to start again.

My vote for 16mm motion picture camera is the Bell and Howell!?/? Ops, wrong forum!!

My $0.02 worth. Jump In, the waters great!!!

-- Gene Crumpler (, September 14, 1998.

The reason you find such a vast array of choices is because you have a vast array of uses and tastes. Most people will make a choice based on cost.

-- Ron Shaw (, September 16, 1998.


Your assessment is correct. I would have probably purchased a hassey system, if I had felt comfortable dropping $10-11,000 (new) for the same outfit I got in P67 for under $4,000 (new). I'm like most people, I've got other things I want to save/spend my money on. Like Retirement!!!!!

I'll say this, I got the P67 system before I had access to the Net and all of the postive things I've read about the p67, and I'm now glad I got the pentax. My camera club buddies who shoot MF and use hassey, told me the P67 was "junk". I now believe I can produce better prints than a hassey user because I can print the whole 55x70 mm area, where as with a 6x6, you usually end up printing a 56x45 mm area. 50% more negative area. I'm still blown away with the unbelievable sharpness of my 55mm F4, wide open to F22. 16x20 and larger prints are SHARP, SHARP, SHARP!!

I'd have a leica system rather than nikon if I felt comfortble spending the same $12-15,000 for the three body, six lens, system I put together for about $3-4,000(About 3/4 new and mostly Non-AF).

-- Gene Crumpler (, September 17, 1998.

I know more people who use the P67 than those who use Hassys. Im sure cost is an issue with most people. I have seen excellent images taken with them also. Image quality isnt much of an issue between these cameras, as I see great ones taken with all sorts of gear. I think too many people worry about this, and its a waste of time. I think negative size is more important, as thats where most of the gains will be found. The only thing against the 67 is its a big sucker. I never knew how bit until I held one in my hands, but, bigger negatives require bigger cameras.

-- Ron Shaw (, September 17, 1998.

It is a question that I don't think can be answered simply because people will naturally have different needs, budgets, etc.

I looked around a long time before I bought a Hasselblad. I have no prohibitions about buying used equiptment and have not had the bad experience with used cameras that Gene describes.

The camera I bought had to serve double duty; photographs for my work and for my pleasure. For work I needed a greater range of flash sync than the Pentax 67 provided and I needed a camera with interchangeable film and polaroid magazines. I had tried the Mamiya RB and RZ and really disliked the way they handled although they provided a bigger film size than Hasselblad. Both RB and RZ felt awkward in my hands, were not really suitable for off tripod use (at least not easily). Although Hasselblad's prices were not attractive, I knew I could beg, borrow or rent other system parts easily in my area; something that is not an option with Bronica (at least not here).

One of my favorite MF cameras to use has been the Rollieflex TLR. I had to sell mine to reinvest the money in the Hasselblad; I wish I had been able to keep both. I found the Rollie to be very hand-holdable, reliable and the TLR design is as nearly vibration free as you will get. I have taken the same pictures with a 30 year old Rollie vs. a less than 10 year old Hasselblad. Aside from a slight difference in focal legnth (75mm vs. 80mm) you could not tell the difference in the transparencies. Unfortunately, a lot of collector interest has driven the prices up.

-- stefan (, September 18, 1998.

This is L&MF forum, but my experience has been good with nikon eqipment for about 30 years, both new and used. I've purchased 2 nikkor lens, a motor drive,and a FE body used and all are fine. the FE was purchased in 1983, was used but in truely mint condition and has served me well. Other than those, my luck has been lousy with used equipment including a 500 c that I returned to the store about 2 years ago, purchased the p67 new, and once again vowed never to buy used.

-- Gene Crumpler (, September 18, 1998.

There obviojusly is o absolute "best" system - if there were then everyone would buy that system and the others would go out of business. I am pleased with my Pentax 67 system but I don't do any flash photogrpahy to speak of. If I did, I would have a different system. I also don't do any studio work. If I did I would have a different system. I do mostly landscape and, "architectural" (for lack of a better term), and the Pentax (with the shift lens for buildings) s good for these purposes. The Hasselblad would also be good and is lighter and more compact that the Pentax but (1) I don't like the square format, (2) I don't like waist level viewing and the Hasselblad eye level add on is very expensive, and (3) I think the astronomical prices for Hasselblad gear are a function of the high labor costs in the country of manufacture and are not reflected in correspondingly higher quality than other medium format systems.

-- Brian Ellis (, October 20, 1998.

Choosing the best camera for MF/LF, and yes even the smaller formats, will be forever the is the glass half-full or half-empty question. Even though there aren't as many MF/LF cameras as the 35's thank goodness that we have as many choices as we do. If you live in a rural area like I do you just don't walk in to a store and handle cameras. I believe we are all aware of one basic fact: look at any photograph, any where, book, magazine, gallery or newspaper, unless you have the info, can you tell 100% of the time what camera took that photograph? I believe that it's truly a personal choice. For me the MF is my RZ and my 35 is my Nikon system. I realize it's not for everyone. My point is that this difference is what keeps the world exciting, think how boring it would be if we all took the same photo. My best to you all.

-- John J. Palek (, October 20, 1998.

I do archaeological photography--this means working in the field, in square holes, and in the lab doing closeup work. I find that most people in this field use 35 mm even though all of the old timers perfered and often were required to use large format. That has gone by the wayside except for certain specialized purposes. I use mostly Mamiya 645, although I have an old Linholf 4X5 and some 35s as well. We have two 645 bodies and five lenses and are about to acquire a sixth. The thing is easy as a 35 mm is to use, and even though the 6X6 cm folks look down their noses at us 645 users, most of the time they crop to 645 for their other than square prints. The contortions we get into in the field, especially on digs almost dictate small, easily controlled cameras. The 645 is outstanding for this purpose. I know this camera isn't the ultimate, but is serves us well and the results are suitable for most of the work we do. Can't ask for much more than that!

-- Bill Tate (, October 24, 1998.

This question has the same answer here as in the 35mm pages. There is NO best camera in any format where there is more than one camera available.

-- Dan Smith (, October 28, 1998.

I have to disagree, the best mf in the whole world is the new Alpa. The best lf 4X5 field cam in dem whole welt is the Linhof Master Tech. The best lf 4X5 studio cam in the same welt is the Sinar or maybe the Arca. The best 8x10 field cam on the whole planet is the venerable kodak master-view no it's the phillips no, now wait a minute,they stopped making them, maybe lotus or hey, is Hoffman making one? gosh what about walker....dang...this is tough, hey wait a second can i change one of the 4x5s up there, oh shit, i give

-- Triblett Lunger-Thurd (, December 01, 1998.

SeeDany Gonzles summary of MF systems for a comprehensive review of about every thing out there. Good reading!

-- Gene Crumpler (, December 06, 1998.

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