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Author Topic: Mamiya 7ii + Scanner v Canon 5D  (Read 24844 times)
Craig Arnold
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« on: September 24, 2007, 02:31:28 PM »
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I made the mistake at the weekend of wandering into Jacobs and having a look at the Mamiya 7ii.

It felt fantastic (quirky in a very appealing way) and I immediately fell in love with it. It felt great; light despite being large with a fantastic viewfinder - I found it much easier to use with my spectacles on that the Leica and better than the 5D. It fit my hands just great. I liked the way it looked too. And the shutter was so soft I could hardly hear it at all, much softer (if you can believe it) than the Leica. There was a real "ooh" factor. I didn't want to give it back to the shop assistant.

A few months ago I was all prepared to go for a Leica M8 and found that I just couldn't like it (despite admiring it very much), so ended up with the 5D instead.

I have found myself more and more using just the 50mm f1.4 with the 5D and sometimes switching to MF (but using the AF confirmation lights) as with wide apertures and off-centre composition I find the AF not as useful as it usually is.

The Mamiya is a fraction of the price of the Leica, the lenses are apparently fantastic, and image quality must surely be better (than the Leica) with the large 6x7 negative coupled with these great lenses. Now I am under no illusions about the build quality of the Mamiya v the Leica. I would expect a Leica M7 to last for a lifetime, and would not expect that of the Mamiya, but the thing is that it is very affordable. The 80mm "kit" lens with its field of view equivalent to 39mm on 35mm seems ideal, as I find the 50 a bit tight and 35 a smidgen wide. Of course I might be tempted to add a couple of extra lenses later, but don't anticipate really wanting one for a while.

But I do love digital and have no access to a darkroom. So I would be sending my film off for development and possibly a low-res scan at the same time. I could stretch to purchasing a Canon 8800 scanner which is very reasonably priced. I have no illusion that it would be as good as an Imacon or heaven forbid a drum scan. But do you think I would still be likely to get similar or possibly even higher quality than the 5D?

For my (everyday) needs the quality of the 5D is more than sufficient. And if I do need a really good print for a competition or special occasion I could always send in the neg for a high-res drum scan. My print volumes are low (I am just an amateur) so for prints larger than A4 I get them done at a shop rather than at home. I don't think that a medium-format digital back is likely to ever be in my future, nor a camera like the 1DsMkIII.

Of course I will be using it to complement my 5D, and so wouldn't need to use high ISO film unless I wanted to for effect.

As my photography has improved I find myself now taking fewer and better pictures, and the frame counter on the 5D is ticking over far more slowly than it used to for the first couple of years of DSLR use when I had the 20D.

I have this romantic notion that the Mamiya would quickly supplant the 5D + 50mm as my portrait/documentary setup.

I am not asking for anything so sensible as a solution to my muddle, but if you have any experiences to share I should love to read about them.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2007, 02:37:40 PM by peripatetic » Logged

Quentin
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2007, 05:27:06 PM »
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I made the mistake at the weekend of wandering into Jacobs and having a look at the Mamiya 7ii.

It felt fantastic (quirky in a very appealing way) and I immediately fell in love with it. It felt great; light despite being large with a fantastic viewfinder - I found it much easier to use with my spectacles on that the Leica and better than the 5D. It fit my hands just great. I liked the way it looked too. And the shutter was so soft I could hardly hear it at all, much softer (if you can believe it) than the Leica. There was a real "ooh" factor. I didn't want to give it back to the shop assistant.

A few months ago I was all prepared to go for a Leica M8 and found that I just couldn't like it (despite admiring it very much), so ended up with the 5D instead.

I have found myself more and more using just the 50mm f1.4 with the 5D and sometimes switching to MF (but using the AF confirmation lights) as with wide apertures and off-centre composition I find the AF not as useful as it usually is.

The Mamiya is a fraction of the price of the Leica, the lenses are apparently fantastic, and image quality must surely be better (than the Leica) with the large 6x7 negative coupled with these great lenses. Now I am under no illusions about the build quality of the Mamiya v the Leica. I would expect a Leica M7 to last for a lifetime, and would not expect that of the Mamiya, but the thing is that it is very affordable. The 80mm "kit" lens with its field of view equivalent to 39mm on 35mm seems ideal, as I find the 50 a bit tight and 35 a smidgen wide. Of course I might be tempted to add a couple of extra lenses later, but don't anticipate really wanting one for a while.

But I do love digital and have no access to a darkroom. So I would be sending my film off for development and possibly a low-res scan at the same time. I could stretch to purchasing a Canon 8800 scanner which is very reasonably priced. I have no illusion that it would be as good as an Imacon or heaven forbid a drum scan. But do you think I would still be likely to get similar or possibly even higher quality than the 5D?

For my (everyday) needs the quality of the 5D is more than sufficient. And if I do need a really good print for a competition or special occasion I could always send in the neg for a high-res drum scan. My print volumes are low (I am just an amateur) so for prints larger than A4 I get them done at a shop rather than at home. I don't think that a medium-format digital back is likely to ever be in my future, nor a camera like the 1DsMkIII.

Of course I will be using it to complement my 5D, and so wouldn't need to use high ISO film unless I wanted to for effect.

As my photography has improved I find myself now taking fewer and better pictures, and the frame counter on the 5D is ticking over far more slowly than it used to for the first couple of years of DSLR use when I had the 20D.

I have this romantic notion that the Mamiya would quickly supplant the 5D + 50mm as my portrait/documentary setup.

I am not asking for anything so sensible as a solution to my muddle, but if you have any experiences to share I should love to read about them.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=141620\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I used to own a Mamiya 7II with the 65mm lens.  I ended up buying the other lenses.   Great camera, and with the film flatness and lack of vibration, the 6x7 transparencies approached 4x5 film in terms of quality.  Problem is its film - so that means you need a decent scanner, so the overall package cost goes up even before you factor in development costs.

Now I have sold the 7II and shoot mainly digital, also with a Mamiya, but a now a ZD.  The ZD is a lot more convenient and offers similar quality to drum scanned 67 transparency film from the 7II, but with better dynamic range, instant preview, and all the plusses of Photoshop.  

So I'd stick with the 5D...

Quentin
« Last Edit: September 24, 2007, 05:28:20 PM by Quentin » Logged

Quentin Bargate, ARPS, Author, photographer entrepreneur and senior partner of Bargate Murray, Law Firm of the Year 2013
pobrien3
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2007, 08:15:38 PM »
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I have the Mamiya 7II with all available lenses, and can confirm that the handling is terrific, the lenses gorgeous (personal favourite is the 43mm), though the longer lenses (esp 150mm) have a close focus which is too far away to use as a decent portrait lens for my taste: needs a lot of cropping, so you lose some of that nice big tranny.  The transparencies are indeed beautiful: nothing like putting them on a lightbox with a loupe and marvelling at the vibrancy and clarity.  I wasn't planning to buy a family hierloom so was perfectly happy to choose the Mamiya over the Leica, and it gave me excellent service and performance.  However it now sits in my 'unused gear' coffer (or perhaps that should be coffin), where it's remained unused for the last couple of years.

The problem is, as Quentin so rightly said, scanning.  Indeed it's the entire analogue-to-digital workflow.  To get the best from the trannies you need a very good 6x7 scanner, and my Nikon 8000ED was never quite good enough.  One quickly discovers that scanning is an entire art form and new skill to master, and the resultant files are very large.  Better make sure your computer has tons of memory and fast CPU.  Unless of course you opt for a whole non-digital workflow, but that's getting more difficult to do in this digital age.  The camera is also of course completely manual (the internal metering is simplistic and not really much use), but you indicate you're comfortable with that.

If you're printing large at exhibition quality, then you have little choice but to drum scan. If you leave most or all of that process from drum to print in the hands of a third party, then you're losing out.  I found that even some of the most reputable London pro labs were returning crap scans and prints, and don't get me started on the quality in Hong Kong...!

IMHO, I'd have to say that for printing up to A3 then I'd go for the 5D every time.  I have performed side-by-side comparisons of prints from 1DsII files and 6x7 drum scans, and when I examine them closely I can see the superiority of the 6x7, but on showing them to friends and family, all they noticed were some differences in colour (never get the two to match perfectly).  At that size your 5D files should be as capable as the 1DsII files of producing a similar quality A3 print.  When I print at A3 from a 6x7 scanned (by me) with the Nikon, the dynamic range is noticeably worse and the 1DsII file is superior.  That could probably be improved though if I became more proficient at scanning and spent a lot longer on each tranny...

I have a pile of 6x7 trannies that I keep meaning to get around to scanning, but never do.  It's just too daunting to scan even one of them.  After I bought the 1DsII I discovered I could never return to analogue photography, and the files you get from the 5D should rival mine - in fact better in some cases.

Peter
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image66
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2007, 09:01:02 PM »
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My recommendation is to shoot the Kodak Portra films instead of transparencies. The cost of both film and processing is much less than the transparancy film and the dynamic range is so much greater.

My experience with the NEW Portra films is extremely positive--I've almost completely converted over to it, except for a handfull of Velvia rolls left in the fridge. Once those are gone, that's it for trannies.

Scanning is a breeze. Get yourself one of the newer, higher-end flatbeds.

A good 6x7 on Portra 160VC is going to give you image results the 5D couldn't even dream of.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2007, 10:38:29 PM »
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My experience with the NEW Portra films is extremely positive--I've almost completely converted over to it, except for a handfull of Velvia rolls left in the fridge. Once those are gone, that's it for trannies.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=141677\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Agreed.

For those willing to stay on the slide side of things, Velvia is clearly by far the worst solution when scanning is part of the equation. Provia 100F is a much better option.

Regards,
Bernard
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pobrien3
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2007, 11:50:32 PM »
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I never really got on with Velvia, and found the Portra too muted and low in contrast.  Provia 100F was my favourite, and scanned more easily than Velvia.
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phila
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2007, 02:50:05 AM »
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One thing not mentioned so far is the sheer time it takes to "work up" a decent sized 6x7 scan. I've done many hundreds from my library of RB67 trannies and if I never have to spend hours getting rid of dust, reducing the grain etc etc again I'll be very happy.

5D definitely!
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2007, 04:03:40 AM »
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I'd say you could pick up a good 2nd hand Imacon/Hasselblad scanner for a lot less than you would have two years ago... mine is here sitting on the desk .. only being used for film from my Noblex.. and I just finished paying for it too!...  I know several photographers still using MF Film ... and I would say that using the mamiya could only compare to using another MF system.... so if I was on a trip without recourse to electric power .. or just wanted to do some street photography ... and had a good scanner handy .. I would consider the Mamiya ... mind you .. my Fuji GW690III has remained unused for quite a bit now... just doesn't make sense for me to use film commercially ....(BTW never really liked Provia for scanning... Kodak e100G was twice as good in resolution terms)

R
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2007, 04:58:46 AM »
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I'd say you could pick up a good 2nd hand Imacon/Hasselblad scanner for a lot less than you would have two years ago... mine is here sitting on the desk .. only being used for film from my Noblex..
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=141712\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's what I have been using as well, but I just hate the time I waste cleaning up the dust from these images.

Cheers,
Bernard
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Craig Arnold
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« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2007, 05:06:51 PM »
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So it seems the majority opinion is that scanning is a PITA.

*Sigh* - I know that is bound to be right, far more sensible just concentrating on the 5D.

But it's just a hobby for me after all, and the aim is to have fun taking the pictures too, it's not just about image quality.

I have decided to get a cheap scanner - the new Canon 8800F looks like it might be OK. I've no doubt it won't have the same quality as the stuff you folks use, but I do have a ton of old 35mm negs and some from my Holga which need scanning.

That's a cheap way to test whether the scanning business will drive me nuts or not I guess. If I hate it I can always put it on ebay after scanning some of my 35s.

If I think I can live with it for low volumes then I may re-visit the notion in a couple of months.

Thanks for all the input.  
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« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2007, 06:02:32 PM »
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Hi
Speaking of the Nobelux I just scanned about 60 images on the Epson V700 scanner. Very impressed with the quality, used Kodax 400 neg. I still have to edit my ZD shots but from what I have viewed the digital quality is way better. The real problem with scans is file size. A Nobelux 3200 dpi @ 48 bit is 173 megs.
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Denis Montalbetti
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« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2007, 06:30:21 PM »
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As the owner of a drum scanner and founder of the ScanHi-End yahoo scanning group, I guess I ought to be more positive (no pun intended   ) about film, but the fact is modern high resolution digital capture does have many advantages.  4x5 and 8x10 film, preferably Provia as Bernard has mentioned, will still outresolve the highest resolution digital backs, and there is a look to LF film that is unique.  You can buy a decent drum scanner in working order for not very much money and that would work well with a Mamiya 7II.  

But the fact is since I purchased the ZD, I think the drum scanner has only been switched on once.

Hmmm.  Must dust down the 8x10 again

Quentin
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« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2007, 07:17:23 PM »
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Hi
Speaking of the Nobelux I just scanned about 60 images on the Epson V700 scanner. Very impressed with the quality, used Kodax 400 neg. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=141833\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Denis,

I have considering a Nobelux for some time but sort of hesitated because of:

1. The price,
2. The rumoured problems when a strong light source is part of the frame,
3. The anticipated learning curve before getting good results.

If I may ask,

- What is your take on the Nobelux?
- Do you use the 150?
- Have you benchmarked it against stitching?

Thank you in advance,

Regards,
Bernard
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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2007, 07:33:08 PM »
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Denis,

I have considering a Nobelux for some time but sort of hesitated because of:

1. The price,
2. The rumoured problems when a strong light source is part of the frame,
3. The anticipated learning curve before getting good results.

If I may ask,

- What is your take on the Nobelux?
- Do you use the 150?
- Have you benchmarked it against stitching?

Thank you in advance,

Regards,
Bernard
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=141847\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hi
I have the 135U model 35 mm & a Widelux 35 mm. I shot a lot of images at APEC here in Sydney used both the ZD & Nobelux. I don't think stitching is the same especially when people are involved. Quality wise the ZD is far superior but the Nobelux has a very good lens. I wish they would make an affordable 35 digital panoramic camera. I love the Widelux but it needs repair & have owned it for 20 years. With this scanner I might shoot some film every now & again. It just has a different look. For street work the ZD camera was brilliant because it is so light weight.
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« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2007, 04:34:43 AM »
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Hi
I have the 135U model 35 mm & a Widelux 35 mm. I shot a lot of images at APEC here in Sydney used both the ZD & Nobelux. I don't think stitching is the same especially when people are involved. Quality wise the ZD is far superior but the Nobelux has a very good lens. I wish they would make an affordable 35 digital panoramic camera. I love the Widelux but it needs repair & have owned it for 20 years. With this scanner I might shoot some film every now & again. It just has a different look. For street work the ZD camera was brilliant because it is so light weight.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=141852\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thanks a lot Denis.

Regards,
Bernard
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« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2007, 05:55:01 AM »
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Hi Bernard I use the 150ux with slow speed module and panolux meter... some trouble with the panolux but the guys in Dresden are very helpful and will sort it out as soon as I get a test set of images to them.  The lens is so sharp .. it really beats a lot of my large format lenses for detail.  It is really nice for wide landscapes but you need to print big to get advatage from all the little things that it picks up ... not so good for interiors because of the distortion ... but good when you crop out the bottom and top of the shot.. It's really great to have a shot all in one viewfinder when you are out and about .... beats stitching in that respect.... some shots here.

You'll notice a fence going across the bottom of a seascape shot .. I was standing in a circular enclosure.  The one of the warehouse is warped in PS .. not very successful.

[attachment=3394:attachment][attachment=3395:attachment][attachment=3396:attachm
ent][attachment=3397:attachment][attachment=3398:attachment][attachment=3399:atta
chment]
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« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2007, 11:18:23 PM »
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I have had my Mamiya 7II for many years.  I also have the 5D, Fuji GX617, and a Linhof 4X5.  For some reason, my best pictures have been taken with the Mamiya. I really don't know why.

The build of the camera is terrific. It feels really comfortable to use. The lenses are fantastically sharp. I have a 12' X 14' print in my living room that was made from a Mamiya tranny. It is very sharp.

If you like the camera, buy it. If you take an occasional great photo you can pay for a professional scan--they are not that expensive.  

You can also buy a Mamiya Cabin 6X7 projector and mount your good trannies for projection. When you are looking at Mamiya trannies on a  6' X 7' screen in a darkened room--well that's a magical experience.
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pobrien3
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« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2007, 04:54:41 AM »
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...When you are looking at Mamiya trannies on a  6' X 7' screen in a darkened room--well that's a magical experience.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=142140\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Agree absolutely: If ever that quality could be represented in a print... Nirvana!
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colinb
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« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2007, 04:55:56 AM »
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So this is ever so slightly off topic. But possibly relevant. On Sunday I went to an exhibition of William Eggleston's prints here in Edinburgh. They are large prints, made from 5x7 negatives in the '70s and recently printed. They took my breath away. I wonder how long it will be before I, as an amateur, can afford a digital camera that can capture that kind of detail.


What impressed me most was the apparent three dimensionality of the prints. The subjects are a mixture of portraits and random bits of environment. In the portraits, which looked perhaps a little bigger than life-size, every nuance of facial feature, every thread of fabric was pin sharp. Almost too sharp. One guy has a very unpleasant looking pimple on the corner of his mouth. This being large-format, you have the usual business of the very shallow plane of focus. Eggleston uses this to good effect. You could imagine brushing your fingers through the hair of some of the subjects. You could imagine them slapping you for doing so!

For a while I thought about rushing home and digging out my 4x5. Two things stopped me. First, I was never anything like as good as Eggleston [you probably knew that already]. Two, I really don't want to get into the business of scanning, spotting, and filing sheets of film. So I'll have to settle for mediocrity until the technology and my abilities improve to the point that digital can grab my eyes the way the best of film work does.

Here's a link about the exhibition.

http://www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/exh_gfx_en/ART49605.html
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Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2007, 10:07:58 AM »
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I am still working on both transparencies (Kodachrome, shot many years ago) and digital capture via D200.

Yes, they are very different, to my eyes at least, but whilst I still have a film camera and a freezer drawer pregnant with materials, the simple hassle of spotting my scanned pics is just too daunting nowadays. The other huge problem is processing, where not all labs are created equal, and even the good ones can vary in output. Further, whilst colour transparencies and the E6 system are all well-known and can generally be monitored well enough by the labs, processing b/w film seems to be far more doubtful - possibly because the exposure of that material is so much more a matter of personal interpretation and one film with one developer, learned at home or in your own business, becomes a technique which no outside lab can handle in the same way.

I have also learned one of the newer bad habits that comes with the digital age: impatience. I have also lost a lot of my ability to use an incident light meter as well as I used to when no alternative was available; the matrix system in the D200 is just so good that I needle match all the time and never bother looking at the rear screen until I get home, and then only in order to wipe out the trash.

I looked at the Mamiya 7 a few times, thinking the Leica thoughts, only larger, but the same argument that kept an M3, 6 or 7 and myself apart still applied: non-reflex focussing is a step too far, possibly because I started off with a modest but to me, at the time, expensive Voigtlander Vito B which eventually carried a rangefinder in the shoe... The Exakta that replaced it made slr viewing irreplaceable, particularly as I became very fond of the 135mm focal length for much of my work. The Nikons that replaced that machine were so good - I used to imagine that had Nikon made a version of 6x7 then it would have been mine - sadly, it turned out to be a Pentax 67 that caught me, but thatīs another tale.

Starting from scratch, it would have to be digital capture now.

Rob C
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