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  1. #1
    Junior Member crotograph's Avatar
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    Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    I am in the market for another MF camera and am considering the pros and cons of these two systems. Bronica ETRS or the Mamiya RB67. Any recommendations? Any criticisms of either of these camera systems? Just looking for an experienced viewpoint from one of you folks.
    I Still Like Film Better

  2. #2
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Tough One

    Since they're both discontinued systems it's tough to recommend either one. I was always partial to the Mamiyas and I think they are probably a better investment if you ever plan to buy a digital back. On the other hand, since we started this site I couldn't help but notice that the Bronica system was the only one with perfect reviews - even after the manufacturer discontinued support.

    Do you have a preference? What was your previous system? Do you have any intention of investing in a digital back in the future?
    Photo-John

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  3. #3
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    The ETRS is a 645 system, isn't it? The Mamiya is 6x7 of course, so there are a lot of advantages/disadvantages just based on that.

    Like John says, they're both discontinued. Bronica doesn't make any cameras anymore, I think I heard - and the Mamiya RB was replaced by the RZ system years ago. I was at a pro store a while back, and a guy was there with his RB that he had brought in for repair - and they couldn't do anything for it.

    These, and most medium format film cameras, are probably selling for a tenth of what they were selling for a few years ago. If you want to try MF, you're not going to lose a lot of money if you have a problem. I had a Bronica SQA system for awhile (6x6) and only bought it because it was so cheap. At the time (about two years ago) it was under $500 for a complete camera with 80mm lens, and it would have been well over $2k new. I'm sure the price has dropped since even then.

  4. #4
    Junior Member crotograph's Avatar
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    Re: Tough One

    Well, Papa John, I have been using a Mamiya m645 for about 5 years and I love the format. However, in my particular m645 the viewfinder is very dim and there are some problems as far as focusing. I can't see the split image so, instead, I use the waist level finder and my Luna Pro for metering.

    Before I had this camera I used my Nikon FTN and still do. Never a problem with this camera. In the meantime I have also purchased a Nikon D70s and enjoy the instant gratification of viewing the photo and making corrections if I have misinterpreted DOF or S speed.

    The reason I am looking at the two MF cameras mentioned is that I love film. I like dipping and dunking and I am just old enough at 57 to start having a bit of eye trouble with dim viewfinders. Plus, I can afford to buy a used MF camera but am too cheap to put out the big bucks for a new Mamiya or Hassey. My preference would probably be the Bronica for the same reasons you mentioned, great reviews. However, if the price is right it would be the least expensive of the two providing the camera was in an 8-10 condition.
    Last edited by crotograph; 11-23-2005 at 01:42 PM. Reason: Add answer to a question
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  5. #5
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    6x7!

    I wasn't really paying attention to which Bronica you were talking about. Although all the Bronicas have great reviews, if you're going to buy a new camera, why not step up to 6x7? I love the 6x7 format. I used to be a custom printer and I printed from any format you can think of - from APS on up to 8x10 and even some weird aerial panoramic film. I don't think the quality difference between 35mm and 645 really justifies the added expense of the 645 system. But 6x7 is a whole other ballgame. I looooooooove 6x7! You can make really beautiful, huge prints from a good 6x7 neg or transparency. And even small prints have a quality that you don't see from smaller film. I have a 5x7 Ilfochrome I made from a 6x7 transparency that I like to show people. The color is sooo dense and you can't detect any grain. It is a wonderful, wonderful print. So go 6x7! If you like film, then 6x7 should make you very, very happy.
    Photo-John

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  6. #6
    Junior Member crotograph's Avatar
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    Re: 6x7!

    6x7 is what I was leaning towards. The thing I forgot to mention you hit upon, not a lot of difference, unless one blows up to 11x14 or larger, between the 35mm and the 6x4.5. I had an uncle who taught me composition and darkroom in the late '50's. He was a professional and a perfectionist. He used a Leica and about 3 other cameras. I recall that the prints that he made from his view camera were breathtaking. All B and W of course. Wish I could remember what size camera that was. Might have been a Calumet 8x10, just guessing. Anywho, thanks for the thoughtful consideration. 6x7 it will be.
    I Still Like Film Better

  7. #7
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Awesome!

    Quote Originally Posted by crotograph
    6x7 it will be.
    Happy to be able to influence someone

    I remember printing from 645 and being frustrated that it didn't look better. I think you're right - up to 11x14 they're ok. Single person portraits might be ok larger. Group shots look terrible. But 6x7 holds up to 30x40 for most purposes. And I love 30x40 prints.
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  8. #8
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    6x7 is almost twice the size of 645, so it's the way I'd choose too - but was a little confused by your original question with which way you wanted to go. Bronica also made a 6x7 system, and there's a really great rangefinder - the Mamiya 7 (also 7II). That particular rangefinder is still selling for a pretty high price used, but most everything else in MF can be had for a song.

  9. #9
    Junior Member crotograph's Avatar
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    I am an SLR guy. I know that range finders are excellent. However, I enjoy changing my lenses to suit a situation. Especially, I like the latitude of going hyperfocal or choosing a zone of focus. When I was a kid I had a Brownie Starflash and no matter how sophisticated a range finder is I get a flash back to that little camera and the REALLY hot flash bulbs. When I first purchased my Nikon FTN and 3 lenses I was blown away at the freedom to change a lens to change a shot. And the the creative possibilities one gets just by changing focal length by adding a different lens still amazes me. When it comes to photography I am still like a kid in a candy shop.
    I Still Like Film Better

  10. #10
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    Actually the Mamiya 7, 7II (and the 6x6 "6") are like oversized Leica M-Series rangefinders - they have quite a few available lenses and accessories. The Mamiya 7 series has a 43mm which is about like a 20mm on a 35mm camera - David Hume Kennerly used only this lens for his book "Photo Du Jour". Still, a rangefinder is a different experience than an SLR.

  11. #11
    Junior Member crotograph's Avatar
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    Cool Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    Well, OK, I purchased the Mamiya RB67 Pro SD. Under $500.00 by a good margin and this camera is an 8+++. The reason I mention the price is because I am floored by how inexpensive. I will have to buy a 180 mm lens for it as it comes with the 90mm and that won't work well enough for portraits. While I'm at it I will probably get a wide angle also.

    I have to say that I don't get it. I know that digital is popular and, in some ways, easier, but, I cannot see the market dump of really nice film cameras. This camera should have cost around $2000.00 +/-. I'm not complaining, mind you, just don't understand how film is being so under rated in what only seems like a year or two. Ahhh, but then, I may be showing my age!
    Last edited by crotograph; 11-26-2005 at 06:08 PM. Reason: Forgot My Emoticon
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  12. #12
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    You made the right choice

    Quote Originally Posted by crotograph
    Well, OK, I purchased the Mamiya RB67 Pro SD. Under $500.00 by a good margin and this camera is an 8+++. The reason I mention the price is because I am floored by how inexpensive. I will have to buy a 180 mm lens for it as it comes with the 90mm and that won't work well enough for portraits. While I'm at it I will probably get a wide angle also.

    I have to say that I don't get it. I know that digital is popular and, in some ways, easier, but, I cannot see the market dump of really nice film cameras. This camera should have cost around $2000.00 +/-. I'm not complaining, mind you, just don't understand how film is being so under rated in what only seems like a year or two. Ahhh, but then, I may be showing my age!
    Bronica went out of business recently. This means that not only there will be no new cameras but repairs may become difficult one day.

    Charles
    Last edited by Franglais; 11-27-2005 at 12:33 AM. Reason: typo

  13. #13
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    I'm sure you'll get your money's worth out of it! Prices of pro-grade film gear have been dropping for a few years now - you could get a Nikon F5 for not much more than that too. Nothing wrong with shooting film, as long as you've got a good lab (or that lab is you). I'm guessing that there is still a decent demand for medium format film, because at the price of the equipment there will be a lot of new users of it out there.

    If you ever do need repairs, you might be best to just replace the body. This has been true of many good cameras for a couple of years - Nikon FM, for example.

  14. #14
    Junior Member crotograph's Avatar
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    Re: You made the right choice

    Quote Originally Posted by Franglais
    Bronica went out of business recently. This means that not only there will be no new cameras but repairs may become difficult one day.

    Charles
    That was the reason I didn't purchase a GS-1, although I did peruse them. I also downloaded the RB manual from Mamiya and see that I have some study and familiarization to learn the camera. The first thing I did was take it for a check up and, if needed, a cleaning. End of next week I will have it and start learning the idiosyncracies of a new system. Any experienced RB users that would like to fill me in on peculiarities of said camera I would enjoy hearing from.
    I Still Like Film Better

  15. #15
    Junior Member crotograph's Avatar
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    Re: You made the right choice

    Replacing the body is a great point, AV. Far in the future I hope............................>;)
    I Still Like Film Better

  16. #16
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    Good buy. The Mamiya is in my top cameras list.

  17. #17
    Junior Member crotograph's Avatar
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    I have toted 25 lbs of Mamiya and Nikon around for years. Not to mention Linhof and Bogen/Manfrotto tripods and heads. Seems to me that 5.5-6 lbs of MF camera are light in comparison. And I'm 57. What gives with all the complaints concerning how "heavy" the RB is? Every review I read was a negative concerning the weight of this camera. I look towards the one key positive: the photos. It seems a winning trade-off to carry a bit more weight and get beautifully focused and exposed photos than to carry around a pound and a half 35mm and pray they come out. That's just me though.
    I Still Like Film Better

  18. #18
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    I'm going to come in on the side of the 6x7 supporters. 645, while undeniably better than 35 mm for making fine prints, just isn't that much bigger than 35mm to make the effort worthwhile unless size and weight considerations are paramount. If the argument were between the 6x6 square and 645, and you normally print a rectangular format, then it's a good choice because the usable area of a 6x6 negative when printing a standard 8x10,11x14, 16x20, etc.rectangle is essentially the same as 645. But if you're going for maximum image quality from medium format then 6x7 is the way to go. The format allows one to use almost all of the negative for the composition when the intention is to print the standard rectangular sizes.

  19. #19
    Captain of the Ship Photo-John's Avatar
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    Welcome to PhotographyREVIEW.com. fschifano! I just wanted to point out that you've posted a reply in a discussion that hasn't been active since 2005. It's a good one, though

    I don't know what brought you to the site but you should introduce yourself on the ViewFinder forum - it's sort of our online community center. And if you're interested in film photography you should take a look at our dedicated Film Photography forum.

    Looking forward to seeing some of your photos and getting to know you!
    Photo-John

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  20. #20
    Senior Member freygr's Avatar
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    Re: You made the right choice

    Quote Originally Posted by crotograph
    That was the reason I didn't purchase a GS-1, although I did peruse them. I also downloaded the RB manual from Mamiya and see that I have some study and familiarization to learn the camera. The first thing I did was take it for a check up and, if needed, a cleaning. End of next week I will have it and start learning the idiosyncracies of a new system. Any experienced RB users that would like to fill me in on peculiarities of said camera I would enjoy hearing from.
    It has a dark slide! So do not forget to remove the darkslide before taking photos or installing the dark slide before changing the film back. Remember that there are 120 and 220 film backs and there are not interchangeable when loading the film.
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  21. #21
    Moderator of Critiques/Hearder of Cats mtbbrian's Avatar
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    Have you thought about the RZ67 at all?
    With the mention of the Bronica, I am wondering why that hasn't been mentioned.
    As I recall, the two cameras were similiar in electronics and all that.
    Just throwing that out there..
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  22. #22
    Member Marc2B4's Avatar
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    Re: Bronica ETRS or Mamiya RB67 Pro SD

    I've shot with both of them. If you're going to put the camera on a tripod and work in a studio, you'd be hard pressed to be the RB. If you're going to be shooting out and about, the ETRs is a great system. Both systems are a substantial step up from 35mm and the quality of your enlargements will increase dramatically. Be prepared though, they're not the quietest cameras by any stretch!

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