My cameras - Part II - 120

This week I will focus on medium format cameras. There will be probably a few more on the list comparing to described before 35mm. I realised pretty fast that 120 is the format I will work with and it’s much more capable qualitywise than 135. You make fewer photographs but much better, both technical and substantially. You work much slower with this particular medium but also with overall better thinking of what you are doing. 

Presented below photographs are quite random just to show you the quality you can achieve using particular camera. You can also click on each photograph to enlarge it a bit. 

 1. I started on budget without particular knowledge or experience with this format. And the first one was, of course, Holga 120 GN :) In January I dedicated an entire blog post to this beautiful camera so please have a look HERE.

2. In the meantime, I was using for a while quite interesting and also budget TLR from the 50s, Welta Reflekta II with Meritar 75mm f3.5 lens. I must say it’s a reliable and straightforward camera with decent image quality. It’s just enough for the price. Lens wide open gives heavy vignetting - otherwise, it’s OK. Still better than many 35mm cameras.  

3. One day I decided to get something serious. That decision made me buy a camera which stayed with me for a few years, and I am often thinking about getting it once again. A bit heavy and bulky but with extremely bright focusing screen, which makes it a pure pleasure to use. Image quality is lovely. This camera is also slightly more expensive, of course. But that’s for a reason. Mamiya C330 Profesional F with 80mm 2.8 lens (blue dot) - my first medium format camera, which was almost perfect in every aspect. Focusing on Mamiya cameras are based on bellows, which allows you to get very close to the photographed subject without any extra gear. Camera is equipt with very helpful parallax correction indicator. It is also the only TLR with interchangeable lenses. Beautiful. 

4. That wasn’t the end. GAS keeps playing with me… and I’ve got one of the best cameras I could get in medium format system. Hasselblad 500c/m with standard A12 back and 80mm f2.8 CF Planar lens. A fantastic camera with outstanding optics. That was it. There was nothing better I could get back then. Later I added to my bag Distagon 50mm f4 CF lens. Superb. That was my primary camera for almost a decade. Its versatility, quality and overall user experience is top of the top. The only issue is the fact that anything for this camera is super expensive comparing to other analogue systems. It works without significant problems forever, and it’s ageing very well. Price is justified then ;) 

5. I wanted to try another TLR but much smaller and more portable than Mamiya. That was Yashica Mat 124G with Yashinon 80mm 3.5 lens. Another beauty. Very light and easy to use. Ground glass much darker comparing to Mamiya but quite similar to the one I had in Hasselblad. Image quality is excellent. Of course, all is down to personal taste. 

6. Mamiya RB67 Pro S with 127mm f3.5 lens - another modular system. What can I say - I had this camera for a short period. Why? Well, we have to come back here to an essential thing I am sometimes mentioning - each of us using cameras differently and for various type of photography. I am shooting on the streets most of the time. I am using a bicycle, or I am walking when I have to move from place to place. Considering all the above, RB is impossible to use. It’s a tank. Big and heavy. At the same time, there are pros as well. It’s another versatile system. Much cheaper compared to Hasselblad. It gives outstanding image quality. Negatives from this tank are huge and perfect (of course when properly exposed;) ). 6x7 is a beautiful aspect ratio but back then was somehow odd for me. I am devoted to the 6x6. 

7. What’s next? A long time ago I had also for a couple of weeks only small Agfa box camera 6x9. Very odd thing and strange to use if you want image properly framed at the same time it’s tiny, simple and very portable. I won’t talk here about optics as it doesn’t matter. I can’t see it personally being used for anything serious. I might be wrong. 

8. There was a Zero 2000 as well - beautiful 6x6 pinhole camera. I also mentioned it in one of the previous posts. Please have a look HERE

9. And another pinhole - Holga WPC 120 … 6x12!

10. Sometime later I’ve got the same format Holga Pan 120 (6x12) but with the lens. This one gave a heavy vignetting until I used a file to flatten part of the lens housing. After that, it was a fantastic camera.

11. After all these years, I ended up with Rolleiflex T as one of my main cameras. I was considering a more expensive model with an f2.8 Planar lens, but in the end, I found out that it doesn’t make sense. I am using this camera mostly at f11 to f22 photographing architecture or landscape, and it is perfect. It’s compact, lightweight with bright enough ground glass and fantastic optics. I can shoot with it even 1/30s handheld. What else do I need? Nothing. This camera fulfils my expectation in every aspect. I had a chance to shoot portraits with it twice with wide-open lens and it is excellent. It also over 30% lighter than my previous workhorse - Hasselblad. 

12. Another camera I am using recently is also described some time ago in a different blog article - Fucjica GS645w. This one is for wide-angle shots as it comes with razor-sharp EBC Fujinon 45mm f5.6 lens. Perfect for landscape and architecture. It’s very compact, zone focusing camera which makes it an ideal point and shoot medium format tool. Aspect ratio is quite close to 4x5, which I like a lot beside the favourite 6x6. 

Is that all in 120?  Well, there was Russian folder Iskra and handmade field camera with 6x9 back. Iskra wasn’t mine and I’ve shot only 3 rolls with it (Very nice camera by the way). Field camera was too short with me to justify its real potential. So that’s all for now…  but I can’t guaranty that I won’t get anything else at some stage sooner or later. GAS… 

Soon part III and 4x5…

Thank you!   

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