Anyone also using 6x7? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am thinking about adding a medium format system to go along with my 4x5 for nature/landscape photography. What are people using? I was at the Photo East expo last weekend and played with the Pentax 67II (it certainly is big, even compared to my Wisner) and the Mamiya 7 II (never used a rangefinder before). Also, I talked to several digital printers, i.e. West Coast Imaging, Bill Nordstrom and NancyScans, and they all opine that at a 16x20 enlargement, there is little apparent difference between lightjet output scanned from 4x5 and from 6x7 assuming careful technique. Any thoughts? Thanks.

-- Josh Divack (, November 06, 2001



I've been using the Pentax 6x7 for about 15 years now. It's a real workhorse and reliable. The 6x7 II appears to be a solid piece of equipment in every respect. You will find that people either love these camera's or hate them.

-- Jim (, November 06, 2001.

For years I've been using the 6x7 back on my Graflex 4x5 with great results. 16x20 to 30x36 traditional enlargements have yet to disappoint. Have not explored digital in this format however.

-- Ted Davis (, November 06, 2001.

Josh: You didn't state the reason you wanted to add the 6x7 to the LF system. Is it because of weight or less stuff to tote around and set up? The Pentax is a good, solid camera that operates like a 35mm on steroids. One of my best friends has one with a couple of lenses and his prints are very sharp. Although quicker to operate and set up than LF, by the time you add a lens or two the weight and size of the outfit rivals a 4x5. The rangefinder camera are great for people shots but not first choice for scenics/nature without a lot of experience. They are very fast to operate hand held and in dim light situations. Why not borrow or rent a 6x7 back for your 4x5 and see if you like the format and roll film? Good luck with your quest.


-- Doug Paramore (, November 06, 2001.

The Pentax is truly a good camera system, great selection of lenses...and if you use filters a lot, the SLR feature is a plus. Negative is its size and bulk. If you want a "point and shoot" 6x7 camera, nothing beats the has the sharpest MF lenses of any MF camera on the market. Part of the reason is the inherient focussing benefits of a rangefinder camera and partly because its Mamiya's latest and greatest lens technology. If you shoot wide angle, the 43mm lens is breathtaking. Negatives are.... very limited lenses, nothing longer than 210mm and even that is f11 I beleive, not very automatic, no TTL flash, hard to use filters, a bit frail...the focussing mechanism can be knocked out of alignment which can be re calibrated at the factory, benefits, it's extrmely small and light even including the lenses, sharpest chromes you will ever see.... At 16x20, you will not see a difference vs. 4x5 unless the 4x5 utilized the benefits of movements...

-- Bill Glickman (, November 06, 2001.

Josh, I started with Pentax 67 and added 5X4. For me, there is a difference between the results from 67 and 54 at 16X12 'traditional' enlargements - difficult to define. The 67 results are sharper but the 54 is tonally better. Probably subjective but I havent had the same bite from 54 that I get from 67. I have been using HP5 Plus with 54 and FP4 or Tech Pan on 67. The 54 lens is an older 135 Symmar so it may be a different answer with a more modern higher quality lens.

I am now looking for a compact and light 54 so that I can have the best of both worlds - relative portability and good quality.

Bear in mind that the P67 will need a tripod at least as big - if not bigger than a compact 54, the mirror will always need to be locked up for optimum quality (yes it is really noticable) so the only major gain will be bulk in terms of film. IMO....

-- David Tolcher (, November 06, 2001.

The primary reason would be ease of set-up and use. Any weight savings for the body and lens would be an added benefit but not the primary reason. As to tripods, I am using a Gitzo 1228 with the Wisner and I assume that this would more than suffice with the Mamiya but I am not so sure about the Pentax. I shoot Provia F and Velvia exclusively, btw.

-- Josh Divack (, November 06, 2001.

Josh, I use the pentax 67 as well as 4x5. I really like having something that is quick to use and flexible. It is as at-home in the mountains as it is in the studio and since it requires fewer accessories, it is much easier to pack than a 4x5. I'm quite happy with 20x24 lightjets produced from 67 slides. As far as tripods go I use a big 3036 when at home, but use a Gitzo 1227 when hiking and it works fine if you are careful.

Mark Meyer

-- Mark Meyer (, November 06, 2001.

Hi Josh,

I've used the P67 system for many years and if used with care it can produce high quality, large prints. The mirror thump (image shake) is a problem for the slower speed films and as stated above, a good tripod, mirror lock-up and cable release are mandatory.

I have just recently sold all my P67 equipment and I bought a lightweight 4x5 field camera and I now use the Sinar zoom 120 film holder which gives me the option of format size from 6x4.5 through to 6x12 and of course the 4"x5". I've found that setting up and using the Ebony 45 S Ti is just as quick and easy as when I was using the P67. Also the cost of the Sinar back is much less than the cost of a P67 camera and lenses (especially a P67 II).

I think you'd be pleased with the P67 AND 4x5 camera combo, but for me the option of the 120 Sinar back and a lightweight 45 camera was a better choice.

Kind regards

Peter Brown

-- Peter L Brown (, November 06, 2001.


I use an older P67 and have a huge battery of lenses to accompany it. I love that camera even if it is a huge, loud, inelegant tank. The results are outstanding compared to 35 mm but by and large it isn't that great as a landscape camera because you can't use movements and it really does end up weighing more than a 4x5 if you carry a lot of lenses around. For people shots it is great. The 165 2.8 lens has fabulous bokeh and is exceptional at wide apertures.

But when I want to take a landscape shot, I use the Speed Graphic or my Deardorff. Once in awhile on a hike I'll take the P67 without a tripod if the light is good, and one or two lenses, and shoot handheld. But now you're talking snapshots.

-- Erik Ryberg (, November 06, 2001.

For a 16x20 Lightjet there is no difference between 6x7 and 4x5 without movements. I'd rather carry a 35mm along with LF. This way, I have the choice of ultimate quality or ultimate speed and convenience in adverse conditions. If you have a Pentax II system and a 4x5, you will likely find yourself leaving one of them in the car, since combined they are pretty heavy. Then you will run in a situation where you wish you had the other system.

-- (, November 06, 2001.

Josh if $'s no object ignore this post and by all means investigate the Mamiya 7. O/W though I've thoroughly enjoyed an old Mamiya Universal system that allows 6X9 as well as 6X7 backs and has a nice range of lenses. These were pre-idiot proof and function more like a small view camera than the usual modern MF. Shutters are just like the view cam's and must be cocked each time. Focus is by rangefinder, or if it's a tricky situation there's a viewing ground glass that replaces the back. It is my "color" system, and seems great for 20X30 enlargements. J

-- Jim Galli (, November 06, 2001.

Like a lot of others who responded, I've used the Pentax 67 for about seven years and like it a lot. I'd disagree with the person who said it isn't good for landscapes - for me, that's where it excels. I mostly use it on a tripod (Bogen 3221, Arca Swiss B1 head)and I think any tripod that will handle your Wisner will be more than adequate for the 67. I occasionally hand hold and it works well hand held as long as the shutter speed is in the 1/60 and up range. I've never experienced the mirror slap problem with slower shutter speeds that someone mentioned and have never understood why it would be a problem since the loud slapping sound you hear is the mirror returning to position after the photograph has been made but maybe I just haven't been sufficiently critical. I use the 75 mm shift lens and so get some movements (rise and fall) which is great for the architectural photography that I sometimes do. I've had major problems with the film advance system, which was a weak link with some 67s and is by far my main complaint about the camera, but supposedly this has been fixed with the 67II. I use 6x7, 4x5, 8x10 (and a very occasional 35 mm). With an 8x10 or an 11x14 black and white print, I see no difference in sharpness or tonal range between the 67 and the 4x5. I haven't done enough 16x20s with both to know whether there's a difference at that size. There isn't much difference in bulk and weight between my 67 with five lenses and my 4x5 (a Linhof Technika V) with four lenses so if you're looking for significant weight or bulk saving I don't think you'll get them with the 67. The 67 is much quicker to set up and use, plus the 220 film I use (HP5+) gives me a lot more exposures when I'm in the field. Those are the main reasons I sometimes use the 67 in lieu of 4x5 or 8x10. I've found the very basic averaging meter on the 67 to work well. It seems to do just as good a job as the much newer, more sophisticated meter that was on the Nikon F4 I used to have and on the N90S I now have. The slow synch speed with flash (1/30) is a disadvantage for some, but I don't use flash so it doesn't matter to me. Also, Pentax makes two leaf shutter lenses that can be used to eliminate the synch problem. I tried the Mamiya 7 (not the II) and liked it o.k. but I didn't see enough advantages to it for me to compared to the Pentax to justify the much higher cost of camera and lenses. As I recall I couldn't focus close enough with the right lens to make a head and shoulders portrait and there were some kind of complications when using a wide angle lens. If weight and bulk were critical to me, I probably would have sprung for the extra money and accepted the problems of a range finder system, but they aren't so I didn't.

-- Brian Ellis (, November 06, 2001.

John, I use a Fuji GSW690. It is a great lens attached to an essentially free body. They come in 6x7 and 6x9 with several different lenses. The 6x9 image is not realy much smaller than 4x5. These are great "portable" large format stand-ins. Jeff

-- jeff schraeder (, November 06, 2001.

Josh: I had the honor of testing the first Pentax 6X7 in the early '70's when I flew to California to make the official portraits of the Lockheed L-1011, at Palmdale, California. I was mainly using Hasselblad and Nikons, but was asked to test the new camera. (Pentax was a client) Lenses were excellent, camera was big and clunky. Biggest problems for me was the noise when the shutter when off and the mirror went up and down. I almost wished for my pistol range ear-muffs, to spare me the noise. In 30 degee weather, with a wind speed of 20 knots, the camera performed very well, but every time the shutter went off I had an image of what kind of tripod I would use for long exposures. I came up with the answer when I recalled what Ansel Adams had told me over dinner....that the ideal tripod was a cubic yard of concrete with a 1/4 X 20 bolt sticking out of the top. (:-) Richard Boulware - Denver.

-- Richard Boulware (, November 06, 2001.

I bought an M7 a few years ago because I wanted great image quality you can walk around with and I'm not disapointed. Not cheap thou and I worried about theft so I recently bought a $100 Rolleiflex that I can't put down. Old Zeiss Tessars have their own unique patina, hard to explain but many great images from the Rollei over the years.

-- Robert Chambers (, November 06, 2001.

When I was shopping for a new MF system about a year ago (to replace the ailing Mamiya 645 that had replaced an old Mamiya twin lens), I tried just about everything out there. I eventually settled on a Mamiya RB67 and have been very pleased with it, especially with the quality of the KL-L lenses. It's great for close up work since it has the built in bellows and is also great for cold weather since it's totally mechanical, but being about the same size and weight as a car battery means it's not always a joy to carry around. If you want light weight and good glass, the Mamiya 7 is unbeatable. Incredibly sharp optics, light, easy to use. Of course, if you don't like rangefinders, it's not really a good option. The Pentax 6x7 is a very nice camera, too, but I could never really get into it much because of the lack of interchangable backs.

-- David Munson (, November 06, 2001.

I too use a Pentax 67 system beside the 4x5. In my first years of serious photography, I found it easier to compose with the P 67 pentaprism than on the reversed GG image and had many good images from it. Now I tend to use the 4x5 more but have the Pentax with me when I can afford two bags, for those occasions when setting the 4x5 is not possible or would take too long. The plusses of the Pentax are i'ts rugged construction, easy operation, large range of lenses, affordable compared to other brands, largely found on the second hand market. I use it on tripod with mirror up lock and cable and the results are very sharp. Enlarged to 16x20", you hardly notice the MF size, but of course on larger images, the 4x5 format will show it's superiority.

-- Paul Schilliger (, November 06, 2001.

I regularly shoot with an RB and 4x5 also and love the rotating back of the RB... just like shooting square format, no turning the camera for verticals! It's great. Enlarging to 16x20 is NO problem!!!!

-- Scott Walton (, November 07, 2001.

Time to rent both of them, as they both sound like good contenders.

-- Josh Divack (, November 07, 2001.

U have had all 4 of the med format cameras---Pentax 67, Mamiya 7 with 80 mm and 150 mm lenses, and both Fuji GSW III with 65mm and 6x7III with 90 mm. I also had a Hasselblad with 80mm Planar. In order of lens Quality: Fuji GSW690, Pantax 67 /105mm, H'blad, Mamiya with 80mm. The resolution of the Mamiya 80 was the highest tested: 120 lpmm on Tech Pan using the Sleicher 4color test chart. But even though the lens tested best, I did not like the image quality of the prints! Bokeh only so-so, and depth-of-field lens markings about 1 stop optimistic. The Fujinon 65mm makes the most amazingly sharp and contrasty chromes I've ever seen. Just a fantastic lens, the 90 is not as good. I got rid of the M7 when I saw the 30x40 inch mural enlargements that Ivey Seright in Seattle made from Velvia chromes I took in Venice, Italy using the Fuji GSW690III. If I could only have one camera for the rest of my life, and $$ was no object, I would pick the GSW690 and not have a second thought.

The M7 was a nice camera, but the LED's for the builtin meter are for me very hard to see. The Pentax (I had 75mm, 105, 200, 150, and 300mm lenses) was just too damn heavy to tote. Nice ergonomics, very noisy, sharp lenses and reasonably priced. I took only the Fuji GSW690 to Italy----it was a great choice, no fussing around changing lenses (you can't--fixed lens) and not too much of a load around the neck. But dazzling lens....

I had a Wisner 5x7 Technical, and got tired of all that weight and worry about wind. And no 5x7 slide film available in US, had a 4x5 reducing back too but that's a d*mn big and heavy 4x5. I use an old Graphic View 4x5 when I feel like only a bigger neg will do, have a Kenro Special K (Dagor tweaked for flatter field) 210mm and that makes very nice chromes for mural size flower pics. Used to use an 8x10, but I'm pushing 59yo and a 6x9 is all I care to tote most days, certainly for travel to Europe it's the only way to go. In slot canyons and spots like Arches NP, where there is convenient road access, view camera is a natural and beats the 6x7 format in everything except speed and ease of use. YMMV!!

-- tERRY roTH (TERRYROTH@EARTHLINK.NET), November 07, 2001.

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