Comparison of 6×7 medium-format cameras

In 1988 I chose a Bronica GS-1 as the best 6×7 camera. (See 23 years of use.) Looking back, I wonder whether it was the correct choice.

When choosing cameras, I went exclusively for 6×7 format, to give the highest quality that could be conveniently used. The choices at the time were between Mamiya, Bronica, Pentax, Linhof and Plaubel Makina.

  • I rejected the Mamiya RB-67 because it required two actions to wind the film (one on the side, and another on the film back). It made it impractical for general photography, although with hindsight the bulk of my photography has been landscape where it would not have mattered.
  • I rejected the Mamiya RZ-67 because it was substantially more expensive than the Bronica. I was also suspicious about the total weight of a camera outfit for both the RZ-67 and RB-67.
  • I rejected the Pentax 6×7 because there were no interchangeable film backs. In some of the very best photo opportunities I’ve met, things move fast and there is no time to load new film.
  • There was also range finder cameras like the Plaubel Makina 67 with its 80mm (and another with a 55m wide angle), but they are not suited to landscape which is often towards the sun where you have to see exactly what is being captured.
  • The Linhof Technika 6×9 I figured would be too inconvenient to use. (Again with hindsight, it would probably have suited my photography better, although I’m not sure I could have felt the same emotions about it.)

The Bronica I loved because it felt familiar to a 35mm user, the optics were rumoured to be fantastic, and the equipment range had almost everything I wanted.

If I was choosing a medium format camera now, it would be in the second hand market because of the amazing value. It would also need to be 6×7 or 6×9 because only they offer significant advantage over digital cameras. However the argument of which camera is best, is still much the same as it was years ago.

© Blog post is copyright Adrian Cowderoy, 2011. All rights reserved.

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