Medium Format Landscapes with the RB67

Since getting my RB67, I’ve been anxious to try some landscapes in the 6×7 format. Now, this camera, although it should be nice for landscapes, is a bit difficult for me to focus. Since I’ve gotten it, it’s been very dark and rainy in central Texas, so I haven’t had a good chance to try it in the great outdoors, under bright conditions. One of the reasons it’s been difficult for me to focus (besides the degradation of my eyes in recent years) is that the fastest lens I have is f/3.5. The 50mm that I want to use more specifically for landscapes is an f/4.5, which makes it noticeably darker in the viewfinder. Paired with it’s wide angle of view – meaning, subjects I aim at are fairly small – makes it difficult for me to focus. Since I’m used to lenses that are f/2.8 or faster, the 3.5 or 4.5 has been a challenge for me. In bright sun, or under studio lights, this would probably not be a problem. In dark, overcast, rainy days (or maybe even at sunset), it has been a problem for me. In a week, I go to northern Arizona, where I’m hoping for lots of bright sunlight to shoot in.

I really like the 6×7 format. I like 6×6 too, but 6×7 seems to allow me to fill the frame, compose more naturally, and not crop my shots in post at all. With 6×6, many times I don’t crop either, but 6×7 just seems to allow me to fill the frame and compose my shots better. The rotating back on the RB67 is nice too – so I can shoot portrait or landscape without rotating the whole camera. Very handy.

The Mamiya-Sekor C 50mm f/4.5 lens is roughly equivalent to a 25mm lens on a 35mm body. I use a 24mm lens quite frequently on both film and digital bodies, so the angle of view is familiar to me. 24mm is actually one of my favorite focal lengths.

The Mamiya K/L 127mm f/3.5 lens would be close to 60mm with a 35mm body. That seems to be a nice lens that covers normal situations and might work well for some portrait work – family portraits or friends that I might take photos of, not studio portraits. In a lot of what I read about this camera, people opt for the 90mm lens (which is slightly on the wide side) instead of the 127mm. I’ll use the 127mm for now and see how I like it.

I’ve also been testing Kodak T-Max 100 film – to try to see how fine I can get the grain. So far I’m very happy with it. I’m experimenting with development times and dilutions. Right now I’m trying HC-100 dilution H for 12 minutes – for T-Max shot at ISO 100. I’ve had good results, but this is a new film for me, so it will take a little time to refine my times. I’d like to try some T-Max developer, but that’s something for another time.

Here are a couple shots I took outdoors (today was partially sunny). These are a lot closer than the landscapes I have in mind to take. The Arizona desert will provide a much larger, wide-open environment to shoot in. I’m looking forward to that.

I think I’m getting better at focus, and I’m pleased with T-Max film so far. I think I’ll take a few rolls with me on my next trip – as well as some Portra 160, and some Ektar 100.

To help with focusing on darker days, I’m going to try a chimney finder – we’ll see how that works, or if it helps at all. I think the darkness it provides – as well as being able to adjust the diopter setting may help. I’m staying away from a prism finder for now. Even the chimney finder may make this camera too bulky to use outdoors. I will see.