Medium Format is the bee's knees for film shooters. It's where you can shoot film and rival the image quality from digital files, while retaining the signature lower contrast film look. And did you know that 6x7 is the designated press and artist's format! This article extensively discusses your 6x7 options!

 

What's the deal with 6x7 medium format?

The format was dubbed 'The Ideal Format' back in the 1960s and 1970s and that name stuck for a long time. But why? 

Well, the aspect ratio of 6x7 centimeters and 4x5 inches, or 8x10 inches for that matter, is similar. Where 4x5 inch was the entry level size for quality work for a long time, 6x7 aimed to take that position from sheet film by on the one hand offering the ease of use of roll film while at the same time reducing costs for film and developing, and on the other hand allowing people to make the switch without having to set up all their equipment and photographic paper stocks anew. 6x7 centimeters allowed people to carry on in the tradition of photographers like Edward Weston (who only shot 4x5 inch briefly before upsizing to 5x7 inch), press photographer Weegee and even Ansel Adams. That was both the practical and the economical aspect.

But, what about the aesthetics aspect? Well, we've seen already that with similar aspect ratios, it was easy to pass 6x7 frames off as 4x5 inch or even native 8x10 inch shots and also pass yourself off as a fine arts photographer along the way. But what is the relevance of that in modern times? Those of us that come from the era of film photography and prints are used to seeing the 2:3 aspect ratio of Leicas and the 1960s-onwards SLR cameras, APS-C and 'full frame'. Also, the relatively young Micro 4/3 cameras have 3:4 aspect ratio. None of those are quite the 6:7 aspect ratio. Same time, the wildfire of smart phone aspect ratios nowadays greatly erases that in younger generations. They grow up with the 16:9 wide angle aspect ratio of their TV or smart phone screen...

And apart from all this, Medium Format 6x7 is also a heck of a lot bigger than regular 35mm negatives. Leading to less enlargement for big prints, which translates to better sharpness in prints. That's the quality aspect of choosing 6x7 centimeter as your format.

How to distinguish yourself amongst all those shooters and images? How do you stand out from the crowd? Well, there's the square format from the Rolleiflexes and Hasselblads. Personally, I've always found it hard to create interesting and enticing compositions in square format. I love Rolleiflexes but to be honest I s*ck at shooting them. There's no way to sensibly apply the Rule of Thirds or the Golden Ratio in creating a composition with a square image. As a result, my images often are boring when I shoot square format... Oh well.

So, when you want to stand out with not only the image content but also its dimensions, 6x7 (or 4x5 inch or 8x10 inch) is the logical choice. And honestly, the 4x5" and 8x10" large formats are very very nice and offer ridiculous resolution and sharpness as well as very limited depth of field if you need it, but they are more cumbersome to handle and all your expenses go up as well. 

So, 6x7 it is. For me. 

 

OK then, what's to choose from?

And why then isn't everybody shooting it, you might ask?

Well, there are currently no new cameras on the market that can deliver this aspect ratio. The most recent camera that can do it is the Fujica GF670. It's a folder rangefinder, and it debuted in 2010. And although its image quality is pretty spectacular, it's expensive. Actually, 6x7 centimeters is a thing of the past in camera production. The 'Ideal Format' seized to be ideal to the camera buying masses, and therefore is less than ideal to be produced at all.

This means your options are limited to models that were sold as long as 50 years ago, although most 6x7 cameras are much younger than that.

When getting into 6x7 medium format, your options are limited anyway. There weren't even that many models made over the years. In fact, there were so few models made that this article can cover most of them, and that's what it does!

When the above has got you wondering on what your options are, read below where you can find the majority of affordable 6x7-capable cameras in just three tables.

 

Medium Format Rangefinder Cameras Comparison  Fujica GM670  Mamiya 7 & 7-II  Plaubel Makina 67 & W67
2018 Typical Prices with Standard Lens and Back   $550 with the 100 f3.5 non-AE lens
  • € 1600 for the 7 with 80 f4.0
  • € 2600 for the 7-II with 80 f4.0
 
Dates of Manufacture  1974 - ???  1995 - 2012
  • 1979 Plaubel Makina 67
  • 1981 Plaubel Makina W67
  • 1984 Plaubel Makina 670 (updated 67)
Appox. Dimensions and weight
  •  1840g with the 100 f3.5 AE
  •  159 x 112 x 123mm (6.2 x 4.4 x 4.8 in.)
  • 1210g (2.6 lbs.) with 80 f4.0 lens 
  • 162x115x113mm (56.5mm folded)
  • 1280g
Standard Lenses
  • Fujinon S 100 f3.5
  • EBC Fujinon AE 100 f3.5
  •  Mamiya N 80 f4.0 lens
  • Nikkor 80 f2.8
  • Nikkor 55 f4.5 
Optional Lenses
  • Fujinon 50  f5.6
  • Fujinon SWS 65 f8.0
  • Fujinon 65 f5.6
  • Fujinon TS 150 f5.6
  • Fujinon TS 180 f5.6
  • 43 f4.5
  • 65 f4.0
  • 80 f4.0
  • 150 f4.5
  • 210 f8.0 
none, fixed lens 
Lens Mount Bayonet mount, identical to Fujicas 690 models. Bayonet mount, identical for 7 and 7-II. None
Film Formats 6x7 roll film, both 120 and 220. 6x7 roll film, both 120 and 220. 6x7 roll film, both 120 and 220.
Movements none  none  none
Focussing System Rangefinder with lens. Rangefinder with lens. Rangefinder with lens.
Viewfinder
  • With 100 and 150 frames
  • The 50, 65 and 180 require an external finder 
Rangefinder coupled 

Automatic parallax compensating
Automatic bright line selection (65mm, 80mm, 150mm)

Readout shutter speed LED indicator
Separate ultra-wide optical finder supplied with 43mm or 50mm lens 

Rangefinder coupled 
Automatic parallax compensating 
Shutter Leaf shutter built in lenses, cloth to shield the film from light when changing lenses.  Electromagnetic full flash synch leaf shutter. 

Leaf shutter.  
Shutter Speeds B, 1 sec. - 1/500 sec, but the 100 AE has a slowest speed of 1/8th.  4 sec. - 1/500 sec., B, X synchronization at all speeds   1-1/500th, B, syncs at all speeds 
Backs None None None
Close-up Accessories For the 100mm lenses only. Cumbersome attachment for the 80 f4.0 lens that requires the lens to be set to 1 mtr exactly, and provides correct focus at 10.8 inches only. Tripod use required. None
Repair Sources   Phase One  
Miscellaneous Features  all lenses have 72mm filter threads.    
Further Information This Camerapedia article covers the GM670 as well.

Mamiya Leaf Legacy 7-II page.

If reading lens comparisons is your thing, try this one

Camerawiki article with excellent history.

  

 

Personally, I'm a sucker for press gear. It's the epitome of cool, those beat-up, hard as a rock cameras that churn out excellent images despite the technical flaws they acquired on the job, because the shooter has the skills and the guts to get in the thick of the heat and shoot the heck out of it. So, press cameras in 6x7 are here!

Medium Format Press Cameras Comparison

Graflex XL

Koni-Omega

Mamiya Press

2018 Typical Prices with Standard Lens and Back (XLRF) $???; (XLSW) $??? (Rapid 200) $??? (Super 23) $???
Models
  • XL
  • XLRF
  • XLSW
  • Rapid
  • Rapid M
  • Rapid 100
  • Rapid 200
  • Deluxe 23
  • Standard 23
  • Super 23
  • Universal
Dates of Manufacture 1965-??

(1954) 1965-1978?

1962?-??
Appox. Dimensions and weight ?

Rapid M:

  • 7.5 x 5 x 5.3 in (190 x 127 x 133 mm);
  • 4.75 lb (2.15 kg)

Rapid 200:

  • 8.8 x 5.3 x 5.7 in (225 x 133 x 144 mm);
  • 4.81 lb (2.18 kg)

Super 23:

  • 7.5 x 6.5 x 6.5 in (190 x 165 x 165 mm);
  • 5.75 lb (2.61 kg)

Universal w/o pack film adapter:

  • 7.8 x 6.9 x 5.4 in (198 x 175 x 137 mm);
  • 3.97 lb (1.80 kg)
Standard Lenses
  • Zeiss Tessar 100 f3.5
  • Konica Hexanon 90 f3.5 (Rapid and M),
  • Super Omegaron 90 f3.5 (100 and 200)
  • Mamiya-Sekor 90 f3.5
Optional Lenses
  • 47 Super-Angulon (XLSW only),
  • 58 f5.6 Grandagon,
  • 80 f2.8 Planar,
  • 95 f2.8 Heligon,
  • 100 f2.8 Planar,
  • 180 f4.8 Sonnar,
  • 180 Rotelar,
  • 270 Rotelar
  • 58 f5.6
  • 60 f5.6
  • 135 f3.5
  • 180 f4.5
  • 50 f6.3,
  • 65 f3.5,
  • 65 f6.3,
  • 75 f4.5P,
  • 100 f2.8,
  • 100 f3.5 Macro,
  • 150 f5.6,
  • 250 f5 (Super and Universal only)
Lens Mount Bayonet Bayonet mount with breech-lock; pin coupling to rangefinder (wide angles couple by default) Bayonet-mount lock buttons (except Super and Universal: bayonet locking ring)
Film Formats
  • 6x7,
  • 6x9,
  • Polaroid,
  • 4x5;
  • cut or roll film
  • 6x7;
  • roll film only
  • 6x7,
  • 6x9,
  • Polaroid;
  • cut or roll film
Movements None None Swinging back (15deg, 4 directions), additional 1.19 in (30.1 mm) extension on Super, Universal
Focussing System
  • Rangefinder
  • Ground Glass, both with lens
  • Rangefinder
  • Ground Glass, both with side-mounted knob
  • Rangefinder
  • Ground Glass, both with lens
Viewfinder

Direct:

  • parallax correcting;

Combined with rangefinder:

  • brightframes provided for 80, 100, 180 lenses

Direct:

  • parallax correcting;

Combined with rangefinder:

  • brightframes provided for 90, 180 lenses; corner dots for 135 lens (100 and 200);
  • automatic frame selection

Direct:

  • parallax correcting;

Combined with rangefinder:

  • brightframes provided for 100, 150, 250 lenses (except Standard);
  • manual frame selection
Shutter Leaf in-lens shutter Leaf in-lens shutter Leaf in-lens shutter
Shutter Speeds B,1-1/500, sync at all speeds B,1-1/500, M/X sync at all speeds B,1-1/500, M/X sync at all speeds
Backs
  • Graflok back.
  • 120: RH-8 8exp 6x9,
  • RH-10 10exp 6x7,
  • RH-12 12exp 6x6;
  • 220: RH-20 20exp 6x7;
  • 4x5: RH-50 50exp 6x7 (remove Graflok);
  • ground glass
  • 120: 10exp 6x7;
  • 220: 20exp 6x7;
  • ground glass (M and 200 only)
  • Mamiya or Graflok back (Universal only).
  • 120: 10exp 6x7,
  • 120: 8exp 6x9;
  • 220: 20exp 6x7,
  • 220: 16exp 6x9;
  • ground glass;
  • interchangeable rollfilm, cutfilm, plate film, and Polaroid backs
Close-up Accessories ? Close-up lens/attachment Extension tubes, back extension
Repair Sources Ed Romney has written books about how to fix just about any camera you can think of, including the Graflex XL. Greg Weber used to repair them? Mamiya Professional Systems Handbook, Robb Smith, 1974.
Miscellaneous Features
  • Interchangeable/additional grips (up to 3)
  • Pull/push lever wind/shutter cocking, intermittent film pressure plate,
  • film back design precludes mid-roll swapping (Rapid and Rapid 100 only),
  • three standard-mount (ISO) accessory shoes,
  • lenses have built-in hoods,
  • rangefinder-coupled flash calculator (M)
  • Right-side view/rangefinder
Further Information

Charles Trentelman's article on the Graflex XL

Complete XL Line overview here

Karen Nakamura's article on the Koni-Omegas.

Koni Rapid Omega 2004 page by Robert Monaghan

?

 

So there are some of us that prefer to see in the viewfinder just what's going to be in the frame, and what not. Like, a 100%. If you're that kind of shooter, you need an SLR in 6x7 since it will allow you to look through the lens when shooting. Luckily, there's some options here for you too. 

Medium Format SLR Cameras Comparison  Pentax 67, 6x7, 67-II  Mamiya RB67 & RZ67 Bronica GS-1
2018 Typical Prices with Standard Lens and Back
  • Pentax 67: $??
  • Pentax 6x7: $??
  • Pentax 67-II: $??
 
  • RB67 with Sekor 90 f3.8 and wind back: $??
  • RZ67 with  Sekor 90 f3.8 and wind back: $??
  • Bronica GS-1 with Zenzanon-PG 100 f3.5 and back: € 500-650   
Dates of Manufacture
  • Pentax 67: 1969 - ??
  • Pentax 6x7: 1989 - ??
  • Pentax 67-II: 1998 - ??
  • Mamiya RZ67: 1982 - at least 2010
  • Mamiya RB67: 1970 - at least 2010
1983 - ??
Appox. Dimensions and weight      
Standard Lenses  SMC Takumar 105 f2.4  Sekor 90 f3.8
  • Zenzanon-PG 100 f3.5
Optional Lenses  
  • RZ67: 22 additional lenses!
  • RB67: 32 additional lenses!

Really too many to list here, please refer to the links below!

 
  • Zenzanon-PG 50 f4.5
  • Zenzanon-PG 65 f4.0
  • Zenzanon-PG 80 f3.5
  • Zenzanon-PG 110 f4.0
  • Zenzanon-PG 150 f4.0
  • Zenzanon-PG 200 f4.5
  • Zenzanon-PG 250 f5.6
  • Zenzanon-PG 500 f8.0
Lens Mount Bayonet Bayonet Bayonet 
Film Formats 120 and 220  120 and 220, Polaroid 120 and 220 
Movements none  none  none 
Focussing System Viewfinder & lens
  • Ground glass or viewfinder combined w/ focusing knob,
  • fine focusing with lens 
Ground glass or viewfinder w/ lens
Viewfinder Chimney finder or several prism finders Chimney finder or several prism finders Chimney finder or several prism finders
Shutter Cloth shutter Leaf shutter in lens Leaf shutter in lens
Shutter Speeds  1-1/1000th, B, syncs to 1/30th only Depends on lens. typically 1-1/400th, T (has no B mode!), syncs at all speeds  
Backs Fixed back, can be 'hacked' to take Polaroid but irreversible 
  • Graflok style backs, the RB67 can fit some backs from other makers
  • 6x4.5 for 120 and 220
  • 6x6 for 120 and 220
  • 6x7 for 120 and 220
  • 6x8 for 120 and 220 (RB67 Pro-SD)
  • Polaroid backs for RB67 and RZ67
  • 6x4.5 for 120 and 220
  • 6x6 for 120 and 220
  • 6x7 for 120 and 220 
Close-up Accessories Any diopter filter will do Both cameras focus with a bellows and have additional macro rings available  
Repair Sources      
Miscellaneous Features   Rotating backs TTL flash
Further Information Karen Nakamuras article on the Pentax 67 series

My article on the Mamiya RB67 Pro-SD

Full RB67 overview on Camerawiki

Full RZ67 overview on Camerawiki

Camerawiki article on the Bronica GS-1

 

In the final 'Odd-ball' category I have accumulated some cameras that are affordable and get you into 6x7 pretty cheap. And yes, there's a list of expensive options too but I decided not to research those fully, instead list them below. So if you're looking to burn cash rather than save it, look below the 'cheap options' Odd-ball table! Sensible folks read on slowly, it's about the image, not about how much you spent to shoot it, right? ;-)

Medium Format 'Odd-ball' Cameras Comparison Horseman Convertible 842  Hacked Baby Graflex 6x7  Horseman VHR etc
2018 Typical Prices with Standard Lens and Back  $550
  • Body with 101 lens: Graflex 2x3 or 6x9, 'Baby' $150
  • Graflex Singer RH10 film holder $50
  • Horseman 970 Press
  • Horseman 980 
  • Horseman VH (no rangefinder)
  • Horseman VH-R
Dates of Manufacture 1971 - ?? 1940s to 1970s
  • 970 Press: 1963 - ??
  • 980: 1969 - ??
  • VH-R: 1977 - at least 2010
Appox. Dimensions and weight   Very lightweight!  
Standard Lenses 62mm f5.6 fixed lens Kodak Ektar 101 f4.5  Topcor 105 f4.5
Optional Lenses None  As many as you can get cheap  
  • Super HORSEMAN 65 f7.0
  • Professional HORSEMAN 75 f5.6
  • Super HORSEMAN 90 f5.6
  • Professional HORSEMAN 105 f3.5
  • Super Horseman 105 f4.5
  • Super HORSEMAN 120 f5.6
  • Super HORSEMAN 150 f5.6
  • HORSEMAN 180 f5.6

Many of these lenses are also found marked 'Topcor', for the 970 Press and 980.

Lens Mount None Lens on lens board Lens on lens board
Film Formats
  • 6x7
  • 6x9
  • roll film only
  • 6x7
  • 6x9
  • roll film
  • sheet film 
  • 6x7
  • 6x9
  • roll film 
  • sheet film
  • 4x5 inch with adapter plate! Requires lens marked 'Super' for corner coverage
 
Movements None None Limited front rise, swing and tilt and rear swing and tilt (On the VH and VH-R)
Focussing System Lens only Rack and pinion w/ rangefinder Rack and pinion w/ rangefinder (not on VH)
Viewfinder Wire Frame only!  Wire frame, top mounted viewfinder Top mounted viewfinder, parallax corrected
Shutter Leaf shutter Leaf shutter on lenses, but the Baby Pacemaker has a cloth shutter and allows for the use of non-shuttered lenses!  Leaf shutter on lenses
Shutter Speeds 1-1/500th, B, syncs at all speeds depends on the lens you fit  
Backs
  • 6x7 120, 10 exp, Press type (silver grey, bottom lever) 
  • 6x9 120, 8 exp, Press type (silver grey, bottom lever) 
  • 6x7 220, 20 exp, Regular type  (black, top lever) 
  • 6x9 220, 16 exp, Regular type (black, top lever) 
Get a Graflex Singer back for either 120 or 220 film. Remove the original leaf springs and the ground glass. Fit new black velvet around the rear opening to light proof it. Use the screw holes from the springs to mount extended studs. Fit the back in place and use rubber bands over the studs to secure it in place. Presto! A removable 6x7 back on a Baby Graflex! The rangefinder might need a bit of recalibrating with the new velvet, use the ground glass for that.
  • 6x7 120, 10 exp, Press type (silver grey, bottom lever or knob) 
  • 6x9 120, 8 exp, Press type (silver grey, bottom lever or knob) 
  • 6x7 220, 20 exp, Regular type  (black, top lever) 
  • 6x9 220, 16 exp, Regular type (black, top lever)
 
Close-up Accessories      
Repair Sources      
Miscellaneous Features It has a flash sync and can take a cable release...?    
Further Information  My article on this remarkable camera  

There were similar Horseman models produced as early as 1948, I have listed the most common models here.

VH-R page on Camerawiki

980 page on Camerawiki 

 

 

Need to spend a fortune?

Get your kicks below, there's a number of options that break the bank to acquire but darn I gotta say there's some nice stuff in there for sure!

 

  • The youngest camera is the Fujica GF670, also known as the Voigtländer Bessa III. The 2008 rangefinder folder with Fujinon EBC lens.

 

  • The Horseman SW612 and SW612P models. The very versatile panorama camera line-up, the offspring of the above listed and rather unknown Convertible 842. 

 

 

  • Alpa 12TC, from the remarkable camera makers from Switzerland. Did you know they make an adapter that allows to use Pentax 6x7 lenses on their cameras? 

 

  • The Fuji GX680 system used to be one of the best systems you could buy into but while parts of the system are still expensive, you have to make an effort (i.e. spend money) to find fully functional lenses and bodies. Buying a complete set where everything can be tested would be smartest, but most pricy too...