$30-80 vintage MF camera?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by PamelaHL, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

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    My family drew names and I ended up with my brother-in-law's name for Christmas. The guy has everything. Except a MF camera. And he thinks my Yashicamat is cool. My limit is supposed to be $30, but I could go over if I have to by drawing in funds for his birthday next year [which is supposed to be $50 or less].

    I'm looking for something that produces really solid photos. Any ideas on what the cheapest, best vintage MF might be [that also is obtainable by moi]?

    Thanks
    Pamela
     
  2. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    Yahsicas can be had for $50, but if you want something with a guarantee, it'll likely cost more than your budget will allow. I sold a Yahsica D not too long ago for $50 that worked well or I would have something to offer you that had been tested out. If you go with a TLR, Minolta Autocords are good, as are the various Yahsica models and they should all fall in your price range.

    Various models of folding cameras are supposed to be nice, but I don't have a lot of experience with them so I can't help you there.

    - Randy
     
  3. reellis67

    reellis67 Subscriber

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    One more thing - check the classifieds here. Mike Kennedy has a nice looking folder listed right now. It's a bit more than your budget, but it's a good deal for the price considering that it has been tested by someone you can trust.

    - Randy
     
  4. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Look on ebay for a beautyflex. I have seen them for $15. I have one that has been used in the family for over 50 years. Still looks and works as new. It was a Japanese knock off. Really a nice camera and one can't beat the price. It is a 6x6cm format (square image)
     
  5. eric

    eric Member

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    Agfa Isola? I have one as well as a Clack.
    Or how about a few Holgas. You need a couple.
     
  6. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    My first (and so far only) MF camera is a Lubitel 2. I got it on eBay for $21 plus shipping, but I don't recall what the shipping was. (The seller was in the USA, as am I, so I doubt if the total went far over $30.) It's a very basic camera, and in many ways it's klunky, but it does work and it takes decent photos. Most Lubitels on eBay are sold by Eastern European sellers, which will increase shipping time to Oregon and probably increase shipping cost, so pay attention to shipping fees if you go looking for one.
     
  7. sionnac

    sionnac Subscriber

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    Have you considered a box camera? Or would he want more options as to aperture & shutter speed etc....
     
  8. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    My vote for "cheapest, best vintage MF" would be some of the old folders, with a early Yashica TLR a very close second. Of course it depends on what you mean by "really solid photos". I'll assume you mean more than a box camera or Holga.

    Agfa Isolettes (http://www.rolandandcaroline.co.uk/isolettei/isolettei.html) are under $30 and even old Zeiss-Ikon 6x6 folders with Novar lenses can be found close to $30. The problem is finding one that is known to be working. Big issues are bellows (cracked and leaking light), shutters, and (on the Agfa) stuck focusing rings. But all of these can be reasonable home repairs except for bellows that are truly shredded and there is "how-to" info on the web.

    You can often find these very cheap on eBay, but it's a bit of a crapshoot as to condition and the shipping can cost you more than the camera. Rarely have they been tested, so my view is that you need to buy 2 or 3 to get or assemble 1 that works. There are sellers who has tested them or restored them - but then you're likely to be well over your $30 limit).

    I recently bought a cheap Agfa Isolette and spent about an hour cleaning and unsticking the lens. Shutter seems OK - will know when I develop film tonight. End result is over $30 if I place any value at all on my time - but it was more fun than cleaning the basement.

    Here's something to consider that I saw a bit ago: http://www.nwcollectorcamera.com/zeiss/ikonta_b.htm
    I've never dealt with them, but it provides a reference point.

    A TLR can avoid some of these issues. But with these simple folders a crude lens cleaning is within reach of the typical user - not necessarily so with the TLR.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents.
     
  9. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I over the years have owned quite a few Ciroflex TLR's and most of them were pretty darn good cameras with decent lenses, they were also marketed under the name Graflex 22 after the company was aquired by the graphic corp. I don't think I ever paid over $30 for one
     
  10. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Subscriber

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    I just got a Graflex 22 - nice camera. Very manual, but takes decent pictures!

    The price is about right, even on eBay.

    Also Zeiss Ikoflex will be a bit more, but along the same lines.

    non-Yashica, non-Rollei TLR's are a good way to get something decent without spending too much.
     
  11. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    My personal fave and user is the Minolta Autocord. I bought one for $65! Killer lens.
     
  12. DougGrosjean

    DougGrosjean Member

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    Another vote for the Ciro-Flex TLR. Make sure to get the one with shutter speeds to 1/400, it has a wider range of speeds (slower and faster) than the model that goes to 1/200.

    I started in MF 2 years ago with a used CF that belonged to my girlfriend's late father. He was the original owner. Prolly 60 y/o, as far as we know it had never been repaired. Everything worked great.

    Later bought a couple of my own CF's (bought two from Ebay in case one didn't work, neither worked well but they're easy to work on), so nothing could happen to her dad's camera. When I moved on to a Rolleiflex, I sold the CF's (now working very well) to a couple young kids that were interested in MF photography.

    If the recipient decides that MF is for him, he can sell the CF himself and move to the Yashicamat or Rolleicord or Rolleiflex after getting a good taste of MF.
     
  13. wclavey

    wclavey Member

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    There is also the Argoflex TLR, similar to the Ciroflex, that can be found easily in your price range. There were several versions and one of them takes both 620 and 120... the others only take 620 so be careful. It is the first TLR my son used and he produced quite a few good images and still carries it, although not as much since he has moved up to 4x5 as hi "big" format. I had to clean it up a bit, the ground glass in the viewer was especially dirty, but then again, I purchased one that was in poor shape to begin with. All in all, it works quite well.
     
  14. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Of all my old MF cameras, I believe the Daiichi Zenobia offers the best chance of finding a good camera for not much money. It is quite possible to find "better" cameras cheaper, but that takes a lot of time and/or even more luck. A Zenobia with a Neo-Hesper lens is a great little camera. IMO it's the best folder you can find for a lot less than a comparable Zeiss or Voigtländer camera. Yes, I own (and use) Zeiss and Voigtländer MF folders too.
     
  15. moose10101

    moose10101 Member

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    A Voigtlander Perkeo with a Vaskar lens is in your range, and it's more likely to be in working order than an Isolette. It's also the smallest 6x6 camera that I'm aware of. The Zenobia is also a nicely made folder; it's a 6x4.5.

    Minolta Autocords in good condition are probably out of range, but a Ricoh Diacord is a good alternative.
     
  16. Kevin Roach

    Kevin Roach Member

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    another vote for the ciro-flex/graphic22. The rapax shutter is more desirable than the alpax.

    I'd consider a TLR over a folder, just because they won't have a leaky bellows.
     
  17. PamelaHL

    PamelaHL Member

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    Thanks!

    I just want to thank everyone for offerings of helpful tips, insights, suggestions, experience. I wish I'd drawn my own name by now! These folders just look like so much fun. I've drooled over them for a while now, too.

    Thanks again.
    Pamela

    Edited to add this explanation: I meant to exclude box cameras such as Holga's when I said I wanted something that produces "solid photos" or something like that [I had trouble choosing those words, and it looks like I still wasn't effective in communicating!]. I have a Holga and enjoy it, but it's fussier and more distinct in style than what my brother-in-law will tolerate.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2006
  18. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Keep one thing in mind with the older cameras. It's usually common for them to need to be serviced. Some might be usable out of the package, but most will benefit from a routine service.
     
  19. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    The first model of Mamiya Press camera featuring a 90mm lens can be had for around 80 bucks. It's dirt cheap.