6x9 Folders - Complete Novice

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Joe O'Brien, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. Joe O'Brien

    Joe O'Brien Member

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    Hello,

    I am currently debating the possibility of getting a 6x9 folder. I really like the benefits of larger negative size that I get with MF but I could really use a trip back to the golden ratio. My other motivation is that I need a very portable MF camera for some of the abandoned building photography I do. My specifications would be something like this:

    6x9 format
    Sharp from edge to edge
    Faster lens
    WA-normal lens
    Fully mechanical, no reliance on batteries etc.
    Not going to break the bank

    Then how would I go about focusing a folder?

    Thanks,
    Joe
     
  2. Josh Harmon

    Josh Harmon Member

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    Try 2x3 Graflex with a 120 roll back. I use one and I get some great negatives off it, although I use it as a field camera with a ground glass. I did just calibrate the rangefinder and I can shoot handheld now.

    -Josh
     
  3. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

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    I can't make specific model recommendations for a 6x9 folder (a hunt I've occasionally dabbled in, but not yet to my satisfaction) but I can make a couple technical comments.

    If the camera doesn't have a coupled rangefinder, then it'll be scale focus. That's where you set the focus by distance. If you're not confident in your eye measurement, there's accessory RFs you can buy and stick on the flash shoe. Use it to find the distance, then set focus distance on your lens. Not recommend combination for sports. :smile:

    Fully mechanical is actually the more common state of affairs for the time period that folders were made in great quantity.

    Slightly wide angle to normal is typical for 6x9 folder lenses. Can't get too crazy when the lens needs to be small enough to fold into the body.

    "Faster lens," on a medium format folder isn't very fast, especially a 6x9. I think f3.5 is the best you're going to see.

    If you don't already have one, look into a compact light meter.
     
  4. Andy38

    Andy38 Member

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    Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta's C (6X9cm) are old cameras (more than 50 years) but they may do a good job if they are in good condition.
    They have a coupled rangefinder, even when it uses a very small viewfinder.
    The later 531/2, with a coated T* f3,5 Tessar, is expensive; an older (pre-WWII) and cheaper 530/2, with a f4,5 Tessar (uncoated), may be a good deal : a Super Ikonta is robust.
    The Zeiss Ikon Ercona, with CZJ coated f3,5 Tessar, made in DDR period, has not rangefinder, but its lens is sharp and camera is less expensive.

    There are many 6x9 folders, but, if you don't want to be disappointed, first find one with a good lens.

    Edit : don't forget to find a hood for these old lenses.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2010
  5. Joe O'Brien

    Joe O'Brien Member

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    Thanks for the information! I think 3.5 or 4.5 will be plenty fast for me. Where could I start looking for one of these cameras?

    Out of curiosity could I expect a faster lens if I went with a smaller folder? Say a 6x6?
     
  6. fotch

    fotch Member

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    The Zeiss Ikonta 6x9's are really nice however, taking in your wish for not breaking the bank, I suggest a Baby Press Cameras with a 6x9 back to be the best route to go. Like its full size mates, you get a range finder, view/field camera ground glass, sport finder, interchangeable lens, close ups, zone focusing, and ability to use sheet film if you want. And multiple roll film backs and the ability to change the format.

    If you get one with a focal-plane, you can use lens without shutters and also have a high speed shutter, when needed.

    Rugged and affordable, will last forever with a little bit of care.
     
  7. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    A 6x6 will normally have a shorter focal length lens, usually 75 or 80 mm, so they still have a similar angle of view. As I understand it, the corrections needed at large aperture to support a wide angle of view tend to be the limit on maximum aperture. There are a few additional lens elements in the f1.8s and 1.4s often found on 35mm cameras.

    I have a Perkeo II, a 6x6 with 80mm f/3.5 Color Skopar, and an Ercona II, 6x9 with a 105mm f/3.5 Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar. There's a little fall-off in sharpness in the corners, but for something that fits a jacket pocket, they're pretty impressive. 6x9 transparencies are definitely eye catching!
    I got both from Jurgen Kreckel via ePrey. He has very high positive feedback, but I have occasionally seen/heard some questions as to whether he's as rigorous as his marketing suggests. Each was around $200, but that seemed acceptable for something checked out and CLA'd (vs back shelf at a flea market or whatever). The Perkeo has been all over with me for 2 1/2 years and produced some excellent results. I've only had the Ercona since last fall, but it does quite well also. Compared with 35mm, it does catch me short every now and then that I only get 8 shots on a roll!

    The mention of lens hoods is good too, that's a bit of a problem area. These folders, at least mine, took push-on filters and hoods., there is no thread. The availability is not all that great, better for the 32mm that fits the Perkeo, but the 37mm for the Zeiss/Ercona stuff seems fairly rare. That problem has been compounded by 37mm fitting the Bessa II, which is a bit of a collector item. I have recently seen a Voigtländer 37mm slip-on hood go for over $110 on ePrey -- that's scary! (I just know if I spent that much, I'd bump it off into a waterfall or something.) Actually, that might be approaching getting one custom made at a local machine shop!

    A solution I've found was to buy a push-on series adapter and pick up series filters and shades. Series 6 works for the 37mm diameter lenses. The series stuff isn't that common either, but at least it's usually at reasonable prices. I did have to do some light machining on a Kodak push-on adapter to let it fit in the deep groove on the CZJ Tessar. Over time, I have accumulated most of the push-on stuff I wanted, but it's taken a year and a half.
     
  8. JPD

    JPD Member

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    Both Heliopan and B+W made rubber lens hoods and filters in slip-on mounts until last year or so. :sad: The last filters I bought new were a yellow-green (11) and a red-orange (22) Heliopans in 37 mm slip-on mounts.

    37 mm slip-on hoods and filters show up from time to time on eBay. I've bought many in different sizes.
     
  9. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    Not really, 3,5 is about the fastest you will get with the older cameras you are looking at unless you have one modified and fitted with an updated shutter like a Copal, but why do that when the older shutters work just fine
     
  10. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The Super Ikonta B (530/16, 532/16) and BX (533/16) had an f/2.8 8cm/80mm Tessar, but many people feel that Zeiss pushed the Tessar too far with this lens. I tend to agree.

    An f/3.5 or f/4.5 Tessar is a fine camera, and you just use a faster film.

    Regarding 6x9 folders, you want one that opens smoothly, locks into position with no play in the lens standard and bellows that won't develop pinholes.

    The Zeiss Ikon folders are quite good, as are the Voigtlanders and the Agfas, which suffer from two problems (hardened lens helical and plastic-covered bellows that can develop pinholes).

    Kodak made 6x9 folders, but nearly all use 620 film. I have a nice Kinax folder (also 620).

    The most important aspect of any folder is to ensure that it hasn't been dropped. You can clean a foggy lens or a sticky shutter. But if the lens standard is out of parallel, that's a different story.
     
  11. Poohblah

    Poohblah Member

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    certo6.com is a good resource to find information on all sorts of old folders and their likely prices, but I'm not confident in Jurgen as a seller.
     
  12. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    That dude rocks. I love his cameras and if you buy one from him you will not be disapointed. He stands behind every camera he sell's or repairs
     
  13. Joe O'Brien

    Joe O'Brien Member

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    If I went with a camera without a coupled RF could I use a handheld RF to focus the camera or would that be too difficult?
     
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  15. Removed Account2

    Removed Account2 Inactive

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    Often overlooked is the Agfa folders, they where sold under the Ansco brand in the US.

    I just found a 6x6 Agfa Isolette I, they come in I, II, III increasingly better specs. The III folder has a nice lens and a rangefinder, don't remember if the RF is coupled, but its there. A rangefinder is very handy in the longer lens focus.

    My Isolette has an Agfa Agnar f:4,5 85mm lens and more often than not these post war foldes will be found in exquisite, little used shape, mine is like new.

    The Agnar lens was a triplet lens of good reputation (achromat was the term, that means astigmatism is not corrected). A better lens would be the Solinar, AFAIR the Isolette III came with Soilinars, at least that was an option. These are four lens, CZ Tessar knock-offs.

    I will be putting film through me new camera shortly and expect glorious results!
     
  16. Removed Account2

    Removed Account2 Inactive

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    Handheld RFs.... search out and buy a nice post-war Voigtlander rangefinder, it has a shoe to put in a post-WW2 flash-shoe. I have one it works beutifully ist made to the same standard as Voigtlander cameras..... There where other german brands as well, I've owned several, all works as advertised, and most canbe adjusted in case they are slightly out of whack.
     
  17. Joe O'Brien

    Joe O'Brien Member

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    I've got my eye on a Bessa w/3.5 Skopar thats been CLA'd ($125). There is no hotshoe from what I see, could I still somehow attach a RF?
     
  18. jbbooks

    jbbooks Member

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    Just hold the rangefinder in your hand to determine the distance, then put it back in your pocket and use the camera viewfinder to take the picture.
     
  19. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    You could certainly do that or there is a compromise. Some folders such as my Ansco Speedex (which is really an Agfa Isolette III) have un-coupled rangefinders.

    Adjust it until the images coincide and transfer the distance from the rangefinder scale to the lens.

    Most supplementary rangefinders are not hand held though. They clip into the camera's flash mount (if it has one).


    Steve.
     
  20. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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  21. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Old pocketable folders are flimsy. Relatively modern Fujis and Plaubels may be better in this respect.

    AFAIK all are fixed lens. The old ones come with, for the most part, tessar type lenses or triplets. Voigtlaender folders with Heliars or Apo-Lanthars are the big exception. None of these lenses gives good image quality in the corners unless stopped well down, and that includes the Heliars.

    If you want the best image quality possible you're going to have to shoot from tripod. So go with a 2x3 Graphic. A Century or a Crown will focus shorter lenses (down to the 35/4.5 Apo Grandagon) than a 2x3 Pacemaker Speed. They allow lens interchange. And you can use modern lenses that give better image quality in the corners, aperture for aperture, than the lenses fitted to old pocketable folders. Re modern normal lenses, think Symmar-S, Sironar, Nikkor-W, ... If you absolutely positively must have a fast lens, get a 2x3 Pacemaker Speed and look for a 4"/2.0 TTH Anastigmat (2 1/4 x 2 1/4); the lens will cover 2x3 wide open, is better used from f/5.6 down. Oh, yeah, the 4"/2.0 TTH is rare and expensive.
     
  22. erikg

    erikg Member

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    OR... you can go a cheaper direction and get a FSU made Moskva folder. They are copies of the Zeiss cameras. Rangefinder, 3.5 lens, can be found with 6x6 mask or shot as 6x9. Easily found, very inexpensive.
     
  23. JPD

    JPD Member

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    Agfa Agnar is an anastigmat. All the Cooke type triplets are. The Agnar is a typical triplet. Agfa Apotar is also a triplet, but using more expensive glass.

    Achromats are doublets, and found only on the really cheap cameras like the Goerz Frontar, found on Zeiss Ikon Box Tengor and Ikonette.
     
  24. whlogan

    whlogan Subscriber

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    A bank breaking folder is the new Voigtlander Bessa III of which I am a prophet and crier in the wilderness. They simply cannot be beaten! Only go to 6x7, however, but you could learn to live with that, I reckon. The lens and construction are beyond perfect. The cost goes right along with that. It is heavy. But the results are magnificent! try one and your are hooked.
    Logan
     
  25. Removed Account2

    Removed Account2 Inactive

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    That formula obviously is not correct! Try putting in 60 cm distance! Or 30 cm and see what I mean. Iput inb the formula in a spreadsheet, below a certain distance I got negative numbers.

    The table proposed is wrong, but less wrong as the distances get longer, which is exactly the opposite of what you need a rangefinder for! Prescise measurement below 3 meter is what I use rangefinders for, above that I more or less scale-focus. :confused:
     
  26. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    Some 6x6 folders were made with f2.8 lenses, but I have to question just how accurate focus would be with DoF as narrow as what f2.8 gives. Remember, no through the lens focus here. I'm after a pre-war 6x9 folder myself. I want the challenge. The only problem with Super Ikontas is the rangefinders are almost always VERY dim.


    Kent in SD