6x9 Folding Cameras

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by david b, May 22, 2005.

  1. david b

    david b Member

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    I am starting to think that I want a 6x9 camera and before I spend $1000 on a Fuji rangefinder, I am looking for advice on what else I should look at.

    So, let me hear it!!!
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Cameras like the Voigtlander Bessa II and the Zeiss Ikontas are the classics at the high end, but there are lots of neat folders for not too much money out there. Do a search and you should turn up a couple of threads on folders.

    Check out an eBay seller named Juergen Kreckel, who goes under the username "certo6." He buys and refurbishes old folders, and sells them at very reasonable prices.

    I've looked into those Fuji rangefinders, and they are just too big and bulky for what I want out of a 6x9 camera, though they are certainly good cameras with more modern focusing systems and lenses and most likely better film flatness than a 1950s folder. A folder will fit in an overcoat pocket. A Fuji 6x9 rangefinder is about the size of a brick.
     
  3. david b

    david b Member

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    david...I was hoping you would respond. Thanks.
     
  4. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    Also, Fuji 69s have no meter and, the strangest thing, the shutter is the loudest thing. What's with that?
     
  5. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    There was a thread in the last couple of months on cheap 6x9 folders. In the cheap range, the Mockba's are hard to beat if you can find a good one. Places like fedka.com work well.

    Personally, with that sort of money, I would have bought David Goldfarb's Bessa-II--before it went to eBay! A Bessa or another older folder might have what you need.

    David had an excellent point when he described why he was selling the Bessa. The camera takes better images than his alternate camera--on a tripod. But, he wanted the folder for walking around, where the advantages were lower.

    With that example: what do you see yourself doing with the camera? Walking around? Then a folder is a good buy. If you are doing more tripod work, how about a mini-speed graphic? You get to change lenses, and there are some really good ones there.

    Other options--Mamiya press or Koni-Omega.

    Matt
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My problem with the Bessa may have just been me. I couldn't consistently hold it steady in the horizontal position. This had to do with the whole left-handed orientation and the shutter release on the door. I could have used a bracket with a release, but then it would be a bulky thing again. If the shutter release were on the top of the camera on the right side, it probably would have been fine. I tried various ways of holding the camera, and eventually it improved somewhat, but the ergonomics just didn't work for me.
     
  7. david b

    david b Member

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    First, thanks all of you for this info.

    Second, I am looking for a landscape camera to use on a tripod. Rarely will it be handheld.
     
  8. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Something like the Bessa might be good for you. Or, you could try a non-couple rangefinder type folder and save some money.

    Do you want to be able to change lenses? One thing about the old folders is that they typically have a fixed lens in the "normal" range (about 105mm for 6x9). May not be what you want for landscape work.

    Do you want to change backs? A folder leaves you limited to one film at a time. Of course, with some of the older folders, you could have a few of them for the cost of the Fuji.

    Take a look a the 2x3 graflex cameras. You could get a setup with multiple good lenses and backs for $1000 or less.

    Or, for the price of the Fuji, you could get a starter Linhoff 2x3 camera setup and add lenses and backs later.

    Matt
     
  9. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I don't think it is just you. I find the left-handed cameras are non-trivial to adapt to (at least for me).

    For what it's worth, the Mockba is also a left-handed camera. I can do OK with it as-designed, but I do better with a cable release curled around to my right hand. I don't think I will ever be really good with it.

    Matt
     
  10. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I have one of these cameras - actually the shutter sound is normal (so no worries about vibration), but the quite considerable noise seems to come from the double-exposure prevention device kicking in. A bit like the Bessa cameras - shutter normal, but a lot of noise from the metering baffle in front of the shutter getting out of the way!
     
  11. PCGraflex

    PCGraflex Subscriber

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    David,

    I have two mini speeds that I use for landscape. Good camera for basic landscape. Not so much in movements but... Can't go wrong here because you have a lot of lens choices. Even if you have a barrel lens without a shutter you can still use the back shutter on the mini speed. Just make sure you get one with a graflok back so you can use a roll film holder or you can get a graflok back and put it on later if you get a camera with a spring back.

    These cameras are fun to use and you will for sure attract a few people when you use it. I always do..
     
  12. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Cheaper 6x9 folder with CRF: Telka III (model a or b), 95mm lens, so a little wider than the 'standard' 105mm - good quality French folder, IMO an undervalued 6x9 CRF. I think the lens is coated.

    Other cheaper 6x9 CRF folders: Clarovid with nice Rodenstock lens, Welta Weltur aka Welta Solida. Jürgen Kreckel knows them too, and knows their weak points: the rangefinder mechanism is fragile. Balda Superpontura, very rarely seen, though, I'd say it should be put on the red list. Another obscure one: Teleroy by the French company Royer - comparable to the Super Ikontas.

    Affordable sixties 6x9 SLR, which you can use handheld or on a tripod: Optika IIa aka Rittreck SP or plain Rittreck. Has tiny lensboards so you can use several lenses. The standard 105 mm luminon is very good, in my opinion. The 210 and other sized are hard to find. Disadvantage: camera can't take shorter lens lengths because of the mirror. But then, so can't a folder. $200 should get you a basic outfit, but most of the time you need to work on the focal plain shutter. Another advantage - camera takes film backs that allows shooting in formats between 6x4.5 to 6x9.

    Less affordable sixties 6x9 SLR: Makiflex. Normally quite expensive,although last week one went on eBay for roughly 250 EUR, so can be had at bargain prices. Sort of the same thing as the Rittreck, but made by Plaubel. Possibly heavier.

    I suppose the Graflex 1A with its near 6x12 negs is a little too old for your needs. Also, this camera needs to be slightly modified, as it was built for 620 film size. Came with several lenses, we have one with a Ross Xpress, which we fancy.

    Personally, I also like the Linhof 220 for its sharp lens & easy of use - providing the light meter still works - but it's not a landscape type camera. And it's not 6x9... so maybe we should count this one out. I use mine handheld for landscapes and it is a bit awkward to use this camera tilted sideways, so I end up shooting landscapes in portrait fashion...

    Last note: one of the most beautiful old 6x9 folders I ever touched was a Voigtländer Prominent I - great rangefinder construction and never before have I seen such a surprisingly bright and clear image through such a small window. Allover design is absolutely gorgeous. Of course, in my league this is not an 'affordable' 6x9 folder with a starting price of $1000 for a working model.

    Hope this helps,
    Norm
     
  13. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    As of the last couple months, my favorite 6x9 folder is my Voigtlander Rollfilmkamera. This one has a 10.5 cm f/4.5 Skopar, waist level and wire frame finders, and a pull-out, rather than self-erecting front standard. I've been tweaking it along, and it now routinely produces the best images of any camera I own, including my Spotmatic and Moskva-5 -- the only real competition is my Tessar-equipped Zeiss-Ikon Ideal plate camera, with twice the negative area (9x12 cm).

    The Rollfilmkamera is fairly hard to find, but the Inos I is essentially the same camera with the addition of 6x4.5 dual format capability (though I'd be amazed to find one with the format mask, given they were made from 1931-1933). The Inos II is also very similar -- the focusing mechanism is changed, IIRC, but the rest is essentially like a Bessa I without the rangefinder. No "right handed" vs. "left handed" here -- the only shutter release on the Rollfilmkamera is on the shutter, but that lends itself well to use of the waist level finder, which in turn lets me cradle the camera and routinely get steady hand holds down to 1/25 (I have trouble hand holding my Moskva-5 at 1/100).

    I'm attaching a scan of about a 24x36 mm section of a negative from my Rollfilmkamera -- focused near minimum, about 4 feet, hand held at f/8 and 1/25. Very, very hard to argue with that kind of performance from a camera that should sell, in "needs CLA" condition, for under $50.
     

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  15. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    Unless camera size is an issue I would go the 2x3 Graphic route. Or setup to a Horseman or Linhof. Lot's of lens choices and various backs. Ground glass or RF focus. Can do close-up work. Problem is you soon put together a kit that is getting as heavy as a 4x5. I've used Tessar type folders for landscape off a tripod. Right now I'm using a Fuji GA645Zi for when I want to just keep it at camera and tripod. IMHO even at 645 it outperforms older 6x9 folders. Plus you have the limited zoom lens. That gets nice to have real fast. It comes real close to my Century Graphic with modern APO-Sironar even at about half the size. But if you're looking for a certain look the older lenses may have it.
     
  16. ronlamarsh

    ronlamarsh Member

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    6x9 folders

    Not being sure if 6x9 is for you i.e. it makes all others seem boxy an inexpensive folder would be a good way of testing the water. You can get pretty good deals on the Russian folders and their lenses are quite good. I have used a fuji 690 and they are a great camera but if I were serious about landscape work and dearly loved the 6x9 format(as I do) I'd go al the way with a baby speed graphic, horseman or linhof setup. All can be handheld quite well and the linhof or horseman are also great for the tripod. Personally I have a 4x5 linhof TechIII with a 6x9 rollfilm back, sports finder and grip.
     
  17. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I don't have any real experience with this, so please let me know if this impression is accurate--will a 4x5 body reduce your ability to use wide angle lenses? You will be limited in your lens/film distance, limiting your choice of WA lenses.

    In the graphic arena, the speed graphics have a thicker body than the crown graphics, again limiting the WA lens choices. I have a 65mm angulon for my speed, and it just works. I can't put it on the focus rails, but have to put it on the rails inside the body. This makes focusing a bit more challenging, but with a wide angle and a small aperture, I can get away with it. I do have a hack in mind to let me use the focusing rails, but I have never put it to use.

    Matt
     
  18. Mike Richards

    Mike Richards Member

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    I picked up a Horseman VH-R with case, lens, and Luna Pro meter for $750 on eBay. The meter itself retails for over $300. The set was hardly used, being police crime lab equipment. If you check carefully, you could possibly find something like this again. The camera itself was not well described by an eBay seller who specialized in surplus police equipment, including autos. Especially with the CSI programs being so popular nowadays, I expect many labs are upgrading to digital and/or automatic cameras. And they dump their old equipment with an eBay seller that they normally use for the full range of police gear.
     
  19. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    That is surprising with the high crime rates we're told to have these day -- one would expect heavily battered stuff..

    Back to the topic: David B. never told us what he is photographing landscape style and whether he needs lots of movements or not and whether he wants to use WA lenses or not, etc. etc.. Perhaps a specification of his needs and desires will help to give him some sound advice. I just notice that questions like this trigger a strange kind of reaction amongst us forum members (myself included) to start rattling of camera types without knowing exactly what this person needs in specific . Whilst this is very nice to read about cameras and why we love them (endless topic), I always wonder what good it does for the thread starter.

    OTOH when you start out in this field, what eventually happens is that you want to try all different types of cameras for their merit and some of us here (like me) end up having (at least) one camera of each type - folder, viewing, rangefinder, SLR. I think if I would have to do it all over again, I would have started out renting some equipment first before falling for it head over heels and buying it. The proof of the pudding still lies in the eating - and not in reading and pondering about it endlessly.

    So perhaps, David, you should look around for a company in your region that rents out medium/large format gear - they're quite common here as not everyone has the money for a full set of equipment?

    Hope this helps,
    norm
     
  20. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It depends. It's often the case that it's easier to use wide lenses with a 4x5" camera and a 6x9cm back than with a 6x9 cm camera, because the bellows is larger and more flexible when compressed, and because there's more room for modern wide lenses with large rear cells without running into physical obstructions. A 4x5" Technika can use lenses as short as 55mm with the wideange focusing device, and as short as 35mm with helical focus mounts. The Tech 2000 can do that without any additional accessories.
     
  21. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    I think most of the options have been covered now.

    I have a couple of 6x9 folders, a Franka and Moskva 5, plus a Century Graphic. The Moskva is probably the hardest to handhold, but on a tripod it is very sharp; for the $20 or so that it cost, I certainly can't complain. The only other thing to count against it is lack of filter thread - I still need to find which size slip-ons it might take. It is a leftie's camera too.

    The CG is bigger, but not any heavier and is certainly more flexible. The Franka is the easiest to use, the lightest and smallest, has a threaded filter mount, but it is guess focus. Unfortunately, you can't leave the filter attached and still close the camera.

    For under $100, you should be able to get somehting quite reasonable to have a play with, and still get most of your money back should you decide to sell it.

    Paul
     
  22. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    My personal solution (on a tripod) is my 4x5 Shen Hao with Wista 6x9 rollfilm back. My favorite lenses for this combination are my 55mm Rodenstock Apo Grandagon and my 90mm Nikkor.

    My current pocket camera solution is an English Ensign Carbine 7 6x9 folder with the rangefinder coupled Ross Xpres lens in Compur shutter. This beauty also has a rising front and front swings.
     
  23. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    David, not to quarrel or anything, but one of the people who posts occasionally on the www.graflex.org help board says he shoots a 35/4.5 ApoGrandagon on his 2x3 Crown (unless its a Century). I use a 38/4.5 Biogon on my Century; it doesn't cover 2x3. The shortest lens I know of that can be used on a 2x3 Speed (Mini or Pacemaker, much easier on a Pacemaker) is the 1.75"/2.8 Elcan, which might cover nominal 6x7, absolutely positively won't cover 2x3. I much prefer my 47/5.6 SA on the Century to my 44 Elcan on the Speed, mainly because the SA puts good image in the corners and the Elcan doesn't. The 2x3 Graphics (Century, Crown) don't require a w/a focusing device.

    Point is, it is possible to shoot a little wide on a 2x3 Graphic. To which news you should reply that Linhofs are nicer than Graphics. And of course they are, also more expensive.

    Thinking of expensive, Sunday before last I had the pleasure of looking through a 45/4.5 Biogon on a TK679. Rare lens, its owner tells me that only 100 or so were made. I hope that he and I will be able to arrange a shootout, 45 Biogon vs. 44 Elcan.

    Regards,

    Dan
     
  24. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I measured mine at 44.5mm. I haven't found a series adapter for it yet.

    Matt
     
  25. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I did a forhead slap on reading this response! I read all these things about bag-bellows, see ads for WA lenses for 4x5 and it just didn't sink in.

    Ah well--it must be easier for some 4x5 cameras in WA than for the speed graphic. With my 65mm lens, the bellows are really compressed. There is no room for any movements.

    Matt
     
  26. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Dan--I wasn't specifically comparing Graphics to Linhofs, which is why I said, "it depends." In general I think that the Crown handles wide lenses better than a Technika, and the 4x5" Technikas better than the 2x3" Technikas (which I think can only go as wide as 53mm). There's another thread going on about the Ebony 23S, which doesn't handle wide lenses as well as the 4x5" version, because of physical obstruction issues with the small bellows. So, it depends.