A TLR choice

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Alexz, Nov 16, 2006.

  1. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    Hello all.
    After efw years of being out of MF for LF, I decided yet again to back me up with a light, hand-holdable MF setup, thinking TLR.
    In some past I had a short-lived experience with a Rolleicord Vb -run a few rolls through it, in general was quite satisfied but revealed a clear signs of growing fungus inside the taking lens to it went back to the seller.
    Then decided I want MF SLR instead and have a joyfull year with Bronica GS-1 which later was sold to finance my LF passion.
    Still shooting 4x5, really enjoy it, but noticed it would be more then nice to have a handy light MF for walks around, probably some street shooting and other situations where LF setup isnt' an apropriate (but a professional 35mm SLR rig is too heavy and intimidating).
    Recently bought a used Yachica Mat 124 off Ebay which was addevrtised as proffesioanlly services and in more then excellent condition. Received one and guess what ? The condition seems far frmo to be as advertised, most improtant - the lens shows obvious haze inside (or growing fungus ?) which is deal breaker for me, so I arrange with the seller for a return with refund.

    I think I would still want TLR and 6x6 indeed appears to be (family portraiture should take a large part of TLR work) so I back to searching for a good TLR to acquire. Now leaning towards Rolleicord/flex though (unless a really good sample of Yashica Mat 124 will turn out...). I'm more or less familiar with teh options given in Rolleicord/flex lines, lenses, etc.. though some are still mystery for me.
    There are Rolleiflexes with Tessars and Xenars (as the Rolleicords), is Xenar a direct competitor to a Tessar ? (just like Xenotar against Planar) ?
    What is Rolleiflex Automat series ? I noticed several are offered for a reasonable pricing.
    What is Rolleiflex Tessar 3.5 MX ? There is one in excellent condition at KEH for the price that appears to be reasonable. How these can be dated ? (are these early models of 50s or probably 60s ?)

    Thanks, Alex
     
  2. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    Hi Alex,

    Xenar is an Tessar-type lens built by Schneider-Kreuznach and as good a lens as the Tessar by CZJ. The first Rolleiflexes after WWII were Automats with Tessars and later on intermixed with Xenars.
    The term "Automat" describes a unique feature of these cameras to automatically find the beginning of the first frame and cocking the shutter at the same time as advancing the film by exactly one frame without the use of the red window at the back.
    MX refers to flash synchronisation of the shutter.
    I have an Automat 3.5A-MX (internal model name K4A). This is a really fine camera I shoot most of my pictures with (I own a SL66 too but it's too bulky to carry it around just for a walk). These early Automats - mine is from 1954 - have two drawbacks against the later ones:
    First, the groundglass is quite dim and the mirror can be corroded at the edges. An exchange with new ones, as has mine, can be expensive. It could not be done do it yourself as the optics has to be adjusted for that.
    Second, the 1/500sec can only be dialed in with the shutter uncocked. This is not much of an issue for me but you should know. This has been resolved with slightly later models (K4B) beginning in 1955 AFAIK.
    It is said, that there are early models with Tessar lenses made by Carl Zeiss Oberkochen which should be avoided due to quality issues caused by new assembly techniques. There has been a thread here some time ago discussing this topic. You should do a little research on this employing the search function.

    Ulrich
     
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  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I have a Rolleicord V which is my favourite camera for taking out on walks if I don't want to load myself down with too much equipment. I don't even take a bag for it as I hate camera bags. I always seem to be carrying an empty bag and the camera.
    Although I like the Rolleicord, I would like something which was a bit more wide angle but still easy to carry. I was initially thinking about the Fuji GSW670.... until I saw one. It's about the same size as a concrete block with a lens on the front (I am possibly over-exagerating!).
    I am now thinking that a Bronica RF645 would be a good choice as it benefits from interchangeable lenses too.

    Steve.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2006
  4. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    One other thing to add in the Rolleicord's favour:
    Whenever I receive a roll of transparency film back from the lab or print a negative from a roll which has been through this camera, I always wonder why I need any other cameras (and there are a lot of others!).

    Steve.
     
  5. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    Thank you guys, good stuff to think about...
    BTW, RF645 ? Frankly I did not considered rangefinders, perhaps I should also...
    Although bearing in mind family portraiture I intedn to do, perhaps a TLR would be still wise choice...
     
  6. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    Some are rangefinder guys others are not. I belong to the latter. I need a groundglass to compose my picture. Except from family snapshots I never got something usable out of a rangefinder. For me it has nothing to with ease of use.

    Ulrich
     
  7. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    Wow Ulrich, you have the Rollei thing nailed! Any Rollei or 'Cord are a joy to use with exceptional results.
    The earlier ones have a little less contrast than modern lenses but that's not a problem with B&W.
    Thanks Steve, I'm glad I'm not the only one that carries an empty bag in one hand and a camera in the other!
     
  8. Jeffrey A. Steinberg

    Jeffrey A. Steinberg Member

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    I love the Mamiya 7II as a great walkaround 6x7 MF. Ok, its not a TLR, but its light, the lenses are first rate and its not much heavier than a 35mm camera (actually my F2AS probably weighs more).

    --Jeffrey
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    If I could afford it, I think that would be my first choice for a walkaround camera too.


    Steve.
     
  10. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Family pictures

    I'll second that Steve, I had a Rolleicord Vb about thirty years ago, and took the best family pictures in my life with it, the majority of the ones I most treasure were shot with it, I wish I still had it.
     
  11. dustym

    dustym Member

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    I purchased a Roleiflex about a month ago late 60s one , no light meter but exceptionally clean and priior to that I had a 124 g.
    I would go the extra mile for the Rollei, being a watchmaker I can really appreciate the build quality especially of the the shutter mechanism, when you release that shutter for the first time it will be an experience you wont forget.
    You know then you have a serious piece of kit for little money.
    The negs from this camera overall are the best I have produced , maybe my lens is a little contasty but that allows me to work around grade 2 on the enlarger giving greater lattitude on printing, and the lens is pin sharp.The screen is nice and bright and th spkit screen focus on the ground glass makes sharper images more possible and less time consuming.


    Dustym

    www.clikpic.com/essexmonochrome
     
  12. butterflydream

    butterflydream Member

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    I have used Rolleiflex 2,8GX, T and Rolleicord Vb, IIb.

    I much liked my Rolleiflex T. I had both Xenar and Tessar versions, where I preferred Xenar for sharper image. Rolleiflex T has a bit different shutter/aperture control lever than other Rolleiflex, which is very convenient once get used to it.

    Rolleicord is mostly with Xenar. The last Rolleicord Vb has exchangeable screen and double exposure protection but the price is higher.

    Rolleicord IIb has very classic Triotar lens. It is not versatile lens for various lighting situations, but makes classical image and excellent portraits. The focusing screen is very dark that you can see only the center, but I had exchanged it with Mamiya SLR screen. That costed more than 1/3 of the camera price but it was worth.

    Whatever your choice is, Rollei wouldn't disappoint you.
     
  13. jonathanbennett120

    jonathanbennett120 Member

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    I own a Yashica Mat that I got for about 60 dollars on ebay. It takes great photos! I also bought a set of Rolleinar lens' for the bay I Yashica lens and they work great for closeup work with paralax correction. They were cheap. Maybe 20 dollars for a rolleinar 1 and 3. I've never actually used a Rolleicord so I can't compare, but I've seen many great photos that have come from Yashica Mats.

    Let us know what you end up getting.
     
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  15. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Nothing else in medium format approaches a Rolleiflex. They are sublime works of industrial design, with optics that have never been surpassed. If you want to shoot squares, you will not find a better camera.

    There are a number of resources on the web, if you want to learn more about the cameras. For dating your Rollei, look up its serial number (found on the nameplate on top of most Rolleiflexes, between the acronyms DBP and DBGM), on this page:

    http://home.worldonline.dk/rongsted/Rolleisn.htm

    Harry Fleenor, a leading Rolleiflex repairman, keeps a simplified version of this chart at this page:

    http://www.rolleirepairs.com/models.htm

    For a visual tour of the various camera models, try this site:

    http://johnsrolleionlypage.homestead.com/Rolleimainpage.html

    Ferdi Stutterheim collects links to a variety of other Rolleiflex web resources at this page:

    http://www.stutterheim.nl/rollei/text_pages/rollei_sites.html

    You can download Rolleiflex manuals for free at this site:

    http://www.butkus.org/chinon/

    And, finally, there is a group of about 250 Rolleiflex users on Yahoo, whose collective knowledge of these cameras is astonishing:

    groups.yahoo.com/group/rolleiusers

    Good luck.

    Sanders McNew
     
  16. kb244

    kb244 Member

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    Nothing eh? I'd say a good Mamiya C3 or C330 TLR with the good lens like the 80mm f/2.8 (the lens are interchangeable) and such would come close if not least surpass...

    But thats my opinion of the matter.
     
  17. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Yup... that's right Karl. He had it right the first time. :wink:

    I have no doubt that Mamiya worked for you (and many others by the number of them around), but it is a rather heavy camera compared to a Rollei.
     
  18. mcarmo

    mcarmo Member

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    Aha! Mystery solved! :smile:
    Thank you Ulrich! You just saved me a trip to the mechanic!
     
  19. kb244

    kb244 Member

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    While I agree about the weight, I feel that for someone to be so closed minded to say that "Nothing Beats..." is one of the worst reasons to pitch a brand, just like how nothing beats a hasselblad, a rollei, a leica, deardorf, an alpa.... see where I'm going with this?
     
  20. LazyHammock

    LazyHammock Member

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    I have a Rolleiflex automat MX from the mid-50's (Tessar 3.5 lens). I picked it up for less than $200. It is a wonderfully simple camera to use and well designed ergonomically. I shoot mostly b/w and the lens quality is clearly very good. It also performs well with color film, nice rendition. The viewfinder is a little dim and hard to focus in low light but that is not much of an issue for me.
    Good luck,
    Nick
     
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Yup, but nothing DOES beat a Hasselblad :tongue:

    Hope you're having a fine day :smile: ... mine's not going so well. :sad:
     
  22. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    I have a Rolleiflex T, Yashica D with Yashinon(4 element) and Yashica A with Yashikor (three element)

    The Yashica A (I paid $15 for it) is surprisingly sharp at f8-f16 and not a whole lot different than the four element Yashinon in the "D". However, the Rollei simply blows away the yashicas in image quality and build quality.

    I inherited the Rollei, and paid to have it professionally serviced (CLA). After using the Rollei, I understand why the prices on Rolleis are so much higher. The Yashicas are good cameras, but just not in the same league as the Rollei.
     
  23. dustym

    dustym Member

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    It seems to me its enthusiasm is the key here not pushing a brand, it seems some comments are taken a little to seriously sometimes, the poster is just very keen on Rollei as am I.

    Dustym
    www.clickpic.com/essexmomochrome
     
  24. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Well, to me a good, inexpensive TLR is a Rolleicord. Slight differences on the various models, but anything from a III (with the Xenar) up to the last Vb is a good start. Even the older 'Cords with Triotars are nice but they need to be stopped down a bit to perform at their sharpest. The only models to really avoid are the oldest ones without the bayonet on the taking lens. Filters and hoods can be hard to source for these.
     
  25. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    Wow, guys, thanks (albeit somewhat overhalming) :smile:
    What do you say abuot Rollei SL66 ? How it fares ? I know, it is SLR and apparently allows soem lens movements. I thought to consider one with standard 80mm lens.
    Is it heavy beast ? Combersome to use ?

    I'm now approaching an important point in my photo passion: deciding to jump off 35mm trane selling all my 35mm gear (Canon professional setup + Nikon 35mm scanner) willing to go with a simple yet robust MF to back up my LF passion. I'm going to post a dedictaed thread in this regard to seek opinions.
     
  26. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    Hi Alex,

    it is large, it is heavy and is nearly impossible to use freehand. Without the handgrip you must change the grip between focussing (the knob is on the left) and supporting the camera while releasing the shutter. The handgrip makes it even larger. I have one but never used it. I always use it from a tripod.

    But of cause, there are guys even using a RB67 freehand.

    Ulrich
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2006