Advice on 6x9 Folders

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by chris00nj, Apr 13, 2010.

  1. chris00nj

    chris00nj Member

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    After some wrangling, I've decided I want a MF folder in 6x9 format. Due to elevated prices of MF folders with coupled rangefinders, I'd probably get either a scale focus or uncoupled rangefinder.

    I would prefer a post-war model becasue they tend to have an accessory shoe so I can add a accessory rangefinder if necessary. Note: I have done significant internet research to date, including visiting Herr Certo6's wunderbar website.

    1. Bessa, Ikonta, and Record seem to be my best bets. Are the any opinions between the models in term of ease of use or reliability?
    2. The lens choices drive a portion of the price with the four element lenses (Skopar, Tessar, & Solinar) being almost twice the price of the three element lens (Vaskar, Novar, Apotar) versions. Regarding performance, is the only difference between the 3&4 element models corner sharpness at aperatures f/3.5-f/8? Center sharpness would be equal at f/3.5? (I'd also get a model with a lens that is f/3.5 or f/4.5)
     
  2. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Don't forget the Ercona II. They're typically very reasonable and the Tessar is very good.
     
  3. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    I have a Bessa with a Vaskar in a Compur Rapid shutter. It is quite a nice camera and can also shoot 645. The scale focusing isn't all that difficult to deal with.
     
  4. JPD

    JPD Member

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    Yes, the east german Zeiss Ercona II with it's excellently sharp 3,5/105 Tessar is a very good camera, on par with the west german Ikonta but can be had for at least half the price. The Ercona may in fact have a little sharper lens, since the Jena Tessar was reformulated around 1947. The Ercona I has the same lens, but a flip-up finder.

    A Zeiss Ikonta/Nettar with coated Novar isn't bad. The ones with a four speed shutters are cheap.

    Voigtländer Bessa I with 3,5/105 Color-Skopar is another nice camera. Haven't tried one with Vaskar.

    Agfa Record with 4,5/105 Solinar is good, but the bellows are almost always leaky. Some Record II-cameras don't have threads for cable release, but instead a dumb T-lever on the side under the lens you flip down after pressing the shutter release on "B".

    [​IMG]
     
  5. chris00nj

    chris00nj Member

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    Thanks for the recommendation on the Ercona II. I assumed the build quality of the East German Ercona II would not be on par with their West German counterparts.
     
  6. paul ewins

    paul ewins Member

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    Have a look at the Moskva (Moscow) 5, which is rangefinder coupled. I bought one as my entry to MF and it was built solidly and to finer tolerances than I usually associate with ex-Soviet equipment.
     
  7. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I too have an Ercona II acquired from certo6 late last year and it's impressively solid. As I understand it, the Ercona was built in one of the original Zeiss factories orphaned to East Germany and many of the parts are interchangeable. Perhaps thankfully, the confused ancestry appears to hold down the price.
     
  8. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I'm also a fan of Nettars, though in 6x9 they seem often to have more vignetting some other folders. If you can live with that, they're built like tanks and readily available cheap.

    By contrast, I think Bessae tend to be overpriced; they're good cameras but not, I think, orders of magnitude better than the competition. The earlier ones also sometimes have poor resistance to light leaks; mine is a very early model with a Voigtar, and it's just about unusable between the limitations of the lens (lots of flare) and the light leak at the end that opens.

    There are also a few random sleepers out there. My best 6x9 folder is a Wirgin Auta with a perfectly ordinary Rodenstock triplet lens; in theory this is a very low-spec folder, with an uncoated triplet, three speeds plus B/T, and no bells or whistles of any kind, but in actual use it just has that je ne sais quoi. I think it's worth buying a few assorted low-end cameras, because they're *so* cheap and they occasionally turn up a winner like this one.

    -NT
     
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  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I went a little different route. I started out with a few Kodak Tourist and other very inexpensive 'zone focus' folders. When I wanted to go to a rangefinder, I found the prices were pretty high. So I moved right on up to a Horseman 6x9 folder. It is heavier, but you get interchangable lenses and backs. It also has movements and ground glass focus option (in addition, of course, to a coupled rangefinder and the same 6x9cm format). It does not fit in your pocket, though.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2010
  10. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    I forgot to mention that mine was made in 1947. I haven't noticed any of these issues.
     
  11. JPD

    JPD Member

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    Eastern bloc cameras isn't my cup of Rodinal, but the Ercona was a continuation and improvement of the pre-war Ikonta. The lens and bellows folds out and locks rock-solid in place, the Tessar lens was improved and hard coated, and the Tempor shutter is very good - between the Prontor-SV and Compur in quality.

    Mine is definitely a keeper. I have adjusted the focus, first by adjusting infinity with a ground glass on the film rails, and then fine tuned it with a test roll for the last 1/10mm accuracy, and the shutter works perfectly on all speeds, plus the selftimer. :smile:

    Another fun camera is the much older Goerz Roll-Tenax, if you like cult lenses like the Dagor and Dogmar. :D

    Mine with 6,8/10cm Dagor:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Philippe Grunchec

    Philippe Grunchec Member

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    I have a Voigtländer Inos II (6x9 and 4,5x6) with a Skopar 4.5/105. Very cute little camera.
     
  13. elekm

    elekm Member

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    One of the advantages of the Agfa Record III is that it has a right-hand shutter release. Other cameras, including the Zeiss Ikon Ikonta and the Mess Ikonta (524/2 with uncoupled rangefinder) have a left-hand shutter release.

    I think that the Novar and Apotar (both triplets) perform similarly, although I would give the edge to the Apotar. After all, there's only so much you can do with three lenses.

    The Tessar is an excellent lens and was the premium optic on Zeiss Ikon cameras for decades. The Voigtlander folding cameras are now overpriced, I feel, although some have optics that are better than the Carl Zeiss lenses for the Zeiss Ikon cameras.

    The plain Ikonta (520/2 and 521/2) is an excellent camera. The final models (don't recall the model number) with the satin chrome top decks have the advantage of having an accessory shoe.

    There also are 620 Kodak folders from its German operation (Nagel Camerawerks), but as with all 620 cameras, you must respool your film. Not a big pain, but still a pain. The model is the Vollenda 620, which was scale focus only.

    The most vital aspects:

    1) Is the lens in good condition? If it's not clean, fungus- and scratch-free, move on.

    2) Is the body damaged? There are very few rare cameras, so there's no reason to buy one that's been beat to hell and back. Don't buy someone else's junk.

    3) Does the camera open smoothly and does the lens bed lock into place without effort? Sometimes, it's a lubrication issue, but it also could be a sign of impact damage. The lens standard must be parallel to the film plane. If it's not, you'll get a photo with one side or corner that's always out of focus.

    4) How are the bellows? They can be patched. And it's true that the plastic bellows on Agfas are problematic and prone to developing holes in the corners. Other cameras used leather-covered bellows, which seem to have survived the years in much better fashion.

    Best of luck! I love 6x9 folders.
     
  14. elekm

    elekm Member

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    A photo from my own Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 530/2 (made in 1936) with an uncoated Tessar. I think this was on Agfapan APX 400. And although it's strongly backlit, it didn't flare.

    Much is made about unit focusing vs. front-cell focusing, but I don't have a problem with the front-cell focusing lenses.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I have used a few of the old 6X9 folders, including a couple of Zeiss Super Ikonta C models and a few of the Moscow imitations. In my opinion the Bessa and Bessa II are indeed on the order of a magnitude better than most of the competition, at least in terms of sharpness, and that is due in large measure to the robustness of the folding mechanism and to the fact that the lens focuses by moving back and forth, not by moving a single front element as is the case with most of the other 6X9 folders. The weak point of the Bessa and Bessa II is a pressure plate which may have lost tension and does not apply enough pressure to hold the film flat.


    Sandy King
     
  16. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

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    Moskva-5 is a great camera if you get one in good shape. You can also pick it up for the price of the 3-element scale focusing cameras from the big guns. Mine is really sharp, even though I had to more or less reassemble the rangefinder.
     
  17. r j fallis

    r j fallis Member

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    I like the Ross Ensign 6x9 folder the lens are good, and you can get them with or without range finder.

    bob
     
  18. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    This is true. The Moskva is a very nice camera......if you get a good one. I managed a M5 and a M4 in good shape and they are fine. The finder in the all the Moskvas is better than the finders found in the Later Super Ikonta C's, which have the Albada finder. My cameras cost about $45.00 each about 5 years ago.

    F8, lens hood, hold it steady....perfect.
     
  19. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

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    One thing I will add is that the Moskva (and most of the 105/3.5 or similar Tessar cameras, I imagine) needs to be stopped down if you want sharp corners on 6x9. 6x6 is no problem, but I think 6x9 is close to the coverage limits of the lens.
     
  20. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Actually, the angle of view based on the diagonal of the frame is almost identical between an 80mm on 6x6 and a 105mm on 6x9. There could be other factors, such as film flatness being more difficult over a larger area. But all that said, while I've not attempted any rigorous "scientific" testing, I do get the impression that the Color Skopar on my Perkeo II 6x6 is a hair sharper, even in the center, than the Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar on my Ercona II. Of course, I'm dealing in samples of one here. Could be there's a mis-alignment or focus mis-calibration of the Zeiss Tessar.
     
  21. chris00nj

    chris00nj Member

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    Thanks for all of your suggestions. I ended up getting a Ikonta 532 2 with a Novar 105/3.5 lens and a Prontor-SV shutter. I hesitated for a while on getting a "3-element lens" but figured I ought to use a 6x9 folder and decide whether I like the system, before I start shelling out the dough for a pricier model. (A Bessa 1 with Color-Skopar just sold on the 'bay for over three times what I paid for the Ikonta).

    Now I'm awaiting it in the mail.
     
  22. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    There's nothing much wrong with the Novar. It's sharp enough stopped down a bit, and interesting bokeh when used wide open.
     
  23. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

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    I have a Novar that doesn't focus at all. Lovely bokeh.