Autocords - worth it and which version?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by hoffy, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Greetings all,

    having fallen out of love (again) with my Koni-Omega*, I have been on the lookout for something a bit different to add to my arsenal, without spending a mint. This time, I think I might look at a TLR for a change and being a Minolta Fanboi from way back, I have been thinking something along the lines of an Autocord.

    I have had a bit of a look around and have found a bit of info (especially about breaking the focus lever and mechanism), but am after some general opinions on what to look out for with them and what Models to leave behind or seriously look at.

    Any opinions out there?

    Cheers

    *Ahh the KO - it is such a temperamental thing. When you nail that focus, it is the best damn camera in the world...but when it goes all awry, its a piece of crap. Yes, I know it could probably benefit with a CLA, but TBH, I don't really want to over capitalize on it!
     
  2. dnk512

    dnk512 Member

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    From Koni-omega to Autocord. I am sure you will appreciate the lower weight.

    I very much enjoy my Autocord. Got me a beater for parts and second really nice one for backup.

    None of mine has a stiff lever. Of course if you have one that is 'stiff' you should get it CLA'ed. One topic few discuss is that when you load film the door swings and will hit the lever if it is not positioned at either extreme of its range.

    But, you only asked about models. I choose the 1965 Citizen shutters. Some like older models with a tad more rounded aperture blades, but I have no experience on that. No one speaks highly of the light meter some models have.

    Best, common advice for old cameras: Condition matters more than a specific model. Especially with the Autocord that the lens design has no modifications among the models.
     
  3. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, Hoffy;

    From among the different models of the Minolta TLR Autocord, which one? Actually, just about any of them, although I prefer the simplicity of the first version where there is less to go awry. The later versions with the light meter and everything are fine, even if those things do not work. The basic operation of the camera and lens will continue to function and you can still take nice photographs. Yes, the admonitions about the focusing lever are valid. If it begins to get hard to move, or sticks and locks up, do not push harder and try to force it. Take it to a camera tech for a CLA. Otherwise, it will need a repair using parts that are now harder to find, in addition to that CLA.

    Even the competing models in the Yashica 124 series will work fine. If the choice is made to go for the Franke und Heidecke Rolliecord (or perhaps the Rollieflex with the f:2.8 lens), you know that it will work very well, although even they will need a CLA at some point, as will all of our cameras that are over 40 years old now. While I know that they are out there, I have no experience with the LOMO Lubitel, but there are many who like them also and are very satisfied with the photographs they get from them. The 120 size negative is rather forgiving and woks well with just about any camera, including the Koni-Omega Rapid-M.

    Yes, I have the K-O also, along with three lenses for them. A fast camera to use, and I still enjoy the sound they make when you advance the film with the pull-push plunger on the magazine back.
     
  4. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks guys,

    Any idea of what price to pay for one? I did have a look at KEH and they had an Ugly rated one for $100, but I have seen then on the evil auction site for up to $400 (discounting the one that was on there for $2K the other day). Would around the $200 region be a fair price for one in reasonable condition?

    As for the K-O, it will still remain in the cupboard and will still get used…maybe

    Cheers
     
  5. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, Hoffy;

    It is very difficult to advise someone else on the value to place on a camera. You may have noticed that I did not respond to your inquiry about that part. Yes, I did pay a fairly low amount for my Miinolta Autocord (original version) at less than $100 USD, but it also had a stuck focusing lever, and the Repair and CLA for restoring it to full normal operation added another $250 USD or so to it, for a total of just a little over $300 USD, but I did want that camera, and I wanted it working. For me, it is a welcome addition to the Minolta cameras that are here. Please note that it is, however, the only Minolta TLR that I have. I have not succumbed to the Force of GAS with the TLR.
     
  6. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks Ralph,

    yes, I know it is always a bit of a challenging question and I always seem to be the one who ends up paying a premium, while everyone gets bargains!

    I might put a wanted ad in - I always like to see if any trusted member of the APUG community has one for sale.

    Cheers
     
  7. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    The Yashica 124G is pretty darn good.
    But you didn't ask about the yashica did you?

    Haha, had to rib you ther Hoff cuz you dissed (j/k) the MIGHTY KO!!
     
  8. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Now, now, the mightly KO is still a mighty camera - but for me its kind of like that girl you have chased all those years ago - the one you finally got a date with and had a couple of damn good nights with ( :wink: ), but in the back of your mind you just know you haven't made that connection.

    As for the Yashica - yes, I did have a look and I did feel the temptation, but I do have a bit of a funny criteria for this camera - The camera I am after must be pre 1967. Why? Because I have been using camera's such as these at a few rod shows where the cars need to be pre 67 (or based on a pre 67 car) that I thought I would find a camera that meets that criteria.

    Cheers
     
  9. one90guy

    one90guy Subscriber

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    My first tlr was the Ricoh Diacord L, in appearance they look just like the Minolta, not sure of lens. The Ricoh was a great camera and I loved the results. Since then I have got a Yashica A and a Rolleicord III. Comparing the negatives and photos from all three cameras if not marked I could not tell the difference. Hope this might be of some help.

    David
     
  10. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks David,

    I am aware of the Ricoh's and would say that if I found one at the right price, that would also be an option.
     
  11. fmajor

    fmajor Member

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    I have a 1956 Autocord that came to me in what I would consider "UG" cosmetic condition - specifically the leatherette was old, cracked and peeling/breaking off. Otherwise, the lenses are perfect, no metal/paint scratches worth mentioning and the focus lever is intact (though it's slow focus belies it's need for a CLA - which I don't currently have the $ for).

    For $26 US, iirc, I bought a GripTac 'leatherette' from cameraleather (dot) com. I've used my Autocord a bit, not as much as I should, but the results have been pleasing given that they incorporated my 1st ever self-developed b&w films. My Autocord is a "Seikosha MX" variant and does not have a built-in light-meter. Further, I believe someone along the ownership chain had the light seals replaced b/c my is tight as a drum.

    I'd snap up the "UG" condition one at KEH - especially for the low asking price - buy a new leatherette for it then send it off for a CLA. It's an amazing little camera and a bunch 'o fun to use.
     
  12. Jim Rice

    Jim Rice Member

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    While not specific to your question, I can tell you my experience with my Mat 124G. I picked up a nice looking example locally from Craigslist for $120 then had it overhauled by Mark Hama for $165 plus return shipping ($190-ish total), putting it in the $300-350 range that non-overhauled Mats seem to go for on that auction site. It is much more compact and much much lighter than my Rapid Omega. The Autocords from KEH seem to track the Yashica's price pretty closely, so I would budget ~$350 and hope to be pleasantly surprised. You will miss the 6x7 negatives.
     
  13. Marc B.

    Marc B. Member

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    When talking about [most] Rolleiflex/Rolleicord, TLR, imitations/copies, the selling price never seems
    to truly coincide with the quality of the camera body, lens quality, or the quality of the images produced.

    Autocords and Diacords were, until recently, $25-$50 cameras.
    Both have quirks, such as the Autocord's stuck or broken focus lever, and both have limited or stubborn
    shutter speeds, often questionable or inoperative flash sync, and non-coated or single coated lenses.

    Also, don't count-on any light meters to function accurately in any of these cameras, even if you use a 'zink air' battery.

    If you're looking for say, a $100 or less TLR, I think your better bet would be a Yashica.
    Not the 124-G, but something earlier.
    The 124-G's have been hyped-up in price, just because they were the latest/last model produced.

    The Autocord's and Diacord's have also, been hyped-up in price, because people found out a $25-$50 camera
    could produce acceptable, or fairly good images. People talked about them...the prices went up.

    I like the ability to use interchangeable lenses, so I'm a big fan of the Mamiya 'C' series cameras, but...that's another story.
    Are they bulkier and heavier? Yes, but they have better build quality and better lenses.
    With patience, you can get a body and maybe two (2) lens sets for around $250.

    Marc
     
  14. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Oh, I'm not going to disagree that certain camera's are over-valued for what they are, but second hand gear is always going to be as the market dictates. I am sure you would have paid a lot less for a 57 Chev in 1970 then you would have in 1980.

    The Mamiya C is not what I am after - I really don't want to buy into a system (unless the price is 100% right).

    But tell me more about Yashica's! There are certainly more plentiful on the evil auction site and with a variety of prices.
     
  15. Jim Rice

    Jim Rice Member

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    The Yashica Mats were blatant copies of Rolleiflexes with pretty much the same control layout. The non-Mats (A-D) lacked the automatic transport and had lesser taking lenses (triplets, as I recall.) The better lenses are the Tessar derived Yashinons. As far as I know, the Mat series were the Mat (meterless, and presumably 120 only), Mat 12 (120 only), Mat 24 (220 only), Mat 124 (120/220) and Mat 124G (Mat 124 with gold electrical contacts and black finish.) It is said that some of the tooling had worn out by the time of the 124G so that the 124 has a more robust transport mechanism. They are nice little cameras capable of fine performance. Originally designed for mercury cells, they can be calibrated for modern batteries. I bought my first 124G while in high school in the early '70s ($110) and used the hell out of it (to nice effect) for years. As with the Rolleis, the simple built-in meter is better than it's reputation would suggest. There are a couple of quirks that one should be aware of. First, one should never use the self-timer in M-sync as shutter damage will result (not helped by the fact that it is much too easy to change the sync setting, unlike the Rollei.) Second, it should not be dry-fired with a spool in the take-up position (it is said to confuse the frame spacing.) Mark Hama is the guy in the western hemisphere for service. If I could afford a Rolleiflex F I would happily toss my 124G into a swamp (or ebay :tongue: ) but I can't, so I won't.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2013
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The Mamiya C220 was first manufactured in April 1968, so it would be close to your criteria.

    They are lighter than the more complex C3/C33/C330 series.

    They are larger than an Autocord.

    They are excellent, reliable cameras. With an 80mm f/2.8 lens of that or later vintage, one could give you years of excellent service.
     
  17. Marc B.

    Marc B. Member

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