cheap TLR to jump into MF

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by poutnik, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. poutnik

    poutnik Member

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    Hello,

    this kind of a question was asked probably a zillion times, but here it is again...

    My brother-in-law wants to return from his D-SLR to something more of a joy to use, e.g. a medium format film camera. His budget is not extremely tight, but he's not very sure at the moment what he wants. I advise him to try a cheap(ish) TLR, but he is fascinated by Mamyia 7. The TLR he could buy right away, but the Mamyia would have to wait for several months (because of the pricetag). So in the TLR field, he has the following options available here:

    1. Yashicamat 124(G)
    2. Yashicamat EM or D
    3. Rolleiflex 2.8 (don't know what type exactly, but a very old one judging from the price)

    What would you recommend for him to try? I think he'd mainly shoot BW with some color, he'd shoot people (portraits and documentary shots) but more often landscapes...

    Thanks for your advice

    Jiri
     
  2. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    The Rolleiflex will be the best choice and they are built to last several lifetimes.

    Cheap and Rolleiflex 2.8 don't necessarily go together. You can probably find a 2.8C, D or early E for around $300 if you look around. More in the league with the Yashica's (Tessar type lenses) are the Rolleiflex Automats with f/3.5 Tessars and Xenars, $100-200.
     
  3. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    If he wants he Mamiya, then I don't think anything else will do for him. Meaning, he will end up buying a Mamiya anyway, but after dropping a fair chunk of change on the TLR, too.

    Has he considered the Fuji Rangefinder? You can get a 6x9 version of it that is excellent for landscapes.

    If you can convince him to buy a TLR, the Rollei (cord or flex) are both great ways to go.
     
  4. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    Yashica 635 is decent, and you might want to look at the Meopta Flexaret cameras. You might be able to get a really nice Rolleicord for around $150+. As a comparison, the Rolleicords are much easier to repair than the Yashica TLRs. This coming from work I've done on my 635 and Mat and 'cord V. I have a donor 'cord that I've completely disassembled. If I buy another TLR, I think I'm going to get a Flexaret to try something different.
     
  5. poutnik

    poutnik Member

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    Bromo3333, I know that the Mamiya is a different league, and once he'll try, he'll buy it no matter what else. But as is my idea, in the meantime, he can try some cheaper camera just for the feel of handling a roll film, to set up a darkroom. Also he can keep the TLR and also the Mamiya 7, as each is more suitable for different type of work.

    We haven't considered the Fuji rangefinders (even though the 6×9cm version is my secret love and dream camera) because they are essentially unobtainable here in the middle of Europe (and if it were, there could be a problem with servicing them).

    As for the Flexarets, I haven't considered them either, although they were made in our country. I want something reliable for him, not to turn him away from the film cameras, but I might well consider it, if you think it's reliable enough (I think the Flexarets VI and VII should be relatively recent)...
     
  6. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    While I wouldn't say that the Mamiya 7 is in a different league than the better TLR's (it really isn't in my opinion) it is a different enough camera that you won't get the feel for the other with the one and so on (you said this more or less already!)

    Getting a Rolleicord or Rolleiflex should be a good choice. They are still repaired and repariable, and if you get one in good service, you won't be dissappointed. A Yashica-mat is a good alternative.

    I have no idea about the others - they might be great or not, I just don't know.
     
  7. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    Are we talking about TLRs anymore???

    The thing is (for me), there are many ways I shoot with a TLR that are not possible with an eye level RF or SLR camera. Shooting without a tripod, it is very handy being able to brace on things, focus accurately, then hold the camera very still using the WLF to guide your composition.

    If he's unsure, a Rollei will always hold its value if he decides to sell it to finance the M7.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2006
  8. poutnik

    poutnik Member

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    Mike, we are... :smile:
     
  9. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    The Yashicamat series is more convenient than older Yashicas. The D and 635 make as good images if equipped with the Yashinon, not the three element Yashikor, lens. Although image quality is good, reliability and durability don't compete with the Rolleis.
     
  10. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    I really have no idea if the Flexaret cameras are good or reliable, just that they are kind of quirky looking, so I think I might want to add one to my other cameras. That and they are fairly inexpensive.

    And again, the Rollei will be in a different class from the rest.

    You might also look for a Mamiya 6 (newer version) which might be a lot cheaper than a Mamiya 7. Note that Mamiya had an old 6 (folder?) that does not use the same lenses as the newer 6.
     
  11. DougGrosjean

    DougGrosjean Member

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    << The thing is (for me), there are many ways I shoot with a TLR that are not possible with an eye level RF or SLR camera. >>

    Agree.

    My fav example is a shot of my son on a swing, going as high as he could. I laid on the ground at the bottom of the arc, told him not to keep his feet apart enough not to kick me on the downswing, and laid the TLR on the ground in front of me, looking through the viewscreen. I focussed on him as he paused in the air above me, and when the time / composition was right I took the shot of him against the sky.

    More common example is that my TLRs (Rolleicord, Rolleiflex, and a Ciro-Flex) take the best portraits I've taken, I *think* because my face isn't hidden behind the camera. I talk, put subjects at ease, look them in the eye, keep talking, and when the expression's just right there's a gentle click - and I've got it.

    Bracing my body against a wall, like Mike, allows me to shoot at slower shutter speeds than any other camera I've owned.

    And there's the goodwill and attention that a TLR seems to bring in public. Mostly good.

    I have other low-dollar medium-format cameras. One, a 6x9 cm Kodak Medalist may even have slightly better glass than my Rolleis. I've got maybe $100 in it, but it needs a CLA - doesn't focus or move well in cold weather. Otherwise, works great. But the Kodak is a rangefinder camera and feels too modern - I find myself coming back to the Rollei TLRs for the unique abilities above.

    I also have a Zeiss-Ikon folding 6x9cm camera. While it brings even more interest in public than the Rolleis, it also feels rather too modern.

    I guess I really enjoy using the TLRs for the unique interface; they make me feel like an artist more than a photographer, since I can view the entire scene without burying my face in it.

    And finally, a nice Rollei does seem to hold its value. I'm not making money by holding on to my nice 'cord and 'flex, but I'm probably not losing money either.

    Doug Grosjean
     
  12. poutnik

    poutnik Member

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    Thanks Doug, that was what I had in my mind, some shots are easier taken with TLR, some with LF beast on tripod and some are dedicated for 35mm with a tele. Even if he bought a TLR now and later his dreamed-of Mamyia 7, he could be happy with both of them... Therefore I recommended him a cheaper TLR (cheaper than a US$400 Rolleiflex), but as I have non such, I can not advise on reliability...

    Jiri
     
  13. DougGrosjean

    DougGrosjean Member

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    You're welcome.

    And I agree - different cameras have different strengths / weaknesses.

    I don't know for sure about reliability of TLRs compared to other cameras, but I've got a hunch... TLRs in general are very simple, few moving parts, and seem to be robust and reliable once you've got a good one.

    Mine have traveled with me on big trips in a bag on top my motorcycle's gas tank, with foam pad insulating them from vibrations. The only trouble I've had was on a 6,000 mile trip that included dirt roads and Jeep trails in Colorado, the film advance knob came off the Rolleicord (the knob wasn't lost, stayed in the bag). I didn't have quite the right size screwdriver to repair it on the road, so I set it aside in my luggage and finished the trip using my Ciro-Flex instead.

    I'm in a little too deep on both my Rolleis. The Rolleicord V, I got 2 years ago for $100, but shutter was sticking on slow speeds. I sent it off to Harry Fleenor, had a CLA and a bright screen (divided by thirds) installed for about $300, and aside from the knob incident mentioned above it's been trouble free ever since. I've run maybe 50-75 rolls of film through it in two years, I don't know an exact number.

    My Rolleiflex EV-MXS (I think that's the model) I like a little more, due to the hand-crank instead of knob to advance the film, and due to different design of shutter (button). I'd like to have a brighter screen installed, but haven't done so yet - just due to needing money for other things. I got it from Ritz Cameras online out of Phoenix AZ for about $400, and aside from a very rare occasion when it seems to skip a frame while sitting on the shelf, it's been fine too. I've had it a year, have done nothing to it, and ran maybe 30-50 rolls of film through it.... Again, not an exact number.

    Repair and parts are still easily available on the Rollei TLRs, another plus.

    FWIW - having a big negative and a robust camera (that can survive miles on the motorcycle) is a big part of what keeps me shooting film.
     
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  15. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    Well ya! That's why you have to own them all :rolleyes:

    $400 buys you a lot of MF TLR these days. For me, the more expensive 2.8F Rolleis aren't really worth having to get a coupled selenium meter. I use a handheld incident/reflective meter 90% of the time anyway.
     
  16. poutnik

    poutnik Member

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    So in the end my brother-in-law settled on a Rolleiflex TLR. We are going on a shooting on sunday to try it out, but from just holding the camera, he likes it a lot...

    Thanks for your recommendations and comments.

    Jiri
     
  17. kb244

    kb244 Member

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    You really can't go wrong with a Yashica Mat-124G though....
    Or A Mamiya C3/C33/C330 with a lens TLR.

    ... Now someone go buy me a Rolleiflex 2,8 for Christmas so I can change my mind.
     
  18. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    Please make mine the new Tele-Rolleiflex
     
  19. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    If you have a REALLY limited budget, I recommend the Yashica A. Only a four speed shutter, film window wind, and a pretty dim viewing screen. Three element Yashikor is tack sharp at f8-f11. I bought mine on ebay for a whopping $15.

    I have a Rolleiflex too, and it is a LOT more camera. If your budget is small, you can still get great results from the Yashica A.

    Rick.
     
  20. kb244

    kb244 Member

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    Meh or Lubitel 166U.... come on it'll be fun
     
  21. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Just a personal view - the Lubitel is dirt cheap but possibly the worst conceivable choice - unless you are an expert, it's very hard to know what's going on with one of these - how about a shutter running at half speed and a viewfinder in which you can focus only on a small circle in the center, and then only in bright light and if you have perfect eyesight?

    Another point - Rolleis with meters. I have had many Rolleis, only recently got one with a meter and feel the meter is virtually useless. It is strictly speaking accurate, but being a wide-field integrating type, it really needs to be angled downwards to meter landscapes correctly. Unless you can also angle your head downwards and forwards at 45°, you'll find the meter impossible to read. And as it's not coupled, it's no quicker to use than a separate meter.

    Regards,

    David
     
  22. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    [​IMG]
    May cost more than the camera. Mine arrived a few days ago. I just wish the had designed it a little differently... They could have made it so that it would read to much higher aperatures like those used in pinhole cameras. There is a lot of room on the disk to accomodate the changes.
     
  23. kb244

    kb244 Member

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    I thought we were used to old full manual and difficult to use cameras... I had absolutely no problems at all using a lubitel 166U. :D
     
  24. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have one of these. I used letraset(sp?) tape and extended the stop markings out to f64.
     
  25. Greg_E

    Greg_E Member

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    I may machine a new dial and make it go from f1 to beyond f500 and extend the minutes to read several more than 4. Should be easy enough to make the changes.

    edit Revelation, the numbers are just painted on the dial so it will be easy to change.
     
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  26. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I never could get on with TLRs, but my wife uses a Mamiya C330 for all her medium format work. If that doesn't count as cheap, there is always its little brother the C220 and you get interchangable lenses.

    David.