classic folders

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by puketronic, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I had a Zeiss Super Ikonta III but sold it because I didn't like the IQ or the ergonomics.

    I sometimes contemplate getting another folder hoping that I can improve in the IQ and ergonomics but I'm wondering if this is wishful thinking. I know the Tessar is no slouch because the ones fitted on my Rolleiflex is superb so I'd go with the Solinar and Skopar (over the Heliar).

    The two classic folders that come to mind are:
    -Agfa Super Isolette
    -Voigtlander Bessa II

    Then ofcourse there are some modern folders/compacts (Makina, GF670, GS645) but I'm interested in exploring the classic ones. The classic folders should be cheaper, smaller, sleeker, but less ergonomic. The modern folders should be more expensive, larger (but small for MF), and more ergonomic. Image quality depends on taste but I think that all of these should be an improvement to the Ikonta because of the inherent flaw (front cell focusing). The Ikonta wasn't too bad at a distance but up close it left me wanting more.

    I'm not so concerned about the IQ because that is very dependent on condition but more the reliability and ergonomics.

    Reliability:
    Is one of these cameras more reliable than the other? The S. Isolette has a film advance issue, does the Bessa have relibility problems?
    Ergonomics:
    Is the aperture ring and shutter speed clickless and do you cock the shutter on the lens? I really hated that.

    I think that I'd opt for something more modern but I just didn't want to dismiss these cameras right away.
     
  2. Aristotle80

    Aristotle80 Member

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    I dunno about the Super Isolette, but my "plain Jane" Isolette has been tops. Compared to my other folding cameras it has the weakest bellows fabric. That Agfa bellows material is probably the same between their models of the same era. I've read that this is a problem for Agfa folders generally compared to other makes. As far as the shutter and lens, no complaints
     
  3. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    The Ikonta is a classic folder and you should not have sold it.
     
  4. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    IQ issues? What the heck? Some of the best photos I ever took were from a copy of that camera made by the Soviets.

    I think the Bessa II with either the Color Skopar or the Heliar would be wonderful.
     
  5. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    With German cameras it much depends on when they were made. I have a Zeiss Ikon Tenax made in 1942 and the lens is so milky it is unusable. Same applies to some lenses made in the early 1930s. My three Zeiss Ikon cameras made in the mid 1930s have excellent lenses (one Tessar, two Novars).

    EDIT: the Super Ikonta III was made in the late 1950s and should have excellent lenses - unless someone has "repaired" them.
     
  6. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    If you are talking about the Iskra then that is a copy of the Super Isolette which is one of the best.

    IQ issues because of the inherent design flaw of front cell focusing vs unit cell focusing. I know that the lenses are first-rate, even the cheapy Tessar, but sometimes the designs are just problematic. Thinking about it, I'm just going to stick with TLRs atm...
     
  7. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    The image quality may have been a result of what Cert06 calls "Tessar disease". Apparently in the old Tessars, the inside glass can become loose and cause what appears in the image to be lens misalignment.
     
  8. jbrubaker

    jbrubaker Member

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    If you opt for an older camera, I recommend one that uses the red window on the back for film advance and counting. I've owned Super Ikontas (III & IV), Ansco Super Speedex, Super Isolettes, and Iskras, which all have very complicated film advance/frame counting mechanisms. They are prone to acting up and needing repair. Bessa II is a good choice but they tend to be over-priced. Usually the cheaper versions of the classics without coupled rangefinder, will be easier to maintain. ---john.
     
  9. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    Had one them too, good call, but I was referring to a Moskva 5. Took some re-lubing and re-alignment by me and some beer, but after that, a surprisingly excellent performer. Cannot get enough of the 6x9 negs.
     
  10. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    Some like Dante Stella make a case for giving up on old folders. And as usual he is quite persuasive, and always entertaining to read. But still, I think there is potential for lots of fun with old folders. I picked up an old Mamiya 6 (not the New Mamiya 6) and found the initial results to be rather unimpressive. The contrast was very poor and the edges were washed out. See here But then I bought another broken one in the junk bin and combined elements from the two lenses, picking the cleaner looking ones. I also redid the light seals and finally I found a lens hood for it. The resulting improvement was quite dramatic. See here. Altogether I spent less than $75 on this project, thoroughly enjoyed myself, and added a nice camera to my bag. How can you go wrong there?:D
     
  11. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    The Super Fujica-6 is pretty well made, film advance has been trouble free, it has a good viewfinder and very decent lens. They can be a bit hard to find outside of Japan though.

    The best made and most rigid folder I have (& I have a few...) is the Certo Six. The f2.8 Tessar lens is unit focused, and is parallax corrected (watch the lens move as you focus). Its weak point is the rangefinder "mirrors" can degrade, but I replaced the one in mine from some beam splitter mirror I got from the Surplus Shed. The only other point against it is that the focus lever will foul the tripod plate - without a modified plate, you're stuck on infinity or 1.5m...

    The one I like using the most though is the Iskra.
     
  12. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I assume: IQ = image quality


    (never came across that abbreveiation before)
     
  13. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I have a Perkeo II with the 80mm f/3.5 Color Skopar and an Ercona II with 105mm f/3.5 CZJ Tessar; 6x6 and 6x9 respectively. Is the final result as good as my Bronica SQ-A, no, but honestly, for a typical photo how often does it really matter? If the central point of the shot is in sharp focus the eyes aren't doing microscopic analysis on the corners. Sure, I can think of some things where I'd want the best I had -- and then I'd use the Bronica. But alas, the SQ-A does not slip into my jacket pocket!


    Yes, IQ = Image Quality. In cameras, a high IQ is not necessarily smart! :laugh:
     
  14. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I think medium format folders have plenty of life left in them. I've shot with them a lot, and I would strongly disagree that they should be disregarded.

    My favorites are the Ikontas (regular, Mess and Super). I've not had an issue with front-cell focusing. I think it's an issue that's largely been blown out of proportion.

    Aside from the Zeiss Ikon folders, you also others made by Voigtlander, Agfa, Certo, Kodak/Nagel and Kodak, Welti and countless others.

    Ironically, the 6x6 medium format folders with lens beds that fold down are the easiest to use, because you generally hold them in the same way that you would hold an SLR. Place the lens bed in your left palm while holding the body with your right hand, finger on the shutter button.

    For Zeiss Ikon, 6x4.5 and 6x9 will require a slightly different grip.

    All with the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 530/2 (1937):

    Ektachrome 100
    [​IMG]
    The downside of this camera is that you must mentally adjust for parallax, which I didn't do and cut off the ears of the hobby horse.

    Agfapan APX 100:
    [​IMG]

    Arista 400:
    [​IMG]
    I think I shot this at about f/8, maybe 1/50 of a second.
     
  15. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    I'm surprised that no one from the UK has pointed out that some fine 6x6 and 6x9 folders were made there.

    I'm not surprised that no one has mentioned that very good 6x9 folders were made in France after WW-II. If you're interested in learning about them visit Sylvain Halgand's site http://www.collection-appareils.fr/carrousel/html/index.php , many of whose entries have English translations. Look for Telka (under D for DeMaria-LaPierre on the left side of the screen), Kinax (K on the left side), Pontiac, and Royer. The French regard Royer's 6x9 TeleRoy (Tele for telemetre, rangefinder) as highly as Zeiss-Ikon's 6x9 Ikontas.
     
  16. viridari

    viridari Member

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  17. Andrew K

    Andrew K Subscriber

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    I have a soft spot for a Seagull 203. Not the nicest shutter release button (very small), but produces wonderful results.....
     
  18. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    All it takes is one incompetent camera repair person and your IQ (bad news when I have to read a dozen posts to figure out what that means) on a Super Ikonta goes straight to hell. All ya have to do is be off by one tooth on the focus mechanism. And 80 years can have a lot of different hands on that camera.

    That Tessar should give you great results front cell focus or not.

    Personally to the OP, I would choose the Voigtlander.

    tim in sanjose
     
  19. 2bits

    2bits Subscriber

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    I have a nice Agfa Isolette "L" model I acquired from Jurgen Kreckle. Yep, has the blue bellows! I've had a lot of fun using this camera. He did a wonderful job in restoring it, as it looks new in every respect. Even the light meter works as it should. I use it mainly for 6X6.
    I also have a Franka Solida ll which was in excellent condition when I found it. It's actually the classier of the two, and a real workhorse (cost me $30).
    Once you get used to them, they are great to use. I also have other folders and Agfa Isolettes in various states of repair, mainly bellows problems (light leak city), but still useable with sealers. So I really don't go in for the "only buy newer brands" belief.
     
  20. KenR

    KenR Member

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    I bought a Zeiss Ercona from Certo6 last year to use as a backup camera. Seems well made, but a bit hard for me to use because of the lefty shutter release. Nice results - Tessar lens that gave me some sharp 11x14 enlargements.
     
  21. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Hehe, when I'm absorbed in the subject at hand I've been known to firmly squeeze the door latch release button on my Ercona II which is about where my instinct thinks the shutter release should be. Eventually I figure it out ...