Franka Solda II or Agfa IsoletteIII

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Metroman, Jan 10, 2007.

  1. Metroman

    Metroman Member

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    I have been offered one or both of these if I want. Thinking this is an opportune moment to try MF after 40 odd years of 35mm and Leicas I would value members opinions on which is the better as an entry to playing with MF.

    My neighbour is slowly clearing out her attic where her husband had his darkroom and kit. He died last August having been a photographer since the 1920's. I have bought a Leica CL and a load of darkroom kit already. All his old cameras and equipment are carefully wrapped in oilskin and in their original boxes.

    The lenses are not stiff or frozen and everything appears to be OK though the only way to test is to run a film through especially to check the bellows but I would value opinions from any who use these models.

    TIA
     
  2. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I have a Isolette III but have no experience of the Solida. This (http://www.certo6.com/cameras.html) site has some info on both. Possibly the decider is which lens the cameras have and their general condition.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  3. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    Check the bellows carefully for pinholes. They are the most difficult and expensive part to replace on a low value folder.

    I have not found an Agfa yet without pinholed bellows. After the war, they switched from leather to a type of synthetic bellows that just don't last.
     
  4. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Bob and Mike are both on target. If both were restored, I'd probably go for the Agfa because it has a rangefinder and it is an elegant design. My fiancee shoots the 6x9 version, the Agfa Record III, and the camera is delicious. The Agfa lenses are super, even the midlevel Apotar produces lovely images. I believe the Franka has a Radionar -- I've shot that lens before and thought the bokeh looked awfully harsh in it. Visit Jurgen Krekel's site, linked in Bob's post, for more information on the cameras.

    But Mike is right: The Agfa will have bellows problems, if not now, then soon. If I were planning to shoot the camera and not put a penny into it, I'd probably choose the Franka on that basis. But you can send either camera off to Jurgen and he will refurbish it for you at a reasonable cost.

    Folders are a fine way into MF -- get one and have fun with it.

    Sanders.
     
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Go for whichever has a unit-focusing lens (not front-cell-focus). I've never had a truly satisfactory front-cell-focus lens yet, in 40 years of trying (and usually being disappointed by) RF folders.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  6. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    FWIW, I have both an Isolette and a Solida III. The Isolette's bellows have gone south, dried and cracked. I am told that this is fairly common. My Solida, same vintage, is still chugging along. Lots of variables: how they were stored, how they were used, etc., but I think the choice of materials on the Solida was a little better.
    Neal
     
  7. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    Bullocks! (IMO)

    Rigidity of the lens standard is where the biggest issue is with folders. I think a solid unit focus like a Zeiss Super Ikonta is much stronger than unit focus standards, e.g. the Voigtlander Bessa II.

    IMO better to start yourself off and start shooting some MF than to pine over the top models of $$$ folders. IMO - a Rolleiflex TLR (even an old $100-150 Automat) will beat the pants off a folder anyway. (being unit focus, solid mount, and very easy to handhold extremely steady at chest level)
     
  8. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Mike,

    Maybe I've just been consistently unlucky for almost 40 years, even though I have sought out rigid folders. But I'd certainly back your advice to go for a TLR -- almost ANY TLR -- over any but the very best unit-focusing folders.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  9. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Gentlemen! You both know me to be a man with a Rolleiflex problem, so you won't find me disagreeing with you on the desirability of a Rolleiflex. However, the OP wasn't given the choice of a Rolleiflex ... and we're conversing on his nickel ....

    Roger: Too many Leicas has spoilt you for folders. :smile:

    Sanders.
     
  10. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    To clarify, what I'm suggesting is for the poster to get his feet wet with a cheap unit focus folder and see how he likes 6x6 MF. If its the best thing since slided bread, go for a nice TLR, Hassy, whatever he likes and can afford. Most of the fanciest folders with unit focus and rangefinders are collectable now, and never were considered professional grade tools in their day anyway.

    Coming from 35mm, I struggled for a while with square format but now the roles have completely reversed. I feel constrained in narrow 35mm format!
     
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Mike,

    Sorry, misunderstood. I'd second your advice (unit focus) wholeheartedly. It was just that your opening 'Bullocks' came close to 'Bollocks' which I took to mean (shall we say) 'Not so'.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  12. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    Yeah, I shouldn't try to speak languages I'm not 100% familiar with - like the King's English :wink:
     
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    You are no doubt aware of this one:

    When my father was born, we were part of a great Empire, ruled by an Emperor.

    When I was born, the Empire had pretty much vanished, but we still lived in a Kingdom ruled by a King.

    Children born today live in a Country ruled by a... well, by Tony Blair, anyway.

    Hope no-one finds this too political or obscene. I first heard it of Ted Heath, so it may be political, but it ain't partisan.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  14. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    I doubt you'd find a great deal of difference in output, assuming they are both fully functional.

    Your best bet is to try both cameras and see which one feels the best. One may have a better VF than the other, which may make using it more enjoyable.
     
  15. Solinar

    Solinar Member

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    I'm a bit late to the gate, but unit focusing leaves you with the Super Isolette, Iskra, Bessa II and the fifties version of the Mamiya 6.

    If you shoot close, 1 to 2 meters, unit focusing is a major plus. At least that is my experience with the Super Isolette versus front cell focusing folders. If everything is set up properly, it is difficult to tell the difference from prints made with Super Isolette from those made with a TLR. A TLR has the advantage when composing, hands down.

    With all that said, I do have a blast with a front cell focusing Voigtlander Perkeo II using a shoe mounted RF.
     
  16. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    Any other old cameras there? I love old folders.

    Anyway, my Agfa Billy, which I thought I was buying without a prayer of being usable, is rusty on the outside but perfect on the inside. It's actually missing a few pieces, but nothing that would affect the usability of the camera. Takes wonderful pictures, and if I could find somewhere that could scan the film or prints without them looking completely crappy I'd show you. :wink:

    Get both, give them a thorough looking-at, and then sell them or give them away if they're not what you're looking for. Both are generally good cameras.
     
  17. Metroman

    Metroman Member

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    Thanks to all for the advice. I went for the Franka as the Isolette has several small light leaks in the bellows on inspection with a halogen torch in the dark.

    I think the Franka will be fun for my first foray into MF all I want now is some sunshine and to track down a user manual/instructions.

    Some photos of the Franka
     
  18. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Oh no no no, there's more than that. My Balda Super Baldax is a unit-focusing camera. Some of the Super Ikontas were as well. Sanders
     
  19. Russ Young

    Russ Young Member

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    The Certo 6 with its lovely Tessar is a unit focus camera as well.
    Russ
     
  20. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Yes! I love my Certo 6!
     
  21. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Some of my favorite cameras are front-cell focusing cameras, usually with the Tessar.

    Regarding the Isolette III, the Solinar is a sharper lens than the Apotar.

    But a Tessar can be really sharp and have excellent resolving power.

    Ikonta 520/2

    See the Zoomify examples at the bottom.
     
  22. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    The Tessar was designed by Zeiss physicist Paul Rudolph in 1902. A Tessar contains four elements in three groups, one positive crown glass element on the front, one negative flint glass element at the centre and a negative plano-concave flint glass element cemented with a positive convex crown glass element at the rear.

    Many different companies have sold lenses that were based on Paul Rudolf's Tessar design. The Agfa Solinar is Agfa's version of the Tessar. The Voigtlander Skopar is also a Tessar design.