Inexpensive 6x9 ?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Michel Hardy-Vallée, Apr 15, 2005.

  1. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I've been shooting a few rolls with my Soho cadet, an el-cheapo of yesteryears, and my father--who regularly shoots landscape with his Rapid Omega 100--was very interested by the 6x9 format of the oldie. Of course the glass is awful compared to his Omega, but it made me think about what 6x9 cameras are worth looking into? I might just try to get him one for Christmas. He would probably use it for more candid shot than landscapes, but some quality glass would be the main concern. Manual controls are the least of worries, but price would be an issue--say about 100$ max for something in working order.

    I've been looking at the Voigtlander and Ikon folders, and they seem to be very worthwhile. However I'm completely ignorant of models/glass/age/etc, and am rather daunted by the variety.

    So what would you recommend as a decent 6x9 camera?
     
  2. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    If he can deal with an old folder, I would strongly recommend checking out the information and example photos at www.certo6.com and then, either call Jurgen or, check out his offerings on that big online auction site. He has an excellent reputation and seems to offer a good variety of refurbished old folders.
     
  3. colivet

    colivet Member

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    I bought a Zeiss Super Ikonta 6x9 with the 105 mm. Jena tessar type lens. This cameras go from cheap to very expensive. I paid way too much for mine because it looked great in the pictures. The camera still looks great but the little bellows has many pinholes. Either get one that was just serviced and pay what it takes to have it, or buy a cheap one and have it serviced. Check www.certo6.com for information on folding cameras as well as services provided.
    I will be sending mine in to have the bellows replaced for about $120.

    I think that a folding 6x9 with a good lens is a great camera for what you want and also for having in the car all the time so that you have it when you need it.

    I hope that helps!

    Chris
     
  4. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Keeping it under $100 is a bit difficult, but:

    I would suggest a Mockba (Moscow) folder. It is based on the Super Ikonta, built in the former USSR. I got mine from Fedka.com, but there are other reliable vendors out there. One thing about the Mockba (and the "super" Ikontas), is that the rangefinder is coupled. This means that you can focus. Uncoupled rangefinders result in a 2-step process. You find the distance to the subject, then you have to transfer this reading to the lens. There is yet another type where you don't have any rangefinder. You guess the distance to the subject, set the lens for that distance and shoot away. If your dad is going to do landscapes, this wouldn't be too bad of an option.

    As you can imagine, the price goes down with capability. I.e. coupled rangefinders cost more than uncoupled which cost more than no-rangefinder cameras.

    If you have any concerns about the older cameras, send an email to Jurgen at certo6.com. He refurbishes old folders, so you can trust that they will work OK. His price list is also a good guide to the old folders. I.e. it is sort of a roadmap to the relative prices and capabilities of a lot of the old folders.

    Matt
     
  5. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    This one might actually end up in your price range. I've made 20X30 velvia prints with this system. Funky to look at but the optik is first rate (100mm f3.5 tessar type) and the Mamiya S shaped holders have long been known as the flattest film holder for 120 film.
    & This although I would expect this one would soar to $225 or so.

    They were a system camera with 6X7 and or 6X9 backs and number of fine lenses.
     
  6. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    One more note--be sure to check the model closely on the old folders. A lot of them were designed to work with obsolete film types. Not surprisingly, these can be cheaper...

    Matt
     
  7. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The cheapest 6x9 folder I have is a Balda Belfoca(?). The nicest one is a Voigtländer - either the Bessa I or perhaps the 6.5x9 VAG plate camera - I've got a rollfim back :wink:
     
  8. Glenn Mathison

    Glenn Mathison Member

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    I picked up a Ziess Ercona folder that does 6x9 with neat little hinged plates in the film chamber. Also does 6x7.

    Paid $40 Aussie doallrs so about $32 USD. Great prints....

    For <$100 I'd seriously explore the various folders out there.

    Glenn
     
  9. marcello.brussard

    marcello.brussard Member

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    A Mockba 5 can be bought for 50 EURO or so, it's a quite nice camera for this price. If you want to take a look at a sample shoot please go to my blog (http://www.emme259.altervista.org/Giorni.html) and tale a look at the post of April 4th. You can download the pdf under the post if you want some more samples.

    Ciao,
    Marcello
     
  10. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I've been looking at a few models you people have recommended, and I'm impressed by what's available in the folding camera market. I guess a coupled rangefinder is definitely a plus, and so is 120 roll film support (not a tinkerer enough to use 620).

    I'll definitely look at the Mockba 5, the ones at Fedka.com are enticing. Matt, do you consider his ratings as fair? Marcello, I looked at the picture: che bella!
     
  11. Paul_Baker

    Paul_Baker Member

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    I have one of the Moskva-5's. I am finding that to get a really sharp neg handheld you have to use the 1/250sec setting and stop down to at least f8. Otherwise it is a really cheap and great way to get into 6x9.

    Paul
     
  12. Seele

    Seele Member

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    One of the worst blunders in my wheeling-and-dealing is that I let go of a pristine Agfa Record III with Solinar lens. It was not at all expensive at the time but now it is getting appreciated by users, so prices are on the up, but still below that of comparable Super Ikontas etc. It has an uncoupled rangefinder (no big deal for me) and the Solinar lens is first-class, comparable (and at times superior to) the famed Zeiss Tessar, although most are found with lesser optics. I still haven't forgiven myself for selling it.

    Another often-forgotten marque is the Ensign, from the UK; the Selfix 820 was equipped with a variety of lenses, but go for a Ross Xpress, prices are also on the rise but the glass is worth it too.

    The main thing about folding cameras is that, mechanically, some of them do not fare too well over the years; even the Ikontas can suffer from the camera front getting wobbly, so it is an important thing to check.
     
  13. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    I have three 6x9 cameras and I love all of them. One is a Moskva-5 -- coupled rangefinder, f/3.5 Tessar copy (coated), everything works except the latch that keeps the back closed, and friction does hold it shut (and I keep it in the everready case for insurance). On a tripod, it'll deliver images that are sharp into the 16x20 enlargement range easily. Mine cost $72, shipped from Ukraine, including a 6x6 format mask, and when it arrived appeared to have been freshly serviced.

    The second is a 1928 or older Voigtlander Rollfilmkamera -- 6x9 only, unit focusing Skopar f/4.5, uncoated of course. Very simply made camera, lots of obvious wear -- and much, much easier to hand hold than the Moskva; it has a waist level finder that lets me cradle the camera with my left hand while I release the shutter with my right. Scale focusing isn't a big handicap with a little practice, and I have several cameras that focus by scale (my first 35 mm was scale focus, a well-used Pony 135 around 1972). The only way to tell the negatives from those made in the Moskva is to check for rounded or square corners on the mask.

    Third one is currently waiting for verification that bellows repair was successful -- a Wirgin Auta 6.3, front-element scale focus with Wirgin Gewironar f/6.3 (coated triplet) in a cheap Vario shutter (T, B, 25-50-100) and compact folding frame finder; with 6x4.5 format masks. Before the bellows leaks got too obtrusive, it was my favorite walking around camera. The most compact 6x9 folder I've seen, this one fits in a coat pocket and is not much over half the volume of the Moskva -- it's both thinner and less tall, though not significantly narrower (6x9 and two 120 spools has a minimum size). And the images are great -- the lens isn't fast enough to get soft wide open; f/6.3 is still in the good range even for a Cooke Triplet design. It's light, easy to hold steady, reasonably quick to operate, and I really like the ability to shoot 6x4.5 and get 16 on a 120 roll with the 105 mm lens. It was my favorite -- hopefully will be again when the bellows repair has been confirmed.

    Of the three, the Moskva is the best camera, technically -- but I have no plans to give any of them up.

    Oh, yeah -- the Rollfilmkamera came to me in trade for a lens and shutter that cost $10 plus my labor cleaning and unjamming the shutter; the Wirgin cost $10 plus shipping.
     
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  15. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    You can probably find a Voigtlander Bessa I with a decent lens and shutter in the $100 range. No rangefinder, but there were separate rangefinders made that fit into the flash shoe. I have one for my Bessa I, and it's a pretty good combination. Given that it really is "6x9 in a coat pocket", it's a pretty amazing system. The negatives aren't up to the quality of something like a modern SLR, but if you shield the lens well and make sure you're avoiding camera movement (fast shutter speed or tripod) you can get some pretty great results from a camera like this.

    I love old folders...wish I had more time to shoot with mine.
     
  16. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Ok. Once again, now much shorter - lost the message when I sent it the first time.

    Yuri B. aka Fedka is a good one - lives in NY, gives the stuff a Service and Cleaning before shipping and takes them back if you aren´t satisfied.

    The Moskvas are nice cameras, but many have seen much (ab-) use in their life and much lesser service. Don´t buy a "As new" (there is a reason those were never used) nor a "beater" - this applies to all folders. Check the Struts for alignment, check the RF and lens for alignment and infinity (contact me if you need to learn how to do that, it´s both simple and important). Check the back cover for faded red windows or lost bolts on the sliding covers.

    Never let the folder´s front cover "snap in", never force anything - that may bent the struts.

    The Moskva has all the bells&whistles like full range shutter, 4 element lens (Single coated), a robust shutter - but at the cost of being bulky and heavy in comparison with more simple folders.

    A 10EUR Agfa Billy 6,3 w/o RF will fit in the pockets of my pants and it´s light - the Moskva asks for a coat and your hand will be tired after a few hours "out on the street".
     
  17. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Everyone here is such an amazing source of information! I will look into the Moskva-5 but I'm afraid I'll keep it to myself. Mongo, do you have specific brand name for the RF to be used with the Bessa I ?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2005
  18. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Certo6 (Jurgen) will often sell Voigtlander rangefinders on eBay.

    Another option is at Home Depot (or the like). They have rangefinders with laser pointers built in. Point at a subject with the laser, press a button and it uses ultrasound to locate the distance to the object. ~$30.

    Matt
     
  19. rjr

    rjr Member

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    MHV,

    check Ebay internationally for russian BLIK and german Watameter - they are cheap (10EUR or so) and plenty and quite decent.

    OTOH guessing the distance and applying hyperfocal focussing techniques isn´t that difficult... since I learned that I don´t use my Watameter anymore.
     
  20. gchpaco

    gchpaco Member

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    Several people have mentioned the Moskva-5s. I have one. It's a really nice camera, I like it a ton, but it's surprisingly hard to hold steady for handholding. I'm not really sure why, but I think it's because the camera's design naturally wants you to grip the back with both hands and that's not as steady as cradling it. Which is not to say that anybody's getting mine without a fight.
     
  21. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    I've got a couple - a Moskva 5 and a Franka Rolfix II. The former has a coupled RF, the latter none at all.

    The Moskva, especially when stuck on a tripod is extremely sharp, and cost me less than $20.

    The Franka, which is the top spec version of its type, it also pretty good, but not quite as sharp. It is easier to handhold though, and has the benefit of a threaded lens for easier fitment of filters. It has a snapshot setting (hyperfocal distance and f-stop), so can be shot quite quickly.

    The East German Ercona II is also quite well regarded, and there are the usual West German folders.

    Paul
     
  22. Gene Johnson

    Gene Johnson Member

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    If you're on a budget, and you can stand to reroll 120 on to 620 spools, an old Kodak Vigilant, or Monitor, or Six-Twenty can be had for under 25 bucks, are very sturdy, and can be gotten with the f4.5 Anastigmat Special. Very good glass. later versions with the little L in a circle on the lens surround are single coated. I have one of these and just posted on how impressed I am with it.
     
  23. wclavey

    wclavey Member

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    After years (more than I care to count) of shooting 6x6, I, too, want to try some 6x9... I am intrigued by the format size and I remember the contact-printed snapshots from my first camera (a Spartus 6x9 folder). In fact, I have a project in mind that I would like to start on and I want all the prints to be 6x9 contact prints... but I digress.

    So, I appreciate all the recommendations included here. I'm a little more interested in getting some input on the actual purchasing than on the choices of equipment. I have purchased quite a few cameras from auction sites and have had luck ranging from "a great find" to "how could I have been so dumb..." I have seen Jurgen's work (Certo6) and admire it quite a bit, but I actually think that I want a Medalist or Medalist II for my project rather than a folder... I have several folders already in 6x6. I don't mind spending the money that a Medalist seems to go for ($150-250, or so) but I'm not interested in making another bad purchase and end up having to buy the camera twice, literally or figuratively. Plus, it is my sense that the auction sites drive up the cost very quickly - - something I would have been happy with from a garage sale at $50 or $100 I'm not so keen on at $150 or $200.

    For comparison, I have been looking at some of the collectible camera sites, but the prices seem to reflect the display quality of the cameras rather than the functional or operational state. For example, on Pacific Rim, I see quite a few cameras listed for more than the final prices on the auction site, but they are listed as having operational problems. I'd rather have something that doesn't look great but still works...

    Perhaps I'm expecting too much. Maybe I should be prepared to buy something for $150-200 and then plan to spend that much again having it CLA'ed. Or maybe I need to re-adjust my frame of reference - - perhaps $200 isn't that much to risk these days... but it sures seems like it to me.

    So is there any advice about finding and purchasing? If I lived in NYC again, I'd cruise the used shops (if they still exist...). Do you just take your chances? Are the good deals (working shooters) found through personal contacts? Advice, recommendations, encouragement?
     
  24. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I can't help too much on your exact question, but--

    The Medalist uses basically the same lens as I have on my mini-speed graphic (105mm ektar for me, 100mm I think for Medalist). It is a pretty amazing lens, so I think this would be a good choice for you.

    A couple of suggestions: David Goldfarb posted something a while back about a modification of the medalist lens to a modern 35mm camera.

    Also, depending on what you want to do, perhaps the mini-speed would work out. A camera/6x9 back and lens will cost more than the auction medalist, but you would have the ability to change lenses and backs. It would be slower and bigger, though.

    Matt
     
  25. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    If you do buy into a Medalist, don't forget to factor in the cost of 120 conversion. These cameras were originally made for 620 film, and require minor modification (best done by an expert, however, given the relative scarcity of the cameras in good condition) to use 120 directly. Once that's done, it would be difficult to find a 6x9 of any age or design that performs better, and only those with interchangeable lenses, like a Baby Speed with roll back, could be more versatile.

    Also worth mentioning is the "accessory back" for the Medalists, that allowed the use of 6.5x9 or 2x3 (I forget which) sheet film holders and ground glass focusing. Even rarer than good Medalist cameras, but possibly of interest for certain applications, such as macro with a diopter attachment...
     
  26. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

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    I owned a Medalist for a year or so & seriously regret selling it. It is a great camera with an awesome lens. The one I had was not converted to 120. I bought a bunch of 620 spools & rolled my own. It is a simple procedure. This guy: http://www.manfredschmidt.com/kodak.html sells converted Medalists for around $400. If desired, the unconverted Medalists go for around $200 on Ebay.