Mamiya C220 vs Rolleicord

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Max Power, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Hi everyone!,
    I recently started to dabble in MF and the famous MF bug is biting hard! To see whether or not I wanted to play in MF, I purchased an inexpensive Rolleicord II; so far it's great, although some of the limitations are starting to bug me. The long and the short of it, though, is that the qualities of the 6x6 negative blow me away.

    That said, I have started to look at upgrading to something better, probably after Christmas. At first, I was looking on eBay at Rolleicord Vs, the prices, though, for the good ones are unreal. A 'mint' condition Vb recently went for almost $500USD. Even well worn ones in need of a serious CLA are selling for about $150USD.

    In my searches, I ran across the Mamiya C220. It would seem to me that there are some distinct advantages to the C220/C330 but I would like some opinions as to whether or not I'm on the right track.
    1. I understand that the C220 only stopped production about 10 years ago, thus, they are still in good condition. Is this true?
    2. Although the lens sets are not up to par with those of the later 'cords, they are still quite good. What is popular opinion?
    3. The major advantage which I see is that the bodies and lens sets are separate. As such, a well tended body will last 'forever'. If the lens set goes south, you can either have a CLA done (inexpensively) or you can cheaply replace the entire lens set. Obviously, this is not the case with Rolleis, and CLAs are extremely expensive. Anyone out there with experience?

    Does anyone have any reflections on my though processes?
    Practical experience and opinions?

    Cheers!
    Kent
     
  2. ghinson

    ghinson Member

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    I do not have any experience with the Mamiya. When the bug first bit me, I first looked for a Rolleicord Vb as you are. Slow to find one at a good price, I ended up getting a Minolta Autocord in VG condition instead, for around $125. While waiting for it to come, a Vb came on eBay with a lower Buy It Now price and I got it for $175. Comparing the two, I don't really see any difference in the quality of the negatives. They both look great. The Minolta's Rokkor lenses were a real surprise that way. Handling the two, I much prefer the Minolta. It is easier to set the speed and easier to focus. I would suggest you add one of these to your list. Good luck.
     
  3. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Though it's been 'on the shelf' for a few years, my wife began using our C220 again with it's complement of 3 lenses...65, 80 and 135. Using the paramender and a tripod for some tabletop work, the results are just wonderful. She's angling to buy a prism finder on ebay which will make our kit rather complete (we also have a number of dedicated lens hoods and a detachable handle). I can't recommend the 220 highly enough. If you can live with the limitations of a TLR, the Mamiya's interchangeable lenses and 'system' components make it a very comprehensive kit. The bellows and printed close-up exposure compensation scale are also a great help. Get one; you won't be sorry.
     
  4. Neil Souch

    Neil Souch Subscriber

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    Kent.

    I have used the Mamiya but not the Rolleicord. But have used a Rolllei T which is similar in size to the Rolleicord. Question: what are you planning to do ? If you are lugging the gear over the landscape you will find a bag full of Mamiya equipment is pretty hefty - but will provide superb results. The smaller / lighter Rolleicord will also provide good negs and will be more portable, but of course you will only have its fixed 80mm lens to use. If you are not planing to carry this gear far I would go with the Mamiya as it is a superb and reliable 6x6 camera with plenty of good S/H 'system' items about at very affordable prices. The Autocord is a good suggestion as well. A friend of mine uses one and obtains excellent results.

    Neil.
     
  5. noblebeast

    noblebeast Member

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    Hi,

    I've been bitten hard by that bug as well, and also there seems to be a TLR bug going around and it has similarly infected me. I was using an old Rolleiflex with a Tessar 3.5 but just the other day acquired a Mamiya C220 that was being used as a bookend - in great condition, protected by a soft case and all that - with an 80mm lens. I finally took it out for a test run and I have to say I was blown away by the results! Those Mamiya lenses, even for the TLR, are quite sharp and contrasty, and based upon that it will become one of my most used cameras.

    Yes, it is heavier/bulkier than the Rollei, but not really by that much and I would not hesitate to take in on a tough uphill hike to get a shot. And as soon as I can afford to I want to get some more lenses for it (another plus over the fixed lens cameras). There are some Mamiya user groups (at the Mamiya web site for one) as well as a TLR message board I found once but haven't been able to find again that absolutely rave about the wider angle lenses - which of course go for much bigger bucks on the auction sites.

    In summation, based on what I have learned 'in the field' and on my preferred subject matter (portraits), if I were just getting into it today I would only be interested in the Mamiya. You'll have to decide what works for you and your subject matter, but as far as results I can highly recommend the Mamiya as giving the most bang for the buck - especially since very well cared for Mamiyas with 80mm lenses are going for under - sometimes well under - $200 on the auction sites.

    Joe
     
  6. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I've not used the C220 or a Rolleicord but I have used C330's off and on for a number of years and I have used a Rolleiflex (don't remember the model). Mamiya vs Rollei? The Mamiya TLR's are kind of big and clunky compared to the smaller Rollei TLR's. Mamiya optics are really very good although not legendary. Mamiya TLR bodies are pretty basic and very dependable. Of the two 330's I have owned, neither ever needed cleaning, adjusting or repairs. The C220 is a smaller version of the 330 and lacks automatic shutter cocking with film advancing and a couple of other lesser features.
     
  7. Brac

    Brac Member

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    I bought my C220 new in 1977 and though it has been "resting" in recent years due to circumstance changes I used it a lot through for the first 15 years and was extremely pleased with it. I have also used various Rollei TLR's (Va, 3.5E, MagicII) and personally I think the Mamiya lenses are equally good. Plus unlike the Cord & some others the standard Mamiya 80mm lens is f2.8. The wide-angle 55mm lens set is also extremely useful.

    As others have said it is more bulky than other TLR's but I often used it handheld outdoors and found the weight made it quite easy to hold steady. (I always used it with the Mamiya handgrip). It can easily take 220 film (just flick a switch & move the film pressure plate) and the bellows allows incredible close-ups. In fact I did sometimes use it on a copy stand though it is not the ideal camera for that.

    There were one or two later C220 models (think they were C220f & C220s from memory) but the differences are minor. The C330 cameras are slightly more sophisticated and a bit heavier but the 220 range are fine.

    Because the Mamiya's & earlier varients (C3, C33, C2, C22 etc) were in production for decades there are shoals around and lots of accessories even spot metering prisms and lens sets up to 250mm. Also they take 46mm filters which are easier to find and cheaper than bayonet ones.
     
  8. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Neil,
    This is a really good point...Right now, I'm used to lugging about my X-700 and 3 lenses, a flash, a light-meter and my Kodak Guide...I tend to travel heavy because I don't want to be caught out. I'm not really worried about weight to be honest. I'm looking for a reasonable MF setup at a reasonable price...I'm not really interested in a cult camera.

    Thanks,
    Kent
     
  9. ghinson

    ghinson Member

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    Just looking at medium format inexpensively, have you seen Robert Monaghan's Medium Format page?

    http://medfmt.8k.com/mf/

    This page has several articles about medium format on a budget. Some would recommend you look at the Koni Rapid Omega cameras or the Kowa 6/66 systems.
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I started MF with a Rolliecord ll about 30 years ago moving to a Mamiya C33 and a C3 with the standard 80mm lens and a 55mm lens which were superb, lovely cameras to use and optically excellent.

    If you can find a C33 or C330 they are very much better (ease of use only) than the C220's. The additional lenses aren't over heavy and the abilty to change lenses is a major advantage compared to the Rolloecord or Rollieflex. I only switched to Mamiya 645's after my TLR's were stolen.

    There are far more C330 about than C220 and they don't really fetch what they are worth secondhand.

    Now I inherited a mint late 50's Rolliecord which has only ever had 5 films through it, owner used his Yashica 6x6 instead, has the preferred sharper Schnieder lenses. When I get it serviced - the lubrication has dried hard - I will use it but it is really a cult camera in my hands.
     
  11. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Ian,
    I've been looking at the C220s and C330s, and for what I'm looking for, the price differential between the two doesn't really justify the C330. My understanding is that if one is a serious professional photographer, the C330 is the only way to go because it is faster to use. For my intentions, which would be landscape and family portraiture, I think that the C220 would be better. On eBay, at least, the C330s are going for considerably more than the C220s.

    Whadderyall think?
     
  12. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    As you say the C220 is cheaper, but slower to use. Accessories are the same for both variant, but some slight differences in the latest "f" and "s" variants. I have a 330 with three lens and the odds and ends, and I woudn't want to carry it too far. So it's your choice - versatility or portability. With regard to image quality there is noth to chose between them.
     
  13. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    Trade-offs, trade-offs. If you want an inexpensive 6x6 system camera, the Mamiya TLR will work. The weight issue is a bit misleading - the TLR bodies are heavier, but the lenses lighter than comparable SLR items.

    Try http://www.macuserforums.com/WebX?38@157.qDsSa8jBiTF.0@.ee6b280 for the US Mamiya Forum. The Mamiya US site (http://www.mamiya.com ) needs Internet Explorer to navigate, so it can be hard to find the forum!

    I have some weight comparisons, plus some other useful information at http://www.btinternet.com/~g.a.patterson/mfaq/m_faq.html
     
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  15. ian_greant

    ian_greant Member

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    Like all things it really comes down to how your going to use it and which suits your personal style better.

    The Mamiya is a more flexible tool that can accomplish a greater range of photographic tasks but the Rollei truly shines at photographing people.

    The lack of interchangeable lenses is a limitation on the Rollei, but it keeps me focused on the shooting and from messing about with my gear.

    Size: I've always been impressed with the Mamiya's but just found them too big for toting around casually. Both of the attached shots wouldn't have happened if I owned a Mamiya TLR instead of a Rollei... Cause I would have left it at home that day!

    and of course.. people just like my RolleiCord. It almost never fails to impress.

    I hope this helps in your decision,
    Ian
     

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  16. Neil Souch

    Neil Souch Subscriber

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    Kent,

    I would go for the Mamiya as you will get super quality + versility at affordable prices. I progressed from fixed lens TLRs to the Mamiya TLRs for those very reasons. I mentioned the weight as if you want to shoot colour and mono you will need a two body + a few lenses outfit (eventually). Also I found a heivier tripod was needed for the Mamiyas whereas I could get away with a lighter tripod with the smaller TLRs. Weight is more of an issue for me these days as I am now 60+ and although still quite active I do watch what I carry on my back! If you decide on the Mamiya I would recommend you try to handle one before buying to make sure you like the handling etc. I found the Mamiyas a joy to own and use, they slow you down and make you think about composition and metering. And that can't be a bad thing!

    All the best,

    Neil.
     
  17. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    First off, I just want to thank everyone for pitching in and giving me your opinons. It really helps to have people around who understand my questions and POV.

    Ian: Those photos are brilliant...The lenses are amazing.

    Graham: I'm really glad that you threw in your comments; I've looked at your site and found it really useful. Cheers mate!

    Neil: Good point. There is a shop in town that I go to very often for darkroom supplies. They are starting to get to know me as the Ilford nut :wink: They have a couple of used C220s and C330s on hand and I think that I will ask to rent one for a day to see what I think.

    I raise my glass to all of you!

    Kent
     
  18. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    There are a couple of web sites that deal extensively with Mamiya TLRs. I don't remeber the urls but one of them listed things to look at when buying a used mamiya. One thing to keep in mide is that Mamiyas where the cameras of choice for many years for portraits and weddings, so many of the used cameras have seen heavy use. Of course one of the reasons they were used so much was there amazing durability.

    An advantage with the Mamiyas is that if you need work done, almost any camera repair shop will have experience and parts on hand. Also if you do accumulate a set of lenses it is not a huge outlay to have to buy another body if the original breaks and repairs are more then a replacement camera.

    I have used the 220 and they are great cameras for the kind of use you plan. And as others have pointed out, there is a huge amount of accessories out there for both 220 and 330s.
     
  19. Brac

    Brac Member

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    I'm sure the C220 will do what you want fine. I used to do a lot of B&W photography for a group which was restoring a disused canal - they wanted photos for their magazine (in those days it was not in colour) plus 10 x 8's for display stands. The big negs made producing prints that size very easy plus there was no need to take a lens longer than the 80mm because the neg size allowed you to enlarge just part of it if you wanted.

    As far as weight is concerned, doing this photography often involved tramping for miles and I never found it a problem. All I needed was camera body & WL finder, 80mm & 55mm lens sets, exposure meter and most important the Mamiya grip holder plus holdall & film. A lot less heavy than some 35mm SLR outfits. The lens sets apart from the telephotos each weigh less than 350g (just checked it with an old Mamiya brochure!)

    For portraits the 80mm can cope but the 135mm tele is better.

    At the end of the day any well made TLR is more robust than a MF SLR (no moving mirror etc) & is ideal for outdoor use.
     
  20. fparnold

    fparnold Member

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    FWIW, I have a C220 with 2 lenses (65 and 180), and find that I can comfortably hike with that outfit + a 3021 tripod for most of the day, even in Colorado or Utah where the elevation is 5000+ ft higher than my normal altitude. The only downsides I've run into are that it's not the fastest thing to focus, and when doing extreme closeups you have to remember both to correct for the parallax, and to make sure the camera is centered over the axis you'll move it to correct (obvious, but I have a few fuzzy closeups from forgetting where the taking and viewing lens nodal points were). there are bright lines in the standard viewfinder that you can use to guess.

    Also not mentioned is that while they natively prevent you from doing double exposures, there's a switch on the side to allow the shutter to be cocked without moving the film, just in case you actually want a multiple exposure.

    Personally, I like mine a lot, but I had had a TLR in HS and college, so it was a more capable version of a camera style that I'd already had a few years of experience with. Try to rent/borrow one, and see if it fits your style of shooting before making too big of a committment.
     
  21. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Max, I think it is wise to try out the cameras first. I'm surprised so many people commented on the weight of a Mamiya TLR system. While I find using it handheld to be clumsy due to the size and apparent topheaviness of the C330, I've never been bothered by the weight of the camera. I have a C330 with 55, 80 and 135 lenses and the bag with this system plus film, filters and extras is really lightweight to this overweight, middle-aged photographer with a bad back and neck.
     
  22. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Conversely I find the weight an asset when handholding as the thing doesn't shake as much as my EOS 35mm. Much steadier in fact. I suppose that should read, I don't shake so much with the heavier camera!
     
  23. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I always found that my even heavier old C33 was extremely hand holdable. Supported by a neckstrap and two hands underneath it, looking down into the WL finder with the camera close in to your body is an extremely stable position. I could shoot at slower speeds than I ever could with my 35mms with excellent results.

    A bit of advice from painfull experience: Avoid using it on a Tiltall style tripod. It is a top heavy camera and when that head tilts unexpectedly and grabs your finger, Boy Howdy! You'll discover a vocabulary of obscenities that even you never dreamed that you knew. :mad:
     
  24. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Again,
    Thanks everyone for your input.
    I really appreciate it, and I hoist a cold pint of Sleeman's Dark to you all!!!

    Kent
     
  25. oboeaaron

    oboeaaron Member

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    I have found that Rolleiflex Automats such as the MX model sell for significantly less ($150 - 200 USD)than the Cord V, Va, and Vb. Optically there should be little to no difference, as all of these cameras use similar optics (Schneider Xenar or Zeiss Tessar). The differences between an MX and a Cord really boil down to ergonomics in use.

    If you are using a Cord II with Triotar lens, you will be pleasantly surprised at the level of detail from either the Xenar or Tessar lenses, especially when stopped down to f/8 - f/11. Although, to be honest, I find it hard to tell the difference between the Tessar on my MX and the Xenotar on my 2.8D at f/5.6.

    If economy is a factor (and when isn't it?) the smaller f/3.5 camera is the way to go, as Bayonet I accessories (filters, caps, lens hoods) are more plentiful and much cheaper than their Bay III counterparts.

    Make sure to budget for a lens hood and strap. Flare does tend to be an issue with these older single-coated lenses, and the MX model did not contain light baffles behind the taking lens until the last 50,000 manufactured. The left-handed focusing on the Flex models makes the strap a requirement unless you are an accomplished juggler.

    If you want to go really cheap, consider a Rolleicord III with Xenar lens. These should be available for around $100 USD and use the Bay I accessories. I have one of these and frankly, I find it the most ergonomically logical of my three Rollei TLRs. My sharpest handheld shots were made with this camera even though in theory this should be the softest of the three lenses.

    If interested in seeing some low-res web images from my Rolleis, point your browser at:
    http://homepage.mac.com/oboeaaron/rolleipics

    There is a very active Rollei TLR/SLR mailing list to which I belong. If anyone here is interested in subscribing, send me a PM and I'll send instructions along.
     
  26. David McKenzie

    David McKenzie Member

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    Greetings All.
    I started photography in the late 60s and was advised by a Pro friend to purchase a Mamiya C3. Results were stunning!! Despite the facts of flexibility with lens combinations, added porofinder, lens hood and pistol grip, I soon tired of the weight of this outfit when travelling abroad ( Japan mainly, so no trouble getting parts or service). Ten years on I stumbled across an advert for a 'pre loved' Rolleicord Va plus green filter, X2 sets ' close-up' lenses for the tidy sum of $35 Aussie. Needles to say I bought the lot and have not been dissapointed. A little TLC and this unit works as new. I cannot differentiate the quality of the photos from either unit , but find the weight difference appreciable. ( to the point where I also carry a Contax 35mm Unit on my travels). I now have the Mamiya as a fixed Studio Unit. So if a Rollei comes up for sale my advice is Go for it. You won't be dissappointed.

    Dave