Medium Format Folder Options/Feedback?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by tron_, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    So I will be graduating soon and want to buy myself a little photography-related present. For a long time I wanted to buy myself a Leica M6 with a 50mm Summicron but lately I have been thinking of maybe buying some more medium format equipment. Therefore I was thinking of possibly buying myself a folder camera in order to combine my love for rangefinders with my love of medium format film.

    I thought about maybe getting a Mamiya 6 or Mamiya 7 but already have an RZ67 for my "serious" work. This camera would be a fun and light camera I could bring with me without it being too obtrusive.

    So far the only folder that has caught my eye is the Fuji GF670. One thing that I really like is you can shoot 6x6 or 6x7. Do you guys have any other suggestions for medium format folders that I could look into?
     
  2. Aristotle80

    Aristotle80 Member

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    Well, it sounds like you prefer the modern side of gear, but I think a CLA'd Agfa Isolette wouldn't hurt. Plaubel had a good looking modern MF folder with Nikor lens, but I've only ever seen one in pictures, never in person.
     
  3. thegman

    thegman Member

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    My brother had a GF670, and we both thought it was just superb. It's only fault in my eyes is the fixed lens, which for me is no big deal, but he wanted a wider angle lens.

    I used to have a Mamiya 7, which is a fair bit bigger than the GF670 as it does not fold up, and I did not like the build, but the results are not in question, you've got a choice of lenses, and it's all round pretty nice to use.

    For older models, I like the Zeiss Super Ikonta III.

    If I was buying myself a present, the GF670 would be way up the list, I think it's one of the finest cameras around at the moment. If you wanted wide angle lenses, I'd also look at the Fotoman Dmini. I have had the Fotoman 69, which is similar, and it's a pretty compelling camera if you want very wide angles on medium format film.
     
  4. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    You should definitely consider a vintage folder (unless you've decided that you want to spend the serious coin that the Fuji GF670/Voigtlander Bessa III requires). Look at the certo6.com site to get an idea of some of the models that are out there, and the formats. I think there's a fair amount more options in 6x6 and 6x9 than in 6x7. I think a nice compromise between capability and size is one of the Zeiss Ikon Mess Ikontas -- either 6x6 or 6x9. These have uncoupled rangefinders, but work quite well, and are available with Tessar lenses. Jurgen (certo6) is a big fan of the Agfa folders, many of which have uncoupled RFs and 4-element (Tessar design) Agfa lenses. The Certo-Six (that's where he got his website name) is a very nice coupled RF 6x6, with a Tessar and Synchro-Compur. A real sleeper. And the old Mamiya Six (not to be confused with the newer one you mentioned) is a very nice camera indeed -- internal focusing!
     
  5. tracy h-c

    tracy h-c Member

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    first, congratulations!

    i second the suggestion of the little isolette for fun. i recently purchased one on ebay for very little and love it. i throw it in my purse and go. because it folds no worries about the lens.

    this article is the reason i decided to get one. the author's serious cameras are mamiya rb and 645. he speaks about different folding cameras, lenses and shutters: http://www.cleanimages.com/Article-MediumFormatInYourPocket.asp

    i have a mamiya 7 with 80mm and 150mm lenses. i love it, tend to use the 80mm most. i use the RB67 for studio work. i bought the
    7 and both lenses from KEH used some years ago. all in excellent working condition. i wouldn't hesitate to buy from KEH again. all my
    experience with them has been good.
     
  6. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    There's a guy on ebay named Jurgen, userid cert06, who specializes in selling CLA'd folders. He's got a pretty good reputation among apug buyers. After watching quite a number of auctions, his buy-it-now prices are really close to the eventual bid price. Depending on model, features and "cool" factor, he has auctions right now ranging from $125 to $350. All are in top shape. I had GAS really bad recently and almost bought one, but decided a new lawn mower would improve my life more than another old camera would.
     
  7. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I have bought two folders from Jurgen, very happy with both. His prices are only a little over the norm, but for that you get a properly serviced camera from a proper company.
     
  8. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    If I won the lottery the Fuji GF670 would definitely be on my list of cameras to buy!
     
  9. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    Thanks so much for the great info, I know I can always turn to APUG for awesome advice! The reason I was thinking the GF670 was because it was new and wouldn't require me to get a CLA. It would just be nice to own a new film camera (I've never had a new film camera before haha). But I will definitely check out this Jurgen guys stuff. I had no idea who he was until this thread. Thanks again for the info!

    Now you have me looking at Super Ikontas :shakesfist:
     
  10. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Haha. They're beautiful pieces of engineering art. I sure want one, but have too much to do learning to use the equipment I already have.
     
  11. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    ...and they have a good meter, easy to load system, and one hell of a good lens. There's lots of reasons to consider it. Only bummer, like the Mamiya series, is lack of interchangeable backs, in case you want to swap between color and BW work.

    If you want, you could snag a 6x6 or 6x9 for under $100 and play with it and decide if that type of camera is right for you. I used to shoot folders exclusively, but the lack of interchangeable lenses finally got me.
     
  12. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    I tried to find a folder from him on his site and ebay but found them all to be grossly overpriced. I eventually found a Zeiss folder on another site for $5 and works and looks new.

    I've also had good luck with the Kodak Brownie #2 with the red bellows, it take 120 film and if you dont mind a little bigger & boxier camera its a steal
     
  13. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    I just finished shooting a roll in my GF670 in the snow. Now I having it sitting on the kitchen table, drying out the bellows before closing it up for the night. I seriously love this camera and while I enjoy a good vintage folder as well, this GF670 is simply outstanding! If you want something old, cheap and look forward to tinkering around with it, and also taking some nice photos a vintage folder is the way. But if you want the best folder available then the Fuji is for you!
     
  14. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Wow, great finds.
     
  15. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    As I see it, folders from him have had a CLA which would surely be worth a hundred bucks give or take by itself. I have a Perkeo II and an Ercona II from certo6 that I've had a lot of fun with. And indeed, the cost of the film I've put through the Perkeo has probably reached three times what I paid for the camera, especially since I've shot some color and had it lab processed. None the less, if you got a folder in good working condition for $5, you've done well (and been damn lucky!) At the time I bought the aforementioned cameras, I had followed ePrey auctions on some and they went for way more than $5; that plus the CLA and some vague sense of warranty caused me to go to certo6. Of course both those cameras are sixty years old, so one doubts they will go another 60 (but then, neither will I! :D )
     
  16. mfmike

    mfmike Member

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    Here's a shot with my GF670 from Annecy, France. Great camera.
    Mike
     

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  17. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    I agree. While Jurgen is at the top of the market, he is not grossly overpriced. There is value in knowing that you are getting a lens and shutter that are operating as well as they did when they left the factory.
     
  18. thuggins

    thuggins Member

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    While I might be biased, the Olympus Chrome Sixes are great cameras. You get Olympus build quality and Zuiko optics. Any of the Chrome Sixes are light years ahead of my Isolette. Also, the bellows stand up very well. Out of over a dozen Chrome Sixes in my collection, not one of them has a single pinhole in the bellows. If you are really, really lucky you can find one with the mask to switch between 6x6 and 6x4.5.
     
  19. viridari

    viridari Member

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    I've got a beautiful Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 533/16 that has Tessar Disease and could also use a good CLA (otherwise, externally, it looks like it was bought new and put in a drawer for ~60 years). Every time I think I'm going to spend a lot of money to get Jurgen to fix it, I get another camera or something (this time it was a Yashica T4... can you blame me?) It's such a gorgeous folder, though. I really have to put some $$ aside and get it into Jurgen's capable hands.
     
  20. xya

    xya Member

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    I'm digging this up to add some more options and feedback to these wonderful old folders. I just finished the first version of my site http://www.120folder.com/ it's a personal selection, but maybe some will find the information they were looking for...
     
  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have some wonderful photographs from a circa 1935 Certo Super Dolly with a Zeiss lens. It took a stunning photograph that I had made into a 30"x30" print on metallic paper.
     
  22. flavio81

    flavio81 Member

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    For what it's worth, here's my experience with folders. I have owned (or own) the following:

    Agfa Record III (6x9) with Compur shutter and Solinar (4-element) lens.
    Ensign Selfix 820 (6x9 and 6x6) with Epsilon shutter and Ross Xpress (4-element) lens
    Zeiss Nettar 517/16 (6x6) with Velio shutter and Novar-Anastigmat (3-element) lens
    Zenobia folder (6x4.5) with Daiichi-Rapid shutter and Neo-Hesper (4-element) lens

    i've also examined some other folder machines as well

    Here are my conclusion after using folders for about 2 years:

    - 6x9 cameras have very little depth of field, so you should either buy yourself an accesory rangefinder or bring a tripod with you to stop down the lens a lot (f11), if you intend to get proper Medium Format quality.
    - The smaller the format, the greater the depth of field. 6x4.5 folders are ideal.
    - Almost ALWAYS the infinity stop (or in other words, the focusing distance marks) needs to be recalibrated, and taking into account the focus shift at stopping down
    - A good 3-element lens (Novar-anastigmat) can be very sharp and all you need
    - Slower lenses are usually higher performing (i.e. a f4.5 better than a f3.8)
    - Have you tested the bellows? Test the bellows before buying, using a handheld flash to test for light leaks.
    - Simpler shutters are more likely to be found working

    At the end i stayed with the Zenobia (which i like a lot), and the Ensign (because it's so elegant).

    Regarding Agfa, the lens hierarchy goes as follows:

    Solinar > Apotar > Agnar