Wanting to have my cake and eat it ...

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by pdeeh, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,579
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I normally eschew the "what camera shall I buy?" type of thread, but I find myself going round in circles at the moment and feel the need to vent and perhaps get some good advice back as a result.

    My £10-at-a-fleamarket Adox Golf 45 has left me rather smitten with MF, but I have to glue up the pinholes in the bellows before every time I load it, and it hasn't got a proper VF ... accordingly, I want a "better" camera - something more mechanically reliable, a little faster lens-wise (2.8 would be a delight) and a viewfinder that lets me compose properly. 6x6 is what I like, though 6x7 isn't entirely out of the question.

    One of the beauties of the Golf, of course, is that it is tiny and fits in a pocket. I prefer to travel light, and that precludes the use of tripods. I also prefer to shoot handheld, in available light only and outdoors (and often in situations where 1/10s wouldn't be unusual). I don't mind scale focus (I have a natty little Voigtlander accessory rangefinder :smile:)

    Accordingly, I've looked (online) at various options. I have some conclusions, but am no further forward with getting to a decision about what to do next.

    I simply can't afford the ideal solution, which would be a Mamiya 6. A Cosina/Fuji 670 also out of the question.

    I'd rather like a WLF (I don't want to use a prism), but I am averse to TLRs and a 645 would leave me stuck with landscape format. That pretty much leaves a 500CM + 80/2.8 or SQ-A as options. The former is just about affordable at around £500 (if I shut my eyes and do a lot of pseudo-rationalisation). However they are bulky heavy beasts (I could probably get over that) and allegedly hard to handhold much under 1/125s (which I would find harder to get over) ...

    Otherwise, the main alternative option would seem to be one of the myriad 1950s folders that can be got for anything between £10 and £150. My difficulty with this is that it seems to me that these ageing cameras will likely be suffering the same ailments as the Adox - pinholes that need running repairs and slow shutters. I'm not a "handyman" and I don't have skills or a workshop to sort these things out, and professional repairs and refurbs will probably be disproportionate to the monetary value of any such camera ...

    Any US-based people who choose to chip in might want to remember that we have no equivalent of KEH (or their pricing) in the UK - cameras are significantly more expensive over here, and buying from outside the EU pushes costs up significantly once carriage and VAT/Import tax are taken into account.

    Anyway ... I'm stuck at this point. So I'll go and watch another repeat of Mock the Week on Dave and then head to bed.
     
  2. ntenny

    ntenny Member

    Messages:
    2,282
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Diego, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Down there at the low end, you might find a Nettar to be a significant upgrade from the Golf. It won't address all the points you raise (e.g., lens speed; you might find one in f/3.5, but 4.5 is more likely), but they're common, inexpensive, and *very* robust. The non-Super Ikontas are similar cameras with better lenses and higher prices. I'm not sure if any folder's viewfinder will really be satisfactory when compared to a decent WLF, though.

    I believe Juergen Kreckel ("certo6") ships internationally (but I don't know how VAT works with private-individual transactions; perhaps it isn't prohibitive in the folder price range), and in any case his web site (http://www.certo6.com) is a good source of folder information. (Disclaimer: No connection other than having had him do a bellows replacement once.)

    One more oddball possibility---though I don't know how available they are outside the US and Japan---would be Fuji's monstrous 6x9 rangefinders. They're gigantic, but I think lighter than a typical 6x6 SLR, and should be more handholdable due to having no mirror slap.

    -NT
     
  3. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,932
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Location:
    Ye Olde England
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    You say you like to travel light - That kinda rules out the Bronica/Hasselblad option weighs in at around 1.5Kg with an 80mm lens, film back, and WLF. Also quite bulky and difficult to be discrete when out shooting especially with the clunk from the mirror each time you press the shutter. That said, I like my SQ-Ai and often take it out as a back up with a LF camera.

    Oddball suggestion - Pentacon Six. Looks like an overgrown 35mm SLR except for the viewfinder.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2012
  4. Alex Muir

    Alex Muir Member

    Messages:
    406
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Have you tried a TLR? Other than the SLRs you mention, these are the cameras that come with waist-level finders. I use a Rolleicord Vb which is quite small and light. It's all black and therefore discreet, and can be hand held at very low speeds. Mine cost 105GBP 18 months ago. There are plenty around in the UK. It was made into the seventies, so there are 'recent' examples available. I dont think there are many affordable f2.8 options for 6x6. The 2.8 Rolleis are certainly expensive.
     
  5. LiamG

    LiamG Member

    Messages:
    115
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Location:
    St. Paul, MN
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    If I couldn't afford a Mamiya rangefinder, I wouldn't think twice about using a Rolleiflex 3.5 or similar TLR. An older Automat or Rolleicord model would be both fairly cheap and exceptionally light. All MF SLR's are going to be heavier, larger, etc.; rangefinders are expensive, folders usually lower quality- why not TLRs?
     
  6. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

    Messages:
    796
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2010
    Location:
    IN
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm also going to push the tlr, I've travel the world with a rolleicord and it worked wonderfully. It's the only camera that i have that will never leave me. It's small, light, quite, easy to focus and has pretty good lens. It's my go to camera. Will be selling a hassy becuase I don't use it, always grap the rollei.
     
  7. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

    Messages:
    357
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Tokyo
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't know what prices are like for you but I'm surprised that you say a Mamiya 6 is too expensive but then are thinking about a 500CM.
    In Tokyo the 6 is no more expensive than the blad. And if you want portability, the Mamiya is the clear winner!

    The cheapest camera I have that fits your description is the Bronica C, which I pulled out of a junk bin for next to nothing. It really is great! It is also cheap even in good condition because it was a budget model to begin with. The drawback is the absence of exchangeable backs.
     
  8. cepwin

    cepwin Member

    Messages:
    336
    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    This thread caught my eye as I'm thinking similar things. I got the graflex (which I'm trying to debug focus issues..that's another thread) which I like but at some point I know I'll want a better 120mm and will be looking at the options discussed here. I've always liked the Mamiyas and I've seen some packages on KeH (a well known dealer in the states.) If there is a similar type of dealer in the UK I'd look and see what they have as you have someone standing behind it...not the case with "the bay."
     
  9. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,579
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you for the thoughtful responses.

    As I said in my OP, there is no UK equivalent of KEH. The closest we have is LCE, who while they now primarily retail new digital equipment, also sell used film equipment. Their stockholding is however nowhere near the range and depth of KEH (although in the pre-digital world, they had a similar range and rep)

    Unfortunately, prices in Japan don't reflect those in the UK. A Mamiya 6 in decent used condition - with a single standard or medium-wide lens - will cost around £1000 from a reputable dealer. A 500CM (in "user" condition) can be around the £550 mark.

    I'd already looked at Juergen Kreckel's site, and it's a mine of information. He has a good rep too. VAT and Import Duty is chargeable on all goods over a certain value coming from outside the EU, whether from a private individual or not. At the same time, it's a bit of a lottery as to whether you get hit for it - I suppose it must depend on how stringent the Border agency are feeling on a particular day, or how scrupulous the carrier is about reading the customs declarations on each package. I know of someone who got charged when a camera he had sent to Fedka for repair was returned, as the charges are also able to be levied on services.

    I suppose I will have to revisit my aversion to TLRs, but I simply dislike the way they look. It's important that a camera is something you want to pick up and feel happy holding. If I pick up a 500 and it felt good, then the size issue would disappear in a moment ...

    The P6 option is a nice thought out of left field ... annoyingly, had I been in this spot about 18 months ago, I could have bought a pair of MF SLRs (a P6 and what I think was some sort of old Pentax MF) for a tenner at a local charity shop ... instead, I picked them up, smirked a bit at their quaintness and moved on ... and I hadn't come across the Bronica C, that looks a very interesting option indeed.

    There's no rush. My picture-taking and general approach to photography is slowing down and becoming more thoughtful, and perhaps one day I'll even use a tripod ... so I can wait 'til the right thing turns up.

    Finally, though, any thoughts on handholding the MF SLRs? (Sharpness is no longer my most significant goal when I take photos)
     
  10. film_man

    film_man Member

    Messages:
    751
    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    Location:
    London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Forget LCE. Try ffordes, mifsuds and ApertureUK.com. I have bought nearly everything I currently own from them and prices are reasonable plus you get 3-6 months warranty. Aperture is the most expensive and they generally deal in high end stuff (you won't find cheap TLRs or Bronicas there) but they are local to me so I have bought most of my Hasselblad stuff from them purely as I can just go and check it out.

    Handholding. I have a Hasselblad 500ELX and I had a 501CM and Bronica SQB. I can do 1/60 on either of them reasonably successfully with the 80mm lens if I'm not too bothered about pin sharp results when using the prism. With the WLF it is a bit more hit miss, probably due to how I hold the camera. Others may find the opposite. I know...not much help... :smile:
     
  11. Alex Muir

    Alex Muir Member

    Messages:
    406
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Location:
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I have a Bronica SQAm which is motorised with a built in grip and hand strap. It works for hand held shots with the prism finder, but you wouldn't want to carry it very far. The SQA body is very light, but the weight soon piles on when you add a finder, back and lens. The backs are surprisingly heavy, as is a prism finder. I don't know how the weight compares with Hasselblad equipment.
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,124
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I like using my TLR's I have a Yashicamatc124 in Turkey and a mint 1960's rolleiflex here in the UK which hjas just been joined by an MPP Microcord. I've found a TLR goes down well with the public and are recognised as "serious" cameras anywhere in the world. You should try using one.

    Ian
     
  13. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,579
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's not that I don't consider TLRs to be "serious" - far from it - but they're sort of "not my thing".
    But you are quite right, Ian, I must try one again, as the last time I handled one was probably 40 years ago.

    One difficulty these days is that I find it hard to lay hands on anything. One can find plenty of pictures and information on the internet, but down here in the sticks in North Dorset at least, finding film cameras "in the flesh" is hard work. The chap from whom I bought the Adox is a member of the local camera club - and he is the only member who has any film equipment at all.

    ffordes, Mifsuds and Aperture are indeed places I've been looking, by the way - it's where I got my ideas of prices from. It's not necessary to forget LCE, but they are rather lower down the food chain these days. MW Classic seem to have interesting items from time to time too.

    This is a bit of a "wet day" thread isn't it? If the weather wasn't so vile I'd be outdoors taking pictures with cameras I do own rather than thinking about ones I don't :laugh:
     
  14. elekm

    elekm Member

    Messages:
    2,056
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2004
    Location:
    New Jersey (
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    You likely should buy a camera that has been serviced, because at this point, nearly any camera will need some attention.

    The older folding cameras will need to have shutters, lenses and viewfinders cleaned, while Japanese cameras will need new light seals, if they have them.

    Of course, this often raises the price.

    Next, the format: 6x4.5, 6x6 or 6x9. Certainly, each has its merits, and if we all had unlimited cash, we could buy one of each. Keep in mind that some cameras are dual format, either by flipping a lever or by inserting a mask into the film chamber.

    With your budget, you could afford a Zeiss Ikonta 6x4.5 or 6x6 or a Mess Ikonta 6x6 (524/16), which has an uncoupled rangefinder. You would want the one with a Tessar lens.

    You probably could pick up a nice Agfa Isolette III with an uncoupled rangefinder and either an Apotar or a Solinar (the better lens). You definitely want one of the models with leather bellows and that has been serviced.

    There are classic Voigtlander Bessa 6x6 models with a Vaskar (triplet) or Skopar (four-element) lens within your price range.
     
  15. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

    Messages:
    715
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2012
    Location:
    Lincoln, UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You shouldn't have problems with the bellows on folders. I know they must prerish eventually, but I regularly use six different folding cameras dating from 1930 to 1954 and they all have good bellows. And the folding viewfinder should not really be a problem. If you have a "real" viewfinder, it does not show you exactly what you are photographing - at the least you get parallax error anywhere nearer than the horizon. Just keep important bits away from the edges and you can crop to achieve perfection.
     
  16. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

    Messages:
    162
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hello;
    What is your buget for a camera? I will get quite a bit of flack so here goes. I have a Kiev 60 sytem that I use on a regular basis. I like using the waistlevel finder but have prisms. The stock 80/90mm lens opens up to f/2.8 and some of my best photo's have been taken with this setup. These should be cheap on the other side of the pond. Just my two cents, Steven.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,230
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi pdeeh:

    sorry to throw another log on the fire
    but there are older, 1940s/50s mamiya folders that are quite small
    ( can fold up and fit in your pocket ) and have a copal type 5 leaf shutter.
    they don't really go for too much $$ and they work very well.
    i had one and used it every day for a few years and loved it.

    good luck !
    john
     
  18. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,579
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'll keep my eyes open for the old Mamiyas (seem hard to find over here) and Kievs ...

    In the meantime, I've laid hands on a 500C/M and while it's big and heavy, it nevertheless remains a definite possible. Unfortunately the example I used had a little mechanical problem so I didn't buy it. Beautiful machine of course, and the test roll looks deadly sharp despite everything being handheld in dim woodland (mirror lockup is a godsend isn't it?)

    However I've also realised if I drop my hankering for a WLF then another possibility swings into view - one of the older Fuji 645 rangefinders. I happen to like 4:3 aspect (though square is lovely), plus with an eye-level camera I can use portrait and landscape.

    A GS645S is well within budget, the slightly wider lens is a bonus to me, plus they seem to have a good rep for reliability ... and they aren't 60 years old. Mind you I've got 60 in closer sight than I'd like ...