Yashica 124, Minolta Autocord, Rolleicord V - tell me about them...

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Matus Kalisky, May 18, 2007.

  1. Matus Kalisky

    Matus Kalisky Subscriber

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    Hello,

    in contrast to many other people who are comming the MF from 35mm world I am taking the other way round. Just a year ago I entered the LF world with 4x5 Tachihara (what a joy!) and now I would like to try out the middle way.

    As most of mine investment still goes into LF (tripod head, lenses, holders, ...) I do not have too much left for this adventure. Let's say - the very top would be $200.

    So - originally (before the LF) I was lusting after Mamiya 6 (I like ti square!) but found it too expensive (at that point I was not fully aware of the expenses in LF :smile:.

    So I consider something cheaper, but still capable of good results. Indeed the cameras I have mentioned are supposed to be all good although they may not play the same league. 124(G) is supposed the be the cheapest, Rolleicord simply good and Autocord (my preference) hard to find. Working lightmeter would be a nice plus but not a necessity

    So - finaly my questions: - if you would compare these three in the sense of the features that makes the life esay or difficult ( focusing screen , focusing, setting the aperture and shutter speed, changing the film etc) and also in the way the image is rendered.

    I guess all of them are pretty good once stopped to f/11 but what about f4? Vigneting? Softness? What about the "bookeh" ?

    Last but not least - planned usage: To be able to take it everywhere, so landscapes, cityscapes, occasional portraits.

    I am located in Germany close to Frankfurt, but I am not really aware of any good camera workshop or a place where one could find such a camera. eBay is allways there, but well, you know.

    Your opinions and suggestions will be highly appreciated.

    thanks

    Matus
     
  2. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    There are a number of people on APUG who love both Yashica and Minolta - but I never did! All the cameras you mention have Tessar-type lenses with typical Tessar performance - good micro-contrast, good center definition at full aperture, edges coming in about 3 stops down, corners probably never quite equalling the center even at f22. I found both Yashica and Minolta had fragile shutters and were generally not nearly as robust as a Rollei. The post-war Rolleicords were the result of typical German product management of the time - build a great product at high investment cost, find your selling price is too high, invest yet more money to make the product cheaper. In the case of the Rolleicord, the cost-cutting fell on the film winding (not linked to shutter wind) and the shutter release, which on certain models was a rather horrible "push one way to wind, the other way to fire" affair. Otherwise, I think Rolleicord and Rolleiflex build quality was identical. I never made friends with the built-in meter on a Rollei - you need to angle the camera down and then read the meter at an angle of 90° to the scale, which is hard unless you have a neck like a giraffe!
     
  3. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    The difference between the Rolleicord and the Rolleiflex was not in quality of construction but was in number of features.

    The Rolleiflex wind on lever which also cocks the shutter was a feature intended for faster, more convenient handling than the Rolliecord's separate wind on knob and shutter cocking lever. However, it is also something else to go wrong.

    Although David does not like the combined shutter cocking/tripping lever, I don't have a problem with it using it hand held and if you use a cable release with it on a tripod, it is irrelevant.

    The only other major difference is that the Rolleiflex has rotary controls for shutter speed and aperture whereas the Rolleicord has levers.

    A later Rolleicord with a Schneider lens will produce results which all but the most critical eye would see as identical to the Rolleiflex.

    If you were to get a Rolleicord, I don't think you will be disappointed. Mine is my most used camera.

    Steve.
     
  4. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    Although I have been a Yashica user, 124 and D for 30 years the Rollie is better built, but Yashicas are excellent value for the money. The other option is a Mamyia 220 , or ever a C 2 or C33 so you have the option of interchangable lens.
     
  5. micek

    micek Member

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    I have a Rolleicord V and a Rolleiflex GX: there is a difference of over 1000USD between them, but the one that comes travelling with me is the Rolleicord. It is lighter, smaller and when I look at the negatives taken with it I never feel short -changed. I rarely enlarge MF beyond 10", though.
     
  6. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    I have an Autocord and have had a late-model Yashica (124, I think). The Autocord is by far the sharper one, even though it may have a decentering problem. It's too bad the screen is so dim! Considering the age, however, it's a great camera.
     
  7. markbb

    markbb Member

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    another vote for the Autocord, especially as it has the ability to take multiple exposures. In terms of image quality, my Rolleiflex T stands head and shoulders above the autocord and Yashica.
     
  8. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    The Yashica 124 series seems to have cult status while the earlier D, 635, Yashicamat, and several other models are often overlooked. Their optical performance should equal the 124 series, but they lack some operating conveniences. The Yashinon, not the three element Yashikor, lenses I've used have been good. Yashica reliability isn't as good as I'd expect from a Rollie or perhaps Mamiya.
     
  9. Doug Smith

    Doug Smith Member

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    I have both a Rolleicord Va and a Yashica 124G. The Yashica's main appeal was that it takes 220 film. I say 'was' because a few weeks ago the winding mechanism gave out so it's currently sitting on a shelf. The Va is a great, take anywhere camera, because it is quite light. I wouldn't recommend shooting much wider than 5.6. And be sure to get a lens shade as it flares easily. But you won't be disappointed in the pictures it makes. Good luck.
     
  10. Matus Kalisky

    Matus Kalisky Subscriber

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    Thank you for all your aswers and opinions.

    When I started to think about a TLR the Yashica was the first on the list. But it seems that nice once sell for around 150 euro I started to look also at Autocord and Rolleicord. I did give the Mamiya C a thought and indeed they have a lot to offer but seem to be more bulky and also much heavier.

    Concerning the three candidates mentioned - I would ilke to ask about the focusing screens. What I have heard up to now could be complilled into following:

    - 124G rather dim
    - Autocord - presumably brught, maby not the early models
    - Rolleicord - presumbly darker than Autocord.

    What is your experience?

    Also - not m=being a main concern - how does shooting wide open looks with these cameras? Is it possible to get still some reasonable resolution in focus even at small apertures (up to f4). I mean - at the end to get a strong contrast between in and out of focus areas. Although out of the price range - would a 2.8F rolleiflex fare better in this sense?
     
  11. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    You can easily get a Rolleiflex Automat for $200 these days.
     
  12. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    The viewing system of all the TLRs you are considering consists of a lens (almost always f2.8), a mirror, a glass screen and a Fresnel overlay. In theory they should all be equally bright. Any differences will be due mainly to the condition of individual examples rather than variations between one model and another. Mirrors in particular, being front-silvered, can tarnish with age - even if they look OK, they can be quite a bit dimmer than they were when new.

    As I mentioned earlier, wide-open performance is good in the center with a Tessar-type lens - the main benefit of stopping down is to extend good definition to the edges of the picture and eventually the corners. Planar lenses from the 1950s and 1960s in general offer higher resolution, slightly lower micro-contrast and above all a flatter field - depending on the way you judge sharpness, you might feel a Planar is not as sharp.
     
  13. Richard Kelham

    Richard Kelham Member

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    Yes, naturally, as it has a Planar lens and is nearly a stop faster too. Have you considered a Rolleiflex 3.5E or F?

    I had a Yashicamat many years ago and found it very fragile – I broke it several times! Repairs for Yashica and Minolta might be difficult, which is another good reason to buy a Rollei.

    Tessar/Xenar type lenses are not good wide open (as David said) – I would use f8 at least.

    Good hunting.



    Richard
     
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  15. Matus Kalisky

    Matus Kalisky Subscriber

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    - Hm, haven't thought of the Rolleiflex Automat. But they are quite old, aren't they? What advantage do they bring over the Rolleicord Vb ?

    - How does the performance of Tessar lenses (Rolleiflex 3.5T or Automat) compare to Xenar lenses (Rolleicord V)? I would guess they are of similar design...

    - Indeed I am having a look on the Rolleiflex 3.5 C, E or F models too, but they are pricey (~ > 300 euro). Rolleiflex 3.5 T seems to be cheaper but then they have Tessar not Planar/Xenar lens (AFAIK)
     
  16. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    1) Automat models were produced both before and after WWII.

    2) The big difference is the Automat feature - pair of rollers at the bottom of the camera inside, film backing paper is fed between them, rollers detect start of film. Nice to have but not vital.

    3) T does stand for Tessar - Rollei T is all-time favorite Rollei model of many people - including me!
     
  17. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    4. Automat cocks the shutter and winds the film with the crank.

    5. Will not accept the prism finder.
     
  18. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    Anything Rollei is expensive here in Japan. A Vb will still go for about $650+ :^P

    Yashicas can also be expensive, since I guess lots of people think TLR = Yashica. A, B & C models aren't that much, however.

    Minolta Autocords aren't very expensive, which is surprising since I've heard they have quite nice lenses.
     
  19. Matus Kalisky

    Matus Kalisky Subscriber

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    Thanks for your input.

    Hmm, the thing with apparent sharpness of Planar is interesting but I do
    agree that sharpness is not only number of lines per milimeter resloved. But I do also agree that sharpness is not the only (often even not the main) concer about the lens.

    I had a look on prices and if I want to stay under $ than from the Rolleiflex family only the Automat and 3.5T can be considered. In this case I suppose that the 3.5T is a better option, right?

    Well frankly speaking - Minolta C330 & C220 models look very interesting thanks to their ability to change lenses - but I try telling myself that I want a light and not too big camera :smile:

    Actually the number of accesories are not so important to me - I would be interested only in lenshood and some basic filters. I do not need a prism finder.

    - David -

    how does your 3.5T performs at let's say f4 ?

    - IloveTLRs -

    hey, maybe you could find for me a nice clean working Autocord CDS out there :wink:
     
  20. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    You should note that sharpness is a subjective quality and depends mainly on micro-contrast, whereas resolution can be measured in line pairs per mm but may not be the main criterion for pictorial photography. If you have more of one, you will automatically get less of the other! In an extreme case, for example, a process lens (designed to work with high-contrast copy films) might have fantastic resolution but its results might not look very sharp at all! As has been said before, Planars have flatter fields, slightly higher resolution, slightly lower contrast.

    The diiference between a postwar Automat (don't buy a pre-war Automat, they have uncoated lenses and are really too old to use now) and a Rollei T is that the T will be 8 or 10 years younger, will probably have a slightly better (but still single) lens coating and will take a prism. In terms of lens performance, you can use a Tessar with confidence at full aperture and get good center sharpness - as mentioned several time before, stopping down may improve center sharpness slightly but its main effect is to sharpen up the edges and (ultimately) the corners of the picture.

    If you do choose a T, I very much doubt if you will regret it!

    Regards,

    David
     
  21. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    I have a couple of shots taken with a pre war Automat on my web page, just click on link below and go to classic cameras / Jan 2007.
    I have to agree with David in that my late model T has the best apparent sharpness, but I still prefer the results of the 3.5 F, IMHO the sweetest of the Rolleis.
    The late model Xenars on the 'Cords are still capable of excellent results with a little less contrast than the Tessar, but still good sharpness.
    I have never seen a Yashicamat that has lasted too long as the winding mechanism is delicate and prone to failure. If money is tight best to go for a Rolleicord 1V, or for a fair bit extra, the V. You won't be unhappy with either.
    Tony
     
  22. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    Sounds like I should be selling my restored Rolleis in Japan!


     
  23. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I will recommend the V (again). When I print anything taken with mine I wonder why I own any other cameras.

    Steve.
     
  24. Matus Kalisky

    Matus Kalisky Subscriber

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    - toby -

    I am aware of existence and basic features of Rolleicord V (or Va, Vb) but newer heard of "1V" version. Could you tell me a bit more about it?

    - IloveTLRs -

    so, do we make a deal ? :smile:
     
  25. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I have a Rolliecord V, recently sold a C220 and used a new-at-the-time 124G in high school. Other than the meter, I much prefer the Rolleicord. It just feels like like such a nice piece of kit and it a pleasure to use (of course I'm also older now, so tastes change!). The weak link in all of these are the relatively dim screen. I find that I always use the magnifier and hold it up to my eye. No big deal. I think I will be getting a Maxwell screen soon, though. The fact that I am spending over $100 on a screen for a camera that cost me $130 should tell you how much I like it......

    Mark
     
  26. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    There are certainly pre-war Automats still around in usable condition. I had one when I was a student in the 1960s and in fact took my most famous photograph (of David Bowie, see APUG gallery) with this. At the same time, I remember screwing up an assignment during this period to photograph amateur theatricals (not very bright stage lighting) because the viewfinder was so dim and I couldn't focus properly. I abandoned a Rollei T a few years ago for the same reason (great lens, but I couldn't see to focus) and thought I had had it with Rolleis, but last year I bought another T on e-bay which was alleged to have been fully serviced (and had been!). This has a nice bright finder and I hope to keep this example indefinitely. I still have a pre-war Automat as well, the taking lens looks OK and the shutter works, but the viewfinder is mighty murky!

    Regards,

    David