I have one of these and I love it. Really fun, light, compact, and capable of making good photos. Mine has a minor intermittent light leak problem that I'm struggling with, I think light is getting in through the green window and bouncing around behind the pressure plate.... I expect to figure out how to fix it eventually. The bellows are fine.
Oddly enough, I started reading this thread because I'd also like a camera just like OP, and would love to hear other's experience with the different choices. I really like the 6x9 format and don't care about inserts for smaller frames. The foldex 30 has a tripod mount in portrait orientation but not on the bottom for landscape. For slower film, a tripod mount would be a really really good thing to have. I'm looking to add one to mine. The camera was very much made for handheld operation and has a neat feature that lets you trigger the shutter without having to reach out to the lens. I guess that's why they left the tripod mount off the bottom...although I find that hard to understand since so many other details seem well thought out.
Mine was about $20 on the goodwill auction site and it is in very nice condition. At the moment it's my favorite camera for just carrying around. I hope some more people will chime in with experience with different 6x9 folders... for example I think there are some Agfa models where the scale focus winding gets stuck... these are the sorts of things that newcomers like myself need to know to watch out for!
I've had several 6x9 folders, and the Foldex one is my favorite for the most part. It would be nice if it had a faster lens, but it is super sturdy and simple and the Steinheil lens is sharp. I think thy get overlooked because of the slow lens and because of the fact that the other Foldex models all have single element lenses and are basically just folding box cameras.
just scored a promaster tripod + monopod combo for a dollar, plus 22 shipping, so 150-200 worth of support gear for under 25 bucks... keeping my eye open for a folder, tlr or speed graphic or other press camera. my local camera store said they have a baby press with roll back for about 125 complete... I think that might be the way Im heading. I can buy gift cards in any amount and save up for a few bucks at a time.
I just this morning found an Ansco Viking for $25 + $13 shipping. I guess it's a gamble if the scale focus ring is stuck, but I might have a use for the shutter in another project if the camera can't be cleaned up and and used. Either way I'll have fun seeing if I can get it to work...
Im kinda getting to that point, what can I get out of the camera.
The camera my folks got me is a Century, with the 103mm Trioptar. It has a rollfilm "23" on it, so no ground glass. No rangefinder either, so its definitely 'entry level' Stil, its one of the most basic MF 'system' I can get and I am sure will be miles above my 35mm. I am expecting it in a few weeks, when they drive up to visit, also bringing me a little gift from a very nice person here.
Im excited about it and what I can do with it, Im sure its a project that will keep me busy until I can afford a 4x5 view camera.
If it has a lens, somewhere for film and a space between them in the form of a box to keep the darkness in, you can use it to make pictures. Extra features are nice and can help you get to the taking stage but at the time you press the shutter, all that matters is the lens and the film.
I think the important thing is to just get something and start to use it - even if it's not exactly what you want (assuming you know what that is at this stage).
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.