Wanting to have my cake and eat it ...
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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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.
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 !
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 ...