Wanting to have my cake and eat it ...
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 )
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.
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.
San Diego, CA, USA
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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 paul_c5x4; 12-30-2012 at 06:21 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Wanting to have my cake and eat it ...
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.
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?
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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.
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.
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."
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)
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...
Hasselblad, Mamiya RB, Nikonos, Canon EOS