I have one of the Moskva-5's. I am finding that to get a really sharp neg handheld you have to use the 1/250sec setting and stop down to at least f8. Otherwise it is a really cheap and great way to get into 6x9.
One of the worst blunders in my wheeling-and-dealing is that I let go of a pristine Agfa Record III with Solinar lens. It was not at all expensive at the time but now it is getting appreciated by users, so prices are on the up, but still below that of comparable Super Ikontas etc. It has an uncoupled rangefinder (no big deal for me) and the Solinar lens is first-class, comparable (and at times superior to) the famed Zeiss Tessar, although most are found with lesser optics. I still haven't forgiven myself for selling it.
Another often-forgotten marque is the Ensign, from the UK; the Selfix 820 was equipped with a variety of lenses, but go for a Ross Xpress, prices are also on the rise but the glass is worth it too.
The main thing about folding cameras is that, mechanically, some of them do not fare too well over the years; even the Ikontas can suffer from the camera front getting wobbly, so it is an important thing to check.
I have three 6x9 cameras and I love all of them. One is a Moskva-5 -- coupled rangefinder, f/3.5 Tessar copy (coated), everything works except the latch that keeps the back closed, and friction does hold it shut (and I keep it in the everready case for insurance). On a tripod, it'll deliver images that are sharp into the 16x20 enlargement range easily. Mine cost $72, shipped from Ukraine, including a 6x6 format mask, and when it arrived appeared to have been freshly serviced.
The second is a 1928 or older Voigtlander Rollfilmkamera -- 6x9 only, unit focusing Skopar f/4.5, uncoated of course. Very simply made camera, lots of obvious wear -- and much, much easier to hand hold than the Moskva; it has a waist level finder that lets me cradle the camera with my left hand while I release the shutter with my right. Scale focusing isn't a big handicap with a little practice, and I have several cameras that focus by scale (my first 35 mm was scale focus, a well-used Pony 135 around 1972). The only way to tell the negatives from those made in the Moskva is to check for rounded or square corners on the mask.
Third one is currently waiting for verification that bellows repair was successful -- a Wirgin Auta 6.3, front-element scale focus with Wirgin Gewironar f/6.3 (coated triplet) in a cheap Vario shutter (T, B, 25-50-100) and compact folding frame finder; with 6x4.5 format masks. Before the bellows leaks got too obtrusive, it was my favorite walking around camera. The most compact 6x9 folder I've seen, this one fits in a coat pocket and is not much over half the volume of the Moskva -- it's both thinner and less tall, though not significantly narrower (6x9 and two 120 spools has a minimum size). And the images are great -- the lens isn't fast enough to get soft wide open; f/6.3 is still in the good range even for a Cooke Triplet design. It's light, easy to hold steady, reasonably quick to operate, and I really like the ability to shoot 6x4.5 and get 16 on a 120 roll with the 105 mm lens. It was my favorite -- hopefully will be again when the bellows repair has been confirmed.
Of the three, the Moskva is the best camera, technically -- but I have no plans to give any of them up.
Oh, yeah -- the Rollfilmkamera came to me in trade for a lens and shutter that cost $10 plus my labor cleaning and unjamming the shutter; the Wirgin cost $10 plus shipping.
Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.
You can probably find a Voigtlander Bessa I with a decent lens and shutter in the $100 range. No rangefinder, but there were separate rangefinders made that fit into the flash shoe. I have one for my Bessa I, and it's a pretty good combination. Given that it really is "6x9 in a coat pocket", it's a pretty amazing system. The negatives aren't up to the quality of something like a modern SLR, but if you shield the lens well and make sure you're avoiding camera movement (fast shutter speed or tripod) you can get some pretty great results from a camera like this.
I love old folders...wish I had more time to shoot with mine.
Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.
Ok. Once again, now much shorter - lost the message when I sent it the first time.
Yuri B. aka Fedka is a good one - lives in NY, gives the stuff a Service and Cleaning before shipping and takes them back if you aren´t satisfied.
The Moskvas are nice cameras, but many have seen much (ab-) use in their life and much lesser service. Don´t buy a "As new" (there is a reason those were never used) nor a "beater" - this applies to all folders. Check the Struts for alignment, check the RF and lens for alignment and infinity (contact me if you need to learn how to do that, it´s both simple and important). Check the back cover for faded red windows or lost bolts on the sliding covers.
Never let the folder´s front cover "snap in", never force anything - that may bent the struts.
The Moskva has all the bells&whistles like full range shutter, 4 element lens (Single coated), a robust shutter - but at the cost of being bulky and heavy in comparison with more simple folders.
A 10EUR Agfa Billy 6,3 w/o RF will fit in the pockets of my pants and it´s light - the Moskva asks for a coat and your hand will be tired after a few hours "out on the street".
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Everyone here is such an amazing source of information! I will look into the Moskva-5 but I'm afraid I'll keep it to myself. Mongo, do you have specific brand name for the RF to be used with the Bessa I ?
Last edited by Michel Hardy-Vallée; 04-17-2005 at 12:23 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Cyrillic not handled
Certo6 (Jurgen) will often sell Voigtlander rangefinders on eBay.
Originally Posted by mhv
Another option is at Home Depot (or the like). They have rangefinders with laser pointers built in. Point at a subject with the laser, press a button and it uses ultrasound to locate the distance to the object. ~$30.
check Ebay internationally for russian BLIK and german Watameter - they are cheap (10EUR or so) and plenty and quite decent.
OTOH guessing the distance and applying hyperfocal focussing techniques isn´t that difficult... since I learned that I don´t use my Watameter anymore.
Several people have mentioned the Moskva-5s. I have one. It's a really nice camera, I like it a ton, but it's surprisingly hard to hold steady for handholding. I'm not really sure why, but I think it's because the camera's design naturally wants you to grip the back with both hands and that's not as steady as cradling it. Which is not to say that anybody's getting mine without a fight.
I've got a couple - a Moskva 5 and a Franka Rolfix II. The former has a coupled RF, the latter none at all.
The Moskva, especially when stuck on a tripod is extremely sharp, and cost me less than $20.
The Franka, which is the top spec version of its type, it also pretty good, but not quite as sharp. It is easier to handhold though, and has the benefit of a threaded lens for easier fitment of filters. It has a snapshot setting (hyperfocal distance and f-stop), so can be shot quite quickly.
The East German Ercona II is also quite well regarded, and there are the usual West German folders.