A 6x9 question
I love to shoot a variety of formats. Normally I shoot 35mm, 645 and 6x6. I've been thinking about giving 6x9 a try just for kicks and maybe to get a different perspective. Now my budget would be limited so most likely we're talking a folder. I do have a couple Kodak 6x9 folders but since they are 620, they get no use (I hate respooling.)
I develop my own black and white and use super cheap Arista (Foma) so the price per negative is not a huge problem. My question is more, can a 6x9 folder give me a decent shot that I can then make a contact print of? Is it not even worth it when I plan on using a lower priced folder?
Like I said, I like to goof around when I take pictures and the quirky cameras make it a bit more fun. I'm not really looking for a toy camera so some quality should be there.
When many of these folders were current, 6x9 was often contact printed, so there's no reason not to.
Film flatness is often an issue with 6x9 folders.
Considering the school enlargers don't hold bigger than 6x6, I would have to contact print.
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
Same with all folders really. You just don't advance the film until you are ready to shoot, nor do you open the camera a zillion times. I'm sure some mods could be worked up too to keep it flat.
Film flatness is often an issue with 6x9 folders.
Flatness is a bigger issue with 6x9 because the film is bigger. It's part of the reason that I've settled on a 6x6 folder after owning a 6x9.
I've got a 6x9 super ikonta with the zeiss 3.8 tessar and it takes beautiful pictures - no problem with film flatness that I've noticed. I generally only enlarge this format to 5x7 or thereabouts.
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With a contact print, it will be hard NOT to have an excellent print, presuming focus, exposure, and dev are in the general neighborhood of being correct. I typically scan my 6x9 negs on a 2400 dpi flatbed scanner - make prints based on that - and 6x9 can stand a great deal of enlargement; so a contact print should be dynamite.
My question is more, can a 6x9 folder give me a decent shot that I can then make a contact print of?
I have a number of Zeiss Nettars and Agfa Isolettes - all very inexpensive. The biggest problem is finding one that does not leak light, and in the case of the Agfa's, one that does not have a frozen front cell. But the image quality is excellent, primarily because the negative is so much larger than 35mm. A lens really doesn't have to be all that great if you're not going to enlarge much - in the case of a contact print, well, again, it should be fantastic quality even with a cheap folder.
Is it not even worth it when I plan on using a lower priced folder?
Note to Self: Tse-Tse Fly - No Antidote
I've got a few 6x9 folders - in face, one of my better ones is making its way around the world right now in one of the "Traveling Camera" thingys.
The best I have is a 6.5x9cm plate camera (or two). Used with sheet film they are "real LF cameras", with limited movements and perfet film flatness. With rollfilm holders the're more "Holgaesque", with light leaks in odd places, buckling film and all that. Sheet film for these is still fairly easily available.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I own and use several 6x9 folder cameras. Just had a tripod mount break off one, so now that is a shelf item. I managed to do my own repairs on these, unsticking the front lens element, cleaning and adjusting the shutters, and replacing the bellows with some NOS items trimmed to fit. The source folder cameras I started with were AGFA or Ansco folder cameras, several with a limited Vario shutter, and one with a Compur Rapid shutter. The Vario and Pronto shutter versions are the simplest and cheapest, with many working fine after a little exercise. The Prontor multiple speed shutters are complicated to get working nicely, and Compur shutters involve close to the same difficulty level, though both tend to hold up quite well except at the fastest settings. The shutters from many 6x6 or 6x4.5 folder cameras of the same era sometimes are exchangeable, though the lenses will not generally cover 6x9. Always a good idea to have spares or extras when working on these.
Frozen front focusing lens group/elements seem to be all too common. I use a Sorathane rubber pad, 99% alcohol and gentle force with an art eraser to work these apart. Some old lubricant hardens and becomes like glue. A common mistake some people can find with a folder is that the entire front elements can turn in the mounting, rather than the front element actually moving to focus. The three element lenses are the easiest to work on, especially most of the AGFA, Ansco, or Balda folders. Most three element folder lenses focus by moving the first element closer or further from the second element. The third element is on the back of the camera, inside the bellows. On many of the simpler and lower cost AGFA, Ansco, or Balda 6x9 choices, the lens elements are located and not glued in place. This makes disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly easier, if you want to tackle this repair.
Bellows usually leak light, and are easy to confirm with a flashlight shining through the bellows from inside the camera (try in dark room to make this easier). Replacement bellows are tough to find, though I got lucky with this item. Old leather bellows seem to hold up better than the more plastic bellows. I use ink for screenprinting (as in T-shirt printing) as a patch material, though there are numerous other methods and materials. If you try too thick a repair material, or something that does not flex, you can have problems like not being able to close the camera, or the repair flaking off (sometimes inside the camera).
So if you want to try repairing a low cost folder, my suggestion is to buy two or three as spare parts. You can find lots of these on EBAY at really low prices; despite claims by many of working cameras it might be easier to assume a really low cost camera will not work properly. There are a few more expensive repaired or restored cameras on EBAY, so that is another option, and often only around two or three times what it could cost to do the repairs on your own.
I found a funny issue on film flatness. Many of these folder cameras can pop open when triggering the clamshell release button. If you let it fly open, and the bellows is not full of holes, then the negative pressure can suck the film partially into the film gate. Open the clamshell slowly and in a controlled manner to avoid this problem. Besides that, it is a big area of film, though can produce some surprisingly nice image results. I have run transparency films through mine, and had very nice large prints made from those images, so your contact printing should work very nicely.
I don't think you should spend lots of money on these, since even the cheap items can produce nice images when they are working as they should. If you have never done a repair on something this small, or not sure about trying that route, then spend a little more to buy a working folder from someone. Most of all, have lots of fun using these.
Some of my favorite contact prints when Azo was still available were shot in a 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 Speed Graphic - essentially 6x9. I matted them on the 8x10 cutouts left over from my larger mats. Some people are put off by the small size, but other folks seem to like a print they can hold in their hands.
I think contact prints would be fine. I have a couple early Bessa 6x9 folders with uncoated Skopar lenses. They produce sharp small prints. Also the negative size with these is a true 9cm so the contacts will be even bigger. I known they don't fit my 23c carriers. But if you really want to play a 2x3 Graphic is pretty cheap. Then you can use all sorts of lenses to see what they do.