Alex, I'll cast another vote for Jurgen Kreckel. He Cla'd and made new bellows for all of these folding cameras for me - excellent work!
1. Voigtlander Bessa II with coated Color-Skopar 105/3.5 lens in Synchro-Compur shutter. 6 X 9 cm images on 120 rollfilm.
2. Voigtlander Perkeo 6x6 with coated Color-Skopar in Prontor Shutter.
3. Ansco Super Speedex 6x6 with 75mm Solinar lens.
4. Certo Six 6x6 with f2.8 80mm Tessar (this camera is a favorite of mine).
Everything is analog - even digital :D
Thanks Tom and Matt for adding to the recommendation for Jurgen. I've been looking at his website; looks like he's on the ball with these cameras.
Another vote for Jurgen. I've bought several cameras from him. He sells great cameras,he fixes them when they need more work, and he ridiculously underprices his work.
As for specific recommendations, let me speak up for the 6x6 Balda Super Baldax. Folders are nice in theory but they can be cumbersome to use. Most lack features like a coupled rangefinder or a reliable film advance/frame counter. Their absence, I think, is the reason why many are enchanted by the idea of a folder, but far fewer end up shooting one on a regular basis.
If you want those features, that knocks out a wide range of cameras -- the Perkeos, most Isolettes, and many others recommended above. At first glance, the Zeiss Super Ikonta would seem to fill the bill. But beware! The frame spacing on those Ikontas is a mess with modern films, and frames often touch upon and even overlap each other.
Then there is the Balda. It sports a great lens and shutter. The lens is coupled to the rangefinder. The entire lens moves to focus the camera. (Most folders rely on an adjustable front element in a fixed lens mount.) The camera has an automatic frame advance and counter that works well. It has everything and it works like a dream.
As for 6x9s, my girlfriend shoots 95 percent of her work with an Agfa Record III and will not be separated from it. She does not seem to have film flatness problems others have mentioned. Her Record has the midlevel Apotar lens, not the fancier Solinar. It was fine enough to win her second place in Ilford's just-concluded postcard competition here on APUG.
Ensign Selfix 820. 6x9, 105mm lens, solid build, compact and goes for round about £40 for a good one. I got one off e-bay, have a look at the equipment page at http://www.richard-littlewood.com to see what I went through so I could use this camera with Delta 3200.
I can recommend what I own, a 6x9 Zeiss Ercona with a Jena Tessar 105mm f/3.5 T* on a East German Tempor shutter.
Last edited by André E.C.; 09-25-2006 at 07:37 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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I have only one folder as of now: An Agfa Billy that's about three times my age. The lens is sharp enough when stopped down and I haven't tried it wide open because it's not rangefinder-focused. I'll try it one of these days when I'm feeling brave. A folder I'm looking at getting, though, is the Mamiya 6 IV. 6x6 coupled rangefinder camera with a 75/3.5 lens. Coated, I believe.
No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.
I love folders...
I recently picked up a Billy Record II (6x9) from Certo6 and I love it! I have had no flatness issues either. If your pocket is a tad wide it will fit and the one I got from Jurgen is in perfect working order, new bellows, CLA'd ect. I love it so much that I am also getting a Russian folder from Fedka...the Iskara in 6x4,5 format! This path have been a mistake...I see less use of my Bessa L in my future!
I think the Rolls Royce of 6x6 folder is the Agfa Super Isolette/Ansco Super Speedex. Just one notch above everything else. The Iskra is a nice second, a bit heavier, a bit more "russian" but the lens is every bit as good, and the rangefinder is a bit bigger (and has longer base too). Both are quick to shoot with their coupled rangefinder, are unit focussing, and have an automatic film advance (fragile, in the xase of the Iskra)
On 6x9 I use Super Ikonta C 530/2 and Moskva 5. Once again the Zeiss is superbly built, and even it's uncoated Tessar is incredibly sharp. The Moskva is more of an acquired taste, the "lefty" feeling when using it is a bit wierd, but it still makes fantastic 6x9 slides !
Richard, I'm glad your Selfix 820 is a good 'un. Mine's 105/3.8 Xpres produces images that are, at the same aperture, distinctly less sharp than my humble 101/4.5 Ektar does on a 2x3 Graphic. I've checked as best I can and the Ensign's lens seems to be in collimation.
Originally Posted by richard littlewood
Since the Graphic has other advantages and the Selfix won't go in a normal pocket, the Selfix stays home.
A coupled rangefinder is a nice thing, but it's not that hard to get used to a shoe mount rangefinder, if you use it regularly. The Perkeo II does have a reliable frame counter that will always get you 13 exposures on a roll, if you want--not too useful for negative film, because the extra frame won't fit on a contact sheet, but it's handy for slide film.
I suppose we all have different uses for folders. I like them as handheld cameras, usually with fast film so I can shoot at 1/200 sec. or faster outdoors, and ideally around f:8-16. If I need a tripod, I might as well use a bigger camera.
Film flatness issues are the kind of thing most people don't notice without comparing results with a camera or back that has really good flatness, like a Linhof Super-Rollex back, which weighs more (just the back) than most 6x9 folders (the entire camera). Even the best folders are ultimately designed as tourist cameras, and this is where it shows up, in my opinion. That said, they are a lot of fun, can go anywhere, and can still give great results compared to 35mm.