George, you've just hit one of my favorite topics, this might be a good reason for us to hook up for a cup of coffee -- I work on Broadway at 47th Street. Aren't you close by?
In a word: Rolleiflex. Yes, you can get one that is less than 20 years old -- they have been in continuous production since 1929 -- but the best Rolleiflexes were made in the 1950s and 1960s. So long as they have not been mistreated, they will outlive you.
If you want, I can bring a few to work one day and let you play around with them. If you want to buy, I enthusiastically recommend Ken Hansen, a legendary camera seller here in the city. Ken closed his shop a few years ago, but he still trades in Rolleiflexes out of his apartment on the upper East side. Ken sends out all cameras for service before reselling them, has Maxwell bright screens installed for superior framing and focusing, and warrants his cameras. You'll pay more than KEH, but you'll get a better camera and the peace of mind of being able to return it uptown to Ken if anything goes wrong with it. Ken's email address: KHPNY19@aol.com.
These are addictive little cameras. Serge Gainsbourg sang about them! Do it.
Originally Posted by Stever
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All lawyers should have Mamiya C series TLRs .
I was a student working in a camera store in the late 1970s when I bought my C330, with the standard 80mm 2.8 (black) lens.
I (and a legion of other photographers too) have shot lots of weddings with it - and if you can shoot weddings you can shoot anything with a camera (unless you need movements).
I've had my camera and lenses serviced once since then (admittedly, I acquired the other three lenses [55mm, 65mm and 135mm] at various times, in the years since). That service was preventative only, not because of any current problems.
Four or five years ago, I found, and my wife and some friends gave me as a birthday present, a used Mamiya C220 body as well. It was and is in mint condition. It was ridiculously cheap, and it was purchased from a store, with a warranty!
The cameras and lenses are relatively simple, and anyone who can service manual cameras, can most likely service them. Even Mamiya still services many of them.
In recent months, I've been playing more with my Mamiya 645 SLRs, but the TLRs are patient.
You can carry a body and three lenses in a very small camera case (for MF).
If you use flash, the leaf shutters in every lens are wonderful.
The C330 series is better for fast action (e.g. weddings) because the film advance and shutter cocking processes are interconnected, but the C220 is lighter, slightly smaller, and simpler.
If you look at my gallery photos, the photo of the "ropes" was shot with my C220. I was able to take it, two lenses, a small flash and some film with me that day in a camera bag that is probably too small to use with a Nikon F5.
If you want to know more, Graham Patterson's website (he posts regularly on APUG) is a great resource:
Personally, I use a prism finder a lot (it's better for handheld use at weddings) but it certainly isn't necessary, and the waistlevel finder on either body is a wonderful combination.
As for parallax, it really doesn't matter much, unless you are shooting at close distances. I have two paramenders - the accessory developed by Mamiya to deal with the problem - the first is an old, simple one, usable on any tripod, while the second is a rare one - a Mamiya tripod head, with paramender built in.
Sanders (who of course is a lawyer too ) is right - the Rollieflexes are wonderful cameras, especially if you are fortunate enough to have a Tele Rollieflex as well as the standard model. Personally, however, I prefer the option of the interchangeable lenses.
if you have questions, don't hesitate to ask.
Due to a sudden change in my economic situation after a surprising find on ebay, I'm considering selling my C3. With 65, 80 and 180mm (? can't remember, will check this weekend when I get home) lenses. It's a heavy beast, so postage will cost a bit. But it's going cheap.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
If you still own a MF-SLR I'd much recommend reconsidering the need of interchangeable lenses. A Mamiya C as the only camera, though bulky, is a fine system. But you already own large and bulky MF-gear do you? OTOH the charm of a Rolleflex, Yashica or whatever other Rollei-clone is, that you can take it with ease literally everywhere.
Originally Posted by copake_ham
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Like Brian, I prefer the Rolleicord over the Rolleiflex for its simplicity. i.e. no self cocking shutter combined with wind on to go wrong. If you want to change lenses though, the Mamiya C series is really the only way to go. My father has a C330 but I haven't had a chance to play with it yet (I mean use it!).
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
C2xx / C3xx
After a quick look at the reactions so far, I believe what I'm about to say has been said already. I'll keep it short.
Interchangeable lenses on a TLR means Mamiya C3/C3xx/C2xx. I didn't even *know* this when I bought my Mamiya C3, but I'm very happy with my choice. Some say it's heavy. But as I don't have another TLR to compare it with, I don't know better I have the C3 with standard 80mm and additionally the 65mm lens (curious what Ole is going to sell, maybe I can get another lens. Well, they always come in pairs...)
It's one nice beast!
-- A sinister little midget with a bucket and a mop / Where the blood goes down the drain --
My introduction to MF was with my Yashicamat 124. Although I have had an SLR since, I found that I liked the operation of the TLR and discovered that square negs are fine too. The fixed lens of the Yash is a bit of a limitation, so I bought a user C220 and a collection of lenses. In one of life's little ironies, after weeks selecting the C220 I was offered a C330f in near mint condition and snapped it up. The system is excellent and quite cheap. The later models can be in very good condition with many years left in them. I found that I frequently lost where I was up to with the C220 exposures as this is wound and cocked separately, the C330 winds and cocks itself so is a little harder for me to mess up. These will also do nice macro work, they just need a little care to deal with the parallax error.
I have to agree with Sanders, if you can afford a Rolleiflex.... go for it! It's not so much about the lenses as the Mamiya, Yashica and Minolta ( I have all three) have great lenses, but the focussing screen. The standard Rollei has a much better screen than the "cords and you can replace them with Beatie screens.
I can also see peoples point in recommending the 'Cord as they are pure simplicity and very reliable, just check the screen before buying to see if it's ok for you.
The earlier Mamiyas had issues with the film transport as did the Yashicas. The best Mamiyas are the C330 or 330s, the problem seemed to be solved.
My favourite non German TLR is the Minolta Autocord, nicely engineered and great optics.
I have a C330S and love it. I would concur with Steve's comments re size and weight (and may steal them to use at a later date - he puts it so much better than I do! ). On good days it's known as "The Brick". On bad days it's known as "The Millstone"!
It does, however, make damn fine pictures. I have the 55, 80S and 180 Super lenses and all are diamond cutters. I use it exclusively for B&W - I did put a roll of Velvia through it and it exposed just fine, but the tonality was not the same as through my Nikon glass (which I find I prefer for this application).
My only real gripe is that a useless focussing scale and the lack of DoF preview conspire to make life tricky at times. This can be worked around with a hotshoe rangefinder and a DoF table, and it wouldn't stop me from recommending the camera system, but it's worth knowing about in advance.
All the best,
Last edited by FrankB; 03-22-2007 at 06:40 AM. Click to view previous post history.
The destination is important, but so is the journey