Thank you all for so much good input. The logical side of me says to look more seriously at the Fuji GA645Zi - but I have never owned a camera with auto-focus, my most recent camera that I now own is the 'blad which was built in 1980. I just feel more comfortable with a camera which does not need batteries or have an LCD display, but that may be a prejudice that I should get over. 35mm is another thing which makes sense, and what drove me to get the 'blad was an excellent image that I shot of my son with 35mm, but the tiny negative drives me crazy in the darkroom.
I have time, and will definitely be contacting Jurgen aka certo6 to see what he says....
If you are thinking of Fujis, I have a GS645S which, I think, has the sharpest lens I've ever used. Quite amazing images, consistently.
The rangefinder isn't the best, though. It can be a bit dim and hard to focus in low.
I use several AGFA/Ansco folding cameras, all of which I have refurbished myself. While not easy to work on, someone with reasonable skills could probably fix one. Worst thing, as many mentioned, is the focus often being frozen.
I have been lucky enough to find NOS (New - Old Stock) bellows on EBAY through a couple sellers. On pre-WWII cameras, some of the leather bellows can be repaired using a combination of T-Shirt (screen printing) ink and sunlight curing. My oldest 1937 AGFA Jsolette (6x4.5 and 6x6) has a repaired leather bellows, which has worked great for the last four years. My larger 6x9 cameras all have replacement NOS bellows.
One thing I added was an accessory rangefinder. I found several Präzisz rangefinders after many separate searches through EBAY, and they have been reliable, easy to calibrate, and easy to use. The downside is that they might run more than an AGFA folder.
I almost exclusively use transparency films in my folder cameras. The results from an old uncoated triplet lens are quite amazing. I have a few of the hard to find lens hoods for my old folder cameras, though I don't know if that really helps much. One thing to avoid is shooting into the sun, since flare can be a huge issue.
My suggestion is to get two of whatever you want to take along. Basically either load a different film in each, or use one as a backup camera for the other. Maybe one has a flash sync post, and the other might not, which is another way to do this.
Be careful to open and close these folder cameras slowly. If you let it spring open with film in it (especially on a 6x9) the bellows suction can actually pull the film slightly into the rails area, which ruins film flatness. When closing the camera, make sure that nothing is snagged or blocked, which can help avoid damaging a shutter release arm, or damaging the folding parts. These are very strong cameras, but you don't want to force anything.
A G Studio
The Fuji GA645Zi is unfortunately NOT a FOLDER, and will not meet SWMBO's directive about a pocket camera. It IS a real honey, though.
I just had a Fuji GA645Zi. I found it too heavy and too large to carry around.
It did take nice pictures though.
"There are two ways to avoid most trouble in life: live below your means... and within your seams."
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The Fuji GS645S is a small camera, it's about the same size as a normal sized SLR with a 50mm lens attached (possibly a bit smaller, even). However, there's no way it's pocketable, and I think the same would apply to any non-folding MF camera.
I have one or two (or three or four or more!!) folders, in 6x6 and 6x9 size.
My favourite, due to its handling, lens and viewfinder, is the Iskra (I or II, or I have both). I used this as my primary travel camera when living in Europe. Easy enough to carry around all day, and really nice to use. Make sure you get one from someone that will guarantee the film winding mechanism is working properly (probably the only real weak spot on these cameras).
Next favourite on the list would be my Zeiss Super Ikonta III. This is a bit lighter and a fraction more compact. Then there is the Certo Six, which produces lovely results. There are a couple of minor annoyances with it (I don't find the focus lever convenient to use), but the nice thing is that it takes 40.5mm filters. Probably the best made camera. Then there a a few others...
If you get a good one of the above (preferrably serviced), I think you'll be more than pleased. Most of the pictures in my galleries here were shot with folders.
If you want something a bit more modern, one of the 6x4.5 Fuji folders may be an option, or if you feel you want something that little but bigger, a Plaubel Makina (6x7, somewhat pricey).
The closest I have to a pocketable MF camera is an ancient Zeiss Ikon Ikonta 520. Also, just a little bit taller is the Super Ikonta 530 with has a Tessar lens and a coupled rangefinder.
These are 6x4.5 format cameras made in the 1930's. They have double red window winding.
I am very fond of my Zeiss Nettars, but it's an aquired tase. I also have a Voigtlander Perkeo II like a previous poster, nice camera, fine Skopar lens on it. I have not impressed with the Agfa folders, they seem cheep compared with the others. You might go this route, with the shoe mounted rangefinder or get real good at guessing. At f11, don't make much difference. I would stick to 6x6 or 6x4.5 for film flatness issues.
Personally, I would take a Mamiya C220 TLR. But then, I don't let the girlfriend tell me what camera I can bring. How often do you go to a place like this?
Better than that, I would get a couple Cannon sureshots, a bunch of B&W 135 film. Fast, inconspicous, takes great pictures, won't annoy the wife, fit two of them in your pocket, one gets broken or stolen, oh well. Find them on the bay for less than 10 bucks.
tim in san jose
Where ever you are, there you be.
Actually I travel quite a bit for my work, but it is almost all in the developed world - this year I will make 2 trips to Europs and one to Asia as well as several within the US. Normally when travelling I bring the Hassy with me, sometimes a 35mm, although I am increasingly getting frustrated with the 35mms and every time I use one, I swear that I will get rid of all my 35mm gear and never do that agian. The Guatemala trip is different in that I will going along with my wife, one other adult and nine teenagers. We have told the kids that they cannot bring their normal stuff - Ipods, cell phones etc. Photography will definitely be a secondary part of the trip, and I want to keep that aspect as discrete as possible. We (the adults) will all be wearing photo vests, primarily to carry documentation, first aid kits etc, and the deal is that I can bring a camera that fits in a pocket of the vest - still I don't want to exaggerate.
Originally Posted by k_jupiter
I have used TLRs before, and like them for a lot of different things, but still, I think that for this trip, something which can be carried in a pocket will be a necessity, and a 6x6 folder seems right to me.