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  1. #11

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    My only advice is not which camera to buy but what parts of the camera to spend your money on. I would advise finding one that will work day-one without any repairs. Considering that, spend your money on getting a good shutter (all speeds), simple film path, and intact light seals. If you can get that, the rest can be 'lived with'. Having a lot of other built in features beyond that invites as much trouble as it does good, as a lot of these will prove unreliable at best.

    If you have a bit more budget, then you can start thinking about a better lens that will still give good results with the lens wide open.

    Remember, when you get a inexpensive camera, any repair will cost more than you paid for the camera.

    Denis K

  2. #12

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    I used to have a Lubitel, which is about as basic as a TLR gets. I think I paid about £15 UK for it. I took quite a few photos with it that I still like. I've seen cheap Yashicas, and even [once or twice] Rollei TLRs for £50-60, not just 'cords, but beaten up but working 'flexes. You have to be lucky, though.

    I've also seen Kiev 60s and Pentacons for that sort of price. Beaten up, but working, again.

  3. #13

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    The suggestion of a Rolleicord III is a good one. I won't go on for long, as you seem to be wanting a "system".

    I have the earliest Rolleicord [Art Deco; Model 1] and the latest [Vb]. These are simple, robust cameras, both work well. The uncoated f/4.5 Triotar 3-element lens from the mid 1930s is amazing [but in modern times, sounds like it would be a dog!]. Once the shutter is overhauled [and perhaps replace the mirror if it's very old], it should be trouble-free for decades. Over the years, a lot of great work has been done with a fixed-lens Rollei.

  4. #14
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    Since you say you are willing to consider a little higher than $100, you can get a Mamiya 645J body with 120 insert, 80mm lens and a prism in bargain condition from KEH for $148 plus shipping. I would probably recommend considering the regular 645 for about $40 more, but for the lowest possible cost, I think that the J would certainly do the trick. Who knows, you could do better on eBay, but it would probably take a little doing.

    This would get you into a really viable system, when you want a wide angle or tele lens, you know that it will fit any of the 645 bodies you might want to get in the future. Tons of flexibility and lots of great stuff out there for this system.

  5. #15

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    I think it might be worth mentioning that you will lose some functionality using older lenses on newer Mamiya 645. Such as AF (Duh) but there are also some metering and exposure issues. In any case though, the cost of a stable 645 system from KEH for 150.00 is pretty phenomenal. I just bought the 645AF from them and spent 700.00, but I love it soooo much.

  6. #16
    Dave Pritchard's Avatar
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    For under $100, a Yashica-D is hard to beat. Great lens, especially if you get the later Yashinon. If you can't live with shooting a normal 80mm for 2 1/4" format, you will need to up your budget considerably.

  7. #17

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    If you can find an older-model Yashicamat, it's a great fixed-lens TLR. Everyone wants a Yashicamat 124 or 124G, which go for high prices now with the only advantage being a light meter (usually unreliable after all these years). I recently found an almost mint Yashicamat on the auction site for $100. The lens on Yashicamats will be a Lumaxar (on later models renamed Yashinon), which is a fine Tessar-type 4-element lens. I'd put the Yashicamat up against any Rolleicord or early Rolleiflex (high prices because of the Rollei name). I also have a Mamiya 330s with the interchangeable lenses, a great (heavy) camera, but these days you have to expect to pay $250 or so for one in good usable condition with the normal 80mm lens. The Yashicas A to D go for almost the same price as the older Yashicamats, but most have the 3-element Yashikor lens -- might as well get a Yashicamat.

  8. #18

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    The Yashica A is a good choice. Always available under $100. I think I paid $25 for mine on ebay. Robust four speed shutter, and good coated Yashikor triplet lenses. Stop the lens down to f8 or so and you'll get good edge to edge sharpness. I suggest you try a TLR like the Yashica A before jumping into a system camera.
    Rick Jason.
    "I'm still developing"

  9. #19

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    Bronica ETR, ETRS and SQ-A cameras sell for very little on eBay. I bought mine a piece at a time. An SQ-A with a 120 back, an 80/2.8 (S or PS) and a waist level finder is inexpensive, versatile and capable of excllent results. If you enjoy using it you can get other lenses for it in the future.

  10. #20
    JPD
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    Best: Rolleicord III with Xenar, or a Yashica TLR with Yashinon.

    Second best: Rolleicord with Triotar or a Yashica with Yashikor.

    Someone mentioned the Yashica A. It's a great entry level MF camera. It has a red window on the back and the four speed Copal shutter. Most of them work fine today, because they are simple! The Yashikor lens is lovely. Soft and dreamy at full aperture, and quite sharp stopped down! Avoid the Yashimar lens, that some of the early cameras had.

    There also are good folders, but a TLR is a less risky buy.

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