I have a Yashica 124G, a Mamiya C220 and a Mamiya C330. I highly recommend one of the latter. The Yashica is nice, but the lens is average, the viewing screen is dim and it is very noisy. OTOH, the Mamiyas are really nice cameras with interchangeable lenses and close-up capability. If you're really on a budget, go for a C220 and a 80mm. Otherwise go for the C330. You'll soon feel limitated by the Yashica, but certainly not by the Mamiyas. You can find descriptions of all theses cameras on my website:
I can't speak to the quality of anything other then the Yashica TLRs. I have three of them and for the money you can't beat the quality. As far as a dim viewing screen, the mirrow and back side of the viewing lens probably need cleaning. Not a big deal. If you do go with the Yashica, buy Yashica acessories. The tele and wide angle lens aren't worth the time or money.
It has to be the Mamiya C220/330 for the features and the range of lenses. I have a soft spot for the Minolta Autocord, but it's not really a working camera (one lens, no filters), but it still gives fantastic pics.
Last I saw, Clock Tower Cameras in Brighton had a Mamiya (worth giving a ring first though).
I've had a couple of Rolleiflexes and one Yashica-Mat. First, I know it's hard to tell without actually using one, but be sure you really want a TLR. No matter how good they are, you are not looking through the lens. Some might say these became obsolete years ago for a reason. I never did any test charts or anything like that, just standard 8x10 enlargements. I could not tell much difference between the Rolleis (one with a Xenar, the other with a Tessar) and the Yashica-Mat (Yashinon lens) on that size of print. The Rolleiflexes (and the Rolleicords are virtually the same but without the crank) definitely feels more solid and less tinny than the Yashica. CLA's on these things can easily be way more expensive than the camera, and most places, you will have to mail it out to the repairman, so, be sure you won't need a CLA soon after you buy one. Personally, while they are very nice to look at, I would much prefer a used 6x6 SLR.
To be honest though, I'm not sure it's that much of a step up in photo quality from a modern 35mm SLR, while at the same, having some significant disadvantages in comparison.
I've used both and strongly prefer the 330 over the 220 because the 330 cocks the shutter when you wind and the 220 didn't causing me to have to trip the shutter from the front often as I would forget to cock the shutter before I pushed the shutter button. Overall nice cameras and are great for infrared with an opaque filter, you can still see to focus and compose! Also has great closeup capability if you can overcome the parallax error.
Originally Posted by Snapper
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I would go for the Yashica 124G. They are relatively inexpensive, fairley easy to get repaired and decent quality. They seem to take usage quite well, I have loaned mine to several of my students and have never had a problem.
Its all about the image, not the process.
I have very limited experience in this area but the college I attended had a very high attrition rate in camera gear. Most kit did not survive long before being permanently "studented"!
The TLR's they used were Mamiya C330's, all of which still worked and (when used correctly!) turned out very good images. The interchangeable lenses were a very good feature too.
They are quite heavy and cumbersome... ...but can also be used to drive nails!
Whatever you get, please show us the results in your esteemed publication. We don't get to see nearly enough of your own shots, and I've very much enjoyed what I have seen. Also many thanks for all your efforts with that mag, please keep up the good work!
All the best,
The destination is important, but so is the journey
Thanks for all your help and suggestions with this. I might pop back down to the market and see if there are any Minolta Autocords, as this has been recommended in quite a few replies.
I've used a Mamiya C330 in the past (in fact, I produced one of my degree show projects on one), so that's also worth considering.
One of the main reasons I was considering the Yashica and Rollei was because I wanted the discipline of the fixed standard lens, so I'm not too concerned with interchangeable lenses - perhaps I should have thought to mention that at the start! I think it must be the hayfever clogging up my brain...
I've three yashica's and a rolleiflex (all 127 of course - but some principles apply). The yashica's are really sweet - simple and efficient. re - their lenses, the yashimar lenses are (alledgedy) dodgey, yashikor's OK(ish), and yashinon's good.
My rollei on the other hand is a more advanced beasty - it boasts features like auto-stoping on the winding, and shutter interlock. It even has a feeler to detech the start of the film automatically so you just load the film up and start winding. It's an all toogether more luxury camera. The downside of that is that there's more to go wrong - I suspect the yashica will keep going forever, whereas I had problems with the Rollei, and had to get it repaired. thats the price of the more complex mechanism.
On the other hand the rolleicords are simpler than the rolleiflex, so are probably mechanically more like the yashicas, but check everything is working as it should be.
I'm sure you'll enjoy whichever you choose - as for the sugguestion that TLR's are obsolete, that's just the 70's speaking. My tlr's are smoother, and simpler to operate than any SLR. From a bygone age? That would be the same bygone age as film - sign me up...
IMO the Minolta Autocords are excellent TLRs - good choice. I own two of them and they have given me excellent service and results over the years (nearly 30).
Everything is analog - even digital :D