Which TLR to go for?
I get paid on Friday, and am thinking of splurging some of it on a TLR. There's a very nice Yashica-Mat at one of the (many) antique markets in Lewes, so I'm pretty sure I'll go for that, but the same dealer also has a couple of Rolleicords. What are other people's experiences of either of these cameras? Any other recommendations?
Can't help you with a decision between the Yashica and Rolliecord, but I do recommend the Mamyia C220 (or the 330) because of the availability of other lenses. I used mine all the time til I got a P67, but I still use it when I need to travel with a very lightweight kit in a small case...camera, 3 lenses, paramender and lens hoods.....still too much of course, but really compact
I have had experience of a number of TLRs in my time.
a) Yashicamat. I had an early model. It was quite nice to use (everything worked as it should). The lens was sharp but nothing startling. If I remember correctly the focussing screen was not that bright but by no means difficult to use.
b) Minolta Autocord. A definite step up from the Yashicamat. A lens that was noticeably sharper and more contrasty. It had a quirky loading system in that you loaded it from the top down rather than the traditional bottom up. I enjoyed using this camera a lot.
c) Rolleicord (cant remember which model). A very nice camera with a lens (if memory serves) that was every bit as good as the Minolta. Very easy to use.
d) Mamiyaflex C2. Had a film transport mechanism that was prone to wearing out quickly which caused film spacing issues. Lens was sharp and contrasty. I would not recommend going for one of these due to the film transport issues. Spares now unavailable.
e) Mamiyaflex C220. A much better camera that the C2. Silky smooth controls and lens interchangeability a real boon.
One word of warning about the Mamiya range of lenses. Don't buy the chrome lenses with the Seikosha shutter. Its a good shutter but when it goes wrong It will be practically impossible to repair due to lack of spares. Always go for the black lenses.
In order of preference
I would discount the Mamiyaflex C2
Having recently amassed a small collection of TLR's, and given the choices you have in front of you right now, I would recommend the Rollei. The Yashicas are reported to have hit-and-miss lens quality (though I have a Yashica D with a very nice, sharp lens). The Rollei TLR's have a nicer, more solid feel, and a brighter focusing screen (in my experience). As far as how the cameras are in actual use - they're pretty similar.
Play around with each one if they will let you and see how each one feels in your hands. Test all the shutter speeds, as these old cameras tend to get sticky shutters with old age - especially in the slower speeds, which is easier to detect by ear than the fast speeds. If you're just getting the camera to play around with, you may not want to go directly from the shop to a repairman.
If you find that TLR's are for you, then you can always look into something fancier at a later date - when the prices might be even lower than they are right now.
Just some thoughts from someone who finds two lenses better than one!
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I have a Rollei and I must say it's almost a religious experience everytime I use it. I just love this camera. None of the rest of my cameras give me the same feeling as my Rollei. The fit and finish is fantastic, the optics second to none, nice and easy to use, quiet and funky looking too.
PM Ian Greant on using a rolleicord. He has one and loves it. I have the Rolleiflex.
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I'm not an experienced TLR user but I find the Minolta Autocord easy to use and it gives me good results. I did some research on the internet and it seemed the Autocord from what other people were saying offered the best value for the buck.
It's not among your choices but I also favor the Mamiyas.
Very nice glass
Plenty of accessories available
Lots of bellows ext. for close-ups
Pretty darned inexpensive on the used market.
The Rolleis are truly beautiful and I'd love to have one but the versatility and the price of the Mamiya make it the more practical choice. At least for my needs.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
The Yashica Mat is a nice camera but...wide angle and telelenses are hard to ocme by and are not interchangeable but work with a sort of clip-on system. The quality of those clip-ons is below average.
I have both a Mat 124G and an Autocord. While both are capable of fine results, I prefer the Autocord. The lens is indeed a bit sharper and more contrasty.
That loading system was superior, probably resulting in better film flatness that other TLRs. In addition, the focus setup on the Autocord, which swings across the bottom, is very comfortable. All in all, a fun camera to shoot with.
It had a quirky loading system in that you loaded it from the top down rather than the traditional bottom up
"If You Push Something Hard Enough, It Will fall over" - Fudd's First Law of Opposition
I have owned a Yashica 124G, a Mamiya C330f, A Yashica Mat and a Rolleiflex 3.5f; the latter two I still have. I found that the lens quality of the two Yashicas was very good and there was little difference between the two ( they use the same lens but the 124G has a built in light meter and is much more expensive). The Rolleiflex is a wonderful piece of engineering and gives superb results. The Mamiya has the advantage of interchangeable lenses and macro but is very heavy and not really suitable for carrying around being more at home in the studio.
So my opinion for what it is worth is:
The Yashica is a delight to use, gives good results and is fairly cheap to buy.
The Rolleiflex is exceptionally well made and gives great results but a good one is expensive (for a 40 or 50 year old camera) but will probably increase in value if well looked after.
The Mamiya gives good results and is the most versatile but is rather large and heavy' however they can be picked up for a reasonable price.
You can see photos taken by the Yashica Mat and the Rolleiflex on our web site at :