I have to agree with outwest's response. My 2.8F Rollei TLR is one of the most amazing cameras I own both in terms of engineering, build quality and photo results. But for one sixth the price of it my Autocord III may be the best bargain. The Autocord's focusing screen is darker and there isn't the automatic parallax that the Rollei has, but the camera is lighter and the Rokkor lens is incredible.
The achilles' heel of Autocords seems to be the fragility of the focusing lever... forcing it after the lubricants have dried up can cause it to snap off. Be sure to have a proper CLA done every few years and keep that gem alive!
I still have the Autocord which I must have bought at least 25 years ago. It replaced a Yashicamat 124G. The Yashinon lens on the Yashica was very sharp but the camera was not built very well. I got tired of fixing it. Both cameras take 120 and 220 film so that wasn't an issue. The lens on the Autocord wasn't any better than the Yashinon but the rest of the camera was much better made. Most of the medium format shooting I do now is wth SLRs. If I were to buy another TLR I think I would look for a anything from a late model Rolleicord IV to a late Vb.
While we're on focus levers: the most convenient I ever used was a Richo Diacord TLR. It had some kind of arrangement were there was a focus lever on both sides the taking lens. Cradling the camera in both hands, the fingers on each hand fell naturally on the focus levers, which moved up and down.
Anscojohn, you propably mean this one, Diacord L. It is a gem of a camera. Lens is in the same league with Autocord, it has a nicely working light meter and those handy focus levers are just great to use. It takes Bay-1 accessories.
Ha... I stumbled upon this thread when I was looking for some real life experiences of Autocord. I did sell my precious Diacord because I didn't think it was up to par with my Rolleicord V. Later I bought an Autocord just to see if it's as good as people say. I can tell you it's good. Very very good.
I've used a Rolleicord IV and an Autocord. I shoot mostly black and white, but a results standpoint, they seem very similar.
The Rollei is slightly smaller but I like ergonomics of the Autocord a bit more. My only complaint about the Autocord is a slight light leak I've had a hard time tracking down but that is specific to the camera I have, not something about the camera in general.
Brian Legge, check the screws at each end of the focus distance plate just above the focus lever.The holes that they go into are tapped clear through to the film chamber. When refurbishing an Autocord, I had the hardest time figuring out where my light leaks were coming from until I saw that the plate was off and I checked out the screw holes. Maybe one of them fell out or is loose?
Some day I might fit a Planar or Xenotar 75mm f3.5 to an Autocord since those lenses tempt me to the Rolleiflex. But the focus system on the Autocord is just so easy and well-done, I'd dread going back to knob focusing.