I have a Zenobia. Love it. Nicely made and takes great pics.
I have bought four Welta Weltax cameras, and all of them had problems. Bad shutters (Prontors and Tempors), lenses out of focus, flimsy folding mechanism, light leaks...
Originally Posted by Brian Legge
The Triotar on my pre-war Rolleicords are sharper than the front cell focusing Jena Tessars on the Weltax cameras.
I'm happy with my Ercona II, but it's a bigger 6x9 camera. It's 3,5/105 Tessar is very sharp, folding mechanism the same as the Ikontas. The Tempor shutter works nicely, but I've read that they are made of cheap stamped materials and difficult to repair if needed.
Folding MF cameras are a lot of fun. It's great to have something compact that you can take anywhere and that also shoots medium format. Even at the highest level, though, with the exception of the new Fuji/Voigtlaender 667, these are tourist cameras, so they don't have the build quality of a camera designed for professional use, so they often need to be handled with some delicacy, and they won't have the film flatness of, say, a Linhof rollfilm back. For the latter reason, I think 6x6 works well for a folder, but 6x9 folders tend to be more problematic in terms of film flatness.
The MF folders I've used extensively have been the Voigtlaender Bessa II/Color-Heliar and the Perkeo II/Color-Skopar, and the one I continue to use is the Perkeo II.
I decided early on that if I was going to spend my money on a camera, I was going to buy a good one. Bottom feeding only gets you so far, and for me I felt that it was a waste of money to buy five crappy cameras when I could spend more money and buy one good camera one time.
Regarding brand: There are plenty of good cameras out there, and each has its advantages and drawbacks.
I would simply urge caution on using price as the No. 1 factor.
Someone mentioned film flatness. I'm not sure if this has been mentioned before on this forum, but heres a tip:
Always open up your bellows first BEFORE winding on. This will ensure you have some film tension and maximise the chance of flat film. If you wind on first, then open the bellows, you risk the vacuum which temporarilly forms in front of the film sucking it off the film plate...
Also if you wear glasses, then the older 'flip-up' viewfinders are generally much easier to use than the later 'built-in' ones which have a really small aperture which makes it difficult to get your eye close enough to see the whole frame with glasses.
I second all the positive comments on folders. You may be surprised how good optically, some of them can be.
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I was given a tip a long time ago by a photographer who never used anything but folders, and that was if you are going to wind the film on to No 1 with the camera folded to wind on to JUST BEFORE the No appears in the red window, and to finish the winding with the camera unfolded,and that will counter act the effect of opening the camera on film flatness, I have always done it and the film seems to stay perfectly flat, Richard
I have an Agfa Isolette V. It is very easy to carry, and the image quality is good. You are without a meter (which I can live with), and without a range finder (which I find a little harder to cope with). Still, on a sunny day at f/11, with a reasonable distance to your subject, it is hard to miss :-)
With regard to film flatness....or, lack of. Yup. The neither of the two 6x9 folders I have come anywhere near keeping the film optimally flat. That is part of the beauty of shooting an old folder.
My Bellows Camera of choice is a Kodak Brownie Autographic #2. I don't worry about Film flatness. it leaks like a sieve, although I think I found the problem now. The viewfinder is dim, and lousy and only provides general information, focus is by guess. The shutter and aperture settings are sort of close to right, and I sometimes forget to adjust them before taking a photo. I have two of these cameras. Why do I put up with these things? Some of the best photographs I have ever taken were with these cameras, I don't know if people relax more with the look of them or what, but I tend to get good shots with them.
I say that if you already have a Medium format camera that you can do really quality work with when you want or need to, then get yourself a budget folder and enjoy it, they can be a lot of fun, and attract a lot of attention as well.
They are appropriate and good if you know the limitaitons. I recently jumped into the world of MF folders. I wanted a MF camera to complement my 35mm when I traveled and my Rollei is too heavy (and I prefer the 6x9 format for travel shots).
I picked up a late model Ikonta 6x9 for $75, but no rangefinder and 75/3.5 Novar (3 element lens). Collectors will drive up the price of 4-element lens models or ones with Compur-Rapid shutters, but depending on your intended use, a 3 element lens and a Prontor shutter will likely work well. Honestly, there is often a huge premium for the 4 elements, which will likely only help with corner sharpness at wider apertures.
Make sure the lens is calibrated to infiniti well. It will help with sharpness. I have a blog post here on how to.
Some other possible 6x9 choices include:
Voigtlander Bessa I