6x9 Folders - Complete Novice
I am currently debating the possibility of getting a 6x9 folder. I really like the benefits of larger negative size that I get with MF but I could really use a trip back to the golden ratio. My other motivation is that I need a very portable MF camera for some of the abandoned building photography I do. My specifications would be something like this:
Sharp from edge to edge
Fully mechanical, no reliance on batteries etc.
Not going to break the bank
Then how would I go about focusing a folder?
Try 2x3 Graflex with a 120 roll back. I use one and I get some great negatives off it, although I use it as a field camera with a ground glass. I did just calibrate the rangefinder and I can shoot handheld now.
Canon EOS Elan II/E, Elan 7, and 630. -- Bronica ETRS -- Pentax 6x7
I can't make specific model recommendations for a 6x9 folder (a hunt I've occasionally dabbled in, but not yet to my satisfaction) but I can make a couple technical comments.
If the camera doesn't have a coupled rangefinder, then it'll be scale focus. That's where you set the focus by distance. If you're not confident in your eye measurement, there's accessory RFs you can buy and stick on the flash shoe. Use it to find the distance, then set focus distance on your lens. Not recommend combination for sports.
Fully mechanical is actually the more common state of affairs for the time period that folders were made in great quantity.
Slightly wide angle to normal is typical for 6x9 folder lenses. Can't get too crazy when the lens needs to be small enough to fold into the body.
"Faster lens," on a medium format folder isn't very fast, especially a 6x9. I think f3.5 is the best you're going to see.
If you don't already have one, look into a compact light meter.
Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta's C (6X9cm) are old cameras (more than 50 years) but they may do a good job if they are in good condition.
They have a coupled rangefinder, even when it uses a very small viewfinder.
The later 531/2, with a coated T* f3,5 Tessar, is expensive; an older (pre-WWII) and cheaper 530/2, with a f4,5 Tessar (uncoated), may be a good deal : a Super Ikonta is robust.
The Zeiss Ikon Ercona, with CZJ coated f3,5 Tessar, made in DDR period, has not rangefinder, but its lens is sharp and camera is less expensive.
There are many 6x9 folders, but, if you don't want to be disappointed, first find one with a good lens.
Edit : don't forget to find a hood for these old lenses.
Last edited by Andy38; 07-24-2010 at 04:54 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Thanks for the information! I think 3.5 or 4.5 will be plenty fast for me. Where could I start looking for one of these cameras?
Out of curiosity could I expect a faster lens if I went with a smaller folder? Say a 6x6?
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The Zeiss Ikonta 6x9's are really nice however, taking in your wish for not breaking the bank, I suggest a Baby Press Cameras with a 6x9 back to be the best route to go. Like its full size mates, you get a range finder, view/field camera ground glass, sport finder, interchangeable lens, close ups, zone focusing, and ability to use sheet film if you want. And multiple roll film backs and the ability to change the format.
If you get one with a focal-plane, you can use lens without shutters and also have a high speed shutter, when needed.
Rugged and affordable, will last forever with a little bit of care.
A 6x6 will normally have a shorter focal length lens, usually 75 or 80 mm, so they still have a similar angle of view. As I understand it, the corrections needed at large aperture to support a wide angle of view tend to be the limit on maximum aperture. There are a few additional lens elements in the f1.8s and 1.4s often found on 35mm cameras.
I have a Perkeo II, a 6x6 with 80mm f/3.5 Color Skopar, and an Ercona II, 6x9 with a 105mm f/3.5 Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar. There's a little fall-off in sharpness in the corners, but for something that fits a jacket pocket, they're pretty impressive. 6x9 transparencies are definitely eye catching!
I got both from Jurgen Kreckel via ePrey. He has very high positive feedback, but I have occasionally seen/heard some questions as to whether he's as rigorous as his marketing suggests. Each was around $200, but that seemed acceptable for something checked out and CLA'd (vs back shelf at a flea market or whatever). The Perkeo has been all over with me for 2 1/2 years and produced some excellent results. I've only had the Ercona since last fall, but it does quite well also. Compared with 35mm, it does catch me short every now and then that I only get 8 shots on a roll!
The mention of lens hoods is good too, that's a bit of a problem area. These folders, at least mine, took push-on filters and hoods., there is no thread. The availability is not all that great, better for the 32mm that fits the Perkeo, but the 37mm for the Zeiss/Ercona stuff seems fairly rare. That problem has been compounded by 37mm fitting the Bessa II, which is a bit of a collector item. I have recently seen a Voigtländer 37mm slip-on hood go for over $110 on ePrey -- that's scary! (I just know if I spent that much, I'd bump it off into a waterfall or something.) Actually, that might be approaching getting one custom made at a local machine shop!
A solution I've found was to buy a push-on series adapter and pick up series filters and shades. Series 6 works for the 37mm diameter lenses. The series stuff isn't that common either, but at least it's usually at reasonable prices. I did have to do some light machining on a Kodak push-on adapter to let it fit in the deep groove on the CZJ Tessar. Over time, I have accumulated most of the push-on stuff I wanted, but it's taken a year and a half.
Both Heliopan and B+W made rubber lens hoods and filters in slip-on mounts until last year or so. The last filters I bought new were a yellow-green (11) and a red-orange (22) Heliopans in 37 mm slip-on mounts.
Originally Posted by DWThomas
37 mm slip-on hoods and filters show up from time to time on eBay. I've bought many in different sizes.
Not really, 3,5 is about the fastest you will get with the older cameras you are looking at unless you have one modified and fitted with an updated shutter like a Copal, but why do that when the older shutters work just fine
Originally Posted by Joe O'Brien
The Super Ikonta B (530/16, 532/16) and BX (533/16) had an f/2.8 8cm/80mm Tessar, but many people feel that Zeiss pushed the Tessar too far with this lens. I tend to agree.
An f/3.5 or f/4.5 Tessar is a fine camera, and you just use a faster film.
Regarding 6x9 folders, you want one that opens smoothly, locks into position with no play in the lens standard and bellows that won't develop pinholes.
The Zeiss Ikon folders are quite good, as are the Voigtlanders and the Agfas, which suffer from two problems (hardened lens helical and plastic-covered bellows that can develop pinholes).
Kodak made 6x9 folders, but nearly all use 620 film. I have a nice Kinax folder (also 620).
The most important aspect of any folder is to ensure that it hasn't been dropped. You can clean a foggy lens or a sticky shutter. But if the lens standard is out of parallel, that's a different story.