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  1. #1

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    Can anyone recommend a good Medium Format TLR?

    I was wandering around a local bookstore the other day (I live in Japan) and I bought this thing called a gakkenflex. It is basically a cheap plastic TLR that comes with a magazine you put together yourself. Anyway I have been having fun with it and I have always been interested in getting a medium format TLR, but since nobody seems to make good TLR's anymore; or at least I don't believe they do; I was thinking about buying one used. From what I can tell Rollieflexes are the cream of the crop, but they are pretty expensive. The other alternative that I seem to come across in my searches is the Yashica Mat 124-g. I was wondering if anyone else had any opinions on TLR's and if there are any others out there I should be watching out for. Thank you.

  2. #2
    munz6869's Avatar
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    Older Rolleiflexes are cheap cheap - anything from the Automat 4 (MX - late 1950's) to the $$$ ones of recent times will (if in good condition) give you splendid optics and functionality. You can get a very good older one for $300-ish, and it will give you years of service. They are very personable to carry around, and people like being photographed by them, probably because they are less threatening (looking down) and so darn aesthetically charming.

    Marc!
    Marc Morel
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  3. #3
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    As a TLR user I'd suggest it depends on your budget. I use both a Yashicamat 124 and a Rolleifles 3.5E and while both are good cameras the Rolleiflex is far better built, a bit heavier and the Xenotar lens is better than the Yashinon at wider apertures. There's also a big difference in value.

    So for £75-£100 ($120-$160) you can get a decent Yashicamat like a 124/124g or a Rollieflex with Xenar/Tessar for about double that, you pay more for a 1960's or later Rolleiflex with a Planar/Xenotar and condition plays a big part. A mint early 60's 3,5E can fetch more than £750 ($1200).

    There's also Minolta Autocords, and MPP Microflex's and Microcords as well as the budget Rolleicord Vb's, all excellent cameras.

    Ian

  4. #4
    Jeff L's Avatar
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    You'll get many answers, which is a good thing. Rolleiflex, Yashicamat, Mamiya, Minolta, Ricoh, Flexaret, etc. They'll all take a good photo. They're also all getting old now, so my advice is, buy one that isn't beat the hell, has a clear lens, that you can have serviced reasonable easily and feels great in your hands. My personal favourites are the Rolleiflex and Yashicamat. People love the Minolta Autocord too. You should be able to find all of these in great condition, and have good service too in Japan.
    I love using my TLR. Good luck.

  5. #5

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    I absolutely love my Rolleiflex f/3.5 from the late 1950's.

  6. #6
    Rick A's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of the Yashicas, and Mamiya's. I have a Yashica D, its basic but good quality. It affords all the features of its big brother models except automatic shutter cocking, you have to do that yourself, but allows for easy multiple exposure. I also shoot aMamiya C-220 and C-330. These have interchangable lenses in a wide variety of focal lengths, and interchangable focusing screens, all in all a versatile system. Either brand is well built with quality optics.
    Rick Allen
    Argentum aevum

  7. #7

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    You can get early Rolleiflex models, say like a automat 4, for peanuts, and they will give negatives as good or better than anything else, execpt perhaps for Rolleicord, again something like a Va, go for peanuts, I bought a automat in perfect condition, serviced, for £89 last year, also a Rolleicord Va2, 1961 vintage, for £99, again serviced, look after them and either canera will last a lifetime, the Flex has a tessar lens and the cord a Xener, Richard

  8. #8

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    Thanks for all the info. I guess I will start looking around for deals. It helps that I am about to get a couple grand back for my tax return.

  9. #9
    jp498's Avatar
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    I have a yashica C and a rolleiflex automat mx with tessar 75/3.5 lens.

    For yashica's, I am very happy with my C, but the D has a slightly better lens, as does the 124/124g. I got mine for free and had to pay for a CLA and new pleather from dean's photographic. It's a lightweight reliable camera and a huge amount of value for the money. It takes rolleiflex bayonet-1 filters.

    I've also wanted a rolleiflex and was put off by the high prices. Something with a planar or 2.8 lens will be expensive. f2.8 was reserved for pricier models. Tessar is a 100 year old design that is very very sharp at medium and small apertures. Planar is a little sharper wide open. In that manner, a tessar is more versatile as it provide a little tiny bit of softness for portraits wide open if you want. tessar and planar both provide very attractive bokeh in the background. I have a tessar on my LF cameras, so it was an easy and pleasant change to use them in MF as well. I ended up with the automat mx for $225 on craigslist, and I paid the asking price because I had it in hand and could test everything. I ran a roll of film through it, tested the shutter speeds by ear, viewed the iris at different apertures while doing a B exposure, etc...

    The rolleiflex seems a little heavier and more rugged than the yashica, but either is fine for walking around. The rolleiflex also has a sort prism viewfinder by putting the sport finder flap halfway down. Find some manuals online to see the differences. The yashica C doesn't have a cable release option. My C is also a little swirly wide open depending on what's in the background which I like. Both had frame counters built into the camera. This is preferable to something older with the red window that you squint through to see how far you've wound the film. Both also have a little pop-up magnifier for focusing on the groundglass.

    There are other good TLRs out there too, but I don't have time or money to explore further.

  10. #10

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    I have a Rollei 3.5 and 2.8, both "F". Both are fantastic, and I've never had a problem getting them serviced. Heavier than some I've seen, especially the 2.8, but even that went on a two week West Coast tour in a shoulder bag without complaint.

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