Kowa 6 any present or past users?
I`m considering buying one.So have a few questions.
Were they well made?
Easy to repair?
Ergonomics - easy to use?
What i know
They are old cameras so my expectations match.
They look a bit quirky..i like that.
At present i use an autocord and want to stay with 6x6 format.
Just thinking that a 6x6 single lens would be easier to use in some situations.
I used to have a pair of Kowa Super 66's, loved them, only sold them to pay some bills when my kids were very young. I miss them immensly. They are the Japanese version of a Hassy, but better.
I have a Kowa 66 I bought real cheap a few years ago that is in mint condition. It is a well made camera, feels well balanced in your hand. I have the grip n speed focusing lever on my lenses. It fires real smooth with absolutely no vibrations. The lenses are beautiful works of art. The silver 55mm I have is one beautiful chunk of glass and the images are very impressivly sharp with great contrast. On the whole I love this camera and all the accessories available for it.. but finding em is't easy.
I see so many stories about how the winding mechanisms tend to break down but I never had any troouble, maybe I am one of the lucky ones plusI handle my equipment with respect. There is a fellow that spcializes in repairing Kowas so having it fixed is not a problem.
If you are getting a good price on it, buy it, you will really enjoy using it. It's called the poor mans hassy for good reason, it's a great camera.
Anyone can make a Digital print, but only a photographer can make a photograph.
Bronica SQ series?
Originally Posted by Craig Swensson
You're right about old, quirky and limited access to repair. Beautiful design, nice glass.
I have a Kowa 6 with the standard lens and the 55 mm wide angle lens and shoot about 2-3 rolls a month with it and the results are stunning.
Look for a user manual, it can be found online, ( If you can not find one, PM me and I will send you a copy by email.)
Go for it!
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I have 2 Kowa 6 bodies with 4 lens past 30 (or more) years, bought the the bodies used from a pro who was upgrading to the Super 66 just as Kowa left the camera market. My plan to use for couple of years then upgrade to a Rolli 66, just never really needed a Rolli 66. Good camera, lens are fine, not Ziess but good enough for my needs. The 55, 150 and 250 appear to be quite common, the wider lens such as the 40mm and the long 500 uncommon. I have never seen a 500mm on Ebay. Easy to use, the 6 is easy to load will take 120 or 220. From what I understand the Super 66 backs does not need a dark slide. Only issue is that you must take the camera off a tirpod to load, if you use the pentaprism it must all come off to open the back. My Kowa's dont have mirror lockup, later models do. Kowas are uncommon, not easliy repaired or serviced.
My other MF gear is a Maymia Universal rangfinder with 3 lens. A heavy camera, lens are slower but I really like the 6X9 for landscapes. I have several Yashica's Ds and 124light weight good picture takes stopped down. The Kowa or other 2 1/4 by 2 1/4 SLRs are just in the middle and if I just had one system it would the Kowa.
5 very good replies in a row, thank you all.
Also considering SQ bronica CGW.
LCEL thank you.
Had keiv 88 on list also but i have 4 russian rangefinders and all of them work fine, I really dont wan to push my luck
As a Bronica owner (SQ-B, ETRSi), I second your consideration of the SQ series over a 40-year-old camera with limited availability of lenses and accessories. Bronicas are very inexpensive right now, they're likely more reliable than a Kowa 6, and all the system components are available from KEH, Kohs or eBay.
I got a Kowa 66 with three lenses (55, 85 and 150) very cheap and it's my favourite camera. It's quirky and unusual, but I love it. A Super 66 would have been better, but they're usually a lot more expensive. It's probably the heaviest 6x6 SLR you can get with all the advantages and disadvantages that brings. Carrying it all day is hard on your back, but the weight allows for relatively long shutter speeds without a tripod. I also find the mirror slap pretty soft, though I can only compare it to a Kiev 88CM I once had, which caused light earthquakes with every exposure.
So, for your questions:
1. The one I got is very well made. There was some damage to the leather, but the inner workings are as new. I specifically bought one that looked a little beat up, because that's usually a sign for a camera that did good work for decades and will do so for another few. The ones that look new, were probably not used, because they've got a problem. From what I've read, the factory had pretty good quality control.
2. Built like a tank. Not Leica quality, but good enough. The ones that weren't as reliable, are probably completely broken by now. I never had a problem with mine.
3. There are very few people who know how to repair one and not that much information on the internet either. But as the shutter's in the lens, there's actually very little to break in the camera itself. If you have some experience with other mechanical cameras of that time, you'll work this one out, too.
4. I love the lenses. They're not Zeiss quality when you look at resolution and sharpness, but they all have a very nice "style". You know, when a lens is not technically the best, but has great bokeh and that certain pleasant softness instead of just being unsharp. At f/8 they can be very sharp too. I have seen very few (and usually much more expensive) lenses that were better for portraits. I regularly make 50x50cm (20x20") prints and they look great.
5. Very easy to use. You have all the controls right on the lens (including flash sync and self timer) and nothing else. Ergonomics are always about preference, but I like it the way it is. It just fits into my hands. I have a bassist's hands, though, so that might be a problem, if yours are relatively small. The only thing I don't like, is the shutter safety. It's a little knurled ring around the shutter button that's somewhat hard to reach and (at least with my camera) hard to turn. If you don't use it, the shutter goes off very easily and sometimes accidentally.
If you can get one cheap, go for it. They're great fun. You definitely want to take a look at the Bronica SQ, too. I never had one myself, but from all I heard, it's a great camera and pretty cheap at the moment. Just don't go for the Kievs, those crappy soviet copies of Hasselblad cameras... for the price of the CLA and necessary repairs, you can almost get the original HaBla500. The upgraded Kievs from Arax are supposed to be ok, but then again, for that price, you can get a Bronica or Kowa with a few additional lenses.
Thank you moki for in depth information. Point 4 in particular, understood and agree. I have seen one boxed on e-bay and had already decided against for the same reasons you have given. cheers