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  1. #1
    Max Power's Avatar
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    Mamiya C220 vs Rolleicord

    Hi everyone!,
    I recently started to dabble in MF and the famous MF bug is biting hard! To see whether or not I wanted to play in MF, I purchased an inexpensive Rolleicord II; so far it's great, although some of the limitations are starting to bug me. The long and the short of it, though, is that the qualities of the 6x6 negative blow me away.

    That said, I have started to look at upgrading to something better, probably after Christmas. At first, I was looking on eBay at Rolleicord Vs, the prices, though, for the good ones are unreal. A 'mint' condition Vb recently went for almost $500USD. Even well worn ones in need of a serious CLA are selling for about $150USD.

    In my searches, I ran across the Mamiya C220. It would seem to me that there are some distinct advantages to the C220/C330 but I would like some opinions as to whether or not I'm on the right track.
    1. I understand that the C220 only stopped production about 10 years ago, thus, they are still in good condition. Is this true?
    2. Although the lens sets are not up to par with those of the later 'cords, they are still quite good. What is popular opinion?
    3. The major advantage which I see is that the bodies and lens sets are separate. As such, a well tended body will last 'forever'. If the lens set goes south, you can either have a CLA done (inexpensively) or you can cheaply replace the entire lens set. Obviously, this is not the case with Rolleis, and CLAs are extremely expensive. Anyone out there with experience?

    Does anyone have any reflections on my though processes?
    Practical experience and opinions?

    Cheers!
    Kent
    Max Power, he's the man who's name you'd love to touch! But you mustn't touch! His name sounds good in your ear, but when you say it, you mustn't fear! 'Cause his name can be said by anyone!

  2. #2
    ghinson's Avatar
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    I do not have any experience with the Mamiya. When the bug first bit me, I first looked for a Rolleicord Vb as you are. Slow to find one at a good price, I ended up getting a Minolta Autocord in VG condition instead, for around $125. While waiting for it to come, a Vb came on eBay with a lower Buy It Now price and I got it for $175. Comparing the two, I don't really see any difference in the quality of the negatives. They both look great. The Minolta's Rokkor lenses were a real surprise that way. Handling the two, I much prefer the Minolta. It is easier to set the speed and easier to focus. I would suggest you add one of these to your list. Good luck.

  3. #3
    jovo's Avatar
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    Though it's been 'on the shelf' for a few years, my wife began using our C220 again with it's complement of 3 lenses...65, 80 and 135. Using the paramender and a tripod for some tabletop work, the results are just wonderful. She's angling to buy a prism finder on ebay which will make our kit rather complete (we also have a number of dedicated lens hoods and a detachable handle). I can't recommend the 220 highly enough. If you can live with the limitations of a TLR, the Mamiya's interchangeable lenses and 'system' components make it a very comprehensive kit. The bellows and printed close-up exposure compensation scale are also a great help. Get one; you won't be sorry.
    John Voss

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  4. #4
    Neil Souch's Avatar
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    Kent.

    I have used the Mamiya but not the Rolleicord. But have used a Rolllei T which is similar in size to the Rolleicord. Question: what are you planning to do ? If you are lugging the gear over the landscape you will find a bag full of Mamiya equipment is pretty hefty - but will provide superb results. The smaller / lighter Rolleicord will also provide good negs and will be more portable, but of course you will only have its fixed 80mm lens to use. If you are not planing to carry this gear far I would go with the Mamiya as it is a superb and reliable 6x6 camera with plenty of good S/H 'system' items about at very affordable prices. The Autocord is a good suggestion as well. A friend of mine uses one and obtains excellent results.

    Neil.

  5. #5
    noblebeast's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I've been bitten hard by that bug as well, and also there seems to be a TLR bug going around and it has similarly infected me. I was using an old Rolleiflex with a Tessar 3.5 but just the other day acquired a Mamiya C220 that was being used as a bookend - in great condition, protected by a soft case and all that - with an 80mm lens. I finally took it out for a test run and I have to say I was blown away by the results! Those Mamiya lenses, even for the TLR, are quite sharp and contrasty, and based upon that it will become one of my most used cameras.

    Yes, it is heavier/bulkier than the Rollei, but not really by that much and I would not hesitate to take in on a tough uphill hike to get a shot. And as soon as I can afford to I want to get some more lenses for it (another plus over the fixed lens cameras). There are some Mamiya user groups (at the Mamiya web site for one) as well as a TLR message board I found once but haven't been able to find again that absolutely rave about the wider angle lenses - which of course go for much bigger bucks on the auction sites.

    In summation, based on what I have learned 'in the field' and on my preferred subject matter (portraits), if I were just getting into it today I would only be interested in the Mamiya. You'll have to decide what works for you and your subject matter, but as far as results I can highly recommend the Mamiya as giving the most bang for the buck - especially since very well cared for Mamiyas with 80mm lenses are going for under - sometimes well under - $200 on the auction sites.

    Joe
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  6. #6

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    I've not used the C220 or a Rolleicord but I have used C330's off and on for a number of years and I have used a Rolleiflex (don't remember the model). Mamiya vs Rollei? The Mamiya TLR's are kind of big and clunky compared to the smaller Rollei TLR's. Mamiya optics are really very good although not legendary. Mamiya TLR bodies are pretty basic and very dependable. Of the two 330's I have owned, neither ever needed cleaning, adjusting or repairs. The C220 is a smaller version of the 330 and lacks automatic shutter cocking with film advancing and a couple of other lesser features.

  7. #7
    Brac's Avatar
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    I bought my C220 new in 1977 and though it has been "resting" in recent years due to circumstance changes I used it a lot through for the first 15 years and was extremely pleased with it. I have also used various Rollei TLR's (Va, 3.5E, MagicII) and personally I think the Mamiya lenses are equally good. Plus unlike the Cord & some others the standard Mamiya 80mm lens is f2.8. The wide-angle 55mm lens set is also extremely useful.

    As others have said it is more bulky than other TLR's but I often used it handheld outdoors and found the weight made it quite easy to hold steady. (I always used it with the Mamiya handgrip). It can easily take 220 film (just flick a switch & move the film pressure plate) and the bellows allows incredible close-ups. In fact I did sometimes use it on a copy stand though it is not the ideal camera for that.

    There were one or two later C220 models (think they were C220f & C220s from memory) but the differences are minor. The C330 cameras are slightly more sophisticated and a bit heavier but the 220 range are fine.

    Because the Mamiya's & earlier varients (C3, C33, C2, C22 etc) were in production for decades there are shoals around and lots of accessories even spot metering prisms and lens sets up to 250mm. Also they take 46mm filters which are easier to find and cheaper than bayonet ones.

  8. #8
    Max Power's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Souch
    Question: what are you planning to do ? If you are lugging the gear over the landscape you will find a bag full of Mamiya equipment is pretty hefty - but will provide superb results. Neil.
    Neil,
    This is a really good point...Right now, I'm used to lugging about my X-700 and 3 lenses, a flash, a light-meter and my Kodak Guide...I tend to travel heavy because I don't want to be caught out. I'm not really worried about weight to be honest. I'm looking for a reasonable MF setup at a reasonable price...I'm not really interested in a cult camera.

    Thanks,
    Kent
    Max Power, he's the man who's name you'd love to touch! But you mustn't touch! His name sounds good in your ear, but when you say it, you mustn't fear! 'Cause his name can be said by anyone!

  9. #9
    ghinson's Avatar
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    Just looking at medium format inexpensively, have you seen Robert Monaghan's Medium Format page?

    http://medfmt.8k.com/mf/

    This page has several articles about medium format on a budget. Some would recommend you look at the Koni Rapid Omega cameras or the Kowa 6/66 systems.

  10. #10
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    I started MF with a Rolliecord ll about 30 years ago moving to a Mamiya C33 and a C3 with the standard 80mm lens and a 55mm lens which were superb, lovely cameras to use and optically excellent.

    If you can find a C33 or C330 they are very much better (ease of use only) than the C220's. The additional lenses aren't over heavy and the abilty to change lenses is a major advantage compared to the Rolloecord or Rollieflex. I only switched to Mamiya 645's after my TLR's were stolen.

    There are far more C330 about than C220 and they don't really fetch what they are worth secondhand.

    Now I inherited a mint late 50's Rolliecord which has only ever had 5 films through it, owner used his Yashica 6x6 instead, has the preferred sharper Schnieder lenses. When I get it serviced - the lubrication has dried hard - I will use it but it is really a cult camera in my hands.

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