Forget the debating the 'best'... What folder is your favorite and why?
My 'Free Gift' 1956 AGFA ISOLETTE III with the 75mm f3.5 Solinar lens -- it is SO SHARP and had No Fungus or the famous Agfa Green Grease trouble !
Isolette III by pentaxpete, on Flickr
My favorite folder? Hmmm, Actually I have two (hope that's OK).My first folder is a 4x5 Crown Graphic I've had for about 53 years. The second I just received yesterday in the mail,it's a Kodak Retina IIa. 35mm. I owned one 50 or so years ago and later traded it off for a Nikkor range finder model with interchangeable lenses. Have wanted it back ever since. This little baby was advanced for it's time with a sharp Schneider f2 lens,shutter speeds from bulb to 1/500 of a second, a one stroke film advance lever.M/X flash times,offset for infra red focusing and an accurate rangefinder. All in a very compact package,4 3/4" wide,3" tall and 1 1/2" thick.Finally it has an attached flash shoe and a film type reminder( a lot of stuff in such a small unit) without the need for batteries! WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE!! Am looking forward to exercising this little fella.....
Of what I actually own, my favorite is my Perkeo II with Color Skopar lens. If money were no object, I could probably be persuaded to really love some of the more modern Fuji, Mamiya or Voigtländer folders! The Perkeo is quite sharp and extremely compact; a perfect 6x6 camera to take when a TLR or my Bronica are too much bulk.
I am brand new to this site, and this is my first post.
I have a lot in common with the OP here, "BlindPig," as I have a Retina 1 which I bought recently for nostalgic purposes (it was the first camera I ever owned, back when I was 16 or 17) but would much prefer to have a Retina II or IIa. Additionally, I have recently acquired a Jurgen-restored Isolette III, and a Crown Graphic is on my wish-list for a 4X5 to replace the Calumet view that I had to sell several years ago. (For my purposes I do not need all the movements the view camera had, but would like just a little tilt, rise and shift in the front.)
I have been doing a lot of research in the past several weeks, and have drawn up a list of 24 folders (mostly German) which sort of constitutes a wish list of the ones that seemed to me to be the best of the best (I can hand it to anyone who might ask me what I'd like for my birthday.)
I have also joined the Manual Minolta group, and plan to join the Mamiya RB67 group as I have one coming from KEH within the next few days.
So -- hello, everyone -- this seems like a pleasant and informative place to hang out.
I have a Retina 1, still works but the lens has a fingerprint etched into it, alas! Also a Retina IIIc, needs shutter work, a Zeiss Contessa in lovely condition and works perfectly, and a Vitessa L w the f2 Ultron, everready case, filters, lens hood.
The Vitessa is my favorite. Fast action with the plunger advance, parallax corrected viewfinder, focus wheel for right hand thumb, wonderful ergonomics, the Ultron is excellent. But what genius dreamed up the fully removeable back for loading. Grrrrr..... One more item to handle. Still as an everyday shooter, it is the best of the lot, and the fit and finish of it (and of the Contessa) is incomparable in today's crop of cameras. But, I'm told that repairs to the rangefinder and advance system are costly....
Regarding the Vitessa.. I have an N and while it is a great camera, I have not had a chance to use it. I think I am too worried about breaking it.
It is definitely very fun to use. The plunger is completely unique. And the focus thumb wheel as well.
Regarding the Isolette III.. I had one which did not work. I wish it had. Even though the rangefinder is not coupled, It seemed like a very useable camera.
Easy to answer this question. It's a Franka Rolfix from about 1953. I remember it as the camera that always came with us on holidays when I was a small boy. My Dad would usually have one or two rolls of film so holiday photos were quite formal affairs. My Dad passed away many years ago but I started to get nostalgic for "proper" photography so I started looking for an old folder on E-bay. Then, one day last summer I was up visiting my Mum and mentioned that I was looking for an old camera. "Oh, do you mean like that one I've got in the cupboard," she said. And there it was. Quite a surprise, as she's not normally keen to hang onto old stuff. However, it turned out that she and my Dad kind of bought each other a half share in it when they got married in 1953 - it was the best camera they could afford at the time - and so it obviously had nostalgia value.
Well, it still seems to be in good shape. The bellows are light tight, the aperture works smoothly and the shutter speeds at least sound about right. It even still has the 6*6 mask. The only issue is that the front lens of the viewfinder is cracked and the 6*6 viewfinder mask is rusted down, but thinking back, I think that may have been the case even back then. I now have a batch of Fomapan 100 ready to try some shots with it, and I'm really looking forward to the discipline of real photography again rather than relying on endless digital shots.
Favorite folder is my Kodak Tourist. I don't know if I like it more for the rugged frame build quality or for the 6x9 negatives I can contact print. Even though it's probably my nicest, I get way more use out of the Agfa Isolette because I can get 6x6 color negs commercially printed without any fuss or extra cost.
I've enjoyed almost all of the folders I've shot with. I've really had fun with a Certo Super Sport Dolly, I've got the model that uses 120 film AND has 4.5x6cm plate holders. Nice, as I love to shoot paper negs in the holders.
I have recently gotten hung up on Kodak Retina rangefinders. Did some research on line to learn the different models and terminology. Decided to pursue the "II" models as they have no metering built in. Purchased a very nice IIa on E-Bay and ran a couple of rolls through it. I was very impressed with both the ease of use, the utilitarian simplicity, and the excellent results. Then I saw a IIc on E-Bay and thought I would try that. Very attractive price; its really amazing what excellent quality cameras you can find if you cull out the "good lookers but don't work" for the really hidden gems.
As it turns out, I enjoy the the IIc even more than the IIa, although I do like the the "old school" angelular lines of the IIa. It seems to me the IIc has a few mechanical improvement over the IIa, such as increased support for the lens board, easier to read f stop and SS numerals, and smoother "feel." Folded (that is what this group is about; bet you though I'd forgotten!) my IIc fits right into my left rear Levi's pocket, always ready for action!
The only further upgrade to my rangefinder Retina group would be a IIC (large C) which has the increased rangefinder window size and improved brightness. The only problem is that "English" versions are somewhat rare, and because of this, the "collectors" keep the value very high. You can get a really nice functioning IIc for $50-75, but I have yet to see a nice IIC for less than $300. Get the IIc and enjoy!
Although Retinas were never intended by Kodak to compete with "professional" cameras of their time period, they were built in Germany and build quality is surpurbe. Sturdy and robust; any of the Retina "II" series are a pleasure to use and a priviedge to own.
Speed Gray, K8SG
Grand Rapids, MI
Greetings, I just joined this group today and am glad to be here.
I can't narrow my list down to a single favorite folder. I learned photography on a Zeiss Nettar that my Dad brought back with him from WWII. That one still gets out on occasion, albeit the lens is so cloudy anymore that I'm amazed I still get images from it. My AGFA Super Isolette and Record III (both with Solinar lenses) are by far the folders I use the most and they deliver great results. In 35mm I'm a fan of the Retina IIa and c, and AGFA Karat 35.
Folders in general are just a delight to use. I especially like seeing the reaction that people have when you pull one out in public places.