Here is something you could consider:
Let's pretend your Bronica/Yashica Mat is a special LF camera, giving you superb quality without the hassle. We don't know how large prints you make, but unless you're absolutely sure you want a decent contact print or movements, MF can produce solid quality in a much more compact form. Yes, a print from a 6x6 negative, using the finest grained films (as you do from what I saw in your excellent Gallery uploads) will not look exactly the same as one from a 5x4 negative, but the difference can be so small as to become irrelevant. If you managed to get your shot with the LF camera.
Looking at my own photographs, if even I don't care that much after some time what format was used for a given print, I wonder how much others will. It's easy to see the difference in an A/B test of course, but by looking at the print from the smaller format alone, the chances are high you'll think "now this is lively tonaily/next time I should open up the aperture more/use an orange filter", instead of "damn, why couldn't I take this using my LF outfit?".
Use any camera (more or less) long enough and it will become intuitive and easy to handle regardless of the situation. It's all in the photographers mind:
1. If you can trick yourself into thinking that you're actually not shooting Efke 25/TMX/Delta 100/Acros/Pan F+ in a 6x6 camera, but a well-maintained 5x4 with a clean lens, you win on many fronts and lose only on a few.
2. In 1905 someone was happy if he could borrow a friend's camera, very happy if he had his own and was loosing his sense of reality if he had many lenses/cameras to choose for a given shot. Pretend it's 1905 and you're lucky to have a great camera with a single lens. Choose one, put away the rest and don't think about them for a month/year.
Keep the SqA system, and get a Fuji GW690. The 6x9 negative will amaze you because of its size, and it's very portable. But I completely understand the desire for a simple approach, and easy to carry package.
I also have a Cosina/Voigtlander 35mm RF kit, and am amazed at how compact it is even with 3 or 4 interchangeable lenses. It's easy to carry around, if you can live with 35mm.
Back in high school, I shot a Yashica-Mat 124, and got good results, but just a few years ago I tried to use it, and I can't focus it easily, and holding a TLR steady was very hard now that I am much older. So I sold it.
Unless you want to carry around a lot of heavy equipment, or shoot close to your car, a LF camera isn't going to give you an easily portable system.
Get a Rolleiflex. Splurge and get a 2.8 D or E. Save money and find an E either without a meter or with a non-functioning meter. Best camera you can buy for the types of shooting a TLR is good for, and the optics are of course second to none.
Your discourse here makes me think of my camera collection now as a waste now. All bought with specific plans for this use or that at one time or another and often never used. Now I like the Fuji GW690III or GSW690III as the best possible investment I ever made along those lines though I dearly love the Rolleiflex SL66's a lot, but the sheer weight of those lovelies is, well, ... what to say? Weight is a ponderous factor as we get older, is it not? Good things to consider here, gentlemen, I thank you.
Get a Rollei T or Rolleicord Vb, I've owned both, the "T" since 1978, it continues to give superb quality, is light to carry and has been a model of reliability.
Lots of points to consider here and I thank you for your comments, there is a lot of thinking to on my part.....another few solutions have occured to me lately, maybe I should just get myself a smaller bag? less equipment can fit, no temptation to bring along everything, just in case. The new strap I've gotten seems to make the camera (Bronica) a bit more comfortable to use (When using it handheld, with WLF), though a 45 degree finder looks neat. Rolleiflexes are good (better than the Yashica for sure) and they are also collectable, this reflects in the price (and living in the Southern Hemisphere doesn't help either!!!!) So that will stay on my wishlist for a little longer. Maybe a little old widow will give one to me (I wish!!!!)
Fuji RFs are a bit of a rarity here (never seen one for sale, online in South Africa) so that might also be a bit out of reach...
4x5....that is a future purchase and I am not considering one soon.
I am considering selling the 500mm Bronica lens...I never use it, that and the prism finder. Maybe save that up?
PDH suggested the older Mamiya 6. I have one and it isn't bad, but I agree that vintage folders can be somewhat of a crap shoot. I ended up buying a second one for parts, combining elements to get the cleanest lens I could and then getting a hood for it and the results were much better than when I first got it. But stilll, I would strongly recommend the New Mamiya 6. It is superior to the old one in almost every sense. The only trade off is that it is a little bit bigger.
It has exchangeable lenses but there are only three so it isn't one of those endless money pits! In particular the 50mm WA is exceptional.
It is very compact, even more so than the 7 or 7ii because the lens collapses into the body when not in use. I think it's lighter than most TLRs and easy to hold/operate.
The ergonomics are very good.
The view finder automatically adjusts for each lens and has parallax comp. so no need for external finders.
It has a built in meter if you want to use it, but also can be used in manual.
The build is much more robust than any folder.
I have been very happy with the results!
If you really want to go with a folder I would recommend the Fuji GF670. It's pricey but has the wonderful advantage of being able to shoot 6x6 or 6x7 without the hassle of changing film backs. And the optics are second to none!
It might be hard to imagine... almost impossible at times in my life, but I am PAST GAS. I have every camera I could ever want, I 'll never have the Leica I lusted after, nor the the Hassey. But I don't need them. I still have the Nikon FM2 from 25 years ago, I have an rb67 that takes great pictures when it gets dragged out. The Deardorff V8 takes care of all my sheet film needs, excepting when I want to burn the rest of the 3x4 film in the freezer, and there is the Graplex rb for that. Rolls of 120 have a number of outlets from the 635 to the rb67 to roll backs for the speed graphics.
What do I want? What do I need?
It's the same in most areas of my life. Don't need any new woodworking tools, don't even need any more fabric for my quilting hobby.
So here I am at 56, out of GAS, and nothing to do but clean up 43 years of projects. If I work hard, I'll be finished by the time I'm 134.
tim in san jose
For me simplifying hasn't changed anything. It only created a vacuum that needed filling at some point. I've also tried carrying 2 cameras of the same format just for film choices but generally only shot one. The other became a dead weight for a couple of frames and a body to stick a telephoto lens on. It would have been better to stick the lens in my pocket or a belt bag. My best kit is one body and 2 prime lenses and a 2 lb tripod. I can hike and scramble the rocks. If your not opposed to trying a different regime, take the Bronica out next time with just one lens and don't fear not having all the tools. It's actually kind of liberating. If you find that another lens would have been better, zoom with your feet, move back or crop. I also found I had to get over the every picture everytime with the right equipment mentality. I think I've gotten better using less. At least my back and feet hurt less.
I'm in the same place as Tim (two posts above). I've pretty much bought every camera that I ever wanted. At the end of the day, there are a handful that I really like: a few SLRs, some folding cameras, a couple of box cameras and some rangefinders.
I'm sitting (literally sitting, as they are under the bed in bins) on a substantial group of cameras that I will soon decide to keep or sell. But it's been a great photographic journey, and I would encourage anyone to try as many cameras a possible and not limit themselves to one camera, one format or one thing in life.
Leicas are great, but they aren't the end game for photography. Same goes for a Rolleiflex, a Nikon or Canon or a Bronica or Hasselblad or [any other camera make].
To the original poster, I would try a few different types of cameras and see which ones you like best and then settle on those.
You might be surprised by what you like and don't like.