Lots of votes for the Yashica Mat, but don't forget there is the plain D and also the 635 which was basically a "D" with the option of a little kit so you could also shoot 35mm. (Bit pointless IMO). I have a 635 myself and its great. There are two lenses out there the Yashikor and the Yashinon. The former a 3 element and the latter a 4 element. Maybe there is a microscopic difference wide open, but the supposedly inferior Yashikor is still a great lens!. Nice ones seem to go for £60-£90 here in the UK.
Also I see vote for the Mamiya 645. I have one of these too (GAS) I wanted to try MF in an SLR with interchageable lenses. Ended up with a 645J (the lowest spec with "just" a 1/500 shutter). Paid £150 for an almost mint with 55 & 80mm lenses and metered prism finder off the great auction site, so not expensive.
The mamiya is quite a bit heavier than the Yashica, but is just about neckable to walk out with using a good padded (I have optech) strap.
If you want interchangeable lenses you might look at the Bronica 645 ETR series. My first medium format camera was an ETRSI. They are nice cameras and their lenses are sharp and inexpensive. I sold mine because a good friend offered me a fantastic deal on a Bronica EC kit with 3 lenses that I couldn't pass up.
Thank you all very much. I will read about the models you've suggested and then get back to you.
Originally Posted by Sepia Hawk
Welcome, and if you haven't learned yet asking for advice/opinions on this board does not get ignored.
You could help by providing some guidance on the capital (money) in your budget, it would help steer the conversation. You mentioned that you currently own Canon gear, so you are used to handling quality goods, and in MF the price points pop up to a degree. Knowing your budget would be great.
I would second the Bronica etrs. They are great cameras. Easy to use. Easy to find. Prices are great. Nice starter kit would cost around $200.
Most of my MF stable is TLRs and folders, and while I like both, they're very different animals. A well-made TLR may have more of a "normal camera" feeling to someone coming from modern 35mm gear; it basically functions like an SLR with bizarre ergonomics and no mirror blackout, whereas a folder might have more of a "weird old machinery" feel. All things considered, I'd look to TLRs first for someone new to MF.
Some of the 645 SLRs are relatively cheap and have more of a giant-version-of-35mm working style. My Mamiya 645 has basically put my 35mm gear out of a job for most purposes. Even a small MF SLR is pretty enormous compared to 35mm gear, though, and while they don't *look* much bigger than TLRs, gravity sez different!
Among specific low-cost recommendations. Forgot to mention these are all folding cameras. And to include my earlier note that all of them should be serviced unless you can buy one that already has been serviced. Also, with these cameras listed below, there are no foam seals.
- Zeiss Ikon Nettar: Always has a triplet ... either a Novar or the Nettar Anastigmat. They will have simple shutters: Klio, Telmar, Derval or Pronto(r).
- Zeiss Ikon Ikonta: These will have either a Novar or a Tessar (premium lens) set in a Pronto(r) or Compur shutter. The earliest Novar-equipped models might also have simpler shutters.
- Agfa Isolette, II and III: Will have either an Agnar, Apotar or Solinar (premium lens) set in a Pronto(r) or Compur shutter. The weakness of all Agfa cameras is a hardened grease that is now like concrete and plastic bellows that can develop holes in them. The III has an uncoupled rangefinder.
- Kodak Duo 620: From its German Nagel factory, this is a great little 6x4.5 camera. It's 620, so you have to respool 120 film. And you'll need some blank 620 spools. It's easiest to buy some old Kodak 620 cameras for a few bucks. Just make sure that they have the film spool inside. This should have a Kodak Anastigmat or Tessar lens in a Compur shutter. The Kodak Anastigmat lens is very good. The so-called art deco model might have a Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar.
- Kodak Vollenda 620: Also from the house of Nagel, most will be 6x9, but there also is a 6x6 camera. The 6x6 model has a Kodak Anastigmat lens set in a Compur shutter. Being a Kodak product, it is 620. Once Kodak introduced 620 film, it produced no more 120 cameras except for just one model, as far as I can tell.
- Voigtlander Perkeo: A well-made German folding camera with either a Vaskar or Skopar (premium lens) in a Pronto(r) or Compur shutter.
- Balda Baldax: Nice German 6x6 camera. The one that I have is a scale-focus model with the humble Schneider-Kreuznach Radionar lens.
I hope others will fill in the gaps with cameras that I've forgotten to include.
What is your budget? With the price drop of film cameras, you can get pretty good gear for a reasonable price.
Example, I bought a Hasselblad 500cm + 80CF + A12 back for less than what I paid for a Nikon D70.
And you can get even better, I have seen kits of RB67 body + 3 lenses listed for what a single Hasselblad lens lists/sells for. But the RB67 is one of the bulkier and heavier MF SLRs.
A good starter is a TLR like the recommended Yashicamat.
I personally would not go with a folder.
One thing to keep in mind is that many of these cameras are quite old; 30,40+ years old. Unless you are lucky and get a camera that has been recently serviced, most will require a CLA (clean lube adjust) at some point, and that will add to the cost. Grease dries and gets hard with age. A 1-piece camera like a TLR will cost less to do a CLA than a multi-piece camera like a Hasselblad (lens+body+back). Approx $250 vs $500 ($200+200+100). Any repairs will cost additional on top of the CLA charge.
hi sepia hawk
i hate to suggest this
but you might look for a baby speed graphic press camera and get a
roll film back for it. or a baby graflex slr and an adapter
to use modern film holders and roll film backs ...these cameras come up used
all the time at a reasonable price, roll film adapters too
interchangable lenses ( you can use barrel - non shuttered / enlarger lenses as
well as expensive ones or ones harvested off of junk store folders ).
have the range finder calibrated ( easy to do yourself ) for your main lens ..
you can easily sell it for what you paid ... and if you find film holders
you can shoot paper negatives with it instead of film.
have fun !
I'm surprised that noone's mentioned the way that I got into MF film, and that's the good old Pentacon Six. For a start, they're cheap, and they're reliable, and they've got lovely lovely Zeiss lenses to go along with them. They've also got www.pentaconsix.com, for all the info you could ever want about anything ever made for them (same way that www.the-digital-picture.com got me to choose digital Canon over Nikon, information is king).
For a body by itself, maybe $60-100. Prism $50, or Kiev 60 Prism $10-40 plus prism adapter $20-30. Fresnel Screen $20. Biometar 80mm f/2.8 $80-100. Get all of that in a guaranteed working CLA'd kit for $200 (if you need names of trustworthy people on ebay to buy from just ask me, 'cupog' and 'grizzly33bear' are good places to start).
Some people shy away from the Kievs, but i've never had a problem with my Kiev 60 either. In fact, it looks so much more well built than my Pentacon 6 and the shutter just sounds a lot more definite (maybe my P6 has had a hard life, K60 was well taken care of and CLAd before I got it). Never had a problem with my Kiev 88CM Hasselbladski either. TTL Spot Prism for $50, *and* it fits all Hasselblad models too? Yes please.
The lens selection is great, Zeiss made 50/4, 80/2.8, 120/2.8, 180/2.8, 300/4. The Soviet ripoffs can be good, can be bad, the only thing that anyone agrees on is that their Quality Control wasn't the best (if it existed at all). Things like a Zodiak 30mm f/3.5 Fisheye, a direct ripoff of the Hasselblad version for 10% of the price (and maybe 95% of the performance).
Quality of others is reflected in the prices, an uncoated Volna 80/2.8 can be had for $20, hit or miss, and resell it if it's soft for the price of shipping and a test roll or have a nice paperweight or "soft focus" lens. (ok, i've never had one that bad, but i cleaned my Zeiss Biometar 80/2.8 and misaligned the elements, now it's Soft Focus only).
And the best part is, there's adapters to anything and everything. That's how I got into them, Tilt-adapter to my EOS, since bought a Shift adapter too (if only they did both), $100 or so each on fleabay. Can mount Kiev 88 / Hassy 1000 lenses on them with a tiny adapter ring for $20. Even better is an adapter to Mamiya or Contax or Pentax 645, I bought my Mamiya 645 a year before I got my first mamiya lens because I just used it with my P6 glass.