some Gaoersi 6x12 experience
i purchased a Gaoersi 6x12 this year from their e-bay store. my intention is to give an honest account without bias to any brand with expectations in line with the price point of this camera. mine took a while (three weeks?) to receive as they had my name and address misspelled and handwritten in nearly unreadable handwriting. no biggie. the camera came packed in broken pieces of styrofoam which is another no biggie but started the experience off with an unprofessional feel.
at first glance this looks like a really nice "fancy" camera body with a rose-wood handle, a bubble level and even a gold coat of arms logo badge. upon closer examination i began to realize that camera is more accurately described in my mind as a the product of some people with good design ideas and access to a nice machine shop. this camera has an industrial spirit.
some of the things i found to be disappointing about this camera are... places where glue was used like on the wooden handle and on the glass window of the film back, there is sloppy workmanship in that there are some glue smears here and there. black yarn is used in the light trap between the body and lens board. some screws could have been flush with the body surface, and most screws look like something from the hardware store (which is ok i guess) an exception being some of the internal screws that hold the film rollers are very soft brass and look to be homemade with off center slots. i broke the head off one with very little pressure. i ended up having to find a matching thread screw at the hardware store then cut it to length with a hacksaw and file it smooth to make a replacement. on my camera the film gate was roughly machined so i did a little filing to smooth some edges. the pressure place/film roller interface somehow manages to rip off the lick-n-stick tag off the end of every roll i run through. the helical lens mount is , well not smooth or precise in feel. there is also no "dot" or line stop to focus with. when i calibrated my lens using a tape measure i found that instead of the focus point being at 12 O'clock where it appears it should be, mine was off enough that the focus point was more like 11 O'clock, so placed a dab of pink nail polish on the mount in that position. the viewfinder is heavy and with what i think is a lot of distortion. the front of the viewfinder is covered by a piece of what looked like cut window glass, mine cracked while sitting on the shelf, so i removed it. the viewfinder mount also does not have a way to lock in the viewfinder, that really bugs me. the back dooe has no foam or yarn and just relies on a deeper light trap, which is fine, but mine seems to be just out of alignment enough that when i replace the back door i have to push firmly until is make an loud "snap" into place. no big deal, but i don't like the fully removable door and having to find some place to put it while changing film. the see-through window is just a fog waiting to happen in my opinion, but it is what it is.
so, it may seem that i have bashed this camera and have an overall negative opinion. i don't. i believe i see this camera for what it is and my expectations are in line with the purchase price and quality of manufacture. it's not a Mamiya for crying out loud. i imagine this as a very small time operation with some good ideas, a good machine shop and a desire to fill a niche. obviously there is room for multiple improvements, but at this price point it is what it is. for me it fits my need quite well. most of my nature photography is done backpacking and crawling up remote trout streams in the mountains and i need a tank of a camera in a small package. i have been using a Mamiya 7ii with a 43mm lens for this work and boy is that a hard combination to beat! however, every time i pull that Mamiya out to mount it on a tripod while standing thigh deep in rushing water on slippery rocks i get very nervous. except for the lens this Gaoersi could be used to fight off a bear.
so for what it is worth. for me, as long as my expectaions are realistic and i am willing to overlook some lack of refinement and an imperfection here and there this is a work-horse bombproof camera body that i am happy with and would purchase again if money was an issue and sturdiness was important.
i will try to post a few pics.... mine is set up with the Rodenstock Super Angulon 65mm 5.6
these pics were taken using ilford delta 100 at f32 for about 30sec. the sunlight was already up and in the background and not to my liking but i had backpacked far enough that i was going to shoot some film anyway