I own three 6x9 folders and my experience has been similar to Mike's. Most are by this day in age are fixer uppers. Both bringing them up to speed and shooting with them are a labor of love, which if you are in the proper frame of mind should be rewarding.
Originally Posted by elekm
Both the Zeiss Ikon 531/2 and Bessa II are investment grade cameras. The Bessa II with a Heliar is even more so, but ohhhh what an excellent lens.
Of my three 6x9 folders, an Agfa Record III, Agfa Billy Record II and Voigtlander Bessa I, the Bessa I needed the least amount of work, while the Billy Record II has been the camera I use most. The Record III by the way needed a total urban renewal and after the purchase of a new set of bellows from camerabellows.com is my most expensive camera in my collection of vintage 35mm and medium format cameras.
Oddly, the Billy Record II is the least equipped of the three, but with a set of bellows carefully removed from a Franka Rolfix, a lens/shutter combo carefully removed from a later Agfa Record II and an accessory Voigtlander rangefinder, it gets the job done. I get nice constrasty images from the 3 element Apotar and really don't miss the top shutter speed of 1/500 of the Bessa I and Record III.
Moral of the story is an Ikonta 523/2 or an East German Ercona II will yield truly satisfying photos for hundreds of $ less than a super rare top of the line 6x9 camera that's priced to match their collectability. Accessory range finders aren't as ideal a built-in coupled RF, but they do get you there.
Except for the Albada viewfinder on the 531/2, expect a smallish viewfinder. My Bessa I has the smallest viewfinder of any camera I own. One reason that I use my Billy Record II the most is that it has largest viewfinder of my three 6x9 cameras, in addition to its being the smallest camera of the group. An external viewfinder, with real framelines, usually sells for nearly what you will pay for non-RF 6x9 folder in good condition.
Andrew in Austin, TX