Compact MF cameras?

Discussion in 'Medium Format & Large Format' started by earthmanbuck, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. earthmanbuck

    earthmanbuck No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've been wanting to get into medium format for the last little while, and while I have picked up a couple cameras (Mamiya M645 & Airesflex TLR), I haven't really had a chance to use either yet. It's been very, very cold up here, and neither camera is practical for slipping in and out of a jacket...and my apartment has about the worst lighting of any manmade space I have yet encountered, so indoor shooting is also difficult.

    So anyway, I've been thinking about maybe getting a smaller medium format camera as something easier to carry around—and I also don't have much experience with rangefinders, so it's kind of a two-birds-one-stone situation as far as trying new stuff goes. I was hoping you folks might have some recommendations of models I could look into (or ones I should avoid), as my generic eBay browsing is a slow process.

    Some things to consider:
    - I'm not going to spend a ton, I'm just trying to find something that works and is decent.
    - A coupled rangefinder would be ideal, but I recognize that might not be possible for what I'm willing to spend.
    - I'm not picky about size—645, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 are all cool with me.
    - I'd prefer a lens with a focal length pretty close to the eye's natural view, which if I understand correctly is around 80mm for MF.
    - Folding cameras seem like a good solution as far as size goes, but how sturdy do bellows tend to be? Are folding cameras more susceptible to getting fogged up by cold?
    - One I've seen come up a lot on eBay is the Agfa Isolette—anyone have any experience with these?

    Thanks in advance!


     
  2. compur

    compur Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The Isolette is OK if you just want to try folding camera but its build quality is at a minimum level, the bellows often need repair or replacement and the focusing is almost always frozen due to the grease that Agfa used on them which turns rock hard with age.

    The Zeiss folders (Ikonta, Nettar, etc) are generally better quality and more likely to be working OK. The Super Ikonta has a rangefinder but is usually pretty pricey as are most folding cameras with rangefinders.

    Above is a photo of a Japanese folder that I own and have used and I recommend it. It's called the Zenobia by Daiichi Kogaku. It is about as compact as any medium format folder. Build quality is quite good and the lens is a nice 4-element type similar to the Zeiss Tessar and good shutter with a full range of speeds to 1/500. It's not well known so prices are often very reasonable and there are usually some on eBay at any given time. It is compact and provides a 645 format image.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
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  3. john.margetts

    john.margetts No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    1) normal focal lengths for medium format are 75 mm for 6 x 4/5 , 80 mm for 6 x 6 , 110 mm for 6 x 9

    2) bellows vary according to make. Zeiss Ikon and Voigtlander bellows are tough and I have never come across defective one, dating back to cameras made in the 1920s. Agfa bellows are not so good and many of the 1950s Agfa I have seen have had defective bellows. You can check bellows in a darkish room and a torch.
     
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  4. john.margetts

    john.margetts No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Compur is right about Agfa's infamous green grease. It sets like concrete in time, making focusing impossible.
     
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  5. earthmanbuck

    earthmanbuck No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ah yes, thanks—the majority of what I had been looking up were 6x6, so I guess the 80mm stuck in my brain early.
     
  6. webestang64

    webestang64 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I really like my Voigtlander, got it along with 3 other cameras and a light meter for $35. Works perfect with no light leaks.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Look up Certo 6, he has very good cameras that are gone through. Drop him an email, give him a budget, he will get back to you pretty quick. He is top notch and won't kill you on price. He goes through everything he sells.
     
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  8. SoulfulRecover

    SoulfulRecover Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I don't know what your price point is but the Mamiya 6 or 7, Fuji GSW69o, Fuji GA645ZI, or Plaubel Makina 670 would be the route I would go
     
  9. earthmanbuck

    earthmanbuck No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I was looking into all of these, and for the most part they are well beyond my price range—though it is nice to have something to drool over until I win the lottery. There are a couple Mamiya 6s on eBay for fairly cheap, though, so that is an option.

    I put a fairly low bid in for a Voigtlander Bessa RF, so I'll see what comes of that...but it's great to have a better idea of what to be looking for if that falls through. Thanks everyone, and further recommendations are also welcome!
     
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  10. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I have the Fujifilm GA645Zi but it is not so good for manual focus, very odd to say the least. Other than that, super. It's basically a travel point and shoot,mexium format.
     
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  11. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I have a Agfa Isolette 2 and it is a good imager. It's zone focus only but you can put a ranger finder on the cold shoe if your not into zone focusing.
     
  12. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I've got a Voigtlander Bessa 46 and a Mamiya Six that I am going to sell off ... fixed them up but not put a roll through them.
    The 46 is uncoupled, while the Six is a coupled rangefinder.
     

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