help please! choosing vintage camera


TPF Noob!
Mar 10, 2006
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Can anyone suggest a vintage med. format camera that will give good results with B&W? I have been looking for quite sometime and have no idea what to buy. Most of the pictures will be of friends and family. I also would like to try all types of outdoor photography. I am extremely new to this so if I missed anything please ask.
There are a ton of Yashicamat TLRs out there for a pittance of that amount.

Mamiya 220s and 330s can be had in that range also.

The Kievs are abundant and cheap.

Choices are varied.

A Mamiya 645e is about that also. I know where a very nice example may be. PM me if interested.

Take a look at, and look at the Mamiya setups.

I recently got a RB67 body, adapter plate, back and lens for under $250.

They are not pritty, but the mechanics are sound, and the glass clean. Stay awayfrom anything they list as "Ugly". (Parts only!)

Also look into the aboved mentioned Kiev 88's, but speeking on experiance, the Salyut (predesessor) should be avoided.

Any 645 is good to start with, but the Bronicas are really good values. The ETRS's are now plentiful and inexpencive on e-bay.

Avoid the press cameras, not because they are bad, but difficult to get parts for.
Minolta Autocord TLR's, Yashicas, and even Walsflex are good.
I'm still using a Minolta Autocord bought new many years ago.

On the topic of a budget: Leave room for accessories. You'll be wanting a tripod, lens hood, cable release, filters and possibly a separate light meter [2nd hand Gossen Luna Pro is recommended. There's a work-around available for the problem of batteries.]

Then, you might well find that B&W becomes far more interesting when you do your own processing. At the least, you can process the film inexpensively. Contact printing doesn't require much more in the way of gear, and the 6x6cm negatives are large enough for you to make valid choices on which shots to have enlarged.
For $500 there are plenty of good choices. First you should look into the different designs available: SLR, TLR, folder, rangefinder, press camera, etc... See if you can see how they might or might not work with your style.

I think the best deal for the money is with the TLRs. Minolta, Mamiya, and Yashica all make great TLRs that can be had for under $250. Rolleiflexes are more expensive ($350+), but they are fantastic cameras. My Rolleiflex is my favorite all around camera. It combines fantastic image quality with easy portability.

These days there are a lot of good SLR systems going cheap. The Norita 66 is like a big, basic 35mm SLR. They were cheap before the digital revolution, so I would think they'd be even cheaper now. Bigger names like Hasselblad and Mamiya are going cheaper every day. The Hasselblad 500 series cameras are legendary, and they are even building digital backs that will fit on them.

Rangefinders like the Fujis and Mamiyas are a little smaller than the SLRs. Old folding cameras are tiny for medium format. I carry a 6x6 folder that actually fits in my pocket.
If you don't mind a relatively bulky camera, the best choice is the RB/RZ67, hands down. If you need something lighter and more versatile, I'd suggest the Pentax 645 over the Mamiya 645 or the Bronica 645. I'll post back on monday with some prices from my local shop (it's much more reliable and affordable than ebay).

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