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Looking for a first TLR

CharlesF

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Hello everyone,

For a long time, I've been tempted go get into medium format photography, and what more affordable way than a TLR?
I would like to know people's opinions on what might be the best TLR on a relative budget. I would not want to spend more than £200 or $250 on the camera, so those lovely Rolleiflex 2.8s and 3.5s will be out of the question :(

There are a few I've had my eye on, such as Rolleicords and Yashicas. Has anyone experience with these, and which models would you recommend, given the above budget? Are there any more obscure ones which would produce great images?

Thank you very much in advance!
 
Yashica-MAT's aren't bad (not too sure about the pre-MAT models) with their mechanics like winder.
Minolta Autocords have great optics and mechanics, but most used ones that don't have a broken focus lever aren't cheap.
Ricoh Diacords also have a great lens. If you can find a cheap Ricohmatic 225 get it, its like the Autocord.
Rolleicords come in many flavours with different lenses, so I can't say much to that ... though the Triotar is the "dreamier" of them all.

I have shot with both the Autocord and Diacord.
I have had old Yashica TLR's and the MAT's (including the 124G), and I still have a Rolleicord III (which I am trying to sell by the way).
 
Way back in the day the Yashica-mat's were great camera's. Used one for a few years until Nikon came out with the very affordable Nikkormat. That was the end of my square image days.
 
Later Yashica models with Yashinon lens and the later Rolleicords (III, IV, V) with Xenar lens (assuming they are in good order, of course).

The Yashica-Mat 124G was their last TLR model and they are very capable but I feel they are overpriced these days though they are in your budget range. A late Yashica "D" with Yashinon lens and f/2.8 viewing lens is just as capable and should cost significantly less.

Also, the Zeiss Super Ikonta folding cameras are in your budget range though they are older so more care should be taken to get one in good condition.
 
Found this Voigtlander for $30. Takes very sharp clear 6x6 images. Of course I could have gotten lucky as the bellows is in top shape with no light leaks.

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Just remember the following advice.

A seller who wants to get rid of a camera, will often call a camera to be in excellent condition, even if the shutter doesnt work.

And getting a TLR fixed is EXPENSIVE and few can actually do it. Trust me, if you get a TLR camera DO NOT BE AFRAID if you have to spend the same amount to get it fixed.

I ended up getting a nice diacord, it really was mint condition, almost brand new. The shoe has no scratching or signs of use. The only issue was the shutter was gummed up. I could have tried fixing it myself but i did not want to ruin the front covering. SO it cost me 175$ to have the big TLR man in the USA fix it for me. Whole thingy got a CLA out of it too. The synthetic lube is good for at least 40 years.
 
After taking apart a Yashicamat I’m of the opinion the body is cheap cast aluminum, gears are THIN and weak looking, springs flimsy wire and all in all very unimpressive. On the other hand, I’ve been looking at shots I took with a Rolleicord Vb I had in the 1970s and an Still very impressed by the quality of the images.
 
Though a bit higher than a Minolta, the mamiya C3, C30 or C330 will be a great choice.

Plus there are interchangeable lenses available.

but you need to bargen hunt for the good ones.

As for the Minolta, I have one that worked very well until it was dropped.
Also had an old Yashica Mat as well.
 
Though a bit higher than a Minolta, the mamiya C3, C30 or C330 will be a great choice.

Plus there are interchangeable lenses available.

but you need to bargen hunt for the good ones.

As for the Minolta, I have one that worked very well until it was dropped.
Also had an old Yashica Mat as well.

I had the C330, great images but it was a heavy bugger ... I tried to use it mostly in studio.

Hmm, did you bust the focus lever off on the Minolta ?
 
Though a bit higher than a Minolta, the mamiya C3, C30 or C330 will be a great choice.

Plus there are interchangeable lenses available.

but you need to bargen hunt for the good ones.

As for the Minolta, I have one that worked very well until it was dropped.
Also had an old Yashica Mat as well.

I had the C330, great images but it was a heavy bugger ... I tried to use it mostly in studio.

Hmm, did you bust the focus lever off on the Minolta ?
Nope.
It was sitting in a bad spot when a cat knocked it to the floor.
It hit and went down landing lens frame first. It caused the body to lock up.
 
Think the OP has shopped this question around multiple forums. Lots of solid advice, as usual, dispensed here.

Frankly, TLRs can be heartbreakers unless you've access to competent repair service. Once past the retro chic, there's not much point to fixed lens models when newer ILCs from Pentax, Bronica, and Mamiya often aren't much more than over-priced TLRs. YMMV, as usual.
 
Think the OP has shopped this question around multiple forums. Lots of solid advice, as usual, dispensed here.

Frankly, TLRs can be heartbreakers unless you've access to competent repair service. Once past the retro chic, there's not much point to fixed lens models when newer ILCs from Pentax, Bronica, and Mamiya often aren't much more than over-priced TLRs. YMMV, as usual.

From what has been said on various forums online, some models of interchangeable lens medium format cameras are not as reliable. Certain model have nothing but horror stories and warnings to avoid as to how the advancing gears die after a few dozen rolls of film and cant be fixed, yada yada.

TLRs? Yashicas, Minoltas and cheaper Rolleis suffer age-related issues. Petroleum-based lubricants are often to blame. They weren't professional-grade gear and were built to lower price points with reduced durability. They're all old. Repair is problematic. Soft brass gears on old Bronica S bodies stripped out(your case in point?). I owned one and loved it but the gears died after about a year of light use. Got it cheap and just pitched it. Lots of surgery scars from previous repairs(gears?)on that one. Have a Bronica SQ-B, Mamiya 645 Super and Mamiya RB67 Pro S. Ten plus years of moderate use--no problems.

Your experience?
 
Back in the 80's I had a Mamiya C330 with 55, 80, and 135 lenses. It's a great camera.
 
greybeard. If it looks good it is good reminded me of a similar statement by a famous wine expert who was asked how to tell if a particular wine is good. He not being a wine snob said "IF IT TASTES GOOD IT IS GOOD".
 
Have a Rolleiflex 3.5 F. Purchased it years ago and in excellent condition. Today it still produces 6x6 images, admittedly the slowest speeds, up to 1/4 are slow. From 1/4 on they are fine. I exercise the shutter speeds about once a month. This is the only remedy for slow speeds, short of repair. Quality service on Rollei TLR’s in the US is questionable.


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