TLR camera recommendations?

earthmanbuck

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I've been tossing around the idea of picking up an old TLR just for something new to play around with, but I've never shot one and don't know a whole lot about them. Does anyone have any recommendations of cameras that are simple enough for a beginner, yet sturdy and decent enough I'm not going to want to upgrade in a couple months? (For reference, my favourite 35mm to shoot is still my Pentax K1000.)

I've been looking on eBay in my price range and seeing some Mamiya C220s and C330s, some Yashica Ds, Yashica-Mat LMs, Lubitel 166s...

I also was in a local antique shop the other day and they had a handful of Rolleiflexes (don't remember the model) for about $50 each—it would be my preference to do that, but I'd want to make sure they worked first, and I don't really know what to look for on that type of body.

All help appreciated!
 

SoulfulRecover

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the Mamiya C330s are awesome

I use to have a Rolleicord and Rolleiflex. Both were awesome as well. If I were to get one again, Id look for a Rollei
 

jcdeboever

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Check the shutter at all speeds. Look through the viewfinder, is it clean and bright? Open the back and shine a light on the inside. Open the aperture and shine a bright light in it, look for fungus, debris, scratch's. Rolleiflex for 90, chances are it has issues but if it's a 2.8f Rollei, would be worth picking up and getting serviced by the Rollei guy. Check the film advance lever.

Mamiya, Rolleicord, Rolleiflex, are all good. I have a Airesflex that hardly gets used but it is capable of tack sharp images.
 

dxqcanada

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There are many TLR's around ... a popular model is the Yashica MAT 124G ... Rollei products are very over priced.

TLR's are very easy to use ... I have had many of them.

... will rephrase ... working Rollei products are very over-priced.
 
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compur

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I've been tossing around the idea of picking up an old TLR just for something new to play around with, but I've never shot one and don't know a whole lot about them. Does anyone have any recommendations of cameras that are simple enough for a beginner, yet sturdy and decent enough I'm not going to want to upgrade in a couple months? (For reference, my favourite 35mm to shoot is still my Pentax K1000.)

I've been looking on eBay in my price range and seeing some Mamiya C220s and C330s, some Yashica Ds, Yashica-Mat LMs, Lubitel 166s...

I also was in a local antique shop the other day and they had a handful of Rolleiflexes (don't remember the model) for about $50 each—it would be my preference to do that, but I'd want to make sure they worked first, and I don't really know what to look for on that type of body.

All help appreciated!

All the cameras you mentioned are fine except the Lubitel (which is OK as a cheapie but not in the same class as the others).

The Mamiyas have the advantage of interchangeable lenses.

All these cameras are getting pretty long in the tooth so it is likely they will need some service before they are fully operational. The most common issues being sticky shutters and/or hazy lenses.
 
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earthmanbuck

earthmanbuck

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Ummm, where is this Shop ... I need to drive there right now !!!
Yeah, I was surprised too! I didn't really know what I was looking for when I looked them over, but the viewfinders looked fine to me. It's a weird little hidden place that is only open Saturdays from about 12-4, and on random other days as the owner sees fit. They have some neat stuff there, and a lot of it is quite a bit cheaper than other such places. I'm definitely going back to scope out those cameras (and a few other things), but unfortunately will have to hold off until next weekend.

Thanks for the replies, all!
 

dxqcanada

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Umm, you ain't telling me where this place is ... I am on the road right now, randomly driving around looking for Rollei's.
 

pendennis

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I'll recommend a Mamiya C330s. I own one currently, and it makes great images. I also have the 180mm, 135mm, 80mm, and 55mm lenses. It has a prism finder mounted, and I meter using a Pentax Digital Spot.

The Mat 124G is a good candidate, but after owning one, the Mamiya 80mm lens is sharper than that of the Yashica. However, any good 120 negative/transparency is better than a good 35mm.
 
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earthmanbuck

earthmanbuck

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Umm, you ain't telling me where this place is ... I am on the road right now, randomly driving around looking for Rollei's.
Well I can't tell you before I get a chance to go back... :friendly_wink: You'd be looking at a full day's drive, anyway...I'm in the 'Peg.
 

Dave Colangelo

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I have owned a few different ones. I had a Yashica 635 (recently sold) which was a nice camera. I never used the 35mm convert kit but I had it and it was a neat thing. The camera had its share of issues but all of the major TLR's have basically the same copal inspired shutter system. Names aside the inner workings are nearly identical and fairly easy to fix at home if you are adventurous. I have a Rolleiflex 3.5 which is far better made than the Yashica was. The lever arm crank on the flex's add some mechanical complexity which makes them a tad harder to service but their popularity has lead to more people being out there who can service them so its two fold. I have never owned anything made by mamiya but I would not be apposed to it they have a die hard following.

What to look for:

Most of these lens units had two speed units with 1/15th or 1/30th being the switch over. That being said anything above that used the higher speed release which in my experience lasts far longer. The slow speed mechanics have a habit of sticking. This can manifest its self as a shutter that opens but does not close. You can often get it to shut with a light tap on the side of the camera. This is very easily fixed with some napthal and watch oil.

Its hard to check (unless you carry around a piece of 6x6 ground glass) but the taking lens and focusing lens do have the ability to calibrate. Since you are not looking through the lens you are actually shooting they must be calibrated to make the system work correctly. Practically most units out there are good to go unless someone went nuts on it and tampered with it.
 

cgw

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TLRs are all subject to age-related maladies now. Competent fixes on top-shelf models like Rolleis don't come cheap. Not sure if it's the format or the cameras that appeal but if it's 6x6, I'd look into something like a clean Bronica SQ(A, Ai, B) with an 80/2.8 and a 120 back.
 

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