A quest for a reasonably cheap TLR

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by M-88, Dec 25, 2018.

  1. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Member
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    I had the Ricoh Diacord G ... the lens is really good.
     
  2. MattKing

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    The bellows in the Mamiya TLRs and the bellows in the Mamiya RB series are really robust. I also think that they are much less prone to wear or damage, because neither of the Mamiya cameras uses a bellows to permit folding or closing.
    The C330 that I bought from the store I was working in in 1976(?) - it was the store demonstrator - has been trouble free from the beginning, and the bellows shows no sign of damage and almost no sign of wear. As it has two shutter releases, I can actually use it with just one hand. When I had a C220 it required a finger from my other hand to release the shutter.
     
  3. outwest

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    I've had a Rolleicord, two Autocords, a Yashica Mat (the first version, a Yashica 635, several Rollei 3.5 Tessars, a Rollei 2.8C Xenotar, a Rollei 3.5E Planar, a Rollei 3.5F Planar, an older Ricoh, and a Zeiss Ikoflex. I still have the Autocord, the 2.8C and 3.5F Rolleis, and the Ikoflex. The Yashica Mat was a good camera and the Rollei Tessars were good cameras. The Ikoflex is an overlooked jewel. I love the Autocord and, of course, the 3.5F Rollei is incomparable.
     
  4. OP
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    M-88

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    Then they must be built like a tank. According to the information on the net, although there is a difference in weight between C220 and the rest, the difference in physical dimensions between C22, C33, C220 and C330, so I might just as well go for the first viable opportunity. But it still feels like heavy and wrong.

    I think it's a universally accepted fact that Rolleiflex is better than everything else. However, they cost a fortune. Ikoflex is gaining reputation as well, I think, because the prices are increasing.
     
  5. Arklatexian

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    And Ho, Ho, Ho to you on this Christmas, oops, it is after midnight, so on this day after Christmas. My pick would be the Rolleicord, in usable condition, followed by the Autocord, also in usable condition.. Of the two, I had rather have the Rollei. Though less in price than a Rolleiflex, the Rolleicord is, in my opinion, the same quality as most Rolleiflexes and better than some. There is a reason why its price is more than the others and that reason is not hype......Regards!
     
  6. OP
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    M-88

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    I'm glad to know the price is not due to a hype. From my impression Rolleicord was made for those who couldn't afford Rolleiflex, back when they were still in production. But it's true for today as well.

    ________________________________________________________________

    So I can basically buy whichever TLR I want as long as it's fully functional and has a four element lens. And boy, that's a long list of names.

    Thank you everyone!
     
  7. btaylor

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    Yes, the Rolleicord was made for those who could not afford a Rolleiflex. That was me about 40 years ago when I bought my used Rolleicord V with the f3.5 Xenar lens. Now I have Rolleiflexes with Zeiss Planar lenses. In viewing normal sized prints I can see no difference between pics taken with the Xenar or Planars. The ‘cord is slightly smaller and much lighter too.
     
  8. OP
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    M-88

    M-88 Member
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    I understand technical advantages of Planar over the older designs, but for some reason I like Tessar (Xenar in this case) better. It's not about the difference in cost, or quality, I just like its character more. Maybe I'm being irrational, but on larger scale whole film photography can be considered irrational from certain point of view.
     
  9. guangong

    guangong Subscriber
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    In scanning your thread, this is at least the second time you have sort of apologized for being an amateur. Most “professional” photographers produce rather humdrum stuff. Most likely, the photographers that you admire are amateurs supported by healthy trust funds that allowed them to be full time amateurs. However, there are some amateurs who must pay the rent and do professional jobs, while maintaining the spirit of an amateur. I have friends in both camps.
    As an amateur you can take any kind of picture that you like, and don’t have to worry about criticism (except maybe from the wife).
     
  10. guangong

    guangong Subscriber
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    P.S. Don’t waste your money. Buy a quality camera and grow with it!
     
  11. jnantz

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    yeah they are very nice, at least as nice as an old rollei / auto cord ...

    შობას გილოცავთ !

    john
     
  12. OP
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    M-88

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    Well, there are objective reasons which define me as an amateur who doesn't really need a pro grade items as I saw during past two years of changing 35 mm cameras one after another. And frankly I don't have a photographer who I admire. It's just my hobby which helps me to keep a healthy way of life + create something in the process.


    Now that you put it like that, I better stay away from Rolleicord and Autocord altogether :D

    I'll keep an eye out for any working TLR with four element lens. However Mamiya C series are also lingering somewhere in my thoughts. I'll let lady luck decide what happens.
     
  13. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    Tessar-type lenses are excellent. And the Xenar is an excellent version of it. One of the best lenses I ever had was on an ~1949 Rolleiflex, a Xenar. I have read somewhere (ah, the internet, where rumors become facts and facts become fake) that after WWII Schneider wanted to make the most of its chance to be a supplier to Rollei. So they did a lot testing and quality control, leading to some very well-matched sets for the Xenars. So pay attention to the Rolleicord III. And the early post-war Automats with Xenars. I've seen too many Tessars (meaning Zeiss lenses, not simply the design) from the late 40s and early 50s with problems of separation and mounting cements decaying so be careful if you go that way.

    The early post-war Rolleis have 10-bladed apertures. This changed about 1953? or so. The Autocords have curved 10-bladed apertures in the Optiper MXS shutter model (but not the Optiper MVL) and the Seikosha MX shutter model; after that the shutters have straight 8-bladed apertures.

    In all of these type of conversations, remember that condition is the most important thing. Mechanical functioning, alignment, and lens condition can make a mediocre camera produce better photos than any 'high end' camera that is in bad condition.
     
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  15. OP
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    M-88

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    It's always on my mind. Many thanks!

    As for Tessar, I doubt I can find a difference between pictures taken with 10 rounded blades and 8 straight blades with naked eye, but it's always interesting to learn something new.
     
  16. Ko.Fe.

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    Lubitel will do as potentially working camera. Just use it as scale camera.

    I went el'cheappo road OP is on several times.
    Yashica, one A or something. It was working, just not every time.
    Trashed Rolleicord from fifties. This one was build like normal camera and I was able to take shutter off for CLA and put it back.
    I didn't figured out how to clean severe patina on the taking lens, but person who purchaised told me it was removable.
    Mamiya c33 with porofinder. Worked fine, after changing of light seals.

    To have luck on el'cheappo road you have to be ready for long journey and look around.
    All of these under 100$ TLRs were purchased from non camera specializing re-sellers.

    At the end, as my last TLR I purchased Rolleicord here, at Apug. It was just after CLA.It was not expensive at all,
    It was best lens and nice TLR and it was worth every penny.
     
  17. paulbarden

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    Universally accepted, perhaps - but not necessarily universally TRUE. I believe my Minolta Autocord performs better than any of the Rolleiflexes I have owned (and subsequently sold). If I could have but one TLR it would be the Autocord, without hesitation. The Rokkor lens is sharper and perfoms better (IMO) than any of the Rolleiflex lenses. Opinions vary, of course.

    As for affordability, I was recently offered a pre-war Rolleiflex with a 3.5 Tessar lens, all in good condition and fully functional, for $125 USD. (Yes, I bought it and I'm glad I did)
    I will also say that fleabay is a terrible barometer for valuing cameras: prices for things like the premium config Rolleiflexes are often seriously exaggerated, IMO.
     
  18. OP
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    M-88

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    I agree with you, I mostly sit and wait when something shows up at Roberts. Unfortunately local market is scarce and I simply have no other chance than online shopping.
     
  19. xya

    xya Member

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    there is a nice side to side photo of a mamiya c220 and a rolleicord here https://www.formatomedio.eu/clasicas-tlr/mamiya-c220-vs-rolleicord-va/

    the mamiy IS bigger and heavier, but it's not the same class of camera. the mamiya has a 1:2.8 lens, it has bellows for close-up work and the lenses are interchangeable. and BTW : a 1:2.8 rolleiflex only weighs 200gr less.
     
  20. abruzzi

    abruzzi Member

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    thanks! I was never able to find a photo like that. According to the specs I could find the 220 series is smaller than the 330 series, but not by a huge amount. None the less, when I look at the numbers my nikon F2 is only a little bit bigger than my pentax MX, but in hand the difference is huge, so until you can see comparison photos, or hold both in your hands, its hard to internalize the difference. I'd still prefer the size of the smaller cameras, but really, you're right, they are very different cameras. Given that the Mamiyas are selling on the cheaper side of things (well, compared to the Rolleis at least) it's worth considering if the size isn't a deal breaker. I may keep my eyes out for one again.

    Edit: this photo make the C330 seem huge compared to the C220. Part of it is perspective--the C330 is closer, but I think the C330 is still bigger:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/115932238@N03/35536752706
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
  21. OP
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    M-88

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    Difference in dimensions between 220 and 330 is only a few millimeters. However, 220 is substantially lighter.
     
  22. OP
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    M-88

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    To plug the topic:

    I was lucky enough to obtain a Yashica 124 for 50$ + shipping which went to 75$ in total. Slow speeds were sluggish and it wasn't advancing beyond "Frame 1", so I took it apart. Took me three evenings to do the CLA and put it back, but now I have a cheap TLR (with four element lens) and some knowledge about what was considered high tech several decades ago. It isn't as good as Rollei would be, but it's the next best thing. Doesn't look or feel flimsy like a tin can, but not heavy either. With all due respect, I wouldn't wish to lug around Mamiya C cameras.

    One thing that bothers me is that the viewfinder, or whatever it is called, is outright dark. Not dim, but dark. So I will work my way to a brighter focusing screen when I can. Until then, I need to take it for a walk and see what it can do.
     
  23. Dan Daniel

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    The focus screen on YashicaMats is actually very good. Not the best but very usable. You probably need a new mirror. Seller marty1107 is the guy you want to search for on Ebay. Installing the mirror is simple- it self-registers to cast brackets so no alignment or adjustments needed.

    While in there, you'll see the two spring clips that hold the screens in place. Yep, two pieces. Use a screwdriver to push the center of the spring down and tilt it forard- watch out for it flying away.The top piece is glass, smooth on the top side (to the viewer) and ground on the bottom. The lower piece is plastic, with the fresnel casting to the ground glass surface. The ground glass can be washed in warm water and soap. The plastic is more delicate, warm water and soap is also fine but no scrubbing! Be sure everything is dry before reassembly- any liquid between the two pieces will be there for a long long time.

    Clean the back of the viewing lens while you have it open.

    Enjoy! The YashicaMat is a very nice TLR with a very good lens.
     
  24. OP
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    M-88

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    I have looked into that compartment while I had the camera disassembled. I cleaned the mirror (it was a bit dusty/foggy but now seems clean) along with the backside of focusing screen. i guess new mirrors must have increased reflection quality since it increases brightness.

    My viewing lens is f/2.8, with scratched coating (what did they clean it with? Sandpaper?), but I think it won't have much impact on what I see inside the viewfinder.

    I looked up the seller. 7$ + 3.5$ shipping, that's pretty cheap! Thank you for directing me!

    Thank you. I wanted the older model with knob advance, something like Yashica D, but it is what it is. No serious complains.
     
  25. Kino

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    I installed a new "Marty Mirror" on a Rolleicord and it helped considerably. Can't beat the $7 price tag...
     
  26. abruzzi

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