Affordable 6x6 format camera recommendation for photo project

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ericdan

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I did a pregnancy photo project on 35mm taking weekly pictures of my wife. I got really nice results, but the first few months you don't really see much change.
For number two we want to do less shots. So I am thinking of going square format in 120 and cover the pregnancy in 12 frames this time.
I don't shoot 120 outside of this, only 35mm. Since no one around is willing to let me use their MF cameras for that long I am thinking of buying one for the project and then selling when I am done. In 35mm I used a 50mm f/1.7 Pentax SMC lens, which was amazing. I would like to use something with a similar angle of view in MF. Is that 80mm then?

I don't necessarily need a fancy one. Anything that's easy to use and has good glass would be good enough.
Should I be looking for TLR or SLR? I would like to avoid Hasselblad or Rollei due to the high price unless there are exceptions to that out there I don't know about.

Would a $1000 USD budget be enough for this? what should I be looking out for?

Thanks!
 

bernard_L

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I don't necessarily need a fancy one. Anything that's easy to use and has good glass would be good enough.
Should I be looking for TLR or SLR? I would like to avoid Hasselblad or Rollei due to the high price unless there are exceptions to that out there I don't know about.

Would a $1000 USD budget be enough for this? what should I be looking out for?

Thanks!
1000 USD is more than enough. Look at the prices on that auction site for Rolleicord Vb (most recent model, has split-image focusing aid). Plus, IMO, the TLR is ideal for your project:
- said to be less intimidating
- keep eye contact with your subject
- navel-height viewpoint
(to be fair, an SLR with a waistlevel viewfinder has the same advantages)
I have since a few months a Rolleicord Vb and find it to be quite well-built. Make sure you have the camera in advance, so you can familiarize yourself and shoot a few rolls ahead of time. Have a B plan in case it is found defective.
A Bronica S2 would also be a nice camera, with a high quality lens, and well within your budget. A beautiful object, too.
 

Timo Schön

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Hi! 1000 USD should be more than enough budget for a nice medium format camera. You are right 80mm on 6x6 should be pretty much the same as a 50mm on 35. For that budget you could look into Rolleiflex cameras. The f2.8 version has the fastest lens but is also the most expensive. The f3.5 version can be bought for pretty cheap and is amazing as well. If you want to keep cost down you could also look into medium format folders. Those often have nice lenses but no ability to focus except zone but nice copys can be found for much less than 200$
 

Alex Benjamin

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Quite a few good options in that price range.

Mamiya 6 folder — a wonderful, light, portable (fits in your pocket), quiet camera (it's a rangefinder). With your budget you could find a late model in very good condition. Lens is 75mm.

In high-quality TLRs for under 1,000$, the Mamiya C220, the C330, and the Rolleiflex Automat come to mind. The Mamiyas are heavier than the Rolleiflex Automat, but it's easier to find one in very good condition. Problem with the Rolleiflex Automat is often a very dark viewing screen (had to change mine).

If you want to go Hasselblad-style without the price tag, Bronica SQ-A with a 80mm lens is a good option, but much bulkier and noisier than the above-mentioned cameras.
 

Cholentpot

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Quite a few good options in that price range.

Mamiya 6 folder — a wonderful, light, portable (fits in your pocket), quiet camera (it's a rangefinder). With your budget you could find a late model in very good condition. Lens is 75mm.

In high-quality TLRs for under 1,000$, the Mamiya C220, the C330, and the Rolleiflex Automat come to mind. The Mamiyas are heavier than the Rolleiflex Automat, but it's easier to find one in very good condition. Problem with the Rolleiflex Automat is often a very dark viewing screen (had to change mine).

If you want to go Hasselblad-style without the price tag, Bronica SQ-A with a 80mm lens is a good option, but much bulkier and noisier than the above-mentioned cameras.

C series is the way to go. Very large and heavy but with fast lenses. And they're also affordable. If only using for a few rolls it won't drive you crazy.
 

guangong

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Since your intention is to sell after completing project....
As with many good intentions, you may get hooked on 6x6. From my experience
(I use Hassy, Rollei TLR, and a variety of folders) my recommendation would be a Rollei TLR that fits your budget. You’ll be happy if you decide to keep it, but will find it easy to sell if need be. Just be careful to by from a reliable seller.
 

Rick A

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Send me your $1000 and I'll ship you my Bronica SqA kit with a couple rolls of film and a Metz flash.
 

grain elevator

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1000 is plenty for an f/3.5 Rolleiflex E or F. That or the Mamiya TLRs would have better lenses if you plan to use it at wider apertures than the other TLRs, not to speak of folders. I'd prefer a TLR over an SLR if you plan to use only the normal lens at medium distances (not close up) and especially if hand-held.
 

Donald Qualls

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You should be able to get a top quality TLR for that money, for sure. Nearly all of those come with a "normal" lens, 75 to 80 mm focal length, typically f/3.5 (a few f/2.8 and older ones might be f/4.5). Almost all from after about 1952 will have flash synch (but watch for the oldest ones that might have M sync only -- that delays the shutter 20 ms after firing the flash, which can be frustrating with a modern speedlight).

If I had your budget to shop, however, I'd be very tempted to get an SLR -- a used Bronica should easily come in under that figure with a single 80 mm lens and waist level viewfinder, and then you can grow your system over time without spending a huge amount at once. The only concern I'd have is that the Bronica has an electronically timed shutter -- it won't work (or works at only one shutter speed) without a battery and may become unrepairable when the parts supply for the electronics runs out. And older Hasselblad wouldn't have the electronics, but might run over your budget even with only waist level finder, single 80 mm lens, and single film back.

Another 120 option to consider is a 6x4.5 -- a Mamiya 645, for instance, can be had well inside your budget ("normal" lens is 75 mm for this format), and you'd get 15 or 16 frames (I don't recall what the counter limit is on those) instead of 12, each frame still about three times the size of a 35 mm negative. Additionally, 6x4.5 cameras are generally smaller and lighter than 6x6.
 

cramej

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A folder would have the best film path for leaving film in it for 9 months. Mamiya 6, Olympus, Zeiss, and many others had good 6x6 folders with nice lenses that wouldn't cost you more than $2-300 even for the best examples.

Someone more knowledgeable than me should mention latent image stability over that time.
 

Donald Qualls

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Nitroplait

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If your location info is correct, Tokyo. You should have no problem finding a Japanese TLR. Any Yashica with a Yashinon (4 element, Tessar type) or any other 4 element lens TLR from Minolta, Ricoh, Olympus or whatever well within your budget.
 

momus

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Any Yashica with a Yashinon (4 element, Tessar type) or any other 4 element lens TLR from Minolta, Ricoh, Olympus or whatever well within your budget.

That's a fact. Even a 3 element TLR will take nice photos, so $200 would easily get you a good one. Folders aren't as versatile as a TLR, especially on any sort of close up or low light shots. I don't think there would be any issues w/ leaving the film in a camera for 9 months. A TLR does wrap the film around in the camera differently, but I still doubt it would cause any issues.
 

Andrew O'Neill

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Wow with that much of a budget, your options are many. For 6x6 I have a C330, Rolleicord (love this camera), Mamiya 6 folder (but it's in Japan at my mother-in-laws until next week!), then last but not least, a few Holgas! Heck, you could even get yourself a Hasselblad!
 

GregY

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As hinted, $1k is more than enough for what you identify as a modest need. Given your project, i'd suggest a TLR would be perfect compared with an eye level camera..... that would be my approach. Rolleicord, Minolta Autocord or Yashicamat..... w/ a Tessar design lens would give great results
 
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ic-racer

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In 35mm I used a 50mm f/1.7 Pentax SMC lens,

A very close match in medium format is a 125mm lens on 6x9cm format. That would match both the aspect ratio and angle of view.

I suspect you only need a close approximation and a good value TLR like Seagull or Lubitel 6x6 would likely give good results.
 

Paul Howell

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I would save have the money and get a Yashica or Minolta TLR, I have a Yashica 124 and D with the 4 element lens, the meter on the Yashica still works but is a stop off. Very good lens, I shot a lot of book covers with mine. As you are in Japan I would look for a late model Minolta, lens is as good as any Tessar designed lens on a TLR. The one advantage of the Mamiya is that you get the 80mm 2.8 which is a planar design and it will sharper wide open than the Yashica or Minolta. You can also get a 65mm wide if you want full length shots, downside is no dark slide, unless you use a changing bag to change lens you lose a frame.
 

Nitroplait

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Just don’t buy a camera with a 3 element lens. It is not worth it with the generous budget you have.
 

cramej

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I would save have the money and get a Yashica or Minolta TLR, I have a Yashica 124 and D with the 4 element lens, the meter on the Yashica still works but is a stop off. Very good lens, I shot a lot of book covers with mine. As you are in Japan I would look for a late model Minolta, lens is as good as any Tessar designed lens on a TLR. The one advantage of the Mamiya is that you get the 80mm 2.8 which is a planar design and it will sharper wide open than the Yashica or Minolta. You can also get a 65mm wide if you want full length shots, downside is no dark slide, unless you use a changing bag to change lens you lose a frame.

You don't need a changing bag to change lenses on Mamiya tlrs. They all have a panel that blocks the lens opening and locks the lens release.
 

Hatchetman

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You could get a nice Rolleicord V from a reputable source for less than $500. Will give you the results you want.
 
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With that budget, you can easily go 'classic' (TLRs or folders), or the more modern SLR style (Bronica and Hasselblad) pretty easily, but finding a good Hasselblad under $1000 will be nearly impossible, so I agree about avoiding that (even though I absolutely love my Hassie).

However, you should be able to get a Bronica SQa or maybe SQai with a normal lens for $600 to $800. They are great cameras and as long as they are functional when you get it, you shouldn't have any trouble with them. Plus, you could get a back that you dedicate to the 'one roll' approach and a second so you can use it for other shooting in-between the shots you take of your wife (or you could do a B&W roll and a color roll, or any combination since you can swap out the film backs). For a short term project like this, that approach could be ideal. If you decide later that you want to step up to a better camera system or just sell off the 6x6, you won't likely lose any investment when you sell the Bronica. They are solid, professional cameras.

One thing I would be careful of with your 'one roll' approach with 120 film/cameras is that the film can be more prone to fogging on these cameras than in a 35mm camera because of the way the film is rolled on the spool (and not in a canister) and cameras that have bellows (or other older light trap mechanisms) just aren't going to be as light-tight as a 35mm camera. So, between the shots, I would be thinking about enclosing the camera/film holder in a dark box to ensure that the film doesn't manage to get a little fogging from a bellows leak or light trap that isn't working perfectly. Other than that, great idea and I'm sure you will really enjoy the results.
 

Sirius Glass

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While the outlay for a Hasselblad is high, after you finish with it nine months later, you will be able to resell it for the price up paid and possible a nice profit. As long as you do not fall in love with it.
 

paulbarden

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Rolleiflex Automat. Excellent value, excellent performer.
 
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