Affordable 6x6 format camera recommendation for photo project

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bluechromis

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You might consider a Mamiya C series TLR such as a C220 or C330. They are pretty affordable. This is one of the only types of TLR's that have interchangeable lens. Typical TLR's with a normal lens lack a true portrait lens. But the Mamiya C's do have them. Since your subject is a person, you may wish to have the option to do a close headshot, something the longer Mamiya C lens can do without facial distortion. If you plan to use strobes, the Mamiya and most TLR's have leaf shutter lenses. These have the advantage of being able to flash sync. at any speed. Some med. format SLR's have leaf shutter lenses and others do not. I love my Pentax 6 x 7, but the max flash sync with its focal plane shutter is only 1/30 sec.
 

MattKing

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I had a C3 it did not have the panel, or I never knew how to use it.

If only there had been a Photrio back then! :smile:
There is a lens change lever on the left side of the camera that moves the panel into place when needed.
 

xya

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I read all the proposals. Nice cameras, but few which fit the basic needs of the OP. The most appropriate in my eyes would be what Danald had proposed:

...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.

You will get 15 exposures with a standard model and 16 with the "newer" ones that have an "i" in their name. They are easy to use, nearly like a modern digital camera. Reliable autofocus, automatic exposure, just frame and shoot. Sharpest pictures. And easy to sell except you fell in love with this wonderful camera...
 

Donald Qualls

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Well, or you can get a 6x4.5 folder for around $200, sixteen exposures, as sharp as you could need, and it'll fit in a jacket pocket. Like my Daiichi Zenobia or a Konica Pearl (three versions, get the II or III). Or most Mamiya Six folders can also shoot 6x4.5 -- choice of 6x6 or 6x4.5 when you're loading the camera -- but they're a good bit bigger and heavier than a Zenobia or Pearl. Pearl has the added advantage of coupled rangefinder and mechanical frame counter (no winding past "4").
 

xya

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Well, or you can get a 6x4.5 folder for around $200, sixteen exposures, as sharp as you could need, and it'll fit in a jacket pocket. Like my Daiichi Zenobia or a Konica Pearl (three versions, get the II or III). Or most Mamiya Six folders can also shoot 6x4.5 -- choice of 6x6 or 6x4.5 when you're loading the camera -- but they're a good bit bigger and heavier than a Zenobia or Pearl. Pearl has the added advantage of coupled rangefinder and mechanical frame counter (no winding past "4").
The Pearl III is my personal favorite https://www.120folder.com/pearl_iii.htm . Only the Super Zenobia has a rangefinder and all Zenobias have no automatic film advance https://www.120folder.com/zenobia_sr.htm so the Pearl is preferable. And yes, it fits easily into the pocket of a jacket or a coat.
 

Donald Qualls

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Only the Super Zenobia has a rangefinder and all Zenobias have no automatic film advance

I know -- I've got one (the non-RF model). Still a very good camera, and has the advantage of being inexpensive. One significant downside beyond no RF and no frame counter is no strap lugs -- to carry it "like a camera" you have to use the everready case, and mine, at least, has come apart due to the thread rotting from age. I agree, the Pearl (ideally Pearl III) is more convenient to use, but it's significantly more expensive (though still well below the stated $1000 budget).

Another consideration, assuming the wife has already got the bun in the oven, is that most of these older mechanical cameras ought to be serviced; buying one that's freshly serviced will carry a price premium, but will save weeks with the camera at a repair shop.
 
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I read all the proposals. Nice cameras, but few which fit the basic needs of the OP.

What are you on about?

Every recommendation that I see addressed the original request and provided cameras that are perfectly capable of meeting the requirements of the shooting task. I didn't bother to check pricing so I don't know if every one recommended is available under the budget listed, but I suspect most are.

You may prefer a 645 option, but that doesn't make the plethora of 6x6 options unsuitable "to meet the needs of the OP"... maybe you should back that claim up with exactly how you perceive the camera you recommended is superior to the rest of the dross in this thread.
 

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... maybe you should back that claim up with exactly how you perceive the camera you recommended is superior to the rest of the dross in this thread.
The OP says "I don't shoot 120 outside of this, only 35mm." So he shoots a rectangular format, not a square one,

He says "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." This made me suppose that he used a quite modern camera, autofocus and auto exposure included.

He says "I don't necessarily need a fancy one. Anything that's easy to use and has good glass would be good enough." Easy to use, that's not the case for quite some of the proposals.

And he says "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." Quite some Rollei was proposed. And not the easiest. I have a a Rolleiflex Automat. That's a fine camera, but I would not propose it to someone who doesn't shoot 120 and who is searching for the easy way. The Rolleicords are not easier either.

Hope that this makes it more understandable...
 
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Whether he shoots retangular or square is irrelevant if he wants to try out 6x6. Note what he said "So I am thinking of going square format in 120 and cover the pregnancy in 12 frames this time." That focused the conversation specifically on 6x6 and you chose to ignore that. I presume the OP is aware of 645 and chose not to mention it because it didn't fit his goals aesthetically or because he really wants to shoot 12 frames, or possibly for some other reason.

His statement excluding Rolli and Hasselblad has a conditional qualifier on it; "unless there are exceptions to that out there I don't know about." That tells me that he will consider them if there is a cost-appropriate option (which there certatinly are in the Rolliflex bodies, but probbaly not at all in a Hasselblad).

If you feel that 645 is a better choice, you are welcome to say that, but to disparage all the other contributions on this thread as not meeting the "basic needs" of th OP is, frankly, insulting.
 

xya

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I presume the OP is aware of 645 and chose not to mention it because it didn't fit his goals aesthetically or because he really wants to shoot 12 frames, or possibly for some other reason.

As you say, that's a presumtion. For many people not familiar with 120 film, it's 6x6 in general, and I met plenty of people not knowing about 4.5x6.
His statement excluding Rolli and Hasselblad has a conditional qualifier on it; "unless there are exceptions to that out there I don't know about." That tells me that he will consider them if there is a cost-appropriate option (which there certatinly are in the Rolliflex bodies, but probbaly not at all in a Hasselblad)

As I said, they don't meet the "easy to handle" bit.
If you feel that 645 is a better choice, you are welcome to say that, but to disparage all the other contributions on this thread as not meeting the "basic needs" of th OP is, frankly, insulting.
This is an insult towards me. In no way I wanted to "disparage all the other contributions". But I will retract from any further contribution to this thread. This goes the wrong way and I do not take part in insulting each other. Never.
 
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ericdan

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Thanks for all the great recommendations.
I shot my first project on a pentax Kx with broken meter so it was all manual. My 35mm rangefinders don’t have meters either and I’m totally fine with that.

And yes, I’m specifically looking for 6x6. I like the format for the project and I like that it gives me 12 frames. 40 weeks pregnancy. Let’s assume I find out sometime in week 4-6. I can take one shot every 3-4 weeks and cover the entire pregnancy with one roll.

My $1000 budget is also loose because I’ll resell anyhow. My entire darkroom at home is set up for 35mm workflow with 5x7 prints. I don’t like switching cameras much. Makes everything complicated so I really think I’ll sell this one after im done.
 

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I would recommend a Yashica Mat124G, very good quality at a modest price. I would strongly suggest that you not try to get all 9 months on one roll, too great of a chance of a mistake that could ruin prior exposures. Shoot one entire roll per month, shoot different angles, that gives you more practice with the camera.
On a different note, what setup for 35mm do you have? Many enlargers can also print 6x6 negs with the proper lens and neg carrier.
 
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ericdan

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The idea is to have the entire pregnancy on one roll and enlarge as a big contact sheet in LF enlarger (rental darkroom)

I have a Leitz Focomat 1c from 1954. Its amazing but does only 35mm.
Have a LPL MF enlarger but no space to set it up for now.
 

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If you do any printing from those 6x6 negatives, you may find yourself yearning to add that capability to your darkroom 😄
 

GRHazelton

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I concur with the Minolta Autocord suggestion. I have one with an operating selenium meter, it is a delight to use. Do know that the focusing lever is fragile, if it is stiff in operation be CAREFUL, or have it cleaned. I also have a Yashica with the Yashinon lens, I prefer the Minolta. Either one could be found in excellent condition for a few hundred dollars
About the Bronica S2a. I have one in proper operating condition. Do know that while it is a fine camera it is LOUD! As it is entirely mechanical there is no worry about circuit boards failing, but it is a complex machine and finding some one to do a CLA could be difficult. The S2a is an improved and sturdier version of the S2. Lenses for either are out there and generally reasonable in cost. The S2a normal lens is an 80mm f2.8 Nikkor, 5 elements in 4 groups
Good luck with your project! I hope you can find a camera which suits you, and soon.
 
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ericdan

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Adding 6x6 capability in the darkroom is one of my dreams, yes. I have a bunch of holga rolls waiting to be printed. Here in Tokyo it’s a luxury having a dedicated darkroom. I’m planning to move to Europe in the next few years and build something proper there. It’s good to still have dreams.
 

MattKing

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As much as I appreciate a Focomat, if I had to choose between it and an LPL enlarger with both 35mm and medium format capabilities, the LPL would win every time.
But wait until you have spent some time with a 6x6 camera before deciding that.
By the way, I would recommend the Mamiya TLRs as well. I've been using my C330 since the late 1970s, and for a long time used it for wedding work. It's greater size and weight shouldn't be a problem if you are documenting the progress of a pregnancy, although something smaller and lighter might be handy if your next project involves the resulting infant - at least once they reach the more mobile toddler stage :smile:.
One advantage though of the options for 6x6 SLRs: some of them would allow you to use more than one film magazine. That would mean that you could devote one magazine to the pregnancy project - one roll in it over an approximate ~ nine month period. In the meantime, you could use the camera and another magazine to photograph other things.
I know that if I acquired a new camera and then couldn't really use it except for a single roll for nine straight months, I would get impatient!
 

Spot V

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One advantage though of the options for 6x6 SLRs: some of them would allow you to use more than one film magazine. That would mean that you could devote one magazine to the pregnancy project - one roll in it over an approximate ~ nine month period. In the meantime, you could use the camera and another magazine to photograph other things.
I know that if I acquired a new camera and then couldn't really use it except for a single roll for nine straight months, I would get impatient!
I fully agree! An SLR with 1 or 2 lens(es) and 2 backs. One back dedicated to the pregnancy project and the other for whatever the OP wants to take pictures of - including his wife. If he develops the films of the „general use“ back quickly he can make sure that there are useable pictures of his wife - or re-shoot them. Thus, a complete loss of the pictures from the dedicated back wouldn‘t hurt so bad.
I have a Kowa Six with just the kit lens (and I haven‘t even finished the first test roll). I haven‘t yet made my mind up whether I like the camera or not. But I know that there‘s a model with interchangeable film backs - am not sure what they cost, though. The leaf shutter will let you use flash at any shutter speed.
My main 6x6 camera is a Bronica with focal plane shutter. The S2A. It was love at first sight and it‘s still my favourite camera (and system). Its operation is the same as with the S2 (and mainly with the C, except that one doesn‘t have interchangeable film backs, so I wouldn‘t recommend it this time). Nowadays they often sell in the $450-500 price range on ebay, together with the Nikkor 2.8/75 P or PC kit lens (That‘s roughly 40mm in 35mm terms). Add around $100 for an additional film back. If you‘re lucky you can find an S2 / S2A with the Nikkor 2.8/75 HC lens, which has a somewhat smoother bokeh, but is also a bit more expensive. Or you could add the Nikkor 3.5/105 lens with built-in leaf shutter, thus eliminating the drawback of a slow 1/40 flash sync - if this is a requirement. This is the only leaf shutter option for this system and costs currently around $200 to 250. It equals to something in the 55 to 60mm range, in 35mm terms. There‘s also a nice 2.8/100 lens by Bronica which costs about the same as the 105.
 
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