Anyone still using Kowa Six?

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David Brown

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I sold my Kowa Sixes years ago (“upgraded to RB67”) but did like them when I had them. They were like some old classic cars: beautiful machines as long as they were working. :getlost:

Anybody still using one? Is Yerkes still around for repairs?
 
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David Brown

David Brown

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My one roll test of my friend's Kowa 6 didn;t compared favorably to my own RB67. The results were not as sharp.

Having used both camera systems, that rather surprises me.
 

Paul Howell

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I have a 66 and a Super, use them all the time, earlier this year shot a book cover with the 66 and 55mm 3.5. Not sure why a Kowa did not measure up to a Mamyia, my lens from 55 to 250 are all sharp, Kowa made very good lens, the 85 2.8 is as good a Zeiss, to see any differences need to use an optical bench. Don't know if Yerkes is still working, he must be close to 90s, his racist flyer h tucked into returned cameras cost him some business.
 

Sirius Glass

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As a teenager my heart belonged to the unrequited love of the Bronica S, but I was always curious about the Kowa Six. Then the damned digital revolution came and I can afford a Hasselblad which I never dreamed of and was afraid to touch in Baker's Photo where I worked.
 

Paul Howell

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The first generation and perhaps the second 6 and 6mm were designed by Heinz Kilfitt, although the Super was based on the Kilfitt design it was updated by Kowa staff. Not sure who designed the lens, all seem to be copies of Zeiss lens. What I like about the Super 66 is that the film is transported in a straight forward fashion. The weakness has always been the film advance. I take care not to put too advance the crank too hard. I bought my 6 from Phoenix Camera in the late 70s, Kowa had just dropped of the camera market and the price was very good, it came as a kit with the 80mm 55 and 150, I later added the 250 and the Super body. I had wanted a Rollie 66 but could not afford so I thought the Kowa would do until I could put aside the money for a Rollie. At this point don't know who will work on a Kowa.
 

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I use my Super 66 all the time. The lens are great and it handles well. Just don't drop it... the gear train is quite complicated. I killed my first Super 66 body trying to fix it. But now I know how to fix them :-/

The 55mm, 85mm and 150mm lens are quite good and pretty common – if you're a little patient you can find them cheap. I was very happy last year to score the super-rare 40mm lens for $200, attached to a working Kowa Six body with some other bits and bobs. The lens was really rough overalll – a previous owner thought it was a good idea to drill holes in the front-plate – but amazingly the glass is clean and it works flawlessly. If you can find one of those for anything remotely affordable grab it. They're really amazing lenses.
 

Paul Howell

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I don't think I've ever seen a 40mm for sale. $200 for the lens a working body is a killer deal. The 120 macro is rare but shows up on occasion as does the 500. I find that I use the 150 a lot followed by the 85, the 250 not so much.
 

OrientPoint

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The 40mm shows up on Ebay for crazy prices every so often. I don't think I'd feel ok walking around with a $1,400 lens though, so I'm very happy to have my beat up one. I use the 150 a lot too. I also have a 200mm, which I don't use all that often but which can be fun.

I found a Polaroid back at a yard sale for $25 which is also fun, although I feel terrible blowing an entire sheet of pack film to get a 6x6 frame.
 
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David Brown

David Brown

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This was my set of Kowas. Two Six bodies, 55, 85, 150, and 250 lenses, extension tubes, hand grip, prism finder, sports finder, and assorted doodads.

I sold it to a friend, who in turn sold it again. No telling where it all is now. Got some great work out of the set.
Kowas.jpg DB_stolafs.jpg
 
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David Brown

David Brown

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... Don't know if Yerkes is still working, he must be close to 90s, his racist flyer tucked into returned cameras cost him some business.

Yep.
 

moto-uno

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Ross I believe is a bit shy of 80 . He's still in business and has been a great help to me ( sent me shutter blades for my 150 lens , that I can say was one h'll of a task ~40 hrs , but who's counting ).
Now the really happy owner of a Kowa Six and Super 66 with the three usual lens . Own too many other medium format cameras , but these are now my carry with me all the time cameras . I try not
to aim the 55 into the sun , but so what . Maybe I'm just lucky , but the camera and lens have performed admirably for me .(owning a Mamiya 7 sets the bar kinda high too ) . :smile: Peter
 

moto-uno

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^ Kowa six , 85 mm lens and home developed Fuji Pro 400 . It's an easy system to enjoy . Peter
 

Aircooledguy

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A little late to the thread, here, but I have a Kowa Super Six Kit with several lenses. I absolutely love it and wish I could make more time to use it. I landed the mythical 19mm a couple of years ago and Ross overhauled it and made it like new... he does have his quirks.
 

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At 19mm, I’m guessing that is a circular fisheye, not full frame? I have a 30mm for my Bronica ETRSi, the widest they made, and it’s a full frame fisheye.
 

moto-uno

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^ On the kowa site in flickr there's a picture of the 19mm on the fellows camera . A significant beast for sure :smile: , Peter
 

thornhill

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I have a 66 and a Super, use them all the time, earlier this year shot a book cover with the 66 and 55mm 3.5. Not sure why a Kowa did not measure up to a Mamyia, my lens from 55 to 250 are all sharp, Kowa made very good lens, the 85 2.8 is as good a Zeiss, to see any differences need to use an optical bench. Don't know if Yerkes is still working, he must be close to 90s, his racist flyer h tucked into returned cameras cost him some business.

Coincidentally the 85 and the 110 both shared the same optical formula as the 2.8 Planars in the earlier Rolleiflexes.
Love my Kowas!
 

Paul Howell

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I'm shooting with my Kowas today, plan to head into the desert. Don't know the optical formulas, the 150 and 250 are also really sharp. I've never seen the 19mm, as a rule I don't shoot that wide, on the other hand the 500 for wildlife would be great.
 

Liz90

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The 40mm shows up on Ebay for crazy prices every so often. I don't think I'd feel ok walking around with a $1,400 lens though, so I'm very happy to have my beat up one. I use the 150 a lot too. I also have a 200mm, which I don't use all that often but which can be fun.

I found a Polaroid back at a yard sale for $25 which is also fun, although I feel terrible blowing an entire sheet of pack film to get a 6x6 frame.
Hello
I have a Kowa six 40mm
I have no idea what it’s worth or if it’s the same lens your talking about as I can’t find it online anywhere
 

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This was my set of Kowas. Two Six bodies, 55, 85, 150, and 250 lenses, extension tubes, hand grip, prism finder, sports finder, and assorted doodads.

I sold it to a friend, who in turn sold it again. No telling where it all is now. Got some great work out of the set.
View attachment 208537 View attachment 208538
That was a nice kit, sounds like you are having second thoughts now about letting it go, especially since it did not stick with your friend either. I was once very close of acquiring 66 in near new condition unfortunately logistics prevented me from pulling the trigger. I think Kowas are one of few really good looking MF cameras ( I rate bronica C in same category, yes the C with film inserts only) and I have also read nothing but great performance from them (as you say when they work).

But since this is part of the subject (and I am still on a lookout for one) what was the sure problem with their longevity in working condition? I know some have had few issues, others swore to never try them again. What to watch out for when shopping?
 

outwest

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I've had the 6, 6mm, and still have the Super 66 with 55 (both the flared and straight), 85, 150, 250, extension tubes, a doubler, and a tripod adapter. Love it, I compared the 85 to a Hassie 85 and could detect no difference under magnification - maybe I got a good one. It feels better shooting from the hand than my Hassie.
 
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