Cheap medium-format cameras

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by BetterSense, Mar 7, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    In 35mm-land, there is a firesale of good quality cameras. I have been able to get great deals on very functional 35mm gear. In fact my most-used 35mm camera is a beat-up ME super I got for $15 with a free prime lens. I have a harem of 5 quite functional, if not fancy, 35mm Pentaxen that I bought for less than the price of a decent digital SLR.

    Since aquiring a 6x6 enlarger, I would like to branch into medium format because it has obvious advantages over the miniature 35mm for deliberate work or important subjects, but I'm having a harder time finding cheap cameras. On my scale of cheapness, $50 with lens is starting to get non-trivial. Maybe it's because medium-format cameras tend to be more 'pro-oriented'. I have a Jiffy Kodak Series II folding camera, but it takes 620 film, has a simple meniscus lens, and no metering. What's the medium-format equivalent of the $15 ME Super?
     
  2. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    Lots of APUG posts on this. For cheapness, look for a folding camera (for example, Afga) with a less popular lens (Agnar rather than Apotar, Color Skopar or Solinar). I just bought an Agfa Record I 6x9 camera (with Agnar lens, very clean, only fault = self-timer sticking) for £17 on e-bay - even cheaper at thrift stores!
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber
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    You might find a half decent lesser known 120 folding camera that fits your bill, but look for something witha reasonable lens & shutter. In the UK you sometimes see them in Charity shops.

    Ian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2009
  4. ntenny

    ntenny Member
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    Probably a folder with a good triplet---one of the Zeiss Nettar folders with a Novar lens, or something similar.

    -NT
     
  5. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Stop worrying about built in metering.

    MF cameras are either system cameras that you can add functions to. Or more all in one. In the case of system cameras metering means a metering prism which will add cost and weight. In the case of all in ones it'll mean a newer camera which will cost.
     
  6. bwakel

    bwakel Member

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    I was given a Kershaw 450 by my wife's uncle. He bought it new back in the early '50s and it's in wonderful condition. They go for £15-£20 on eBay I think and it's well worth seeking one out. It shoots 12 6x6 images on 120 film. Wind on is manual - look for the numbers through the red window - and the viewfinder is just a window in the top of the camera. Focusing is by guess the distance. But the 80mm f/4.5 lens is actually very good. I took my first roll of Delta 100 whilst in the Yorkshire Dales last month and the camera was a bit of a revelation. It's so light and compact compared with a modern MF camera and the negs are sharp and with good contrast. An ideal walkers camera that even comes with its own sturdy leather quick release case.

    Barry
     
  7. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    I bought a Yashica D for $35 at a garage sale not long ago. Very nice older camera that still works well. It takes 120 film and has a nice sharp lens.
     
  8. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    For "good" cameras, take your pick
    of TLRs -- Yashicas, Autocords,
    whatever. Even Rolleicords can be
    had inexpensively if you hunt well.

    If you want to go really primitive,
    most Kodak Brownies sell for under
    $10 apiece.
     
  9. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I have long been told the biggest bang for the buck is a clean Rolleicord III or later.

    The Yashica D, as stated above, is also a reasonably decent camera at a low price.

    If you want to get funky, My Soviet-era Lubitel 166, which I never use, cost me 35 bucks, new; from Freestyle, of all places. I don't use if because I have a Yashica 12 a 635 (with 35mm adapter); a Kiev 88, and a Pentax 6x7.

    But keep your eyes open. Bargains are out there if you shop around.
     
  10. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    TLRs and folders are your best bet for sub-$50 MF cameras. With one or two exceptions (which will almost certainly exceed your $50 budget), though, these cameras have permanently mounted lenses, and for $50 you're unlikely to get a built-in light meter.

    If you want an inexpensive MF camera with interchangeable lenses, the most likely prospect is a Kiev 6C or 60. This camera looks like a typical 35mm SLR, but it's bigger. It was also made in the former Soviet Union, in Kiev Ukraine, and it's not exactly renowned for its reliability. You can find them on eBay for about $100-$250, shipped. (Many sellers are located in Eastern Europe, and the shipping is likely to be $50 or so, since these are heavy cameras.) If you keep your eyes open you might find one from a domestic seller for $50, but its quality would be suspect. If you're willing to take a chance, tinker with the camera, and deal with its quirks, a Kiev may be a serviceable option, but I'd recommend a TLR over a Kiev if you want something that works reliably. Note that some people say the Kiev 6C/60 is a clone of the East German Pentacon Six. This isn't quite true, but they are similar designs that use the same lens mount. The Pentacon Six tends to sell for a bit more than the Kiev 6C/60, but if you find a Pentacon Six for a good price, I'd put it in the same general category as the Kiev 6C/60

    Another low-cost option would be a Mamiya C-series camera. These are TLRs that take interchangeable lenses. These sometimes sell on eBay for as little as $100, but $200 and up seems more common. By all accounts these are excellent cameras. (I've been wanting one myself for a while, but haven't yet set aside the money to buy one.) They're probably a better choice than a Kiev 6C/60, but they usually sell for more on eBay.
     
  11. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    An Agfa Isolette with an Apotar triplet lens is an excellent performer. Watch for a newer one with a coated lens. They usually go for around $25 on ebay. If you are really lucky, you might find one with a solinar lens. (4 element), but you will pay significantly more for it. A few quirks regarding isolette folders: the bellows are often leaky, and the front focussing element is sometimes difficult to turn due the hardening of the grease used on the helical mount. It's a good idea to ask the seller about these two issues before buying an Isolette. They are well built and simple cameras that perform surprisingly well. They are easy to fix and tinker with too. The 6X6 folders are the only medium format cameras that can actually be carried in a jacket pocket.

    Just a comment about the Kiev 60 vs Pentacon Six. The Pentacon Six is a significantly better built camera. I have two Pentacons, both of which give me excellent performance with 13 perfectly spaced shots on a roll of 120. Comparing a Pentacon Six to a Kiev is like comparing a Mercedes to a Lada. Both will get you where you are going, but which one would you rather drive?
     
  12. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    TLRs are a real joy to use!
    If you want one for little money look for a Seagul or B.I.G. They are cheap copies of Rolleis made in China. If you want the original, the Rolleicord Vb has the most bang for the buck, but 50$ won´t be enough then.
    Greetz, Benjamin
     
  13. bobdole369

    bobdole369 Member

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    I found a Zenobia in very good condition at FPCC show in Miami. $60, coupled rangefinder. Too bad the guy couldn't take my card and I ha spent all my cash on expired film and filters.
     
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  15. GGardner

    GGardner Member

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    Forgive my ignorance, but if you can't spent $50 on an medium format camera, what's your budget for film, paper, chemicals and other recurring items?
     
  16. Stewart Skelt

    Stewart Skelt Member

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    Just remember that some of the lenses on early cameras weren't intended for colour film. I have a couple of nice old Zeiss folders (6x4.5 and 6x9) and colour pictures taken with them tend to come out with a bit of a blue cast. Not a problem if you are taking B&W or are prepared to correct optically or d*g*t*lly.
     
  17. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    How about one of the Kodak Monitor/Vigilant?/Senior/Special/Tourist cameras with f4.5 tessar Anastigmat Special/Anastons
    Just rig up the cameras to take 120 or get creative with 70mm

    I keep meaning to get one but
    I'm giving it a good fight


    Don't know costs but I'd be surprised if couldn't get one of these UNDER $50
     
  18. Shmoo

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    I agree with Anscojohn and Rolleiflexible...a Rolleicord is a terrific and relatively inexpensive MF TLR. I have the Rolleicord IV and it has incredible glass. It gets more use than my Mamiya 645!
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    If I had $50 to spend for a 6x6 camera capable of taking "good" pix (meaning not a point and shoot like a Brownie of Holga), I would probably get some sort of Yashica TLR. If I could spend $50 more, I would get a Rolleicord instead. If I could spend $50 more than that, I would get a Mamiya C-33 with an 80mm lens, or a Mamiya M645 with a lens. Then I would hope that they have no problems and start budgeting for some film and developing reels.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2009
  20. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    If you can't spend $1,000 on a car, how are you going to afford gas and insurance?

    I have had my share of sub-$1,000 cars that I have somehow insured and filled with gas, even though my budget for the purchase of the car itself was low.

    Also, FWIW, I have many, many cameras, but have never had a budget more than $500 for ANY of them. The one time I splurged to buy a $750 Rolleiwide that I found in a thrift shop, I borrowed $250 to do it.

    Yet, I manage to keep the cameras filled with film (and even end up printing the pix sometimes).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2009
  21. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    You are all set. Just re-spool some 120 onto a 620 spool and start shooting.
     
  22. OP
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    BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I guess. I don't have a light meter but I need one anyway. Or I could just use another camera as a meter.

    Very little! :smile: B&W film and chemicals are cheap if you shop right; print film and processing is also very very cheap, slide film and processing is a little more expensive. True, paper is a major expense, but I've been lucky in avoiding paying full price for paper. I don't have a problem shooting cheap cameras and spending most of my budget on paper an film. I feel like paper and film SHOULD be where I spend most of my money.

    It's funny, I actually drive a '99 corolla that I paid $500 for.
     
  23. Jarvman

    Jarvman Member

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    Definately an interchangeable lens Mamiya TLR for 6x6 format. Loves it!
     
  24. DBP

    DBP Member

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    Just checked the auction site and even the early Yashica TLRs are well over $50. So I will go with my immediate impulse and recommend a Ciroflex. All models except the F are going in the $10 to $30 range.

    More information here: http://pheugo.com/cameras/index.php?page=ciroflex and here Dead Link Removed.
     
  25. mwdake

    mwdake Member
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    Even mediocre TLR's go for crazy amounts these days.
    I just saw a Super Ricohflex on the big auction site bid up to $76 and there is still 45 minutes to go.
     
  26. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    Holga:D...kidding...they are pretty cheap
     
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