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Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by 5stringdeath, Dec 3, 2010.
What's still good that will take 120? Ansco Pocket or something similar?
My experience is that pre-WWII uncoated lenses can vary depending on how they've aged. I have a 1930's Novar that's unusable due to low contrast and flare despite looking very clean, then the other extreme good Tessars with reasonable contrast. Post WWII coated lenses are a safer bet.
I Agree with Ian, go for a post war model, with a coated lens, any 120 vogitlander with a color skoper,(coated), balda,Zeiss Ikon netter or 1konta, with perhaps a coated novar, I would leave Agfa alone as there bellows are pretty well always suspect,Richard
I could add that there are some very good British 120 folders,especialy the Ensign range, such as the Selfix models, look for one with a Ross xpes lens, the equal or better than the Tessar, I have 2 and use them all the time,Richard
Bergheil! with Heliar or skopar - interchangable lenses - roll film back...
What's your budget? What features do you want? There are a lot of good, but relatively expensive options that have been put forth already. $5 + shipping on ebay will get you a Kodak Autographic 2-C (I think that's the one that takes 120). For something that old, read descriptions and check photos carefully. I have one that looks brand new and another that looks like its been through a blender. The Ihagee Ultrix is a nice basic range-guesser - There are versions that are dual format - 6x6 and 6x9 on 120 film - assuming the removable plate is still there. The Ihagee will go for around $25.
Agfa Isolette's are great little cameras, I have one that needs a knob, you can have it for postage. Shouldn't be too hard to fit something to it, it functions very well in all other aspects.
To push the definition of folder a bit, how about a 2x3 speed/crown/century graphic. Adjust the rangefinder to match the lens, remove the ground glass panel, slap a 120 roll film holder on the back and you're set.
I have a thing for folders so here is what I have.
I own a Kodak Brownie Autographic 2 that takes 120 film, this is a really fun to use pocket camera, it takes a good photo, it fits in my pocket, and I think I paid about $10 for it, on the down side it doesn't have coated lenses and I had to paint the bellows with liquid electrical tape to seal some pinholes, I filled the autographic door to seal it, and I have to cover the ruby window with electric tape to seal the light out of it.
I have a Kodak Tourist II, with the multi speed shutter and I really like that camera as well, but it is a 620 camera.
If you want a nice folder in the $100 range there is a guy on ebay that sells Agfa Billy cameras and Zeiss folders that have been restored and work quite well, look for his stuff, I have had really good luck with him, but Kodaks are more my thing.
"Old" is a relative term -- I'm sure to many people my 1950s vintage Perkeo II with Color Skopar and Ercona II with Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar would seem "really old." They take doggone nice pictures and I bought them to use, partly for traveling light. I envision the pre-1940s vintage stuff being a little bit of a crap shoot as to condition and reliability, I guess it depends on your projected use and how much patience you have (and how lucky you get).
A Patent Etui with a Roll film back is much smaller Even the 9x12 version.
Crown Graphic (5x4), front - Zeiss Ikonta 645 and Patent Etui 9x12, almost the same format as 5x4 just a touch narrower - I have a Rollex 6x9 roll-film back for it as well
The Patent Etui is also much smaller than the Baby 2x3 Graphics.
Perkeo II is awesome. Great build, excellent photos, smallest footprint around. Just great.
Just to echo what others have said, there are a lot of good options at a lot of different price points. A postwar Nettar might be the best on "bang for the buck" grounds---they're quite cheap, very robust cameras, and the lenses are generally decent as triplets go (if you don't mind a bit of vignetting).
My folders are all rather low-end; no rangefinders, triplet lenses, mostly prewar. The ones that see the most use are a Nettar 516/16 (actually wartime manufacture) and a Wirgin 6x9---both have uncoated triplet lenses that seem to have won the "aging well" lottery. I got them by bottom-feeding on eBay for a while, for about US$10-15 each, but in the process I picked up a few paperweights too.
Wow, thanks for all the suggestions! I got this "bug" by reading some Gutenberg project eBooks of the "Pictorial Photography in America" Series, mostly from the 1920's. In the back are all these old adverts for paper, film, and of course cameras. I found it fascinating that one of the selling points for a lot of the cameras was how soft the lens could be, for "pictoral" photographers. It goes against the fiber of how I was raised in photography .. leica/zeiss lenses, sharpness, perfection.
So no, I don't really mean by "old" the 1920's .. and I don't have the money for a new Voigtlander, which are probably quite sharp and not to the point. I like the idea of what was once called the "pocket camera" especially against modern technology, where nearly everything is designed to fit in a pocket.
I have plenty of ideas now!
The best way to buy a camera and use it , is to build a eyecontact with its pictures produced by lenses.
You did the most correct way with searching in past time magazines and catalogs. Lenses are different animals and if you cant like their results at a magazine , they are not for you.
If you can build up a relation with pictures , if they fire you , buy that camera.
So you have to find a place which stores heyday magazines , almanacs and try to loan with library aid and spend good time with them. Find the picture most suit you , and go for it.
These picture memories directs you at your compositions.
I used prewar Leicas and they were just me. If you can count 30 things from mind what was the difference of your Leica to Zeiss , you deserve this research.
Many photographers here have not been awared of lens merit thing.
Go for a Zeiss if you want the bellows to be light proof. Never mind Novars, they are all right, but a much better Tessar-equipped one isn't that much more expensive. Some times you really need those larger apertures. 4,5 x 6 is the smallest and most convenient. You seldom need more than 16 exposures but 12 of a 6x6 is so-so.
I bought a 1937 Ikonta for 16 from the ebay. Here is a picture made with it, at f5,6 if I remember right.
Very nice score, especially if it has a Tessar! Agreed about the bellows; Zeiss folders (Ikontas and Nettars) seem very resistant to bellows problems.
Depends on how much it bothers you to change rolls, I suppose. I got used to 12-on-120 as a kid, so it still seems normal to me; and I'm one of those people who really like composing for the square.
Just an idea and shameless self promotion. Check out http://www.apug.org/forums/forum379/84376-mf-folder-zeiss-lens.html and PM me. The range finder is coupled. We can work a deal.
IF you want to buy a working folder restored then contact Jurgen at
I purchased 3 cameras last month and they are all excellent. Jurgen does quality work. I purchased a Certo-six, Zeiss Ikon super 6x4.5. They look almost new and I am having a blast ! I purchased 3 cameras with different formats rather than buying a brand new Fuji GF670.
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Before you contact Jurgen go to his site and read the many descriptions he has posted of the various cameras he offers. That will better equip you to discuss which one best fits your interest and budget. Caution the prices shown are dated. Current ones are a bit higher.
I just bought a 6x9, 105mm Tessar, 1939 Welta Welture from him with case, filters and lens hood, all in excellent condition. Imho buying directly from him is cheaper than bidding on eBay because his reputation keeps the bids high. When buying direct he doesn't need to include listing costs and is willing to discuss your goals.
It all depends on how much you want to spend. While you can come upon a bargain, you're probably looking at a starting price of about $25 for the lower level cameras to $300 or more for those with rangefinders and coated lenses.
I love folding cameras. I have some short reviews of several folding cameras on my site (see link below).
Actually a nice member of APUG sent me an Agfa Isolette to get me introduced to the folding world As soon as it stops snowing/icing and the sun comes out, I'm gonna run some film through her.
Haha, hope you won't wait for doing that until spring . You'll love the Isolette (imho ). My grandfather's Isolette was what made me "go analogue".
Don't worry too much about weather conditions btw., they're rather robust (at least when it comes to the Prontor-Shutters. The Compurs are a bit more touchy). Mine enjoys being taken out into the snow
I'm not worried about the camera ... its too cold for ME!