small, compact, durable 120 cameras

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msbarnes

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Any recommendations? SLRs, TLRs, RF's, and folders... I want a small/compact 120 camera that I can carry on me at all times and "throw" around. I want something that is durable and has focusing abilities. I don't have a fixed budget, less than $2k I guess, and I just need one lens.

I mostly have Rolleiflex TLR's and I've had two 120 folders (Agfa S. Isollette and Zeiss S. Ikonta). I might stick with a Rolleiflex or get something else. Preferably a 120 camera but maybe even a 35mm one. I don't like the ergonomics of the 120 folders and so I'm not sure if I'd go back to one of those as I'd rather go back to 35mm first...

Candidates:
Rolleiflex: I love these cameras but I'm not sure how much abuse they can take. I've had no issues with mine but they do feel delicate.
Makina 67: Tank-like construction but not too easy to repair.
Mamiya 6: Possibly. I hear they feel plasticy but underneath they are infact metal. I'd rather get the Mamiya 6 over the Mamiya 7.
Fuji GF670: Felt delicate to me. It is portable but I"m unsure about the durability.
Hasselblad 500cm: A stretch for portability and I'm unsure about durability. Can these take more knocks than say a Rolleiflex?

In 120, those are all the cameras that I was thinking...any thoughts, suggestions, and advice?
 
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msbarnes

msbarnes

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Yes, those too. I forgot about those.

I'd prefer the folder one but does anyone know who repairs those and/or can replace the bellows? I hear that the bellows give issues, especially if stock.
 
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msbarnes

msbarnes

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Jeff, Do you think that TLR's are as durable as RF's/folders?

I just felt that the above RF's/Folders are more-orientated towards documentary/photojournalist/travel photographers and so maybe they are more durable. I threw the 'blad in there because I have this notion that they are indestructible, for some reason.
 

Dan Daniel

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Oh, a Rolleicord is another possiblity. Simpler than the Rolleiflex. Or the Minolta Autocord- it has a bomb-proof focus helical, one of the weaker parts of the Rollei-type focus system using rails.

If you do go with a TLR, get in the habit of racking the focus to infinity, especially before putting in a pack or such. Doing that to protect the rails and being careful with the back door, and they'll do fine in travel. The hard leather cases would help, also.
 

jspillane

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I threw the 'blad in there because I have this notion that they are indestructible, for some reason.

Hasselblads are definitely extremely well built and feel very solid, but there are a lot of moving parts that can go bad or be knocked out of alignment. I suspect a TLR would take more abuse without difficulty; however, fixed vs. interchangable lenses is a huge usability difference.

I have heard that the Mamiya TLRs are built like tanks. I think they end up being about the same size as a 'blad, cheaper to replace if they do get busted.
 

Regular Rod

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No folder? Okay...

The FUJI 690GSWIII has a great lens, a bright viewfinder, a rangefinder that is clear and easy to use, lever wind on and the advantage of 6x9 format so if you like 35mm format you don't lose it to square or halfway house formats. They are also very cheap now.

The only down side is the design fault on the shutter that means you must use the Hat or Lens Cap technique for exposures longer than 1 second!

RR
 
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R.Gould

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Who did you hear that from?

From personal experiance with Fuji 645 bellows they can give problems, the Original bellows are made from a form of plastic and tend to split much like some of the old Agfa folders, but much worse, I have had 3 of them and have had to get the bellows replaced on them all, I believe the replacements were from Custom Bellows, I have never had a problem with bellows from any of my old MF folders, from a Voightlander Baby bessa from the 30's to my latest, a Franka Solida 2 from the 50's
 

bernard_L

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Quote Originally Posted by msbarnes View Post
I hear that the bellows give issues, especially if stock.
Who did you hear that from?

Well, a few examples:
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=115432
New bellows for fuji gs645
Hello, I have a rather good deal on this folder and it looks to me as the perfect camera for my needs. However, in the future it will need some service and new bellows. As I read the original ones are doomed and some circuits need to be looked at also. Do you know a good spot in Europe that deals with this Fuji problems? Thanks
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35
GS645 Bellows Repair
I just acquired a GS645 that needed a new bellows. I sent it out a couple days ago to a highly recommended repair shop - Camera Wiz in Virginia - and was told it would be approximately 3 weeks to get back. Anyone who knows anything about these cameras know that the original bellows did not last long at all. What I am interested in, is finding out how long replacement bellows have been lasting. Hopefully longer than the original. Anyone care to comment?
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31538
bellows repair kit for fuji GS645 folder?
Hello folks... straight up, I love this place! Here's a quick one... anybody know of any bellows repair kits for the fuji folder?
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130096
I've been using the Fuji GS645 for over 25 years and it's one of my favorite cameras. Focus is sharp and bright, lens is excellent with good contrast and sharpness and metering is pretty much on target. Shooting landscapes is not difficult, you just have to get adjusted to it. A great carry around camera. The flip side: bellows is the weak spot on this camera and it can develop pinholes and has to be replaced. I purchased a nylon bellows from Hong Kong on ebay for $65 and had it installed by Essex Camera in NJ and works perfectly. That's the primary issue.

That is not meant to bash that excellent camera. Just need to be aware of the issue when buying.
 

Bob Marvin

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I don't think any medium format camera can be thrown around without needing repairs; maybe once, if you're VERY lucky. My Rolleiflex 2.8E once got picked up in a shovel and tossed aside, while stowed in a corner, by someone enthusiastically cleaning up. That was almost 50 years ago and it's still working fine (with a few CLAs over the years, none of them necessitated by that unfortunate incident. A small 6 X 4.5 folder, like a Super Ikonta A might survive some abuse while folded but these are all precision metal instruments that can be bent, dented, and knocked out of alignment if dropped and repairs aren't cheap.
 
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msbarnes

msbarnes

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Thanks for the advice.

-I read about the Fuji GS645S bellow issues all over the internet.
-By folder, I was referring to the old 120 folders. The more modern ones by Fuji, Cosina, and Plaubel are probably Okay..atleast ergonomically.
-Toss around was a bit of an overstatement. I wouldn't deliberately throw my camera around but I want to find the balance between functionanality and durability. I figured that there are some photojournalist out there that need/needed reliable 120 cameras.

For the time present, I might stick with my Rolleiflex MX-EVS as it isn't too expensive if it breaks -- hopefully never. I have some 2.8E cameras but I don't need that aperture ALL of the time and so the lesser expensive MX-EVS is a maybe a better candidate.

I am still interested in this discussion though!
 

Jeff Kubach

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Jeff, Do you think that TLR's are as durable as RF's/folders?

I just felt that the above RF's/Folders are more-orientated towards documentary/photojournalist/travel photographers and so maybe they are more durable. I threw the 'blad in there because I have this notion that they are indestructible, for some reason.
You could be right. I'm not a pro so most of my cameras last a long time.

Jeff
 

Bill Burk

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Folder-wise, I enjoy the ergonomics of the Bessa II - the way the shutter release unfolds to reach your finger and the single window rangefinder. Ergonomically superior to the Ikonta that requires three unfoldings before you can use two windows to focus and compose...

But maybe a "lighter" or "earlier" model Rolleiflex would fit your needs for a kick-around camera.
 

Bob Marvin

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But FWIW the Super Ikonta struts are a lot stronger than a Bessa and an "A" model is a lot smaller. The ergonomics do take some getting used to and the frame lines in the viewfinder, while pretty bright. aren't usable when wearing glasses. For me the small size trumps everything else.
 

pstake

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If you have 2k to drop, then there's no question what I'd get for a durable, quality, compact medium format. Plaubel Makina. The W version if you're doing a documentary project; it has the wide-angle lens.
 

Paul Howell

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I have a older Mamyia 6, from the 50's, other than no built in meter and needing to cock the shutter, the 75 3.5 lens is very good.
 
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For sake of your photography , choose lenses not bodies. If you want to throw the camera , buy ww2 or vietnam soldier camera.
 
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Bob Marvin

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THAT'S an idea; Kodak Medalists are very durable and were used by the US Navy in WW II, although a late '40s Medalist II would be even better. They take 60 film though, so you'd have to re-spool 120, or have the camera converted to 120. I have one; great camera, with an extremely good lens, but I still wouldn't literally through it around and the stories of their having been used as weapons in hand-to-hand combat are probably apocryphal.
 
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Bob,

I saw few medalist print scans and awesome results. Ektar isnt it ? For two grand or for 200 dollars , I would not use a japanese window glass at my photography. There are magnificient cameras you can insert an ektar , dagor even an cooke for that price with the camera. This is art not buying an old car from a gallery.

These 20 dollar nikon , 1500 dollar fuji people have no idea about us made hotrod car or 1600 cc toyota difference.
 
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