Which TLR to go for?

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Ailsa

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I get paid on Friday, and am thinking of splurging some of it on a TLR. There's a very nice Yashica-Mat at one of the (many) antique markets in Lewes, so I'm pretty sure I'll go for that, but the same dealer also has a couple of Rolleicords. What are other people's experiences of either of these cameras? Any other recommendations?
 

jovo

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Can't help you with a decision between the Yashica and Rolliecord, but I do recommend the Mamyia C220 (or the 330) because of the availability of other lenses. I used mine all the time til I got a P67, but I still use it when I need to travel with a very lightweight kit in a small case...camera, 3 lenses, paramender and lens hoods.....still too much of course, but really compact
 

Adrian Twiss

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I have had experience of a number of TLRs in my time.

a) Yashicamat. I had an early model. It was quite nice to use (everything worked as it should). The lens was sharp but nothing startling. If I remember correctly the focussing screen was not that bright but by no means difficult to use.

b) Minolta Autocord. A definite step up from the Yashicamat. A lens that was noticeably sharper and more contrasty. It had a quirky loading system in that you loaded it from the top down rather than the traditional bottom up. I enjoyed using this camera a lot.

c) Rolleicord (cant remember which model). A very nice camera with a lens (if memory serves) that was every bit as good as the Minolta. Very easy to use.

d) Mamiyaflex C2. Had a film transport mechanism that was prone to wearing out quickly which caused film spacing issues. Lens was sharp and contrasty. I would not recommend going for one of these due to the film transport issues. Spares now unavailable.

e) Mamiyaflex C220. A much better camera that the C2. Silky smooth controls and lens interchangeability a real boon.

One word of warning about the Mamiya range of lenses. Don't buy the chrome lenses with the Seikosha shutter. Its a good shutter but when it goes wrong It will be practically impossible to repair due to lack of spares. Always go for the black lenses.

In order of preference

Mamiyaflex C220
Rolleicord/Minolta Autocord
Yashicamat

I would discount the Mamiyaflex C2
 

noblebeast

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Having recently amassed a small collection of TLR's, and given the choices you have in front of you right now, I would recommend the Rollei. The Yashicas are reported to have hit-and-miss lens quality (though I have a Yashica D with a very nice, sharp lens). The Rollei TLR's have a nicer, more solid feel, and a brighter focusing screen (in my experience). As far as how the cameras are in actual use - they're pretty similar.

Play around with each one if they will let you and see how each one feels in your hands. Test all the shutter speeds, as these old cameras tend to get sticky shutters with old age - especially in the slower speeds, which is easier to detect by ear than the fast speeds. If you're just getting the camera to play around with, you may not want to go directly from the shop to a repairman.

If you find that TLR's are for you, then you can always look into something fancier at a later date - when the prices might be even lower than they are right now.

Just some thoughts from someone who finds two lenses better than one!

Joe
 

Eric Rose

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I have a Rollei and I must say it's almost a religious experience everytime I use it. I just love this camera. None of the rest of my cameras give me the same feeling as my Rollei. The fit and finish is fantastic, the optics second to none, nice and easy to use, quiet and funky looking too.

PM Ian Greant on using a rolleicord. He has one and loves it. I have the Rolleiflex.
 

geraldatwork

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I'm not an experienced TLR user but I find the Minolta Autocord easy to use and it gives me good results. I did some research on the internet and it seemed the Autocord from what other people were saying offered the best value for the buck.
 

Flotsam

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It's not among your choices but I also favor the Mamiyas.

Very nice glass
Interchangable lenses.
Plenty of accessories available
Lots of bellows ext. for close-ups
Pretty darned inexpensive on the used market.

The Rolleis are truly beautiful and I'd love to have one but the versatility and the price of the Mamiya make it the more practical choice. At least for my needs.
 

clogz

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The Yashica Mat is a nice camera but...wide angle and telelenses are hard to ocme by and are not interchangeable but work with a sort of clip-on system. The quality of those clip-ons is below average.
 

Doug Bennett

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I have both a Mat 124G and an Autocord. While both are capable of fine results, I prefer the Autocord. The lens is indeed a bit sharper and more contrasty.

It had a quirky loading system in that you loaded it from the top down rather than the traditional bottom up

That loading system was superior, probably resulting in better film flatness that other TLRs. In addition, the focus setup on the Autocord, which swings across the bottom, is very comfortable. All in all, a fun camera to shoot with.
 

Ernie

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I have owned a Yashica 124G, a Mamiya C330f, A Yashica Mat and a Rolleiflex 3.5f; the latter two I still have. I found that the lens quality of the two Yashicas was very good and there was little difference between the two ( they use the same lens but the 124G has a built in light meter and is much more expensive). The Rolleiflex is a wonderful piece of engineering and gives superb results. The Mamiya has the advantage of interchangeable lenses and macro but is very heavy and not really suitable for carrying around being more at home in the studio.
So my opinion for what it is worth is:
The Yashica is a delight to use, gives good results and is fairly cheap to buy.
The Rolleiflex is exceptionally well made and gives great results but a good one is expensive (for a 40 or 50 year old camera) but will probably increase in value if well looked after.
The Mamiya gives good results and is the most versatile but is rather large and heavy' however they can be picked up for a reasonable price.

You can see photos taken by the Yashica Mat and the Rolleiflex on our web site at :

http://www.jennyandernie.co.uk/Old Cameras/TLR.htm

Ernie
 
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I have a Yashica 124G, a Mamiya C220 and a Mamiya C330. I highly recommend one of the latter. The Yashica is nice, but the lens is average, the viewing screen is dim and it is very noisy. OTOH, the Mamiyas are really nice cameras with interchangeable lenses and close-up capability. If you're really on a budget, go for a C220 and a 80mm. Otherwise go for the C330. You'll soon feel limitated by the Yashica, but certainly not by the Mamiyas. You can find descriptions of all theses cameras on my website:

http://www.lumieresenboite.com
 

rjs003

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I can't speak to the quality of anything other then the Yashica TLRs. I have three of them and for the money you can't beat the quality. As far as a dim viewing screen, the mirrow and back side of the viewing lens probably need cleaning. Not a big deal. If you do go with the Yashica, buy Yashica acessories. The tele and wide angle lens aren't worth the time or money.
 

Snapper

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It has to be the Mamiya C220/330 for the features and the range of lenses. I have a soft spot for the Minolta Autocord, but it's not really a working camera (one lens, no filters), but it still gives fantastic pics.

Last I saw, Clock Tower Cameras in Brighton had a Mamiya (worth giving a ring first though).
 

pierre

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I've had a couple of Rolleiflexes and one Yashica-Mat. First, I know it's hard to tell without actually using one, but be sure you really want a TLR. No matter how good they are, you are not looking through the lens. Some might say these became obsolete years ago for a reason. I never did any test charts or anything like that, just standard 8x10 enlargements. I could not tell much difference between the Rolleis (one with a Xenar, the other with a Tessar) and the Yashica-Mat (Yashinon lens) on that size of print. The Rolleiflexes (and the Rolleicords are virtually the same but without the crank) definitely feels more solid and less tinny than the Yashica. CLA's on these things can easily be way more expensive than the camera, and most places, you will have to mail it out to the repairman, so, be sure you won't need a CLA soon after you buy one. Personally, while they are very nice to look at, I would much prefer a used 6x6 SLR.

To be honest though, I'm not sure it's that much of a step up in photo quality from a modern 35mm SLR, while at the same, having some significant disadvantages in comparison.
 

glbeas

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Snapper said:
It has to be the Mamiya C220/330 for the features and the range of lenses. I have a soft spot for the Minolta Autocord, but it's not really a working camera (one lens, no filters), but it still gives fantastic pics.

Last I saw, Clock Tower Cameras in Brighton had a Mamiya (worth giving a ring first though).
I've used both and strongly prefer the 330 over the 220 because the 330 cocks the shutter when you wind and the 220 didn't causing me to have to trip the shutter from the front often as I would forget to cock the shutter before I pushed the shutter button. Overall nice cameras and are great for infrared with an opaque filter, you can still see to focus and compose! Also has great closeup capability if you can overcome the parallax error.
 

snapnsam

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I would go for the Yashica 124G. They are relatively inexpensive, fairley easy to get repaired and decent quality. They seem to take usage quite well, I have loaned mine to several of my students and have never had a problem.

Sam
 

FrankB

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I have very limited experience in this area but the college I attended had a very high attrition rate in camera gear. Most kit did not survive long before being permanently "studented"!

The TLR's they used were Mamiya C330's, all of which still worked and (when used correctly!) turned out very good images. The interchangeable lenses were a very good feature too.

They are quite heavy and cumbersome... ...but can also be used to drive nails! :smile:

Whatever you get, please show us the results in your esteemed publication. We don't get to see nearly enough of your own shots, and I've very much enjoyed what I have seen. Also many thanks for all your efforts with that mag, please keep up the good work!

All the best,

Frank
 
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Ailsa

Ailsa

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Thanks for all your help and suggestions with this. I might pop back down to the market and see if there are any Minolta Autocords, as this has been recommended in quite a few replies.

I've used a Mamiya C330 in the past (in fact, I produced one of my degree show projects on one), so that's also worth considering.

One of the main reasons I was considering the Yashica and Rollei was because I wanted the discipline of the fixed standard lens, so I'm not too concerned with interchangeable lenses - perhaps I should have thought to mention that at the start! I think it must be the hayfever clogging up my brain...
 

127

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I've three yashica's and a rolleiflex (all 127 of course - but some principles apply). The yashica's are really sweet - simple and efficient. re - their lenses, the yashimar lenses are (alledgedy) dodgey, yashikor's OK(ish), and yashinon's good.

My rollei on the other hand is a more advanced beasty - it boasts features like auto-stoping on the winding, and shutter interlock. It even has a feeler to detech the start of the film automatically so you just load the film up and start winding. It's an all toogether more luxury camera. The downside of that is that there's more to go wrong - I suspect the yashica will keep going forever, whereas I had problems with the Rollei, and had to get it repaired. thats the price of the more complex mechanism.

On the other hand the rolleicords are simpler than the rolleiflex, so are probably mechanically more like the yashicas, but check everything is working as it should be.

I'm sure you'll enjoy whichever you choose - as for the sugguestion that TLR's are obsolete, that's just the 70's speaking. My tlr's are smoother, and simpler to operate than any SLR. From a bygone age? That would be the same bygone age as film - sign me up...

Ian
 

Tom Hoskinson

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IMO the Minolta Autocords are excellent TLRs - good choice. I own two of them and they have given me excellent service and results over the years (nearly 30).
 

Konical

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I have both a Yashica-Mat and a Minolta Autocord. They produce roughly equal-quality results, BUT the Autocord developed a very stiff focusing movement some years ago and eventually became unusable (except at infinity) because of that. The focusing lever under the taking lens is, indeed, convenient, but I understand that the problem with mine is not unusual. I recall seeing Autocords on E-Bay with similar problems noted. I strongly suspect that the problem is just dried-out lubricant, but I have neither the tools nor the knowledge to fix it myself. A professional repair job would probably make no financial sense. The focusing of any Autocord should definitely be checked prior to purchase.

Konical
 

John_Brewer

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I used to have a Mamiya C3 with a paramender (a very useful accessory) and so stupidly sold it for a Brony 645. I now have a Rolleicord IV i'm getting used to, cheap off e-bay, and slow shutter speeds are bad. Mamiya TLR's are heavy, arguably ugly but are modular with lots of accessories and lenses available secondhand. They also have a good bellows extension, with a scale for exposure compensation, for close up work. At this moment in time www.kpprof.com have a C220 with 80mm for £125, and in their price list I received a few days ago, postage is free for web orders.
 

jovo

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Well Ailsa....whadja end up getting? That paycheck didn't bounce, now did it?
 
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