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what are the best MF folders with coupled rangefinders and "auto"film advance
Old 11-08-2007   #1
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what are the best MF folders with coupled rangefinders and "auto"film advance

what are the best MF folders with coupled rangefinders and "auto"film advance . thanks
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Old 11-08-2007   #2
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I believe the general consensus is that the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikontas & Agfa Super Isolettes (a.k.a. Ansco Super Speedexes) are the "best" overall in terms of lens performance, etc. Not sure what you mean by "auto" film advance, but AFAIK the Super Isolettes are the only ones w/true Rolleiflex Automat-style loading, i.e., no need to use a red window or even line up the double-arrow on the film, just get the film started on the take-up spool, close the back, & wind on until the advance stops (camera makes little holes in the film & "counts" them to bring the 1st frame up).

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Originally Posted by elaydad
what are the best MF folders with coupled rangefinders and "auto"film advance . thanks
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Last edited by furcafe : 11-08-2007 at 10:46.
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Old 11-08-2007   #3
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Once the original bellows is replaced on the Fuji GS645, I believe it is the best. I had a Zeiss super ikonta, but it is just too heavy to have the folding to a compact size ability to be of benefit.
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Old 11-08-2007   #4
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What furcafe said. Those are not cheap and quite rare, and, as I found out later, those features are not key to enjoying MF folders.
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Old 11-08-2007   #5
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My mistake in forgetting about the GS645. It's definitely the most modern folder (Fuji later made an autofocus version) w/a great lens & certainly a wonderful option if you like the vertical 645 format. Can't think of many other modern MF folders @ all except the rare & expensive Plaubel Makinas (which are really collapsible, not folders, like the Mamiya 6, etc.). As far as the Super Ikontas being heavy, the later models (III & IV) were considerably lighter, but they were only in 6x6 format.

For a good overview of the many classic folders, you might want to visit Jurgen Kreckel's web site:

http://www.certo6.com/cameras.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS
Once the original bellows is replaced on the Fuji GS645, I believe it is the best. I had a Zeiss super ikonta, but it is just too heavy to have the folding to a compact size ability to be of benefit.
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Last edited by furcafe : 11-08-2007 at 12:26.
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Old 11-08-2007   #6
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Yes, in terms of "auto" film advance, I'm thinking the only ones that would fit the bill are the late autofocus, auto advance Fujis.
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Old 11-08-2007   #7
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I think that by "auto" film advance the org. poster meant that the shutter cocking and film advance are coupled.
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Old 11-08-2007   #8
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The best is the Mamiya 6 and Mamiya 6MF.
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Old 11-08-2007   #9
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If we're going to count the Mamiya 6 I'd like to toss the GA645 in there too. Neither is really a folder, but the lenses collapse.
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Old 11-08-2007   #10
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sorry ment
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Old 11-08-2007   #11
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sorry by auto film advance , I meant no need to use the red window,I have an old ZI super A with coated lens great pictures but sooo slow and I have a hard time seeing the numbers in the red window, again thants all
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Old 11-08-2007   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elaydad
sorry by auto film advance , I meant no need to use the red window,I have an old ZI super A with coated lens great pictures but sooo slow and I have a hard time seeing the numbers in the red window, again thants all
I think the Mamiya Six Automat is the most advanced of all classic folders (excluding the Fuji GS645). It has coupled film advance and shutter cocking, so there is no need to cock the shutter on the lens after winding the film. One just loads the film and align it with a mark, then the film advance mechanism automatically stops for each exposure when the right amount of film has been wound. There is also an auto resetting exposure counter. There is a red window as well, but it would only be needed in case of the film advance mechanism not working properly.

The lens on my sample is a very good Mamiya-Sekor 75/3.5, which is coated. There is also a coupled rangefinder. Rather uniquely, focusing is achieved by moving the film plane and not the lens. Truly a superb camera!

Here's a picture of this little known camera:



The film advance knob with exposure counter:



The film guides/film pressure plate assembly moves back and forth when focusing:





Cheers!

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Last edited by Abbazz : 11-08-2007 at 23:00.
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Old 11-08-2007   #13
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the mamiya six looks very impressive is the mamiya lens better than the older olympus zuiko , how accurate is the "odd" focusing system and any problem loading film? thank you Abbazz


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Old 11-08-2007   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elaydad
the mamiya six looks very impressive is the mamiya lens better than the older olympus zuiko , how accurate is the "odd" focusing system and any problem loading film? thank you Abbazz
You're welcome.

This film plane focusing system is very accurate and much sturdier than other systems relying on delicate folding cams to transmit lens movement to the rangefinder (like the Bessa II or Super Isolette). Image quality is also sensibly better than folders equipped with a front element focusing lens (like the Super Ikonta).

According to some reports on the web, the weak point on these Mamiya Six folders seems to be the film advance system. I have two of these cameras, one plain Mamiya Six-IV (which features the automatic film advance mechanism, but not the coupled shutter cocking) and one more recent Mamiya Six Automat 2. Neither camera has ever developed a film advance problem but 2 is hardly a significant statistical sample. The film advance mechanism would be a difficult repair (read: costly), and not to be done by any self-taught folder repair wizard, like there are so many on the web. There are indeed many people offering their services on the web to repair old folders, as long as it's only changing the bellows, cleaning the shutter and adjusting the rangefinder, but it takes a qualified camera repair person to replace the small gears in a Mamiya Six film advance gear train.

Loading film is very straightforward. The film pressure plate slides out of the camera to clear the film path for loading. Once the film is properly loaded, the film pressure plate is put back in place to hold the film against the film guides. At first, I was always forgetting to put the pressure plate back after loading film. Before buying a Mamiya Six used, always make sure that the film pressure plate is in the camera, because it is almost impossible to find a separate pressure plate for sale and I guess it would cost as much as a whole camera.

The Mamiya lens doesn't seem better optically than the much more common Zuiko 75/3.5, but it has better flare resistance due to its more advanced coating.

Cheers!

Abbazz
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Old 11-08-2007   #15
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Abbazz - I have a (luckily cheapy purchased) copy of the Zuiko lens variety, that is appently incomplete. The film plane is capable of moving in and out, but actually only moves out with the cams that are moved by the focus wheel. It was not attached to anything that would move it back. Were there springs to allow it to come back or what?
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Old 11-08-2007   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oftheherd
Abbazz - I have a (luckily cheapy purchased) copy of the Zuiko lens variety, that is appently incomplete. The film plane is capable of moving in and out, but actually only moves out with the cams that are moved by the focus wheel. It was not attached to anything that would move it back. Were there springs to allow it to come back or what?
On my Mamiya Six, the film plane is moved by the focus wheel in both directions through a rack and pinion mechanism without the help of any spring. Maybe the gears are damaged on your camera?

Cheers!

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Old 11-09-2007   #17
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Other folders with automatic film advance (no red windows) are the Iskra, which automatically senses the start of the film, and the Certo Six which has a lever wind.

I prefer both of these over the Super Ikontas.
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Old 11-09-2007   #18
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The Agfa Super Isolette that was also branded as the Ansco Super Speedex have been mentioned.

The Automat-style film loading of these two are the best that I've seen. Both are fitted with a unit focus, Tessar-formula, Agfa Solinar lens. The two feature together makes for an expensive acquistion.

On the budget end, the alternative would be the scale-focus, Voigtlander Perkeo II. It is a bit more fiddly to load - but after the first frame is manually selected - the film winder stops automatically each successive frame after that.

The Perkeo II is the smallest 6x6 camera in this group. It is very petite.
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Last edited by Solinar : 11-09-2007 at 02:54.
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Old 11-09-2007   #19
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hmmm, makes me wonder whether the Mamiya and late Super Ikonta III share parts... looking at the M. pics and the Ikonta 531/16 sitting on my desk, there is more than a passing resemblance. Did Zeiss and Mamiya have some sort of shared development deal?
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Old 11-09-2007   #20
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Abazz, any pictures from the Mamiya six? I've never seen one with the Mamiya Sekor lens, always with the Zuiko.

Speaking of Zuikos, Olympus has a series of folder cameras as well, but they are super rare.
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Old 11-09-2007   #21
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Very cool, & educational. I didn't know anything about these Mamiya folders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abbazz
I think the Mamiya Six Automat is the most advanced of all classic folders (excluding the Fuji GS645).

. . .

Cheers!

Abbazz
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Old 11-09-2007   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oftheherd
Abbazz - I have a (luckily cheapy purchased) copy of the Zuiko lens variety, that is appently incomplete. The film plane is capable of moving in and out, but actually only moves out with the cams that are moved by the focus wheel. It was not attached to anything that would move it back. Were there springs to allow it to come back or what?
I haven't seen the Mamiya 6 Automat mentioned in the later post (although I'd love to get a look at one, or even buy one at a reasonable price) but I can tell you that the older Mamiya 6 has a somewhat different focusing mechanism than that described.

The film plane is moved outward by cams just as you describe. The film plane is supposed to be held tightly against these cams by pressure of a simple spring (maybe two springs, I can't remember for sure) which is what draws the film plane back inward as you focus toward infinity. It sounds as if the springs have escaped from your camera, probably during some past amateur repair. Unfortunately, I have no idea what you could do about it aside from finding another earlier 6 to use as a parts source.

Meanwhile, I'll confirm from experience that the pre-Automat 6 is a terrific camera that gives excellent results. You do have to use the red window to line up the first frame, but after that it has auto film stop while advancing. The shutter must be cocked manually, but this does eliminate the potentially fragile mechanism that has to run from the body to the front of the lens on the Automat type.

Speaking of fragile mechanisms, the big advantage of the 6's film plane focusing is that it eliminates the complex and delicate mechanism needed to couple the lens to the rangefinder on most folding RFs. That mechanism not only needs to reach a long distance and move very precisely, it also has to hinge out of the way when the camera is folded. (The alternative is an optically coupled system like that on the Zeiss Super Ikonta B, but that limits the camera to front-element focusing, which isn't as good optically as unit focusing in which the entire lens moves.) Mamiya neatly sidestepped the whole problem by moving the focusing system back into the camera body, where the rangefinder already resides, thus allowing them to be joined by a direct, simple coupling system that doesn't need to fold. Good thinking!

PS -- The Zuiko lenses on most of the older 6es are quite good, and the manually cocked Seikosha shutter is super-reliable. The 6 I used to own had a strange, funky external flash sync mechanism built into a little housing above the lens, but I suppose later ones had internal sync.
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Last edited by jlw : 11-09-2007 at 15:01.
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Old 11-09-2007   #23
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I would add the Franka Solida IIIC [I think it is C] to the list of excellent RF MF cameras. Juergen Kreckel places it in the same league as the Agfa Super Isolette. The Schneider lens is not bad at all. The Solida has a RF but it is not coupled.

It is best to separate vintage cameras from modern cameras in this discussion. The Fuji 645 are modern cameras and they are hard to beat.
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Old 11-09-2007   #24
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Raid - does the Franka Solida IIIC have an Automat or similar film advance which stops the winder automatically at the next frame?

Read the original poster's question.
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Old 11-09-2007   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
Abazz, any pictures from the Mamiya six? I've never seen one with the Mamiya Sekor lens, always with the Zuiko.
I'll try to scan some negs taken with this camera an post them here.

Cheers!

Abbazz
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Old 11-09-2007   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noci
hmmm, makes me wonder whether the Mamiya and late Super Ikonta III share parts... looking at the M. pics and the Ikonta 531/16 sitting on my desk, there is more than a passing resemblance. Did Zeiss and Mamiya have some sort of shared development deal?
I am no historian, but I don't think any shared development deal was needed to copy a German camera design after WWII. As far as I know, all German patents were confiscated by the Allies as war reparations and were licensed to companies worldwide.

Cheers,

Abbazz
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Old 11-09-2007   #27
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More Mamiya automat information (II I believe). The pics here show the springs that secure the film plane platform to the rotating cams that do the focusing. The cams are geared under the bottom cover of the camera to rotate in concert with each other. The wire springs shown, old the film plane firmly against the cams so that as the cams move back into the camera body the back comes in with it. The other pictures show that you thread the film between the two tabs on the back frame. Then you slide a pressure plate in to form a flat surface for the film. I believe this to the the flattest film holding mechanism I have seen in most old folders.

I concur on the Mam/Sekor vs the Zuiko lenses. I have had 4 sixes with the Zuiko and 3 with the M/S. Focus and sharpness hard to tell apart. The later lens handles flare better.

The counting and stop mechanism is fragile. One good hit on the Wind-on and you may have a non functional wind-on. The automats I have had (3) had one good functioning counter, stop, and shutter cocking mechanism. I did find that I could strip out all the film advance counter/stop mechanism on the other two, use the ruby window and still have automatic shutter cocking, with attendant double exposure prevention. If you do want to double expose, There is a shutter cocking button that you can manually use on the top of the lens.

Every Mamiya Six folder I have owned has had ROCK SOLID front standards, easily adjustable rangefinder and produced consistent and exceptional result. The camera is a Tank however, falling into the same weight and size categories as the Zeiss bodies. Out of the seven, all but one had excellent original bellows. The one I had a bellows replaced on was done exceptional well by Jurgen Krenckel (Certo6 on eBay).
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Old 11-09-2007   #28
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More Pics of the Mamiya Six Automat
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Old 11-09-2007   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlw
I haven't seen the Mamiya 6 Automat mentioned in the later post (although I'd love to get a look at one, or even buy one at a reasonable price)
Prices are highly variable for the Mamiya Six series cameras. McKeown's states $120-180 for an Automat II, but I have never seen one sell for less than $250 and a mint one can reach $500 (from a regular seller, not from Arsenal-photo.com ).

Cheers!
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Old 11-09-2007   #30
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that strange, funky external flash sync mechanism built into a little housing above the lens was that X or only M sync?
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Old 11-09-2007   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elaydad
that strange, funky external flash sync mechanism built into a little housing above the lens was that X or only M sync?
The little red tab switch you see below the socket has MFX settings, on a Seikosha-MX shutter with b--1-1/500th
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Old 11-09-2007   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elaydad
that strange, funky external flash sync mechanism built into a little housing above the lens was that X or only M sync?
I can't remember for sure -- in fact, I don't recall that I ever actually used it -- but I think it might have been X. It was quite a simple design, obviously designed as a factory add-on to give sync capability to a shutter with no internal sync mechanism.

There were two electrical switch contact strips, secured at one end to an insulating block, and a short pin installed on the inner end of the shutter cocking lever. When you released the shutter, the pin would complete the circuit momentarily as it passed between the contacts. Of course this wouldn't have been necessary on later models with internally synchronized shutters.

Incidentally, while the Automat's frame counter mechanism may have been fragile (as noted in a previous post) my recollection of my pre-Automat model was that its counter was reasonably rugged. It was also a simple mechanism, consisting of not much more than a wheel with a tooth for each frame stop, and a spring-loaded catch that would halt the wheel when you had turned the knob far enough to reach the next frame.

All this seems to suggest that while the Automats were the most advanced and sophisticated models, someone looking for a Mamiya 6 to use might be served just as well by looking for one of the earlier ones with a manually-cocked shutter. These would be less expensive, have less to go wrong, and would still offer similar operating characteristics and picture quality.
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Old 11-09-2007   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlw
I can't remember for sure -- in fact, I don't recall that I ever actually used it -- but I think it might have been X.
Yes, as any early flash synch mechanism, there is no provision for extra delay, so it is X-synch only.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlw
All this seems to suggest that while the Automats were the most advanced and sophisticated models, someone looking for a Mamiya 6 to use might be served just as well by looking for one of the earlier ones with a manually-cocked shutter. These would be less expensive, have less to go wrong, and would still offer similar operating characteristics and picture quality.
The shutter cocking mechanism seems quite sturdy. It is a nice feature to have on a folder and it doesn't feel like it's likely to fail. As stated by Kuzano -- who seems to have much experience with these cameras -- the weak point is the film advance counter/stop mechanism, not the shutter cocking.

The bright-frame combined finder on the Automat-II is much bigger and brighter than on the previous models and it's a pleasure to use. So, if you have the opportunity to buy one of these superb cameras for a reasonable price, don't turn it down.

Cheers!

Abbazz
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Old 11-10-2007   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuzano
More Mamiya automat information (II I believe). The pics here show the springs that secure the film plane platform to the rotating cams that do the focusing. The cams are geared under the bottom cover of the camera to rotate in concert with each other. The wire springs shown, old the film plane firmly against the cams so that as the cams move back into the camera body the back comes in with it. The other pictures show that you thread the film between the two tabs on the back frame. Then you slide a pressure plate in to form a flat surface for the film. I believe this to the the flattest film holding mechanism I have seen in most old folders.

I concur on the Mam/Sekor vs the Zuiko lenses. I have had 4 sixes with the Zuiko and 3 with the M/S. Focus and sharpness hard to tell apart. The later lens handles flare better.

The counting and stop mechanism is fragile. One good hit on the Wind-on and you may have a non functional wind-on. The automats I have had (3) had one good functioning counter, stop, and shutter cocking mechanism. I did find that I could strip out all the film advance counter/stop mechanism on the other two, use the ruby window and still have automatic shutter cocking, with attendant double exposure prevention. If you do want to double expose, There is a shutter cocking button that you can manually use on the top of the lens.

Every Mamiya Six folder I have owned has had ROCK SOLID front standards, easily adjustable rangefinder and produced consistent and exceptional result. The camera is a Tank however, falling into the same weight and size categories as the Zeiss bodies. Out of the seven, all but one had excellent original bellows. The one I had a bellows replaced on was done exceptional well by Jurgen Krenckel (Certo6 on eBay).
Thanks so much! That is what mine is missing. Now I have hope. I will check with the machinists at work to see if one of them can fabricate a set of springs for me. I now understand the troughs in the cams too.

Mine is apparently one of the earlier models as the Seikosha shutter doesn't seem to be self cocking, and in fact has a lever to cock the shutter. I might get this back in to working order after all. Then I can put something else in the display cabinet.

Thanks again.
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Old 11-10-2007   #35
Abbazz
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Will,

Here are two pictures taken with the Mamiya Six Automat-II (Mamiya Sekor 75/3.5 lens wide open):





Sorry for the bad scan. As you can see, this lens is pretty sharp wide open, with great contrast, but the bokeh is a bit disturbing just like the 75mm lens on the newer Mamiya 6.

Cheers!

Abbazz
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Old 11-10-2007   #36
FrankS
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There are also a few Voightlander (sp?) Perkeo MF folding cameras. There is a model with a RF. I have one without RF. Once the initial frame is positioned via the red window, the rest is automatic.
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Old 11-10-2007   #37
kuzano
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Two things here... I will look through my parts and see if I have a set of the springs to hold the film plan bracket against those cams. Not very sure I have a set but will look. If you need better pics, let me know, but you seem to have the idea. the springs ride in those troughs and it's about an 1/8th of an inch pull up on that center hump to engage the hook on the film plane bracket. Spring wire for sure. One of the wires that comes to mind is the wire we use to use for control push rods in radio control airplanes. Comes in varying thickness. Hobby shop stuff for sure.

second, I have been lurking intently for one of those rangefinder Perkeos. I think they are called Perkeo E. Have seen them occasionally but I won't pay what theyre selling for. I have a Perkeo II with a color skopar lens on it. Wonderful small 6X6 that produces great images. I can put an accessory rangefinder in the flash shoe for a fraction of what Perkeo E rangefinder models sell for. Last one I saw sold for over $500. Often sell for more than Bessa II's with the Skopar.
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Old 11-10-2007   #38
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The Perkeo E has a non-coupled RF and NO AUTOMATIC FILM ADVANCE. It uses the red window for every frame.

The Perkeo II on the other hand lacks a built-in RF, but it is probably the smallest 6x6 camera with a mostly automatic film wind.

BTW - Those are some nice crisp shots with that Mamiya Six Automat II - Once google caches this thread, the price of them will probably double.
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Old 11-10-2007   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuzano
The springs ride in those troughs and it's about an 1/8th of an inch pull up on that center hump to engage the hook on the film plane bracket. Spring wire for sure.
Any good hardware store will carry a large selection of springs, and some of these springs will have a long straight wire section. (If you can't find a suitable one at a hardware store, try going to an auto parts store and looking for throttle return springs.)

If you can find a spring that has about the right diameter of wire and a straight section long enough to cut out the piece you need, you are all set. WHILE WEARING EYE PROTECTION, snip out a straight section of the spring wire, then put the correct bends in it with two pairs of pliers (ideally one locking pair to hold the middle and one thin pair to do the bending) and you should have a functioning focus mechanism pretty quickly.
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Old 11-10-2007   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abbazz
The shutter cocking mechanism seems quite sturdy. It is a nice feature to have on a folder and it doesn't feel like it's likely to fail. As stated by Kuzano -- who seems to have much experience with these cameras -- the weak point is the film advance counter/stop mechanism, not the shutter cocking.

The bright-frame combined finder on the Automat-II is much bigger and brighter than on the previous models and it's a pleasure to use. So, if you have the opportunity to buy one of these superb cameras for a reasonable price, don't turn it down.

Cheers!

Abbazz
Correct, the shutter cocking mechanism is Simple and Beefy. That's why I left it in place when I stripped out the film counting/stop mechanism.
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