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120 RF Folders 120/220 Format Folding Rangefinders, including the various classic Zeiss Ikontas, Voigtlander Bessas, and their Ruskie copies.

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Moskva a good performer?
Old 05-31-2009   #1
Bill58
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Moskva a good performer?

I've got a chance to buy a very nice one for $80. Is it a recommended good performer optically and w/O many inherent design/build problems? Does it take the most common film (220?)

Many thanks,
Bill
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Old 05-31-2009   #2
wlewisiii
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1) A Moskva 5 is a damn good camera though a bit*h to handle. It's ergonomics are everything bad that both Zeiss and the FSU came up with rolled into one. OTOH, the lens is first rate & if you can hold the monster still, you'll get images equal to anything from anywhere.

2) No, it does not use 220 as it is a red window camera. 120 only but that's ok.

That is a good price if it's a known good camera. However, the Iskra (6x6 on 120 only FSU Camera) is even better if the format is acceptable to you. It's lens is the single finest produced by the FSU for any camera.

Everything else being equal, in my mind, the Iskra is the finest FSU camera, the Kiev 2 is next & then comes the Moskva 5. Make of that what you will...

Hope this helps,

William
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Old 06-01-2009   #3
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Bill, what model Moskva (Moscow) are you looking at; 1,2,3,4 or 5?

William covers it pretty well, if its a known good working camera then its good value for money (more so a Moskova 5), for a large neg camera, so if thats all you have to spend, then go for it. It wont take the 220 film but your choice in film is larger with 120 anyway. when it comes to design you have to take into account it is based on the Zeiss Ikonta models that were designed in the 30's, so they are not quick cameras to use, you have to open and flip out the rangefinder etc, so its slowish, so 120 film re-loading doesn't matter that much either. no doubt there are better performers with other camera brands and models (bessa II for example) but for $80 (if in good working order) then its good value. build quality is infamous with the FSU cameras so opinions vary.

one good thing with the Moskva is with a mask they also take 6x6 which can be a little more helpful with portrait or just the choice of the square format. most of the german 6x9 folders only switch to 6x4.5 which i dont find particularly useful...
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Old 06-01-2009   #4
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William isn't wrong about the ergonomics - I think it's possibly less ergonomic than the Argus C3, which is saying something!

Mine is an early Moskva-4, with the Moskva-2 type top and (IIRC) a slightly more basic shutter than the 5. Other than the usual folder things you need to check, like bellows, the only particular thing to check I can think of is to check whether the rangefinder functions as it should. No doubt FallisPhoto will be along with the details, but the rangefinder is apparently a PITA to fix, and one particular RF fault is a grade-1 nightmare.

The lens is a Tessar clone, so should be nice - I find mine a little soft close up, but the few people I've taken portraits of seemed pleased so maybe it's flattering? I mostly take mine hill walking, as it fits in a map pocket, so it's mostly landscapes I take. Must dig a couple out (there are a couple I like to show off, but only a couple...) and put them on my flickr....

As William and chippy have said, if it's all working well then $80 is a good price.

Adrian
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Old 06-01-2009   #5
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I would have thought the price was maybe a little high? (it needs to be a really nice one)....but still - if you really must punish yourself!.....I would be a lot happier with a good Nettar, or Perkeo!,etc.!
Cheers, Dave.
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Old 06-01-2009   #6
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Dave, personally i prefer the known quality cameras too, but if we are talking a 6x9 with coupled rangefinder (not agfa records-that have uncoupled rangefinder) then the choices get narrow, if its in known good working order then $80 doesn't sound bad to me, if you end up having to buy a few before you get one working then you may as well of bought something else to begin with..if its a 6x9 without c/rangefinder or a 6x6 then it opens up many other choices.

but 6x9! of the top of my head what are the common choices, Bessa II w/Scopar $4-$500, Balda S/pontura $600++, Bessa RF w/Scopar $170++, Welta Weltur $350++, Super ikonta C $200-$500 depending on year, an old ruff one a bit cheaper but in the same boat as the Moskva..the Moskva though doesn't have the build quality or the shutter you would expect on the German models though..but 80 bucks huh
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Old 06-01-2009   #7
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If the individual camera in question is known, beyond doubt, to be a good camera, $80, or maybe even a little more, is a good price for a Moskva 5. It is a little high for the other versions. If they are fully restored though, (CLAd, fresh bellows, new leather, and looking like new) $80 will be very low. It is hard to say whether that's a good price without seeing and handling it. One thing you very definitely want to do before buying any Moskva is to have a look through the viewfinder. If the images don't line up vertically (If they track with one image higher than the other), don't buy it. This means that one of two things have gone wrong:
1) If the images track horizontally, with one image higher than the other, then the arm containing the prisms above the lens/shutter has taken a hard hit. This never could be fixed outside the factory and you can't do it either.
2) If the images track diagonally, well... There are two stories about Moskva cameras: one says that they were built in orphanages; the other says they were built by convicts. I once aligned a Moskva rangefinder vertically, and I believe the convict story -- orphans would just run away. If the image tracks diagonally, the convict laborers who put it together were not being whipped/beaten hard enough that day and got lazy. They didn't bother to align the very fine teeth on two gears inside that arm that sticks up from the lens/shutter. This can be fixed, but it is a serious PITA. Set aside a whole day for it. What you're going to have to do is take the previously mentioned arm apart, where you will find two gears, with what look like lenses set into them (they are not lenses, but prisms). You will then rotate one of the aforementioned gears by one tooth, put the whole thing back together, focus the lens and see if the images will track along from side to side without going uphill or downhill. What will probably happen is that they will track diagonally, which means you need to take it apart, rotate that gear by another tooth, and do it again, and again, and again, until just looking at the camera makes you sick (it passes after 3 or 4 months). Just to frost the cake, the whole thing is under spring tension and wants to fly apart every time you take the cover off. Eventually, you'll get it though -- taking about four hours a day, it took me three days to do my Moskva 2.

I've probably got one of the best Moskva 2 cameras here, simply because very few people have the sheer bloody-mindedness to force themselves to do what has to be done to get it in good working order and look good. I just got mad and told myself that "this damned camera is not going to beat me." I wouldn't do it again, so don't ask. I don't do vertical rangefinder alignments on Moskvas.


Last edited by FallisPhoto : 06-01-2009 at 12:07. Reason: lousy spelling
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Old 06-01-2009   #8
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Well, I was going to do two straight 75dpi scans from A4 (12"x8") prints to give an idea of what the lens is like - OK, you'll never really tell on a screen, but just an idea... but for some reason my scanner has rendered them at about half that size. And then it wonders why I don't trust technology...

Anyway, having gone to the trouble, try these for size.

Adrian

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3659/...30bfd0b4_o.jpg
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3338/...46661815_o.jpg
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Old 06-01-2009   #9
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Oh yes the parallax error close up is just awesome! consider 1/5 up to 1/4 of the picture lost....I was thinking for a while to make an external VF with a so so prallax compensation.
Jay Z. "Zorkicat" has some experience using a Moskva as a studio camera
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Old 06-01-2009   #10
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Bill58,
I bought a Moskva 5 a few months ago. I was eager to try the 6x9 format. I paid about $80 for a nice example. Everything functions as it should. But the images just aren't very sharp. At about the same time, I purchased an Iskra 2. (I wish I just bought a cheaper Iskra without the light meter.)
In comparing the two, the Iskra 2 is much, much better. The lens on the Iskra is one of the sharpest I own. I highly recommend an Iskra is you like the 6x6 format. But I can't recommend the Moskva 5. There may be finer examples out there than the one I own. Maybe the Iskra results spoiled me.
I don't mind the ergonomics of the Moskva 5. I can adjust to those (even film loading is backwards). At first I thought that the film just wasn't flat across the picture frame. But I have been very careful with this and with more careful loading of the film, my results have improved, but not enough to be satisfied.
I suggest you look at other alternatives for 6x9.
Eric
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Old 06-01-2009   #11
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Due to the many comments here, I've decided to pass on it. I sincerely appreciate the contributions all of you made that prevented some likely wasteful spending and frustration. BTW--the seller had no scans of images made w/ this camera! Not a good sign or at least suspect.

Bill
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Old 06-01-2009   #12
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I joined in too late for the OP, but...

I sold my Moskva-2 because I find myself shooting 6x6 more often that not. 6x9 isn't really 'my' format. The ergonomics are, as everyone says, a bit tricky but I had a lot of excellent shots from mine. The lens is good and, on mine at least, the shutter speeds and the rangefinder focusing were very accurate.

I suspect if I was looking for a folder again, it'd be an Iskra, but a Moskva is a good camera.
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Old 06-02-2009   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric T View Post
Bill58,
I bought a Moskva 5 a few months ago. I was eager to try the 6x9 format. I paid about $80 for a nice example. Everything functions as it should. But the images just aren't very sharp. At about the same time, I purchased an Iskra 2. (I wish I just bought a cheaper Iskra without the light meter.)
In comparing the two, the Iskra 2 is much, much better. The lens on the Iskra is one of the sharpest I own. I highly recommend an Iskra is you like the 6x6 format. But I can't recommend the Moskva 5. There may be finer examples out there than the one I own. Maybe the Iskra results spoiled me.
I don't mind the ergonomics of the Moskva 5. I can adjust to those (even film loading is backwards). At first I thought that the film just wasn't flat across the picture frame. But I have been very careful with this and with more careful loading of the film, my results have improved, but not enough to be satisfied.
I suggest you look at other alternatives for 6x9.
Eric
The Moskva 5 comes with an Industar 24 lens and, like pretty much any other vintage Russian photography equipment, some are good and some are less than good. FSU quality control leaves a lot to be desired. Some have tack-sharp lenses and some have lenses that are pretty much only good for taking soft portraits -- if that. I got lucky with my Moskva 2, but others have not been so lucky. As previously mentioned, you want to get a camera that is known to be good. BTW, this goes for Iskras and Kievs too, although the odds of getting a good one are significantly better.
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Old 07-08-2009   #14
Todd Frederick
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My Moskova 5 is excellent. I needed to adjust the rangefinder (not a big problem) and the images are outstanding. Best ever!.
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Old 07-11-2009   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Frederick View Post
My Moskova 5 is excellent. I needed to adjust the rangefinder (not a big problem) and the images are outstanding. Best ever!.
The horizontal adjustment of the rangefinder is no big deal, but if it needs vertical adjustment, it is.
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Old 07-21-2009   #16
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sorry to bump this thread.

i'm waiting for my moskva 2 right now.. although i bought a user one. well, i know thats a bit strange. i know folders are sensitive especially the bellows and uncoated lens.. just trying my luck on 6x9 since i can't afford those german 6x9s right now.. ive been told by a friend moskva 2 is much better than moskva 5. any thoughts on this? thanks
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Old 07-21-2009   #17
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I have heard that the lens on the Moskva 2 is sharper than the Moskva 5 but I have never done any scientific comparisons between my 5 and my 2. I prefer the Moskva 2 because the popup viewfinder is larger. Also, having the finder centered over the lens makes framing the shot a bit more accurate.
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Old 07-21-2009   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pschauss View Post
I have heard that the lens on the Moskva 2 is sharper than the Moskva 5 but I have never done any scientific comparisons between my 5 and my 2. I prefer the Moskva 2 because the popup viewfinder is larger. Also, having the finder centered over the lens makes framing the shot a bit more accurate.

thanks pschauss... i should've bought moskvas sooner when i started buying FSU cameras.. it was cheap and reasonable then. i'll try to get moskva5 and a good moskva2 nexttime. im just really inlove with folders..
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