Originally Posted by rhechcapel
Thanks, I'll check them out. They seem pretty pricey for a good one though based on a quick glance at eBay.
That's because many bloggers and collective group-think response to inter web hype persuades the easily-influenced that they *must* have a 2.8 or 3.5 F series, and nothing else will do.
The F series are terrific cameras—I have a 3.5F myself, now, I love it, but the price was very right—however, when you pause to consider what you're gaining compared to an earlier model, it's little more than the ability to shoot 220 (in some cases), a coupled meter (in most cases, assuming it still works), and the option to fit a film gate plate (in some cases). They'll take a pentaprism, too, but it's worth pointing out that E series after the E1, and the T may also be fitted with one.
220 is virtually extinct as a format; coupled meters are useful sometimes but never as versatile as a good hand held light meter; and (assuming the particular example is equipped for it) attaching the film gate glass dictates having the glass, and the compatible camera back with which to use it. These attributes may warrant the price premium over earlier models for a few owners but in actual use a C, D or E series 2.8 will do just as good a job for a lot less dough.
If separate film wind and shutter cocking don't bother you, a Rolleicord V, Va or Vb are that much cheaper again (slightly less so for the Vb) with wonderful f/3.5 Schneider Xenar 75mm lenses. And lighter. The Vb will even take the pentaprism, if it's important for you. My personal favourite of the Rolleicords is the V. With focus and wind both on the right side there seems to be less tossing the camera from palm to palm, than is the case with left side focus models. And the EV coupling was the best Rollei ever implemented. It's there if you want it, but, just a little extra pressure on the levers gently de-couples shutter and aperture for individual adjustment. It's virtually seamless. In that respect the Va and Vb EV coupling, which is far less yielding without first pushing the levers inwards, was a retrograde change.
I have a Mamiya Six on my work bench at the moment. It's film gate focusing is an interesting means of making a coupled rangefinder incorporate a unit focusing lens. But this one wasn't working well on arrival and was focusing quite unevenly and unhappily. It seems not much more than cleaning, polishing and lubrication of its rudimentary eccentric focus system should see it right again, but these are quite old cameras now, and its bellows have a couple of pinholes, so be aware an example may require some remedial attention to be fit for use. More details about what goes wrong and how to fix it are detailed here