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Rolleicord vs. Yashica Mat 124G?
Old 10-10-2011   #1
mel
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Rolleicord vs. Yashica Mat 124G?

For the longest time, I had been holding out for Rollei 2.8F. Then decided I could be quite satisfied with a 3.5 anything. Now, as I am on a budget, I'm thinking I would be equally delighted with either a Rolleicord or Yashica Mat 124G. The Yashica is a new contender, as some images I've seen on this forum have blown me away. Additionally, I could easily find one in mint condition, or recently CLA'd with a case and strap and lens cover lookin' spankin' new, which appeals to me, as I take very good care of my stuff and appreciate like new condition.

I read that article by one of the forum members here about the Yashica being the poor wo/man's Rollei and it resonated.

I just sold my digital rig on ebay and some other stuff and feel TLR is in order as a reward for dealing with ebay, paypal, and deadbeat buyers who do not pay, requiring an item to be relisted.

What are your thoughts?

TIA
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Old 10-10-2011   #2
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I used a borrowed 124G for quite a while and really, really liked it. It gave me some beautiful, beautiful photos, and it pained me to give it back. Everything on it worked a treat - including the light meter, which was bang-on. I never had a single problem with it.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine had a Rolleicord (I don't remember which model) that, like the 124G, produced wonderful photos. In terms of image quality, they were pretty much indistinguishable.

To be honest, if the Yashica's meter was working, all other things being equal, I'd take the Yashica. I don't think of it as the poor man's Rollei at all. It's got a brighter screen than the Rolleicord (at least comparing the one I borrowed to my friend's 'Cord), and the lever wind is a nice bonus. But they're both damn fine cameras, and if I was in your position and found either in good, fully working condition at the right price, I'd snap it up, and never worry that I'd made the wrong decision.
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Old 10-10-2011   #3
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The 124G meter is pretty convenient and so are the ergonomics. If you can find a mint one for around $300 you can't miss. I had one for a few years a long time ago. I can't compare them side by side but I like the Xenar on the Rolleicord Va and Vb better though I am not crazy about the way the controls are laid out especially the cocking lever. Optically the Minolta Autocord is superior to the Yashica and the Rolleicord. Out of all the TLR's I think the 3.5F (with a Maxwell) is just about perfect.
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Old 10-10-2011   #4
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Consider the 124 (non-G). That's what i'm going for...soon.
I've had a Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar, but without a working meter, and i almost never used the camera. If i could find one with a working meter, i'd prefer it to the Yashica, but at this point, i'd rather spend (much) less and get the 124. I'm enthusiastic about the Tessar-ish lens.
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Old 10-10-2011   #5
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Hey, don't forgot Autocords, Diacords, Ricohmatic 225s, and of course the Humvee of TLRs, the Kalloflex. All have more than good enough Tessar-type lenses. IMHO, forget the metered models. In terms of handling, I'm biased toward TLRs that focus on the right, or with levers.
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Old 10-10-2011   #6
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Thanks everyone for your responses. Yes, the Rollei 3.5F with a Maxwell Screen, I can only imagine, would be perfection. But next to that having a meter in the camera is a big plus for me, as one of the items I sold (and have to resell b/c bidder's son won same exact item) is a big-a$$ Seconic L-758DR light meter always banging around my neck that will finance this new rig so a meter will come in handy. And I've just learned that the Yashica has an interchangeable tele and wide angle lens, which is very, very cool. But I will definitely look into the Minolta TLR; thanks for mentioning it as well as the Yashica 124 w/o the G.
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Old 10-10-2011   #7
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The Yashica's don't have interchangeable lenses. There are sets of wide and tele lenses availlable to ADD ON, but the quality is not very good. If yo want interchangable lenses you have to look into the Mamiya C220 or C330.
I have a Yashica TLR as well as several Rolleicords and a Rolleiflex 2.8C. If you are on a budget, you can't beat the Rolleicords. The Xenar lens is every bit as good as the Planars and Xenotars 95% of the time.
Nothing else out there is as well made as the Rolleis. The Autocords and Yashicas are great value, but there is quite a difference in built quality.
The ingenious simplicity of the Rolleicords make them the best deal in the TLR world in my opinion.
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Old 10-10-2011   #8
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I've had a Yashica mat 124 and 124G both very nice cameras. I also have a Rolleiflex not 'cord. Looking at the difference in images and price.. I'd go 'cord. They're about the same price. If you don't have have a meter then the 124G mat's the way to go but you pay more than the Rollei..
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Old 10-10-2011   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archeophoto View Post
Nothing else out there is as well made as the Rolleis. The Autocords and Yashicas are great value, but there is quite a difference in built quality.
The ingenious simplicity of the Rolleicords make them the best deal in the TLR world in my opinion.
I passed up two Rolleicords on the 'bay today. Both Rolleis had just been CLA'd. Each went for just over $300.

So the tele and wide angle lens are add-ons. Interesting. I was afraid a comment such as your would make my decision difficult.

So what I hear you saying is that even though a Rolleicord is so much less expensive than a Rolleiflex, I will be very satisfied having one.
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Old 10-10-2011   #10
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Haven't used a Rollei but love my 124G. Don't use it nearly enough. You might want to look into Mamiyas, too. C330s aren't too hard to come by and might be the middle of the road you're looking for...
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Old 10-10-2011   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jan normandale View Post
I've had a Yashica mat 124 and 124G both very nice cameras. I also have a Rolleiflex not 'cord. Looking at the difference in images and price.. I'd go 'cord. They're about the same price. If you don't have have a meter then the 124G mat's the way to go but you pay more than the Rollei..
This sums it up, but the 'cord can go for more than a Yashica, and I can pick up a compact meter.

Everyone is leaning toward the 'cord. I'm happy to hear it is a great lens. I always discounted it.

There are many Rolleicords 1 through V and Va and Vb, I think.
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Old 10-10-2011   #12
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The Mamiyas are too clunky. I like the compactness of the Yashica and 'Cord. Plus I don't really want to be tempted by interchangeable lenses, as they will weigh me down.

Either the Yashica or 'Cord will be my daily shooter, other than my Widelux.
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Old 10-10-2011   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mel View Post
This sums it up, but the 'cord can go for more than a Yashica, and I can pick up a compact meter.

Everyone is leaning toward the 'cord. I'm happy to hear it is a great lens. I always discounted it.

There are many Rolleicords 1 through V and Va and Vb, I think.
The Vb is the last one made in the 60's and has user removable WL so it is useful if you ever want to get a replacement screen for it. The Va is the model before and is cheaper but not cheap enough for me to choose it over the Vb.
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Old 10-10-2011   #14
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Well then I don't feel too bad missing out on today's 'Cords as they were Version IV and V. I will look for the Vb, but I bet there is a premium which might price me out of the market in favor of a Yashica.
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Old 10-10-2011   #15
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I have the 124g and do enjoy printing with the negs it can produce...
Mine was in like new condition when I bought it (actually traded)...The meter does work but I don't use it...
It is the one camera that I really need to use more...Yashicamat, Gossen Pilot and a few rolls of Acros 100...that's all you need...
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Old 10-10-2011   #16
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I vote Yashica. It's definitely not a poor mans cord. The Yashica lens is fully capable of producing beautiful images.
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Battery for 124G?
Old 10-10-2011   #17
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Battery for 124G?

What battery can you use for the 124G?
Thanks!

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Old 10-10-2011   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mel View Post
Well then I don't feel too bad missing out on today's 'Cords as they were Version IV and V. I will look for the Vb, but I bet there is a premium which might price me out of the market in favor of a Yashica.
The Vb's removable finder hood makes it easier to change focusing screens, which can be an issue if the factory 'Cord screen is too dark in the corners for you. The V and the Va lack the removable finder so if you are not handy you might need help from a camera tech to install a replacement screen. Some might prefer the V because it's the last 'Cord model with right hand focusing, which personally I find makes for better handling. Both the Va and Vb focus on the left, like a Rolleiflex.
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Old 10-10-2011   #19
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First off, I love using older cameras regularly, and Rolleis are probably my favourites. So I'm biased towards them, OK?

That said, I agree with others that the Yashicas can produce very good image quality. There's no doubt about that. But there is also no doubt that Rollei is the standard against which all other TLRs are measured, and there are good reasons for this. Build quality and reliability are outstanding. Apart from occasional servicing, they can literally handle decades of use without failure. Whilst later 3.5 & 2.8 E & F Rolleiflex models are the glamour TLRs of the Rollei line up, many owners continue to use all types of 1940s vintage Rolleis (and even older ones sometimes) regularly, and I've seen stunning results produced with any of them. With the possible exception of the Rolleimagic models, there is probably no such thing as a "bad" Rollei TLR.

There is some justification for arguing that a Rolleicord is the most reliable TLR of all, by virtue of the fact that it is a simpler design than a Rolleiflex. (Not that a Rolleiflex is unreliable, by any means. But after decades of use, the adjustment of the film sensing rollers of the automatic film loading system that nearly all Rolleiflexes feature, which automatically detect the "bump" in the roll where the film emulsion begins, may need to be re-set.)

In contrast, all but the earliest Rolleicords feature automatic film spacing, and simply utilise two red dots the photographer uses to manually line up against the marker arrow on the film backing paper. The Rolleiflex film advance system is reliable, but the Rolleicord features simple knob wind and it has many less parts. It's a simpler camera all round, and this also means most Rolleicords are lighter than most Rolleiflex types. For travel use, or trekking, for instance, the Rolleicord would be the one to pack. A good Rolleicord really is a wonderful camera, and the 75mm f/3.5 Xenar lens fitted to them is excellent.

If you are on a budget, consider a V or Va model, or even a IV. As I've stated here before, I think the V is a high point, because it has a very useful self timer for tripod or hand held slower shutter speed use. You can set the timer to give you the full ten second delay, or just a couple of seconds to help you steady a longer exposure in your hands. If you've never used a TLR before you'd be surprised what you can get away with in regard to hand held slower shutter speed exposures.

The Va and Vb models are great, too, and both have a left side focus knob, unlike previous types, which had both film advance and focus knobs on the right. All operate fine, and whether the left or right side focus works better for you is very much a personal preference - I've used both, and couldn't find fault with either set up.

The Vb type in particular sells for more as it has a quick release viewfinder. You can mount a prism on these. And it is the newest and last model Rolleicord. It won't produce image quality any better than an equivalent multi coated V or Va though, so if you're on a budget, the earlier models offer better value, if a prism isn't a must have feature. In this respect I'm not so biased, because I own examples of the V, Va and Vb...they're all brilliant cameras.

Getting away from image quality to less easily defined aspects of ownership, I've never owned another camera of any type which attracts so much favourable comment as a Rollei. The public in general, and younger student types, in particular, just love them (but then, they're beautiful things, so why wouldn't you?).

Whilst this may seem to be a superficial viewpoint, in fact it can yield dividends on the street. Rather than imposing a barrier to casual photo opportunities, (which may be created by the presence of a large SLR, for instance), in my neck of the world at least, it seems to create them. Instead of repelling people, they are attracted to the beautiful old camera I carry, and are frequently happy to be photographed with it.

To be fair, in this day and age, walking around with a Yashica will probably get you noticed, too. I think any TLR would tend to stand out. But (and this is a personal opinion), they're not as beautiful as a Rollei, and, whilst this does not matter a whit to some users, there is something very rewarding about capturing images with an iconic camera that is a design high water mark. Stating the obvious, the Rollei TLR is the original design nearly all other manufacturers copied to some extent, and this certainly applies to the Yashicas.

I don't want to dismiss built in meters out of hand, I own quite a few older 35mm cameras with built in selenium meters and they can be useful sometimes, even more so, the CdS types. But as I tend to shoot either B&W or colour transparency, I invariably find myself carrying a hand held incident meter for more accurate results anyway, so for me, the inclusion of a built in meter is of no importance, and, no matter what you end up acquiring, I'd encourage you to procure a reliable hand held light meter.

Sorry for the long post. Hope it helps.
Regards,
Brett

Last edited by Sarcophilus Harrisii : 10-10-2011 at 20:33. Reason: typo...
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Old 10-10-2011   #20
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Brett - Kudos for a thoughtful and informative post. I like 'em all too (excepting the Zeiss Ikoflex), with the Rollei being primus inter pares.

P.S. Should read: damnable Zeiss Ikoflex.

Last edited by PMCC : 10-10-2011 at 20:38. Reason: P.S. to add gratuitous invective.
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Old 10-10-2011   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PMCC View Post
Brett - Kudos for a thoughtful and informative post. I like 'em all too (excepting the Zeiss Ikoflex), with the Rollei being primus inter pares.

P.S. Should read: damnable Zeiss Ikoflex.
At the risk of taking this off topic...

...why the Ikoflex hate?
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Old 10-10-2011   #22
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I had a Rolleicord (V) and didn't like the ergonomics. I now have a 124 (non-G) and I LOVE it. I can't see any optical difference between the cameras (except MAYBE slightly better colors with the Yashica).

I liked the light weight of the Rolleicord, but I enjoy the Yashica-Mat more overall.

BTW, I've never used the meter in the Yashica. I just sunny-16 it or use a handheld meter.

Last edited by Sam N : 10-10-2011 at 21:31.
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Old 10-10-2011   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PMCC View Post
Some might prefer the V because it's the last 'Cord model with right hand focusing, which personally I find makes for better handling. Both the Va and Vb focus on the left, like a Rolleiflex.
Interesting. Thanks.
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Old 10-10-2011   #24
mel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarcophilus Harrisii View Post
First off, I love using older cameras regularly, and Rolleis are probably my favourites. So I'm biased towards them, OK?

That said, I agree with others that the Yashicas can produce very good image quality. There's no doubt about that. But there is also no doubt that Rollei is the standard against which all other TLRs are measured, and there are good reasons for this. Build quality and reliability are outstanding. Apart from occasional servicing, they can literally handle decades of use without failure. Whilst later 3.5 & 2.8 E & F Rolleiflex models are the glamour TLRs of the Rollei line up, many owners continue to use all types of 1940s vintage Rolleis (and even older ones sometimes) regularly, and I've seen stunning results produced with any of them. With the possible exception of the Rolleimagic models, there is probably no such thing as a "bad" Rollei TLR.

There is some justification for arguing that a Rolleicord is the most reliable TLR of all, by virtue of the fact that it is a simpler design than a Rolleiflex. (Not that a Rolleiflex is unreliable, by any means. But after decades of use, the adjustment of the film sensing rollers of the automatic film loading system that nearly all Rolleiflexes feature, which automatically detect the "bump" in the roll where the film emulsion begins, may need to be re-set.)

In contrast, all but the earliest Rolleicords feature automatic film spacing, and simply utilise two red dots the photographer uses to manually line up against the marker arrow on the film backing paper. The Rolleiflex film advance system is reliable, but the Rolleicord features simple knob wind and it has many less parts. It's a simpler camera all round, and this also means most Rolleicords are lighter than most Rolleiflex types. For travel use, or trekking, for instance, the Rolleicord would be the one to pack. A good Rolleicord really is a wonderful camera, and the 75mm f/3.5 Xenar lens fitted to them is excellent.

If you are on a budget, consider a V or Va model, or even a IV. As I've stated here before, I think the V is a high point, because it has a very useful self timer for tripod or hand held slower shutter speed use. You can set the timer to give you the full ten second delay, or just a couple of seconds to help you steady a longer exposure in your hands. If you've never used a TLR before you'd be surprised what you can get away with in regard to hand held slower shutter speed exposures.

The Va and Vb models are great, too, and both have a left side focus knob, unlike previous types, which had both film advance and focus knobs on the right. All operate fine, and whether the left or right side focus works better for you is very much a personal preference - I've used both, and couldn't find fault with either set up.

The Vb type in particular sells for more as it has a quick release viewfinder. You can mount a prism on these. And it is the newest and last model Rolleicord. It won't produce image quality any better than an equivalent multi coated V or Va though, so if you're on a budget, the earlier models offer better value, if a prism isn't a must have feature. In this respect I'm not so biased, because I own examples of the V, Va and Vb...they're all brilliant cameras.

Getting away from image quality to less easily defined aspects of ownership, I've never owned another camera of any type which attracts so much favourable comment as a Rollei. The public in general, and younger student types, in particular, just love them (but then, they're beautiful things, so why wouldn't you?).

Whilst this may seem to be a superficial viewpoint, in fact it can yield dividends on the street. Rather than imposing a barrier to casual photo opportunities, (which may be created by the presence of a large SLR, for instance), in my neck of the world at least, it seems to create them. Instead of repelling people, they are attracted to the beautiful old camera I carry, and are frequently happy to be photographed with it.

To be fair, in this day and age, walking around with a Yashica will probably get you noticed, too. I think any TLR would tend to stand out. But (and this is a personal opinion), they're not as beautiful as a Rollei, and, whilst this does not matter a whit to some users, there is something very rewarding about capturing images with an iconic camera that is a design high water mark. Stating the obvious, the Rollei TLR is the original design nearly all other manufacturers copied to some extent, and this certainly applies to the Yashicas.

I don't want to dismiss built in meters out of hand, I own quite a few older 35mm cameras with built in selenium meters and they can be useful sometimes, even more so, the CdS types. But as I tend to shoot either B&W or colour transparency, I invariably find myself carrying a hand held incident meter for more accurate results anyway, so for me, the inclusion of a built in meter is of no importance, and, no matter what you end up acquiring, I'd encourage you to procure a reliable hand held light meter.

Sorry for the long post. Hope it helps.
Regards,
Brett
Brett - amazing post. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience. You give me great things to think about and look forward to.
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Old 10-10-2011   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam N View Post
I had a Rolleicord (V) and didn't like the ergonomics. I now have a 124 (non-G) and I LOVE it. I can't see any optical difference between the cameras (except MAYBE slightly better colors with the Yashica).

I liked the light weight of the Rolleicord, but I enjoy the Yashica-Mat more overall.

BTW, I've never used the meter in the Yashica. I just sunny-16 it or use a handheld meter.
Sam, is the Yashica you're daily user, and if you live near Santa Monica may I borrow it?
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Old 10-10-2011   #26
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Ok, I'm going to rent a couple of cameras and see which I like.
Definitely a good investment.
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Old 10-10-2011   #27
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I had a Yashica 124 MAT G. I loved that camera and used it a lot. I found it to give great quality photos. I now have a Rolleiflex. I hardly ever use it. Part of that is having a 6x7 Super Press 23, but somehow it just doesn't feel the same in use. Nor, in my opinion is the quality that great for the price difference. Others will disagree, and they may well have more experience. I seldom use any of my TLRs anymore, nor have I for many years.
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Old 10-10-2011   #28
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I had a 124G once but it must have had a bad lens so I'm not commenting on that. Things I didn't particularly like were noisy film winding and odd flare in some occasions. My 124G also had an odd light leak from under the light meter module. All in all I wasn't too impressed with the Yashica I had.
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Old 10-10-2011   #29
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I am very impressed by the images that my Yashicamat 124 produces. As a matter of interest, as far as I am aware, the 124G has gold meter contacts, some minor cosmetic changes and in some (later?) models, plastic winding gear. The meter is fairly crude, I don't use it. A straight Yashicamat with Yashinon lens would be fine for me if I don't want a meter or 220 film capability.

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Old 10-10-2011   #30
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A quick size comparison of a Rolleicord and a Mamiya C330:


Rolleicord and Mamiya by F4ronnie, on Flickr


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Old 10-10-2011   #31
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Yashica was my first TLR and although it worked, I was not impressed. Replaced by C220 and C330 and set of 4 lenses plus the shades. Not impressed either. That was a long time ago, 30 years at least.

I borrowed a 3.5 Rollie a few years ago. Those images were impressive. Same from a tele Rollie again borrowed. There is something about the German lenses. Japanese lenses look flat to me. It is in 35 mm also. I compared my Pentax and Leica systems. My wife can pick out the Leica prints in a blind test 100%.

On a budget, I would pop for the Rolliecord or save some and get the Rollieflex . I learned a long time ago, it is all about the lenses.
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Old 10-11-2011   #32
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Somehow people always pick up Yashica and Autocords but always missed the Ricoh TLRs even though a few of us mentioned these quite a bit.

Ah well, maybe just as well, so their prices don't inflate like the other two.
Speaking of which, I will *never* pay more than $50 for a Yashica Mat, did someone really pay $300 for one ????

I will pit the Ricohmatic 225 against the best models of Rolleicord, and other Japanese TLRs.

But, a well-serviced Rolleiflex 2.8 is still the king when it comes to quality.
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Old 10-11-2011   #33
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the only criteria I used for my post was 'cost' and for some reason the 124G'mat has gone crazy imo. I picked up my copy for 100$ here at RFF and subsequently watched prices escalate over 5 years to pass those of a 'cord.

Having both I can say I like the lens character of each. So I don't think it will matter for the photography "in a meaningful way". If the deciding point is price.. the 'cord. If not then maybe all things being equal the 124G because of the meter being included. Mine was slightly off by about 1/2 a stop and I merely adjusted accordingly. If I wanted spend the cash to get it calibrated it probably would have been accurate when compared to my Pentax Spotmeter. It was consistent so I knew how to work with it.
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Old 10-11-2011   #34
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Originally Posted by ronnies View Post
A quick size comparison of a Rolleicord and a Mamiya C330
I keep forgetting just how massive that Mamiya is...
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Old 10-11-2011   #35
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Somehow people always pick up Yashica and Autocords but always missed the Ricoh TLRs even though a few of us mentioned these quite a bit. <snip> I will pit the Ricohmatic 225 against the best models of Rolleicord, and other Japanese TLRs.
Not guilty! I don't think Ricohmatic 225s are overlooked so much as they are just relatively thin on the ground in typical market venues. Those who know them are likely to be fans. On the other hand, Yashica Mat 124(g)s, while very fine cameras, are relatively abundant, albeit costlier of late. Understandably, the newly TLR-curious are more likely to seek out easier to find popular models from Rollei and Yashica, and not mention the more esoteric models such as Ricohmatic 225 in the same breath. An obtainable TLR is more fun than no TLR at all.
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Old 10-11-2011   #36
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Having owned 3 YashicaMats and 1 124 I can say you'd never regret
owning any of them ( the meter was handy in the 124,my daughter now has it) The tele lens certainly added another dimension to it,I found the enlargements to my liking,however there's a bit of vignetting visible,easily cropped with that size of negative.And dressed up in a red or blue camera leather covering you'll have people crossing the street to see it!

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Old 10-11-2011   #37
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Not guilty! I don't think Ricohmatic 225s are overlooked so much as they are just relatively thin on the ground in typical market venues. Those who know them are likely to be fans. On the other hand, Yashica Mat 124(g)s, while very fine cameras, are relatively abundant, albeit costlier of late. Understandably, the newly TLR-curious are more likely to seek out easier to find popular models from Rollei and Yashica, and not mention the more esoteric models such as Ricohmatic 225 in the same breath. An obtainable TLR is more fun than no TLR at all.
Correct. A search for Ricohmatic 225 on ebay yielded no results.
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Old 10-12-2011   #38
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Correct. A search for Ricohmatic 225 on ebay yielded no results.
Please tell me that you are aware it'll take some waiting to get a good deal on ebay!

Some TLRs are worth the wait. This is one of those.
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Old 10-12-2011   #39
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Actually I've decided on a Rollei, which is what I had my heart set on.
I appreciate your taking the time to weigh in with all your experience
with the other options, and particularly appreciate your refocusing me
in the direction of what I really wanted all this time. When my last
ebay auctions end next weekend, if the Rollei I have set my sights on
is still available, I'll post pics when it arrives. Meanwhile I'll keep you
in suspense as to the model. I would never purchase anything without a
return policy so I'll tell you the specs as soon as I snag it. Cannot wait.
Thanks again, everyone, very much. A very BIG thank you.
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Old 10-12-2011   #40
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I was given a 124 which wasn't winding correctly. I opened it up to take a look at the winding mechanism itself. I don't have any photos unfortunately but part of the chain when you advance involves two thin, angular metal pins to each on each other. On this camera, they'd simply been worn down and weren't trapping anymore.

After seeing that and hearing about how many people eventually had problems with the Yashicas advancing system, I avoided the camera as seemed that problems like that would be inevitable.

That said, I haven't opened up the same part of the Rolleicord or Autocord so I can't say they are better. I'm just assuming the designers are more robust.
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