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120 / 220 film RF's 120 / 220 format rangefinders including Fuji, Koni-Omega, Mamiya Press, Linhof 6x7/6x9 cameras, Mamiya 6/7 among others, but excluding the 120 folders and the Voigtlander 667 cameras that have their own forums.

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A portable, fast, and preferably quiet MF camera?
Old 01-19-2020   #1
rhechcapel
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A portable, fast, and preferably quiet MF camera?

Hi folks! I am madly in love with my Pentax 6x7, but there are times when that thunder clap mirror slap is just not socially acceptable. It's also a beast to carry.

So, I've started lusting after a Mamiya 6 (damn GAS).

The reasons I like it are:
  • Reasonably fast normal lens (75/3.5)
  • Quiet leaf shutter
  • Very portable, especially with the lens collapsed into the body
  • Gorgeous huge bright viewfinder and rangefinder patch
  • It's so pretty

Obviously I've also been looking at the Fuji fixed lens options, and the equally lustworthy Bessa 3 / Fuji GF670. The Pentax 645 could be a nice option with the 55/2.8 and I could adapt my 6x7 lenses to it, but it's a bit more bulky and I believe it's quite noisy.

I am totally fine with a fixed lens - I'd prefer something in the 40-50mm range (35mm equivalent).

I want to use it indoors, so quiet and fast are top of the list of requirements.

I'd prefer 6x4.5 - 6x6 negative sizes. 6x6 would be fun for the square format, 645 would be nice for the extra shots per roll. I see this as a quicker, lighter camera for more ad hoc shooting than my 6x7, so a smaller negative size seems to make sense.

Do I really need to save up mega cash for the Mamiya 6, or is there something cheaper that ticks all my boxes?
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Old 01-19-2020   #2
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A Rolleiflex 2.8 or 3.5 would be lighter still...
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Old 01-19-2020   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACullen View Post
A Rolleiflex 2.8 or 3.5 would be lighter still...
Thanks, I'll check them out. They seem pretty pricey for a good one though based on a quick glance at eBay.
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Old 01-19-2020   #4
aizan
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I was in the exact same situation a while ago and went with the Fuji GS645. The shutter isn't the usual quiet "click" of most leaf shutters (check out my video to hear how loud it is), but it's ok for most things. It's the only metered, modern rangefinder with a mechanical shutter.

I was also seriously considering the Zeiss Ikonta 532/16.

The Bronica RF645 has a very solid feeling, and it would have been on my shortlist if the shutter wasn't electronic.
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Old 01-19-2020   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
I was in the exact same situation a while ago and went with the Fuji GS645. The shutter isn't the usual quiet "click" of most leaf shutters (check out my video to hear how loud it is), but it's ok for most things. It's the only metered, modern rangefinder with a mechanical shutter.

I was also seriously considering the Zeiss Ikonta 532/16.

The Bronica RF645 has a very solid feeling, and it would have been on my shortlist if the shutter wasn't electronic.
Thank you Aizan! I watched your Texas Leica video the other day - I'm watching your GS645 one now
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Old 01-19-2020   #6
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Minolta autocord is positively tiny and has a shockingly good lens on it especially considering the price.
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Old 01-20-2020   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ccoppola82 View Post
Minolta autocord is positively tiny and has a shockingly good lens on it especially considering the price.
Cool, thanks!
That does seem to provide a lot of bang for the buck and it's incredibly quiet. I'm not sure how I would get on with a waist level finder, but at that price I'd be prepared to give it a go
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Old 01-20-2020   #8
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I love WLFs but if you don't bond, the most you'll lose is some selling fees on Ebay, which is not a lot.

I love my Rolleiflexes but good ones are expensive. I did have a Rolleicord which I fitted a new Olsen bright screen too, and the lens was so sweet, and the camera really light and small.
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Old 01-20-2020   #9
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Plaubel Makina 67 fits your requirements.
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Old 01-20-2020   #10
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The only true MF that I have, the Yashica D, has an amazingly quiet shutter.
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Old 01-20-2020   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Plaubel Makina 67 fits your requirements.
Breathtaking price tag though!
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Old 01-20-2020   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmr View Post
The only true MF that I have, the Yashica D, has an amazingly quiet shutter.
Thanks. It seems I need to think seriously about trying a TLR.
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Old 01-20-2020   #13
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The Mamiya 7 II is dead quiet, and not very heavy. It hand-holds very comfortably. I believe the 6 is similar.
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Old 01-20-2020   #14
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If you've never tried a TLR, then definitely try one before buying. They are a different beast from the other cameras mentioned. I've never found them fast or convenient to use. But they do give great results.

For a quiet leaf shutter 645 with a bright and big rangefinder, I can recommend the Konica Pearl IV. However, they can be hard to find at a good price.
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Old 01-20-2020   #15
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I'd second the Minolta autocord. There's one for sale here now. Good engineering and build quality, the lens doesn't disappoint. Has to be one of the best image quality for the buck deals out there
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Old 01-20-2020   #16
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Quiet comes at a price. Fuji 667 / Voigtlander Bessa iii. None quieter. I often don't know the if the thing has fired.
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Old 01-20-2020   #17
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You will not find any lighter and less bulky, you can put it easily in your pocket. It exists in Skopar version (Tessar type) or with a superb Heliar. No electronics or battery, and it will give you 12 6x6 views ...!


The Voigtlander Bessa 66


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Old 01-20-2020   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhechcapel View Post
Breathtaking price tag though!

Portable, fast lens, and cheap? Pick two.


On the higher end are cameras already mentioned: Mamiya 6 and 7, Makina 67, Fuji GF670/Bessa III, Fujica GS645, Bronica RF645. I will also mention some oddballs that you might find for less money: Mamiya Press, Koni Omega Rapid, Linhof 220, Horseman VH-R, Graflex XL, Cambo Wide, Veriwide 100, etc. There are lots of inexpensive 120 folders from the 50's that you should check out too.


A TLR is a fine way to get a portable, quiet medium format camera. You can get a prism for cameras like the Mamiya C220/C330, although personally I hate using these cameras. If you don't want to shell out tons of money, maybe you should consider shooting 35mm for fast, quiet, portable photography.
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Old 01-20-2020   #19
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Fuji GA645 is very portable. OK, lens is f4.0, so not very fast, but it is very fast to focus and shoot because of AF and program modes It's not that expensive, but it does not quite tick the "quiet" box
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Old 01-20-2020   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert.M View Post
You will not find any lighter and less bulky, you can put it easily in your pocket. It exists in Skopar version (Tessar type) or with a superb Heliar. No electronics or battery, and it will give you 12 6x6 views ...!


The Voigtlander Bessa 66
.... or its younger sibling, the Voigtlander Perkeo II, soon to be 70 years old.
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Old 01-20-2020   #21
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Originally Posted by rhechcapel View Post
Breathtaking price tag though!
Way cheaper than a gf670 or bessa3.
Maybe cheaper than mam6 /7

Check ebay.
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Old 01-20-2020   #22
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Yes save the money, Mamiya 6 ALL DAY!!
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Old 01-20-2020   #23
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Maybe an option?
Old 01-20-2020   #24
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Maybe an option?

Horseman Convertible. 6X7 or 6X9 film backs. Leaf shutter, scale focus. 62mm(28 equiv) f5.6. I have Rolleiflex and Fuji and this is my favorite walk around kit by far.
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Old 01-20-2020   #25
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If you don't mind a slightly old-fashioned range/viewfinder (no projected frames, fuzzy-edged rangefinder patch) you might like the older Mamiya Six. Unlike the later, confusingly named Mamiya 6, the '40s-'60s version has a fixed lens but is fully folding — it collapses down to the size of a sandwich and fits easily into a briefcase or coat pocket. Look for the Automat model, which cocks the shutter automatically when you advance the film (which many folders don't.) I have the second-to-last model, which has an excellent 75mm f/3.5 Olympus Zuiko lens; the final model has a slightly larger finder eyepiece and reflected viewfinder frames (nice) and a Mamiya-sourced Sekor lens (I don't think this is quite as good as the Zuiko but lots of people disagree.) One of the biggest usability hangups with these (and most other 1950s-era folders) is that the f/stop and shutter speed controls are very crowded together, so they're not the easiest to use in dim light or fast-changing situations, but for a carry-around medium format camera they stack up well otherwise. I scored mine for fifty bucks at a used-camera show because the leatherette was peeling off (common problem) but the ones I see on eBay are usually in the low three digits.
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Old 01-20-2020   #26
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RH, The new Mamiya 6 is fabulous.You checked off all the boxes. Much more portable than the 7 because of the collapsible lensmount. It handles much better (weight & balance) than the Plaubel Makina 670. That said, I like the additional real estate of the 6x7neg. Collapsed, the PB wins hands down for taking up little space. I have a soft spot for the Mamiya 6 though. (& the lenses are stellar, both the 50 & 75!)
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Old 01-20-2020   #27
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Mamiya Six video: https://youtu.be/1O9MyDdZQ5Y
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Old 01-20-2020   #28
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Quote:
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Fuji GA645 is very portable. OK, lens is f4.0, so not very fast, but it is very fast to focus and shoot because of AF and program modes It's not that expensive, but it does not quite tick the "quiet" box


I find that the AF mechanism in mine is quieter if the camera is used upside down.



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Old 01-20-2020   #29
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Braun Paxina, many came with an f/2.9 lens, and they're easily found for cheap. Only downside is I think they all use a red window system, there's no automatic-stop or automatic shutter cocking. Fast lens, slow camera.
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Old 01-20-2020   #30
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Thank you Aizan! I watched your Texas Leica video the other day - I'm watching your GS645 one now
I'm guessing the Texas Leica is out of contention now.
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Old 01-20-2020   #31
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Small, inexpensive, quiet, and amazing quality? TLR is the way to go. I love the Fuji MF cameras but they are not quiet...
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Old 01-20-2020   #32
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Small, inexpensive, quiet, and amazing quality? TLR is the way to go. I love the Fuji MF cameras but they are not quiet...
....they're not small either.... except the GF 670....which unfortunately has some issues & is now essentially non-repairable
& as the OP was stipulating for indoor use, the TLRs aren't quite as easy to focus in low light even with a Maxwell screen (compared to the RFs)
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Old 01-20-2020   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f.hayek View Post
What are the issues?
rangefinder alignment. A colleague has had his back to Fuji in the USA twice without having it properly fixed. & the dialogue here:

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/for.../t-105299.html
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Old 01-20-2020   #34
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rangefinder alignment. A colleague has had his back to Fuji in the USA twice without having it properly fixed. & the dialogue here:

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/for.../t-105299.html
Don't forget many of them have battery drain issues.
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Old 01-20-2020   #35
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Wow, thanks for all the suggestions folks!
I'll research all the options mentioned here.

I particularly like the suggestion to look at 35mm for indoor work... I have an M4-P and the Canon 50/1.4 LTM - a killer combination for virtually silent low light situations. I have to admit this search is just pure GAS.
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Old 01-20-2020   #36
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As a Rolleiflex user I found the Mamiya 6 75/3.5 lens to be wholly unimpressive. Yes it's sorta sharp but it also has a very flat almost dead rendering that, I guess, lends itself well to the deadpan landscapes that people shoot a lot these days. Oddly enough the Mamiya 7 80/4 and 65/4 lenses are amazing.

By the ways of suggestion, if you're willing to wait a bit for a clean example and are able to deal with the odd haptics, you could get a Super Balax with the 80/2.8 Ennit lens. The viewfinder and rangefinder patch are very very bright and clear. Best in class. The camera is tiny (smaller than even the already svelte Pearl IV) and weighs a tiny 560grams.



Some technical discussion of it in Japanese (use Google translate):
https://nikomat.org/priv/camera/baldax/index.html

Here's some photos from that:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/Super%20Baldax/
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Old 01-20-2020   #37
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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.

Last edited by Sarcophilus Harrisii : 01-28-2020 at 07:32. Reason: Insert link to more information.
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Old 01-20-2020   #38
Richard G
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Originally Posted by Sarcophilus Harrisii View Post
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.
Here's good advice from an expert. I bought an Automat from around 1951 in the classifieds here on RFF, with that Xenar 75. Very light. Ridiculously so. The camera is mostly air. And silent. I haven't really mastered the TLR including holding it still but it is a wonderful machine. So well thought out.
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Old 01-20-2020   #39
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Consider a Rollei TLR. You will either bond with it, and if so then you will never, ever look back on any other camera in the MF range. If you don't like it for any reason, sell it, and get all or most of your investment back.

Any Rolleiflex or Rolleicord wins first prize hands down for the most quiet camera. Also not electronic in any way, which may lessen their attraction somewhat for you, but means far greater reliability.

A 'flex or 'cord, an exposure meter, a lens hood, a few filters/close-up lenses, and of course film in a small bag won't break your back even on long hikes.

Some (the Rolleicord Vb and the Rolleiflex T) adapt to 16 on 120. Most Rolleis will take an accessory 35mm kit or (for the older models) a separate back.

Very few downsides. Some will dislike the ergonomics - I happen to love handling the camera. The lack of an in-built exposure meter (some Rolleis have them, but they can be wildly inaccurate) and the relatively high cost for a reliable late model. Also, for many, the dreaded Rollei addiction - I have four (a 3.5E2, two Ts and a Vb) and a big box of accessories, none of which were acquired for small change, it's all made in Germany so top quality, but costly.

On the plus side, Rolleis are eminently reliable, very little ever wears out or breaks down on them and if/when something does, it can be repaired. Mine will probably outlast me.

As with any old(er) gear, you should look to buy a recent (1960s) model from a reliable dealer, which may be more expensive but you'll get a far better camera. Avoid home-tinkered-with Rolleis, they are complex machines and amateur repairers can do more damage than good. Also budget for an eventual CLA.

A Rollei of whatever vintage if it works well, is a lifelong camera, for as long as 120 film continues to be manufactured.
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Old 01-20-2020   #40
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Quote:
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As a Rolleiflex user I found the Mamiya 6 75/3.5 lens to be wholly unimpressive. Yes it's sorta sharp but it also has a very flat almost dead rendering that, I guess, lends itself well to the deadpan landscapes that people shoot a lot these days. Oddly enough the Mamiya 7 80/4 and 65/4 lenses are amazing.

By the ways of suggestion, if you're willing to wait a bit for a clean example and are able to deal with the odd haptics, you could get a Super Balax with the 80/2.8 Ennit lens. The viewfinder and rangefinder patch are very very bright and clear. Best in class. The camera is tiny (smaller than even the already svelte Pearl IV) and weighs a tiny 560grams.



Some technical discussion of it in Japanese (use Google translate):
https://nikomat.org/priv/camera/baldax/index.html

Here's some photos from that:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/Super%20Baldax/
I have the Balda Hapo 66e, very similar, but smaller f stop, not so many choices of shutter speeds. But like the quoted says tiny and light.
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