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Yet another buying advice request
Old 4 Days Ago   #1
rhechcapel
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Yet another buying advice request

Hey folks.

I picked up a cheap Seagull 4BI a couple of months ago and I'm really enjoying the different perspective it gives me. What I don't enjoy is having to remember to advance the frame (I often don't) and peering ferociously through that tiny red window on the back to see when I've wound it the right amount. My eyesight simply isn't up to it and I keep wasting frames.

I would love some advice on where to go next. My spending has been a bit out of control recently so I'd like to keep the cost down. What is the cheapest TLR that you think would meet the following criteria?
  • Idiot proof film advance
  • Character lens - I love the imperfections of the Seagull
  • Faster is better - 2.8 would be great
  • Big bright clear ground glass
  • Easy to focus for the optically challenged. Split prism perhaps?
  • Tripod mountable
  • A reliable light meter would be a nice bonus, but by no means a requirement
  • Did I mention idiot proof?

I'm completely clueless when it comes to TLRs, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

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Old 4 Days Ago   #2
Bill Clark
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It’s a pretty big jump to go from your Seagull to a camera that has your requirements/wishes listed here.

I’m thinking Rolleiflex but one with a f2,8 lens and that's in decent shape might make your wallet shake from fear of getting emptied!

I would get a camera without a light meter as any camera that has one would probably be inaccurate because of its age and other things.

How are you getting your film developed? Do you have a darkroom? Have you considered a camera that uses 120 film but the image sise is 6x4.5
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Old 4 Days Ago   #3
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Almost all TLRs have f3.5 lenses. The only ones I can think of that have f2.8 lenses are some Rolleiflexes (all Rolleis are expensive, and the f2.8 models especially so) and Mamiya TLRs. Mamiyas have interchangeable lenses, which is really nice, and the 80mm lens is an f2.8 lens.


Some Rolleis (2.8E and 2.8F models) have built in meters but they often no longer work. Mamiyas do not.


The Mamiya and Rollei lenses are not 'character' lenses. They're GOOD lenses. Very sharp.


Neither are inexpensive, though Mamiyas are less expensive then Rolleis.


The camera you want does not exist! Also, you have your Voigtlander meter on backwards.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
Almost all TLRs have f3.5 lenses. The only ones I can think of that have f2.8 lenses are some Rolleiflexes (all Rolleis are expensive, and the f2.8 models especially so) and Mamiya TLRs. Mamiyas have interchangeable lenses, which is really nice, and the 80mm lens is an f2.8 lens.

Some Rolleis (2.8E and 2.8F models) have built in meters but they often no longer work. Mamiyas do not.

The Mamiya and Rollei lenses are not 'character' lenses. They're GOOD lenses. Very sharp.

Neither are inexpensive, though Mamiyas are less expensive then Rolleis.

The camera you want does not exist! Also, you have your Voigtlander meter on backwards.
Thanks. I put it on backwards because otherwise it would foul the focusing knob. I didn't want to adjust the mounting bracket because it mostly lives on my M4-P

I wasn't going to mention any options, but what do you think of the Yashica MAT 124g?
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Old 4 Days Ago   #5
rhechcapel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
Itís a pretty big jump to go from your Seagull to a camera that has your requirements/wishes listed here.

Iím thinking Rolleiflex but one with a f2,8 lens and that's in decent shape might make your wallet shake from fear of getting emptied!

I would get a camera without a light meter as any camera that has one would probably be inaccurate because of its age and other things.

How are you getting your film developed? Do you have a darkroom? Have you considered a camera that uses 120 film but the image sise is 6x4.5
Thanks Bill.

I develop B&W at home. A lightroom isn't an option at the moment, so I scan my negatives instead. Hopefully I'll be able to build a lightroom when we move later in the year.

Colour I get done at a local lab because the C41 chemicals are impossible to get here in Singapore.

I'm curious what you're thinking about in 6x4.5. I already own several 120 cameras - a Pentax 6x7, a "new" Mamiya 6, and of course the Seagull. I actually have a waist level finder for the Pentax, but it's a beast to hold that way, and I prefer the square format for waist level shooting.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhechcapel View Post
Thanks Bill.

I develop B&W at home. A lightroom isn't an option at the moment, so I scan my negatives instead. Hopefully I'll be able to build a lightroom when we move later in the year.

Colour I get done at a local lab because the C41 chemicals are impossible to get here in Singapore.

I'm curious what you're thinking about in 6x4.5. I already own several 120 cameras - a Pentax 6x7, a "new" Mamiya 6, and of course the Seagull. I actually have a waist level finder for the Pentax, but it's a beast to hold that way, and I prefer the square format for waist level shooting.
If I were you, I'd just use your Mamiya 6. I had one for several years and had to sell it because I needed to pay bills after suffering a stroke. It is one of the best cameras I have ever owned; the only TLR I would say is better would be one of the high-end Rolleis like the 3.5F or 2.8F, and the Mamiya 6 has three lenses!

The Yashica 124G you asked about is a good camera and usually fairly cheap.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #7
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A meterless Autocord from Minolta, cir 1958.

It's a 1:3.5 lens, up to F22, and a 1/400th top speed, but it's one of the nicest lens/shutters you can have on a proper TLR, has a great viewfinder which can be upgraded, focus lever center bottom of the taking lens, Bay 1 filters and for tripod use, there is a focus& lift platform from Minolta that puts the taking lens where the focus lens was a moment before.

Minolta also mad a one-piece polarize assembly and several other pieces of gear.

Bay 1 filters or threaded filter adapters are fairly common, and less expensive than larger bay filters, so a good set of ND filters, to compensate for the slower top speed of 400 of a second is a non issue, so far as shooting on a bright day or harsh light, and it is simple to operate.

The weakness of the Minolta Autocord(s), is the focus lever, which was made out of pot metal, and you will see examples for sale, with this broken off, so beware, however, with proper usage, mine has lasted my entire 62 years, and will likely be around for one more generation of use.

The Minolta loads from the top, which is touted as an advantage by some, is simpler to work on than Rolli TLRs, and a better lens and camera than all but, perhaps a few of those make, IMO and others.

The Winder is smooth and the shutter is so silent, it mad my Leica IIIc sound like a truck door being closed.e

Look at the galleries and TLR threads and you will soon see, this very inexpensive, quality camera, makes beautiful images, and is head and shoulder above other popular brands, (no insult intended) such as any of the over priced Yashicas.

With a full set of Colour Contrast filters, the NDs and a good Popularizer plus set of bay 1 hoods, separate, you can have a fine camera that is only about $300US, tops.

Do no take my word for it or fail under the impression that the Rolli TLRs are the only Superior, lens/camera combinations, really Look at Autocord Pics by capable photographers on the internet (there are always folks that could no focus and compose with if their lives depended on it) and let that show you the way.

IMO, Cheers
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Old 4 Days Ago   #8
rhechcapel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
If I were you, I'd just use your Mamiya 6. I had one for several years and had to sell it because I needed to pay bills after suffering a stroke. It is one of the best cameras I have ever owned; the only TLR I would say is better would be one of the high-end Rolleis like the 3.5F or 2.8F, and the Mamiya 6 has three lenses!


The Yashica 124G you asked about is a good camera and usually fairly cheap.
You're absolutely right Bill. I should be satisfied with what I have.

I'm sorry you had to sell your Mamiya, and I hope you have a chance to get another someday.

I also hope you're in good health now, and surviving the madness wherever you are.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #9
rhechcapel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eli griggs View Post
A meterless Autocord from Minolta, cir 1958.

It's a 1:3.5 lens, up to F22, and a 1/400th top speed, but it's one of the nicest lens/shutters you can have on a proper TLR, has a great viewfinder which can be upgraded, focus lever center bottom of the taking lens, Bay 1 filters and for tripod use, there is a focus& lift platform from Minolta that puts the taking lens where the focus lens was a moment before.

Minolta also mad a one-piece polarize assembly and several other pieces of gear.

Bay 1 filters or threaded filter adapters are fairly common, and less expensive than larger bay filters, so a good set of ND filters, to compensate for the slower top speed of 400 of a second is a non issue, so far as shooting on a bright day or harsh light, and it is simple to operate.

The weakness of the Minolta Autocord(s), is the focus lever, which was made out of pot metal, and you will see examples for sale, with this broken off, so beware, however, with proper usage, mine has lasted my entire 62 years, and will likely be around for one more generation of use.

The Minolta loads from the top, which is touted as an advantage by some, is simpler to work on than Rolli TLRs, and a better lens and camera than all but, perhaps a few of those make, IMO and others.

The Winder is smooth and the shutter is so silent, it mad my Leica IIIc sound like a truck door being closed.e

Look at the galleries and TLR threads and you will soon see, this very inexpensive, quality camera, makes beautiful images, and is head and shoulder above other popular brands, (no insult intended) such as any of the over priced Yashicas.

With a full set of Colour Contrast filters, the NDs and a good Popularizer plus set of bay 1 hoods, you will have a fine camera that is only about $300US, tops.

Do no take my word for it or fail under the impression that the Rolli TLRs are the only Superior, lens/camera combinations, really Look at Autocord Pics by capable photographers on the internet (there are always folks that could no focus and compose with if their lives depended on it) and let that show you the way.

IMO, Cheers
Wow, thank you for the detailed response Eli! I will absolutely check out the Autocord. Bless you.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #10
Chriscrawfordphoto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhechcapel View Post
You're absolutely right Bill. I should be satisfied with what I have.

I'm sorry you had to sell your Mamiya, and I hope you have a chance to get another someday.

I also hope you're in good health now, and surviving the madness wherever you are.
I'm Chris, not Bill. I'm never going to be in good health. I have been very sick as long as I have lived; my earliest memories are being in the hospital many times after having epileptic seizures. I had a stroke at 37, and am 44 now. I have so far avoided Corona virus, which would likely kill me since my immune system has never been strong. The last infection I got was an antibacterial lung infection a few yrs ago that nearly killed me. Took 6 months of antibiotics and a stay in the hospital to cure it.

I'm in a place called Fort Wayne, Indiana. You can see my photos of the place, which I have spent 25 years documenting, on my "New Photos From Fort Wayne" thread.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #11
rhechcapel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
I'm Chris, not Bill. I'm never going to be in good health. I have been very sick as long as I have lived; my earliest memories are being in the hospital many times after having epileptic seizures. I had a stroke at 37, and am 44 now. I have so far avoided Corona virus, which would likely kill me since my immune system has never been strong. The last infection I got was an antibacterial lung infection a few yrs ago that nearly killed me. Took 6 months of antibiotics and a stay in the hospital to cure it.


I'm in a place called Fort Wayne, Indiana. You can see my photos of the place, which I have spent 25 years documenting, on my "New Photos From Fort Wayne" thread.
Sorry Chris.
I love your work.

Do you have a print of this I could buy? https://chriscrawfordphoto.com/chris...p?product=1632
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Old 4 Days Ago   #12
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I second the Minolta Autocord, but if you want a 2.8 I would go with the Rolleiflex 2.8C. They can be bought for about $500 if you are willing to wait for one, but factor in a cleaning also.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #13
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If you want character in your lens, consider smearing some Vaseline on a filter. Or do what Duane Michals did - use nose oil!

I don't have the Autocord but I'd still recommend it. Also consider the Yashica 635 or Meopta Flexaret, in that order. The 124Gs are good - I have one - but with a more complex, and perhaps fragile, film advance mechanism.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #14
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I third the Minolta Autcord. I love the lens on mine. I have been shooting i wide open quite a bit and am always please with the results. Good build quality. I like the fact is doesn't curl the film as sometimes film sits in mine for a while. I love all things Zeiss but no Rollie envy at all.

You may want to contact Dan Daniels who is on this forum. I saw a post from him recently he was coming into a small hoard of Autocords. Dan did a great job CLAing mine
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Old 4 Days Ago   #15
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I have 2 Rolleiflexes 2.8 models, had a 3.5 on a long term loan, and have used a Yashicamat 124G.

For the money, the Yashicamat is fantastic. Excellent lens and a very bright, easy to use focus screen. It was almost as easy to focus as my 2.8GX.
The Yashicamat also gave super sharp pics. You can even find some with a working light meter!
Apparently the 124 is better made than the 124G. And the Yashicamat D is worth looking at.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #16
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The "idiotproof" rings loudly for me. I love the Yashica D, which ticks many boxes, but its problem is that you can make double exposures (or miss a frame inadvertently by unnecessarily winding). It also has a 2.8 viewing lens, which makes a big difference in ease of focusing (plus it has a good Fresnel screen). The Ricoh Diacord G is excellent too, very much like the Yashica D.

Someone mentioned the Yashicamat 124G -- a good choice, as is the 124 (no G) and should tick just about all your boxes. (I say "just about" because the taking lens is 3.5 -- truth be told, you don't need a 3.5 taking lens. And Tessar-type lenses for MF are going to typically be a 3.5 maximum aperture anyway, which is about the maximum aperture you can have for that design without performance falling off noticeably.

The Rolleicords are "idiotproof" from the double/missed exposure standpoint, and excellent cameras. The viewing lenses are f3.2 I think, and don't have anything more than a groundglass for focusing.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #17
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First thing is get your eyes checked. Glasses with the right prescription are a necessity for living life.

If you want quality and a character lens then get a Rolleicord with a triplet. Learn to focus at 3.5: see first sentence.

I've had many mid level TLR's. Rolleicords are the best bang for the buck. Autocords are also great. The Yashicas don't measure up to these two in terms of build quality and lens quality. None of them have bright viewfinders; maybe get one with a Maxwell screen already in it.

If you're brand conscious and have deeper pockets then Rolleiflex is the only game in town.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benlees View Post
First thing is get your eyes checked. Glasses with the right prescription are a necessity for living life.

If you want quality and a character lens then get a Rolleicord with a triplet. Learn to focus at 3.5: see first sentence.

I've had many mid level TLR's. Rolleicords are the best bang for the buck. Autocords are also great. The Yashicas don't measure up to these two in terms of build quality and lens quality. None of them have bright viewfinders; maybe get one with a Maxwell screen already in it.

If you're brand conscious and have deeper pockets then Rolleiflex is the only game in town.
I've found the Yashicamat 124G has a very bright easy to focus finder. And has an excellent lens.
This coming from a Rolleiflex user, including a modern 2.8GX.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
I've found the Yashicamat 124G has a very bright easy to focus finder. And has an excellent lens.
This coming from a Rolleiflex user, including a modern 2.8GX.
I never had a problem focusing (in daylight...) any of them but I'm not sure I would call them bright...ymmv... these are old cameras with unknown histories/ mods.

The build quality of the 'Cords is a step up from the 124 and 124G. They feel more compact and better built; very nice to handle. If I were to get another TLR (and my first was a 124, so a little sentimental) I would go with an Autocord or Diachord of whatever model was available, though I've never had an Ikoflex...
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Old 4 Days Ago   #20
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I have a 2.8F, a 3.5F and used to have a Rolleicord Va and frankly I'd go for the latter - it's light, more compact, has a beautiful lens, is exquisitely made and has no Rollei premium.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #21
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No one has mentioned the Ikoflex line of TLRs. My first one was a Ikoflex Favorit 877/16 with a built in meter. Worked perfectly but using the meter was more cumbersome than using a handheld meter. Being somewhat rare I sold it and bought a Ia. Another great camera. Buy post war, I think they all have Tessars which are really nice.
http://www.tlr-cameras.com/German/sl...%20854-16.html

I also have a 2.8F & 3.5F. I really don't see much difference in use with the 2/3 stop difference. It's easy to shoot a TLR down to 1/30 sec with a strap. I've owned quite a few 2.8F & 3.5F models and the meters are always dead nuts accurate. They are also easily adjustable if you find it off a little. If you find one that doesn't work something is broken.

But Rolleiflexes are expensive and a late model Rolleicord is a great camera also.

The Mamiyaflex is nice, but huge and way too heavy for me (and that was true when I was a lot younger).

The Autocords and Yashicamats were entry level cameras, sturdiness was not a strong point, and after all these years most are ready for retirement. I'm sure there are people out there using them with good results but given the prices they are going for I wouldn't buy one.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #22
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For the OP. I have a Rolleicord V with 3.5 lens ( Tessar type) and love it way more than my Rolleiflex 3.5 with Schneider lens. The 'Cord is right handed focus and film advance and is lighter to carry. It's a peach and gives nice sharp pictures. They aren't super expensive either.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
...
The Autocords and Yashicamats were entry level cameras, sturdiness was not a strong point, and after all these years most are ready for retirement. I'm sure there are people out there using them with good results but given the prices they are going for I wouldn't buy one.
I disagree that the Minolta Autocord was an entry level camera. It was optically and mechanically distinctly superior to the Yashica Mat.

I have had very positive experience with an assortment of Autocords. In the case of the Yashica Mat, however, the wind mechanism has failed on every one of them I have known.

The Yashica D and 635, are simpler, more robust cameras, compared to the Mat. They have knob wind film advance, with automatic stop (no red window). They typically have the three-element Yashikor lens, which is quite decent - perhaps with more "character" than the Tessar-type Yashinon lens of the Yashica Mat. You have to cock the shutter manually, but this never bothered me.

Any older camera such as these would likely benefit from a CLA. You could also have a modern bright screen installed.

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Old 4 Days Ago   #24
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RH, as Beemermark and Leica M2 fan have said..... the 3.5 lenses are terrific. I owned Rolleiflex 2.8 F (several) before selling to move to LF. I also used a Mamiya 6 as my main MF camera for several years. I now have one TLF a '58 Rolleiflex T. I love the lens character, and close up with the Rolleinar attachments the OOF background is really smooth. Those bayonet 1 accessories are far cheaper than bayonet 3. I've made successful prints up to 20" x 20" and really like the Tessar character. If you look around ebay there are lots of choices, Minolta autocord, Yashicamat, Rolleicord. Pick a price range and decide what you will be happy with, because selling and buying up is what will cost you money. I'd say $500 can buy you a lot of camera.

IMG_8463 by , on Flickr (wide open w Rolleinar 1)
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Old 3 Days Ago   #25
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Maybe I missed the mention- Rolleicord. From the Rolleicord IV (4) forward they have double exposure prevention so idiots are safe. The Xenar lens is a wonderful Tessar-type lens. You can get a IV, V, Va, or Vb starting at maybe $150 going up to maybe $400?

I love the Autocord. There are many around with a meter on the side, and many of the meters still work fine for outdoor work; horrible low light sensitivity, common for selenium meter cells.

No matter which camera you get- so many perfectly usable to excellent models out there- condition is the key thing. You should either buy from a trusted seller or be prepared to start collecting Ebay cameras as you hope to find a camera that matches a seller's description.
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Old 3 Days Ago   #26
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i just got a rollei T, had it CLAed, and found
the few filters/close-up lenses plus
the 16 exposure kit for the rollei T. Rolleicords
are just as top great however and a lot
take their own 16 exposure kits. The T
was a step up camera from the rolleicord.
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Old 3 Days Ago   #27
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TLRs are kind of not crystal clear on film loading, rewinding.
Any Mamiya 22, 33, 220, 330 with porrofinder and 2.8 blue dot lens will do.



Mamiya C33. by Kostya Fedot, on Flickr

80mm f2.8.


Sergey Plyshevskiy. Poet. by Kostya Fedot, on Flickr

You have best meter on your picture.
I find Yashica Mat 124G standard glass to be best among others.
But non of them has character in lens. They are just sharp lenses.
Rolleis, which have best lenses (with character, but no flaws) have aftermarket better focusing glass.
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Old 3 Days Ago   #28
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Thank you so much for all the advice folks!

Based on all this I am leaning toward the Rolleicord because of the right hand focusing and a new pair of glasses
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Old 3 Days Ago   #29
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I worry about TLRs. They are great: I have three, but one will be almost impossible to repair if the one little belt fails, the other two have Seiko shutters which are fussy. I hope mine out last me, but the heartbreak of a failure is just too much for me.

All in all they are the best though:


Efke IR820 HC-110h by John Carter, on Flickr
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Old 3 Days Ago   #30
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I think a Rolleicord is a good choice. It is a simple, rugged TLR with a great lens.

Not all of them had focusing on the right, so you will need to watch for this feature.

The focusing screen on these cameras is very dim. Installing a modern bright screen would greatly enhance the user experience.

The shutter release is really just a threaded socket for a remote release cable. The camera also came with a downward-facing plunger release that screwed into said socket. If possible, find a camera that includes this shutter release, as finding a separate one will add hassle and expense.

(You can also release the shutter with the shutter cocking lever, by pulling it in the opposite direction from that used to cock it. I find this very unsatisfactory, however, as it is difficult to fire the shutter in this way without causing camera shake.)

May you find a Rolleicord that brings you great satisfaction!

- Murray
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Old 3 Days Ago   #31
rbiemer
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Can't disagree with earlier posters' thoughts but, since you've said you like the Seagull's lenses, maybe the 4a-107 or 109?

For myself, I had a 107 and it was fine but didn't seem especially robust. I much preferred the Yashica Mat. And I did have a Rolleiflex for a while. That one was a bit rough but worked pretty well.

No TLRs now, if I were looking, I'd likely be looking at Autocords or (possibly) a Flexaret.
However, as has been mentioned, condition is key and I will always choose better condition over specific brand.

Good hunting!
Rob
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Old 3 Days Ago   #32
aizan
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Top pick for me is a Rolleiflex Old Standard.
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Old 2 Days Ago   #33
Ambro51
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Buy the smoothest Rolleicord Vb (with case) you can afford. I had one, and cannot think of any bad points.
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