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TLR advice
Old 09-13-2006   #1
Rafael
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TLR advice

For the last little while, I have found myself jonesing (where does that expression come from anyways? ) for a TLR. I don't want to spend very much money (because I don't have very much to spend ) so I have been reading up on the Yashica-Mat 124G and the Minolta Autocords. I also read through our "Do you use a TLR?" thread.

So now I am looking for advice? In particular, I would like to know whether there are any models of the Autocord that should particularly be avoided or sought out. But more generally, I am just looking for advice for a first time TLR buyer.
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Old 09-13-2006   #2
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I went through the same thing recently and posted a similar message. Here's a link to the thread:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=24386

I got quite a few helpful responses and ended up going with a Rolleiflex 2.8F. Not a low-cost option, but a nice camera. Good luck with your search.
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Old 09-13-2006   #3
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Thanks Bud. I missed that one.
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Old 09-13-2006   #4
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I started with a Roleiflex and have since added two Mamiya TLRs. The Rollei is more compact and the lens is sharper but I love the versatility of the Mamiya with interchangeable lenses and close focusing capabilities that no other TLR has.
I bought the Mamiyas as a package from another RFF member but I only need one so I'm thinking of selling one of the bodies with the 80mm lens after I CLA it. Let me know if you are interested.
Otherwise I would go for a Rollei over Minolta or Yashica for the beter build quality and wider range of parts and accessories.
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Old 09-13-2006   #5
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I have experience with 8 different models of 6X6 TLR's. Between the Yashica and Minolta, I much prefer the Minolta. The price seem to be pretty stable for them on e-Bay. After watching and bidding for over two years, I gave up on finding a "bargain and just bought a "BIN" for about $75. I found a metal, bayonet lock lenscap for another $12. I already had a $3 lenshood.

All it lacked was a couple of pieces of covering and it had a tiny ding in the corner of the finder cover.

The reason I prefer the Minolta is because of its central, front located focusing lever. I prefer it to the focusing knob on the Yashica. It feels like a more robustly consrtucted camera. The lenses are about equal in quality, but the viewfinder on the last Yashica models might be slightly brighter.

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Old 09-13-2006   #6
Wayne R. Scott
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I really don't think it is a good idea to go with a 6x6 tlr if you are happy with your 35mm kit. Once you see your first 6x6 negatives you will never be truly happy with 35mm again. You will start to wonder what a 6x7 or 6x9 negative will look like, then you will want a 4x5 negative. After a while the 4x5 negative will look small and you will want to try a 5x7 or 8x10. Then thoughts of ultra large format start to creep into your mind, maybe a nice 7x17 or 8x20 would look nice. It just never ends. Don't do it!!!

I like Minolta Autocords for bang for the buck in a tlr, YashicaMat or Yashicmat 124 are good also. Rollei if you are not afraid of spending some $$$ and want a great camera classic like your M4.

Wayne
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Old 09-13-2006   #7
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I've seen the occasional Mamiya TLR sold for surprisingly cheap on ebay. I've already got two C330's so I don't need another one, regardless of what a good deal it is. As an example, I recently bought a 135mm lens for the Mamiya TLR system, for about sixty bucks, including shipping. Amazingly cheap. I shot a wedding with a C220 many years ago, so if you want to see the results from that event (mostly taken with the standard 80mm lens, a few with the 55mm wide-angle) you can see it here...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/haroldg...7594197127772/
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Old 09-13-2006   #8
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I had a Mamiya C22 on loan... and then got myself a C220. The trick and fun is the fact that you can change lenses (it takes some time). Drawback: no built-in meter, and metering ain't easy. However, I won't complain because the negatives and slides are superb.

However, never have I seen a brighter VF than the Rollei's. All these cameras have a fixed lens. The Rolleiflexes are expensive, so you can always resort to Rolleicords and, I think, Rolleimats. Seem to be variants of the same type, but in any event, you won't be dissapointed.

I was about to get myself a Rolleimat, but decided not to try. I have enough with the "Leica mystique" to embark myself in another learning experience.

BTW, I can't say a thing about Yashicas, but they have a good reputation.
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Old 09-13-2006   #9
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Harold, those are nice shots. And, considering the camera is heavy, I'll tip my hat to you! Just one question: did you use a flash? I see the reflection in some photos, but just want to make sure.

Again, nice work! Those must be glorious prints.
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Old 09-13-2006   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafael
For the last little while, I have found myself jonesing (where does that expression come from anyways? )

My guess is that is comes from urbanization slang for the phrase "To keep up with the Jones."

Definition:
Strive, especially beyond one's income to socialize and spend like others in the same neighborhood.

Wayne
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Old 09-13-2006   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne R. Scott
My guess is that is comes from urbanization slang for the phrase "To keep up with the Jones."

Definition:
Strive, especially beyond one's income to socialize and spend like others in the same neighborhood.

Wayne
I was told it comes from the sixties, and was commonly associated with the anxiety of the munchies. Hence, you get the "munchies" because you're "jonesing" for a bite.

There you go... "munchies": a real subculture term.

Keep 'em guessing, never trust anyone over 30, groovy...
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Old 09-13-2006   #12
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The Yashica (D, 124 or 124G) is a great way to go. I love my 124G, it has a meter that works for B&W, but I generally use a spot meter. The viewfinder is bright and the lenses are top notch. I don't think you can go wrong with this brand and I have seen some beautiful TLRs in the classifieds here. I paid too much for mine at KEH...but it was in mint condition and they are a very trusting source. I would recommend them if you want a no hassle and guaranteed condition source for a TLR.

Good luck, you won't regret getting a 6x6 TLR.

Jason
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Old 09-13-2006   #13
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Yes, get a TLR. It's a different photographic experience altogether. I have a M.P.P Microcord, a greatly underrated British-made TLR from the 50's and it is great. I push film with it because the old lenses are not very contrasty, and get good results. One word of advice is that if you're thinking of using it for street work, you're likely to draw a lot of attention.... a lot of people see TLRs as synonymous with Rolleicords or Rolleiflexes. At any rate, be prepared for a lot of questions and curiosity.

It's a fun camera, just not very discreet.

Jin
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Old 09-13-2006   #14
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First the important stuff! I first and often heard jonesing related to drugs, either jonesing or on a jones, meaning you were in the pangs of withdrawal. I think that is where it came from and then got to be slang for any unrequited desire. How it got into the drug culture I never learned. Things changed so much in that culture it was hard to keep up, especially from the outside looking in.

As to TLRs. As many here know, my take is that they are lots of fun to use. I first got a Yashica MAT 124G many years ago and loved that big negative. Within about a year it was stolen and I put a C330 on layaway but got a chance at a Mamiya Super Press 23 first and jumped for that.

Well, Wayne R. Scott is right. I sure fell for that 6x7 negative. I had noticed I was using mostly a 645 portion of the 6x6, but didn't dwell on it until I got the 6x7 and realized I could more easily use the whole negative. By the way, it is a rangefinder too! But all that meant to me was just another way to focus and a quieter camera.

I also now have a Rolleiflex and they are nice. I frankly don't use my MFs that much for some reason these days, but I never really did use the Rolleiflex much preferring the 6x7 negative. Also in the case of the Mamiya, it was a system camera with interchangable lenses and backs, bellows back, extention tubes, etc. I don't think you will ever hate a 6x6 and the two you are looking at I know the Yashica is fun. The Minolta always gets good reviews here also.

You might also want to look at MF folders. Many of them have superb lenses, some are RF, and all are easy to carry.

Now that I have muddied the waters for you, let me wish you good luck in your choice.
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Old 09-13-2006   #15
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I love my 35mm cameras...but whenever I get some 6x6 negatives/slides back..it's a completely different ballgame.

I don't use a TLR but rather an old Hasselblad 500C/M w/ an 80mm Planar lens. With the way prices are going these days that's a kit that one can now pick up for 6-900 dollars depending on condition.

IF I would get a TLR it would be a Rolleiflex 2.8F - arguably the best TLR ever made ('the Leica of TLR's' )

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Old 09-13-2006   #16
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Thanks for all of your responses so far. And thanks for the warning Wayne . Actually, I am already planning a much more substantial forray into MF. But, for that purpose, I am holding out for a Hasselblad system. So, while I am very tempted by the quality of the Rollei TLRs, I don't really want to spend that much money at this stage of the game. I am really just looking for an inexpensive (but decent) TLR for street photography and maybe some portraiture (my interest in using a TLR for street photography is the main reason why I have not looked seriously at the Mamiyas. I understand that they are, comparatively, quite heavy).

The problem is that I know so little about TLRs. From what I have read, the Autocord seems like a good option for me. But I have found references to at least 17 different versions of the camera. So I am really interested to know peoples' opinions on some of the different versions.
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Old 09-13-2006   #17
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Don't look over the Rolleicords. If you don't need a lever advance and are willing to cock the shutter yourself, a Rolleicord (with the Xenar lens) is just as capable of a camera as a Rolleiflex (with a Tessar or Xenar lens). Heck, several of the old Graflex/Ciroflex TLR's produce some pretty good results with their 3-element lenses. One model of the Graflex/Ciroflex TLR's had a 4-element Tessar copy lens.

In other words, there are lots of options out there for inexpensive TLR's.
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Old 09-13-2006   #18
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I'd recommend a late Rolleicord: they are very well built cameras that are also light and compact, with excellent lenses (past f5.6 practically the equal of Rolleiflexes' Planars and Xenotars). Their viewing screen might be a bit dim, but there are ways round that (I washed mine in lukewarm water with washing up liquid and gained almost two stops!). Otherwise a Minolta Autocord is an ecellent choice: well built, great ergonomics (for a TLR), a great lens and -usually- very usable screens.
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Old 09-13-2006   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burninfilm
Don't look over the Rolleicords. If you don't need a lever advance and are willing to cock the shutter yourself, a Rolleicord (with the Xenar lens) is just as capable of a camera as a Rolleiflex (with a Tessar or Xenar lens).

So that would be a Rolleicord III, IV, or V, right?
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Old 09-13-2006   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by micek
I'd recommend a late Rolleicord
post-1960? post-1970?
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Old 09-13-2006   #21
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My Rolleicord III is amazing. I'd recommend one to anyone who wants to try TLR's. I recently bought a rolleiflex automat, both are excellent cameras.
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Old 09-13-2006   #22
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Rolleicord III's tend to be from the early to mid-1950's. They have all of the basic features that one typically needs in a camera., including X-sync.

Most of them have the dimmer viewfinders w/o a fresnel screen, but they can be upgraded.

The knob wind and lack of automatic first-frame positioning also means that they are mechanically simpler and much harder for the photographer to screw-up.

Still use mine a lot. This one was shot at 1/250 @ f11 on Tri-X.

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Old 09-13-2006   #23
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Simpler, yes, you can even double-expose. So either use this as a special effect, or wind on after every photo (which is good practice either way).

the screen on mine didn't seem very dim at all. then I bought a Rick Olesen screen, it's superbright!
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Old 09-13-2006   #24
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The basic, meterless Autocords were I think essentially the same throughout the camera's production run (mid-'50s to mid-'60s), though I think the later ones had a fresnel screen to aid focusing. (I don't think any TLRs from before the later '50s had fresnel screens.)

The metered Autocords originally used selenium meters, which were hidden under the camera's nameplate. I've never seen one of these in person, but I suspect that in low light or indoors you would flip up the nameplate and in outdoors situations you'd keep it down -- the nameplate has slots that let enough light in to make the meter work. Those meters could well be dead by now.

The Autocord CDS models (which used a rather large PX-1 battery; looks like a gumdrop) looked different from the other Autocords in that they had two rather prominent bugeyes where the nameplate would otherwise be. One is the cap for the battery; the other is the meter cell. "minolta" appears in small type between the two bugeyes and "AUTOCORD" appears on the top of the meter assembly. None of the metered Autocords had a coupled meter -- you have to transfer the reading from the meter needle (in EV) to the shutter and aperture settings around the lens. This is one place where the metered Rolleiflexes and the later metered Yashicamats are better.

At the time the last Autocords were being made, I think Minolta offered both the meterless model (which they called the Standard) and the CDS model in 12 exposure and 12 or 24 exposure versions. The switch for 12 or 24 exposure film is on the right side of the camera, by the winding crank. There's a further model distinction -- some of the last Autocords had a special stud for attaching a dedicated strap, as opposed to the slot through which you can mount a standard strap. The dedicated strap is extremely hard to find, in my experience. I've been looking on and off for years.

You can spot the last Autocords by the Minolta logo -- it's the lower case "minolta" such as you see on their SRT line of SLRs. The earlier ones had "Minolta" on the nameplate. All the Autocords used the same lenses, I think -- a 3.5 Rokkor that is really first rate. Also, all had the same film transport mechanism and focusing lever design.

The focusing lever is the weak point of these cameras. It slides from side to side underneath the lens plate, but can be stiff after 40+ years, and will break if forced since it's made of soft metal. But if it's working smoothly it's very convenient to use.

Good luck in your search -- there are plenty of these out there, and if you get one that's been recently overhauled it's a joy to use.
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Old 09-13-2006   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafael
So that would be a Rolleicord III, IV, or V, right?
The Xenar equipped Rolleicords include the III, IV, V, Va, and Vb. The Rolleicord III's were introduced in the early 1950's, and are the simplest Rolleicords you can get that have a Xenar lens (though some III's were equipped with the Zeiss Triotar). The Rolleicord III that I have produces some nice pics, but I also like the IV.

I believe the Rolleicord Vb was the only one available after 1970, and these are the most expensive Rolleicords. As a result, I wouldn't qualify these as "cheap" by any means.
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Old 09-13-2006   #26
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Thanks for the great info guys. RFF really is a wealth of knowledge.
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Old 09-13-2006   #27
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If you are really on a budget, look for a Zeiss Ikoflex. Ergonomically, they aren't the greatest, but they are built like tanks and have good optics. I bought an early model for $10 and when I tested it against my Rolleiflex automat, the results were amazingly close.
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