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120 film RF Folders 120/220 Format Folding Rangefinders, including the various classic Zeiss Ikontas, Voigtlander Bessas, and their Ruskie copies.

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Recommend me a folder
Old 02-01-2009   #1
manfromh
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Recommend me a folder

So I decided that I need (yes, need) a nice folder.
My requirements are:

as cheap as possible
coupled rangefinder
must take 120 film, not 620
coated lens would be nice, but not essential

All formats are welcome, but I would prefer 6x9 or 6x4.5.
I would use it as a carry-along camera on trips and everyday life. I would probably shoot only b&w film with it.

I have a Yashicamat for 6x6, which is an excellent camera, but the compactness of a folder is attractive. I also have a Agfa Billy Compur, but its zone focus. You could also try to convince me that i realy dont need another camera.

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Old 02-01-2009   #2
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How cheap? The Moskva 4 and 5 are pretty darn cheap 6x9 cameras. Probably the cheapest you'll find that meet most of those requirements, I would guess.
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Old 02-01-2009   #3
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I would second the Moskva 4 or 5 if you really need a rangefinder, but I have found that my cheapo Franka Rolfix with modest German triplet is smaller and better... and since you will want to stop down anyway and can easily get away with shooting ISO 400 film in that format scale focusing is not a problem for me.

That said, I do have nice Moskva 5 w/ case and mask that works well (RF pretty accurate and no light leaks)... might sell it if you are interested.
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Old 02-01-2009   #4
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Thanks for the replies! What would the best options be in the scale focus 6x4.5 land? I think scale focusing a 60mm lens is much easier than 105mm. I can probably find Moskvas locally. Will look into it.
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Old 02-01-2009   #5
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The Moskvas should be nice, but they are a little big and heavy (they are 6x9 after all). There were many 6x6/645 combos, but the only two I have are Welta and Fuji. Both are scale focus, but work quite well. Both give nice photos, and are compact. You might also want to consider Zeiss Ikons. I think they come in flavors of 645, 6x6, and 6x9. I have the latter with a Novar lens. I really nice camera. Lots of film real estate, light to carry, good lens, thin, but a little longer due to the 6x9 size.

You have lots of choices.
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Old 02-01-2009   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manfromh View Post
So I decided that I need (yes, need) a nice folder.
My requirements are:

as cheap as possible
coupled rangefinder
must take 120 film, not 620
coated lens would be nice, but not essential

All formats are welcome, but I would prefer 6x9 or 6x4.5.
I would use it as a carry-along camera on trips and everyday life. I would probably shoot only b&w film with it.

I have a Yashicamat for 6x6, which is an excellent camera, but the compactness of a folder is attractive. I also have a Agfa Billy Compur, but its zone focus. You could also try to convince me that i realy dont need another camera.

Regards,
Matis
Cheap as possible? Moskva 2.

Edit: Good luck finding one with a rangefinder that works right though.

Last edited by FallisPhoto : 02-01-2009 at 13:32.
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Old 02-01-2009   #7
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When it comes to older cameras, you get what you pay for, generally speaking.

Spending less often results in a camera with problems. Spending more means you'll probably get a better camera.

BUT -- when it comes to folders, you have to go in believing that the camera should be serviced before you use it, which means more money. And you could end up with a camera that's unrepairable -- regardless of the amount you spend.

Again, in general, medium format cameras with rangefinders were at the top of a camera maker's line and still cost more today.

I hear a lot about the Soviet Moskva and Iksra. I've never handled either, but they seem to be plentiful and inexpensive.
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Old 02-01-2009   #8
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Congratulations or your decision to begin the seach for the Holy Grail of cameras.

I'm not sure what you mean by "cheap", but for certain my tastes are cheap and I like folding cameras.

I was patient and I managed a Super Ikonta "B" with the uncoated Opton lens for $145.00 on Ebay. The shutter had to be serviced and the glass cleaned but that should be done anyway.

Best bang for the buck, as it were, would have to be the inglorious Moskva 2 as mentioned by FallisPhoto. I bought two and they made one, eventually. One for $25.00 and the other $45.00.

The advantages are; easy to work on, 6x9, suprisingly good lenses, excellent shutters and very good viewfinders and, in my case, good rangefinders and bellows. Images can be good when the lens is stopped down to f8 or so.
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Old 02-01-2009   #9
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I have a iskra 6x6cm) and I love it. Very sharp coated lens from F5.6 down. great rangefinder and viewfinder, very bright and contrasty, and easy to focus. My had a problem with light leaks as most seems to do, but some well placed gaffers tape took care of that. I picked up a very clean one on the bay for 100 US . and I have been very happy with it. -Michael
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Old 02-02-2009   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manfromh View Post
Thanks for the replies! What would the best options be in the scale focus 6x4.5 land? I think scale focusing a 60mm lens is much easier than 105mm. I can probably find Moskvas locally. Will look into it.
well one of the James Bond themes songs says something like Never say Never...but i cant think of any 6x4.5 folders in lanscape, they are all in portrait (without tipping the camera on its end, which personaly i find anoying in 6x4.5 not that i like the format much at all) , they have to be in portait because the film is wound from one side to side to other, with the long edge to the negative being across the width of the film (which is bottom to top on the camera). also the lens will be 75mm or 80mm, i cant think of ever seeing any with 60mm. scale focusing a 35mm lens is no easier or more dificult than scale focusing a 105mm or other lens, it the distance you are guessing--you get it right or you get it wrong.
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Old 02-02-2009   #11
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I have a Moskva-2 [which is for sale, incidentally]. Coated lens, CRF, etc.

The only problem I've ever found with it, is that if you hold it in 'portrait' orientation and aren't careful unfolding it, you get a tiny amount of bellows sag - so that the very edge of the frame is slightly off straight [there's a little 'shading' from the bellows at the frame edge].

The quality of photograph is very good, but, as other commentators have said, they are fairly big and heavy. You could only fit it in a fairly large coat pocket.
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Old 02-02-2009   #12
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See the top left. The image is super sharp though. On the full-size scan the red text on the back of the waistcoat is sharp.
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Portable Folder
Old 02-02-2009   #13
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Portable Folder

Quote:
Originally Posted by manfromh View Post
So I decided that I need (yes, need) a nice folder.
My requirements are:

as cheap as possible
coupled rangefinder
must take 120 film, not 620
coated lens would be nice, but not essential

All formats are welcome, but I would prefer 6x9 or 6x4.5.
I would use it as a carry-along camera on trips and everyday life. I would probably shoot only b&w film with it.

Regards,
Matis
You are putting a lot of limitations on choice with these criteria. 6x9 folders are a bit on the large and heavy side for "carry-along and everyday life". You're using 6x6 now but the Yashicamat is too bulky and heavy to meet the same criteria. Why not stay with a format you're familiar with? One of the most pocketable 6x6 folders around, and cheap, is the Voigtlander Perkeo I. They're selling on EBay right now for $50 USD or less. I have two. The 3.5 Color Skopar lens is more sought after but the 4.5 Vaskar produces more than satisfactory results. I've owned mine since new in 1957! The only drawback with my Vaskar-equipped Perkeo is that the Pronto shutter has limited speeds (1/25 to 1/200) and the higher spec cameras have a wider range of speeds. The Pronto was the cheapest shutter/lens combination offered but the lens was common to all the Perkeo I range.
There were some produced fitted with Prontor-S or Prontor-SV shutters and they have a range from 1 sec to 1/300. So look for these shutters rather than the simpler Pronto.
The Color Skopar 3.5 lens was only fitted to the Perkeo II as far as I know. It has a better shutter but they are hard to find and cost more.

As for the rangefinder - nice if you can get it - rare to find one that's coupled in a 'cheap' folder, but an accessory rangefinder in the shoe will do just as well as you still have to transfer the setting to the lens anyway.
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Old 02-02-2009   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leigh Youdale View Post
You are putting a lot of limitations on choice with these criteria. 6x9 folders are a bit on the large and heavy side for "carry-along and everyday life". You're using 6x6 now but the Yashicamat is too bulky and heavy to meet the same criteria. Why not stay with a format you're familiar with? One of the most pocketable 6x6 folders around, and cheap, is the Voigtlander Perkeo I. They're selling on EBay right now for $50 USD or less. I have two. The 3.5 Color Skopar lens is more sought after but the 4.5 Vaskar produces more than satisfactory results. I've owned mine since new in 1957! The only drawback with my Vaskar-equipped Perkeo is that the Pronto shutter has limited speeds (1/25 to 1/200) and the higher spec cameras have a wider range of speeds. The Pronto was the cheapest shutter/lens combination offered but the lens was common to all the Perkeo I range.
There were some produced fitted with Prontor-S or Prontor-SV shutters and they have a range from 1 sec to 1/300. So look for these shutters rather than the simpler Pronto.
The Color Skopar 3.5 lens was only fitted to the Perkeo II as far as I know. It has a better shutter but they are hard to find and cost more.

As for the rangefinder - nice if you can get it - rare to find one that's coupled in a 'cheap' folder, but an accessory rangefinder in the shoe will do just as well as you still have to transfer the setting to the lens anyway.

The Perkeo 1 was also produced with the c/skopar lens, they are not as common Leigh but still pop up semi regularly. for obvious reasons they always fetch more money
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Old 02-02-2009   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manfromh View Post
Thanks for the replies! What would the best options be in the scale focus 6x4.5 land? I think scale focusing a 60mm lens is much easier than 105mm.
Scale focusing a 60mm lens on a 6x9 would be much easier than a 105mm. But the difference between 75mm on a 6x4.5 camera and 105 on a 6x9 is not that big (the 75 is even a bit longer relative to the format) and gets negligible if you want to enlarge to the same final size. And nothing like a 60mm 6x9 folder (or even 6x45 folder) does exist - the closest would be a Makina with 7.3cm Orthar, but that's rather beyond what most would consider a "folder".

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Old 02-02-2009   #16
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I'm mildly surprised to see 6x9 folders described as heavy - I take my Moskva-4 hill-walking in my map pocket (though it only fits in the map pocket, because it is big)! Without weighing it, I couldn't tell you whether it's lighter than, say, an OM10 but it is certainly much lighter than a Nikon SLR, and of course it packs flat.

I gather they tend to suffer from Friday afternoon/Monday morning after a weekend on the vodka syndrome - but a good one can be very good, given that the lens is a Tessar clone.

McG, if you took that pic on a Tuesday lunchtime, my bike was probably on the bike rack just out of shot...

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Old 02-02-2009   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kievman View Post
I have a iskra 6x6cm) and I love it. Very sharp coated lens from F5.6 down. great rangefinder and viewfinder, very bright and contrasty, and easy to focus. My had a problem with light leaks as most seems to do, but some well placed gaffers tape took care of that. I picked up a very clean one on the bay for 100 US . and I have been very happy with it. -Michael
Ditto... Love this camera.
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Old 02-02-2009   #18
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I have a Zeiss Super Ikonta B that I'm very happy with. It's quite portable as it fits into a large coat pocket when folded. The lens is excellent, even at f/2.8, although I rarely use it wide opne because the depth of field can be TOO shallow. I got mine and worked all the shutter speeds several times and they all work fine with no CLA. The camera is very well built.

An example photo at f/4:

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Old 02-02-2009   #19
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Adrian, I've no idea. It was a couple of years back during some piece of filming or other. A film, iirc, rather than 'Lewis' or one of the other regulars.
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Old 02-02-2009   #20
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Let me echo some important considerations mentioned by Leigh, Kievman and Zeissfan.

My own view is that a late 1940's Ikonta C with a fold down viewfinder will take photos that equal to its RF siblings provided that it is properly focused and more importantly it is much more easy to restore to a like new conditon.

6x9 120 film cameras were at the height of their before WWII. By the 1950's, 6x9 made up a very small market niche that was in decline. Many, but not all offerings from the 1950's were essentially carry overs from the 1930's with updated shutter/lens combos and in some cases with an added uncoupled rangefinder.

When I take apart and refurbish a post-war 6x9 folder with an RF - that claims to be a all-new model - I often find its prewar predecessor underneath.

The Zeiss Ikon, 524/2 Mess-Ikonta is a perfect example of updating the Ikonta C with a new top cover to house an added un-coupled RF. Agfa's Record III is another example. You'd be lucky to pick up a working example of either for under $200 USD these days and when looking beyond the Moskvas, these are next level of affordable 6x9 RF folders.

Back in the day when folders were new, a built in RF added 10 to 20 dollars to the price of 50 to 60 dollar camera. While today one it usually doubles the price of a particular camera.

Many people are happy with cameras that were originally designed in the 1930's - but they are significantly slower to shoot with than a modern medium format camera. It's a case of learning to exploit what you have by altering your shooting strategy to fit the use of a red window to wind the film and front cell focusing by guessing the distance.

If you limit your search to 6x9 and 645 with an RF - it will mean passing up on some significant improvements in camera design that made their way into 6x6 folders of the mid to late 1950's.

Nearly everyone of the "all new" post war designs were 6x6. The Zeiss Ikonta Super Ikonta 3, Mamiya Six and Agfa Super Isolette - along with its Iskra copy cat offer modern ergonomics. Compared to their predecessors that were designed in the 1930's they offer modern accouterments, hence they are more convenient to use.

Of the three mentioned, the Iskra is the most affordable.

The improvements Iskra offers over older designs are:

* Automat stye film winding - if working properly
* Coupled RF design that is set by focusing the lens itself
* A larger than average viewfinder and a wider RF base.
* a Unit Focus Lens which is uniformly sharp through its range unlike the typical front cell focusing lenses of the period.

The exceptions to all of the above the Ensign Autorange 6x9'er and Konica Pearl IV 645'er. Both of which have modern RF viewfinders with bright lines, coupled-RF focusing and are naturally both whorish-ly expensive today.

As for 6x9 - I understand the attraction. Each frame has about 4 times the real estate of the more popular 35mm format. Also, the classic 105 mm lens signature along with the greater tonality of a print made from a 6x9 neg would be very difficult to duplicate using 35mm film. It's a very different look.
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Old 02-02-2009   #21
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Adrian, I've no idea. It was a couple of years back during some piece of filming or other. A film, iirc, rather than 'Lewis' or one of the other regulars.
There's always something being filmed somewhere, isn't there? I just wish I had a camera on me the day the Bollywood extras were playing cricket... with half a brick and a length of 4x2!

Back to topic, there's always the Ensign Autorange 220 - they seem to be quite reasonably priced here in the UK, though I don't know what the Kroon is like at the moment against the pound. I suspect they're fairly rare outside the UK, though. The Autorange 16-20 has a good following, but they are expensive - probably well outside your price range, as you explicitly state "not expensive".

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Old 02-02-2009   #22
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Adrian,

I shot some stuff when they were filming that Bollywood movie on Broad Street.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcg_pho...7594210030461/

I only had a couple of shots left on the roll, and I was in a hurry. So nothing very good.
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Old 02-02-2009   #23
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Could well be the same one - right sort of date. I liked the way everything went on around the ordinary business of the place (if Oxford can ever be ordinary).

Adrian
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Old 02-02-2009   #24
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Thanks for the replies everyone! I'm not sure why I thought 60mm would be a normal lens for 6x4.5.

I'm going to do some research on the suggestions from this thread, and will see. At the same time I will try to convince myself that I realy dont need another camera. since I actualy need a camera bag more.

Matis
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Old 02-02-2009   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manfromh View Post
At the same time I will try to convince myself that I realy dont need another camera.
Matis
Quite right.
-In the beginning, it starts with simple curiosity. (Hmmmmm... thats nice, maybe I'll try one. )
-Then a small collection of two or three, quite harmless.
-Then an obsession. (I don't really care the kids need clothes, there is a good chance I'll snipe a great looking Super Ikonta C for a measly $400.00)
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Old 02-02-2009   #26
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Agfa Record III (6x9) with a solinar is the ticket. Kind of expensive, but I think the most compact for a 6 x 9 folder. I can put it in the back of my pocket like a wallet. I like them so much I have four of them.
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Old 02-02-2009   #27
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A honest to goodness 6x9 folder with all the basics, which looks quite goo with blue bellows. For a 6x9 with a built-in UCF - I do believe it is one of the most compact, too.
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Old 02-02-2009   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leigh Youdale View Post
You are putting a lot of limitations on choice with these criteria. 6x9 folders are a bit on the large and heavy side for "carry-along and everyday life". You're using 6x6 now but the Yashicamat is too bulky and heavy to meet the same criteria. Why not stay with a format you're familiar with? One of the most pocketable 6x6 folders around, and cheap, is the Voigtlander Perkeo I. They're selling on EBay right now for $50 USD or less. I have two. The 3.5 Color Skopar lens is more sought after but the 4.5 Vaskar produces more than satisfactory results. I've owned mine since new in 1957! The only drawback with my Vaskar-equipped Perkeo is that the Pronto shutter has limited speeds (1/25 to 1/200) and the higher spec cameras have a wider range of speeds. The Pronto was the cheapest shutter/lens combination offered but the lens was common to all the Perkeo I range.
There were some produced fitted with Prontor-S or Prontor-SV shutters and they have a range from 1 sec to 1/300. So look for these shutters rather than the simpler Pronto.
The Color Skopar 3.5 lens was only fitted to the Perkeo II as far as I know. It has a better shutter but they are hard to find and cost more.

As for the rangefinder - nice if you can get it - rare to find one that's coupled in a 'cheap' folder, but an accessory rangefinder in the shoe will do just as well as you still have to transfer the setting to the lens anyway.

Coincidentally my serviced Perkeo 1 has just gone into the Classifieds Section

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Old 02-02-2009   #29
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I'd really try out a cheap 6x9 to start... shoot it stopped down and photos will be great... then decide what to move up to if you seriously need to. Scale focus is no problem for me with 6x9... but I shoot ISO 400...

you really do need another camera

>>At the same time I will try to convince myself that I realy dont need another camera. since I actualy need a camera bag more.
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Old 02-03-2009   #30
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A non RF 6x9 folder is the least expensive way to start out. If it has an accessory shoe for a flash, you can always add an uncoupled RF later.



The Agfa Billy Record II shown above was under 50 bucks, because it needed bellows. The bellows that I installed on it are from $10 Franka Rolfix. The Voigtlander rangefinder does double duty with a Perkeo II.
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Old 02-04-2009   #31
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I'd really try out a cheap 6x9 to start... shoot it stopped down and photos will be great... then decide what to move up to if you seriously need to. Scale focus is no problem for me with 6x9... but I shoot ISO 400...
I heartily second this advice. I just developed another roll of HP5 from my Ikonta 521/2 6x9 (with the Novar f/3.5) and can tell I'm going to have a good day printing in the darkroom soon. I'm in for $50US and the cost of a solid CLA, and I have no regrets.
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Old 02-05-2009   #32
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Originally Posted by manfromh View Post
Thanks for the replies! What would the best options be in the scale focus 6x4.5 land? I think scale focusing a 60mm lens is much easier than 105mm. I can probably find Moskvas locally. Will look into it.
If you get a Moskva, there are two things to check first; pretty much everything else can be a little off and is repairable, but these two things are vital.

1. Is the swing arm (the little arm that sticks up from the front standard with the glass in it) loose? That is, does it shift easily from front to back? If so, don't get it.
2. Does the secondary image in the rangefinder track horizontally and does it match up with the other image? If it tracks diagonally, it can be repaired, and you can do it, but you will be sick to death of the camera by the time it is done. If the secondary image is tracking below or above the other image, you can't fix it.
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Old 04-14-2009   #33
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I am also looking for a folding medium format camera. I have up until now been considering a TLR but they all seem so big and bulky!
I have discounted 6X4.5 and am more interested in 6X6 and maybe above. Here in the UK it seems that the Moskva and Iskras are only available from 'the russian federation' on ebay and are over £100. What would be a good 6X6 - preferably with a coupled rangefinder, but I can always get a watameter - to dip my toes in the water?
Best regards,
RoyM
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Old 04-14-2009   #34
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An Iskra would be my choice in a FSU 6x6 folder. Superb optics and a decent RF.
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Old 04-14-2009   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wakarimasen View Post
I am also looking for a folding medium format camera. I have up until now been considering a TLR but they all seem so big and bulky!
I have discounted 6X4.5 and am more interested in 6X6 and maybe above. Here in the UK it seems that the Moskva and Iskras are only available from 'the russian federation' on ebay and are over £100. What would be a good 6X6 - preferably with a coupled rangefinder, but I can always get a watameter - to dip my toes in the water?
Best regards,
RoyM
From experience, look out for Ansco Speedex or if you're lucky, Super Speedex. These are excellent cameras that are still reliable enough to use, and they are generally less pricy than their original brand (Agfa Isollette) equivalents. These are 6x6.

For 6x9, nothing can beat a Voigtlander Bessa RF in my mind
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Old 04-15-2009   #36
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Apart from the excellent Iskra, you could look for a Certo Six, Mamiya Six, Super Ikonta III, Super Isolette, Super Balda, etc.

A good value uncoupled RF camera is the last of the Agilux Agifolds (made in Croydon) - you can usually get these in the UK for a pretty decent price.
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Old 04-15-2009   #37
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I love those Welta Welturs :

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Old 04-15-2009   #38
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I'm partial to the Zeiss Ikon folders, although I also own Voigtlanders, Agfas and some Kodak/Nagels.

Agfa made nice cameras except for the usual problems (frozen helicals and plastic bellows that quickly develop pinholes). Some Voigtlanders have excellent lenses -- even better than what was available on some Zeiss Ikon folders. Their primary weakness is the lightweight construction that I believe is prone to damage, particularly the lens standard. They are otherwise fine cameras.

The Kodak/Nagel cameras are excellent. And their shortcoming is that they all take only 620 film -- a reflection of Kodak's slavish devotion to the format.

That Welta is a beautiful camera, and just from its looks, I would say that it can stand proudly among the best Zeiss Ikons any day.

Among the Zeiss Ikons, the 6x9 Super Ikontas are very good, despite the need to focus in one window and compose in another. The Mess Ikonta has an uncoupled rangefinder and a very nice satin chrome top deck.

The other Super Ikontas have left-handed shutter releases, except for the earliest model, which has a plunger near the shutter assembly. For 1932, this probably was acceptable.

However, if the original poster's budget is tight, a Soviet camera might be a good way to break into the format.

I also think that picking up a zone focus camera and a separate rangefinder is a good idea.
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Old 04-15-2009   #39
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I have an Iskra 2 and a Moskva 5. Between the two, I much prefer the Iskra 2 (but get the Iskra since the meter on the Iskra 2 probably won't work anyway). The photos from the Iskra 2 are very sharp.
Today I get my first Ektar 100 prints back that were taken on my Moskva 5. Haven't finished the Ektar 100 roll on my Iskra 2 yet.
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Old 04-15-2009   #40
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Hello folks,
Thanks for all of the advice. I just bought a Zeiss Nettar (518/16) as a cheap and cheerful toe in the water.
Hopefully it will arrive on friday. Now for some film.......
Best regards,
RoyM
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