Medium format folders?

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Suz
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#1
I have an old automat that does 6 x 6. It really needs a friend with a normal eye level viewfinder. Compact and idiot proof to operate. Automat is light but the whole WLF bends my brain cell.

I'd quite like a wider format like 6 x7 or better still 6 x 9. I have no idea beyond that what is out there that might be suitable. Needs to have decent optics and to be something that is easy to keep repaired and working.

Ideally probably basic distance focussing with only a few positions. No batteries preferably. Ideally easy to use dials to set aperture and shutter speed. I'll just be using Sunny 16 so shutter speed will be set and forget on 1/ASA speed and then I will be fiddling with the aperture only. My pea brain can't cope with manual focus and messing with aperture and shutter speed at the same time. There's only room for 2 things at once!

It's basically to distract me while I wait for the Fuji TX-1 or an Xpan to appear in a charity shop for peanuts :)

I tried a Lomo BelAir jetsetter but hated it immediately. It has to be easy to load film and easy to use. Format needs to be fixed or switchable via a dial. I'm not messing with masks and inserts and other stuff. The whole dark slide idea also does my peanut brain in as well so anything boxy like the RB series or equivalent is also out.

I did like the P & S Fuji GA645i so a 6x7 or 6x9 equivalent with the same features ie AE, AF and motor wind would also be of interest. I haven't set a budget as I have no idea what I want or whether it even exists. The GA645i was quite light and easy to use but the wrong format. Lot of things are the right format but in a big and bulky camera which I don't want either.

Moon on a stick please!
 
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#2
It sounds like you ideally want a Fuji GF670...but they are damn expensive and require batteries. Not sure how repairable they are either.

Another option would be a Plaubel Makina 67 or 670. Beautiful, but again, pricey.

Lower down the price scale you're looking at one of the older Fuji rangefinders like the GW670 or GW690. They are big heavy beasts, but have cracking lenses as far as I can tell (never used one).

Or how about one of the really high quality old folders, such as the Voigtlander Bessa II, or Zeiss Super Ikonta? Good quality fully serviced ones can be more expensive than the big Fuji rangefinders these days.
 
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#3
Actually, a Mamiya 7 would probably suit you as they have auto exposure and are dead easy to use. Pretty much the best optics you will ever find, and they are repairable (Miles Whitehead). You'd be looking at £2000 to £2500 for a body + standard 80mm lens.
 

Asha

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#4
Moon on a stick please!
LOL I can offer no help whatsoever Suz, ...Sorry.

Maybe design something yourself on paper / computer and give @stevelmx5 yet another project to put his great ( cough, splutter, choke :p)mind to ( we need to ensure he stays out of mischief! ;):D) .
He did, afterall, design and construct a LF outfit that all the numpties in here could understand :LOL: so there's definetly hope out there for you:)

Good luck, I'm sure that you'll find a solution.
Just bide your time;)
 

Andysnap

<span class="poty">POTY (Film) 2015</span>
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Andy Grant
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#5
I don't think such a thing exists Suz..... :thinking:
 
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#6
I have a Voigtlander Bessa 1 folder from the early 1950s (6x9 format) that was treated to a professional CLA a couple of years ago; one like this: https://kevinthephotographer.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/equipment-voigtlander-bessa-1-1950s/

It's basic manual focussing and fully manual (no electronics at all) but you can buy a rangefinder that fits in the hot-shoe if you need a clue on distances or want to get precise rather than f/16 and zone it. I can post a photo taken with it to give you some idea of image quality if you're interested. As I've not put a film through it in a couple of years I might think about selling it or maybe swapping/PX for another camera (I have a couple of 6x9 format cameras already) if you're interested? If so we'd need to use the classifieds on the forum, the upside being that it would be high double figures not low quadruple figures!

However, the main question is, would you get on with an old 1950s folder (about the best image quality for £ era)? You'd be welcome to have a look at the Voigtlander which would give you some idea of what to expect with cameras of that era, no obligation at all (as I'm not even sure I want to part with it yet!), but at least you'd know what to expect so you can tell if your idea has legs!

The Ensign Selfix 820 with Ross Xpres lens gives good results if you get a good one, but I've yet to buy one that didn't need a service to get the slow speeds working again (a shutter service is about £70 or so including 'special delivery' postage each way), plus the 820 isn't the lightest of cameras. Hope this gives some food for thought while you're in hibernation. :)
 
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Steve
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#8
LOL I can offer no help whatsoever Suz, ...Sorry.

Maybe design something yourself on paper / computer and give @stevelmx5 yet another project to put his great ( cough, splutter, choke :p)mind to ( we need to ensure he stays out of mischief! ;):D) .
He did, afterall, design and construct a LF outfit that all the numpties in here could understand :LOL: so there's definetly hope out there for you:)

Good luck, I'm sure that you'll find a solution.
Just bide your time;)
Stop giving me more things to fill my mind with! I do have a 6x12 SLR on the design 'table' (well, screen) that I was hoping to have a working mule built in time to take away with me in April but that won't fit the bill really :0)
 
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#10
I do have a 6x12 SLR on the design 'table' (well, screen) that I was hoping to have a working mule built in time to take away with me in April but that won't fit the bill really :0)
A prototype of a 6x12 would be easy to mock up, just glue a letterbox to the front of a shoe box, and alter the flap spring tension to change the shutter speed! ;)
 
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srichards
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#11
Prices have gone bonkers. The Mamiyas were a few hundred quid a few years ago. If I'd known how much they'd rocket I'd have bought one and the Xpan etc.

I've spotted a couple of auctions with a selection of folders so I might bid and see what I get.
 
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#13
I've spotted a couple of auctions with a selection of folders so I might bid and see what I get.
Be careful buying old folding cameras 'blind', if the shutter still works then the bellows could look like a starry night if you shine a torch on them! Then there's the folding mechanism which can suffer from play or be broken. Genuinely cheap and fully functional bargains are getting scarcer as time goes on, as the recent price hike for anything vaguely desirable appears to indicate.

PS There's the addiction side to consider too... as we all know, old film cameras seldom seem to stay 'only children' for long... I think I have added about 3 more to this lot since this was taken! :banghead:

 
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#14
Prices have gone bonkers. The Mamiyas were a few hundred quid a few years ago. If I'd known how much they'd rocket I'd have bought one and the Xpan etc.
Actually, a Mamiya 7 would probably suit you as they have auto exposure and are dead easy to use. Pretty much the best optics you will ever find, and they are repairable (Miles Whitehead). You'd be looking at £2000 to £2500 for a body + standard 80mm lens.
The Mamiya 7 is a great camera, but it's definitely not small in any sense and it has no capability for folding or even collapsing the lens (as with the Mamiya 6). I prefer the Plaubel Makina 67 because of its faster aperture and capability to fold, but these too are expensive and could be difficult to repair. The Plaubel is great for travel though (in terms of both the pictures it takes and its compact size for 6x7). It has a built-in meter, but I never use it.

Realistically though, I really can't see any camera that is going to cover all your requests here. You would have more options, and need to make fewer compromises, if you were willing to go for 6x4.5 or 6x6.
 
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#15
Wait and buy the Xpan. I haven't looked back since buying mine. I know they're not for everyone, but it's the best picture-making machine I've ever owned.
 
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#17
It is getting increasingly difficult to find Folders with light tight bellows, which take them outside the realms of "Users"
I is only worth having new bellows fitted to the very best of them. probably only worth doing on a high end camera like a Fuji GF670.
 
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#21
I think I have decided on the Mamiya 7 as you can get a panoramic 35mm back thingy for it to do xpan format. And WyCameras had a scruffy but serviced one for loads less money than I've seen one for in ages with a 65mm lens. So I bought it...
You better give it an outing to Nantwich on the 26th then :clap::exit:
 
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#22
I think I have decided on the Mamiya 7 as you can get a panoramic 35mm back thingy for it to do xpan format. And WyCameras had a scruffy but serviced one for loads less money than I've seen one for in ages with a 65mm lens. So I bought it...
Great choice :) Get the 43mm lens later and you have something very close to an Xpan.
 
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#24
Never mind, there's always Smallwood vintage rally at the end of May, you should have come out of hibernation and figured out how to put a film in it and switch it on by then! ;)
 
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#26
I think I have decided on the Mamiya 7 as you can get a panoramic 35mm back thingy for it to do xpan format. And WyCameras had a scruffy but serviced one for loads less money than I've seen one for in ages with a 65mm lens. So I bought it...
Wow, I was actually going to include the link to that camera in my previous post, but I wasn't sure of your budget. It was listed at one of the more competitive prices I've seen recently for Mamiya 7s. It was in the typical ballpark of a Plaubel Makina 67 though.
 
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srichards
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#27
I wasn't sure of budget either. The panoramic inserts are a lot cheaper than an xpan!

It's been on my to buy list for ages and ages.
 
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srichards
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#29
do you really even need the pano kit, can't you just put 35 film in it on spacers
The pano kit comes with an additional mask and all the bits to make the winding correct and also some method to rewind the roll safely. Might come with a finder attachment too.

I have got a pair of the doodads to hold a 35mm cartridge on 120 ends but I have no idea whether it will wind onto a standard 120 spool at the other side without making a mess. It would then need to be wound back inside the camera.
 
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#30
Well, it sounds like a worthwhile thing just for the count alone, the other stuff you could get by without but nice to have all the same.
There's a pano kit for the 6 but I'm not sure whether its fully functional on a non MF6.
 
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#31
I have a Voigtlander Bessa 1 folder from the early 1950s (6x9 format) that was treated to a professional CLA a couple of years ago; one like this: https://kevinthephotographer.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/equipment-voigtlander-bessa-1-1950s/
Oh, that looks like a nice camera in that review … oh hang on that was my review. Well the Bessa 1 has fallen apart since then. I did think about getting it repaired but I found the viewfinder a little small and awkward to use with my left eye (my right eye has an issue so I always have to put the camera to my left eye). I decided to get my Yashica 124G serviced instead as the waist level finder is easier to use for me. Obviously you can't fold it but in practical use I can still easily carry it over my shoulder or in a bag.

I have 3 or 4 folders but none of them are in fully working condition.
 
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