Not a lot of money to spend... what medium format camera?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by ellea, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. Hi guys,
    I want to buy a medium format camera as I'm studying mf photography at the moment. At college we've been using the Mamiya RB 67 Pro S which through the limited experience I have using it and through what I've heard, is a very good camera. However I've searched for them on eBay and they're too expensive for me.
    What I wanted to know is what is a good quality mf camera for a fairly low price range. I'm looking for one that takes 6x7 120 film.
    I really don't have a lot to spend at all - say $200 AUD. I'm not even sure this can get me a mf camera.
    Thanks for the advice
  2. $200 AUD = $132 USD per when I typed in the numbers a minute ago. A distinctly limited budget.
    That could get you an old folder that's been CLA'ed and restored, or (if you look a little) a usable Yashicamat TLR. Anything less money is likely to be either sheer luck at finding a screaming good deal, or something like a Holga with funky optics (which can be exploited for interesting special effects, but are probably not what you're looking for).
  3. Oops, just saw the part about 6x7. Neither folders nor TLR's shoot that format.
    (Well, there's a new folder that shoots both 6x6 and 6x7 which is due out in a few months, but at €1999 it's just slightly out of the range of your budget ☺.)
  4. There are only a few 6x7 cameras that were made: Pentax, Mamiya, Bronica, Fuji and then there are 6x7 backs for view cameras. I believe all are out of your price range. Same for any of the good 6x6s. Maybe a used 35mm film camera would be easier to pay for. There is a good 120 pinhole camera that will give you 6x7, but the exposures are very very long. You can use a powerful flash with it though.
  5. You might get an older Zeiss or Voigtlander folder for that amount.
  6. TLRs are unfashionable, but they're good cameras and have advantages that have been amply discussed here before. I know neither of these is 6 x 7, but:
    (i) You can probably get an older Rolleicord within your budget, like a Rolleicord II or III from the early 1950s. Look for one with a four-element (Xenar) lens, as opposed to a triplet (Triotar). Alternatively you might find a user Rolleiflex Automat with a Tessar for quite cheap, as I pointed out was possible in this recent thread.
    (ii) Alternatively, you could probably find an older Mamiya TLR, like a C3 or C33, with an 80mm lens or a 105. These cameras have certain advantages and disadvantages, notably weight. Them that like 'em tend to really like 'em.
    Whatever you do, buy on condition, and try to get a guarantee that the film transport and shutter are working reliably.
  7. I'd agree with Dave, you'd do better looking for a Mamiya 6x6 TLR such as the C220 or C330.
  8. Ok, serious? That's nothing your budget is overdrawn by the shipping cost already.
    But: Have you ever heard something about the Holga ? This is the best camera for your purposes. It teachs you the photography from the bottom up, cost half your budget (if you lost it you still can buy another one), you will get a brand new camera and years later if you are a pro taking no care on budgets any more, you still will love your Holga.
  9. Hi all,
    Thanks for your replies. I have looked at a lot of the cameras you have suggested on eBay and they are over my budget.I didn't think I'd be able to afford a medium format at the moment.
    About the Holga, I've looked at that, but I'm not sure about the quality of it. Even without extreme faults like light leaks, strange colours, etc., I was looking at some images taken by Holga 120s and they seem dark and not very sharp.
    I'll just have to rely on the college supply of cameras until I can afford my own camera. Can you believe that there are 60 students studying photography in my year that need these cameras, and there are only 9 to go around??
  10. Consider also the Mamiya Press and Koni-Omega cameras. They both took 6x7.
    Another route is to get an old Crown Graphic and the Graflex/Graphic 6x7 roll film back.
    Perhaps your instructor would have some more ideas?
    Also, there are lots of the 6x9 folders floating around. The Moskva 4 and 5 come to mind. You could use one of those and crop the pictures. You'd save lots of money, which could be spent on film.
  11. Given the current exchange rates, you're probably better off looking more locally - Oz or NZ. The local kiwi auction site ( has had quite a few reasonably priced 6x7 MF cameras recently, so you could get lucky. You may even be able to find a Mamiya Press camera within your budget or Koni Omega.
    Alternatively, if you can go to 6x6, then a whole new world opens up - TLRs such as the Yashicas, Mamiya C220/C330, Rolleicord, etc. You could also get a decent, serviced folder with coupled rangefinder, like a Super Ikonta or Mamiya Six. If you really want to have an SLR, you might look at a (serviced) Pentacon 6TL.
    From leftfield, you can get a 2x3 press camera, like a Century or Speed Graphic. Get one with a rangefinder if you can. You can then have 6x6, 6x7 or 6x9 depending on the film back.
    Whatever you go for, make sure the camera is tested & fully operational, or you'll need to set aside some money for a service (CLA).
  12. An excellent MF camera for very little money are any on the old folders that don't have a rangefinder but just zone focus. I used to have a 1950s era Ansco Viking that shot 6x9 and cost me $30 USD off of Ebay. They have a three element coated lens but stopped down to f11 produce excellent pictures. Of course they're only really in focus at infinity since "zone focusing" just means guess focusing at anything but infinity but if you don't mind confining your photography to landscape they work fine.
    But if you want a camera that you can actually focus then the only economical alternative, as Michael suggests, is the Koni-Omega that shoots 6x7 and has a rangefinder built in, which can usually be had for around $125-$200 USD for the body and 90mm lens, or the Crown Graphic with a 100-105 lens, Graflok back and either a 6x7 or 6x9 roll film back, which can go for a little more than the Koni. But you have to be careful as the older models don't necessarily come with Grafloc backs and so can't take roll film holders. But before you buy ehther one of these cameras you should do a lot of research on them first as there are variations.
  13. Michael's found your camera - a Koni-Omega 67 rangefinder. They are real work-horse cameras with excellent optics.
  14. Look into a Yashica Mat 124, nice camera and lens.
  15. Do you really need 6x7 or just want 6x7? Get one of the 6x6 TLRs that have been suggested above.
    The Holga is so cheap that you should buy one to play around with but it is not a general purpose camera.
  16. You get what you pay for. Seriously, save a little longer and buy a RB67 when you have the money. I wouldn't advise getting a vintage camera or a limiting TLR for a beginner if you want a professional SLR. In case you haven't noticed, those Holga recommendations are tongue-in-cheek, and those folder aficionados are people who are good at photography but sometimes want something different, something "alternative". Hardly worth your time and money if you are just starting out.
    But if you are so low on funds, do you have a light meter to get the proper exposure? And have you calculated how much each photo you take costs (in film, processing and printing)?
  17. "You get what you pay for."
    You pay for what you get. You only get what you pay for if you're lucky.
  18. One can only hope, Robert.
  19. Mamiya C220 if you want to expand to other lenses, Minolta Autocord or venerable folder if not. Good luck, the MF difference is not to sneeze at as it can yield very high quality results (but be careful, cameras made for Oz may have to have the film transport direction reversed to comply with the gravitational field down under, the wrong side of the road driving and drinking of beer with the left arm and hand).
  20. OOPs, 6x7. That is harder, but some of the Zeiss or Voigtlander folders will do that. Lens quality varies among them, and you have to be sure that the folding mechanics and the shutter and light traps (felt, sponge) are in good shape. Best to buy with an understanding about repair if problematic. Why not a 6x6 or 6x4,5 and compensate by using finer grained film (and a tripod where necessary)?
  21. OOPs, 6x7. That is harder, but some of the Zeiss or Voigtlander folders will do that.​
    Name one.
  22. There is a 6x9 Zeiss folder, but they aren't cheap unless you get the model without a rangefinder. I've never seen a 67 Zeiss folder.
  23. Another vote for the Koni-Omega series.
    I just snagged one a few weeks back as my first foray in to 6x7; although I do have a 6x7 roll film holder for my Super Graphic.
    I love the Koni-Omega and it does indeed have amazing glass. Only negative I have found is the grip is a little uncomfortable no matter which way I adjust it.
  24. Elle,
    If you are patient, you will probably be able a Mamiya RB67 with 120 back, WLF, and normal lens for right around that price. If you don't opt for a fancy lens or prism finder, these cameras are going for right around $150US these days on eBay, and one or more will eventually go for less than that. Start looking daily on eBay, be patient, and you will find one.
  25. Your photos are very good. Why do you need a 6x7? Any good MF would suffice. Don't get something that you are not comfortable with using. Photography is not an inexpensive hobby. The equipment is expensive. I'd recommend that you save additional funds and look for a good TLR. You could save money if it doesn't have a meter. A nice Yashica or Rolleicord to start with you be good. If the camera is too heavy or cumbersome you will not want to carry it every where. Ergonomics is important.
  26. Koni-Omega indeed is the best bet. Maybe a Bronica GS-1 with W/L if you are patient.
  27. The Koni-Omegas are indeed great, rugged cameras, and are a fantastic value for the price.
  28. Yashica D, is great for a 6x6 TLR. Cheaper and the knob wind is more reliable than those that have a film crank. You might save and get a RB67 Pro-s. Also, while a 645, a mamiya 645 Pro. 645 is smaller than a 6x7, but it gets more shots per roll. So, film cost is down. It's smaller in area than a 6x6, Yes. But, when it comes to standard photo sizes like 8x10. A 645 is a cropped 6x6.
  29. Do yourself a favor an make a compromise away from 6 x 7, you'll get a better, newer camera given the limited price range you are at. Hunt for used Bronica SQ series, I have seen them go for amazingly low prices, though maybe not as low as you are listing. Also a Bronica ETRS, Pentax 645, etc.
  30. I don't think 67 is really realistic on that budget - but are you really going to be doing work where you notice the difference from 645? If not I'd strongly recommend an old manual Mamiya 645. They are very underpriced for the quality, many of the lenses are excellent. Before I moved on to Hasselblad and a 54 field camera I travelled for years with two old M645 bodies that proved totally reliable under all conditions. Used prices are very reasonable indeed - even the huge 30mm fisheye lens is affordable!
  31. You can probably get an older Rolleicord within your budget, like a Rolleicord II or III from the early 1950s. Look for one with a four-element (Xenar) lens, as opposed to a triplet (Triotar).​
    This would be my suggestion too. I bought a Rolleicord V with a Xenar lens for about £35. I know they are usually a bit more than that but they are still usually the best value for money in medium format.
    They are 6x6 instead of 6x7 but is it really that important to you?
  32. I have two Koni-Omegas -- a Koni-Omega Rapd with 90mm lens, and a Rapid-Omega 200 with 58, 90 and 180mm lenses, they are indeed indestructible monsters, but very heavy. An afternoon with one of them can tire you out. But when you see the results -- quite lovely, I think -- you'll orget about the muscle strain from hefting it around. Best bet for 6x7 on a budget.
    If you go to, you can assemble an RB67 kit for not too much money, just select components in their "bargain" rating. KEH's "bargain" is better than many other sellers' "very good." Shipping to Australia may be pricier than can be tolerated. For the most part, I'd steer clear of the Bay of Evil, it can be treacherous sailing there, though you can also get lucky.
  33. I appreciate all these suggestions. I think I will wait and save for the Mamiya 67.
    The reason I wanted one of those is because that's what we are required to shoot with this semester at college.
    The Koni Omega also sounds like a good idea.
    Mark: I'll try KEH. I don't think I'd ever buy a camera from eBay actually. It's too much of a risk.
  34. Keh has a RB67 Pro-s in Ex. condition for $144.00. In their new catalog they had a RB67 Pro-SD in same condition for that price. It is sold, now. But, it will give you an ideal of the prices for those two. Also, another camera that is similar to the Koni Omega is the Mamiya Press cameras. Such as the Universal and Super 23.
  35. Bueh B. [​IMG] , Mar 18, 2009; 10:53 a.m.
    You get what you pay for. Seriously,​
    Keep this in mind. There are a lot of scrapped studio cams with the 10th or 11th owner on the market. A cheap acquisition price is not few and far between the beginning of a number of major repairs
  36. Good for you, in that you know what you want and are willing to save for it. I certainly would choose a Mamiya RB or RZ over other 6 x 7 systems, partly for performance, partly for the huge availability of used units available, guaranteeing that you can keep the system usable for as long as you want without having to search for long periods of time for particular lenses or replacements of parts over the years.
    A hard part of buying in the USA is that even with return privileges like KEH has your shipping back and forth will eat up your money!
    Do you have a friend in the USA who knows about cameras who it can be shipped to, and once the equipment is collected and in verified condition have it all sent to you? This way any returns will not cost you the crazy postage from Australia.
  37. A vote here for the Koni Rapid Omega 200. The black 200 looks very good and has the focussing for the 135mm lens if should find one. If you buy off eBay, budget a CLA from Greg Weber or just save your self the hassel and get one from Greg.

Share This Page