Please help me choose a 6x6 camera

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by podstawek, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. Good afternoon (my time!),
    I have been photographing for years now. I have lots of experience in 35 mm film photography, and recently in digital full frame. However, recently I find square format very appealing, and often end up cropping rectangles to squares in post processing. After a lot of thinking, I decided to switch from my current 5D to an analog 6x6 system.
    Bearing in mind that I:
    a) cannot afford a Hasselblad;
    b) want higher quality and more features than a Holga can provide;
    c) shoot mostly people posing, portraits, and streets with or without people...
    ...what 6x6 camera would you recommend? I have _almost_ decided on a Yashica D or a similar TLR system, but would love to know your opinions on this or any other 6x6 system, including SLRs. One of the very important factors in my bias towards an old TLR is that it draws attention. I have managed to get into many conversations regarding my current 35 mm Yashica GSN, which often ended in an interesting posed photo. A TLR would attract, I think, even more attention from passers-by, which is a good thing.
    But much (really much) depends on your opinions, both regarding the choice of TLR / SLR, as well as individual models. I am completely new to medium format photography, so I would love to hear also any other advice, opinions, warnings, or absolutely anything that you think may be relevant in my current position.
    Thank you!
  2. The Yashica D is likely least expensive among the Yashicamats because of its three element lens and separate shutter cocking and knob film advance, but still a decent enough picture taker. I find that my Yashica D delivers acceptable sharpness starting at f5.6 and by f8 it is very sharp. The other models, Yashicamat 124, Yashicamat 635, Yashicamat 124G all have 4 element lenes and a crank film advance that also cocks shutter at the same time. One caveat: for portraits these cameras do not focus close enough for really tight portraits. Also the perspective with their 80mm lenses is the same as using a 50/55 with 35mm. If you don't mind extra bulk, consider the Mamiya TLR system which has interchangeable lenses. The older C22 and C33 are the cheapest. The C330, which was the last model, also took interchangeable focusing screens. Therre is parallax compensation and lenses ranging from 55mm to 250mm.
  3. I have had the Yashica and Mamiya twins and did not keep either for long. The best twin I have had is a Rollei f3.5 from the late 50s. I still use it. It is especially good with natural light and a tripod. Other 120 favorites include a 60s Bronica with Nikon lens and numerous Hasselblads. My least favorite 120 cameras were anything made by Mamiya, including the RZ and the earlier 645. Their lenses were not as good for B&W as those from the German makers or from Nikon. I know there are lots of Mamiya fans and no offense is intended, lots of disagreement expected.
  4. I'm in a similar position as Adam - I would very much like to get a medium format camera that shoots 6x6. I had my first taste of medium format with a Holga and now would like something slightly more serious, yet I can't really afford much. I'm also a fan of mechanical/manual gear so an older camera would suit me perfectly. Sorry I don't have much to add, other than to say that I'm watching this thread with interest.
  5. I would recommend a Voigtlander Bessa-III 667 which can give you 6x6 or 6x7. Its price is $2250 per adorama. I do not have one, but tempting.
  6. The problem now is that "older cameras" are really old and increasingly fragile.Mix in the high cost/accessibilty issue with repairs and you're looking at diseconomy, not fun. If buying cheap and regarding busted TLRs as disposable makes sense, then go that route. If not, then I'd consider spending a little more and getting into the Bronica SQ series cameras. You can also think about going up to a Mamiya RB67--big, tough, mechanical, plentiful and cheap now relative all other medium format system cameras.
  7. Contrary to Gary's fearful statement, older cameras of good quality will last another 30+ years with another CLA in another 12 years or so. Good quality = Hasselblad or Rollei. I recommend a Rolleiflex 3.5E late , a digisix light meter, a CLA and Maxwell screen put in by Harry Fleenor, cost around $ 1000 total.
  8. For the $1000 suggestions and up you can easy get a Hasselblad. Elms are real cheap right now..... then you will have what you said you want to start with.
    But if you are trying to stay under $200 then the twinlens reflex cameras are you best bet. Sometimes that are at flea markets etc for $30 and less.
  9. I have a Yashicamat 124G which I bought new in the 80's and recently had a CLA on. I find when I take it out in public now it generally gets some comments from people wondering what I'm doing with such an old camera. The SLR's don't get the same interest.
    The pictures with this or my recently acquired Mamiya C33 can be very high quality - the limiting factor is more probably me than the cameras.
    I went away from the Yashicamat to a SLR due to interchangeable lenses and the ease of using a polarizer or grad. (went to a Pentax 67, that gets some comments about how big it is, but not the same interest as the TLR)
    Any of the tools can work fine - it's more a matter of getting out and using them.
  10. If you want to get a decent TLR without spending a lot of money, I'd say check the auction sites and look for a Walzflex, Wardflex, Beautyflex, Ciro-flex, Ricohflex, Yashica A, D, or 635, etc.. Those are all decent quality TLRs, and are fairly reliable (because they are relatively simple). Those kind of TLRs go for under $20 in decent condition.
    They mostly have three element lenses. Yashicamats. Autocords, etc. have four-element lenses, which are better, and in decent condition they go for at least $60.
    I have a couple of 1953 Wardflex TLRs (Taiyodo Beautyflex) which I use often.
    Here's a couple site with some good reference info:
    In my experience, there are 3 things that can be nearly impossible to fix: 1. dents that are major enough to distort the shape of the door, or interfere with focusing. 2. lenses that have been over-cleaned, and made permanetly hazy. 3. focus mechanisms that is completely stuck. So it's worth asking the seller about those things- just ask them not to touch the lens. A few tiny scratches, however, won't make any noticeable difference in your photos.
    Problems like the shutter being too slow or sticking on the slower speeds are fairly easy to fix.
    Make sure you get one that still has the little fold-up magnifier in the viewfinder. That makes it so much easier to focus.
    Also, make sure it can take 120 film. Some American-made TLRs need 620 film (same film, but smaller diameter spool).
  11. You can get a pretty good Hasselblad system (used) for a lot less than the 5D.
    Try looking here:
    I've got a 5D and I find it's a terrific camera.
    I've also got some Hasselblad stuff and it works wonderfully well.
    Good luck with your photography adventures.
  12. Hi Adam,
    I first went to medium format with TLRs, and I've never regretted it. I have six TLRs, but my favorite is the first Autocord I ever bought. They are small, light, take great pictures, and yes, they do attract (positive) attention from people. The only reason why I chose to buy a Bronica SQ system (square, but much cheaper than a hasselblad) was because I wanted to be able to shoot different films and change focal lengths when needed. This is after five years of shooting TLRs. I don't regret buying the system, but I do miss the ease and portability of the TLR. I think you'll really enjoy it -- just try to buy the best you can afford (Yashicamat, Yashicamat 124, Yashica 12 or D, Minolta Autocord, Rolleicord, Rolleiflex), and go from there!
  13. I suggest you take a look at modified Kiev 88 CM cameras (with MLU).
    "Arax" is the trade name of one of the modifiers.
    It has a 6x6 back (option) and you can find very good lenses for this system (Pentacon 6 mount).
    This option is especially important if you want a lower price for the performance.
  14. It entirely depends on how much you use the camera. I started my foray into MF with a new YashicaMat 124G in the late 70's. It lasted 2 years before it gave up. I had the opportunity to use Hasselblads and have used them ever since. If you look around, you can probably scrounge up what you need:
    500 ELM and Waist Level Finder (WLF), Charger: $130-200 (#s with shipping)
    80mm Chrome: $200
    A-12 back: $125
    Total: $450-$550 ballpark.
    You likely will need to do CLA on the body, back, and lens eventually, but you could probably get going for less than $500. I would also spend another $30 or so to get a 9V battery adapter for the EL/M, instead of the rechargeables.
    Other alternatives to consider might be a Bronica or Mamiya, or maybe a Fuji RF, but I think you're going to pay as much as you would for the Hasselblad. The thing going for the Hasselblads, that make them under-valued, is that there are just so many parts available. It's a buyers market right now as people move into digital. The good news also is that parts are pretty easy to get, there are great service people out there who know what they're doing, and once you do a CLA on a body or lens, it should last you a long time, and also adds to the resale value if you should decide to sell them at some point.
  15. You should be able to get a hassy 501 with 80 and 150 lenses for $1000. Or you can get a Rolleiflex 2.8 TLR for less....beautiful.
  16. If durability and image quality are high on your list, it is still hard to beat Hasselblad.
  17. Simple, but expensive; Rolleiflex 75 3.5 F Planar; Rolleiflex 80 2.8 F planar.
    The best.
  18. You can find Rolleiflex SL66 with lens for about 500 bucks. Good cameras and there's a dedicated online group that put out a CD of old manuals, etc.
  19. I've gotten a lot of looks and comments with a Brownie Hawkeye but I that's not exactly what you're looking for. I bought a dirty Yashica MAT124G that cleaned up to nice condition and you should see the Velvia transparencies, shot a few rolls and it also get the looks and comments. The meter is dead.
    I also have a Rollieflex Automat Model 4 that needs a good cleaning and new leather but it works. It'll look like an old camera with new leather.
    I think what I want is a Mamiya RB67 or an older Hassy because I really like a polarizer and want a little more than 75-80mm but no time soon.
  20. I would give serious consideration to the Bronica SQ series. I used to own its big brother (the 6x7 Bronica GS-1) and loved that camera. I would say that those Bronicas are nearly as good as Hasselblads (which i've shot with as well) but much cheaper...and, personally, I would prefer the flexibility of an SQ-style SLR over a TLR. You get interchangeable lenses, backs, and finders; I always found it convenient to be able to carry one back with color film and one with black and white.
    Oh, and you can always shoot with a waist-level finder. That should attract nearly as much attention as a TLR would.
  21. I only try to speak from experience and try not to be bias when it comes to giving advice. Starting on the cheap side you can get Ciroflex's, Ricoh Diacords, Argoflex and Yashica A, D, C's at fairly cheap prices. Any of these stopped down to f8-11 will give very nce results especially for people shots. Up the ladder are the Rolleicords, Rollei Automats and Minolta Autocords. Any of these will be great if they are up to snuff mechanically. One of the best deals out there is the Mamiya C series (C22, C220, C33, C330) These cameras are truly professional TLR cameras and there lenses are really, really good. You can focus them down to 1:1 with certain lenses for fantastic close-up work, they have a built in parallax correction guide and a good variety of interchangeable lenses. I like the later "black" lenses(little better coatings) for the Mamiya the best, but have taken some great pictures with the older chrome lenses also. Truth is if you can swing a 500C or 500EL Hassy you will be set for life. I Still use my 500C that I bought 25 years ago and it still makes me smile. Oh, I have a Rollei 35E and Rollei 2.8E and the lenses on both those cameras are simply the best. The only problem with the later Rolleis with Planars, Xenotars and even late coated Tessar lenses is that the demand has driven the price beyond what most of us can afford or in my case willing to pay. I also think the 124G, which I still have, are also over-priced to some extent. I have owned everyone of the cameras I mention above and many more besides, but I'd have to say the cheapest 6x6 systems camera out there is the old and very reliable Mamiya C33/C330 Professional. Heck, I have and old Argoflex 40, in the original box with flash in its original box that takes picture every bit as good as the early Yashicas and it didn't cost me hardly anything. Now, that really makes me smile! I guess what it boils down to is just how much you are willing to stimulate the economy?
  22. About 5 or 6 years ago I purchased a Mamiya C330f with several lenses. I think I ended up spending around $500 for the body with a 55 (or 65), 80, 100+, 180, and 250mm lenses. It worked very well for me. Changing lenses can be tricky sometimes if you get in a hurry. This system can be put together over time. I would start with the 80mm normal lens. Going from memory the black lenses are more desirable than the silver lenses.
    I watched this forum for a while at the time and read about the Ciro-Flex TLR made in Delaware, Ohio. I ended up acquiring one of these also, for about $20 with shipping. The camera did not keep enough tension on the film spool so the take-up spool didn't wind the film very tight. The result was overexposure along both edges of the film after I took the film out of the camera. I suspect I could put some sort of spring on the film spool to solve the problem. Otherwise the camera produced decent pictures.
    I'm going to have to dig out both of these cameras to complement my D300 for the coming fall foliage. They are a lot of fun. They do produce positive interest. If you don't have one now, you'll need a light meter (or a modern 35mm camera for it's built-in meter) as both these cameras are totally manual. I started with Ilford XP2 Super 400 film and guessed on exposure with fairly decent results.
    Good luck,
  23. Mr. Podstawczynski....
    Have a look at:
    which shows many views of a bus from about 185 meters. Tap on any thumbnail to get a larger view and camera information. You can compare the sharpness of the various lenses. There are a few 35mm views and one 4x5 view but most are various medium format. The Rolleicord V has a nice coated 4 element Tessar design lens of good quality and can be had for about the same money as a Yashica 124G. The Rolleicord Va and Vb use the same lens but are more expensive on the used market.
    All the views are small cuts of pixel per pixel scans at 2900 PPI with a Nikon IV. This means that any lens than can put above 57 lp/mm on film is not going to show any better than one that just makes that limit. One of my Rolleicord V does make about 50-55 lp/mm on film, the better one does 55-60. The Yashica 126G does 45-50, but that is still good. If you use a flatbed scanner like an Epson 4180 rated at 4800 PPI you will only get about the same real resolution as the Nikon IV (2750-2800 PPI) if everything is just right. At 2900PPI you can print a 21.75" x 21.75" at a full 300PPI. So why go above that limit when buying your first MF camera?
    Tom Burke
  24. I enjoyed my Mamiya C330 and the advantage of having interchangeable lenses from 55mm to 250mm is extremely useful. I would not sell the 5D though.
  25. Used Rollei.
    I bought a Super Ricohflex in about 1956 or 1957, but even for a kid, it wasn't sharp enough. So in January 1958 I bought a new Rolleicord Va, the cheapest Rollei. It still works, and I took one of my best ever photos with it a couple of years ago. No failures, no maintenance, long fallow periods since the 70's, but it's still great. Since then I've bought (and kept) several used Rolleiflex 2.8's, and one new one, all excellent.
    A used Rolleiflex is the most underpriced camera on the market. Sharp lens, quiet reliable shutter, flat negative plane, easy to use, easy to hold still down to 1/15.
    Now I've switched mostly to Leica because I can't focus a reflex camera as well as I used to, but the smaller film size is a real sacrifice.
    I'm speaking, of course, to black and white film, the forte of 6x6.
  26. Most of the unusual named Japanese TLR's are a bit suspect, quality wise, interesting sure, but not everyday users. The Yashicas tend to have problems with transport, Minoltas are better but tend to be expensive, and the Mamiyas are excellent but very heavy and bulky.
    Hasselblad bodies are quite cheap these days, especially the ELM's, but the lenses will set you back a lot...there is the problem.
    Has to be a Rolleiflex then, 3.5's, the T's with the Tessar lens, or a late model Rolleicord with the Xenar lens. These cameras are never all that cheap, but for a good reason. Buy the best one you can afford and you will never look back.
  27. Mamiya TLR - C3, C220 or C330. They're plain, straightforward and robust cameras.
  28. Well with all of the cameras I have from the large format to the latest D3X I always wanted the C330 Mamiya which I have recently bought from adorama, this TLR camera with its bellows and interchangeable lenses and with its 120/220 FILM 6X6 format is very outstanding for portrait studio work and street work also.
    The camera I bought on D condition for very reasnoable price and it has used lenses also avilable with adorama, B&H or on ebay also for good prices, makes this camera one of its kind.
  29. If you like TLRs, then the Mamiya 220/330 would be a good choice. You'll get a very robust camera with the advantage (for a TLR) or interchangeable lenses. If you think you'll only need one lens, maybe a Rolleiflex.
    For a system camera, the Bronica SQ series are great value. Not only are the bodies well priced, but so are the lenses and other accessories.
  30. Dear all,
    As much as I have realized that is a very good source of knowledge and experience, I would have never expected such rich and helpful response. Thank you all so much!
    I made a quick summary of your recommendations:
    Yashicamat 124 / 124 G -- I understand there is a problem with the discontinued battery, but I can use an external meter
    Mamiya C33 / C330 f/s -- I understand there is not much difference between these apart from weight and small design differences
    Rolleiflex, preferably newer models with 2.8 lens
    Vigtlander Bessa III 667 -- unfortunately too expensive
    Minolta Autocord
    Bronica SQ
    Mamiya RB67 (but that's 6x7 as I understand...)
    Hasselblad, maybe something could be found below $ 800 (with an 80 mm Zeiss lens), but this is still a bit more than I wanted to spend initially -- will have to rethink this
    Kiev 88 (modified)
    Rolleiflex SL66 -- looks very nice, but aren't the prices more or less the same as for Hasselblad?
    I have some questions to the responders, too. Please excuse my ignorance, I may be asking for very simple or obvious things, but I'm really new to medium format, and many things just don't seem to be as obvious as they have been to me in 35 mm film photography:
    Mike, you are saying that Yashicas do not focus close enough for tight portraits. Or is it about all TLRs? Can the problem be solved by using a longer "portrait" lens, e.g. 135mm? Would I be able to fill the frame better then?
    Bruce, why did you discontinue using your Yashicas and Mamiyas? Was there anything about them you particuarly did not like?
    Frank, what is a Maxwell screen and why should it be put in by Harry Fleenor?
    Scott, thanks for listing so many TLR names that I have never even heard of! Unfortunately many of them don't even show up on eBay, and I think I will have to use eBay, because otherwise it is often hard to get something shipped to my country... also, the prices on eBay seem to be 10x your "$20 in decent condition". Where does such discrepancy come from?
    Michael, Stephen, where did you find these prices for Hasselblad gear (Michael: body + lens, Stephen: body + 2 lenses)? As I said, I'm stuck with eBay, but if the sources you are quoting ship to Poland, I'd be happy to go there...
    Tim, you are saying that the meter in your Yashica MAT124g s dead, but was it useful in the first place when it was still alive? Was it precise enough?
    John Wiegerink, your answer pretty much summarizes everything I'm feeling now: I think I will either go for C33 / C330 or for Hasselblad if I can find it in a reasonable price (which I haven't so far). Thanks for the detailed answer!
    Mr Burke, thank you so much for your very technical and in-depth response. I think I may summarize it as follows: as long as the lens is of _reasonable_ quality, I should go for it and not worry about much more expensive, higher-resolution lenses, as there will be no visible difference even with the negative enlarged to the extremes.
    John Crowe, I just can't afford keeping both the 5D system and an MF. Luckily, I am not a pro, and don't make my living on photography, so whatever I'm doing, is just for my self-fulfillment... Therefore, I will be happy to take much fewer pictures than I have with my 5D, but take much more care when taking each inpidual photograph. I still need to buy a simple point-and-shoot, though, because it's needed for a quick pic here and there.
    All in all, I think I'm going for either Mamiya C33/330, or a Hasselblad if I can find it in the prices you quoted. But the latter decision would still need a lot of thinking, as other lenses and accessories are also quite expensive...
    Once again, thank you all very much for your help!
  31. My friend John Crowe, when I bought my C330 recently from adorama it was as D condition camera, when I received it here, the back cover bottom portion seal metrials was melted, I had to remove it compeletly and clean its place in order to prevent it from damaging my film.
    I looked carefully through the seal place and did not look to me as it could easilly leak light into the camera, but this is how I looked it , I do not know for sure if I could use this camera with another roll of film without the seal or not?
    If you an idea about this matter , I will approcaite your input.
    Thank you and wishing you all of the best.
  32. I owned a Kowa 6MM 6x6 SLR several years ago that I thought was brilliant. The camera is solid, the lenses are top notch with centre sharpness having rivalled Hasselblad's in some tests I've seen, though of course I had to do some DIY camera repair to change the old mirror baffle material and dismantle and clean a few ancient lenses, but that was really fun and enjoyable, and it wasn't too expensive overall.
  33. Rashad: I no longer have my C330 to refer to. I suspect that if the light seal was there that it is necessary. You can probably find some kind of kit online or at Adorama to replace it.
  34. Adam,
    I looked at some of your work and feel that the C22/C220 or C33/C330 would be ideal for your type of photography. I think the best "bang for the buck(dollar/EUR) would be the C33 as they sell very cheap here with the standard 80mm lens. I'd then pick up a 135mm for "head and shoulder portraits". The nice thing about the C-series Mamiya cameras is the fact that you can actually get very tight head shots with the standard 80mm lens due to the ability of bellows extension. Something you can't do with any other TLR. I don't know where you will buy from, but I have always had good luck with KEH and tend to buy there BGN (bargain) or even UG (ugly) items if I want something that works and don't care about looks. KEH's BGN is like most places "excellent" rating. Russ, and a few others, might not agree on KEH, but thousands of people do. They are very conservative on there ratings. You can watch the BIG auction site also as it will be a cheap place to buy, but check the seller rating and make sure you have return privileges. If you are selling your 5D you should have more than enough for a very good C33/C330 outfit and those 2 1/4 square negs or slides are something to see.
  35. Adam,
    The meter in my 124G was dead when I got it and I haven't taken the time to open it up to see what's wrong with the meter. Don't let the extinct mercury battery stop you, there are batteries that work in the place of PX625's as well as minor circuit mods so you can use longer lasting batteries like silver oxide. A search will produce many hits on it. is one.
    I metered with my SLR but I would like to have a handheld meter.
    The Rolleiflex Automat doesn't even have a meter.
  36. Hmm... MF gear at low prices... It's magnetic !!
    I bought a Yashica-MAT in mint condition for $100. Non-mercury batteries ARE for sale... or just use a handheld meter.
    Then, emboldened by this success, I bought a Mamiya C-220 for $250 in great shape w/ 80mm. I chose the 220 because I think there are fewer things to go wrong (no shutter cocking mechanism).
    Both of these are beautiful cameras, real cameras, that can produce excellent images.
    A small reality note: In my testing so far, if you're going to bring your images into the digital realm, it will take an excellent scan of 6x6 to produce a better image than a dSLR.
  37. Adam,
    It has been said time and time again that the Bronica SQ system is a "poor man's Hasselblad". If I were to make a recommendation, I would personally prefer the Bronica SQ.
  38. Don't forget resale value. Even if you buy a good quality / good name brand camera, and shoot it for a year - you will surely get most of your money back if you decide to re-sell it on ebay. So stick with good names like Mamiya or Hasselblad. (C330 and 500c/m are amazing!)
    If you decide you want a lesser know brand like Yashica, get the latest and best quality (Yashica G) It's worth it to spend a few more dollars for a better quality camera, so you lessen the risk of repair bills, plus reselling it is much easier. Good Luck!
  39. I'm surprised no one has asked what is perhaps the simplest yet most important question which always defines the purchases we make:
    "what is your budget?"
    If you don't have one, set one. Because if you don't, there are a ton of people on here who have an extraordinary wealth of information at their fingertips suited for budgets from $25 all the way up to what you'd pay for a car.
    I'm shooting for these:
    under $100
    Look for an old Minolta, Yashica D, Lubitel (surprisingly good results - forget looking at Lomogr&&&y for best prices as usual)
    under $300
    Mamiya C220, C33
    Rolleicord / Rolleiflex f3.5 - hey, you can always get lucky on ebay
    Yashica 124G (in my opinion this camera is waay overpriced for what it is, go with the Mamiya)
    under $600
    Bronica sq-ai (hands down)
    under $1000
    Hasselblad 500CM w/ 80mm Planar (I just bought this with a 120mm Makro-Planar off KEH for a tad under $1k - their BGN condition is a lie - its actually about the same as an EX+ you'd find off eBay!)

    Rolleiflex SL66 (awesome camera, I'd love to have one if I had a spare $700-800)
  40. it


    If I was after a 6x6 I'd go for a Mamiya 6, although they are a bit more than $1000 used.
  41. In case you are interested, I paid about $1600 for my Mamiya 6 w/ 50mm f4 and the 75mm f3.5 - but upon arrival it managed one roll before conking out - took it to the Mamiya repair agent here in Hong Kong and they repaired it for $150, which the seller promptly refunded - which I think made it quite a good deal!
    The only thing I don't like about the Mamiya 6 is the fact you can't get very close to your subject. Minimum focusing distance is 1m with both the 50mm / 75mm and I think 1.5m when you're using the 150mm - but I could be wrong on the last one. There is a close-up adapter / contraption for the 75mm but that just makes the camera ungainly. I would like to get one but I've read it turns the mobility of the camera into something of a joke.
    It is in many ways a perfect camera if you don't need to do any macro / close-up work and it gets far more usage than my 500CM. Plus, it only has 3 lenses in its lineup so any lens envy is rather limited! (thank god)
  42. The 6x6 format is perfect in many ways...particularly for portraits. It sounds like you take your camera with you, and shoot spontaneously. In that case the Hasselblad may slow you down; it's heavy, you need to remember to pull the darkslide before shooting, and replace it when changing backs. The Hasselblad is much, much louder than a TLR. I imagine the bomb release on a Stuka was quieter! The filmbacks are not easy, nor quick to load in the field.
    I recommend a Rolleiflex TLR. Get one with the 80mm f2.8 Planar if you can find or afford it. Or get a clean Rolleiflex T with the nearly as good Tessar f3.5 lens. They are light weight, fast to operate, have bright finders for focus, load film easily, and the shutter is barely audible.
    FWIW I own both a Hasselblad 501c, and a Rolleiflex E2. I love both cameras, but for shooting on location I pick the Rollei 90% of the time. Yashica is a good camera, but remember it was copied from the Rollei. For some reason Yashica TLR cameras sell for nearly as much as equivalent Rollei models. That makes them overpriced IMHO.
  43. My simple Two cents: Save your money and get the Rolleiflex automat of Rollieflex-T, get the tessar Lens or if your got money to burn get Planar Lens:
    and to get info go to this web site
  44. Used Hasselbads can be found on KEH. You get an SLR and variety of lens. A Mamiya 330 TLR in less expensive and you have interchangable lens. Odess is realiable. Everything he sell he has checked.
  45. The MF I most regret not buying was an RB67 with 180mm f/4.5 (?) lens, extender and VF. Would have been a killer in the studio.
    However, I did buy a Hassy 500 C/M with an 80mm f/2.8 and 150 f/4. Eventually added a 120 f/4 Makro and I'm seeking a 40mm f/4 (There is one on e-bay closing in an hour or so that looks good for around $600). Great machine (added a Sekonic 558 and Nikon 9000ED. Eventually added an Epson 3800 printer).
  46. Someone else already mentioned the Lubitel. It's generally described as a toy camera but mine takes sharp pictures - not Hoga like at all. Probably not as sharp as a Rolleiflex or some of the other cameras previously mentioned, but it's a heck of lot cheaper - an important consideration if you're still unsure if you really want to use this type of camera. I got mine for around $20 on Ebay and still put a roll or two through it each year just for a change of pace. I've got a number of Lubital shots posted on my Flickr page if you're interested in the results I've gotten. The one drawback if you're doing portraits is that you have to adjust for parallex when shooting at close distances.
  47. There have been a lot of suggestions on this thread, I think it comes down to how you operate as a photographer.
    If hand-holdability is very important to you, then the TLR's and Mamiya 6 rangefinder will be your best option. You could theoretically handhold a Hasselblad or Bronica, but I don't think you will find it comfortable for long stretches at a time. Those cameras really were made to be put on a tripod.
    If having a built-in meter is very important to you, then the Mamiya 6 rangefinder is your best bet. Almost all the other cameras listed here will require use of an additional prism finder to get a built-in meter. If you don't mind using a tripod, the prism finder can work well, but for handholding it will be impractical.
    If having interchangeable backs is important, because you want to switch out film mid-roll, then you will want either a Hasselblad, Bronica, or equivalent camera. They can be found for decent prices used. No TLR or rangefinder will offer you this capability.
    Personally, based on what you say you like to shoot and your budget, I would recommend the Mamiya TLRs. They are built very well with metal parts, they offer the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, they are not too heavy to walk around with (especially if you've been lugging around a 5D with multiple lenses), and the price is very reasonable. You can get a body plus three or four lenses for well under $1,000 pretty easily on eBay.
  48. I have a Hasselblad 500 C/M and a Rolleiflex Automat circa '51 with 3.5 Tessar lens. I've finished testing out the Rollei after getting it a couple of months ago, and I think its quite impressive, especially stopped down. The Hasselblad is a Hasselblad - superb lenses, terrific output, and system flexibility. The Rollei is convenient in that it is self-enclosed and easy to lug around - and it was cheap - about $150, plus an original metal hood and the Rolleinar 2.
    Neither can focus close enough without attachment for full-frame headshots. That said, to be honest, while the Rolleinar will get you close enough to do that, its uncomfortably close to the subject because of its relatively short focal length. The head-chest shot is a bit more comfortable at that length. But otherwise, the Rollei is a great option for somebody who doesn't want to make a large initial investment and can handle some of the inherent limitations of the camera.
  49. A lot of people are recommending some expensive cameras here. Best to go cheap and see if a TLR is for you. They aren't for everyone, and it's taken me a while to get used to them. In the past few months I've bought a Rolleicord w/ Xenar lens and a Rolleicord III w/ uncoated Tessar for under $200 for the two of them on fleabay. That's the brand(s) I would recommend too.
    But my MF folders are capable of superb results also, and if you get one that focuses by moving the entire lens assembly like a Welta and a few others do, they can be used for portraits. So that's my suggestion. Buy a nice 6x6 folder and a Rolleicord or Rolleiflex w/ a 3.5 Tesar or Xenar and try out both styles of shooting. Then sell the one you're not comfortable w/.
    That's how it goes in theory anyway. If you're like a lot of us you'll end up keeping them both, which is fine, as there are times when one may be better suited to your day's shooting than the other.
  50. Adam -
    Man, so many responses and SO much great input. I've had a number of the cameras mentioned in my collection over time, Autocord, Yashica 124G, Rolleiflex and Rolleicord, Hasselblad, etc. I can add very little new to what's been said, but here goes.
    The Autocord and 124G were both quite acceptable performers imagewise, the Autocord being the better. But, even with extremely careful use and handling, they developed mechanical problems in a relatively short time. Input from the repair shop, "they're just not a Rollei, you can't expect the same robust build and parts quality."
    Now, after having a total of nine Rollei's and currently three left, I can confidently relate that they are of superior image quality, long lasting, reliable and easily serviced for routine CLA's. In all honesty, with considerable use over many years with these Rollei's, I've NEVER experienced an actual parts failure. I like to do a complete cleaning and routine service about every 5 or so years, that keeps shutters timed well, iris blades clean and working freely, advance and counter systems working as they should.
    I'm getting on in years so have thinned out much of the collection, now have a Rolleiflex E-2 with 3.5 Xenotar, Rolleicord Vb with 3.5 Xenar and Rolleiflex 4X4 with Xenar. The Xenotar I consider to be the best performer, but not by very much, the Xenar is perfectly acceptable and sells for a whole bunch less. An excellent Rolleiflex with Zeiss or Schneider optics will sell for upwards of a thousand dollars, to maybe closer to two thousand in collectable/mint condition. An excellent Rolleicord III, IV or V with Xenar lens will sell for well under $400, sometimes maybe even 150-250, and that's in really good shape.
    I have a Hasselblad 500CM, 50-80-150 and 250 lenses, what can I say, I think it's among the best cameras that can be had. Superb optics and anvil like durability, but what a way to wound your checkbook or melt your credit card. I'm not suggesting you consider one, I just wanted to tell you that I consider the Rollei's with Zeiss and Schneider glass to be their equal. The only limitation is the fixed lenses, but maybe that wouldn't be a detriment to you.
    I have zero Mamiya experience, but several friends do and relate nothing less than complete satisfaction. I second the 330 recommendation as a serious medium format system, if you would want to change lenses. Excellent optics, combined with great mechanical reliability in the hands of a careful user. Easy to find excellent maintenance shops, when routine service comes due.
    Don't get in a rush, take the time to do some shopping and you'll find the right camera for you, at a good price. Best of luck in your search, and great success in your photography. Best regards.
  51. My only venture into medium format was with a Minolta Autocord TLR - beautiful camera and superb value for money. I bought one with a meter, and they are significantly more expensive. If I did it again, I'd buy one without a meter, because once you go to the trouble of using a TLR, using a hand-held meter hardly adds any inconvenience. Plus even the cheapest hand held meter is at least as good as the meter in a TLR.
    My personal conclusion about medium format was that the cost of developing 120 color film - print or slide - was prohibitive for me. I might have persisted if I was into B&W, and did my own darkroom work, but I am far more interested in color photography. The Minolta was great for me to rule out medium format as a suitable medium for my work. I sold it for about as much as I paid, and I would have lost a ton of money if I had started with a new Hasselblad. But if cost is a big issue for you, it's the film and developing that will get you, not the price of the camera. Maybe use a TLR to attract people, but then take the shot with your 5D ;-)
  52. Come on, suck it up & buy a Hasselblad, you will not regret it. Someone said ""the Hasselblad may slow you down; it's heavy, you need to remember to pull the darkslide before shooting, and replace it when changing backs. ""
    Nah, don't believe it,,I shot hundreds of weddings with my Hasselblads, never slowed me down. If interested, I have a nice spare 500CM outfit I will sell,
  53. I have to say that I've never drawn so much attention to myself as during a visit to Venice in 1996 with my Rolleiflex T. The same camera also drew me into a chance conversation (in Henley-on-Thames, c. 1997) with a rather famous comedy actor from the 1960s, who told me that he'd once been given a Rollei T by Paul McCartney (who got it in turn from his brother Mike). Incidentally, the T also takes great photos and handles so intuitively that it feels half its actual size in use (unlike 6x6 SLRs, which to me always feel bigger than they are and have massively clunky mirror actions)
  54. Dear all kind responders,
    Once again, thank you very much for your opinions, expressed both here and privately via e-mail. I think I have made up my mind, and I will go for Mamiya C330 TLR, probably at KEH (which I had not even known before). People suggesting Hasselblad made me thinking, and I was tempted for a while, but I believe that's just too much for me at the moment. I'm not good enough to use all Hasselblad's capabilities. Bronicas were tempting too, and less expensive, but there's the important "draw attention" factor where TLRs win.
    Russ, thank you for posting this beautiful photograph. This is the kind of pictures I want to take, but I'll go for Mamiya instead of Rollei.
    Once I sell my digital gear and buy the TLR, I will surely have questions about film and development techniques, because the last time I developed by myself was 10+ years ago. But that's gonna be a different thread.
    Big THANK YOU to all of you! This forum is invaluable.
  55. Just to point out if it's not already covered above, the rollei sl66 has a tilt mechanism - up and down only about 8degrees but it might help. Also the lens can be turned round as it has a similar bayonet on the front as the normal mount, so you can do a bit of impromptu macro at the drop of a hat. The big disadvantage is that lenses are like rocky horse droppings, difficult to get hold of.
  56. Oh, the other thought - it may be worth trying to get hold of an old folding 6x6, it ought to be somewhat better than a holga, probably cheaper too. It will give you a chance to play with the format, should provide images with a character of their own and keep your costs down.
  57. I had replaced Hassie with Mamiya & still have them. A 645Pro & a Mamiya 6 rangefinder in a 6x6 format.
    The Hassie's are a fortune to open & service. Ergonomically I did not like them. Hasselblads waist finder is fine. The eye level finders are known to be dim, even with Beattie screens
  58. Mamiya C33 / C330 f/s -- I understand there is not much difference between these apart from weight and small design differences​
    Yes and no. The C33 is an older camera. Mamiya was very kind to us in naming their cameras in a sensible fashion! The single digit C series TLR's are the oldest, from the late 1950's to early 1960's. They can take all of the brand new modern lenses, but the bodies may not be in great condition. The leatherette tends to fall apart badly on these for some reason and the older lenses can be yellowed... which might effect color photographs. These older cameras are completely manual and require alot of patience. At this early stage Mamiya began differentiating two lines, a budget line; C2, C22, C220 and a professional line; C3, C33, C330. The double digit cameras are from the mid 1960s and added double exposure protection to the camera. The C220 began life in the late 1960s and was manufactured for the longest run until the 80s when it was replaced with the C330. For the nearly twenty years of production the C220 remained pretty much the same and it is quite possibly the best deal in medium format, then and now. Obviously the C330 is the only "modern" camera in the series and has lots of little quirks like focus lock on the last version, new scales on the focus scale and a return to boring leatherette on the body instead of the rubber covering, which I think is great stuff.
    As they progressed in time, the professional line kept getting better and better while the budget line pretty much just kept up appearances. For instance, the C2, C22 and C220 all have a knob style film advance, although the C220 it folds out into a crank. The C3, C33 and C330 all have a fixed crank film advance for faster use. The "2" series cameras all have manual shutter cocking whereas the C33 and C330 offer automatic shutter cocking. The C33 and C330 are also the only cameras in the series to offer automatic parallax correction in the viewfinder but ALL Mamiya TLR's can be easily setup with parallax guides in the viewfinder simply using a pencil. The shutter cocking and parallax correction mechanisms make the C33 weigh quite a bit more than other cameras in the series, so if weight is an issue you might consider the C220 or C330. The C33 is simply a beast of a camera and the C220 weighs dramatically less, without the lenses the C220 weighs almost half of the C33! The C22 and C330 both weigh in between the C220 and C33.
    The C220 and C330 are the only cameras in the series that are designed to shoot both 120 and 220 film, although there are a special backs available for the C22 and C33, but good luck finding them! Most of the cameras in the series except for the very earliest ones have interchangeable viewfinders, but the stock waist level finder is the best way to use the camera IMO. Be aware that the waist level finders are not really swappable across model generation, they look like they should be, but I've found that they often do not seat correctly, especially using late model finders on the single digit models. I've handled, cleaned and repaired the C2, C33, as well as regularly used the C220 and they are all great cameras. One of the greatest things about the Mamiya TLR line is that the most fragile part of any camera, the shutter, swaps out with the lens! I've shot with the 80mm, 65mm and 180mm lenses and they are all pretty good. The 65mm I use is an older silver model and it's a little soft, as you would expect of a wide angle lens from the 1960s. The 80mm f/2.8 is I think one of my favorite medium format normal lenses. It is wickedly sharp and has a wonderful bokeh that I just really enjoy.
    Please check out this site for more information:
  59. I used to really enjoy taking photos wih my Mamiya 6. It's a lot of fun and the results were excelent. It was stolen from my car a couple of years ago. I found the 150mm lens totally useless with this camera. The 50mm wide-angle Mamiya lens (28mm - equiv.) was to die for. A really top-notch optic. The 75mm ws also really nice. This is a really compact camera that takes fantastic results. I love 'em. Highly recommended. Cheers, Alex.
  60. Adam,
    Your choice is a good one and a reasonably priced one. Now, all you have to do is let us know how it works out for you when you receive it.
  61. I do highly recommend the Minolta Autocord, beautiful results & still very resonable in price!
  62. Mr. Podstawczynski...
    That's essentially true. Except for the very best of the drum scanners, 3000 PPI is about the scanning limit for medium format (although the Nikon 8000/9000 will do close to its rated 4000 PPI). Very few people use "through the glass" enlarging. All those machines that the photo stores and WalMart use now scan the film and digitally print it as square pixels of colors on silver-halide-based wet-process paper. There are very few exceptions. Those printers usually max out at 300 PPI. A few will do 403 PPI, but the people who run them normally set them to speed up and reduce costs for volume production.
    The bottom line is that any lens that can actually put 60 lp/mm on film exceeds the ability of 99% of the scanner and printer combinations out there. A used Rolleicord V with a properly columated lens is at the top of being the weakest link in the picture chain. I also own a Mamiya 7II that will put a true 120 lp/mm on a film good enough to take it. It is a pleasure to own and a pleasure to look through a loupe at the film.
    However, if I want to do anything beyond admire the crispness through a loupe, I have to send the developed film to a particular person out of state who has and knows how to run a good 8000 PPI scanner and then find a printer who can do 403 PPI digitally. Then I can make a tack-sharp print 34 1/2" on the short side. Few people looking at the print would ever appreciate the work and expense that went into it.
    Remembering that when a person CLAs a camera, they often take the lens apart to clean it. If it is not put back with exactly the same element spacing, and I mean down to hundredths, maybe thousandths of a millimeter, then you're going to have softer images than when the lens was new.
    I think the answer for your first camera is to buy something around $150 in good shape, having not been CLAed unless they only cleaned the lens fore and aft without taking it apart, in the Rolleicord V general classification. A little lesser, but not much, would be a Yashica 124G. Slightly better, but not much, would be the Mamiya TLR with an 80mm lens. About equal would be an Icoflex with a coated Tessar and one of several lesser known brands with high quality four or five element lenses. For $350-700, a five element Rolleiflex of more recent manufacture, some of the Bronicas and Hasselblads, and if you're strong enough to carry it, a Mamiya RB with a 90mm lens would all exceed your expectations, if they were in fact in good shape. Above $700, there are a lot of choices that would include the cost of multiple lenses.
    Still, for your first foray into medium format, why not just spend $150 and see how you like it? You'll learn a lot of valuable lessons, both good and bad, with your first $150 camera, perhaps including whether you want to spend some serious money to have and enjoy the very best. With $150 6X6 or 6X7, you can make twice the size in prints with the same relative sharpness of lens that you could with 35mm. In the same size prints, you'll get a better transition of tone in black and white, and of course shades of color in color prints and slides. Also remember the abililty of film in tone, color accuracy and/or snap, as well as real and/or apparent sharpness and crispness, varies amongst brand, lines within the brand, and speed.
    Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy your first foray into medium format. I probably have close to 50 medium format cameras and 75 lenses. My first happened ironically to be a Rolleicord V that I bought from a knowledgeable and honest friend that was in very good shape and had never been apart. I had a great experience with it or I would not have all this other junk that I do. I did not use it earlier this year for what was, to me, the most important picture I would take in my life. One other time, it was all that I had, and as I look back, I would have liked to have had a large format or at least my Mamiya 7II, in order to capture detail on all the faces of a somewhat distant group shot of about 100 people. I'm still glad I had the camera that day, or it would have been on 35mm film. That means that tens of thousands of dollars later, I would have only liked to have had one shot better and didn't use my little $150 camera one time.
    Economics don't lie but people are still entitled to their choices,
    Tom Burke
  63. i've had two rolleiflexes [automat and T], two yashicas [yashicaflex and 124G]. all great, the rolleis were a little sharper but the 124G does fantastic with slide film. i bought the 124G in like new condition for $185 from frick's drug store in sequim, wash. everything works except the light meter. recently i acquired a mamiya 7 [6x7 format] with 80mm lens, which pretty much tops the TLRs in all respects -- the only drawback being the rangefinder doesn't show you exactly where the edge of the image will be.
    seattle alley -- yashica 124G, ilford delta 100
  64. Clark,
    It looks like it does pretty darn well with Delta 100 also. I've been using Fuji Acros lately(cheaper than Delta), but still think Delta 100 is about the best there is. Did you process your own Delta 100? I have a shot of a steam locomotive that I took with my 3.5E Rollei on Delta 100 souped in Ilford Perceptol 1:3 that is just awesome with fine detail with excellent blacks. Adam might want to try Ilford Delta 400 in his new/used Mamiya C330 for street photos. Should be a good combo, but I don't really have much experience with Delta 400.
  65. I am a Kowa Super 66 user and I can highly recommend it. You can usually put together a nice camera with the black 55mm and 150mm with a professional CLA. Add either TTL meter finders and you are still under budget.
    That being said, I used a C330f for a while and it is a great camera system. I only sold it because I wanted to get into macro photography, an area where the TLR is bested by the SLR design. While I love my Kowa I still wish that I had kept the Mamiya. TLRs are addictive.
    Medium Format Lens Reviews
  66. JW
    i love delta pro 100... sometimes i buy 20 rolls at a time. haven't been processing it myself, not because i don't want to -- trying to do my part to keep the sole remaining local custom photo processing shop in business. if they go away, i'll get the reels and tanks out of the closet...
  67. Clark,
    Out of all the 100 speed B&W films out there I like Delta 100 best, but I have a fond love for the old Kodak Verichrome Pan film and wish I could still get it. Plus-X isn't bad either and I use that for some things. The nice thing I like about Delta 100 is that it goes good with diluted Rodinal, Diafine, Perceptol or just about any developer. If I could only have one ISO/ASA 100 speed film it would probably be Delta 100. Sorry to hijack this thread. JohnW
  68. Can I say how refreshing it has been to read all the responses to this question because it is about FILM and not about PIXELS! The 6 X 6 format is indeed the most creative to work with. In my collection of cameras I have a Yashicamat EM, Rolleiflex F3.5 Tessar, Mamiya C220's, C330, and the latest C330S. All great cameras in their individual way. I like the 75mm lens in the Rollei but overall the Mamiya series are just so brilliantly designed they are my pick. Not a battery in sight! I also have many nice 35mm cameras (many Russian) and for my digital work (just to show I'm not a complete Luddite) I use a Panasonic LC1 with the superb Leica f2 Summicron lens.
    Good luck with your 6 X 6 photography, you will not regret it. I think B & W in this format is the ultimate creative challenge and even more so if you have your own darkroom.
    Ramon Jones
  69. Interesting lot of posts here. I have used extensively, the Mamiya Universal Press (6x7), a Rolleiflex 2.8E2 that was my portrait camera for years, a Mamiya C33 with a 105 lenses someone loaned me that I replaced with the Rollei when he wanted it back., A Ricohflex Super G, and several old Kodak folders. I listed them in my own order of preference. It is also pretty much the order of output quality. Unfortunately, I have never used a MF SLR extensively so cannot make any recommendations there (Actually, looking on eBay you can get an older Hassy fairly cheaply, only they cost quite a bit ot repair if there is a problem). BTW, except for the folders I doubt a client would be able to tell which of the cameras I listed above the photo was made with.
  70. Tom, interesting that you rank the Mamiya Universal Press (6x7) ahead of the Rolleiflex 2.8E2, on both usage preference and output quality. I'm a Universal user and love it, but I would have thought that the exalted (and much more expensive) f2.8 Rolleiflex E2 would be ranked ahead of it. How would you explain this - is it purely the difference between 6x6 and 6x7 or is it something else?
  71. My first first tlr is a yashicamat EM. It works well enough for me, I am looking for a yashica D with the 4 element yashinon lens. You can easily do multiexposures with it and no transport system to go wrong. Don't get me wrong, my yashica works quite well still. Now some people have mentioned film, Ilford Delta 100 is wonderfull, I also like the old plus-X by kodak. The film that I use the most though is available through Freesyle Photographic Supplies, Arista.EDU Ultra. It is available in 100, 200 and 400 asa. Available at They also carry Ilford, kodak, fuji, and quite a few other brands. I like the Arista because it is alot less expensive than the others and I am still learning on the processing and such. I also like the kodak chemistry, D76 for film processing. There are a lot of different developers out there though.
    clark yerrington a high five for supporting your local business!! My local camera store stopped carrying 120 film altogether. They barely carry any 35mm.

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