Rolleicord Vb vs Yashica Mat

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by dzung_le|1, Feb 27, 2018.


Rolleicord Vb vs Yashica Mat

  1. Rolleicord

  2. Yashica

  1. Owning a complete set of Mamiya C330s and being happy with its quality, now I want a smaller TLR to have fun everyday

    I prefer Rolleicord Vb due to its cosmetic look and its small weight. But someone said the viewfinder is a bit dim

    Do some research, I find out that a Yashica Mat have more convinient button arrangement . Maybe it is only me but I think the photos taken by the Yashica on flickr get more feeling and characters than ones taken by the Rollei

    Budget is not an issue. Light meter is not an issue. It is about the cosmetic look and convinient usage. Should i go for the dimmer screen of Rolleicord or a bit heavier and not so elegant outlfit of the Yashica?
  2. SCL


    You can always upgrade the screen with a brighter one (I did that with several of my TLRs). Rick Oleson has a number of drop-in replacements. I'd go for the one which has had the most recent CLA or which operates smoothest.
  3. The Yashicamat was price-positioned like the Rolleicord when new, but in operation is more like a Rolleiflex.

    Skip both and just go straight for the Rollleiflex.

    BTW, I don't ascribe to "feeling" or "character" on the whole from these two relatively similar, relatively modern cameras coming from anything other than the photographer.

    BTW, I've had one of Rick Oleson's screens in my Va for 10 years or better. Just a week or two ago, I got another screen from him for my Hasselblad 500C. I can heartily endorse his products!
  4. You ask "Rolleicord vs Yashicamat", but then follow that with the definite statement "budget is not an issue". These two factors, in my mind, negate each other. If money is truly not an issue, and you are seeking a nice compact supplement to your Mamiya C system, just go for a restored, lower-end Rolleiflex.

    While the Rolleicords have their defenders and adherents today, like all old cameras made by venerable German brands, very few people can honestly say they "love" theirs. When they were first made and sold, their only reason for existence was to trick budget-conscious customers into giving their money to Rollei for an inferior camera (instead of spending that money on a more-usable other-brand Rolleiflex knockoff). The Rolleicords don't even have the glamour factor to recommend them: take off the rose colored glasses, look at them objectively, and they're an ugly mess compared to the far-superior Rolleiflex. If Rolleicords did not have the Rollei nameplate on them, their "desirability" would drop like a stone. They continue to be sought after simply because famous German makes are considered gotta-have-it cult objects.

    The Rolleiflex is an icon that costs a fortune: second hand prices have been absurd since the late 1970s when they joined Leica in the rarefied "rich man's jewelry" camera pantheon. Most people today are buying them for the cool retro look first, and performance second. Those are as good reasons as any, and the Rolleiflex at least backs up its gorgeous appearance with unique handling and lens performance. The Rolleicord? Not so much. Butt ugly, terrible handling, way less appealing to use than nearly any other TLR short of a Seagull. The Tessar lenses are nice enough, but far more enjoyable when attached to a Rolleiflex body. Tessar-equipped Rolleiflexes are much less popular with collectors and the "it crowd" than Planar or Xenotar: with careful shopping, you can pick up a Rolleiflex Tessar almost as affordably as a late-model Rolleicord.

    The Yashicamats can be great alternatives, if you don't have an emotional attachment to Rollei. Unfortunately late-model Yashicas have skyrocketed on the used market: the final Yashicamat 124G in particular is now way too overpriced for what it offers. Go just slightly older, and choices abound at reasonable cost. Most are dependable, with lens performance akin to Rollei Tessar, but one needs to look out for certain "gotchas" with some Yashica bodies/lenses (check the dedicated Yashica threads for complete info). You might also consider the Minolta Autocords, which were about as close as any rival ever came to equaling the Rolleiflex (Rokkor lenses were stellar).

    The trouble with any Rollei (or its rivals) is the likely need to have it serviced and new screen installed, at a cost than can equal or exceed what you pay for the camera. As good technicians age out and retire, restoration availability is dwindling and wait times increasing. This was the biggest factor in my opting for the Mamiya C system: nothing ever breaks or requires exotic servicing. With rare exceptions, the bodies can go decades without a problem. The lenses are completely removable/replaceable, with shutters that are easily accessible for maintenance. That is positive trade-off for their larger size and weight. The final circa-1992 Mamiya C220f body was the smallest and lightest, with a bright contrasty screen that beats anything short of a Hasselblad Acute Matte. No romantic appeal at all: its a utilitarian black brick. But handles like a dream: worth a look unless one absolutely needs the tiny size of fixed-lens TLRs. One glance thru the gorgeous bright viewscreen and I was hooked (astounding that a complete Mamiya 220f with 80mm f/2.8 is less expensive than an Acute Matte screen alone for my Hasselblad 500cm).
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  5. While I do have a few Rolleicords, I generally agree.

    Although they're boxy, to me they ergonomics are great. The shutter speed and aperture wheels fall under my thumbs, I can easily turn the focus knob with my left hand, and film advance requires a quick motion with my right hand.

    In addition to all of that, I don't think anyone would disagree that Automats are the easiest loading MF cameras in existence. Of course, with TLRs in general you don't have the convoluted loading path inherent to SLRs.

    I got a Rolleiflex early on in my TLR journey, and to me it's the measuring stick for all other TLRs.

    I'll also add that I was anti-Hasselblad for a long time, and dismissed them as "cult objects." I've had a lot of MF SLRs, but after I got a Hasselblad I understood. They really are very "natural" feeling and handling. I used a Bronica SQ-A for a while, and while I took a lot of great photos with it I never fell in love with its handling the way I have my 500C.
  6. Oops, caught my mistake: Rolleicords had the Schneider Xenar lens, not Zeiss Tessar.

    A distinction without a difference once the print is made: they are clones of each other.

    My opinion remains, if you want a Rollei TLR and would be satisfied with Tessar/Xenar instead of Planar/Xenotar, a Rolleiflex with Tessar is well worth the slightly higher cost over a Rolleicord with similar Xenar. The 'flex is just more pleasant to use overall.
  7. If budget is not an issue, but one of each and keep the one you like the best.
  8. I have Rolleicords with Tessars and Rolleiflexes with Xenars. The early postwar years can be interesting with both cameras as you'll also see both CZ and CZ Jenna lenses(as a general rule avoid a Rolleflex with a CZ Jenna Tessar). With that said, by the Rolleicord V days I think they'd settled down to Xenars.

    All else being equal-a bit of a stretch considering how much time they both have to have been messed with-a randomly selected Schneider will often outshoot a randomly selected Zeiss of the same design on a Rollei. Still, both tend to be universally excellent and you probably won't see the difference outside a test chart.
    orsetto likes this.
  9. I didn't mean to imply there was anything intrinsically wrong with a camera becoming a "cult object" beyond the fact that it drives prices to a point that keeps them out of the hands of many "real" photographers who would enjoy using them as intended: to make pictures (good, bad or indifferent). Rolleiflex is the poster child for the negative aspects of this phenomenon, and has been for over forty years. Once the appeal of a particular camera escapes the bounds of photographers, and permeates the larger culture, that camera gets wiped off the table of practical options for any but the most well-heeled or obsessed photographers.

    Hasselblad may have a "cult" but it is entirely confined to photographers. When digital killed the value of most film cameras, Hasselblad was hit nearly as badly as all other brands: the drop just wasn't as noticeable at first because Hasselblads were so insanely expensive to begin with (also, availability of digital backs kept Hasselblads professionally viable awhile longer). In the last decade or so, as small-format digital has finally caught up to medium format for professional purposes, and old used digital backs remain stubbornly expensive, Hasselblad values sank like a lead brick. Yes, they're still double or triple the price of Bronica, but thats as proportionate as it always was (and some of vintage Hasselblad's remaining premium is tied up in its still being repairable: once David Odess retires, prices will collapse further).

    That sort of reality check has never (and will never) impact vintage Leica or Rollei. Whatever specific value they once had as photography tools has long since been eclipsed by their value as status symbols and iconic objects for collectors and hipsters. Most of all, they are touchstones in media and advertising. When was the last time you saw a vintage Hasselblad in a cognac ad, if ever? OTOH, there is no shortage of fashion layouts, billboards or "lifestyle features" populated by dead-eyed models brandishing Rolleiflexes and Leicas as hip cool jewelry. This stokes high demand from the aping public, most of whom couldn't load their Rolleiflex if you paid them (and would drop their Leica baseplate down a sewer grate if they ever actually attempted street photography). Given the limited supply of touchstone Leica and Rollei gear, this evergreen advertising tick has wiped those brands off the table for the average photographer. Hasselblads are fetish objects to a much diminished pool of admirers by comparison: if you want the Zeiss Planar 6x6 experience, you can pick up a 'blad for half or a third the cost of a Rolleiflex 2.8E or 2.8F.
  10. If you're patient and live in a decently sized metropolitan area, you can still find old Rolleiflexes and even old Leicas for a decent price. Especially if you're willing to do a little work on them. Garage sales, police auctions, estate sales, and even craigslist (but you have to be both patient and fast). There's a thrift store auction site I frequent that has 3 rolleiflexes on it right now, and I'm guessing at least one of them works. ;-)

    The best one will sell for $700 which I would never spend but these were not cheap cameras when new either. I could have had a couple of very nice Rolleiflexes for $400 last summer. They needed some cleaning up but otherwise looked OK. But at the end of the day, it's not the kind of money I want to spend on an old camera, especially when I already have a Yashica that's almost as good. Rolleiflex or not, plenty of people comment on my Yashica when I'm out and about with it. I spent $80 on it.
  11. Funny enough, when I "bit the bullet" and bought a Leica, I was surprised at how cheap it was. The key was that I bought a IIIc, but I was still out $600 for a 35/50/135 kit and an external finder.

    I love how the screw mount Leicas feel in my hands vs. cameras like the M3, and they are a MUCH less expensive route. Their biggest downside is the film loading. I really like my Canon 7, but it's huge(as big as an SLR) and a collapsible Elmar looks comically small on it.

    As far as Rolleiflexes go, to me the sweet spot is the postwar Automats. These generally have coated 3.5 Tessars or Xenars that perform well as long as you stop them down a bit, and a good working one is often $200 or less. That puts you in the same ballpark as a Rolleicord or Yashicamat, but you get the build quality of an F&H product and the wonderful film loading that comes with later Rolleiflexes.
  12. Which flavour of Yashimat are you considering?

    I inherited an old 'mat from 1959, and it has a quality feel to it. The Lumaxar lens is quite good as well.

    OTOH I picked up a 124G not too long ago - it felt cheap and tinny. The BI meter is a waste of time, and the lens didn't impress either. I kept it for all of a month before selling it on.
  13. The 124G really wasn't an upgrade except for the improved baffling and the gold contacts. In terms of build and materials, the 124 and 12 were better, though still not as nice as a Rolleiflex. The 12 is a good value. It can't take 220 film like the 124 can but that's not readily available anyway.
  14. Hi dzung le, I too have a Mamiya C330s and was in the same position as you. The Mamiya is an excellent camera, but heavy and bulky, especially when you're carrying a few extra lenses. For $100 on the auction site I found an early Yashicamat in true mint shape, exactly like the one described by rodeo joe. The Lumaxar lens is said to be identical to the later Yashinon and certainly performs like one (I've used both). As noted above, the early Yashicamats are built with more metal and less plastic than the later ones.
    The Yashicamat is an exact copy of the Rolleiflex -- identical features, minus only the loading device that automatically senses where the actual film joins the backing paper, not important for me. I found the finder image brighter than the one on a Rollei of similar vintage.
    Of course if budget doesn't matter, go for a late Rolleiflex, the Leica of TLRs!
  15. I have both the Rolleicord Vb and the Yashicamat 124G. The Rollei has a nicer overall build and feel, but I tend to use the Yashicamat most of the time - it's light (due to the use of plastics), has a nice meter, and more efficient controls. The controls are not a smooth as the Rollei, but they work fine, and the resulting image is similar.

    If you get an earlier Yashicamat (ie: 124 non-G, or 12) they did not use as much plastic, and the controls feel closer to the Rollei (I have an EM that is nice) but the resulting images are the same.
  16. I'm one of the guys who love the Vb and the many accessories such as the 16 exposure kit.
    Only failing is the combination shutter cocking/firing lever. Knob wind is no biggie.
  17. There is a large size and weight difference between a Rolleicord and a Rolleiflex. Since you already have a big, heavy TLR, the Rolleicord would be the logical choice. It's very easy to pop the top off and replace the screen w/ something brighter. There are two springs that are a little fiddley to deal with (make sure you work over a large towel in case the springs decide to, well, spring), but otherwise it's simply a matter of taking out 4 screws and lifting the hood off. You may as well replace the mirror at this time too. There's an eBay seller that has very high quality mirrors for a great price. I sent him a lot of original TLR mirrors from different TLR cameras, and he used those for guides, so his mirrors fit perfectly.

    As for lens imaging, sure, there is such a thing as feeling, dreamy, whatever. These are descriptive terms that make much more sense than sharpness. A Tessar lens (like the Rollei Xenars) will be tack sharp, but are pretty boring in my opinion. I always used the three element Triotars that were sharp stopped down and made much nicer portraits wide open, w/ nice bokeh. A 'cord w/ a Triotar, a yellow filter, and loaded w/ Tri-X is a great picture taker, and very light and small. You might want to get a later model w/ a 1/500 top shutter speed (the Rolleiflex/Rolleicord Club website below will be your friend for figuring out the different models). A Bay 1 filter/hood mount is nicer than the slip on mounts of the older cameras, and a sports hood is highly recommended for taking quick snaps. If I remember correctly, I ended up swapping out hoods w/ a later model so I could use it on my earlier camera w/ a Triotar lens. The sports hood enables you to shoot the camera at eye height.

    The only thing smaller would be a baby 4x4 TLR like a Primo Jr, but film availability and enlargement size is limited.

    All Rolleicord - TLR Cameras by year -
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  18. My Rolleicord Va and my Automat III are the exact same size, and if there is a weight difference I don't notice it. The later ones with faster/more complex lenses are a bit heavier but are the same size. Size wise, they're in a different league from the Mamiya TLRs.
  19. Size and weight seem to be related to models. According to the website link I posted, A Rolleiflex Automat III is one of the lighter Rolleiflex cameras at 850 grams and measures 8.5x9x13.5cm, while a Rolleiflex 3.5 F weighs a hefty 1140 grams and measures 11.1x9.9x14.6. I owned an F, and it was big and heavy. The Rolleicord Ia Model 2 weighs 738 grams and measures 8.5x9x13.5cm. You can get 'em bigger and smaller, as well as heavier and lighter, but in the end, on average, most Rolleiflex cameras are quite a bit heavier than the Rolleicords. Just depends on the model. Much of the added weight is probably due to the winding mechanism on the Rolleiflex. Regardless of the specs, every Rolleicord I ever owned felt quite a bit smaller and lighter than my Rolleiflex cameras, although it now appears that the size feeling was subjective. When you carry them around all day, you go by what it feels like in the evening.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  20. Actually, I got confused looking at the charts, and it appears that a 3.5F weighs even more at 1220 grams.

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