Suggestion for a TLR

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by nicole_elizabeth, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. Im looking into 3 right now that I can work into my price range:
    Mundan MD-1
    Seagull GC-107
    Lubitel 166 B
    Anyone have any experience with these?
  2. I just was given a Lubitel 166B for Christmas and I have only run 2 rolls of film through it so far but I am having fun with it. It seems pretty well made and straight forward. It is completely 100% manual no metering or anything. I had to print out a chart stating EV values until I learn how to set exposure better just by looking at the conditions. I am not sure if any of the other cameras have any more features than the Lubitel but I feel like the Lubitel is a good entry level beginner TLR camera and it is not too expensive.
  3. Avoid Seagull. There are lot of bad reviews for this brand. TLR from 40 to 50 years ago in a good state deliver better results than new Seagulls
  4. Consider also a second-hand Mamiya TLR such as a C220 or C330. They are available at very reasonable prices.
  5. Check the weights before deciding which camera to get... The C330 is a tank, for example. Maybe you like that, maybe you prefer something lighter.
  6. Vintage Yashica's are far better and can be found cheaper.
  7. I second Vin's advice. A Rolleicord is a far better solution and is a lifetime TLR. It might be more expensive than those you suggest but what is the price difference in a long run?
    Mamiya C is another solution to consider if you need interchangeable lenses but beware of the weight!
    Happy new year to all of you!
  8. A second for a Yashica, the D model is fantastic, and cheap. A Rolleicord would be my second choice, a little more expensive maybe but a high quality camera. The only problem I see with a Rolleicord is I have read most of them are pretty gimpy due to age and use. I may look into one myself, though...
  9. I have a Yashica D and it is very easy to use. You can get some nice results with it and they are reasonably inexpensive to pick up from the usual online sources. I paid $75 for mine on eBay.
    A couple of shots taken with mine:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Good luck with whatever you choose.
  10. Any of the Yashicas or a Rolleicord.
  11. The Seagull is a piece of crap - total crap. I have one. Ran two rolls of film through it and the advance mechanism failed. Avoid it. The others you've mentioned, I can't say. Any of the Yashica TLR's are good, some better than others. None are bad. A Rolliecord may be a bit out your intended budget, but if you can find one in good condition within your budget it's very nice. The Mamiya C220 and C330 TLR's are different kinds of beasts. I have 2 C220's and I love 'em. Yes they are bigger and heavier than the alternatives, but they are built like tanks. I don't find the extra weight a burden at all, in fact it's an advantage. The extra mass, and the way the camera is held, enhances stability. I can hand hold mine down to 1/15th second and get an acceptably sharp image with the standard 80 mm lens more often than not. The other advantages offered by the Mamiya TLR's are unique to the genre. Lens sets in various focal lengths from 55 mm to 250 mm are available, and they are very good. They are complete lenses, not add-on accessory lenses that one finds for other brands. Close focusing ability is built in to the camera body because of the bellows focusing mechanism. No close up lenses required. Just rack out the bellows and compensate for parallax error.
  12. I am awaiting delivery of my first TLR camera (Rolleicord V that is being overhauled now). I did the usual internet and telephone research before I jumped on this camera. One thing I caution you about is eBay. I was burned on a deal for a Yashica Mat (eventually went to the Resolution Center and got my money back). The camera was not accurately described in the posting or in pre-bid emails -- the first thing I did was shine a light through lens from front to back and saw the taking lens was toast. Shot a roll anyway, and ALL the speeds were way slow.
    What I learned from the experience:
    I suspect that many/most sellers don't have the slightest idea about how to assess the condition of the old camera they are selling. Most focus on cosmetics, and frequently say things like "the shutter sounds right," or "everything works" without having any real clue. Beware of anyone who uses the term "minty" in a description...
    Never, ever, buy a camera from a seller who does not accept returns -- they do not accept returns because they know or suspect that what they are selling is in worse condition than they say it is. Ditto for a minimal three day return. Ask for, and get in writing, a return policy that allows you sufficient time to shoot a couple of rolls of NEW film and have them processed -- usually a couple of weeks for a mail-order lab. The return agreement should state that you can return the camera for any reason (offer to pay shipping for the return).
    Always use PayPal.
    The camera you really, really want will ALWAYS come up for sale again on eBay eventually. Do your research, decide the maximum you will pay, and be patient.
    These cameras are simple, true, but they are mechanical and old precision instruments. IF you go with eBay, you may get lucky and and find a great example, but better budget in your mind another $120-$150, immediately or within a couple of months (plus a couple of weeks or more in the shop), for an overhaul/CLA from a reputable craftsman on the camera to make it work properly. If the seller says the camera is in great condition because it was hardly used for years ("from the estate of an old couple," "found it while cleaning out grandmother's attic," "great find at a charity rummage sale," etc.) you can guarantee that it will need work because the camera has, indeed probably not been used -- good for the condition of the lens, perhaps, but the mechanicals haven't been flexed in eons and are likely sluggish, or worse. That may, in effect, double the cost of the camera you are considering. On the plus side, I suspect that an older, well-built camera with a good lens is far superior to the modern ones you are considering, once they are overhauled. That was my calculation -- I paid more than I wanted for my fifty-plus year old camera plus the reconditioning, but I know that once it is overhauled it will be worth the money I spent for it and will be far better than the new ones.
    After the Yashica Mat problem, I ended up looking for good camera targeted to the amateur user because it is likely to have had less use and better care (Rolleicord, Yashica D, etc.).
    Spend a couple of weeks looking at ended auctions on eBay and see what the prices are for what you want. Look also for reputable camera dealers repeatedly selling on eBay. Then you will be able to fully appreciate the old saying: "If it looks like too good of a deal, avoid it...."
    Used camera dealers will probably charge a premium of 10% to 20% over the price for the same camera bought from eBay, but they put their reputation behind their sale, guarantee the camera's condition, and offer a good return policy. So, what is the price you are willing to pay for a piece of mind on a deal?
    Good Luck!
    You may find this interesting reading. I've linked to part 5 so you could also look up parts 1-4 on their site. What I found interesting was the side by sides of the viewfinders brightness. It should give you a bit more of a feeling to what's out there.
    I bought a used Ciro-flex off of a fellow memeber for less than any of the cameras that you've listed (new) and I haven't regretted it one bit. Good camera. If you go for a Ciro-flex try to find a model F, or get yourself a Graflex-22.
  14. By the way at the link I posted above if you look up Part 4 (other TLRs compared to the better ones in parts 1 and 2) has the Seagull, and part 3 (Toy cameras) has the Lubitel. I didn't see the Mundan listed, so I googled it. Looks like it's a Seagull rebranded so if I HAD to choose from the three that you listed I'd take the non-Seagull, the Lubitel. I have seen discussions where people post some pretty nice work from Lubitels, I can't say the same from Seagulls.
  15. Yashica D model only with Yashinon lenses or any Rolleicord Model IV, Va or Vb.....model IV is the most reasonable, Vb the most expensive Rolleicord. Lenses (Xenar) and build quality on Rolleis are the best.
  16. Would consider a C220, it's lighter than a C330 with most of it's features. Some say the Mamiyas are too heavy. Never found that with the C330. Also, if I ever did, I would look at the photos of people holding their bigger cameras from the 20's and 30's! We have it too easy these days!
  17. Weight doesn't add to picture quality (for slow speed, I use a monopod). Since cameras exist, the general trend is to reduce weight; it is certainly not without reason. I own a Mamiya C330, a pre-war Rolleiflex and a Rolleicord. Ask me to carry one MF camera for the whole day and the Mamiya stays at home.
    Yes, the Mamiya has some advantages over the Rollies (interchangeable lenses, close focus) but as long a the cameras submitted for a choice in Nicole's list were non-interchangeable lens TLR, I stick with my Rolleicord advice.
  18. Some great advice here, especially in Eric's post. Of the two TLR's I have bought on eBay, they were from people that knew nothing about cameras and were clearing out an attic or the like. That has meant they were in really nice condition, a few paint chips away from mint. Both still had rolls of film still in them, the Yashica's was a completely unexposed b&w film that I got some shots from. The Rolleiflex I just got was cheap enough for me to include the price of a CLA in my budget. eBay buying is definitely about being patient and careful as Eric suggested.
  19. I have a Yashica D and it gives me excellent results. There is a telephoto kit for it that works beautifully. These things are dirt cheap now so I highly recommend it.
    You will have a lot of fun with the medium format camera.
  20. Does the Yashica D have a built in light meter? I have tried looking up some more information on this camera, it sounds like a great camera and I might look to pick one up for my second TLR once I get better with the one I have now.
  21. I'm the P'netter Dan Ferrel mentions.
    I still have a single Ciro-Flex, and a couple Rolleis (Cord V and Rolleiflex MX-EVS).
    I'd say the Ciro-Flex models produce images about 80-90% as nice as the Rolleis, but at a fraction of the price. The Rolleis feel more like a mircometer in use, while the Ciro-Flexes feel a little crude in comparison.
    I have only Rollei and Ciro-Flex TLR experience, but suspect that any of the good TLRs would be wonderful. Were I to do it again, I'd probably be most tempted by the Mamiya, just due to interchangeable lenses.
  22. Does the Yashica D have a built in light meter? I have tried looking up some more information on this camera, it sounds like a great camera and I might look to pick one up for my second TLR once I get better with the one I have now.
    No light meter built in I'm afraid, although this isn't a bad thing imo. You can spend very little on a light meter. KEH, always seem to have a good selection and you can use it for any camera you might get in the future. If you are looking at a second TLR, you sir are on a slippery slope ;)
  23. The light meter which is built into an inexpensive TLR is not going to be very reliable so I agree that you should get a separate meter. I have many MF SLRs and some TLRs already so if I wanted another TLR it would probably be the last version of the Rolleicord Vb. I would then have it serviced before using it. The Yashicamat 124G is a pleasant camera to use if it's working properly and it has a very sharp lens. The problem is that it is poorly made. A regular Yashicamat has more metal parts and is less likely to malfunction even though it may also need service. Some TLR models which are reasonably proced and which would be much better than the ones you named include the Yashica A, Yashica D, Yashica 635 and certain Minolta Autocord models. With a camera like a Lubitel you will not get better quality than what you would have with a very modestly priced 35mm SLR. If you can swing it, a Rolleicord IV model would be nice. It has the same 75/3.5 Xenar lens but is not as sought after by collectors as the later V models.
  24. It's too late to grab this particular one, but this is what I would be looking for; it will likely both outperform and outlast any of the new cameras in your price range:
    If you were already looking at used ones and your budget doesn't stretch this far, I'd recommend a Ciro-Flex with Rapax shutter.... should be able to get one for under $40, less if you're patient.
  25. Have found the knob wind models such as the Yashica D and Mamiya C220 to be more reliable than the film crank ones. Yashica Mat, Mamiya C330.
  26. My first TLR was the Yashica D and I have got used to focusing on the right and using the nob winder. Using the Rolleiflex I just got will take some getting used to with the focusing on the left. It seems less natural to me.
  27. I'm in South Korea and I went to the camera market in Seoul and I'm telling you, every USED TLR is $400 to $1000+ each. They have every brand mentioned here. Even torn up TLR's that look like someone dragged them down the street are $300+.
    The Lomo Seagull brand here is the best price. There isn't a single TLR for sale on any website like ebay in Korea as far as I can find. The Seagull's are $180 here and that's way over priced considering the USA and ebay, but it's darn cheap here considering the alternative.
  28. I would suggest a Rollei MX. I bought mine new in 1954 and it is still going strong. The Tessar lens on the Rollei is one of the best implementations of the Tessar design I have used. I have seen these go for as little as $100.
    R. Creason

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