TLR vs Folding

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by ron_b|3, Jun 12, 2009.

  1. Hi all,
    I am new to Medium format (so new I don't have a camera yet). I am kind of torn in terms of what camera to buy & thought some experience based opinions might help me to sort thought this.
    First & foremost I want to take portraits of my kids that look good and can be blown up big if I want to (In the past I have blown up poster size from my 10D and while a close up inspection isn't great a step back & it looks fine - maybe I'm not as picky as I should be, or don't know what I'm missing)
    I was originally thinking of getting a Mamiya C220 or C330 which would give me the flexibility of changing lenses later on. BTW- KEH price seems a bit higher than I expected but may be worth it rather than risking with an ebay purchase. Anyone have other known good sources.
    Than as I was doing my research I stumbled upon the refurbished folding cameras from Certo6. Now I'm thinking this may be a good alternative to start into MF at a decent price point with a camera that has been properly restored. The question is will I be disappointed with the results from such a camera or spend more than I would have for a decent TLR and get inferior results (Some of the restored folder seem a bit pricey). The folder might be a fun camera to take on trips etc. but will I ultimately be let down with the results as being on par with by DSLR?
    Then there is a question which is the better camera for someone who never used MF to start with?
    Anyway thanks in advance for any insight & experience you can share.
  2. Certo's cameras are certainly nice, albeit expensive, but as an introduction to MF, maybe not so much. Also, folders - unless they have coupled rangefinders - are less than ideal for portraits, IMO.
    The C220/C330 are definitely nice cameras, and you will have no complaints about image quality with them. That said... have you ever used one? Held one in your hands? Seen one in person? They're huge and heavy, even by the standards of medium-format cameras. And if you've never used a TLR before, I don't know that I'd really suggest jumping in and buying one. Photography upside-down-and-backwards isn't for everyone, and if you're new to MF, square photos may or may not suit your personal aesthetic.
    IMO - and others will definitely disagree - your best bet as far as getting your feet wet with MF is to pick up an old Koni-Omega or Rapid-Omega 100 (more or less the same camera; the Rapid-Omega is newer, circa the early '80s) and 90/3.5 lens for $150 or so. It's a pretty big, pretty heavy camera, but it's very intuitive and easy to use, takes 6x7 images, has an excellent rangefinder/viewfinder (with parallax correction, even), and produces excellent results. The MF learning curve will be a lot smaller, IMO, with something like an Omega than a TLR, and if you eventually decide that MF - or at least an MF rangefinder - isn't your cup of tea, you're out a fairly small amount of money and have a basically indestructible camera that can't really drop any lower in resale value. :) The only thing to watch for is to make sure you get one with a 120 back, as 220 film is nearly extinct.
  3. A question I actually have a passionate opinion about. I love my Moskva 5 which is a 6x9 folding camera. First off a 6x9 folding camera has the same size image as a small large format. (2.25 x 3.25) so it is a fun size to work with and will yield good results. As with any film camera the lens is the thing. The Industar 24 is possibly not the best example of a MF lens by any means but for a folder it is a darn nice lens. You can get beautifully sharp images if the RF is in good working order. most of the ones coming out of Russia on Ebay with good feedback ratings seem to be great these days. That may not be the model or models you are looking at but they came about during a really good time in Russian camera history so they are worth a look as are many of the other recognizable named cameras.
    My wife has a Rolleicord I. She absolutely loves it and wouldn't trade it for anything. I personally seem to get decent results from it but the whole TLR experience frustrates me. It is just a different way to operate a camera and it just doesn't jive with my mentality for some reason. It is nice and sharp and if the lenses are aligned properly you can get great shots. The Mamiyas that you were looking at are outstanding. There are a few lenses like the 85mm that will just leave you drooling. I know some guys that have these and their results are stunning to say the least.
    One advantage to the TLR is the square format. I say advantage because it changes the way you think about image making and makes you more cognizant of what you are doing while composing. Changes in format seem to foster creativity at least to me. A 6x9 folder is the same aspect ratio as a 35mm so it doesn't really change much in that realm. To me though it changes the process because it is a range finder as they all are and is just a much different feel in your hands.
    So really it depends on how you work if you are like me you will enjoy the folders. they are great the image quuality is great if you get one with a good reputation that has been serviced properly recently. TLRs are durable and quiet with great image quality but can be frustrating to get used to some of their unique operations.
  4. Hello Ron, welcome to the MF world, come on in the water is fine.
    I cannot talk intellegently about the Mamiya TLR's except to say that every time I think about getting one I borrow my buddies for about five minute and return it in three. They are awesome cameras and the ability to change lenses is a bonus but the size and weight is just not for me.
    I'm a constant user of Zeiss Ikon folders. I do think these are not everyones taste in this modern digital age. They definately produce a different look (depending on the lens). Having said that, one can get some excellent results from most of the lowly Zeiss, Agfa, Voigtlander folders and they are just the thing to throw in your backpack for that hike in the mountains. Some of the higher end models like the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikontas and simular models from other brands can and have produced "professional" results.
    Of the TLR style, I regularly use the Minolta Autocord and a Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex IIa. Both produce superior results (not always the guy behind the camera) and I can highly recomend either of these. You might have better luck finding a good Minolta Autocord as they are generally newer.
    If you care to look at my portfolio there are a few photos taken with the various cameras I mention above. They will give you some indication of what to expect in terms of image quality and maybe help you decide if one of these cameras are to your taste.
    As far as Certo6, don't be frightened off by his prices. You will be getting an all but new camera from him. I've had him service a couple of my folders and he does a fine job.
    Others will pipe in and fill you in on the more contempory models like the Pentax, Hassy etc. There might be what you are looking for there.
  5. I think it may come down to personal preference. I know some guys hate TLRs and can't get used to them. I'm the opposite. I like the ground glass image, and I find a waist-level finder on a TLR or SLR is terrific for composing.
    I'd recommend the Mamiya TLR if you can find one, and I wouldn't discount ebay. The Mamiyas are indeed large fairly heavy suckers, but similar to something like an RB or RZ. You can use them on a tripod or in the hand, no problem. If you really hate the waist-level finder with its image reversal, look for the accessory eye-level prism finder on ebay (not the porrofinder).
    If you go with the Mamiya, don't shy away from the simpler C220 (manual shutter set) or the older models like the C33 or C3. These sell for cheap, and the negatives are as good as the fancier models. Essentially all the lenses and finders made for the Mamiya TLRs work on all Mamiya TLRs-- there was no planned obsolescence!
  6. I'll throw in a monkey wrench in here and advise you to not buy from certo6 - Jurgen Kreckel. Several years ago I bought an Agfa Super Isolette folder from him that he had advertised as being like new. When it arrived, the wind knob had eccentricity in it, making winding on with film really stiff and wobbly; the shutter was kinda sticky and the rangefinder had vertical misalignment. He had also advertised it as coming with a case, and he sent it without one.
    When contacted about these problems, he was dismissive and arrogant and told me that he would send me the case if I really wanted it, but he could not guarantee its condition, and that the other problems were essentially in my imagination.
    Later, Ken Ruth fixed the camera for me at a cost of $310.
    Look at the return policy on his auctions - he states: "Unless REALLY unusual circumstances, like War, Pestilence, Nuclear Holocaust, or the like... I do not give is replace or repair only!" That should be a red flag for you - no seller confident of his product refuses to take it back. It's almost like saying that there are hidden problems in his stuff - if you find them he'll fix them, else it is your problem.
    The guy is arrogant and thinks no end of himself. Stay clear of his cameras. You'll be better off getting a camera for a lower price from someone else and have someone competent - like Ken Ruth, or Harry Fleenor (TLRs) or a host of other excellent technicians fix it.
    I have a Voigtlander Bessa II and an Agfa Super Isolette (now truly like new) - the 6x9 has more film flatness issues, and generally isn't consistent. Both have annoying squinty finders and it takes effort to focus them right, simply because the rangefinder patches are well... not like a Leica. While I prefer the 6x9 format, I find that I simply get consistently excellent results with a TLR. I can focus wherever I like (get a Maxwell screen) without recomposing (the rangefinder curse - focus, recompose, lose focus on whatever you focused on) and that results in stable, clean shots. I agree, using the TLR is a pain - it isn't designed ergonomically; and worse, it can't be carried as easily as a folder. But in the final analysis, it wins. No wonder it was the standard news and journalistic choice for the 50s and 60s.
    In terms of absolute quality, the TLR beats even a 6x9: a critically sharp 6x6 will enlarge far better than a slightly soft 6x9. OTOH, nothing beats folders for portability. This is what it finally boils down to. What is more important for you? Portability or absolute quality? Absolute quality means little if you don't have the camera with you when you need it, and portability means little if that once in a lifetime shot is out of focus.
  7. There are a few folders that produce critically sharp images, but there are many that do not. Here's a shot that I took with a Zeiss Ikon Ercona II 6x9 folder with a coated Tessar lens.
  8. Another try at the full frame:
  9. And a 100% crop of the license plate of the car across the street on the left side of the frame. THis was zone focus at the hyperfocal distance and hand held.
  10. Well, I've been using my Rollei 3.5 F for years and love it - have recently acquired a 6X9 Bessa II with Heliar lens...and am looking forward to using both formats side by side as a complimentary duo - depending on mood/subject matter, etc. I could probably sell both of these and buy the new Voigtlander/Fuji Bessa III/667 - but have a sense that the older pair with such different formats (6X6 and 6X9) might just be perfect together!
  11. Also, and I really cannot stress this enough, if you want to shoot color negatives and have them printed by a third party lab - which, coming from digital, it sounds like you do - do *not* go with a 6x9 folder. It is unbelievably hard to find a lab that can or will print full-frame from 6x9 negs in color, and even harder to find one that does it well. Stick to 6x7 or smaller for color negs, and you'll be a thousand times happier.
  12. I my humble opinion, both folders and TLRs are not that great for medium format beginners. Both types are awkward to use and not really that versatile. Their poor minimum focus distance is quite a drawback, in my humble opinion. For critical focusing you need a coupled rangefinder on a folder, and these models are rare, expensive and surprisingly heavy and bulky. So if you have to choose between those two types, get a TLR type camera, which has a much nicer viewfinder and is better suited for close-ups and portraits than a folder. And if you want a TLR, get a Mamiya C series camera which overcomes the two main disadvantages of TLRs, because it has interchangeable optics and bellows focusing for really close minimum focus distances. The Mamiya lenses also are excellent. However, they are quite heavy and bulky cameras.

    But why not just get a decent SLR like the Mamiya M645 or RB/RZ67 cameras? These are much nicer cameras, have a huge system behind them and are available dirt-cheap on the used market. Get a hand-held incident light meter and with the waist-level finder you will be able to focus most accurately for stunning portraits.
  13. The TLRs and folders are a good option because of their low price. I use a Pentax 645 SLR mostly, but I started out in medium format with a Yashicamat TLR.
    One of the most amazing features was the waist level finder. This sounds very simplistic, and has almost no impact on the appearance of the photograph itself; but after years of SLR use, I was amazed by my first chance at a waist level finder. When you use a waist level finder, you can look at the focusing screen with both eyes at the same time.
    You can actually see the depth of field! It's beautiful.
    I'm sure that sounds totally bogus; but, I loved it. I'm still amazed by it. As soon as I saw that, I fell in love with medium format right away. Okay, really, the viewfinder has nothing to do with the negative; but, I was intrigued. My intrigue was sustained when I saw the first prints. When I got to print my own photos on my own little enlarger in medium format, I was hooked.
    The little Yashicamat with its plain old normal lens let me see details like the leaves on ferns across the street; wrought iron details in a railing, individual bricks on a wall; all of these objects were far away. [Photo below; I can see many more details in the print itself.] Shortly after I got my Yashicamat, my job interrupted my photography for awhile; but, I was very glad to back to it when I could.
    Will you feel disappointed compared to your DSLR? Well, I don't know. Some folks are very fussy about technical details in photography. I don't think I'm one of those people; more rough and ready on getting the image done. Yet, when I saw that little Yashicamat TLR perform, I fell in love with it.
    It would be fun to unfold the bellows on that folder; and, it would be fun to see the depth of field in a waist level finder. Try around. You pretty much can't lose in medium format as long as your camera is in basic working order.
  14. I agree that MF SLR's are far more versatile and better gear for starting out. As for printing 6x9 - I have no issues because I scan the film myself with a Nikon Coolscan 9000 ED.
  15. Watch out for certo 6 he is all hype. He sent my a folder that wasn't the same as the one listed and tried to get out of admitting that he did it intentionally. MF folders are cool and fun but they are limited. I have a whole bunch of them now and they can when properly clean and adjusted yeild excellent results. The other cameras that are described will allow for more flexability.
  16. I really like both; folders and TLRs.
    My opinions only:
    Folders I like because they can fit in small spaces and are generally light weight. Some have very good lenses like the Certo Six (camera), Agfa Super Isolette, Iskra etc. Some are just so damned sexy like the Super Ikontas. When unfolded folders are quicker to the eye in most cases than the TLRs.
    The TLRs, seem to do a better job, for me, in taking portraits. I like to use my Rolleiflex for stationary people pictures and scenics not for action pictures. My Rolleiflex seems to have a better lens than my Super Ikonta.
  17. Ron,
    When you say you want to take portraits of your kids, it really does make a difference what sort you want.
    In general, if you want posed portraits, any quality TLR or folder will give excellent results. Be aware, though, that not all the older models will be synchronized for electronic flash. Just look for the X by the contact socket if you want to avoid unnecessary work-arounds.
    If you want static informal or candid portraits, both will again give excellent results. But be prepared for some eyestrain precisely focussing an f3.5 TLR in low light, or if excessive ambient light renders the image on the ground glass too dim. As for folders, a direct vision viewfinder with contrasting rangefinder patch can actually be easier to use in low light than a manual focus SLR finder.
    One of the few situations where I could not in good conscience recommend a folder or TLR over a more modern camera is in taking unposed portraits of children at play. Focussing is not fast enough for subjects moving unpredictably at close range, and pre-set zone focussing would not necessarily give you reliably sharper results than your current camera does. If you do decide to give it a try, it's far easier to follow action if you fold out the TLRs sports finder rather than using the ground glass.
    Further general caveats include the fact that most folders and TLRs will not focus much closer than three feet or so away. So if you want a head shot you'll have to crop heavily, and end up using a negative area no larger than you'd get using an 80mm to 105mm lens on 35mm film. Or, put another way, you can crop heavily and still not lose quality over 35mm. Could be an advantage, could be a waste of film. Your call. Could also be a convincing argument in favour of a Mamiya 330 and telephoto lens set.
    Much as I love TLRs, there's a reason autofocus, autoexposure, autowind-on cameras with zoom lenses sell in large numbers, and photographing naturally restless, energetic children is one of the best. So if you do go for a folder or TLR, maybe it would be an idea to hang onto your current camera a while - at least until your medium format technique is up to speed.
    Hope this helps. Let us know what you decide. And post results!
    All the best!
  18. Never thought that MF cameras were that difficult to use. Went from the old Brownies to a C330 over 30 years ago. (After a very short time with a 35 SLR) In the Mamiya line, have the Universal, (a 6x9 camera), C220, RB67 Pro-s and the M645 Pro. Also, have several folders in different film formats. the folders are good, but they are old and in regards to focusing, the best have a range finder.many do not. The C220 is a great camera. Takes several lenses and the bellows allows closeup photography. Never thought the C220 to be that heavy. A great camera would be the 645s. They are like a DSLR, or a 35 SLR. Another good , but heavy camera that can be used for closeups is the RB. The 645 can also. But, it needs extension tubes. The Mamiya TLR and RB, the closeup ability is in the built in bellows. The Yashica TLRs are also good. But, they lack the lenses and built in bellows that the Mamiys have.
  19. If you want to make large poster size prints from medium format film, you will need to spend a lot of money on a film scanner. The Nikon LS9000 will set you back US$2000. That one will allow you to scan at honest 4000 dpi. For US$500 you can get the Epson V700 wich can perhaps resolve half that (maybe better with a dedicated film holder for another US$100).
    Considering that the cost of a vintage medium format camera does not look so high. I have a Mamiya C33 and the 55mm, 80mm and 180mm Super lenses. It cost me more than what a restored folder would have cost, but the lenses are fantastic.
  20. My least expensive tlr, a Ciroflex $15.00, is sharper than my most expensive folder, a Super Ikonta III. TLRs don't have the lens to film plane alignment problems folders have. I am a tripod-landscape shooter and the size and weight of the Mamiya tlrs is no problem, in fact I grab them much more frequently than my Rolleiflex 3.5E.
  21. have you thought of buying a holga? they are cheap and fun to use.
  22. I recently purchased the Mamiya C33 after considering a Koni Omega for a while. My favorite way to shoot in 35mm is a rangefinder, so my choice was deliberate. The folder option is tempting, but the price for decent optics turned me off. I'm going to assume that you are prepared for using a handheld meter? Any thoughts on traditional B&W versus C-41 or E-6?
    A few things I considered:

    1. This was not going to be for any professional photojournalistic endeavors. The Koni Omega has interchangeable backs, hot shoes that can easily support a heavy flash, and a much faster film advance mechanism. Loading film on the C33 seems to be slower than I'd like, so I watch the frame counter, and make sure I can change the film at a good time. The Koni can use 220 film, which the C33 can't. A few 220 backs and you'd be good to go with or without an assistant to load. I hope to get faster at loading. With a prism, I love the C33 for candids. I have had good luck shooting fast moving children that are NOT running. The focusing knobs on the Mamiya are perfect, respond quickly and if you're stopping down a bit, you should be able to correct for focusing error. Also, the prism makes such a large viewfinder that I feel like I'm seeing the negative at actual size in front of me (and everything is the right direction). Focusing is a breeze compared to a dim / tiny SLR viewfinder. In low light, the prism is off and I use it without the waist level finder (don't carry both, I know it seems silly). Focusing is spot on. In extremely low light conditions, the rangefinder does win out, but at that point you'll need to be at EI 1600-3200 with the slower MF lenses and longer focal lengths.

    2. The Mamiya's close focusing distance of 7 inches was remarkable (note that the distance from film to subject is 13.5 inches, but subtract bellows, lens, etc.). Keep in mind that because of the extending belows, there is light loss. The 65mm has a lens to subject distance of 4 inches. There is a needle in my viewfinder that tells me how many stops to compensate. Parallax is pesky, but the same would be true of a folder, but not of the Koni Omega. I was looking at the 180mm f/4.5 for the Koni, but the close focusing distance was 12 feet. Workable, but not an option for how I might want to use that lens.

    3. Glass, wanted the f/2.8 lens. I don't recommend shooting it wide open, but it's there. Sometimes that soft, low-contrast, slightly vignetted look is alright. Especially if you're scanning, that can all be taken care of for the most part, but I would just leave it be. Can be fixed in the darkroom, too. The 80mm Mamiya lens is 5 elements in 3 groups. The Koni Omega Hexanon is a Tessar formula (4 elements in 3 groups), and after examining results from both cameras, I found that the lens designs did exhibit different traits. The Hexanon is very sharp, no doubt.

    4. Availability of gear/parts. The Mamiya seems to have a much more reliable reserve of good condition parts. Maybe even the worst of camera collectors recognize that Mamiya is still a solvent brand or perhaps there were greater production numbers? Regardless, being an eBay hawk will pay off with the Koni, but you pay a premium for people actually providing good pictures, good condition, info on whether it works, or better yet, if the rangefinder is in alignment. I've heard that both the Mamiya C and Koni Omega were used frequently at weddings, but the Koni has the diehard following that may have "loved" it a little more and a little harder.

    They are both great cameras. Mirrorless (on the taking lens), meterless, and synching at all speeds, you should know that 1/500 is much faster than many folders out there (this is important if you ever plan on shooting above 800... I have ND filters for almost all my cameras). In addition, some folders fetch a high price (if it says Zeiss, worth it, but still costs). For a grip, prism, body, and lens, I was just shy of $200 for my C33. I consider that a bargain, but cheaper prices can be had.

    Those are my major observations. All else are minor. I do want to know when the last time you shot film seriously was? Things haven't changed that much except you need to locate a lab or plan on a darkroom. Scanning is good, enlarging is better if you have the stomach and time for it (I have the former but the latter is harder to come by). If you can find a lab, I'd recommend buying up all the Kodak EKtar 100 in 120 size you can find. The darkroom is another discussion. Buy a scanner with ICE and enjoy. I cannot vouch for various scanners and their "prints up to" info. All I know is that it suits my purposes and shooting style.

    I guess my other thought here is that your DSLR and MF will vary widely in usage. If you do any post-processing on your DSLR now, you will be spending about the same amount of time (probably more) developing (or waiting on the lab, driving to the lab), scanning, getting ready to print, and then finding a lab that does your scan justice (as many labs anticipate sRGB jpgs and are not always good at adapting). The good news is, if you like film, it's worth everything you put into it. Enjoy!
  23. If you want to take great portraits a Rolleiflex is your best option. Some of the Japanese TLRs such as the Minolta Autocord and Certain Yashica models are up to the task too. I love my inexpensive Zeiss Nettar folders, but nothing will ever come close to my Rolleiflex 2.8E. Just look at some of the great portrait photographers who started out with the Rollei: Helmut Newton, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon,Ernst Haas, Bill Brandt, the list goes on. Nice thing about a TLR (and folder too) is that you never experience the momentary image loss that SLRs have when the mirror clunks up. You can see what your subject is doing the entire time, and anticipate the next shot; this is a skill being lost as everyone chimps the bloody digital LCD "To See If I Got the Shot" rather than be looking for the NEXT photograph a split second later.
  24. Here is a shot from the Rolleiflex
  25. I have a Mamiya C330 F TLR with all seven lenses from the 55mm to the 250mm.
    I'm absolutely delighted with this camera.
    It's very intuïtive to use, it handles great, it focuses incredibly close, the viewfinder image is BIG!!!, the shots are very sharp, and it has an awesome look. And the price was great.
    I have 7 35mm camera's and I almost don't touch them any more.
    I print to 2 by 2 feet, and the print quality is fantastic.
    Yes, it's heavy. I take it on 4 hour nature hikes and I'm not troubled by it. I don't care.
  26. Bonifaz, that is a beautiful portrait with your Mamiya! Another good TLR option.
  27. Go for a TLR, if you're after portraits. Getting the focus right using a large aperture will be much easier on a TLR than with a folder. If you feel a Mamiya is too heavy for you then go for a Rolleiflex, for instance a 3.5F. If that's too pricey for you then go for a Rolleicord or a Yashicamat.
  28. Some people love TLRs, others are not fond of them. In terms of weight though, Mamiya C220 and C220F TLRs with 2 or 3 lenses as a whole package is lighter than a comparable package from any other interchangeable lens medium format system other than the Mamiya and Bronica rangefinders. A C220 with WLF and 55mm and 105mm lenses weighs about 4 lbs total. Mamiya TLR bodies are heavier than their SLR counterparts, but the lenses are much lighter at any given focal length.
    These are great cameras for portraiture, and many a professional wedding or portrait photographer got their start with these moderately priced, reliable workhorses. TLRs make great portrait cameras.
    In these days of digital imaging, it probably doesn't matter that the system has been discontinued.
    I use these cameras for nature and travel photography, which puts me in the minority. I think some folks would be put off by not having a lens wider than 55mm (equiv. to 30mm in 35mm format). This is fine with me as in 35mm format a 28mm lens is wide enough for my purposes, and once you crop 35mm format to a 4:5 aspect ratio, a 28mm lens is like having a 31mm or 32mm lens. I think many nature photographers would prefer a Pentax 645 or Mamiya 645 for this reason. Also if you like to use graduated ND filters, an SLR is more convenient. Heliopan polarizers with scales solve the problem of using a polarizer on a TLR. One thing I like about a low vibration square format camera is I can get away with a much lighter weight tripod. Again, it is all preference. A Mamiya 7 would be preferred, and if would probably own one if not for concern about having to switch to digital someday.
    KEH is a fine place to buy, or get a cheap one and just plan to send to Mamiya USA for a complete overhaul. They will replace all worn parts and the leatherette on the outside. Same goes for the lenses, but be sure to get a late black lens (chrome seikosha shutters and early black seiko shutters are not repairable presently on account of parts availability). The late black shutters are distinguished from the early ones by click stops on the aperture ring that are lacking on the early ones. I haven't checked with Mamiya Usa lately if the bodies and late lenses are still repairable. 3rd party repair people can still do a shutter overhaul as long as parts are not needed.
  29. Forgot to mention that a TLR with a fast f/stop like 2.8 makes wonderful out of focus backgrounds, with dare I say it, lovely Bokeh. Folders often have triplet lenses which can look a bit weird when opened all the way up.
  30. Neither camera is well suited for your needs. Both are manual focus, and not everyone likes working w/ a TLR for several reasons, not the least is that the image is reversed. Of course you'll never know until you try, so if you can borrow one for a week it would help. I have found the folders, if they have a good lens and are properly calibrated, to be as sharp as my Rolleiflex cameras (but in a different way), and I own a 2.8 Planar and a 2.8 Xenotar, the best lenses made for these. The Heliar on my Bessa 66 and on my Bessa 2 are fantastic. Folders are easy to carry and fun to shoot.
    You might do better to buy a SLR MF camera (possibly a Hassy) for shooting children, but they have their peculiarities too. There are other sources more affordable than Certo6 to buy from too. KEH has a number of MF folders in their Collectibles section, and they offer a 14 day return. $200 to $300 should easily buy a good one that works properly. When I pull out my old folders people smile, and when I see the results I smile.
  31. WOW, Thanks for all the input - This is some great information to help me make my choice.
    I need to fully digest it, but it think I'm leaning toward the TLR for the consistency and the type of shooting (planned portraits). I do have a local lab for printing in the short term (B&W)...
    I will definitely let you guys know when I make my choice.
    Thanks again,
  32. Years ago, child portait photographers loved the TLR, because the viewing hood put the camera at the kids level.
  33. I have a seagull TLR that I bought for a little more than $100 and I LOVE the thing... then I got a Kiev MF SLR that blew my mind away. the 88.... the lenses are less $$ and larger than my nikon d80's..... the images from either are MUCH better than my dslr.
  34. As you have already seen, you'll get as many answers as photographers. Folders are fun to use and compact, but they typically aren't as sharp as a TLR. In addition, the bellows and the arms are always a weak spot on these cameras. I would only suggest buying one with a coupled rangefinder (which are more expensive). Particularly for portraits a TLR is far preferable in my view. The Mamiya was a workhorse for wedding photographers for many years (and many of the used ones on the market have been heavily used). I personally find them too heavy and bulky and I don't really need the various lenses. One of my favorite cameras of all time was a Rolleiflex 3.5E. Built like a tank and nicely balanced in my hands. I preferred it to the 2.8 models for weight and balance. That said, I go to a Mamiya 7II for the most part these days as my travel camera of choice. In the long run with any classic or vintage camera, condition matters. Get the best condition camera you can find and have fun.
  35. As you have already seen, you'll get as many answers as photographers. Folders are fun to use and compact, but they typically aren't as sharp as a TLR. In addition, the bellows and the arms are always a weak spot on these cameras. I would only suggest buying one with a coupled rangefinder (which are more expensive). Particularly for portraits a TLR is far preferable in my view. The Mamiya was a workhorse for wedding photographers for many years (and many of the used ones on the market have been heavily used). I personally find them too heavy and bulky and I don't really need the various lenses. One of my favorite cameras of all time was a Rolleiflex 3.5E. Built like a tank and nicely balanced in my hands. I preferred it to the 2.8 models for weight and balance. That said, I go to a Mamiya 7II for the most part these days as my travel camera of choice. In the long run with any classic or vintage camera, condition matters. Get the best condition camera you can find and have fun.
  36. I would recommend a TLR on the basis of my own experience with my Mamiya C3, C220 and C330.
  37. in the last seven years i've experimented with two rolleiflexes and two yashica TLRs. just bought a used mamiya 7, should receive it on monday. i'm expecting that will be easier to deploy and use. love the rollei [it's a 1951 -- automat, or A?] and the yashica 124G, but they are heavy to lug around. i like to take one of those to a party or gathering and shoot informally. the mamiya will be a lot better for travelling. mamiya 7 got rave reviews [sort of] -- images on a par with a hasselblad, but you might have to put up with parts falling off! ha ha...
    not sure if its true with the 330c, but with the old rolleis they are much improved with a replacement screen -- gives a much brighter image. some of the older ones are so dim it can be tough to focus. the 124G is acceptable in brightness if not brilliant.
    also just noticed that voigtlander is about to release a new camera -- a rangefinder folder. will be interesting to see what sort of results people get with that.

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