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What are the best bargains


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Hello All,



Since my last posting was such a success, I thought I would pose a

question to help the beginner trying to get into M/F. <P>


What are the best bargains on M/F cameras today, as you see them?

What have you people picked up cheap lately? How did you find this


I personally think it is anything that says Rollei on it.<P>



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If you're looking for an SLR, the Bronica S2a's a good deal. I picked up an S2a body, 120 back, waist level finder, and Nikkor 75mm f2.8 lens for under $300. It works great; there are (excellent) lenses, finders, and backs to be found inexpensively; and in a pinch you could club a mugger with it and it would probably still take great pictures.



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I got started in MF with an old Yashica-A TLR that I got from my uncle. The YashicaMat-124's are have achieved cult status and the prices have gone up over the last few years - now in the $250 range (although still not too bad considering what you'll pay for ANYTHING new other than a Seagull). But you can pick up something in the Yashica-"A" through "D" line pretty cheap - usually under $100! These are great cameras with decent to good lenses and you can't beat the price.


I've since "upgraded" to a Mamiya C330 system because I wanted more choices in focal lengths. I would also recommend anything in the Mamiya "C" line C2, C22, C220, C3, C33, C330. These are excellent cameras at great prices. You can wind up with an entire "system" to do 120/220 film with 3 or 4 lenses for less than $1000. This is a pro system, so the quality and reliability is top notch (if it hasn't been abused) and the lenses are great.

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Almost everything is a lot cheaper than it was just a year or two ago but the depreciation is complete on TLRs and manual SLRs. The Mamiya C330F and its later lenses represent the top of the line in system camera TLRS, circa 1980. The Rollei line certainly has name cachet, as you demonstrate in your posting.


The problem with these old cameras is not their build quality. It is their use history. There can be little doubt that a slightly used Rollei owned by a little-old-lady who took seven photos of her garden club in 1963 and then put it on the shelf is a better buy than an Mamiya C330 that was the primary camera for a wedding photographer who beat on it mercilessly for two decades before giving it to his son for use as a prop in the high school play and now is looking to sell it to you. Ask your potential camera what sort of life it has had: is there a lot of brassing that indicates heavy use? is the bellows worn at the corners? is the lens mount snug? does the film advance mechanism work smoothly? By all means, run a roll through the camera to see how the mechanism feels.


With this in mind, I'd recommend looking for repair service in your area as the first step. You may get lucky and find something cheap in great condition that requires no maintenance for decade or so but the odds are against you and so having someone lined up to do the needed work would help. Try to talk to the actual repairman of the local camera shop. If he (camera repair seems to be universally a male occupation) has grey hair and watery eyes, ask about his retirement plans. (The last local repairman for Mamiya in Chicago has now retired.) Ask what brands he works on most. Ask what brands he doesn't work on -- and how cameras of those makes are repaired when brought into the store. Ask what parts he keeps in stock or has ready access to. Sometimes these guys are selling cameras themselves -- usually more expensive than what you can find on the street but perhaps more reliable mechanically. There are a number of good repair folks available through the internet (check photo.net itself for recommendations) but having local service is a huge advantage.


Finally, in the world of amateur radio we have something called an "Elmer". This is an older, experienced and technically competent person who can help the novce get started and figure out how to make things work -- someone to whom the beginner can turn when he or she encounters a snag that blocks progress or can't make it to the next level of proficiency. Nothing beats a good Elmer. Nothing. Find one, perhaps through a local camera club, and invest enough time to build a relationship.

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I'd also suggest the Mamiya M645 system. I purchased my body, prism, waistlevel finder, and 80mm f/1.9 for right under $350 on ebay. When I took it to have a CLA they just needed to clean it out... everything was working within manufacturer's tolerances. Great cameras built to last and they've recently dropped a lot in price on ebay.
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There is a Mamiya M645 with 75mm2.8 lens and a speed grip on the classifieds here at photo.net for $350. I was going to buy it when he had it posted for $400 but seemed put off by waiting for Saturday when I got paid. He never contacted me back and the next day he hd reposted it for $50 less.


Since then I sold my 70-200 2.8L EOS lens and in turn bought a Bronica ETRS with 75mm 2.8 with AEII finder speedgrip 120 back and spare 120 back a 150mm MC with filters and 58mm 62mm adapter for $757 on ebay. The whole set up is in near new condition. When I sell my 1N I will be getting a 50mm and a waistlevel finder and Extension tubes. All this and I still will be able to keep my Elan7 28mm and 50mm primes with my 540EZflash so I can keep atleast a decent 35mm system that is still under warrantee.


The only reason I chose Bronica over Mamiya was the interchangeable backs in the camears that I can afford. You can find Mamiya M645 and 645 1000s outfits withthe body/insert and normal lens all over ebay right now for $350 to $450. A damn good way to get started.


After I have shot with this for a bit I would like to get an RB67 outfit which can be had for $450 on ebay right now. Since when I move to 6x7 I would have to buy new lenses anyway I still may get an RB outfit for landscapes but will wait a while and see if I can peice one together so I can get way from some of the inherent problems and insure that I can get one of those bad ass lenses that they make for them.


I asked a similar question a few days ago and the info I got led me to be patient and slowly build the RB system. For the time being I went 645 just so I could get started now. The prices have come down on ebay so much that I could not resist. I wanted to buy a MF a year ago but the same setup I just bought would have cost me way more a year ago. Now is definetly the time to do it. Heck for that matter I thought I may have to give up whoe EOS system to do it and I was able to keep a basic setup in EOS and purchase the whole Bronica setup. without having to invest more than I already had invested in camera gear. Man, now is definetly the time to doit.

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The question was <<What are the best bargains on M/F cameras today, as you see them>> , not "what is the cheapest MF camera on the market. The biggest bargain today has to be used Hasselblad--any Hasselblad. In the last year or two the prices of these have fallen like lead baloons and judging by the stock on hand (just look at how much Hasselblad KEH has listed and how many times they've taken markdowns on them)that's not going to stop anytime soon. Wedding pros are dumping them right and left to "go digital" and wannabe-wedding pros (always the mainstay market for used Blad)are looking at their mentors and opting not to buy into Blad anymore. That leaves a nice, clean late-model Hasselblad bodies and lenses selling for a fraction of their new cost, and a huge selection from which to choose.
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Thanks for all the comments, I am sure that beginners looking to get into M/F will find the advice helpfull. <P>


Many of you directed the comments to me as though I were going to buy a medium format camera; just for the record I allready own somewhere in the area of 50 of them, all were pruchased off of e-bay in non-working condition and repaired in my spare time. Most of these are TLR's however I have a real soft spot for Super Ikonta', and M/F Graflex products. I alread have a good idea how to accumulate medium format equipment, and what I was hoping (is that) some newby might see the postings here and not buy a digital and opt for M/F instead.


Thanks for all the great responces,


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First of all; Thank you Mark for all the fine work you have done on

my folders. You have received quite a few compliments recently

on your fine work and my name is just one more to a long list of

people who have found you a pleasure to deal with.


Also-- your funny story of the other day about your darkroom was

on target. Perhaps others can get premium quality from digital

equipment; half the time I can not the equipment to work properly

and this is, of course, because I must be a jerk. On the other

hand, my darkroom equipment, for over 40 years, has never sent

me a message indicating that there has been a software error

and that this program no longer knows who I am or what

happened to all my negatives.


Perhaps it is a question of age, experience or temperament or

karma....or maybe my shoelaces are too tight. I have never

found that digital equipment, which CAN be a lot of fun, can ever

match my darkroon produce. I LOVE playing with digital images

the equipment itself is cute anf funny. BUT, quality comes from a

large negative.


Bargain MFcameras? Heck- who here has not had a good TLR

at one point, whether we stayed with it or not? I once had a Rollei

2.8C Xenotar that I bought for $250 and was wonderful and a

delight to us and made just wonderful images. I also had a

wonderful Mamiya 645 with a prism and meter viewfinder which

was built like a tank and also made just terrific negatives. And

the prices of old Mamiya 645 equipment is a bargain.

Unfortunately, I was never comfortable with 6x6 or reflex viewing

or focusing and holding a Mamiya 645 with the tips of your digits

or that too large handle, is not for me.


I would have stayed with either of these formats but you know

how it is.....you go to a larger image size and you can never go

back. Large viewfinder cameras like the Plaubel or the Fuji 6x9

and 6x7 are really pretty big, but do they make sharp images!!


Bargains? There are wonderful folders out there. Mark CLA'ed

an Agfa 6x9 with a f/4.5 Solinar that made 80 lines per/mm and

an Ensign Selfix 6x9 that made 84 lines p/mm. Neither camera

cost a $100.


There are so many used bargains out there from Rolleicords to

all sorts of other TLRs that sell for $100-$125 with fine fine four

element Tessar design lenses.


What kind of equipment do you really need to take fine pictures?

Spend you money of single malts and film, not fancy equipment

which does precisely the same thing as bargain equipment.


Again Mark, thanks for your fine work and your fine wit!


Best to all, Jerry

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I can't believe that no one has mentioned the Koni Omega Rapid. These seem to be going at auction for less than $200. They have lenses which rival Hasselblad. They are built like tanks. Many of them are modular with interchangeable backs. They are designed to be used hand held. They are highly reliable and above all they are 6 x 7 format. What more can you ask for apart from perhaps reflex viewing?
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