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120 / 220 film RF's 120 / 220 format rangefinders including Fuji, Koni-Omega, Mamiya Press, Linhof 6x7/6x9 cameras, Mamiya 6/7 among others, but excluding the 120 folders and the Voigtlander 667 cameras that have their own forums.

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cheap medium format coupled rangefinder
Old 07-30-2018   #1
zzzxtreme
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cheap medium format coupled rangefinder

hello. good day. I apologise in advance if I posted in wrong section.

I need some recommendation on small, robust, coupled medium format rangefinder. I would like something 50mm or wider (in 135/35mm speak) and also pretty large viewfinder. It should have a hot or coldshoe so I can mount a sekonic L208 or Voigtlander VC Meter. 645,6x6, 6x7 or 6x9 doesn't matter.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-30-2018   #2
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Take your pick!

https://www.johanniels.com/camera-ge...konta-overview


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Old 07-30-2018   #3
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Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
thanks for the response. Are Ikonta all uncoupled? Not sure if I got the term right. Meaning, to focus,I have to use the distance scale ?or I can see the double ghost image like in the Canon QL17?
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Old 07-30-2018   #4
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all super ikontas have coupled rangefinders.

i also recommend the manual fuji 6x4.5 cameras. well priced with nice viewfinders and metering.

fuji gs645
fuji gs645s
fuji gs645w
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Old 07-30-2018   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
all super ikontas have coupled rangefinders.

i also recommend the manual fuji 6x4.5 cameras. well priced with nice viewfinders and metering.

fuji gs645
fuji gs645s
fuji gs645w
thanks for the help !
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Old 07-30-2018   #6
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Balda Super Baldax. Similar specs to a Super Ikonta but can often be had a lot cheaper. I used one for a bit, they're very nice. Helical focusing which is actually an improvement over the Ikonta.
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Old 07-30-2018   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
all super ikontas have coupled rangefinders.

i also recommend the manual fuji 6x4.5 cameras. well priced with nice viewfinders and metering.

fuji gs645
fuji gs645s
fuji gs645w
I believe the GS645W is zone focusing
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Old 07-30-2018   #8
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How important is "small"? Because there are some good rigid cameras such as the Graflex XL.

Also, what's "cheap"?

Finally, the vast majority of roll-film folders are now either old or very old, and more will depend on condition than on exactly which model you buy.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-30-2018   #9
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Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
How important is "small"? Because there are some good rigid cameras such as the Graflex XL.

Also, what's "cheap"?

Finally, the vast majority of roll-film folders are now either old or very old, and more will depend on condition than on exactly which model you buy.

Cheers,

R.
thanks roger. I thought I could find decent ones with clean lens for around $150. but it seems impossible. The usual japanese ebay sellers with "EXCELLENT" in the title also mentions tiny fog, tiny haze etc..

size I guess it not a priority as much as price
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Old 07-30-2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zzzxtreme View Post
thanks roger. I thought I could find decent ones with clean lens for around $150. but it seems impossible. The usual japanese ebay sellers with "EXCELLENT" in the title also mentions tiny fog, tiny haze etc..

size I guess it not a priority as much as price
You need to step up to the 'near Mint' class! Just be careful since many have fungus.
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Old 07-30-2018   #11
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Really cheap and good quality mf rf is a soviet KMZ Iskra. 6x6, bright coupled viewfinder-rangefinder, Tessar-style Industar-58 3,5/75, good shutter with lots of speeds. I could easly shoot 1/8 handheld without motion blur. Very nice camera.
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Old 07-30-2018   #12
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You may want to look at the Fuji GA645.

https://themachineplanet.wordpress.c...6x4-5-cameras/
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Old 07-30-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zzzxtreme View Post
thanks roger. I thought I could find decent ones with clean lens for around $150. but it seems impossible. The usual japanese ebay sellers with "EXCELLENT" in the title also mentions tiny fog, tiny haze etc..

size I guess it not a priority as much as price
"Excellent" is definitely a bit of a movable feast. Personally I'd go for scale focus: it really doesn't take long to learn to estimate distances accurately. See also the piece on my .eu site about a 4€ (£3, $5) Ikonta 523/19. Ikontas are scale-focus; Super Ikontas have coupled rangefinders.

If you're in it for the tonality, go for the largest format you can, ideally 6x9.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-30-2018   #14
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Originally Posted by kotokot21 View Post
Really cheap and good quality mf rf is a soviet KMZ Iskra. 6x6, bright coupled viewfinder-rangefinder, Tessar-style Industar-58 3,5/75, good shutter with lots of speeds. I could easly shoot 1/8 handheld without motion blur. Very nice camera.
A good Iskra is indeed a superb camera, but because they were so cheap for so long, many attracted the attention of amateur "repairers". Which is why I stress "good".

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-30-2018   #15
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Hard to beat the GS645 in terms of design, feature and optical quality. Especially the last one - It sports a lens that would be considered too luxurious for the format back in the days when folders were popular.
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Old 07-30-2018   #16
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A little different: Baby Graphic with Kalart coupled rangefinder.
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Old 07-30-2018   #17
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Yes, steer clear of the Japanese sellers and their misleading condition statements. That's good that you spotted their so called excellent items are anything but.

You've gotten some good suggestions here. A Super Ikonta or the like is your best bet, as their bellows are usually light tight. Beware of any Soviet camera for a million reasons, and the Fuji rangefinders are not repairable if the shutters go out, and they do. KEH refunded my money on one after the second time they attempted to fix it because there are no longer any parts for them.

I believe that Arbitraium meant to say that the Super Baldax cameras have unit focusing, compared to the helical front element focusing on most cameras.
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Old 07-30-2018   #18
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I've had a few of the Fujis (GS645, GS645W, GA645), a brace of the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikontas (645, 6x6, 6x9 models, can't remember the designations), a Balda Baldax (scale focus), and a Voigtländer Perkeo II (scale focus) over the past 25 years. All are gone now except the Perkeo II, for which I found a nice clip-on Voigtländer rangefinder (as well as a couple of others!).

The Perkeo II has been my favorite MF compact/folder for some years now. It has an excellent lens and folds up very small and light, with a quality feel that is the equal of the Super Ikontas but much lighter. I had it overhauled (cleaned, a couple of rusty bits replaced, etc) a few years back to solve some minor issues with the film transport, so it now feels like a new camera. The lack of a coupled rangefinder means it's a bit slower working, but it also means it's likely a bit more reliable.

I think I paid $125 for the Perkeo II when I got it, but the overhaul cost about $170. That's not too bad for an EXC+ camera now sixty-five years old with this level of quality.

info: http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Voigtländer_Perkeo_II

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Old 07-30-2018   #19
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I think the Mamiya Super 23 is a bargain. It takes a variety of lenses, on the wide end there's a 65mm that's not terribly expensive (the viewfinder costs a bit though), a 90mm and 150mm are commonplace. It takes interchangeable backs 6x4.5 to 6x9, including a sheet film adapter. It's rangefinder coupled, of course. It's a press camera, so it's hand holdable as long as you have the handle (still a bit heavy though).
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Old 07-30-2018   #20
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My two cents, no binding on anyone else. I have had good luck with old Welta cameras, both in 35mm and 6x6, surprisingly, Fujica 6x6 folders. But as Mr. Hicks correctly points out, any of the older cameras are getting harder to find in good shape. They are old. If you find one in good shape, you will probably like it. Any Moskva is a crap shoot as to its usable condition. My son-in-law has a Moskva 4, like other Moskvas, a 6x9. It is in good condition and he enjoys it and its 6x9 format.

Mr. Hicks also mentioned non-RF cameras. I think that is an excellent suggestion if you can give up the RF. I learned in high school how to estimate distance. I think most anyone can. I have a Zeiss folding 6x9 with Novar lens. Very light (no RF) and thin. The Novar lens is quite good. Surprisingly so in fact. One drawback from you list is no flash. The Moskvas do seem to have that. I used to disdain 6x9, but in the last three-five years I have really come to appreciate it.

Again, the good old folders were good when they were made, but may at least need a good CLA by now, or in worst case, may be unusable from mistreatment. If you really want one, be prepared to spend money on a CLA, or have to buy and sell a few until you get what you really like.
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Old 07-30-2018   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
I've had a few of the Fujis (GS645, GS645W, GA645), a brace of the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikontas (645, 6x6, 6x9 models, can't remember the designations), a Balda Baldax (scale focus), and a Voigtländer Perkeo II (scale focus) over the past 25 years. All are gone now except the Perkeo II, for which I found a nice clip-on Voigtländer rangefinder (as well as a couple of others!).

The Perkeo II has been my favorite MF compact/folder for some years now. It has an excellent lens and folds up very small and light, with a quality feel that is the equal of the Super Ikontas but much lighter. I had it overhauled (cleaned, a couple of rusty bits replaced, etc) a few years back to solve some minor issues with the film transport, so it now feels like a new camera. The lack of a coupled rangefinder means it's a bit slower working, but it also means it's likely a bit more reliable.

I think I paid $125 for the Perkeo II when I got it, but the overhaul cost about $170. That's not too bad for an EXC+ camera now sixty-five years old with this level of quality.

info: http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Voigtländer_Perkeo_II

G
Dear Godfrey,

Indeed, I prefer the quality of top-of-the-line Voigtlanders to similar Zeiss cameras. As I say in the piece referenced (and now linked) above,

But then, Voigtlander Bessas (I, no rangefinder, II, rangefinder) are nowadays very expensive too, though they are even better made and are usually equipped with even better lenses. I'd rather have a 1950s Bessa myself.

I have a Bessa I with a beautiful, sparkling-clean 105/3.5 Color Skopar in a Prontor SV, but it has a most improbable defect: no pressure plate! I didn't notice when I bought it (for 15€ at a vide-grenier) because who, after all, manages to lose a pressure plate? Ever since, I've been looking for a scrapper to serve as a donor. Years ago, someone kindly sent me a pattern for cutting a new pressure plate but I decided that my metal-working skills weren't up to it.

It's also missing the 645 mask but I don't really care (and wouldn't care it it were working, either) because for me, most of the reason for roll-film is the tonality and bigger is better. Also, with front-cell focusing on a Tessar-type lens, I've always found that 645 is pushing your luck a bit at full aperture.

Note to OP: BEWARE of 620 cameras (same film, smaller metal spool). Some are happy rewinding 120 onto 620 spools but I've always found it more trouble than it's worth.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-30-2018   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mich rassena View Post
I think the Mamiya Super 23 is a bargain. It takes a variety of lenses, on the wide end there's a 65mm that's not terribly expensive (the viewfinder costs a bit though), a 90mm and 150mm are commonplace. It takes interchangeable backs 6x4.5 to 6x9, including a sheet film adapter. It's rangefinder coupled, of course. It's a press camera, so it's hand holdable as long as you have the handle (still a bit heavy though).
I also own a Super Press 23. Unfortunately, it is not small and light.

If the OP can give up the small and light, it is a nice camera with very good lenses. The 65mm lens is small and light for medium format. There is also a 50mm lens that is superb when in good shape. Hire two men and a boy to carry it. There is also a 250mm f/5 lens. It works with a selectable viewfinder 250 frame, no special viewfinder needed. It does require a caisson with a team of strong horses to pull it.
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Old 07-30-2018   #23
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I had various Voigtlander Bessa RF (6x9, late '30s to early '50s) models which I found nice to use (if you don't mind separate windows for the VF and RF). Just watch out for distortion of the lens standard by people having tried to force it closed without pressing the release tab (luckily one of those never came my way).
The Helomar triplet is good, the Skopar 4-glass and Heliar 5-glass are excellent.

It's later successor the Bessa II usually goes for a bit more, has the Color-Skopar or Color-Heliar.

PS I drafted this before seeing Roger's post above - nice to see commendation of the classic Voigtlanders, which I don't see mentioned so often as some .
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Old 07-30-2018   #24
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The only cheap RF coupled medium format camera I'm aware of is copy of Zeiss Super Ikonta a.k.a. Moskva-2 and Moskva-4. Comparing to Iskra they were made to work.
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Old 07-30-2018   #25
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Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
Fuji rangefinders are not repairable if the shutters go out, and they do. KEH refunded my money on one after the second time they attempted to fix it because there are no longer any parts for them.
I had my GS645W's stuck shutter repaired last year and it came back like new. Like the rest of the GS645 series it uses a Copal #00 shutter. Should be serviceable to any competent technician.
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Old 07-30-2018   #26
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Fuji rangefinders are not repairable if the shutters go out, and they do. KEH refunded my money on one after the second time they attempted to fix it because there are no longer any parts for them.
I had my GS645W's stuck shutter repaired last year and it came back like new. Like the rest of the GS645 series it uses Copal #00 shutter. Should be serviceable to any competent technician.
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Old 07-30-2018   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
The only cheap RF coupled medium format camera I'm aware of is copy of Zeiss Super Ikonta a.k.a. Moskva-2 and Moskva-4. Comparing to Iskra they were made to work.
Very true. But the few good Iskras I've ever seen (not many) looked and sounded very good.

As you say, though, the Moskvas are better cameras -- again assuming they haven't been "repaired" by amateurs.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 07-30-2018   #28
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If you consider scale focus folders, Zenobia 645 with Neo Hespar (Tessar type) lens may be a good choice for you. Usually can be found for under $90 US. I have had a couple (have 1 now) and they have served me as well as Ikes & Super Ikes I have owned. You could also consider a ZI Mess Ikonta.
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Old 07-30-2018   #29
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I also own a Super Press 23. Unfortunately, it is not small and light.

If the OP can give up the small and light, it is a nice camera with very good lenses. The 65mm lens is small and light for medium format. There is also a 50mm lens that is superb when in good shape. Hire two men and a boy to carry it. There is also a 250mm f/5 lens. It works with a selectable viewfinder 250 frame, no special viewfinder needed. It does require a caisson with a team of strong horses to pull it.
I think it's about 5 pounds fully loaded, but I'd have to weigh it to be sure. Oh well, small, cheap, and good, you can only pick two of the three. My eye falls first on cheap, and everything else is secondary, but that's my bias.

The list of small, cheap rangefinder-coupled medium format cameras with wide-angle lenses must be very short.
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Old 07-30-2018   #30
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I had issues with shake while using a Moskva at its highest speed. As a result, photos weren't as sharp as I expected given the large negative. I gave up on the Fujis after trying a few and rapidly hitting failures of sorts. I didn't trust CLA's to keep them alive as long as I wanted to shoot them. Working ones are great though.

I shot an Iskra for a bit. After taping up the insides to address light leaks, it was a stellar camera. Wonderful sharp lens and a large, bright finder. I did have issues with the film counter on films that were really thin. Current production film seemed fine but it struggled with some older Konica film. If I hadn't stumbled on to a wonderful Super Isoleete I probably would've stuck with it. The only direct competition was a Super Ikonta IV which was smaller but also had a softer lens.

If you can do without a film counter and rangefinder, I'll throw the Zenobia in the list. It's about as small as 6x4.5 gets and the seem to hold up well, though film roll fit can be snug.
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Old 07-30-2018   #31
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I've a 35mm variant of the Balda folder, that type of lens and rangefinder setup is pretty nice compared to some.. it gives unit focusing, and a lens standard which can be designed to be strong rather than also having to move - or requiring a front cell focusing lens.

The Mamiya 6 folder is also a sensible suggestion, though some people suggest some of the lenses aren't as quite as good as on some other makes of camera (only pretty good lol).

The Zeiss 6x6 folders can be cheap (when of a low spec), and at the more rigid end of the strength spectrum. The triplets are actually pretty decent but I kind of have a grudge against Zeiss of all companies, for sticking with the front cell focusing setup when you can get their lenses on other makers unit focusing models.

Without a rangefinder but with a unit focusing lens, rather small, sometimes really cheap, but needing film respooling: the Kodak 620 Duo (as used by Amelia Earhart) with tessar, xenar, or Kodak anastigmat (the cameras were made in germany btw).. there is a usually expensive and rare coupled rangefinder variant.. to be fair, some other models of Kodak are also fine.

If you could stretch to something big then the Mamiya press/ 23/ universal aren't too expensive and have a good lens selection.

There's also the (big) Koni Omega which is a little bit like a really cheap and less user friendly alternative to a Mamiya 7.. good lenses and a not too bad viewfinder - the viewfinder on the omega (and Mamiya) is probably better than most folder suggestions so far.
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Old 07-30-2018   #32
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I have a red window modified Iskra I use, its a pain in the ass at times, but the lens is great
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Old 07-30-2018   #33
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A Moskva 2 or 4 is about the best deal you're likely to find on a coupled 6x9 rangefinder.
I'm not sure I'd call it small, exactly, but you can drop it in a coat pocket so it's not big either. The only caveat is that you would be strongly advised to only buy an FSU camera from a reputable dealer.

Another option is the Chinese 6x6 Seagull 203. The construction of these is somewhat crude, but the lenses are surprisingly good and they're very robust. Not quite as nice as an Iskra but they are very, very cheap and not bad performers. I bought mine new in the early 1990s and it has never needed repair.
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Old 07-31-2018   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mich rassena View Post
... (snip)
The list of small, cheap rangefinder-coupled medium format cameras with wide-angle lenses must be very short.
Indeed so; I would be curious to learn if any existed that fullfil all of the criteria.

I did play around with a 65mm Angulon (not, of course, the 'Super-') on a 6x9 trackbed folder as a 'test of concept'. OK, but a bit 'clunky' to use. No rangefinder, either, but with 65mm you don't need one for daylight landscape/townscape use with fast-ish film. Think 'Group.64' philosophy, scaled down to F:32 for the smaller format .

In the end I went for a hacked tube-extension 6x9 box camera that fits in a reasonably large jacket pocket.
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Old 07-31-2018   #35
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How cheap? The ebay seller certo6 is offering a CLA's Voigtlander Bessa II with a new bellows for $525.

eBay item number:302824272994
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Old 07-31-2018   #36
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Indeed so; I would be curious to learn if any existed that fullfil all of the criteria.

I did play around with a 65mm Angulon (not, of course, the 'Super-') on a 6x9 trackbed folder as a 'test of concept'. OK, but a bit 'clunky' to use. No rangefinder, either, but with 65mm you don't need one for daylight landscape/townscape use with fast-ish film. Think 'Group.64' philosophy, scaled down to F:32 for the smaller format .

In the end I went for a hacked tube-extension 6x9 box camera that fits in a reasonably large jacket pocket.
"Cheap" is a rather subjective term which makes it hard to make a good recommendation. I actually did some hunting for a wide-angle folder a while back, rangefinder coupled or not. One series I found was the Telka III, 6x9 with a 95mm lens, which is just a bit wide. They're rare, and not cheap, $500 or more.

I keep looking for an inexpensive old Kodak folder that I wouldn't feel bad modifying, I think your term, trackbed is the style I'm thinking of. I have a 90mm lens that is supposed to cover 5x7. It should be relatively easy to attach that lens instead and put some new markings on the bed, and use an accessory rangefinder to gauge the distance. Some of those cameras took very large film, so 6x12 or greater should be possible on a small budget.

Do you have a photo of your tube extension box camera?
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Old 07-31-2018   #37
BernardL
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IMO, you'll get the most for you dollars (yens, euros) spent by buying a plain MF camera --with a good lens-- and an accessory rangefinder. For most pictures, and with minimal training, your guesstimate will be good enough (meaning within the generally recognized depth of focus tolerance). In practical terms, assume you use 400 film rated at 200 (grain is not an issue in MF). Daylight, open shadow, 1/100 f:8. Distance 3m, DOF is +/-0.5m (6x6 format, 80mm lens, data from http://www.dofmaster.com/doftable.html). I've used extensively my Fuji GS645W (scale focusing) with good results, only occasionally using my calibrated feet (30cm) to measure nearby subjects.

And, occasionally, you'll bring out the accessory rangefinder from your pocket. Be aware, though, of what I found out recently with a Voigtlander Perkeo I: while the accessory rangefinder measures distance from where it sits (what else?) some (many? most?) old cameras have their engraved distance scale with an origin at the lens, not the film plane.

Medium format cameras with coupled rangefinders are considered prestige and carry higher prices. Would you not rather spend the money at lens quality? or buying more film?
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Old 07-31-2018   #38
citizen99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mich rassena View Post
"Cheap" is a rather subjective term which makes it hard to make a good recommendation. I actually did some hunting for a wide-angle folder a while back, rangefinder coupled or not. One series I found was the Telka III, 6x9 with a 95mm lens, which is just a bit wide. They're rare, and not cheap, $500 or more.

I keep looking for an inexpensive old Kodak folder that I wouldn't feel bad modifying, I think your term, trackbed is the style I'm thinking of. I have a 90mm lens that is supposed to cover 5x7. It should be relatively easy to attach that lens instead and put some new markings on the bed, and use an accessory rangefinder to gauge the distance. Some of those cameras took very large film, so 6x12 or greater should be possible on a small budget.

Do you have a photo of your tube extension box camera?
Here are pictures of the front and rear of the final version. Careful attention had to be paid to the configuration to minimise vignetting.

Your 90mm lens should work well. Depending on what size folder you would find, you might have to check for vignetting on one side by the long trackbed door.
JFYI here was the 6x9 folder experiment.
Good hunting !
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Old 07-31-2018   #39
RObert Budding
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The Zeiss Ercona II with a Tessar lens is very sharp, but it is zone focus. The attached photo was hand held. And here's a link to a larger version. https://www.flickr.com/photos/454892...posted-public/
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 2853554159_0496bca6c5_m.jpg (25.4 KB, 11 views)
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Old 07-31-2018   #40
mich rassena
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Originally Posted by citizen99 View Post
Here are pictures of the front and rear of the final version. Careful attention had to be paid to the configuration to minimise vignetting.

Your 90mm lens should work well. Depending on what size folder you would find, you might have to check for vignetting on one side by the long trackbed door.
JFYI here was the 6x9 folder experiment.
Good hunting !
Looking at the results, both projects have yielded some great photos. Thanks for linking the images, I'll use them for inspiration.
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