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Monday, 23 January 2017

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I have the later 667W version, which has a 55mm wide angle lens. I think it may have been the last newly designed “real” i.e. not a toy or bottom dollar, camera of the entire rollfilm era (2009 - does someone know of a later one?).

The range/ viewfinder is superior to my M6 and much better than my Mamiya 7ii’s was; almost shockingly big and bright, way bigger than any FF DLSR’s finder.

It is quiet and handles very well. The 55mm lens on mine does not seem quite as sharp wide open as my Mamiya’s 65mm did, but it’s more than adequate for the 20x24’s I make. I use it almost exclusively wide open. I can’t speak for the 80mm but I have often heard that it’s excellent.

These are beautiful cameras and will without doubt end up in collections someday.

I've had one of these since they were introduced. It's truly a lovely camera that begs to be used with thought and care. Admittedly I've only run a handful of rolls through it and am unlikely to ever use it more, if even again. But I'm reluctant to ever let it go. It's just a beautiful thing.

Now there's a camera that would be interesting reengineered as digital, eh?

I forgot to mention in my earlier comment that the 667 also has a very good center weighted metering system, much more usable than the unmarked small central spot on the Mamiya. This can be a very big advantage over a vintage model.

Most of my later photo series are made with the Fuji GF670. A couple of earlier ones were made by a Zeiss Super Ikonta B, that had been gone over by Jurgen.

I have and use a Fuji G670 as my "travel" medium format camera. They are a little larger than the older folding cameras, which I have also used, but the viewfinder is bright, parallax corrected, and with an onboard meter and aperture-priority automatic exposure, none of which you will find with the older cameras. And its nice to know when traveling that delicate guts of the instrument are folded within its rugged clamshell.

A couple of things: you've got to set the lens to infinity for the camera to fold, and the it does not fold with the optional lens hood in place. The hood is useful but may be hard to find. I found one for the Voightlander Bessa III -- same camera--on the Cameraquest website, and they were still listed this morning.

I have a couple of the folders restored by Jurgen, and they are great, cheerful little cameras. Very portable compared to the alternatives in the 6x6 or 6x9 world. Jurgen's work is excellent as well; you can tell he does this for enjoyment as it comes through in his work.

As for the 'Rolls-Royce' models, I'd like to offer that some of the more pedestrian folders (Isolette I or II, Record I or II, etc.) might be the way to go. The combined viewfinder/rangefinder of the Super Isolette and its ilk are dimmer than the simple viewfinder of the lower models, and the coupled focus is a bit fiddly. The viewfinder of the lower models, without the rangefinder patch, are nice and bright, and fun to use. Sure, you might want an accessory rangefinder or a modern laser rangefinder to help determine and set distances, but you get used to it. It's a process, but none of these folders is going to be used for action photos anyway. Finally, you can get into one of the simpler models for a very reasonable cost. There's almost no reason to not grab one, if you're interested in medium format film at all.

On paper, the really fancy models sound nice, but tend to be pretty expensive to obtain and service, and might or might not actually yield the most enjoyable experience. That's just from my observations at least!

My favourite camera is a 70 year-old Super Ikonta. Wonderful bit of engineering. Have owned it for 25 years and would never part with it.

On a point of order, Jurgen also sings the praises of the Bessa II but I don't think they're a patch on the Super Ikonta or Super Isolette. Amongst other gripes, the 6x9 neg never seems to be held very flat thus making the camera incapable of showing off the lens to its best.

Wow, great news! I wish they could find the wide version of this camera in their warehouse. It would be an inexpensive alternative to a RolleiWide and more compact than a Hasselblad with 50mm lens.

With my Fuji GF670 in Cuba-

Folders aside, I wonder how many photographic people of today know that it was Fuji who made the world's most bestest medium format camera - the mighty GX680. Fuji knew the power of having an "X" in the name long before the age of digital.

Once you get into old folders it's hard to get out! The image quality is gorgeous. I have the Bessa II with middle-of-the-range Color Skopar lens and love the big, tonally-rich 6x9 negs. A trick to keep the negative flat in the film gate is to only wind on the film after the camera has been opened and immediately prior to exposure. This avoids suction pulling the film. Also, a tripod never hurts:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/91846820@N00/24885349549/in/dateposted-public/

Even handheld on a rock'n'rolling Manly ferry across Sydney Heads, a 6x9 rangefinder like the Bessa II can produce great results:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/91846820@N00/24621600404/in/dateposted-public/

No small thing to get forgotten in the warehouse.

It is a kind of dream camera that would make Medium Format portable. Dreams of island hopping in South East Asia with it.
But the bucks ain't there at the moment and could do much more, so instead I got a Fuji GW690 "Texas Leica" with a rather neo-classic 6x9 RF approach.

Interesting how Fuji bridges the two media, they could use a bit more enthusiasm into film out of Instax.

BTW, prices for select (MF) cameras have been on the rise lately.

I am so glad I stopped by today! I've been trying to remember the Certo site, who ran it or what it was called, and I will also be picking up an X-Pro1 book by the above-above-mentioned author. Cool!

I was shocked to see that you recommended tri-x professional, then I see that Kodak has discontinued the 320 ISO extended green sensitivity "optimized for male portraits" tri-x professional, and renamed all the other tri-x films tri-x professional. Seems that all the Kodak films are "professional" now which is odd since Kodak used to only label films that were likely to have quality problems in general use as "professional"
Well at least it isn't that hideous t-max junk.

The GF670 is one of my favourite cameras. It's not small by any means, but it's light and compact enough to bring when I travel (something I can't really say for my P67). Just scanned a roll of slide film from it yesterday, and the results are as pleasing as always.

One minor issue: the film advance ball bearings are not quite as strong as they could be. I had one break at one time and it had to go in to get fixed. Fuji (Cosina) happily did it, though, and I've had no problem since.

A beautiful camera that takes excellent images. Crack it open on the street and no one can resist getting their picture taken with it.

I have the Voigtlander Bessa III incarnation - black - and it's a beautiful piece of equipment. I think I posted a photo on this website years ago of it sitting in a jacket pocket (one of he joys of folders). Got to echo Charles Roziers comment about the finder... wow!. After peering at all these EVFs, looking through that is somethin else. It's worth buying just so you can look through the finder every now and again...

Only complaint? That shutter is too damn quiet... you have to turn the film advance knob to make sure you actually got an exposure.

I have owned a Fuji 645 folder for 30 plus years and found it a frustrating camera to use. Natural Vertical Format and placed on its side for Horizontal Pictures makes controls hard to reach. Controls around end of lens barrel are very tiny and hard to set without taking eye off, so fast off-the-cuff shots at not easily done. Camera was best at slow landscape work. Enlargements at 8by10 were only slightly better than careful 35mm prints. Jammed the Camera several times when closing without advancing shutter- very scary moment. Bellows replaced twice and shutter slows down in slight cold weather. I like my Yashica-mat better - thanks billchrest

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