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Wednesday, 08 June 2022


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I'm kind of surprised at a few of your comments including the last one. The last cameras I would give up are my Roleiflexes and Hasselblads. The Rolleis and 503CW are completely mechanical so are simple to use and carry around. Film backs are the weakness of the Hassie system. Of course you are absolutely correct that once something goes wrong, you are in trouble because parts are increasing scarce. The other problem is the cost of film and other supplies. 135 is cheaper and more ubiquitous but not as much fun. I think 4x5 is in more trouble.

For 6x6 I’d recommend a Yashica D or even a Mamiya C22 or 220 with any working 80mm lens. Shucks, even a Yashica A would work. They can be had for $200 which is 3 oil changes on my cheap Nissan. (To put the price into context.) At least with an A model the winding is the dead simple red window film positioning type.

Every portrait and wedding photographer I knew in Atlanta in the late 80s through the 90s shot with Hasselblads. The RB67 (had one briefly, received as barter, gave to an assistant as a gift) was too "heavy." And this comes from a 5'2" petite woman that shot candids at corporate events with a Hasselblad 500 with a 50mm lens, 70mm film back (65-70 frames), Metz/Sunpak light connected to a Quantum battery hanging from her shoulder. My arms always looked like I lifted weights. I did, my Hasselblads or 4x5 and lights, etc. for on-location shoots. LOL

Medium format has always been "my format of choice," but 4x5 is very close to the top and gaining ground with alternative processes. 135 was never a favorite, but it is what got me started and for that reason alone, I am grateful for it. But not enough to keep a Leica. ;)

I went through a phase of using folders in the mid-1990s: they were dirt cheap then and came in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I used a Super Isolette II exclusively for a project photographing the Test (a local Hampshire river) that turned out some beautiful prints, which were exhibited in a riverside National Trust property for 6 months. It's a wonderfully compact and robust thing when folded, a true pocket camera.

A point to note about the Super Isolette is that it came with two lenses: the very good 4-element Solinar, and the perfectly OK 3-element Apotar (there was also a bottom of the range Agnar, also 3-elements I think).

I should sell them on now, especially as your mention won't have done the prices any harm...


Ah yes, I do own the AGFA Super Isolette. A great “folder” for sure, the optics are quite good and the camera just oozes quality and workmanship. I even have the leather case for it but have not used it in a while. Double exposures are possible if that’s your thing. I also do not totally agree with the Pentax 6x7 comment regarding mirror or shutter slap not degrading image sharpness. I also performed a side by side test with film as noted in my “water container” on the ground glass experiment. This was detailed in my previous comment/post when compared to my Hasselblad 500cm. A good debate however, always willing to be proven wrong, no worries.

Nice post. I must confess to having too many old Zeiss Ikon cameras including a pristine Super Ikonta 534/16 (6x6 format.) My favorite is an Ikonta 521A 6x4.5 camera. Compact and light with a very bright view finder ;-). It fits in a jacket pocket. A nice camera if you don’t need the square experience.

Just curious, Mike, you ever shot with the Fujifilm GFX50R?

Going to respectfully take exception to your comment that they are all "awkward and kludgy."

The GFX5R about as ideal an medium-format camera as I've ever shot with. And...it's only slightly larger than your Fuji X-H1.

And the image quality is absolutely gorgeous. Especially black and white photos when processed in Capture One Pro.

Just sayin'. ;-)


[Sorry, I was only talking about *film* medium-format. I'll go re-edit to make that more clear. --Mike]

I love the square format. Over the past several years, I've bought, returned and/or sold at least a dozen.

I'm now down to a Hasselblad 500 C/M with an 80mm f/2.8 Planar and a Sonnar 250mm f/5.6. The camera and lenses work well, and the ergonomics are nicer than most medium format kits. And crucially, it's still possible to get the body serviced. I recommend staying away from the silver C lenses (Compur shutters). From what I understand, Hasselblad has stopped servicing them, and it's nearly impossible to replace the spring once the shutter goes.

Different kind of camera but a similar outlook. A few months ago I bought an old Minolta rangefinder at a flea market. Cosmetically flawless, but the shutter is useless. That's okay because I have no intention of shooting flim again. On the mantle, though, it's beautiful. A small well-crafted picture-making machine that's now an objet d'art.

I had three MF TLRs.

The lens and back on the Yashica 124G were out of alignment, so you had to choose which half of the image you wanted sharp. Bought on a Friday, returned the following Monday.

The Mamiya 220 was wonderful, but every so often the back would decide not to keep the film completely flat, so you got out of focus spots in an otherwise sharp image. Fugly on a photo of a pebbledash building façade.

The Rollieflex was noticeably less sharp than the C220, but the lens had beautiful tonality. The sports finder was brilliant for panning shots because it made it easy to line up an approaching subject and to keep it properly aligned during the follow-through. Walked all over an SLR if its focal length was what you wanted. I think I've still got the Rollei somewhere – last used last millennium. The Bronica and the Technika were more practical for most things, with the Ikonta folder and Canons for playtime.

Has no one got the beautiful Minolta Autocord?

I have heard of people who own 35mm cameras and no MF ones. But I have not heard of someone owning a MF camera and not a single 35mm camera.

Using MF is a deliberate choice.

The folders you described are really nice. I am surprised at your many readers who categorically state they will never shoot film again. Why? Are some of them still lost in the film versus digital battle?

When I am out with my Hasselblad or Fuji GW690 and I tell people that I am using b&w film, they universally say "That's great." or "That’s the right way to do it."

With the two Fuji cameras, which I used for many of my black and white photo essays-

Well, my Bessa III is anything but a shelf queen. I bought it in 2009, when it came out, and have used it ever since. The brassing on the transport wheel shows it’s use. Great for travel. I actually bought a used Fuji 670 version as backup in 2015, before used prices went through the roof, in case my main one stops working.

Talking of folding cameras brings memories of my first camera kindly lent by my uncle (early 1990)- a Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta IV. it came with a Tessar lens and had a rangefinder/ meter.when my uncle passed away checked on the camera and no one seemed to know where it is or what happened to it. i am looking for one on the used market in excellent condition. great camera to use and carry around. meanwhile i have my Rolleiflex 3.5f Tessar now out of retirement and

Referring to Mr. Peter Komar's comment and his water glass experiment on the Pentax 67:
I am absolutely convinced that his observations are correct, especially since a long time ago other people had also performed this test and arrived at the same results.
However, I find it remarkable that this camera was nevertheless used successfully for decades by very many international world-class photographers, not least CTEIN, who as a physicist certainly had an awareness of this issue (mass motion and vibration).
There are a few shutter speeds on this camera that should be avoided if possible, especially 1/15 sec is problematic, even on a tripod and with mirror lockup. Between 1/125 - 1/1000 sec. the world is fine again. With mirror lockup, 1 sec. to ¼ sec. is also good.
The whole thing reminds me of an old joke:
According to aerodynamic calculations, a bumblebee can't fly, but it does anyway because it knows nothing about these calculations.

For me the perfect 6x6 folder is the lovely Mamiya 6, which I know you are also a fan of Mike. I have 2 bodies and all 3 lenses, and it's the perfect travel camera. Small, quiet, versatile. What's not to like? Yes, it's electronic and will brick at some point, but that's why I have 2 of them... :)

To get a better read on what film shooters are using these days I suggest you spend some time lurking on http://photrio.com It's probably the best all film format forum on the net.

You will find that lots of film enthusiasts are still using MF.


If you have the mirror locked up on a Pentax 67, and you're getting vibration, it's because you are not using a heavy enough tripod AND head. I went from an 055 to an 075, and added a three-way pan-tilt - problem solved.

I don't understand why the film advance is such an intricate mechanism. All it does is wind the film. It doesn't even stop at the next frame. You have to stop winding by looking at the number through the red window, same as a Brownie or a Holga.

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