I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

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Joined: 2011-07-26
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I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Basically I want a square format camera but I'm kind of brain dead when it comes to choosing one.

I'd like it to be an SLR but it doesn't have to be. It can be any film form so long as it is square. :)

My #1 choice is a hasselblad but maybe there are better options?

Thanks in advance!

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Joined: 2013-01-19
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Hi Gordon,

Basically there are few square format camera species, that you may review for yourself and find good answer:
- SLRs with vertical film track (like Hassie, Bronica S2/EC/EC-TL/SQ-family, Kiev 88), Rolleiflex SL66/SLX and 600x series,
- SLRs with horizontal film track - Pentacon Six, Kiev 6C/60, Pentax 67,
- Classic Rangefinders (like Mamiya 6, Bessa III 667),
- Old folding cameras (also rangefinders) like: Voigtlander Perkeo I/II/III, Bessa II/III, and variety of Zeiss Ikontas, Franka IIIe and some eastern bloc productions..
- TLRs like the whole Rolleiflex/Rolleicord family and their better or worse copies incl. Minolta 635, Yashica 635/124/124G, the Czech's Flexaret II through VII, sturdy Mamiya C3/C220/C330 systems (with replaceable optics!)

go figure some of them and get the one that may fit you :)
I'm particularly a great fond of TLR Rolleiflex 2.8d, but that's me. :)

TLR has one major advantage over Hasselblad - I can take a fairly sharp pic of 1/8sec. handheld. Hassie's flapping mirror won't let me go longer than 1/60sec.

hope this helps a bit. :)
greetings
Dominik

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Joined: 2011-07-26
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Thank you so much Dominik I had completely forgotten about TLRs. I'm definitely going to explore that option.

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Joined: 2012-01-25
Points: 183
Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Hi Gordon,

Thanks for your comment on my photo of the ice covered building.
The original prints look head and shoulders above these scans.

I see that you are interested in a roll film square format camera system.
I can pass on my 35 years experience with Hasselblad. First I would say my 500cm body has never let me down. The build quality is exceptional. Service is still available, and with wedding photographers jumping ship for digital they are a bargain.

The normal lens is the 80mm f2.8 Zeiss Planar. Dig it ZEISS T* optics! I mostly shoot with the 50mm f4.0 Distagon which would be like having a 28mm on a 35mm film camera, as I like the look a little better, and it has slightly more depth of field than the 80mm. This is what the Ice photo was taken with. I also have the prism view finder so the image is left to right correct. Now this is a lot of glass and somewhat heavy.

For portraits I use either the 150mm f4.0 Sonnar or the 250mm Sonnar. Wide angles like the 40mm f4.0 Distagon are a little more pricy, but Zeiss worth it. By the way the leaf shutters are in the lens not the body, so your flash synchs at every speed. This is useful as a creative exposure tool when balancing flash and available light. Another advantage is they use separate film magazines, so having several allows you to carry different films and the ability to switch between them using the same body.

Well I hope this helps, and have fun.
Mark

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Joined: 2011-07-26
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Thanks Mark! That has def given me a lot to think about.

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Joined: 2013-01-18
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

It sounds like you are operating a bit out of my budget here so I can't give too specific a tip. However, from having used a MF SLR (A Bronica) and a TLR (Yashica Mat 124), I would personally favour the TLR, for the same reasons that hobbes suggests...I often hand hold in low light so I like the long exposure latitude.

That said, if you were after more of a studio machine then I can't imagine you could do much better than a Hassleblad! I like my Bronica but it has limited capabilities out and about unfortunately.

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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Thanks. I'm liking the TLR option because I'm feeling austere at the moment. How precise is the viewfinder with a TLR?

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Joined: 2013-01-18
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

That is a good question. Without getting too far into the maths behind it (because I am not sure I can!), I have never felt my Yashica to have any more issues with things like Parallax errors as any of my rangefinders. Never going to be as spot on as an SLR obviously.

Of course having a nice large waist level finder helps here, particularly if you use the little magnifier. A Rollei with a 2.8 lens is going to be even better as (I assume)with my Yashica the viewing lens has the same maximum aperture as the taking lens and therefore have a brighter screen.

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Joined: 2011-07-26
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Thanks. My own TLR experience is years ago with a Lubitel 166 back when they were cheap. I'm definitely going to see what I can find and give it a go!

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Joined: 2011-09-27
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Don't :)

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Joined: 2011-09-27
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

"Don't" thing was for Lubitel not square camera

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Joined: 2011-07-26
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

ha! I know how much you love russian tech!

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Joined: 2013-01-19
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

I used both systems, or actually four systems Bronica SQai, Bronica S2A, Hassie 500C/M and Rolleiflex SL66.

All of them are equally cumbersome to use in terms of handling comparing to my TLR Rollei ;) I mean the chimney, knobs, film cassettes, etc. gotta used to it.

Bronica SQAi has a somewhat plastic feel. It doesn't flaps so much like Hass or SL66 but it has an electronic shutter, dead batteries mean 1/500 only, and sometimes if the batteries leak, you're at a CLA mercy whether they find a piece of electronics (late 80's) or not.. Hmm.. Rollei SL66 has perhaps the most panzer-built feel and least handy (a typical studio machine). For fully mechanical gear I'd go for bass or with less budget - Bronica S2A with Nikkor lenses (although, the wide angles are more prone to distortion than Hassel's Distagons)

cheers,
D.

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Joined: 2011-07-26
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Thanks! I take it another vote for a TLR :)

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Joined: 2013-02-11
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

The bit of information about a Hasselblad's slapping mirror is incorrect. While it does in deed have a mirror, the 'slapping' is not an issue. Anything that is handheld below 1/60th is going to depend on the individual photographers steadiness and technique, and not something as trivial as mirror slapping.

With that being said, I shoot 6x6 with both a Hasselblad 500cm, and currently a Yashica 635 TLR. I've also shot 6x6 with a Mamiya C-33, and a Mamiya 6 in the past as well.

While I enjoyed the Mamiya C-33, it was a tank - a heavy, heavy tank! It took superb photos, but it was just extremely heavy and very large.

When I just want to get out and shoot and have fun, the Yashica 635 is my go to camera. It's very comfortable to handle, simple and intuitive to use, and produces spectacular images. It also has an advantage over the others, since it can shoot both 120 film in 6x6 format, and 35mm film with the adapter and mask installed.

When I'm shooting seriously, my Hasselblad is the best option. Not only are the optics stellar, the handling is quite nice as well. In addition, you can change the backs which means that you can shoot color and black and white at the same time with a quick change. If you're on a budget, the Bronica's will do the same job, however I found them large, uncomfortable, and awkward to handle in comparison to the 500c/m.

I don't think anyone has mentioned it, but there is also another option - the Kowa Six, and Kowa Super 66 I think. They were known as the "poor man's Hasselblad" back in the day. They don't have interchangeable backs, but operate much like a Hasselblad. The only drawback is that they are getting harder and harder to service if you have issues. I have only ever heard of one serviceman in the US who still repairs them and has replacement parts.

If none of this works for your budget, and all else fails, buy a Holga. For $15, you can shoot 6x6, and have some pretty creative stuff!

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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Thanks Christopher. I'll look into the Kowa Six. I do have a Holga and love it for certain things. Maybe my indecision is telling me I need to rediscover the cameras I already have.

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Joined: 2011-11-01
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Hey G.

Check out the Mamiya 6 too. Rangefinder but shoots like an SLR. It also folds into itself so it doesn't take up too much space in a bag. The only knock on them is that there was only 3 lenses made. For me, you really only need, long, wide and normal so it wasn't a problem. You can also buy an adapter that will allow you to shoot 35mm panoramics too.

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Joined: 2011-07-26
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

*drools*

I'd kill for a nice Mamiya 6. I track prices on ebay but for now too rich for me.

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Joined: 2013-03-11
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Lots of good information here so far! I believe Kowa was made by Komine, who made the legendary version 3 Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm lens, and they are still making spotting scopes coveted by birders.

There are many good buys in old Rollei's and Japanese TLR's such as Minolta, Mamiya, Yashica, Ricoh, and others. Just make sure to get one with a bright fresnel viewing screen. That will be from 1955 to 2000 roughly. Rollei prices including the T and the 'cords vary all over the place, so don't buy high; something better will appear tomorrow.

I have a 1933 Rollei with a sharp uncoated Zeiss Tessar 3.5, but I don't use it because shutter cocking is not automatic and the viewing is very dim. Instead I reach for my Mamiya 330, which has great optics and good close up ability. There is a parallax error moving line in the finder which works quite well. I bought a 1985 vintage Gossen meter for use with it; if you do look at old light meters, avoid ones that used mercury cells.
Some good brands are Gossen, Sekonic, Minolta, Pentax, and Soligor.

I hope someone chimes in with a rundown on Soviet and eastern block 120 cameras, mysterious and fascinating to me!

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Joined: 2013-04-02
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

I have a Rollei T that I've been using since 1970. I still can't get over the sharpness
of the lens. I'd go for a Rollei over most of the Japanese cameras. Good luck.

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Joined: 2013-05-11
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Here is another avenue to consider: the 6x6 folder. Those cameras were built from the 30's to, well actually now. The makes were Zeiss, Agfa, Voigtlander and many more. The one still in production is the Voigtlander/Fuji.
Except for the latter one, they can be had for relatively little money (one should carefully examine the bellows). The biggest advantage is the weight,usually 300 to 500grams with film. And they are quite small when folded together, they even fit into a pocket.
Well, they are not very fast, and you should make sure you get one with a coated lens, and not the entry level model, something that was made in the late 50's or so.
I find those cameras so handy for hiking. Sure a Rolleiflex may produce a better result - I have five of them - but they are bulkier and come along mostly on shorter trips. The weight speaks against the SLR. Didn't we turn into a lazy bunch?
Don't forget a light meter and make sure you use it properly, especially in sunny conditions.
Have un and enjoy your Hobby!

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Joined: 2013-07-25
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Bronica SQ-A before I take out the C3 - mirror up option negates the shake and its easier to handle IMO. Lens changing on the TLR is, however, very handy and the lenses are so small they dont take up much space.

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Joined: 2014-07-07
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Re: I want a square format camera! Help me choose one!

Not good at this format cameras! I can not understand why you do not want to afford to take the same Nikon or something else! They like SLR autofocus dual filter!
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