Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2005/07/04

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Subject: [Leica] Speaking of medium format, Folders
From: langeratcarleton at (Mark Langer)
Date: Mon Jul 4 11:26:13 2005
References: <> <>


Maybe there's a god who watches over the very, very stupid, but I've
had great luck with buying folders on eBay.  I just ask if the shutter
is working properly (does the 1 sec. open and close in the time it
takes to say "One Mississippi") and are there any pinholes in the
bellows (take the camera into a dark room and insert a flashlight into
bellows to see if there are light leaks).  If I get the right answer
from the vendor, I bid on the camera.  Only had a problem once.  Often
lenses are hazy, or need to be colimated, but this is so easy to fix
with most folders that even an idiot like me can do it.   The lenses
usually come apart easily for cleaning (not on the Super Ikontas
though).  For collimating, put the camera on a tripod.  Place Scotch
tape across the film plane in the open back.  Loosen the trim ring on
the lens that shows the distance, and adjust the lens so that when it
is properly focussed on the Scotch tape at infinity, the distance
scale says infinity.  As they say in the infomercials, "Yes, it's just
that easy!"  Your $40 piece of junk is now a pocket Hasselblad.

The bellows on most Voigtlanders, Certos (same lens/shutter combos as
the Weltas, but a less solid feel to the camera). Zeiss, Welta and
Ansco Titans are fairly durable.  If you are nervous about the
condition of the camera, don't get an Agfa, even though a good one can
be a gem.  By the way, the Russians made a copy of the Agfa Super
Isolette called the Iskra (it has a rangefinder) that can be picked up
for a reasonable price.  But again, if you are nervous, just get a
non-rangefinder folder to start with.  The simpler it is, the less
there is to worry about in terms of condition.

By the way, none of the cameras I mention take 620 film, so you don't
have to worry about incompatibility with 120.  Kodak made some great
folders, but I don't mention them because of the 620 problem.  You can
always reroll 120 film on old 620 spools, but it is a pain in the a**
to do so.  Easier to get a 120 camera.

If eBay seems to risky for you, the International Directory of Camera
Collectors has a Swap Day on Wednesdays every two weeks, and it is a
piece of cake to post a WTB ad there.  All cameras sold on IDCC come
with a 10 days, no questions asked return guarantee, so the most you'd
be out is postage and insurance.  This is probably your safest bet to
get your feet wet with a medium format folder.


On 7/4/05, Mark Rabiner <> wrote:
> On 7/4/05 5:39 AM, "Mark Langer" <> typed:
> >
> > Finally, medium format folders make superlative travel cameras.  Sure,
> > a Rolleicord is light, but not particularly copact.  Folders take up
> > very little space and tend to be light -- this may be relative, but
> > even the heavy Super Ikonta B is a featherweight compared to some
> > TLRs, like the Mamiyas or the Kalloflex.  When you are schlepping your
> > luggage by yourself, every pound saved is a blessing.
> >
> > Is anyone else a medium format folder maven?
> >
> > Mark
> >
> >
> The idea of slipping a camera out of my jacket pocket as if it was a Leica 
> A
> and snapping a picture and slipping it back but having that picture on a
> nice chunk/slab of Brownie film (medium format) has always seemed like a
> dream come true to me. In the future tense.
> Folders always seem so dirty and beat up when I see them at swap meets and
> the few I've seen at camera stores used cases.
> The ones I've seen in books seem great.
> One hears that the odds of getting one with no bellows problems (leaks,
> pinholes, creases, maggots) is 50 50.
> Its the bellows thing which scares me off I'm sure when I run into them and
> they have a piece of dust on them.
> I don't mind that I just need to know the person to send it to to have it
> fixed. CLA'd even. Which I'd think of as part of the price of buying an old
> camera which I'd take seriously in using.
> And from the ones I've run into they all seem to be 620 not 120. Very
> frustrating. Not all but most.
> But sooner or later I'll end up having one in my jacket pocket which I'm
> using all the time and loving it.
> Moving to an area of the country where I'd be wearing a jacket all summer.
> If I was going to get into "collecting" folders would seem to be an ideal
> target. They are the coolest cameras at the lowest price and the usability
> factor being the question mark. 50 50 about the idea of having a bunch of
> cameras which would maybe make unscathed pictures and maybe not every time 
> I
> take one for a spin.
> Mark Rabiner
> Photography
> Portland Oregon
> _______________________________________________
> Leica Users Group.
> See for more information

In reply to: Message from langeratcarleton at (Mark Langer) ([Leica] Speaking of medium format, I've picked up a 1954Rolleicord...)
Message from mark at (Mark Rabiner) ([Leica] Speaking of medium format, Folders)