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08-14-2020, 05:50 PM - 9 Likes   #1
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Review: Pentax Medium Format Mirrorless, 1955 Edition... The Takane Mine Six IIF

I wanted to review the Takane Mine Six IIF I just got (primarily for its Takumar 75mm lens), but I wasn't sure where the review should go...
It isn't a Pentax, or even a SLR, but it is medium format... so Adam suggested I put it here...

Summary
Takane Optical Company Mine Six IIF
Year introduced 1975
Mount N/A Lens is fixed
Lens Takumar 75mm f3.5, fixed
Meter range No Meter
ISO range Six manual film type options
DX ISO range. No DX coding
Exposure modes Manual only, B
Exposure compensation Not applicable
Exposure memory lock Not applicable
Shutter speeds (auto) Not applicable
Shutter speeds (manual) 1 - 1/300s, B
Shutter speeds (mechanical) 1 - 1/300s, B
Self timer Yes
Mirror lock-up N/A
Auto bracketing Not applicable
Multiple exposures Yes, possibly when you don't want them
Winder No
Built-in flash No
TTL flash No
P-TTL flash No
Sync speed 1/300s?
Flash exposure comp N/A
Autofocus No
Autofocus sensitivity N/A
Power zoom N/A
Viewfinder 0.05x, >100%
Viewfinder type Coupled Rangefinder
Diopter correction No
Exchangeable screen Switchable Viewfinder Mask
Depth of field preview No
Image size 6 x 6 cm or 6 x 4.5 cm, switchable between rolls
Panorama format No
Battery No
Battery grip/pack No
Size (W x H x D) 140 x 108 x 50/102 mm (folded/open)
Weight 824 g (with a roll of 120)
A decent beginning for some history is here: Mine Six - Camera-wiki.org - The free camera encyclopedia





So what is this thing, exactly?
It is a Japanese medium format folding camera from the mid-1950s. So not a SLR, not a TLR, either...
It shoots 120 film in either 6x6 square or 6x4.5 format by switching a set of internal baffles (so you have to do it between rolls). The viewfinder also has a switch for a 6x4.5 mask.

In my experience, the 6x4.5 folders are less common than 6x6 or 6x9 folders (like the Agfa/Ansco twins or many of the fancier German folding cameras), but the Japanese seemed to like the "Demi" film format.

A relatively unusual feature of this camera is a coupled rangefinder. This means the moving the rangefinder focuses the lens, and it is generally how all modern rangefinders work.
In the 1950s, however, most folding cameras either had uncoupled rangefinders (moving the rangefinder gave you a distance on a scale, which you could then set on the lens) or no rangefinder at all (so you basically guessed at the distance to the subject and hoped you had a small enough aperture to get something good...).

The most unusual feature of this camera, however, is the lens. Made by Asahi Kogaku, the company that eventually became Pentax, the Takumar 75mm f3.5 only shows up on one other camera I've ever seen (the otherwise remarkably similar Suzuki Press Van). Even on the Takane cameras, though, the Takumar is one of four possible lenses, as the Japanese optics industry was apparently a little different in the 1950s... Asahi did make lenses for other brands, including the companies that became Konica and Minolta, but the lenses on the Mine Six and Press Van are, unusually, labeled as Takumars.

Is it any good?
Well, first a word about sample variation... we talk about it a lot with modern gear, and it reflects on the quality of the gear being evaluated as flaws on modern gear are most likely inherent to the design or manufacture... this isn't like that... this is a nearly 70 year-old-camera that's bounced around the world...
It is also not meant to be modern by today's standards, so I can't very well expect it to hold up to a Pentax 645n...

Construction, functionality, and ergonomics:
Seems well made. A little of the leather has come off, no big surprise. The camera seems to have been well cared for. There's a tiny bit of fungus remnants in the lens, and there are marks on the metal that suggest someone's been in there.
The body opens a little stiffly, but the bellows still flex well and the lens/shutter assembly snap right out. One of the struts occasionally needs a nudge to lock into place, but it's not bad. Latch on the film door isn't perfectly tight, but keeping it in the case while shooting so far has meant no light leaks. The little red windows through which you see the film frame marks were dirty and nearly opaque... that was challenging until I got them cleaned...
Camera feels good in the hand. Viewfinder is good, with a decent (not great) rangefinder box. The focusing action is usually good, though occasionally a little clunky, usually if the sticking strut hasn't been locked...
The shutter cocks separately from the film winding mechanism, which means double exposures are easy... maybe too easy... self timer works fine in that scratchy Copal way. Shutter release is smooth.
Shutter itself sounds like a Copal... very quiet... It uses the old shutter speed numbering scheme 1/300, 1/100, 1/50, 1/25, ... and 1/300 isn't very high... just use slow film...
Flash sync is perfect. It has a cold shoe, and the flash fires fine. I haven't tested it at all speeds, but prior experience with Copal shutters suggests it may work fine up to its 1/300s maximum. My baby Vivitar exposed perfectly.
Film advance is reasonably smooth, and once the little red windows were cleaned, the film numbers were easy to see (bonus points to Lomography for having very nice numbers and self-adhesive! tape on their 120).
It loads backwards from many medium format folders, so the film numbers are upside down in the window. Functionally irrelevant but a little weird.

Optics and picture taking:
OK, so the real thing here is the lens... a real Takumar medium format lens from 1955... is it any good?
In a single word, yes... but it needs more words...
The lens has good color and sharpness, far better contrast than most of the folders I've used, and a really nice overall look.
But it is a relatively simple lens from the 1950s...
It flares worse than a modern lens, and it has that 1950s 'simple lens' bokeh that I really like the look of.
I thought the corners were rubbish at first, but I noticed on one photo that a corner I had previously noticed as soft was actually really sharp... but that part of the photo was closer than the center frame... so field curvature is an issue...
It isn't as good a lens as the one in my Rolleiflex (the f3.5), but it's the best of the folders I have now.
And for portraits so far (I'm three rolls in), it is great. Weakest results have been in landscapes, so I'll need to try more of those to see what's up...

Outside of the lens, it is a 1950s rangefinder, so I need to say something about the viewfinder itself... it isn't very good...
It does not do parallax correction at all, so you're on your own for what's actually going to be in the photo.
When shooting 6x4.5, the viewfinder is in portrait orientation, which is unusual for most people. The horizontal alignment of the viewfinder, however, is about right for the eventual photo.
Parallax or maybe my eyes being in the wrong place, however, mean that vertical alignment of the viewfinder is a bit off, so accurate framing is challenging.
A rangefinder format also means macro is basically impossible, even if you had close-up filters for the camera.
The viewfinder is enormously bright, however, when compared to a TLR of similar vintage. And there's none of that 'backwards' nonsense when composing in a TLR...

So, worth it? I think so...
But you would have to like folders (I do), and you would have to like the format... 35mm folders are much easier, even Kodak Retinas and all of their weirdness...
The Takumar lens is really cool. I'm glad it isn't terrible... I would have been very disappointed, even if I would have enjoyed it on my shelf.
But it's good enough to shoot with, especially people. I'll need to fiddle with it to see what else it can do.

Here are a couple of sample snapshots on Lomography 100 (which I liked)...


You can't really tell which decade this photo is from...


Even in the 5Mp commercial scan, there's loads of detail in her hair at full resolution, and I really like the color. Lost her toe to the viewfinder, though...

-Eric


Last edited by TwoUptons; 08-28-2020 at 12:14 PM. Reason: updated dimensions and weight
08-14-2020, 09:50 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by TwoUptons Quote
I wanted to review the Takane Mine Six IIF I just got (primarily for its Takumar 75mm lens), but I wasn't sure where the review should go...
It isn't a Pentax, or even a SLR, but it is medium format... so Adam suggested I put it here...

Summary
Takane Optical Company Mine Six IIF
Year introduced 1975
Mount N/A Lens is fixed
Lens Takumar 75mm f3.5, fixed
Meter range No Meter
ISO range Six manual film type options
DX ISO range. No DX coding
Exposure modes Manual only, B
Exposure compensation Not applicable
Exposure memory lock Not applicable
Shutter speeds (auto) Not applicable
Shutter speeds (manual) 1 - 1/300s, B
Shutter speeds (mechanical) 1 - 1/300s, B
Self timer Yes
Mirror lock-up N/A
Auto bracketing Not applicable
Multiple exposures Yes, possibly when you don't want them
Winder No
Built-in flash No
TTL flash No
P-TTL flash No
Sync speed 1/300s?
Flash exposure comp N/A
Autofocus No
Autofocus sensitivity N/A
Power zoom N/A
Viewfinder 0.05x, >100%
Viewfinder type Coupled Rangefinder
Diopter correction No
Exchangeable screen Switchable Viewfinder Mask
Depth of field preview No
Image size 6 x 6 cm or 6 x 4.5 cm, switchable between rolls
Panorama format No
Battery No
Battery grip/pack No
Size (W x H x D) 143 x 91.5 x 52 mm (will update later...)
Weight 622 g (will update later...)
A decent beginning for some history is here: Mine Six - Camera-wiki.org - The free camera encyclopedia





So what is this thing, exactly?
It is a Japanese medium format folding camera from the mid-1950s. So not a SLR, not a TLR, either...
It shoots 120 film in either 6x6 square or 6x4.5 format by switching a set of internal baffles (so you have to do it between rolls). The viewfinder also has a switch for a 6x4.5 mask.

In my experience, the 6x4.5 folders are less common than 6x6 or 6x9 folders (like the Agfa/Ansco twins or many of the fancier German folding cameras), but the Japanese seemed to like the "Demi" film format.

A relatively unusual feature of this camera is a coupled rangefinder. This means the moving the rangefinder focuses the lens, and it is generally how all modern rangefinders work.
In the 1950s, however, most folding cameras either had uncoupled rangefinders (moving the rangefinder gave you a distance on a scale, which you could then set on the lens) or no rangefinder at all (so you basically guessed at the distance to the subject and hoped you had a small enough aperture to get something good...).

The most unusual feature of this camera, however, is the lens. Made by Asahi Kogaku, the company that eventually became Pentax, the Takumar 75mm f3.5 only shows up on one other camera I've ever seen (the otherwise remarkably similar Suzuki Press Van). Even on the Takane cameras, though, the Takumar is one of four possible lenses, as the Japanese optics industry was apparently a little different in the 1950s... Asahi did make lenses for other brands, including the companies that became Konica and Minolta, but the lenses on the Mine Six and Press Van are, unusually, labeled as Takumars.

Is it any good?
Well, first a word about sample variation... we talk about it a lot with modern gear, and it reflects on the quality of the gear being evaluated as flaws on modern gear are most likely inherent to the design or manufacture... this isn't like that... this is a nearly 70 year-old-camera that's bounced around the world...
It is also not meant to be modern by today's standards, so I can't very well expect it to hold up to a Pentax 645n...

Construction, functionality, and ergonomics:
Seems well made. A little of the leather has come off, no big surprise. The camera seems to have been well cared for. There's a tiny bit of fungus remnants in the lens, and there are marks on the metal that suggest someone's been in there.
The body opens a little stiffly, but the bellows still flex well and the lens/shutter assembly snap right out. One of the struts occasionally needs a nudge to lock into place, but it's not bad. Latch on the film door isn't perfectly tight, but keeping it in the case while shooting so far has meant no light leaks. The little red windows through which you see the film frame marks were dirty and nearly opaque... that was challenging until I got them cleaned...
Camera feels good in the hand. Viewfinder is good, with a decent (not great) rangefinder box. The focusing action is usually good, though occasionally a little clunky, usually if the sticking strut hasn't been locked...
The shutter cocks separately from the film winding mechanism, which means double exposures are easy... maybe too easy... self timer works fine in that scratchy Copal way. Shutter release is smooth.
Shutter itself sounds like a Copal... very quiet... It uses the old shutter speed numbering scheme 1/300, 1/100, 1/50, 1/25, ... and 1/300 isn't very high... just use slow film...
Flash sync is perfect. It has a cold shoe, and the flash fires fine. I haven't tested it at all speeds, but prior experience with Copal shutters suggests it may work fine up to its 1/300s maximum. My baby Vivitar exposed perfectly.
Film advance is reasonably smooth, and once the little red windows were cleaned, the film numbers were easy to see (bonus points to Lomography for having very nice numbers and self-adhesive! tape on their 120).
It loads backwards from many medium format folders, so the film numbers are upside down in the window. Functionally irrelevant but a little weird.

Optics and picture taking:
OK, so the real thing here is the lens... a real Takumar medium format lens from 1955... is it any good?
In a single word, yes... but it needs more words...
The lens has good color and sharpness, far better contrast than most of the folders I've used, and a really nice overall look.
But it is a relatively simple lens from the 1950s...
It flares worse than a modern lens, and it has that 1950s 'simple lens' bokeh that I really like the look of.
I thought the corners were rubbish at first, but I noticed on one photo that a corner I had previously noticed as soft was actually really sharp... but that part of the photo was closer than the center frame... so field curvature is an issue...
It isn't as good a lens as the one in my Rolleiflex (the f3.5), but it's the best of the folders I have now.
And for portraits so far (I'm three rolls in), it is great. Weakest results have been in landscapes, so I'll need to try more of those to see what's up...

Outside of the lens, it is a 1950s rangefinder, so I need to say something about the viewfinder itself... it isn't very good...
It does not do parallax correction at all, so you're on your own for what's actually going to be in the photo.
When shooting 6x4.5, the viewfinder is in portrait orientation, which is unusual for most people. The horizontal alignment of the viewfinder, however, is about right for the eventual photo.
Parallax or maybe my eyes being in the wrong place, however, mean that vertical alignment of the viewfinder is a bit off, so accurate framing is challenging.
A rangefinder format also means macro is basically impossible, even if you had close-up filters for the camera.
The viewfinder is enormously bright, however, when compared to a TLR of similar vintage. And there's none of that 'backwards' nonsense when composing in a TLR...

So, worth it? I think so...
But you would have to like folders (I do), and you would have to like the format... 35mm folders are much easier, even Kodak Retinas and all of their weirdness...
The Takumar lens is really cool. I'm glad it isn't terrible... I would have been very disappointed, even if I would have enjoyed it on my shelf.
But it's good enough to shoot with, especially people. I'll need to fiddle with it to see what else it can do.

Here are a couple of sample snapshots on Lomography 100 (which I liked)...


You can't really tell which decade this photo is from...


Even in the 5Mp commercial scan, there's loads of detail in her hair at full resolution, and I really like the color. Lost her toe to the viewfinder, though...

-Eric
Enjoyable review on a neat Asahi camera. I like 120 folders. Have an Agfa somewhere. My fave was a modern Fuji 645 folder with meter and rangefinder. It fit in a large coat pocket. Had to send it in twice for realignment. Got tired of that and sold it. A beefier Digital version would be great to own.

Thanks for a great review,
barondla
08-14-2020, 10:22 PM   #3
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Great review. Thank you for sharing.
08-15-2020, 09:42 AM   #4
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The Takane Mine Six IIF

Interesting. For an additional bit of trivia, mine (mee-nay) means mountain peak. (I don't have a Japanese counterpart to the Oxford English Dictionary, so it might alternatively mean something else, but I can see a hint of top-of-the-line inference in the name.)

08-16-2020, 02:42 PM   #5
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Where exactly did you pick up this camera ? It takes really nice pictures. Makes me want to blow the dust of my Mamiya 645 and put it to work !
08-17-2020, 03:46 PM - 1 Like   #6
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I got it from a Japanese seller on eBay.

I’d definitely fire up the Mamiya...

It’s interesting comparing what I got out of this to what I get out of the Retina, which is about the same vintage.
In similar light, the 645 gives me less depth of field for the same f-stop, which is nice for the up close stuff, especially with the vintage bokeh.

-Eric
08-18-2020, 08:23 PM   #7
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Review: Pentax Medium Format Mirrorless, 1955 Edition... The Takane Mine Six IIF

Looks like a knockoff of an Agfa Super Isolette (the coupled rangefinder version). Most of the Japanese companies were also knocking off the Rolleiflex (or, more like, the Rolleicord), though only Yashica persisted into the Japanese excellence period starting in the 60’s. (Mamiya did it one better with an interchangeable-lens design).

Is the lens a triplet, or a four-element Tessar type?

I thought about picking up a Super Isolette once upon a time, then perhaps the Soviet knockoff of it, the Iskra. The Iskra used a very decent Tessar-type Industar lens. But a unique buying opportunity never appeared when I was interested.

Rick “not thick on the ground” Denney

Last edited by rdenney; 08-18-2020 at 08:30 PM.
08-21-2020, 08:28 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by rdenney Quote
Looks like a knockoff of an Agfa Super Isolette (the coupled rangefinder version). Most of the Japanese companies were also knocking off the Rolleiflex (or, more like, the Rolleicord), though only Yashica persisted into the Japanese excellence period starting in the 60’s. (Mamiya did it one better with an interchangeable-lens design).

Is the lens a triplet, or a four-element Tessar type?

I thought about picking up a Super Isolette once upon a time, then perhaps the Soviet knockoff of it, the Iskra. The Iskra used a very decent Tessar-type Industar lens. But a unique buying opportunity never appeared when I was interested.

Rick “not thick on the ground” Denney
I have a lesser Agfa (Ansco Viking), and the Mine Six is far better built. I would expect the Super Isolette would be better in every way than the Viking, though...

There are various opinions on the lens... some folks have said four-element, but others say it's a triplet... I haven't looked at it carefully enough yet to tell for sure...
And there's film in it now, so I can't look at the back of the lens.

Bokeh doesn't look like the Tessars I've used, but in a similar focal length range and vintage I only have my Rollei for comparison.
My Yashica is ~10 years newer but probably has the most similar bokeh from memory...

-Eric

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