Kowa 6 Medium Format

6

User Reviews (12)

Showing 1-10 of 12  
Dave LaFollette   Intermediate [Jul 13, 2008]
Strength:

A robust camera. Get the hand grip even if you are going to use it on a tripod. Mine is never hand held. That cold shoe comes in handy for on camera flash or a bubble level if your tripod doesn't have one. The Sekonic Twin Mate has a cold shoe mount that should work quite nicely. I plan for that to be my next purchase. You never know when you might want an incident meter. There is no dark slide to bend or misplace.

The meter prism is a life saver for macro photography. There are several view screens. I use the microprism spot and it works great with no blackout using my macro lens. One note, the Super 66 takes different screens than the 6 and 6mm. The optional tripod spacer allows you to change backs without removing the camera from the tripod. Again, these item are inexpensive on eBay.

What other medium format camera system can offer specialty lenses such as a great macro lens or a 40mm wide angle for such reasonable prices?

Above all this camera system takes great photos if you do your part.

Weakness:

No instant return mirror.

No easy way to use the time setting.

The 6 and 6mm have durability issues that the Super 66 has apparently overcome.

The neck strap cannot be used with the meter prism.





I wanted to return to medium format for quite a while. I used to own a Bronica S2A and liked it a lot. But it had no meter prism available and I wanted to stay away from the dark slides. I found the Kowa. No dark slide and I could get a meter prism. That was a great plus for macro work. I found the macro lens, too and is is very sharp. The meter prism is spot on.

The really cool stuff like the 40mm shows up on eBay occasionally and are usually quite reasonable considering everything.

Anyway, this camera is rock solid. The Super 66 was supposed to overcome the durability issues of the earlier models and I see no reason to doubt that.

I do wish that it had an instant return mirror and there is no Time setting. You set the shutter to T and when you are ready you move the shutter to 1 second and it closes. Not the best arrangement. The mirror lock up is just like my old Nikon FE. You use the self timer and the mirror locks up and you get several seconds for the the vibrations to subside. Again, not the best, perhaps, but it works for me. Get the hand grip and the tripod riser. They are inexpensive and make things much easier.

Customer Service

Ross Yerkes is the man to go to for service on Kowa.

Similar Products Used: Bronica S2A
Mamiya C330
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Dan Metts   Professional [Jan 22, 2007]
Strength:

I have the one with the aluminum lens, so it is a very good looking camera. The sound of the light baffle and mirrow going up is about average. Takes 120 or 220 fim without changing backs. Can get them at a good price, the lens are very sharp, better than most of my Mamiya twin lens sets.

Weakness:

It is getting old and some shops will not repair them.

I have been wanting to get a kowa six for a while. The camera looks good. It feals good in the hand and on the tripod. Is is easier to handle than my Mamiya C 330. The camea is very simple to operate. the cocus is easy in average light.

Customer Service

I had it cleaned and repaid by Ross Yerkes in LA and he did a fine job at a good price and very fast. Higlely recommended. Also, try Morgantown Camera and Vedio in WV.

Similar Products Used: Mamiya twin lens. Pentax 645, mamiya 645, Bronica GS-1, Rollie twin 2.8.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Rob L   Expert [Mar 25, 2003]
Strength:

Excellent optics, wonderful quality from large negatives (printed or scanned).

Weakness:

I don't know that the jam was due to the film advance gear, but Mr. Yerkes took care of that. Otherwise, very solid manual camera.

Wanted to get into medium format at the time and the then-almost-new Kowa six had been traded in at a local camera dealer by a pro. I used the camera off and on for years with only the 85mm lens and T-grip. Last year, I acquired a metered chimney finder (from Adorama)which has made things more convenient. I have shot mostly landscapes and miscellaneous photos with it and the images are outstanding. The camera did jam last year and went off to Ross Yerkes in CA for repair and CLA - very affordable and an acknowledged expert. Not being a pro, this will be my first and last MF camera - and I'm very happy with that.

Customer Service

N/A from Kowa (they are still in business making high-end telescopes and medical optics). Mr. Yerkes, great as he is, won't live forever, either.

Similar Products Used: Kodak folding camera (not really similar, but 2-1/4 x 3-1/4 negative); numerous 35mm cameras from mid-60's models to current.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
FC   Casual [Mar 16, 2003]
Strength:

- Solid as a rock - Excellent lenses - Lots and lots of cheap accessories on ebay - Will keep me happy for many years to come!

Weakness:

I've heard that the winding knob can be a slight problem, but as long as the lever is kept in (and the knob itself used), there isn't any problem.

I fell in love with this camera the moment it came out of the box. I researched and read the reviews on various websites, trying to find the cheapest way to get into Medium Format... Ended up buying a half working body and sending it off for a complete CLA. The price above is the total cost that I paid. The Kowa has by far surpassed all my expectations! The body is solid and strong, with a beautiful lens. I also have the side flash grip, which is very handy. All in all an excellent, quality camera (the prices are unbelievable for this level of quality!!). People compare it with Hassys... I can't say, as I've never used one, but I sure am one happy customer.

Customer Service

Great private repairment who can clean almost anything up for very reasonable prices (a pittance compared to the price of a Hassy CLA!)

Similar Products Used: Yashica TLR - painful!
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
bokata   Intermediate [Feb 17, 2003]
Strength:

Mechanical all the way! Quality lenses! ?xD;?xA;Lots of expert user discussions on the web (e.g. Robert Monaghan's medium format page).

Weakness:

Would say lack of support, but many camera repair places?xD;?xA;still CLA this venerable Cam.

A mechanical dinosaur not yet extinct. It probably has more years left than many of the electronic marvels of today.?xD;?xA;The camera is an affordable, though intimidating way into medium format. Having used Bronica, mamiya, et al, I can?xD;?xA;testify to the build quality and reliable, sraightforeward operation of the Kowa. This is a real shooter! It is also a collector's?xD;?xA;piece as well.?xD;?xA;Not for the feint of heart, but a great buy with an excellent line of lenses.

Customer Service

None

Similar Products Used: Bronica ETRS, Mamiya 220...
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
nhat nguyen   Professional [Aug 15, 2000]
Strength:

Sharp optics
Affordable

Weakness:

-Old vertical build to body takes a little getting used to for handheld shots
-Wished focussing screen was brighter.

A very affordable way to get into the square medium format. Lenses are excellent, plus they all use the same filter size (except some early chrome barrel lenses). Word of caution, the first thing one should do after buying a Kowa is to get it lubed and serviced. Kowas suffer a bad rep because they have been known to jam, but any camera 30 years old will jam...even my old 500c jammed before I got it serviced.

The vertical shape to the body makes it difficult to balance when shooting handheld with a waistlevel. I prefer the horizonal shape of cameras like the Bronicas and Hassies.

Over all, a solid affordable buy. There's plenty of lenses and accessories ont he used circuit and there is still on excellent repairman here in LA that specializes on the Kowas.

Similar Products Used: Bronica EC
Hasselblad 500c
Kowa Super 66
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Jay Park   Intermediate [Jul 30, 2000]
Strength:

Very cost effective, full pro system.

Weakness:

Little heavy to hand-hold since it is made of all metal. Its Seiko #0 SLV between the leaf shutter fails from time to time and really hard to fix locally. You need to ship them out to remote area(LA etc.) to get repaired.

I have 55mm, 85mm, 150mm, 250mm. Among these, 150mm is truly outstanding and its contrast and sharpness rivals with Hassy-Karl Zeiss in portait. In landscape, I think Karl Zeiss is superior(Only if you are trying to compare with magnifier). However, pricewise it's bargain and can't be beaten. For $350, I think you'd get a body and normal lens(85mm).

Customer Service

N/A, it's been probably more than 10 years since being out of production.

Similar Products Used: Hassy, Fuji.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Dave Grabbe   Intermediate [May 21, 2000]
Model Reviewed: 6
Strength:

Solid camera that fits well in the hand with the hand grip attached.

Weakness:

Winding mechanism can fail.

I had one for a few years, sold it. I missed it,
so I bought another one. The 55mm, 85mm, and
150mm lens are sharp.

Customer Service

Ross Yerkes does an excellent job on CLA's
out in L.A.

Similar Products Used: Mamiya 645
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Mark Segstro   Professional [May 01, 2000]
Model Reviewed: 6
Strength:

Strengths are cost, reliability, lens quality (especially the 150 mm). I'm very much looking forward to trying out the 55 mm I've recently ordered through Adorama.

Weakness:

Winding mechanism is fragile. Don't use the crank handle (can apply too much torque to the mechanism), just use the know itself. I know!!
It's a heavy camera (metal everything), which can be a strength, too. Hard to find lenses, accessories, since they are very sought after.
Would be nice to have interchangeable backs like on the 66 and the Super 66, but then, I guess, I'd have a 66 or a Super 66 rather than a Kowa/Six.

Good all-round med. format camera. Excellent lenses. Great value for the money.

Customer Service

Good local repair facility in Ottawa, Canada. I understand that Ross Yerkes in California is excellent and reasonable.

Similar Products Used: Sorry, this is my first foray into the medium format field. I understand a comparable replacement would be the Bronica
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
John Dobbs   Professional [Feb 25, 2000]
Model Reviewed: 6
Strength:

This review id for the Kowa Super 66 not the 6, They didn't have a 66 listed so I took advantage of the situation. An inexpensive Med. Format SLR with a lot of accessories & lenses. It has been said, and I agree, that the Kowa 66 is the poor mans Hasselblad, but it sounds better if you say the Hassy is the rich mans Kowa. Lenses are sharp, Between lens shutter (made by Seiko)allows fast flash synch. A full pro system. It's just too bad it was discontinued.
Would recomend this syatem to any advanced amateur or beginning pro who needs the availability of a full pro system at a reasonable price.

Weakness:

No longer manufactured or supported by factory, However there are several very good repair facilitied=s that still can keep them in like new shape. Slightly heavy to hand hold, (result of solid metal body and real gears and parts).

I would use the Kowa 66 (assuming that it was kept up in tip top condition) on any assignment, that called for 6X6 format. The wide angle lenses are "top of the line," and because of the prices I can afford the whole gamut from 40mm to 500mm. each with it's own btl shutter. A very sound professional (which means, reliable) camera system.

Customer Service

No factory service, but several private repair places, one particular is in California and is noted for good but reasonably priced repairs.

Similar Products Used: Hasselblad, Rollei, and other med. format SLRs.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 12  

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