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Rollei TLR 6x6 Cameras

A User's Review by Doug Hughes, 1999


All Right. You've put together a pretty complete 35mm set-up. You built it slowly, learning the strengths and limitations of each lens before buying another one. You got a solid tripod and head. You shoot Velvia and Delta 100. You use a lens hood, cable release and mirror lock-up. You've read "The Negative" and everything by John Shaw. You're pretty satisfied with your results. Then it happens - you see a 20"x20" enlargement that blows you away. It's big, it's sharp, it's beautiful - It's Medium Format...

While your (pick one - Parent/Spouse/Bank Manager) was pretty understanding about your $500 autofocus SLR, and the Macro lens made a good birthday present, there is no way that you are going to slip a 'Blad or even a Pentax 67 in unnoticed. And you're lugging around a ton of gear already. What you need is a camera that makes big negatives, has a sharp lens, doesn't weigh much, and won't blow the budget. What you need is a Rollei TLR .

Summary: Only one lens - but what a lens it is.

Two Lenses actually - one for viewing, one for taking - but only one really matters. Zeiss or Schneider, Planar or Tessar - some magical names. Can you can live within the constraint of a single focal length? If you are not afraid of using the "shoeleather zoom", there are some significant advantages to the TLR design. It's extremely quiet, there is no mirror shake, the finder does not black out during exposure, and the leaf shutter synchs at all speeds. While you cannot view depth of field at your shooting aperture, the optical effect of the viewing lens (as opposed to a rangefinder) assists in visualizing what is in and out of focus. By switching filters between the viewing and taking lenses, you can see their effect. With over the 75 years of TLR production, Rollei has produced a fairly comprehensive set of accessories including close up lenses, interchangeable finders and screens, grips, filters, sheet film backs, etc.

Rollei TLR's use 120 (and sometimes 220) film to produce an image of just under 6cm square. There are a variety of models on the used market today, from Rolleicords of the 50's to the latest 2.8 GX (also available new at B&H for $3,550, but that's another story...). Prices run from $150 for user 'cords to upwards of $1000 for a clean, late 2.8F.

Technical Details

  • Rolleicord Va
  • Rolleiflex 2.8F
  • Rolleinar 90 degree prism
  • Rollei pistol grip
  • Rolleinar close up lenses

The Rolleicord Va was a 50's economy version of the Rolleiflex (in other words, the N50 of it's day). It has no meter, the finder is fixed (the later Vb has a removable finder), and it only takes 120 film. It's very light - about the same as my Nikon FE2 and 50 f1.4. The lens is a 4 element, f3.5 Zeiss Tessar or Schneider Xenar - no match for the Planar, but stopped down to f8 it is capable of producing outstanding results. There is a built-in leaf shutter with speeds of 1 second to 1/500, and B. Both the taking and viewing lenses have the Rollei Bay 1 bayonet for mounting accessories. The shutter speed and aperture are controlled by levers around the taking lens. They are locked into one EV setting - moving the aperture closed one stop slows the shutter speed one stop. Pushing the aperture lever in releases the lock, allowing the two controls to be used independently. I am not sure if this is a help or a hindrance - this feature seemed to come and go on various Rollei models. Shutter and aperture settings are visible at waist level with a little "wiggling".

Viewing is through the waist level finder with flip up magnifier - it's not very bright, but no worse than an early 80's 'Blad with 45 degree prism I have used. Using the magnifier and wearing a baseball cap outdoors (to provide additional shade) helps significantly. My focusing screen has grid lines and no split image - I found this combination to be ideal. For landscape shots I use the hyperfocal principle via DOF markings on the focusing knob (going up one stop for a safety margin) so the dark finder is not a problem. Parallax compensation is automatic, with a moving mask under the focusing screen. Another alternative is to fold down a square panel in the hood to create a open "sports finder" for eye level use - it's simple, but it works.

Film advance is via a knob, and the shutter needs to be cocked separately. There's also a cable release socket, double exposure capability, self-timer, and a flash PC socket with X and M sync.

The Rolleiflex 2.8F was the last of the dinosaurs. It came with or without a coupled selenium meter. Mine has the meter, which is surprisingly accurate and can be adjusted 3 stops for filter correction via a dial on the left side. The finder is removable and the focusing screen interchangeable. Mine takes 120 film, but some models took 220. It is heavier than the 'cord, feels more solidly built, and the controls are extremely smooth - the 'cord feels much more substantial than an N50 or a Rebel G, but the 2.8F is in another league. The lens is a 5 element, f2.8 Zeiss Planar (the Schneider equivalent is the Xenotar), which unlike the Tessar is outstanding wide open. Like the 'cord there is a built-in leaf shutter with speeds of 1 second to 1/500, and B. The taking and viewing lenses have the Rollei Bay III bayonet, for which accessories are larger and (unfortunately) substantially more expensive. The shutter speed and aperture are controlled by knobs which fall under your thumbs when cradling the camera - on my 2.8f they are not linked. Shutter and aperture settings are visible at waist level through a small window on top of the taking lens.

Viewing is through the waist level finder with flip up magnifier. The screen in mine had a faint grid as well as a center split image, but I found the split image to be of little use - it's hopeless at waist level, and if you are using the magnifier you don't need it. I replaced it with a Beattie Intenscreen (plain with Grid - $119 from B&H) and the improvement was substantial. Parallax compensation is automatic, with a moving mask under the focusing screen. A flip down sports finder is included, with a clever twist - a small glass window is mounted on the back of the finder, about a half inch below the standard sports finder window. This shows an upside-down , non-reversed, magnified image of the focusing screen, via a mirror mounted on the underside of the flip down panel. This allows you to frame an image, slide your eye down to focus, and then return your eye to the sports finder to shoot. Sounds a bit cumbersome, but it works. There's also a cable release socket, self-timer and a flash PC socket with X and M sync.

Film advance is via a fold out crank - turn 180 degrees to advance, turn back 180 degrees to cock the shutter. There's also a cable release socket, self-timer, double exposure capability, and a flash PC socket with X and M sync.

I am a big fan of composing on a tripod using the waist level finder, but when I got the chance to get a Rollie 90 degree prism cheap (20 GBP from a dealer on Portebello Road!), I couldn't resist. It snaps in place of the waist level finder on the 2.8F and provides an unreversed view. However, controls that were so ideally placed at waist level are very awkward at eye level. To make it work you need the Rollei Pistol grip, which slides onto the base of both the 'cord and 2.8F with one of the most elegantly designed mounts I have ever seen. The pistol grip (you can see a picture of both the grip and prism at B&H) has a trigger activated cable release and flashgun mounting point. I got mine for 25 GBP - you can hunt around for an old one, or get a new one for $282 (!). You are now set to impersonate a '50's reporter, and if you can grow a third hand you can probably operate at a pretty good clip - one hand to hold the grip, one to focus, and one to wind the film (the film advance and focus knobs are on separate sides of the camera).

For close up work the Rolleinar close up lens sets are available in three strengths. Each set has two lenses - one for the viewing lens, one for the taking lens. The viewing lens has a built-in prism which adjusts for parallax, making handheld parallax-free close-up shots a snap.

I bought a Bay 1 to 52 adapter and now can use all of the filters from my Nikons on the 'cord. I am still looking for a Bay 3 adapter, but in the meantime I just hold filters in front of the taking lens. For flash work any tripod socket mounting bracket will work. Rollei's take a standard cable release.

Useability

This is a very simple camera system, and the lack of interchangeable lenses and automation allows you to concentrate on composition and lighting. Handheld, it cradles in the palms of your hands, and the controls fall at your fingers. I find that shooting at waist level provides a much more stable platform than at eyelevel. Since it is so small, light, and free of vibration you can use it on a small tripod (I use a Benbo trekker). You'll have no excuse not to be carrying one, and most times you'll want it, since the whole object here is improved quality and you'll be at f8/f11 using ASA 50 film. A compromise is a monopod, shot at waist level - I've had good luck with this. Another clever feature is four small "feet" on the base of the camera, which allow it to stand on a flat surface - I've used this feature more times than I care to admit!

For the price of a Hassy back, you can put together a nice kit consisting of a Tessar lens TLR, tripod, lens shade, incident meter (I use a Gossen CDS Super Pilot), small bounce flash (mine is a Vivitar 2500), cable release, close up lenses 1,2, and 3, polarizer, 81a, red, green, orange and ND grad filters. It will fit in the smallest of bags and bring home some outstanding images. A Rollei also makes a good addition to a full 35mm setup - it will fit into the same area in a bag as a 180 f2.8 lens (something that the much larger Mamiya TLRs, with their interchangeable lenses, bellows focus, and dual focusing knobs, will not do).

Fear of Failure

I was a bit apprehensive about buying precision equipment that is older than I am, and bought both my Rollei's from a large dealer in London (150 GBP for the 'cord, 550 GBP for the 2.8F) for a little bit of "Insurance". However, I have had zero failures with my Rolleicord over the 3 years I have owned it. The same goes for my 2.8F over the last year. There is not much to go wrong - no batteries to go dead, no electronics to fry, no dark slides to lose, and you can't jam the shutters by taking the lenses off incorrectly (since they don't come off!). I plan to send them off for a CLA later this year. I suspect they will still be working long after most newer equipment wears out.

Picture Quality

I would not try and quantify the optical quality of these cameras, but I will comment on the results they deliver. I had not shot slide film before buying the 'cord, and was amazed when I got my first roll of Velvia back - wow!. Enlargements up to 20x20 from the 2.8F (and up to 16x16 from the 'cord - I have not gone bigger) look very sharp and smooth - a substantial improvement over my Nikon primes used under similar circumstances. Monopod, "leaner", and "feet" shots down to 1/15 seem rock solid - the lack of mirror shake and leaf shutter would seem to make this possible. All in all I am very satisfied, and would recommend this setup to anyone who wants to concentrate on composition and image quality, and can live with the limitations of a single focal length.

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Article created 1999

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



Robert Meier , March 07, 1999; 11:37 A.M.

If you use an L shaped bracket for the flash, then focussing becomes very, very difficult. You have to mount the bracket close enough to the camera to be able to reach the focusing knob with the thumb and index finger of the left hand, around the bracket handle. Then, when you have to change film, you have to take the whole bracket/flash off, change film, then remount it all. The pistol grip speeds up film changing a lot since it has the Rolleifix, which is very fast. And it is possible to mount a horizontal bar in the 3/8" socket in the front of the pistol grip to hold a flash.

Tom Alaerts , March 13, 1999; 04:43 P.M.

I use a Rolleicord Va since a few years. I fully agree with the review. It can take very nice pictures. Actually, I've come to prefer shooting with the Cord than with my Nikons. Also, and this is true for most medium format equipment, the fact that it is slow to operate, helps in making better pictures. Typically, you think more. If I load my nikon with a 36 exposure film and the cord with a 12 exposure 120 film, both have the same number of images worth printing (in my case 2 to sometimes 3). I also own a Mamiya C33 TLR with 3 lenses (65, 80, 180 Super). I bought it because it accepts different lenses. When compared to the Rolleicord: - the Mamiya is a lot heavier - I don't see an optical difference. Maybe if I would shoot open against the sun. - my God the Mamiya is heavy - Both are near-indestructible but the Rollei achieves this with less weight - Extra lenses are very affordable on the Mamiya - Did I mention the Mamiya is heavy? - If you can compensate the parallax using the Mamiya "paramender device" or basically a 5cm thick block of wood, you can do macro using all lenses - The weight of the Mamiya is a burden to my back - More viewfinders are available for the Mamiya - The Mamiya has little collectible value and many were sold so it's a very affordable, good and dependable entry to a medium format system. In my opinion, a better choice than similarly priced Kiev equipment - But the C33 is really heavy. I think something like 2.5 kg with lens...

One last remark for interested readers: if you want to buy a classic TLR: always check the SLOWEST shutter speeds. These are most likely to give problems first. To test the fastest speed: open the back of the camera and fire the shutter (at wide open diaphragm) while pointing to a light source.

hope this helps.

Tom

Charles Turchi , June 25, 1999; 09:57 P.M.

Someone, I believe the author of the Rollei TLR review, mentioned that he was looking for a BAY III to 52mm adaptor. Try SRB Film Service, 286 Leagrave Road, Luton Beds LU3 1RB (snail Mail); or SRBFILM@AOL.COM (E-Mail). They supplied me with an adapter, I use it to accomodate an extensive Cokin Filter system, as well as my 49mm and 52mm filters, etc.

Rolf Suessbrich , September 05, 1999; 01:25 P.M.

The Rolleiflex 2.8F isn't the latest model which was delivered. Starting '88 Rollei offered for several years the Rolleiflex 2.8GX with a MC 2.8 Planar, TTL Flash Control, and TTL Exposure meter.

John Lehman , September 09, 1999; 03:56 P.M.

You can make a bay-3 to 52mm adapter by taking the glass out of a damaged bay-3 and a similar 52mm filter, and then gluing the bay-3 filter ring inside the 52mm filter ring. It is almost a perfect press-fit; I used epoxy to keep it permanent (superglue works loose after awhile).

Also, Lowepro makes a case for 35mm zoom cameras which is almost a perfect fit for a Rolleiflex (and you can carry two Rolleinars or a meter in the front pocket).

Godfrey DiGiorgi , September 26, 1999; 03:07 A.M.

I have two Rolleiflexes, a '51 3.5MX Tessar and an '81 3.5F Xenotar "Whiteface". Like the Rolleicord Va you reviewed, the viewfinder of the '51 3.5MX is fairly dim due to the simple groundglass screen. Rolleicords with the original screen are simply too dim for me to use: I can't see well enough to focus accurately in any but the brightest sunshine. An f/3.2 focusing lens compared to the 'flex f/2.8 focusing lens is part of the problem. The other problem is that '50s Rolleis mirror tends to yellow.

Bill Maxwell (Maxwell Precision Optics, Decatur, Georgia) makes arguably the finest focusing screens available for the Rolleiflex TLR. It's a finer grained, brighter, and easier to focus on surface than the Beattie screens I've used. I had him install a screen in the MX and bought one of his replacements for the F. I highly recommend them: they transform these cameras.

Bill also did a complete shutter and transport CLA on the 3.5MX as well as installing and calibrating the focus. It now operates like a brand new camera, and makes me want to send the 3.5F in for a total CLA as well. He can do this for Rolleicords as well, making them far more pleasant to use.

Godfrey

John C. , September 29, 1999; 08:04 P.M.

The Rolleiflex 2.8GX, contrary to Rolf's assertion, is still in current production. It is based on a Rolleicord body, and some Rollei users, myself included, prefer the older E and F flex bodies to the 2.8GX. The addition of a new Rollei or Maxwell screen to these older bodies does indeed transform these cameras. The chromes I get from my 1957 Rolleicord Va and my 1959 Rolleiflex 2.8E compare favorably to the Hasselblad I used to own. These cameras are remarkably well-constructed and, with proper care (like the occasional shutter and transport CLA), will last longer than you will.

alexander andreev , November 02, 1999; 04:11 A.M.

I fully agree that with new production of 2,8GX the quality has gone. Compared with old 2,8 - 3,5 F3, it looks like some entry level plastic made Canon. It is highly advisable if you deside to go ahead with TLR system - look for second hand old Rolleiflex models, gaining quality and style and saving considerably. Another question. On my old 1932 born Rolleiflex there are Tessar lenses and I noticed small bulb of air inside of the glass. Does this kind of defects affect the image seriously? In what way? Again, I don't know wheather it is pertinent here thanking Phil for the site. Nice piece indeed.

Sash

Patric Parker , December 11, 1999; 10:20 A.M.

The original screen I have on my 'cord V is dark, but it is easier to focus than the screen on my 1990 Hasselblad. The newer screen seems to have less contrast. As for images, I have to look closely at 11 x 14 enlargements to see a difference between the 2 cameras. The Rolleicord is a great, inexpensive camera.

Ferdi Stutterheim , January 09, 2000; 06:43 P.M.

All this negative talk about the Rolleiflex 2,8 GX is nonsense! It's a fine camera. The lens is better! The lens coating is better! The lightmeter is better! It has TTL flash metering. It just lacks the auto film feed but there is no MF camera in the world that still has this feature. There is nothing wrong with the build quality and I have not seen any plastics. I'm using this camera for years and I also own a 2,8 F and a 2,8E.

Ferdi Stutterheim

andrew schank , January 26, 2000; 11:13 P.M.

I just picked up a screen from Bill Maxwell of precision optics that blows away any I have ever seen on a Rollei. Cost was about $100.00. I have a 3.5F, and can now see to focus in even low light. The screen maintain a high level of contrast that is absent in most bright screens. You will want to use your Rollei more with this screen in it. Call Bill at 404-244-0095

K Sengkuttuvan , February 25, 2000; 09:32 A.M.

I have used the Rollei Vb, and had the pictures developed to 30"x30" with no visible degradation to sharpness and quality. The lens was Scheneider Xenar lens and nearly all my pictures were taken with f8 or f11. Furthermore currently I am using the 2.8GX and I strongly disagree that it is of inferior make or lacks quality of the earlier versions. In fact the metering is excellent and the lens provide very even and pleasant pictures. I only wish there is some form of grip like the 6008 or the earlier 3003 models.

wes almond , April 07, 2000; 11:23 P.M.

Well, the 2.8 gx is a fine camera for someone who has money to burn. I would never suggest that camera to someone who is looking for great optical performance AND solid construction. The old E and F models have both! something about the GX makes me "sick" to me old rolleiflex camera represent German engineering at its best..the GX is a joke. "A bad sequel to a great movie"

Myequation@aol.com

"All this negative talk about the Rolleiflex 2,8 GX is nonsense! It's a fine camera. The lens is better! The lens coating is better! The lightmeter is better! It has TTL flash metering. It just lacks the auto film feed but there is no MF camera in the world that still has this feature. There is nothing wrong with the build quality and I have not seen any plastics. I'm using this camera for years and I also own a 2,8 F and a 2,8E. Ferdi Stutterheim"

Richard Ilomaki , May 17, 2000; 10:22 A.M.

I have had a Rollei 3.5(vintage ca. 50s, or so a dealer says) for about 2 months and have used both Ilford XP2 and Kodak CN400 in it with excellent results. As is well known with these films they are sharp and grainless(at any reasonable enlargement-say 24in sq. from my old brick) and there is no difference when using a Rollei, M6, T-4 or F90X, all of which I have done.(Try the new Fuji Provia F WOW!!)

Using this film makes a light meter just about un-needed in any reasonable light, and not having to carry one around is great. Sunny 16 makes it just about foolproof.

I have had the film processed commercially and have done a few rolls myself in a Tetenal 2 bath kit with excelent results and no one to blame for scratches but myself.

Tom Alaerts , May 22, 2000; 03:20 P.M.

Using B&W films for C41 processing on a Rolleicord.

Well, I used a few T-Max 400 CN and maybe also an XP2 super (not sure if I used this one as roll film) on the rollei. Conclusion: the image is incredibly sharp. There's no grain, this makes it even quite difficult to focus using the "darkroom magnifying glass" (don't know the english for it). So in that respect they're fantastic. However, I stopped using them (don't use them for 35mm either): I believe the images they yield are too grey, too little contrast. I know you can compensate by printing harder, but I typically seem to miss some "power" in the prints from these films. Since this short period of experimenting, I returned to classic Tmax 100 and FP4.

Tom

Allan Chu , May 24, 2000; 11:26 A.M.

Great review. I bought a rollei 2.8F about 2 months ago - what a beautiful camera. It takes wonderful pictures despite being over 40 years old. For flash photography, I picked up the stroboframe quickflip 120 and the vivitar 285. This has the flash a bit forward (around 1.5 inches) so that it doesn't totally get in the way of the waistlevel viewfinder. (my head still bumps the flash a bit, though)

All I need now is some way to get a quickrelease for this system. as was mentioned above, it is a real pain to take the camera off the bracket to change film.

I also purchased a focusing screen from bill maxwell. Highly recommend it - I left my comments on the neighbour-to-neighbour. you can find it here.

Allan

Allan Chu , May 25, 2000; 11:28 A.M.

Just to add a solution to my problem. My post got me to thinking exactly what I needed to speed up changing film while using the bracket and flash. I did a quick search and found the solution: rolleifix.

As with all other rolleiflex accessories it's dang expensive. I managed to pick up a used one from B&H for $60. it seems to be working exactly the way I'd like it to. I keep the rolleifix mounted on the bracket and am able to mount and unmount the camera fairly quickly. should ease the pains of changing film.

Greg Chappell , June 07, 2000; 06:54 P.M.

I have just been able to pick up a used 2.8GX and did some preliminary shooting with it. I know alot of people talk about the "cheapening" of the TLR Rollei did in coming out with this model, but I am very impressed with it. In my opinion, and I have owned and used both 3.5F's and 2.8F's, the difference between a Rollei 2.8GX and 2.8F is the same difference you'll find in comparing a Leica M3 with an M6. They are from different periods and should not be compared, in my opinion. If you want 220 capability and all the traditional "fixings" you get with a 2.8F, go buy one. If you want a 120 TLR that takes great pics and has TTL flash and ambient light reading capabilities, and you can afford a 2.8GX you'll not be disappointed. As I said, I bought mine used for about what you'd pay for a mint 2.8F 120/220 model today ($1725) so they are out there at that price. It's not in mint condition, but it's in nice condition & I really like it alot. For all intentional purposes, a Rollei 2.8GX is the TLR version of a Leica M6TTL, with the exception that you have the full flash sync capabilities at all shutter speeds.

James Kunetka , July 10, 2000; 05:52 P.M.

I just want to tag on to Greg's comments on the 2.8GX. It IS a superb camera with coatings that exceed that of the 2.8F, for example. Also, mechanically it is just as sound as earlier models. It does have a slightly different feel, however. I use my GX with almost all of the 2.8 attachments, including both the 1.5 and .7 mutars. Like Greg, I got my camera used, just less than mint, but still a bargain!

Jim Kunetka Austin, Texas

Greg Chappell , August 23, 2000; 06:44 P.M.

I have had a chance to use the Rollei 2.8GX with TTL module SCA-356 and Metz Flash 40 MZ3i for a few weeks now and am really impressed with it. There are a couple of things, though, that are not very clear in the various instructions you receive with the camera, flash, and SCA-356 instructions. The page you receive with the SCA-356 says it controls the actual setting of the film speed for TTL flash. I tested that statement by using Provia 100F and setting the ISO on the camera at 200 and 100 on the SCA 356. All exposures were significantly under-exposed. The SCA 356 does do a nice job of "dialing-in" changes in flash intensity on outdoor portraits however. I again used Provia 100F, set the camera's meter for ISO 100 & took ambient readings with it. Then by dialing in ISO 160 on the SCA 356, it created a very nice fill in light. -2/3 stop has worked very well in several cases for me, although you should test at various settings to come up with a look you like. You can only use TTL metering from ISO 25-400. This is a good range, but if you use ISO 400 film, you have no additional room to dial-in compensation and stay in TTL. The Metz 40MZ-3i is a great flash to use with the 2,8GX. I use a Bogan TLR bracket & connect the flash to the SCA 356 with the connecting cord 307 and spacer 300D. With the prism attached the handling is very nice. The prism I use is an older F-type. It does slightly hide the diodes of the camera meter, but they are still visible in any light from indoor to bright outdoor, so if you want to use a prism in connection with this camera but cannot afford the price of the current prism made for the GX, the older one does work. The SCA 356 does stick out from the camera body & could be broken off if hit very hard, but using the bogen TLR bracket with a Rolleifix connected to the base does create a nice working space for your left hand to get to the focusing knob. The Rolleifix also creates a very fast way to get the camera on & off the bracket for film changes.

Ferdi Stutterheim , February 16, 2001; 04:03 P.M.

On the Pistol grip:

Besides growing a third arm which is not appealing to all there is another way to transport film while using the Rollei Pistol grip. Right handed people will hold the Pistol grip in the right hand. To transport turn over to the left untill you hold the set upside down. Now the crank will be facing you and can be turned for transporting the film. Left handed users will have no trouble transporting.

On using a tripod or monopod:

Allways use the Rolleifix between the TLR and the pod. This is a Pistol grip without the pistol. The are two reasons. First, as pointed out by Doug, the camera is more secure on the grip and also on the Rolleifix. The second reason is the tripot mount of the camera is fixed on the sheet metal camera back. This is a design flaw of the TLRs. Usualy tripot mounts are made in solid metal parts of the body. This was not possible in the TLR. To avoid damaging the camera back use a Rolleifix. As a bonus mounting and dismountig will be quicker.

Ferdi.

fernando fernandez-bolanos , March 05, 2001; 03:13 P.M.

after collecting and using leicas and rollei tlr since 1980 i have sold out all except a few leicas and 2 rolleis.both f's. the 3.5f xenotar and the 3.5 f planar. i find that their 75mm lenses are just right and superior to the 2.8f. also the slightly lower weight ,a big plus when traveling. and no breakdowns since 1980. both these cameras are circa 1965. i did have them cleaned and spec.out about two years ago by harry in l.a. the screens are aftermarket and extremely bright.and a 2x dioper that works. on a recent trip with the xenotar (this is my favorite for the extra sharpness and contrast of this schnieder lens) i shot 60 rolls ,or 720 chromes.----only two underexposed shots. the others were right on using the built in synchro.meter. for me,these are about the finest cameras ever built. and,i have gone through almost all brands out there in 6x6. sturdy,well built and excellent lenses. i am not saying that they will outdo the lenses on a hassy.but they do come close to the latest hassy optics in terms of sharpness and almost as good in terms of contrast that only the german glass gives. they do beat the hassy in terms of handling and weight. if you ever come across one of these,buy it and get it brought up to spec by an expert---see back pages of shutterbug. you will never use anything else.

Michael Helms , March 22, 2001; 06:46 P.M.

I've been using an early 50's Rolleiflex for about a year now, and WOW. I completely agree that this is the perfect companion to your 35mm setup. Not that much bigger than the body alone of a Hassy or and RB, and super-easy to use. My model doesn't have a light meter, so there's absolutely no electronics, meaning there's nothing really to go wrong.

The image quality consistantly blows me away. My camera has the 3.5 Schneider Xenar lens on it - one that has performed superbly despite the Zeiss/Schneider wars I constantly hear about. The film carrier has yet to jam; come to think of it, no part of this camera has ever not performed as intended.

Accessories are a bit bizarre at first (make sure you know if your Rolleiflex has a Bay 1, 2 or 3 lens mount), and they can be frighteningly expensive (then again, Nikon hoods aren't exactly cheap either). But, there's a strange German sensibility to it all, and once you break out of the SLR style of equipment, it's tough to go back. (accessories like the pistol handgrip are just fascinating to me - it makes the camera system look more like a speed-trap radar gun than a photographic camera ...)

I still use my 35mm and large format extensively; the Rolleiflex doesn't replace any one system. Rather, it's the perfect compliment for shooting on a larger negative without the time-prohibitive setup of large format. The fixed focal length lens has never been a problem for me; rather, I see it as a way to focus my attention less on the equipment and more on what I'm shooting. Sometimes it's nice to not have to pick and choose between a half dozen SLR lenses ...

Two thumbs up to Rollei. The flex was, and still is a classic. And, as stated earlier, it's not tough to find an older 3.5 model for a fraction of the cost of a good Nikkor D lens.

Maxwell C , April 10, 2001; 04:04 P.M.

Mine is a 1973 Rolleiflex T with film & viewer masks, pentaprism, pistol grip, L bracket and case, plus the usual filters, etc

I use it quite a bit. It is best to 16 x 16 inches in size, the 24 inch photos lose density on the corners. It is robust and simple and has literally been from Alaska to southern Mexico in a packsack.

Color results are great, but the B&W shots sow the real edge of the Tessar lens--so contrasty and sharp. You shoot it at F11 or F8 alot which works well with 100 EI film.

If anyone would like a camera for life, these old Rolleis are candidates. One camera for all things, put the rest of the money into film and enlargements.

Don Rivington , May 31, 2001; 05:54 P.M.

When I was studying photography in the late 70's early 80's the Rolleiflexes were coming to their end. One of my instructors once commented that, in spite of their drawbacks, once you had one in your hands you quickly realized what a machine it was. The class, including myself, looked at him as if he were nuts, I mean c'mon, how could a camera with no interchangeable lenses be a "machine" (at least the Mamiya had interchangeable lenses, bellows extension too).

In the early 90's, after having owned and sold a C330, I was in a camera store and decided to put a used E-type in my hands (after having remembered what my instructor had said). Well, it wasn't quite like the parting of the Red Sea but it was close..the clouds opened up and a great light shone down on me. I quickly bought the camera and left the store.

Fred Cale , August 08, 2001; 03:03 P.M.

Werner Bischof and Ernst Haas employed the Rollei TLR to great effect. The big coffee table book of Bischof's work and the book of Haas' black and white work both feature wonderful images that illustrate perfectly the abilities of these cameras. The book of Vietnam photographers also has a couple pictures from the Indochina era. The thing that really comes across in addition to the great abilities of these photographers is the remarkable image quality of the reproductions......flip the pages back and forth and the difference with respect to adjacent 35mm work is immediately recognizeable. The most "spontaneous" work I have done with the Rollei is photographing parades in Andalusia during Holy Week. The great thing about the 2.8 flash setup is that the cord will NEVER jerk out of that 356!! I have used my Metz 40 series in my hand instead of on a brace the whole time, both on my GX and on my E. The Metz on the E meters itself just as well as it does in the TTL mode on the GX. I just take the hood off the E and put it on the GX and keep it in the sport finder mode. I do find that the ol timey flash cord will yank out on the E (I never have found one of those locker cords). My dad has a Rolleicord and they do appear to have used 'cord components on the GX. The back latch is a 'cord item I think, and other stuff like that, but that's nothing to quibble about. The meter is just fantastic. That little green yellow red setup is fun to use AND to look at! Precise, too, in terms of setting exposure compensation for fill flash, high-key or low-key backgrounds, etc. Someone made a comparison with the M-6 TTL, but, really, the Rollei is a bit more sophisticated for flash applications. There is just an awful lot to like about ANY Rollei! The proof is in the pictures, of which, in closing, a great percentage are found well within the range of a normal lens.

Christopher Trewhella , November 21, 2001; 12:39 P.M.

Having used a Rollei 2.8C for some fourty years now, dont forget the 2.8C or 2.8D when looking for a rollei. Chris Trewhella

Lex Jenkins , February 23, 2002; 10:11 A.M.

Among my earliest experiences with any camera was the Yashica Mat 124 (the 124G had just been introduced but the camera club at our "Y" where we honed our criminally poor skills had the 124 to lend). I don't know why I waited more than 30 years to try another TLR but am glad I was diverted to a Rolleiflex just as I was about to deal on a 124G.

I'm the latest caretaker of a Rolleiflex 2.8C with the 80mm Schneider-Kreuznach Xenotar taking lens (10-leaved iris for us bokeh freaks) and 80mm Heidosmat 2.8 viewing lens. After a month's use the honeymoon feeling hasn't worn off so I hope I can be "objective" (pardon me, couldn't help it...)

In short, it's a pure, simple delight to use. I was fortunate to find one (rather, to have been found by one) in 9+ condition so I can enjoy branding it with my own signs of use. Since I'm very careful with my gear I expect it'll still rate a 9 after I'm done. The styling tickles me - it's a melding of post Art Deco, Bauhaus and Jetsons aesthetic. Lots of durable chrome set off by black for contrast. Very attractive and equally durable leatherette. Not to disrepect anyone else's pet Rollei, but I believe this model just may be the pinnacle of Rollei TLR design. The externally visible metering windows on the later models tends to be a slight detractor in my eyes, tho' Rollei did it as well as could be done. In retrospect the meters built into any camera before the mid-'70s turned out to have been of dubious value since few of 'em have survived to remain useful.

Speaking of useful, the Rollei has - to pardon the hype from an SUV commercial - everything you need, nothing you don't. Shutter speeds of 1-1/500 (all accurate except the 1-second, which actually delivers 2 seconds, and the 1/2-second, which runs 1 second - no problem, I'll just keep that in mind) plus B; f/2.8-22; self-timer; a shutter release lock which can also be used to lock the shutter open on B if you forget the cable release; it'll take a conventional cable release, not the weird kind; M and X sync for flash at all shutter speeds.

The waist-level finder is adequately bright at the center but seriously murky at the edges - as others have recommended, a Maxwell or Beattie screen would fix this. The gridded focus screen is very useful for composition. This model features two options for eye-level viewing: the non-optical sportsfinder; and the crude mirror-prism finder which renders the image upside down. Magnifiers for both the waist level and eye level finders can be wiggled around a bit to suit one's particular vision. While the eye level finder can be quirky to use, it does allow accurate focusing while elevating the camera as needed for shooting over the heads of kids at a parade, or for use on a tripod when maximum elevation is desirable. The only catch is that you can't see the shutter speed or aperture settings when the camera is elevated that high.

Otherwise all the controls are well located and settings are easily visible looking down. Focusing is smooth and well damped with no slop. The film advance lever winder also cocks the shutter - this is convenient except for double exposures, tho' it is still possible to make double exposures by winding the lever 1/2-turn to recock the shutter without advancing the film. I doubt registration would be as accurate as with the cameras on which the shutter is cocked separately, but since I rarely experiment with double exposures this hardly matters to me. However I did get an interesting accidental double exposure on the first frame of my first roll of film so I'm glad it's possible to do.

Optically the single-coated Xenotar is exactly what I wanted - excellent resolution without too much contrast. Sure, we all love our modern, well-corrected, multicoated lenses...'til that day comes when we'd like to recapture the look of those photos our grandparents have in that old album. (DIGRESSION ALERT: That's why I'm glad I stumbled across a Spiratone Portragon 100mm fixed-f/4 lens in a pawn shop. It has a single diopter type element and is technically a horrible lens with outrageously bad spherical aberration - and it's exactly the kind of image my old Brownie Hawkeye delivered. Now I can recreate that experience on conventional 35mm film, and on virtually any SLR because it's a T-mount lens.) If I'm not mistaken the Xenotar is Schneider-K's version of the Planar. Just a bit of trivia for folks who'd like to try a Planar type lens without spending the money for a 2.8F. Likewise I think the Schneider-K Xenar is equivalent to the Zeiss Tessar design. I think there's also another version of the Triotar but I recall the name of the other 3-element lens design - I'd bet either of these simpler lenses would be outstanding for b&w portraiture.

One fellow here mentioned finding it difficult to focus with an L-bracket attached. My experience is the opposite. I find a bracket mounted to the left makes it very easy to both support the camera and adjust the left-mounted focus knob with the thumb and forefinger. Couldn't be easier for me, but it probably depends on one's hand and finger size/shape. Yeh, the bracket gets in the way of film changing but I use this camera for very deliberate sessions, so speed is never a factor. This is not the medium format camera for photojournalism, modeling shoots or any high-pressure work - unless you have several bodies and an assitant to handle film changes for you. Wouldn't that be nice!

The Automat-style film insertion is a breeze. Slip the leader between the two rollers and the rest is a conventional loading style. Does the Rollei compromise film flatness, as others have claimed? I dunno. I don't load the camera 'til I'm ready to shoot and I finish a roll in a single session, so it's not an issue. This model has no red window to watch as the film advances - there's a mechanical counter on the right side and the Automat-type system handles it, well...automatically.

My Rollei has the knob built-in for the later abbreviated Rolleikin adaptor kit for use with 35mm film. It's either a convenience or a potentially confusing and aesthetically displeasing feature. I'll decide after I actually buy and try the Rolleikin. Which I'll do as soon as the bastards on ebay stop outbidding me!

A few nitpicks:

The chrome on the mirror caps is thin and easily etched by fingerprints, which leads to apparent brassing;

The leather storage pouches for the filters eventually harms the glass coatings. Leather is a lousy medium for storing anything long term - it attracts moisture and is acidic from tanning. Don't store your camera, filters or guns in leather;

Likewise the never-ready case is a beautiful thing when well-preserved, but I wouldn't use mine. It'll sit proudly on a display shelf while the camera itself will be stored in a properly padded camera bag 'til used;

Unless you're lucky enough to locate an original neckstrap with the hardware that matches the slot-and-lug doodad on the camera, you'll need some ingenuity to attach an alternate neckstrap;

The film type reminder on the focus knob is way out of date. C'mon, Rollei, where's the setting for transparency film? They should either offer a free recall to update the film reminder or add a window on the back to slip in the end tab from the film box. (Yes, collectors and purists, of course I'm kidding...)

All things considered, if I had to choose between carrying more than one Rollei to have a choice of films, and carrying a single Koni-Omega, Graflex XL-series, or Mamiya Universal-type with interchangeable rollfilm backs, I believe I'd still prefer the TLRs. Yeh, I suppose it'd be nice to have a choice of lenses, but then I'd waste time fiddling with lens changes rather than pondering composition and whether or not a particular scene is even worth photographing. And if I'm gonna face that dilemma again, I might as well just drag my three Canon bodies and all my lenses around. I was -this- close to buying either a Pentax 67 or Fuji fixed-lens rangefinder when the Rollei found me. I think in the long run I'll still be glad I choose the Rollei.

peder mansson , November 07, 2002; 12:19 P.M.

I have twice been close to buying a refurbished 2,8 Flex. My question is this: for portraits in particular, how will a large print from this camera differ from same size taken by Rollei 6000 series (without flash) using say TMax 100 (or TriX to make it easier for the old camera)? In other words and more generally, how much easier and how much better results will I get from using the new camera (forgetting about cost for the moment)?

wayne cross , October 14, 2003; 09:38 P.M.

I'm a part-time wedding photographer. I have been since I was 25, and I am now 58. Last year I purchased a new 2.8GX from a dealer in NYC for $1,950, plus another $900 or so for the 45 degree prism. When I started shooting weddings for a studio back in the late 60's, all we used were Rolliflexes. We had 3.5's, 2.8's, both Schneiders and Zeiss. We didn't really notice any difference in the wedding prints. Are the optics on the 2.8GX better? You bet. What am I comparing it to? My Hassy 503Cxi with Zeiss lenses (I'm in love with my 60mm Zeiss and use it for 90 plus percent of all my pics). I bought the 2.8GX as a backup. I also own a ton of Nikon stuff. In any event, all this talk about the 2.8GX being inferior is nonsense. Sure, I will probably pick up a 2.8F someday (12/24) and use it. I like the "feel" of the old Rollies. But they were not without their problems. The biggest problem we had was the film sensing rollers would get out of wack in the middle of a wedding and the film would wind straight thru when reloading. This happened a lot. The GX does not have this problem. It is any great inconvenience to line up the arrow on the film back with the red dot? No, because I have to do the same thing on my Hassy. I was just using my 2.8 GX this weekend on a trip to Rockport, Mass to photograph the old fishing shack called "Motif #1". I was in the hotel room looking over the way the camera is built, and I was very impressed with the internal quality. Anyone who doubts it should open up a 2.8GX and look at the way it is made inside. Plastic? I couldn't find any. I am very particular about the quality of my equipment, and while the new GX has a slightly different feel, it is still one slick machine that is very well made. As I said earlier in my post, I would like to someday buy a clean 2.8F 12/24, but I would also like to buy a good M-3 Leica. People shouldn't criticize the GX unless you have actually used one or own one. I love my Hassy, but I also love my Rollieflex. Both are great cameras, but they are for different purposes. Print quality from both is fantastic. For around $2,000 you can get a new GX if you do some shopping around. The new prisms are also very good. Is the dome plastic? Yes, I think it is. That makes it lighter and less top heavy. Also, when I was using Rollies to do weddings 30 years ago, we were always denting the prism casings because they were metal. Compared to some of the junk that is being made today, an old Rollie or a new GX will be a joy to own and use, just like a Hassy, Leica, or some of the pro equipment Nikon made and still makes. (I have a restored F with 1.2 Nikkor, a F-3 that I still use for available lights in the church, and and F-4 that you can pound nails with that I have used every weekend for the past 7 years.) In my humble opinion, some of the consumer junk being made today has too may doo-dads and jimcracks on it that get in the way of thinking a photo through to the end. Is it really such an inconvenience to have to manually focus? Anyways, thanks for the opportunity to vent a little. All of this may be obsolete in the future because of digital, but I will never sell any of my cameras or get totally away from film photography. These cameras (Rollies, Hassys, Leicas, etc, will be the collector items of the future some day, just like the old view cameras are today. People will be amazed at how good stuff was made "back then." I want my kids and grandkids to have them. Last thing: TTL flash control is the greatest thing since God created women. I have it on the Hassy, and the GX has it. Worth it's weight in Gold!

Andrew C , April 23, 2004; 07:46 P.M.

For those searching for a viable strap for the Rolleiflex, I just want to add that a wrist strap that screws into the tripod socket works extremely well. It feels extremely comfortable (and comforting-- better than just walking around with the Rollei in your hand!!).

The drawback is that you have to use a coin to unscrew the strap if you want to put the camera on a table, as it cannot sit there with the grip screwed in beneath it. I just put the camera back in my bag.

Patric Dahlén , June 08, 2004; 12:40 P.M.

I wonder why Franke & Heidecke chose to use a 1:4 viewing lens for the first Rolleicord models. These cameras are almost impossible to use in the evening. The Rolleicord II models have a 1:3,2 viewing lens.

One of my favorite Rollei's is my so called "MX-EVS". It has the darker groundglass, but it's extremely fine grained and easy to use. I see no reason to replace the gg with a modern fresnel screen. But then, my vision is ok, I'm only 33. ;-)

Since it's easy to change the screen in the F-cameras, I'm tempted to buy a Maxwell screen to see for my self what people are talking about.

Vijay Nebhrajani , July 13, 2004; 07:45 P.M.

A few words about the new GX/Fx'es and TLR viewfinders in general.

It seems that nobody wants to talk about a few important things about TLRs generally, and the new GX/FX TLRs specifically, so I think I'll add my take. First, I am basically a Rollei 6008i system user, and have been 'spoilt' by that system. So when I acquired a TLR, I immediately noticed some things that were significantly different. I primarily use the waist level finder on the 6008i, so I did not expect that there would be much of a difference with a TLR.

I was wrong. The GX/FX viewfinder, compared to the 6008i viewfinder, is significantly poorer. With a 6008i, you are viewing through the taking lens and what you see is what you get. The taking lens (let's talk about the 80/2.8) is very well corrected, has very little curvature of field, and very little flare (HFT coating). The screen is a microfine, high definition screen which is supremely easy to focus, right to the far corners, in light levels as low as EV4-5.

With the TLRs, even with the newest FX,

1. The Heidosmat is presumably not HFT coated. It is more flare prone than the Zeiss 80mm, no question. Besides, there is no hood for it, and worse, if you add the hood for the taking lens, it causes reflections in the viewing lens (from the top of the hood).

2. The Heidosmat has significantly worse correction, especially with regards to curvature of field. As such, it is easy to observe (with flat subjects) that when corners are in sharp focus, the center is not and vice versa. This implies that you cannot use any more than the central area of the screen for focusing. I did some testing, and if you are trying to focus an area of the screen that is outside a 20mm radius from the center, your focus will not be critical.

3. The Heidosmat has significantly worse correction of aberrations, and given that it is a fast f/2.8 lens, I find that outside the central 20mm radius, it is very difficult to judge focus.

4. The standard screen is coarse and difficult to focus with. I swapped it with the Rollei 6008i HD screen, and this is far, far better, but not as good as the same screen with the 6008i. This can be traced to points 5 and 6 below.

5. The mirror in the TLR is significantly narrower than in the 6008i. This despite the fact that the 6008i has a moving mirror.

6. The mirror in the GX/FX is semi-silvered all over. In the 6008i, only portions are semi-silvered; i.e., the portions where the meter cell sits behind the mirror. Because of this and point 5 above, the corners of the focusing screen are significantly darker than the center, and the entire screen is darker than the same screen on the 6008i with an f/2.8 lens.

All this adds up to a poorer viewing experience with the TLR than with the 6008i (which has one of the best finders in the business).

The reason I chose the TLR over rangefinders is that I could focus without tilting the camera - with a rangerfinder, one has to tilt the camera till the rangefinder spot is on the subject. Tilting back causes a shift in the plane of focus, leading to loss of critical sharpness. With the Rollei 6008i, this is never the case, I compose first, then focus wherever I want to - the entire screen area is available. With the TLR, I had expected to do the same, but I found that only a central circle of radius 20mm is usable. This is not too bad, since the primary point of interest is usually inside this circle anyway. However I think that it is worth pointing out that this is a limitation with the TLR.

Another significant issue with the newer GX/FX'es is a bug/quirk with the supply side brake. This is an oddly shaped, curved metal plate on the side where you insert a fresh roll of film, and is used by the camera to brake or arrest unwanted motion of the supply side spool. This allows for tightly stretched film in the gate. For whatever reason, the metal brake has a plastic 'sticker' on it that reduces the friction between the spool flange and the brake. However, this sticker pretty much wears out after a few rolls of film - maybe a dozen. I spoke to Martin Arndt of Marflex about this, and he told me that he did not know why they put in the sticker, that it is not really needed, and to take it off if it is getting shredded. So I did, but this results in *much* rougher wind-on. It is not that the wind on is stiffer, it is rough and jerky and needs quite a bit of force.

So being an engineer and having got the itch to fix this thing, I bent the metal tab a little downwards, i.e., away from the spigot. This fixed things to the point where the wind on is as smooth as before, and I don't have to worry about a stupid plastic sticker that would self-destruct and could potentially cause plastic pieces to get in into the innards of the camera. (BTW, don't attempt this modification yourself if you are not comfortable messing with that new $3500 FX or whatever TLR, and if you do, don't hold me responsible if you screw it up.)

So, finally, with the HD screen and the brake issue resolved, I enjoy using my TLR far far more than before. Unfortunately, the TLR viewfinder will always remain inferior to that of the 6008i, but there is no way around that unless Rollei redesigns it (ha, not likely).

David Finch , September 14, 2004; 01:28 A.M.

You hear a lot about the big Planar and Xenotar Rollei TLRs. Much also can be said for the Rollei T. It's small, solid, extremely light, and fast to operate. Its viewing lense actually senses the scene better than those of the big Rolleis, for some reason. While the T lacks the feel of the big Rolleis and contains some mechanical compromises -- band-linked levers instead of wheels to control the shutter and aperture, for example -- it is arguably the better choice for street photography and similar uses. Its 3.5 Tessar lense is terrific. My T is one of the earlier versions, a Type I with grey leather and black trim made 45 years ago. I use it all the time, and am continually astounded by the pictures it takes. It is the Ultimate Uber-Brownie, perhaps the best almost-point-and-shoot of all time.

Victor Wek , October 01, 2004; 03:32 P.M.

Unfortunately, I have to agree that new FX is not so well build. Here is the story: I've bought a new Rolleiflex FX two years ago, and after around 200 roles of film it broke. I can wind film, make a ?photo?, counter will change accordingly but the shutter stays open all the time. When this problem has happen, it was cold, around 0C, and the winding arm has rotated quite hard for a while. The photos taken, before problem, ended up to be great! But now I am looking for a repair shop. Cheers, Victor

Paresh Pandit , October 24, 2004; 04:19 P.M.

My First "Rollei Experience" ...

Just wanted to share this...

I recently used a Rolleicord V that a friend of mine recieved as a gift...

He took me along to shoot his first 120 film as he is not acquainted to photography and this is his first camera as well...

As happy as I was, i goofed up the exposures...
Insted of taking reflected light reading from a flood-lit monument, i took incident light (i.e. light falling from the flood lights onto other objects nearby) reading and gave a grand over exposure...

However, to my surprise, the one second exposure i took (hand-held) was not only not so uncomfortable, but also had no signs of shake whatsoever...
Wow...

I am going to have a look at a RolleiFlex 2.8F w/Meter that a dealer has informed me about this weekend...
Fingers Crossed...
:-D...

This review only strengthened my inclination to get that Rollei...

Thanks
Regards

Paresh P

Mathew Chatterton , December 18, 2005; 06:35 P.M.

Got my Rolleicord Va a little while back now for only 60 GBP and its proved itself to be an excellent little performer. The Xenar lens is, from what i've read, an excellent little piece of glass that I have found to take lovely crisp images on Ilford XP2 film. In my experience it makes photography much easier as when I use it in the vicinity of the public quite a few of them take a genuine interest in it (having never seen anything like it before) and it seems to put people at ease.

Paul Neuthaler , January 13, 2006; 05:53 P.M.


Hudson Highlands by Rollei

About three months ago, I purchased a Mint 2.8F Xenotar "Whiteface" 120/220 Type IV. I added a Maxwell High-Lux screen & the Rollei prismfinder. I have taken the best pictures I have ever taken during the past 35 years! The meter is right-on. I am a happy camper. I tried the pistol grip but found it uncomfortable. I use a Rolleinar 2 for closeups (19" -- 12")& 2 Rolleifixes -- one on my Tiltall tripod; the other on the flat Rollei bracket for flash (I use a little Metz unit that works fine).

Ted White , February 23, 2006; 10:38 P.M.

Just fell into a 2.8E when a widow asked me to sell her late husband's photo equipment for her on ebay. Among the many cameras was the 2.8E in near mint condition. I bought it from her on the spot. To my surprise, although it had been sitting for a number of years, film advance works perfectly and all shutter speeds are fine.

A comment about using a Rollei TLR for photojournalism. In the sixties I bought an old Rolleicord with the 3.5 Tessar. Not knowing any better, I accepted assignments from a number of magazines, one of which was Cycle World, a motorcycle magazine. Of course I had to take photos of speeding motorcycles at race tracks in California, where I was based. It became clear the first time I tried to follow movement that I had a problem. How I solved it was to simply watch, in a corner, where the tires of the bikes were on the track as they passed, usually at speeds of 90mph or more in this particular corner (corners were a must as the bikes had to be laid way over). I focused on that spot, metered, and then used the sports finder. I used TriX and the shots all came out quite well. I recall a conversation with the magazine's photo editor later on that went some thing like this: "Great shots, Ted. What did you use? Nikon? Canon? Pentax? Leica?" "No, I used a Rolleicord."

I don't think he believed me. But again, as I didn't know any better, I just figured it out. It was my only camera in those days, and I used it for several years until I got seduced by a Pentax Spotmatic and the wonderful world of interchangeable lenses and stop-down metering.

So now I'm back where I started, and it's rather fun.

Ted

Jerry Friedman , March 23, 2006; 12:32 P.M.

I have used a variety of Rolleis and have always found them to be exceptional image makers. I have settled on T models because they are lighter (very much lighter) than bay II and bay III cameras. Yet, they are thoroughly capable of using almost every add-on device made for later rolleis or for earlier ones. The Tessar lens is as good as the Xeno or Planar when closed down to f/8 or even f/5.6. The later two lenses were produced by Rollei to compete with the Hasselblad after WWII. They are very very good lenses (I, too, prefer the Xeno) but the cameras were just too heavy to shlep around. Also-- I have found that the meters on Rolleis are very good for film use, esp. black and white. I always used an incident meter but it is something of a relief to meter my hand and add a stop. I know this is crude but for my daylight work and scenics, this works very very well. Also, all bay I filters etc fit and they are cheap and the prism also fits as do all modern screens. And to think, all of this and T models are available for half the price of bay II and bay III cameras. I now own teo T models, a gray and a black, both with meters, and both are wonderful to use. There is not a single Rollei product I would knock, but years ago I gave up bay II and bay III rolleis because of their weight. How delightful to return to rolleis that are light and easy to carry but fully capable of demanding results. I have a bunch of different screens, which are easily changed, and I can not imagine what I might be missing.

Geoff Goldberg , April 04, 2006; 07:47 A.M.


a wall in Paris

Given a closet full of camea gear, yes, you'd think you'd reach for the digital.... but I am finding more and more that the thoughtful images are coming from the scanned film shot with....yes, the Rollei TLR. Something about taking it out for a walk, thinking through the glass, getting it on good film (wow, the tonality is just amazing).

Maybe the contact sheets sit for a while before anything happens, and maybe it takes a year or so to get around to printing them, but there is something indescribable about the whole thing. There just seem to be more "keepers" this way. Its worth thinking about.

richard marks , November 16, 2006; 07:54 P.M.

Hi Ive borrowed both a rolleiflex t and also a 3.5 f planar. I am definately hooked, but wonder if a second hand 2.8fx is measurably better optically. i can cope without a meter and TTL flash, but wonder if anyone has experinece of both the new and old Regards Richard Marks

Image Attachment: CNV00005.jpg

Jim Rais , July 22, 2007; 12:00 P.M.


Ome Loeks and his horse - by Rolleiflex T

Reading all the previous comments over the years, there is a collective feeling of contentment using a Rolleiflex. I concur with the opinions. It's a great feeling working with a piece of history that forces you to be conscious for what you're doing before clicking the 40-50 years old leaf shutter, and - usually - with a rewarding great results afterwards. Photography as is meant to be.

karl keung , August 08, 2007; 12:09 A.M.

DSC_7038.JPG Rolleiflex 2.8F

karl keung , August 08, 2007; 12:09 A.M.

provia.jpg

Evgeny Zimin , September 06, 2007; 04:54 P.M.


Hello everybody!

For anyone looking to get into medium format, the Rolleicord V is one of the best bargains out there. This camera has the legendary Rollei quality and many of the later features, but is often overlooked by collectors (who favor the Va and Vb), so the price stays down a bit. You can find one for $125-200 in excellent working condition, depending on where you go. This camera has the 75mm Xenar f3.5 lens (coated), MX flash sync, EVS, self timer, and all the other usual Rollei features. The only downside to the camera (if you can call it a downside) is that you must manually cock the shutter. Performance is truly excellent considering the age and relatively low cost. The lens is quite sharp and contrasty, and provides excellent negatives. I consider the lens in this camera is a true gem, and once I have the aperature blade repaired it will be back in regular service.

Above the picture of Red Square (2005, Rolleicord V, Velvia)
I have some pictures at my opera blog as well.

Regards, Zimins@NET and everebody is welcome.

Gerald S , September 19, 2007; 02:22 P.M.

I recently aquired an automat MX Rolleiflex. It has an uncoated Tessar Jenna lens. I think these cameras are bargains compared to the later Planar tlrs. This lens reproduces fantastic tonality in the greyscale. I shoot mostly black and white. These cameras are lighter than the later Es and Fs. The 2.8 Planar lens tlr is basically a studio camera!

Cathy Wester , October 12, 2007; 09:07 P.M.

Love my TLR!

I love my Rollei TLR 2.8 from 1967 (5 years younger than me)! Acquired only last winter from a dealer friend who took it in on trade from someone going all digital. Mint condition, full leather case, extremely accurate meter, though 2 stops off from my Leica M6 and handheld meter. This camera is a joy to use/experience. A fine tool making the experience and process of making an image - meditation, peace and calm. Of course the end result is most pleasing in quality and as my husband says lots of "sugar". I use Kodak Ektachrome GX. Was a huge fan of Kodachrome 25 and 64 however within the past couple of years I shot both, side by side and was surprised to find I like the grain of the newer Ektachrome far better than one of my all time favorites, Kodachrome.

I had a Rollie TLR back in the 1980s while in art school. It wasn't as nice as this one. I sold that first one in the 90s for a Hasselblad. Glad I'm back with Rollei TLR. Lack of mirror slap or motors is lovely.

While using this Rollie at a family diner recently, one of the young, college age waiters asked, "What is that?" and then "Is it high def.?" After thinking a moment, I answered yes, however this was before it was called "hi def.".

Image Attachment: MimiWaiter1Wrk12inches.jpg

Cathy Wester , October 12, 2007; 09:54 P.M.


This One is Much Better

I apologize for attaching the above image,overworked in Photoshop. Open this one instead. It is much better "Serious About Muffins".

Simon Leung , October 31, 2007; 07:35 P.M.

My 1953 Rolleiflex 3.5A Review:

This is a camera that was built during an era when cameras were built to last. It has no automation of any kind,no lens interchangeability to distract me from my composiiton. The advance crank is as smooth to wind as a Leica M-series.

Yet, unlike the Leica M-series who claim that they've gotten the quietest shutter for 35mm. My Rolleiflex leaf-shutter runs circles around the competition. It is so quiet in fact,no one knows that I have taken a picture.

See,the two little dials? One for the shutter and one for the aperture those are cuff-links designed by Bulgari.

This is not a camera! It is a piece of jewellery. Walk around town with a Rolleiflex around your neck,is like driving a Rolls Royce Phantom Convertible. It commands respect and admiration from fellow photographers.

Walk around town with a Mamiya RB 67 around your neck, you would have to stop and call a chiropractor.

In today's world of Mega-Pixels and Autofocus,this-and-that. Is nice to own a camera that is simple in design,elegant in appearance and has a marvelous lens made by Carl Zeiss Jena...The Tessar.

This is not the same Tessar that one would find in a Sony Digital, magic blender. This is the actual German made unit that was designed by Paul Rudolf in 1892. The one used by Sony is the Japanese Licensed Carl Zeiss Lens from Kyocera, a Japanese built lens under strict German supervision. That's like buying a Mercedes,that's built in Japan!

What more can I possibly ask for?

The thing is that the Synchro-Compur Shutter that they've put into my Rolleiflex MX,is a technical achievement. I can set the switch to X for electronic flash and have 1/500 sec flash sync.!

Where on earth would I find a modern day autofocus digital do-it-all, that does this? Holding the Rolleiflex in my hand is like cradling a piece of sculpture by Rodin. It's a magical experience. On the other hand,cradling a Hasselblad 500c in my hand,is like holding a new-born infant until he stops crying.

Yes,I admit there are drawbacks but none seem to bother me. All I know is that this is one camera which allows me to concentrate more on my composition than having to worry about whether or not I've mounted the right lens.

To me that is what's important.

George Cowie , November 09, 2007; 01:25 P.M.

I have an old Baby Rollei that I bought in Kiel, Germany, in 1962. It needs a CLA, but I have always been very happy with its sterling performance. I used it almost exclusively with Ektachrome in the early years, when I was in college. Among other things, I specialized in night-time shots, and became very good at estimating exposure times - no flash. I also enjoyed nature photography with Kodachrome. With the lenses' sterling accuracy, I could enlarge my shots and didn't need close-up lenses. And as for the murky groundglass, I didn't know any better and just got used to it. I am still looking for the accessory catalog that came with it, as it had some really nifty stuff, like a pano head, and a device for projecting slides. I used to like to spring the Rollei's 4x4 slides on unsuspecting 35mm users, who were astonished to see the image size and clarity on screen. Now that I have time, I am returning to photography; we have an excellent photography school out here in Costa Mesa, CA, at Orange Coast College. Look it up online. You'll be surprised! I am enrolling in the Basic Photography course. I can always use whatever education is available. I really enjoy the photo.net forums, and hope to subscribe when I can. Thanks again, Rollei users!

Andre Sainderichin , December 26, 2007; 06:42 A.M.

Hello, I just bought a 1954 Rolleiflex 2.8C (with the Schneider Kreuznach lens)in its leather "neveready case" and a complete Rolleikin 35mm adapter kit (which I haven't yet tried out). I own a full Hasselblad set, and a LeicaM6. The 'Blad is for tripod work, and anyway, the whole kit is far too heavy to lug around. The Leica is fantastic, but I like the big 6*6 cm negatives, and I wanted to be able to take out a medium format camera with me from time to time when I go walking about the city. So I figured a Rolleiflex would be the thing. Boy, was I right! Apart from the look and feel of this wonderful piece of engineering: this is a great camera. I use the sunny f16 rule as a lightmeter (and very occasionally flunk a picture completely...) and just enjoy the wonderful ergonomics of this camera. Just turning the winding crank and then turning it back to cock the shutter is an almost sensual pleasure...The only drawback? A fairly dim focusing screen (I suspect it's still the original one). I plan to bring the camera in for a CLA these days, and will ask to put in a better screen. Needless to say, the lens is outstanding. Another real interesting thing (which I had read about, but never really bought): holding the camera at belly-button level does provide a very distinctive perspective. Plus it's very discreet: you're not holding a camera in front of your face and it's almost noiseless, so nobody pays attention. Yep, they don't make'm like that anymore. Warmly recommended! Take care, Andr

Martyn Oliver , August 11, 2008; 07:00 A.M.


Bridge at Barcombe Mills

This is certainly a long-running thread!

I bought my "T" a while back from a dealer who didn't know what he had and charged me buttons for it. It came together with a lens hood, filters and a Rolleinar (strangely, this last in the wrong bay fitting, but I found a replacement on e-bay for a couple more buttons). I had it overhauled here in England by Brian Mickleboro, and it runs as smooth as a pat of butter.

I've used a meter with this camera (a Weston Master V), but prefer to take my chances with sunny 16. In fact, in this country, sunny-11 is a better bet, and neg film will easily accommodate any slight overexposure. I've used several types of film, both colour and b&w, but I've been really impressed by 100ASA RolleiRetro (which I'm told is APX-100 on a thinner base) used for the attachment.

ivan chua , October 05, 2008; 10:16 P.M.

I've been waiting for my Rolleicord III to come for a while now, can't wait to take it out. Can anyone in the forum tell me which among the Rolleicord V, Vb or Rolleiflex Automat (all with Xenar lens) are better? I want to get a second Rollei so I can shoot one while the other goes for CLA :)

Kristian Heitkamp , March 04, 2009; 06:03 P.M.

I bought two non working of them. One of them came from India and had no ground-glass, the other one came from Egypt and like the one from india was in a terrible condition. Both was what I expected, since the sellers made clear that they are only for parts. Now after nearly five years of then and when playing around with their parts, cleaning here and making misstakes – getting them fixed I finally got it fixed and calibrated. Now I am just waiting for an ocassion to get a lens cap – my wife forebade any ebay-photo-shopping until april – because I dont want to ruin my fine Xenotar-Lens just with the first roll.

After this I will go for a brighter view-screen. Did anybody make any experience with the ones offered on ebay, coming from Hongkong? They only cost 35 Euros, including shipping to Germany. Are they any good?

Kristian Heitkamp , March 04, 2009; 06:26 P.M.

Tom: I really love your pictures – great shots!

D Purdy , April 21, 2009; 02:44 P.M.

This thread is like a history lesson that continues getting written. It is very interesting to read through.

Ok now April 21 2009 it seems that the current F&H company has discontinued the Rollei FX line due to lack of sales. I am glad I got mine when I did 2 years ago for 3000 USD because in the end the price went up to near 5000 and I feel very fortunate to have my seemingly still new Rollei.

I use both a late 2.8F white face Xenotar and the 2.8FX so I get to compare them a lot in lots of different ways. I prefer the FX because it is so smooth and easy to use and makes my 2.8F seem to take a lot more effort to focus or advance the film... and yes Harry Fleenor overhauled my F and installed the Maxwell screen in both models. At first the shutter release on the FX seemed jerkyer and harder to shoot slow speeds but I have learned it's sweet spot and it has smoothed out with a bit of use. I took the band aid off the film tensioner right away and did not have to bend it to make it work well as a previous poster said. It is smooth and once you close up the back and start advancing film it is very very effortless.

Now that I have auto film sensing in one camera and line up the arrow in the other I have come to really not like the auto film sensor. I much prefer lining up the arrow in the FX when I load a roll of film. I have run too many rolls of film right through the auto sensor of the F.

I hope this thread keeps going as I believe it is now 10 years old. Dennis

Andre Sainderichin , April 26, 2009; 10:40 A.M.

Coming back to this thread after two years and umpteen pictures, I'm glad to report that I still love my Rolleiflex. For me, it's the ideal travel camera: you only have one box to carry, and never experience the anguish of having to chose a lens, or the backache from carrying too much equipment. And since I never use a lightmeter... I walk out with the film in the camera, and no extra. That makes 12 pictures for the day. Which means I have to be parcimonious, and stick to interesting subjects. Which also means I have the time to relax, mull over my alternatives, compose, get everything just so, and then do what I like most: crank the film, and push the release button. Which also means my wife never gets irritated because she has to wait. It only happens 12 times a day. And finally, I come home from travel with 30/40 photographs, which is OK. A friend of mine went to Latin America, with his Nikon Dsomething, and came back with over 1000 pictures. I wonder if he enjoyed the trip, with all the pictures he had to make.... The negatives are great: very sharp, and perhaps slightly less contrasty than we're used to today (single coating?). But the big size yields wonderful enlargements. And there's the fun factor: today, there's far more people around who have no idea what that is I'm holding. I have to confess that I'm enjoying the puzzled looks. And from time time, the smile of a person Who Knows. Great fun, the Rolleiflex.

Image Attachment: fileaWZrlR.jpg

Tim Sturm , April 30, 2009; 10:16 A.M.


2.8f Fuji 800 pushed to 1600

My 2.8f has served me well over the last year that I have had it. The D70s I got when I graduated High School has spent quite a bit ore time on the shelf since I acquired the Rolleiflex, and it is certainly no longer my go to camera for serious work. I am at my happiest when I am out shooting with my Rolleiflex and when see my negatives for the first time after processing.

Hans Jonsson , May 12, 2009; 06:12 A.M.

Rolleiflex T f22/30s Tripod and Fuji Reala

Örnsköldsvik, April 2009

I have really enjoyed this thread. Thanks for sharing you pictures and insights. The Rolleiflex of mine is a grey T-model. Its in wonderful shape and it makes great pictures. Maybe its the limited amount of film and the special posture you get for framing the objects that works together so well :) The 6x6 negatives from a modest Tessar design has a special magic of its own. I am quite happy with my "box-camera". Here is an example from Northern Scandinavia using tripod and my hand to partly cover the taking lens about half of the 30 seconds exposure. 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005...

andy gulland , May 17, 2009; 06:14 A.M.

Hi Folks If you want to see work from a great Rolleiflex photographer then google Steve Pyke.or go to www.pyke-eye.com. He is a true great in modern photography and a lot of his work has been done with a Rollieflex. He even got an MBE from the Queen in 2004... Andy

Jason Smith , September 29, 2009; 10:09 A.M.

I just got a Rolleicord Va, but it came with the mod for it to take 16 exposures. Any ideas how to get mine back to where it will take 12 exposures at 6x6?

Bruce Robbins , January 11, 2010; 05:44 A.M.

I've scanned some old Rollei catalogues from the 1960s I've had lying around for a while and put them on my website which is at: http://photography-matters.blogspot.com/ under the "retro literature" tab. There's some good stuff there (even if I say it myself!) comprising: Tele-Rolleiflex Test Report 1961 Rollei 35 Rollei Line-Up 1967 Rollei Line-Up 1969 Rolleiflex and Rolleicord Hope you enjoy the catalogues. Cheers, Bruce

Sevad Strapotua , January 11, 2010; 12:25 P.M.

Thanks, Bruce. These catalogues are great!

Dave Lee , June 10, 2010; 12:59 P.M.


Taken with a 1949 Rolleiflex Automat w/Carl Zeiss Tessar 75mm Lens

I first began using a Rollei TLR when I was 18 years old and in my first year in college. It was an amazing departure from shooting 35mm. When I developed my first roll of black and white film and made a contact print, I was impressed with the clarity and detail this little camera produced. It was a 1950 Rolleicord III that belonged to my late uncle. Really got hooked on this format, and soon I bought my first Rolleiflex with a Schneider Xenotar lens. I've owned many Rolleiflex cameras since then, and currently have a 1949 Rolleiflex New Automat with a Carl Zeiss Opton Tessar. It is a beauty to behold and was probably never used professionally, like so many Rollei TLR cameras were. I'll treasure this camera forever, and the gorgeous images is produces. Like another person commented on this forum, these cameras are like jewelry. Hand made and we will never see this kind of craftsmanship ever again.

Edwin Franken , June 30, 2010; 03:58 A.M.


...takes two to tango...

Just got my twins complete. With this couple it's pure Rolleißex...

Lars Risgaard , March 11, 2011; 06:18 P.M.

Great side of G.A.S.

Antiqueshopharvest...

A decade of comments to a user review that was made decades after the cameras we all LOVE using - were first produced.

 

I'm the kind of photographer who got my first D-SLR at age 30 (having been purely point'n'shoot) and then got dragged into the mysteries of photography - and got struck with gear acquisition syndrome - when switching back to analogue and picking manualfocuslenses to use with both 35mm and digital.

 

Only halfways thru my first roll of 120 BW - on a nearmint Rolleiflex MX 3.5 Tessar Opton - that i found at an antiqueshop for 70$

 

But the way that baby shoots - it's the first filmroll of many - and my 6yearold released the remote on our first shots - so there's allready yet another generation waiting to use this camera...

David M Williams , August 18, 2011; 01:34 P.M.

The 2.8 is almost perfect - but, has anyone out there figured out a way to add a digital sensor to the removeable back???


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