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Help needed on my first Rolleiflex

PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 1:58 pm
by scarleton
I am interested in buying a Rollieflex. I will be shooting a bit of B&W, chrome, and C-41. My main subject matter will be people. The biggest problem is that I am on a budget, which Rollieflex would you recommend?

I am seeking what I believe is a common desire in Rollieflex photographers: Great glass! With respect to the f/2.8 and the f/3.5, is there a big difference image quality? (sharpness, contrast, bokah)

What about change in optics over the years? I know that with Hasselblad they started added some coating to the lens which improved contrast and lower the flaring. Did this happen with the lens in the Rollieflex, too? If so, when?

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 3:30 am
by DPurdy
It kind of depends on the budget you are on. Rolleis range from less than two hundred to thousands. The older ones tend to be the cheaper but then you are gambling on condition of the optics. A lot of older lenses have haze or fungus or sepration.

That said if I wanted a intro Rollei.. as I did 20 years ago.. I would personally look at a Rollei T. In mint condition they usually don't go over 500 and you can often find them less than 400 in near mint. The 3.5 Tessar lens (or on rare cameras the 3.5 Xenar lens) is better than excellent. The coating is good quality and the Tessar is nearly flare free even without coating. The T was intended to be a budget model with top quality optics and Rollei design. A lot of pros used them anyway.

I would just suggest getting a black Rollei T instead of the grey. The Grey Rollei T had some plastic parts that were eleminated in later versions.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 8:42 am
by Lordcroker
You'll probably get a LOT of different views, but here are my 2 budget favourites.

If your on a real budget then either a Rolleicord IV or V. Both great little cameras with coated Xenar lenses and X flash sync. Very undervalued when compared to the later Vb and IMO handle better because the focus and winding knobs are on the same side.
This means that you don't need to juggle the camera (ala Rolleiflex) every shot if used handheld. If you can live without electronic flash sync then the Rolleicord 111 is cheaper still.

If you'd like a Flex then I'd go for the Automat MX from the early/mid Fifties. They have the lovely coated Tessar lens, the fast action lever wind and the automatic film loading that made the Rolleiflex famous!

Genrally speaking the older you go the cheaper they are.
My very clean and optically/mechanically perfect 1932 Old Standard cost me £26 on ebay......half the price of a Mint late model Rolleiflex lens hood!

The uncoated lens means that it isn't brilliant for colour, but it produces STUNNING black and whites that I think have a nicer look to them than the ones from the later coated lenses.

Factory lens coatings came in around 1949, so as a rough rule of thumb a Rolleicord 111 or Rolleiflex MX onwards will assure you a coated lens.

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 5:52 am
by jerevan
Generally, get a clean and if possible, recently serviced camera. If I was supposed to buy a Rolleiflex today, I think I would look for a mid-fifties MX. When it comes to Rolleicords, I personally prefer the Vb for its bright groundglass, but on a budget, a IV is great. In the long run you might want a brighter screen but when that time comes, there are a few options.

If you can, try to handle one or two different models - it's really hard to understand what one is looking for when shopping on the internet... The differences in handling between models may seem small, but sometimes small things can get annoying in the long run.

As for 2.8 versus 3.5, I think you would be happy with either, but many of the 3.5 versions has bayonet I which is much easier to find filters and accessories for. Be sure to check what bayonet size the lenses take before you buy.