bit of a noob, dizzied by Rolleiflex options

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by viridari, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. viridari

    viridari Member

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    For the last several months, I've been lucky to enjoy a Mamiya C330 that was loaned to me by a friend who introduced me to the joy of shooting film.

    I believe that loan is coming to an end soon.

    I've saved up a little money for more strobist gear, but if I'm going to be deprived of what has become my favorite camera, I'd like to fill its place rather quickly. While I do love the C330, my neck does not. I do enjoy going for long walks around downtown Raleigh so I'd appreciate something lighter.

    I don't require decent built-in metering since I carry a Sekonic L358 everywhere anyway.

    I do place a higher value on having good glass and reliable mechanical parts.

    While my research tells me that I might be happy with a Yashica Mat 124 or 124G, I know that if I get one I'm still going to want a Rollei. I might as well just nip that in the bud and get the Rollei first and be done with it.

    But there are so many options!

    My working budget is total around $500. $600 max. I can get a CLA'd Rolleiflex 3.5E Type 1 in that price range. Is this likely to be my new favorite camera? Am I looking at the wrong model Rollei? Is this model known for having sharp glass? The taking lens is described as a Schneider Xenotar 75mm f3.5.

    So primarily I'm interested in urban walk-about photography, as well as a fair bit of portraiture and artistic nudes. I'm set up for off-camera flash so the f/3.5 wide end isn't going to be a limiting factor for me (except on walk-abouts, I'm usually shooting between f/8 to f/13 anyway when I have my lights).
     
  2. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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  3. viridari

    viridari Member

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  4. GM Bennett

    GM Bennett Member

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    Hi, Viridari -

    I've had a thing for TLR's, and Rolleis in particular, since my dad bestowed his '54 MX EVS on me in my early teens. Almost 30 years later, I have acquired an embarrasingly (or impressive - the adjective depends on whether it's my wife or me talking) large collection of TLRs, including a number of Rolleis and the 3.5E with the 75mm Xenotar you're looking at. It's a great camera, and the lens sample on my camera is very sharp. I think that $500 is a fair price for a CLA'd 3.5E, considering that a CLA would probably run about $150 +/-. I found the screen on my 3.5E to be pretty dim compared to some of its contemporaries, but one of Bill Maxwell's replacement screens has made a significant difference.

    Having said that, you could probably buy a Minolta Autocord, Yashica Auto Mat, or Mamiya C220 for 1/2 to 1/3 of your budget and get equally impressive results. The Mamiya, as you know, gives you the option of interchangeable lenses, and the C220 is lighter thant the C330, although still heftier than the Rollei, Minolta, and Yashica.

    Hard to go wrong with any of the above, IMHO; good luck! Graham
     
  5. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    I have a Rollei with single coated Xenar (Rollei Automat 3), and one with a multi-coated Tessar (MX-EVS). Both are great and make fantastic images. The single coated lens has much more reach into the shadows, almost a stop.

    I would look for taking glass that is clean and clear. I have accepted a small scratch on my Xenar, and the results are very nice, probably in large part because the lens is so clean.

    From the 1950's onward at least, the standard screen is fine for me if it is clean, and the mirror is clean, too. The Maxwell screen is a treat, and a help in the corners in dim light—a very bright view, and snappy. For daylight, I like the standard screen for its gritty snap.

    Most important, I think, is to buy from a good technician who also sells, or get your camera serviced if you think it needs it. Serviced well, the Rollei TLRs are a real treat, smooth and dependable.

    As for weight, my older type 3 is lighter and better balanced than my MX-EVS. The type 3 is my favorite, but I think the MX-EVS might be more sturily built. But the type 3 is still going strong after nearly 60 years. One would be right at home in downtown Raleigh.
     
  6. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The most important part of that chart is listed below:

    The above, coupled with camera shake can outweigh most any difference between the lenses in that chart.

    I know, I have a Rollieflex 2.8F Planar, Rolliecord Xenon, Yashica Mat 124G, Rolleiflex SLR with 80mm 2.8 Planar, and Horseman 6x9cm. They all are infinitely capable of film bulge and blurry pictures with stochastic infrequency. Of all those cameras, (when used at F11) the sharpest one is the one that holds the film flat that day and the one that doesn't jerk when the shutter is pressed.

    Also, see the last page of this PDF, with respect to film flatness : http://www.zeiss.de/C12567A8003B8B6F/EmbedTitelIntern/CLN10e/$File/cln10e.pdf
     
  7. viridari

    viridari Member

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    Heh... they conclude that one should use 220 film instead of 120. But 220 is so hard to get anymore with any kind of variety.
     
  8. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Just to point out the physics of it. The film can never bulge 'backwards' beyond the pressure plate. It can only 'lie flat' or bulge 'frontward' toward the lens. If it bulges forward, it shifts the focus of the center of the frame to BEHIND the focused point. So pictures at infinity will be in focus OK at the edges of the horizon, but there will be nothing in focus (near or far) in the center of the picture. When shooting portraits, the ears will be in focus.
     
  9. viridari

    viridari Member

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    So are you suggesting that this is particularly a problem with the camera that I'm asking about?
     
  10. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    The 3.5 Xenotars and 3.5 Planars were supposedly the absolute tops in terms of lens quality. And the Rolleifexes (except for the "T"), with their little "under the roller" film loading were supposedly best for minimizing film flatness issues. The T loaded just like the Rolleicord, Yashica, Autocord, etc.
    A good, clean, well-working Rollei with perfect 4 element or more glass is an investment, not a purchase.
     
  11. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    V, I have shot many thousands of rolls through
    various Rolleiflexes. Film flatness is not an issue.
    I shoot close portraits with a Tele Rolleiflex (same
    body as a normal Rolleiflex), wide-open at f/4 less
    than two feet from the subject. If film flatness were
    an issue, my portraits would not be possible.

    As for models, the 3.5E was my first Rolleiflex and
    it is still my first choice for shooting outdoors and
    on the road. I don't have much posted here any
    more but I shot this image from my APUG gallery
    with the 3.5E (warning, nudity):

    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=37602

    It's a great camera. But most Rolleiflexes are. Don't
    get lost in the various models and lenses -- their
    differences are subtle, and user error dwarfs them.
     
  12. viridari

    viridari Member

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    Hahaha I was all fired up to see the gallery of samples but I am a lowly freeloader so I can't see them. I'll have to take your word for it. I did find some good work (and some not so good work) on Flickr that gives me some idea of the possibilities.

    Thanks everyone for your help so far!

    (and I have to say, I'm impressed; this forum is so much more civilized than any of the others I've checked out)
     
  13. thebanana

    thebanana Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG. It's cheap to join, and you'll get your money back in valuable information a thousand times over. The fist fights take place in the Soapbox, but I'm not sure you can enter without the proper ID:wink:
     
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  15. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I only wish I had taken the money I put into the stock market 1 year ago and bought Rolleis.

    I have done an awful lot of testing various Rolleis.. 3.5Fs and 2.8E2 2.8Fs 2.8FX and the consistency of quality is pretty amazing. And I have tested the 3.5Fs and 2.8E2 with the optical flat glass in place. The film flatness issue is not really an issue except if you have a roll of film sitting in a camera a long time so that the curl around the roller becomes permanent.

    A Rolleiflex is a really good camera as long as it hasn't had parts switched around, and can be serviced and rebuilt and made to last as long as you continue to use it. And it is a pretty good investment.
    Dennis
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    There is nothing wrong with any Rollei, but with your budget, you could probably get a three-lens Mamiya TLR system that would be much more versatile than any Rollei TLR. You have seven focal lengths from which to choose with that system, bellows focusing, and if you get one of the later models (one with three digits in the model number, or one of the two digit models that accepts a 220 back door), you have both 120 and 220 shooting ability. I would just deal with the weight, since they are nowhere near what I would call "heavy".

    This being said, decent, working Rolleicords can be had for around $100, and they are very small and light. This would be a great way to go if you don't want wides or close focusing ability. The only "normal" focal length Rollei I would buy would be a 'Cord, because they are dirt cheap. Once you surpass the price of a Mamiya to buy a 2.8 'Flex, I feel you might as well just get the Mamiya.

    As far as differences between lenses, forget about it. They are all good enough.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2008
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I have to agree about the weight of the Mamiya's, I had two until they were stolen. The Yashica 124's are good cameras the lenses are excellent, they are a little lighter than the Rolleiflexes, but this is reflected in the build quality which isn't as high as the Rollei's.

    Over the years I've used a variety of MF cameras and like others none have had an issue of film flatness, but film doesn't get left in them more than a few days. The only time I've ever heard of people having problems has been with older bellows cameras where opening the camera quickly can pull the film the film towards the lens.

    Given the choice a Rolleiflex is definitely the better camera to buy, it will last far longer than a Yashicamat, and also be more reliable, I have both.

    Ian
     
  18. elekm

    elekm Member

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    One small correction: The Rolleicord never came with a Xenon -- only the Xenar and before that the Triotar (a well-designed triplet).

    To the original poster, the biggest visible difference that you'll see in the Tessar/Xenar and the Planar/Xenotar is in close to medium distances shot wide open to about f/5.6. The Tessar/Xenar lenses tend to give round out of focus areas, while the Planar/Xenotar backgrounds tend to be much smoother.

    Once you hit f/8 and smaller, the differences tend to disappear.

    Also, the Automat models tend to be lighter in weight than the C-F models.

    Bottom line: You can't go wrong with a Rolleiflex, and if you really want a Rolleiflex, then buy one the first time out. There are a lot of cameras out there that have seen professional use, and that means they've been worked hard.

    Nothing wrong with that, but do keep in mind that any 50+-year-old camera will benefit from a good overhaul.

    As always, be sure to check for cleaning marks on the lens and mold/fungus, and also impact damage to the camera. Good luck!
     
  19. Larry.Manuel

    Larry.Manuel Member

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    My suggestion: a Rolleicord V, especially the Vb. Very nice machine. Quality is equal to a Rolleiflex; complexity is lower. Harry Fleenor usually has one or more to sell. I have one from him, overhauled. It was in like-new condition.
     
  20. mjs

    mjs Member

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    I have an older, New Standard, Rolleiflex from March, 1939. Although uncoated, the lens is incredible; just gorgeous negatives color or b&W. Including the CLA, I paid less than half of your budget. My heirs can dispose of this when I'm gone; I won't sell it before then.

    Mike
     
  21. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    The potential for lack of film flatness is a recognized limitation of the medium format rollfilm design; acknowledged by both camera and lens manufacturers. Weather you observe it depends on how critical you are and knowing the typical manifestation. Luck, or lack of it also plays a role. In general, the Rollei TLRs have a pretty good film path, so factors contributing to film bulge are more likely going to be film type, ambient temperature, and time elapsed between winding frames. In many (most) cases the film is held flat. On critical examination, every one of my MF rollfilm cameras has exhibited film bulge at least once at some point during my ownership. (33 years for the 124G).

    Realize that Rollei did make a glass plate to force the film flat and incorporated a vacuum back on one film back in the 6000 series. The glass plate is not popular, as dust can be a nightmare. Also, as indicated, film flatness without the glass can be excellent.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2008
  22. ronlamarsh

    ronlamarsh Member

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    Rolleiflex

    I have owned a mamiya c330F, a yashica Mat 124 an exacta with schneider optics, and a Moskva 4(6x9) and all took great images with the best being the yashica mat 124. However I now have a Rolleiflex 3.5T and would not trade it for anything........except maybe a new Linhof Tech V(dreaming). Using the Rollei is much more natural than any of the others for me and borders on a sexual experience. the sharpness of the lens is outstanding and if you look at the lens comparison from a previous post you'll see that at F11 its nearly flat, while the center is not as blindingly sharp as a planar the edges are. So get the rollei you'll never be sorry.
     
  23. viridari

    viridari Member

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    Wow.

    Big surprise; I get to keep the Mamiya permanently. I wasn't expecting that.

    At least now I don't feel rushed into getting another camera. I can focus on getting my dark room up first. This thread has been very useful and I'll have more confidence going into fleabay auctions. Thank you, everyone.
     
  24. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    You have to take fate into consideration. But you don't have to be ruled by it.
    Dennis
     
  25. luvcameras

    luvcameras Advertiser Advertiser

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  26. bighilt

    bighilt Member

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    I rcently swapped a Nikon Speedlight for a mint Rolleiflex T and a dozen rolls of film. This from a dealer! You can read the story and see pic examples on my blog.
    I wanted it because I always wanted a Rollei but also because I wanted something light and inconspicuous for street photography -- people tend not to notice when you are looking down into a viewing screen.
    I like the coupled EV system where EV is set and apertures and shutter speeds are then linked. It is quick and easy and produces perfect exposures.
    I am delighted with my Rollei and, like many others here, wish I'd got one years ago but, in truth, it's only now that I can afford one -- thanks to people dumping these jewels so they can buy some crappy digital point and shoot.
    Get the Rollei, you won't regret it.