Fix the 'cord or get something else?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by drumminor2nd, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. drumminor2nd

    drumminor2nd Member

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    Hi, all. I have a Rolleicord III (coated Xenar 75/3.5, not the Triotar) that needs its advance overhauled, a good scrubbing and its shutter speeds put back into spec. Harry Fleenor said he won't touch that model, but recommended somebody else who quoted $200. I also need a better screen and leather, so by the end I'm looking at $350 to get this thing back into shape... That seems a bit high to me for a Rolleicord.

    So, do I go ahead and get it fixed up by a pro or try to fix it myself (I've done some major work on Nikon SLRs before, but not a Rollei). If I fix it myself, I'm contemplating picking up a different camera with the savings, just because I a) am not 100% sure it will work when I'm done, b) because I want interchangeable lenses (45/55 and 135/150) and a TTL meter option down the road, and c) because I can :smile:.

    If I go the other camera route, my budget is in the sub-$300 to start with (camera, back, finder and lens). There's the usual 6x4.5 (original Pentax 645, Bronica ETRSi or pre-AF Mamiya 645) and 6x6 (Bronica SQ-a or -ai) suspects, but wanted to know what other good options I should look at. I would prefer a 6x6, but a) I can't afford a Hasselblad or Rollei SLR system, and b) there aren't all that many choices out there for SLRs in that format.

    KEH is down (blaming hackers, but I'll put my money on the lazy SOB IT guy), so I guess they're saving me from making a rash decision, hehe.

    So, do I spend the cash on the Rolleicord, or do I get something else? If so, what?
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You're in the middle gound here, a good service will give you a camera that's only as good as several others available second hand in excellent condition.

    For the cost of that service you could get a couple of Yashicamat 124's or 124G's, or even a half decent Rolleiflex. The reality is if you get great results with your Rolleicord and it's Xenar and you know it'll be repaired/serviced properly then maybe it's worth while, if not move on.

    Ian
     
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  3. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    Have you overhauled a leaf shutter? That model has a Compur-Rapid, yes? Not that difficult but certainly tedious. There are a few sites on the 'net that show a lot of good info. The rest of the Rolleicord is pretty simple. Once you get inside the front panel you'll see the way to loosen the viewing lens to reset focus after you install a new screen. New mirrors are available. The wind/counter mechanism is pretty simple as long as no parts are broken- simple cleaning. Compared to a 35mm SLR, you'll be stunned at how much empty room is inside a Rollei, and at the huge size of many of the parts :smile: I'd suggest avoiding the focus system if it is working smoothly.

    If the shutter worries you, remove it and send it off to someone. Probably $75-100 for a real overhaul?

    Use alcohol to loosen the leather- held on with shellac. go slow to avoid tearing.

    The Bronica with a 75 or 50 was my everyday street camera for a year or so. If you get a simple prism you can turn it easily if that is an issue. I'm back to a Rolleicord as the everyday- that mirror slap and blackout just didn't work for me. But others use them all the time and do great stuff.

    Basic answer- keep the Rollei AND get something else!! Not like you can get any money for a problem Rolleicord.
     
  4. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    If you think you need a meter and three different lenses, you are either thinking too much, or haven't learned to value the simplicity of the TLR. It's a good reason to have multiple systems like Dan says.

    If you're not sure you want it, you should buy one in near perfect condition, use it a bit, and sell it in near perfect condition. No money lost.

    I don't mind putting $200 into something I'm going to keep forever. But if it's not exactly what you want, I can't say spending the money would be worthwhile. Sorta like fixing a car of no value; are you going to keep it for many more years or are you going to dump it as soon as it fails inspection again?
     
  5. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    The estimate for the repair does put it into a some Rolleiflex model and T territory but, unless they have been gone through, you are still facing the cla to assure the shutter and advance, etc. are working and are reliable. I've not used a 'Cord but do have a T. I am not sure the lens quality of the 'Cord is lesser than a T or 'Flex so fixing the 'Cord is not an unreasonable or uneconomic venture.

    I use an ETRS system as my daily MF and 35mm slr system (I have the 35mm back). I love the system, I can not think of any other as versitile and reliable with 1st rate lenses. I've not used the SQ series but it is a bit big for me as a daily carrier in terms of size and weight. I also have a Rolleiflex T in excellent condition but the shutter needs a CLA. I loved using it when it was working and found each had its place in my shooting habits with neither really able to carry both venues. Now that I am older and weight is more a concern, the T will be serviced and much of what I do with the ETRS will curtailed as my traveling is more restricted and weight has become a major issue. The T will become my daily camera supplemented with my 35mm Leica.

    While I hate the thought of selling either, I can see selling off the Bronica long before the T. It is just too good a camera to let go of and a near perfect camera for general photography, especially for us oldies.
     
  6. John Austin

    John Austin Member

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    Show more respect for the elderly and love your Rollei!!!
     
  7. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    x2
     
  8. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    I say fix it up, if it's a reliable technician. Do not compare that cost to what you can get a "decent" camera on the market because contrary to most optimists I'd say 95% of Rolleiflexes and 'cords out there need full CLAs, advance overhauls and many, many have front standards out of alignment. It's what causes all the misplaced and errouneous arguments over which lenses in the flexs and cords are better. More accurate to compare your current situation to getting a flex or cord for $150-500 and then spending another $300-400 in getting it properly into perfect spec. Then it does not look so expensive to get your existing one done. That or do get another and stop down 3 stops for all your shots....
     
  9. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Rollicord, if working properly, is worth it. As others have said, most other cameras you will compare it to, are in unkown, as is condition. The devil you know is better than the one you don't know. Just an old saying, not trying to disrespect the Rollie. Good Luck
     
  10. PaulMD

    PaulMD Member

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    Fix it up. There's no guarantee that the other camera you buy won't need service again soon, and at best lens will equal the Xenar. The 'cord is nothing to be ashamed of, it's more camera than anything except a Rolleiflex.
     
  11. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    Send it up to Dave Easterwood 734 433 2640. He worked on my III and came back perfect.

    As for the screen, put a mamiya rb screen in it. (I don’t have experience with that setup though)
     
  12. John Austin

    John Austin Member

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    And if you have to walk ten miles along a beach for your pix the 'cord is lighter - Also, few people, if any, can tell the lens quality difference between a 'cord and a 'flex from a normal sized print, which is the only important criterion (excluding the Triotar)
     
  13. PaulMD

    PaulMD Member

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    I doubt you could tell a difference between a 'cord Xenar/Tessar and a 'flex with a Xenar/Tessar, if both units are in equal working shape and focused the same they should produce identical results. The Tessar/Planar distinction is well trod and again I doubt under 90% of circumstances you could tell a difference (mostly wide open edge sharpness and a slight increase in wide-open contrast).

    Really, the 'Cord is a great image maker, the Xenotar/Planar 'flexes are sexy but awfully expensive for the marginal increase in image quality. Take care of it, get everything realigned, get the mirror cleaned, install a split-prism screen if that's your thing, and it will give you another 30 years of use before it needs to be cleaned again.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2012
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  15. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    For what I do, I actually prefer a cord to a flex. I like the separate winder and shutter, lighter weight, and right hand focus. I also like the lens. it does not have the micro contrast as others but it has a wonderful look to it.
     
  16. PaulMD

    PaulMD Member

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    I've just come to the realization that the Rolleiflex reflex finder can be combined with the sports finder for 2-step focus-composition shooting. Unless you trust the meter or have a Xenotar/Planar, this is really the only advantage I've found so far. Of course, I did develop a religious shoot->wind reflex with my Yashica-D. :cool:
     
  17. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    i though both the flex and cord have the sports finder combined in the viewing hood.
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i like my triotar way better than the tessar ...

    even at 10x10
     
  19. PaulMD

    PaulMD Member

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    With the Rolleiflex, you can fold down the front part of the hood, and there's a mirrored surface that provides reflex viewing through the viewing lens, in addition to the sports finder. I was under the impression the 'cord didn't have this, I may be wrong.
     
  20. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    The cord does not have that. There is a square in the back of the hood that you look through and has the front part that you flip to allow the straight through viewing.
     
  21. drumminor2nd

    drumminor2nd Member

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    Oh, don't get me wrong... I like the Rollei. That's why I didn't give an option of "Sell it on eBay saying 'I think it works... but as-is...'" or "Use it for a planter." :smile:

    I'm just not sure spending $200 to overhaul it would be worth it at this point. That's the big question for me. If it were a nice 'flex or a Hasselblad, you bet I'd be sending it out.

    After reading up, I think I can do the shutter job myself. I haven't found much info on fixing up the advance, though. Let me finish up the roll in the camera tomorrow between some meetings and I'll give it a looksie (it still runs, I just have to fiddle with it some). I've had it apart to clean the mirror (which is fine) and the taking lens, but I haven't cracked into the advance at all.

    Maybe I'll just save up my pennies for a Hasselblad later on and clean up the Rollei. I don't see many 6x6 SLRs I like otherwise :smile:.
     
  22. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    Here's one page discussing the Rolleicord advance-
    http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/forum/messages/15681/12456.html?1212086095
    The odds are that the interior of a III is pretty similar. Or simpler. I was serious before- if you can work inside 35mm SLRs, the interior of a TLR will seem huge and spacious. Tracing the mechanism will be easy.

    If you scroll down this ebay listing, you will see the back side of the counter dial. This should give you an idea of what is behind your counter dial. The notch spacing will be different, but the idea is the same. If/when you unscrew the counter plate, there is a spring in there. Maybe study a bit before hand which way it is tensioned, but it should go back together without much confusion.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/ROLLEICORD-...332?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35b673ae94
    Most everything will be simple cleaning.
     
  23. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    If you plan to buy any kind of used camera yo'll confronted with a cla at sometime. Cameras need care.
    200$ for an (internal) cla sounds not too much. You can replace the screen by yourself. I made this some time ago with the screen of a defect Seagull from ebay. You can repair or replace the leather by yourself. New leather does not let you take better photographs.
     
  24. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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  25. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    You can get it done right or cheap. All I'm saying is that there's a huge difference between getting it done from someone like Fleenor or a place that repairs pretty much any camera. And I do not mean just price. I've done both. Let's just say Harry is the better deal, by far.
     
  26. PaulMD

    PaulMD Member

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    I highly encourage a CLA on your existing equipment vs spending $150-200 on an unknown piece of equipment. You may be able to find a better deal than Harry Fleenor; I personally find the waiting list offputting. You will pay $150-200 to CLA any TLR, the question is whether you spend an additional $150-200 to acquire it before you CLA it. You cannot better a Rolleiflex/Rolleicord for the money. There is no other way to guarantee that your camera functions as you need it to. It is worth the investment in your equipment.