Hasselblad or Rolleiflex TLR? Opinions appreciated

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by jblake, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. jblake

    jblake Member

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    Hi all,

    I have done a lot of reading on this great forum re: the 2 above systems. I was originally going down the RF path but have come to these two systems as I love 6x6 and ground glass. I have been shooting 35-mm for a long time and DSLR but yearn a return to film. Preferably I'd spend around the $2000.00 mark for a system. I am comfortable with the fixed lens on the Rolleiflex as I would like to work with one lens at a time to gain my confidence. I am equally comfortable in getting to use the Blad and understanding that system. I have seen quite a few Rolleiflex TLR's on Ebay and have read mixed opinions on the lenses and the systems. i.e. the 2.8 vs the 3.8 - Xenetor vs Tessar etc. Dennis Purdy seems to have a great knowledge of the Rolleis and if you read this thread I would particularly like your opinion. My main work would be portraits, some street work and some landscapes. Thanks for your help.

    Jason
     
  2. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    With a 2k$ budget, you can get yourself a sweeet kit out of either system. If you want to go the Rollei way, google Henry Scherer, he's one of the last Rollei authorized repairman for the Rollei TLR. (http://www.rolleirepairs.com/cla.htm) He sells and repair Rolleiflexes. With that budget, you should be able to get either a 2.8F or a 3.5F. Planar v. Xenotar is a non-issue; both are first rate lenses, and the differences are angels dancing on a pin.

    If you want to go the Hasselblad way, check David Odess, http://www.david-odess.com/, who is the same thing as Scherer, but for the 'Blad.

    I've been looking at both options recently, and went for a Mamiya TLR because of my budget (and because I got a Rolleiflex T dog in the meantime that I had to return). In medium format, I prefer the TLR for anything that involves more spontaneous shooting; the SLR is for more deliberate work, critical focussing. Image quality between the two system is equivalent, but you have to deal with the mirror vibration on the Hassy.

    What I think is the real advantage of the Hasselblad, is that it's a standard: you can be pretty much anywhere in the world, and you'll find a Hassie rental place at some point.

    If you're shooting more professionally, I would say go for the 'Blad; if you are working for yourself, and want something more intimate, go for the Rollei.
     
  3. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Restricted Access

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    The only advantage to a Hasselblad is the
    interchangeable lenses. If you don't need
    them, the Rolleiflex wins hands down. It
    is smaller and quieter and more stable
    and more elegant and less intrusive and
    generally easier to use.

    As for lenses, they are all pretty much
    the same, no matter what you hear.
    The differences are nuanced. Find one
    in good condition. Budget an extra $200
    for a replacement viewscreen from Bill
    Maxwell or Beattie. Even with a new
    screen and a CLA, you should be able
    to get a first-rate Rolleiflex for under
    $1000.

    Sanders
     
  4. jblake

    jblake Member

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    Thanks guys, great information there. I'm in Australia so I hope it's easy to get a CLA done. I was planning on replacing the screen if I got one so that's in the budget. I don't work professionally so perhaps the Rollei is a good option.
     
  5. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I have a Hassy system and several Rolleis. I use prism viewing on both systems. The Zeiss and Schneider lenses are great on both systems. Before buying anything, I advise renting examples of both camera types and trying them out to determine which camera fits you and your shooting style best.

    For landscapes, I don't use either my Hassy or my Rolleis. I use my Mamiya 7II rangefinder cameras (6cm X 7cm format) and the superb Mamiya lenses. I have one Mamiya body loaded with color film and the other Mamiya body loaded with black and white.
     
  6. edtbjon

    edtbjon Member

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    No professional intent means not more than one lens??? I just have to ask.
    Anyhow, these are both great cameras, but quite different from each other. I do agree that if you decide that you will only ever need an 80mm lens the Rolleiflex wins hands down. It's much lighter, more quiet and it will produce great negatives. But it's a fixed lens camera and not a system. Now, you will get a very good -flex on your budget.
    (As a side note: If I wanted to get a single lens medium format camera I would try to find a Fuji SW690 with a 90mm lens. No ground glass, but a very flexible and capable camera. This is much along the thinking of Tom H. with his Mamayas.)
    Within the budget is also a semi-old (read -70ties) Hasselblad system. A 500 c/m housing, 1-2 film magasines, a standard 80mm lens, a 150mm lens, and possibly also a 50mm lens can be within reach if you a little bit patient, as it's a buyers market. It's a larger system but still not very "professional". It will do very nicely with portraits, street and landscape, giving you all the flexibility you will need.
    For myself I used a 500c/m with a chrome 80mm and a single magasine for a number of years and found that to be enough, even though I sometimes wanted that 50 or 150 lens, which I didn't posess at the time. My system is larger now, but still the 80mm finds the most use (...ehh, along with my SWC which I bought for US$ 1200, but that's another story). If you want to go a bit wider from time to time, or like to use a long lens for portraits or distant landscape, there you go.

    The optical performance of most of the Rollei lenses is very good. The "top of the line" should be the Zeiss Planar, which of course is the only option for the 'blad. Now, in practical terms there is no telling apart the different Rollei lenses, especially if you stop down a few clicks. An MTF chart would probably tell the difference, but that is not my normal subject in front of the camera. :smile:

    Anyone of these cameras will, given proper use and care, give you a piece of engineering that is capable of breathtaking results along with that confidence which comes with great camera design and german glass.
    It's really down to you to figure out what you want to do with your photography.

    //Björn
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 23, 2008
  7. arigram

    arigram Member

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    You want something versatile?
    Get a Hasselblad (lenses, backs, macro tubes, winder, etc)
    You want something compact and quiet?
    Get a Rolleiflex (compact size, small weight, quiet operation)
    If you only need one lens, a Hasselblad 501CM, 2.8/80 lens, A12 back is larger, heavier and noisier, than a Rolleiflex 2.8FX, which is better for street and travel. If you are thinking of using more than one lens, back or other accessories, the Rolleiflex will hold you back, unless you buy another one.
    I own both and they compliment each other.
     
  8. weasel

    weasel Member

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    Have not used a hassie enough to have any great opinion of them. In my hands the one I used never really "felt' right, but that is a purely subjective thing of little value.
    Rolleis' however, I know well. With your budget, if it were me, I would look for the absolute cleanest 2.8 f model I could find. I would use the camera some before buying a screen for it, you may not need one.
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I've used both pretty extensively. There isn't a lot to add to the other comments regarding A vs. B in terms of optics, size and weight, though a plain vanilla Hasselblad, on its own, isn't much bigger or heavier than a Rollei.

    If you want/need interchangeable lenses or backs, the Hasselblad does that. However, if you like simplicity, the Rollei wins, as Ari says, they do compliment each other. And, in your 2K budget you could probably have both, if you're willing to import them from the 'States perhaps, and willing to put off additional lenses and backs for the Hasselblad.

    I disagree with Weasel about the importance of the subjective feel of the camera in your hands. Especially for situations like street photography or portraits the camera should be part of you. I feel that how the camera works in your hands is much more important than what's engraved on the nameplate.

    Currently I have a Hasselblad, I chose it because interchangeable lenses, and backs were important considerations for me. But, I do miss many aspects of the Rollei's. For example. the Rollei's waist level finder is easier to work with than a Hasselblad's, partly because of the shape and layout of the two cameras in use, partly because of the design of the early style Hasselblad finder hoods.
    There are subtle features built into the Rollei, that don't exist for the Hasselblad, or that require accessories, I'm thinking specifically of the Rollei's sports finder which really adds to the camera's versatility IMHO.

    If possible, before you spend your money, rent each one and use them for a week or so, and pick the one that you like using more.
     
  10. weasel

    weasel Member

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    Subjective " feel " is very important, but very individual. To me, the rollei just feels right; but that may not be the case for everyone. The rollei makes a part of me smile every time I pick it up.
    You really need to handle both if possible, come to your own conclusions.
     
  11. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    Hey, somebody actually wants my opinion! Well I have used both quite a lot. As a commercial photog I used Hasselblad but for personal work a Rollei. Your affection for a system is completely subjective. To me the Hasselblad was a necessary tool that I never got attached to while the Rollei is a camera I can't let go of.

    The TLR is like an SLR because you view through a matched viewing lens but it is like a Range finder because there is no mirror and the shutter is very light and quiet. So it is the best of both.

    Regarding camera repairs in Australia, once you get a thorough CLA/overhaul for a Rollei it is probably good for as long as you will continue to use it. In my experience Hasselblads need regular service.

    I am comfortable with the 80mm lens for most everything including portraits and architecture. But I do keep a Pentax 67 with 55mm lens and a 165 lens in the closet just in case.

    2000 should get you a really nice Rollei and might even pay for a CLA. And you won't be losing your money if you change your mind and re sell it. I have made money everytime I sold a Rollei. I thought last year when I bought a new FX that I would lose money on that like buying a new car but now the prices have gone up so much I think I can even get that back if I need to.

    I know people who love their Hasselblads just as much as I love my Rolleis and the quality is superb with both. As long as the condition of the camera is good.
    Dennis
     
  12. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

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    I've used both the Rollei and Hasselblads quite a bit and they're very different beasts. Once you buy a Rollei--that's it, nothing much more to buy--and that may be a good thing. :smile: . The Hasselblad is a system camera and the system is huge. I much preferred almost everything about the Hasselblad--mainly because I like the flexibility of different focal lengths and the easy ability to shoot macro with extension tubes. The 80mm on my Hasselblad was also noticeably better than the lens on my Rolleiflex. Also, the Rollei seemed to draw a lot of attention--people love to stop and chat and talk about the camera. For some reason, the Hasselblad doesn't attract so much attention, although the mirror makes a loud thwap!, so once you take one shot, your cover is blown. Neither camera is a chick magnet. :smile:
     
  13. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    I used my Rollei 2.8C for 25 years before buying a gently used Hasselblad system from a friend.

    I found the Rollei's limitations to be few. First, if you weren't in the right place, you had the wrong lens. Second, accessories were difficult to find.

    You can't change #1, but auction sites make finding the accessories easier. (You can find some accessories new, but you'll pay through the nose for them. Just try to assemble a nice black-and-white filter kit . . .) My Rollei has the 2.8 Xenotar. Sweet lens, no complaints. Shutter amazingly accurate. Rugged, dependable, simple.

    The Hasselblad has it beat hands-down for versatility and is part of a well-thought-out system. Accessories are easy to find but not cheap. You can build a nice system over time with a little shopping. It takes more thought to use, but once you're in the groove it's fast and easy. I love it, and it is now my primary camera. Does it make technically better pictures than the Rollei?
    Maybe. There's a 40-year difference in lens manufacturing and coating between the two of them. I see differences in contrast and sharpness characteristics. Different flavors, one not superior or inferior to the other.

    I probably will never sell my Rollei. I hope my kids will learn to use it. On any extended outing, I carry it as a backup to the Hasselblad.

    I can't hand-hold either one very well, so I've used both cameras primarily on a tripod.

    Peter Gomena
     
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  15. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    In response to the original question... I really doubt the film will know the difference. So the question OUGHT to come down to the most important question: "which camera can you make better photographs with...?"

    I think that's a very important question and one that gets REALLY overlooked in most of these discussions - simply because it involves a process which will not permit you to compare numbers. Comfort should be a HUGE issue with the camera you choose, for example... I've had cameras I simply didn't 'click' with (yeah yeah - there's a joke in there somewhere!).
     
  16. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    I agree with needing to like the camera in order to enjoy using it.. lifes too short. And even going through Rolleis in search of the Holy Grail (the special slightly sharper one) I found for inexplicable reasons a couple that had bad karma or didn't set right with me or something. And a couple that seemed extra good. Or whatever.

    But regarding sharpness in comparsion with the Hasselblad you have to compare 80mm to 80mm and if you did a side by side sharpness test the Hasselblad won't test sharper than the Rollei. The lenses are practically dead on sharp. How much sharper can sharp be than sharp? Sharpness shouldn't be the issue. The Hasselblad Planar is multi coated (I don't know that about the older Hasselblads) and the Pre GX Rollei Planar and Xenotar is single coated. So there should be less flare with the Hasselblad but probably not often noticeable and in black and white the little bit of flare might be a good thing.
     
  17. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    I'd like to suggest comparing the two for sharpness is an incredibly moot point bordering on the inane. Time and time again it's been shown that the differences in individual samples are far greater than the differences between the lenses AS A SPECIES. So - just try and get a good one. A camera with inferior optics that gets USED is FAR more valuable than something that measures better and sits on a shelf!
     
  18. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Yeah, I agree sharpness is not an issue, and it shouldn't be. A good lens is a good lens. As I said in a previous post, the "flavors" are different. If you mine the past posts in this part of the forum, you will find all kinds of lens comparisons and opinions. Figure out your vision, personal preferences and working style and find the best camera to suit that. If a TLR or SLR is not your bag, you can always sell it or trade it in.

    Peter Gomena
     
  19. keithostertag

    keithostertag Subscriber

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    I am not familiar with the Rollei- as with most TLR it doesn't have interchangeable backs, correct? Being an amateur, I don't always use an entire roll at once and it's very nice to be able to switch between B&W and color mid-roll when you want to. I prefer the Hasselblad over a TLR (in general) because of the advantages of the SLR- easier to use filters and shades, no parallax, closer focusing ability, etc. In choosing you might want to consider how the types of images you want to take will determine the type of camera you need. For me, precise composition for closeups is really important.
     
  20. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    What about a Rolleiflex SL-66? A SLR, interchangeable backs, focal plane shutter, built-in bellows, allows tilting lens for depth-of-field correction. I used to own one, and I currently own Hassleblad cameras. The SL-66 was every bit as good a camera, and it also had Zeiss lenses. I had more Hassleblad stuff, and during a time of economic difficulty couldn't afford both systems at the same time.
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If you forsee needing un-reversed, eye level viewing, you should be sure to find and try uing a Rollieflex with a prism.

    I haven't handled a Hassleblad for a while, but there are a wide variety of viewing options available for them, and as I recall, the prisms were very nice to use.

    I have a prism for my Mamiya TLRs and I use it fairly regularly, but it definitely is a lot heavier, and a lot less bright than the prism on my Mamiya SLRs.

    Matt
     
  22. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Personally - my favourite MOST USEABLE MF cameras in order of how easy it is to make a quality photograph with are

    1. Rollei 6000 series
    2. Rolleiflex TLR
    3. Hasselblad
    .
    .
    .
    8 (or thereabouts) Rollei SL-66 (they're just clunky and BIG IMO). Even though their specs look great.
     
  23. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    And for landscapes, my Mamiya 6x7 and my Fuji 6x7 and 6x9s trump my Rolleis and Hassleblad.
     
  24. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    It is good you have so many trump cards. I get too many cards in my hand and I lose track of what I have. Sort of like having only one lens. It gets ingrained in my brain. Is the camera using me or am I using it?
     
  25. Resoman

    Resoman Member

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    I own one of each and over the years have gotten much more use out of my Rollei. I really like my Hasselblad for what it is, but think of it primarily as a studio camera and hardly ever take it out into the world. My Rollei, an E3, is my favorite camera, period, and its 2.8 Planar has the most pleasing image quality of any lens I've owned.

    I happen to like fixed lens cameras and normal to moderately wide lenses - my Rollei and my Hexar AF have been my two most productive cameras for a long time.

    Gary,

    East Snook, TX
     
  26. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I never was much good at counting trump cards.

    I lost track of how many cameras I have a long time ago.

    My cameras use me - no doubt about that!