My Rolleiflex is on drugs?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by RustedChrome, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. RustedChrome

    RustedChrome Member

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    Hi all. I recently picked up a well-used but good functioning Rollieflex Automat. I ran a test roll though it just to make sure everything was working and, while the photos came out, they have a strange, heavy blurring to the edges, much like those "Lensbaby" selective focus lenses.

    Since those shots were all done wide open in my house, I decided to test it in bright sunlight yesterday so I could stop it down. The results are the same.

    I think I would really like using this TLR if I can get that legendary Rollei image quality out of it. Any ideas on what could be causing this? The lenses seem clear when I look through them. There is a small blob of oil at the bottom of the front element, inside but everything else looks nice, minus a few dust spots. Could it be that the camera back or film plate is not at the correct distance? I'm new to TLR's so any advice is appreciated.

    First shot, wide open at f/3.5
    [​IMG]

    Second shot at f/16 (ignore the streaking, that's my scanner)
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    What lens does it have? The Zeiss Triotar 75/3.5 is known not to be very sharp, especially wide open. Just checked on models/lenses -- I doubt very much that it has the Triotar (a Rolleicord I have has one, but I have not used it yet as it needs work).

    Another Rolleicord I have with a Xenar, the resolving power almost doubles between f3.5 and 5.6 (175 lp/mm to 300 lp/mm), while another 'cord I have with the same lens type is 250 lp/mm at f3.5 and 328 lp/mm at 5.6.

    Stick a page of classified ads on the wall and photograph it at all f/stops (use a pod) -- this will tell you how the lens performs. The corner sharpness should improve quickly as you stop down. You might just have to save f/3.5 for portraits. Or consider having the camera CLA and tested by a good Rollei repairperson.

    Vaughn

    PS...the above 3 "cords are not mine, but the university's -- the lens data is from Mark Hansen (Classic Camera Repair in Portland) from when he CLA the two cameras. He used a green filter over the lens when testing the resolving power.
     
  3. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    Looks like what I got recently when I reassembled a Minolta Autocord and had a spacer around the shutter mount go askew. I bet opening up the lens shroud and reassembling things squarely will clear it up. Or the focus rails are out of alignment.
     
  4. JPD

    JPD Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2010
  5. JPD

    JPD Member

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    I suspect something like that too. I had a similar problem with an Ensign 6x9 folder, and it turned out that the shutter assembly was a bit loose. A few turns on the shutter retaining ring solved the problem.
     
  6. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I think you proved my unstated point -- they make for great portrait lenses! And "sharp" is a very relative term! "Not as sharp" as a Xenar can still be pretty sharp! Great images, BTW!

    The 'cord I have (serial number 751641) must be the same model as yours. If I trusted the students with its film-loading system (not complicated -- I just don't trust the students!), I'd get it CLA'd. I do check out the other two 'cords (VB's) to our students -- how can I not?! I learned photography with a "flex over 30 years ago!

    Vaughn
     
  7. JPD

    JPD Member

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    True true! I meant that a normal Triotar gives better results wide open than RustedChromes Tessar-examples.

    A Yashica A is another good camera for students and for portraits. Simple to use, and the Yashikor lens is beautifully soft wide open, not as harsh as the Triotar, and pretty sharp stopped down. :smile:
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Like JPD I used to have a Rolleicord with a Triotar, and for a Triplet it wasn't too bad, certainly not as bad as this camera's lens.

    Rollei did have big issues with lens quality after WWII. Carl Zeiss Jena still supplied many of the lenses but had major problems with procuring specialist optical glass, and lens designs were modified to make use of what was available. The situation reached a point where Rollei wouldn't use Jena lenses and the West German Zeiss introduced the Opton Tessars. Many of these were still made at Jena but had to pass the Western arms quality control, this was a time where the two Z|eiss companies hoped to re-merge at some point.

    A Tessar or Xenar isn't the sharpest of lenses wide open, but shouldn't be that far off at the corners. So perhaps as othjerrs say it's been tampered with.

    Ian
     
  9. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    Not sure the model, maybe the A or B, from I think right after the war there was a mix up in lenses and Rollei had to recall a bunch of cameras to match taking with viewing lens. Maybe your camera is one of those that didn't get fixed. I believe the lens was a Tessar.

    Dennis
     
  10. RustedChrome

    RustedChrome Member

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    Thanks for the tips all. I guess I'll have to figure out how to open up the Rolleiflex and take a look.

    I doubt this is one of the defective batch of lenses. The woman I purchased it from said it was always her fathers favorite camera so I think he'd have noticed the severe blurring.
     
  11. JPD

    JPD Member

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    That was the 2,8A. If I remember correctly, the first batch had Carl Zeiss Jena 2,8/80 Tessars that were made before the war for the Ikoflex III. The lenses were coated after the war, but some front and rear cells were mismatched during or after coating. The OP has a 3,5 Tessar, so it's not one of those.

    There's a lot of stress in the blurred parts, just like it looked when the lens on my Ensign camera wasn't parallell to the film.

    It can be a simple fix, if it's just the short "tube" behind the shutter that needs to be tightened.
     

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  12. RustedChrome

    RustedChrome Member

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    Thanks for the illustration. I will certainly give it a try when I return home.
     
  13. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Often Rolleis have been 'fixed' by technicians whose epitaphs should read, "Oh, I've always wanted to work on one of THESE !"

    Send it to a real Rollei tech and have it made new again. It will STILL be an inexpensive camera. You have a FINE camera.
     
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  15. hidesert

    hidesert Member

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    Check to see if the film pressure plate is in the correct position. Not sure on your model but many Rolleis had a pressure plate which could be switched to 35mm format.

    This is definitely an alignment problem. It's not a bad lens.
     
  16. RustedChrome

    RustedChrome Member

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    Yeah, I would like to send it off for a CLA. Everything I'm finding online referring to Rollei techs is many years old. Are there any still around in the USA that I can talk to about mine?
     
  17. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Just a guess here. Because the center is OK, this could be a lens element spacing issue. For example, the rear element could be unscrewed and almost falling off.
     
  18. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

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    Google Paul Ebel and Harry Fleenor for current Rollei service.
    Jeff
     
  19. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    That's 1980 - knew you were a young'n, didn't know it was that young. [yeah, yeah, insert smiley...]
     
  20. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I started late -- at 23 yrs old in 1977 -- but, yes, I am still a young'n!:D
     
  21. RustedChrome

    RustedChrome Member

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    Well, the "tube" behind the lens on my Rolleiflex doesn't turn at all, so it's pretty tight.

    I think I may have spotted the problem possibly. Since this is the first Rolleiflex I've owned or even held in my hands, I'm not that familiar with them. It appears that the latch on the bottom front should mate to a small peg of some sort on the camera body.

    The peg is missing on my camera. In fact, you can open the back without even turning the catch to the open position. There is about 1mm of play between how it currently closes and how tightly it can close.

    Perhaps I can fit a small screw in there with the head ground down to replace the peg. I'm not even sure what the original looked like as it's not something that gets shown in pics of the camera.

    Could this be the culprit? (And yes, I do plan on getting a real CLA but I'd like to use the camera for now if I can while I save my money up)
     
  22. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

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    If the back isn't close then it likely won't hold film flat. I would have thought there'd be serious light leaks though.
     
  23. macrorie

    macrorie Member

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    The first TLR I bought was from a woman who said that it had belonged to her husband who had loved it. It was an Automat in beautiful cosmetic condition, and the shutter seemed to be right on its speeds. I then had to take a very long trip, and was not able to test the camera (I have learned to avoid situations like that since then). When I got back I ran a test roll through it, and it had focus problems like yours. I felt it was really too late to return it, and it was the first medium format camera I owned. So, I took it to Steve Grimes, he looked at it, said that the rear lens element group had separated and somebody had recemented it clumsily. It did not look that way from a simple inspection by a non-specialist, but Grimes could tell. He had a rear element group that would fit, so he replaced the faulty group and it worked much better, but was still not as sharp as it should have been at wider apertures. The lens groups on Rolleis really should be factory matched. I eventually sold the camera on ebay with its problem fully disclosed. I think I have since read that the Tessars on Automats were more prone to separation than the Xenars. Hopefully, your camera's problem is just a film flatness issue.
     
  24. photomat-

    photomat- Member

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    My Rolleiflex Automat is with Paul Ebel right now for a CLA and has been for around 3 weeks. He said it would take about 4 weeks. I'll update you with my experience when I get it back. Thus far, he has been a pleasure to work with and always answers emails in a timely fashion.

    Good luck with your Rollie.
     
  25. RustedChrome

    RustedChrome Member

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    I actually emailed Paul this afternoon and hope to hear back from him soon. It's good to hear he's a nice guy at least. :wink:
     
  26. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    rear lens element group had separated and somebody had recemented it clumsily

    For what it is worth, the first "assignment" given to me by the local newspaper (in 1964!) was done with a borrowed, pristine-appearing Rolleiflex. All of the resulting pictures looked like the examples, and they were taken in full sunlight on Tri-X, so the aperture was probably either f/16 or f/22. The problem, of course, was lens separation, but I got ragged on thoroughly for not knowing how to focus, until I pointed out that the focusing lens is different from the taking lens on a TLR, and the former was in perfect condition...

    It will be interesting to see what the repairman has to say in the current case.