Rollei TLR vs Hasselblad finder brightness

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by PrexaDotCom, May 19, 2007.

  1. PrexaDotCom

    PrexaDotCom Member

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    I have shot with a Rollei TLR 2.8E Schneider since the mid-1980s. The camera had not been well cared for before I got it. It had some problems to start with and I have used it quite a bit over the years and now it is developing problems which repair has not fully addressed... it's still useable, but barely, so I'm thinking of replacing it. I am considering *not* getting another Rollei TLR of the same period because of the finder... it was always rather dim and thus slow to focus, so I assume that all the 2.8 Ds and Es are like that. I know that a few have had an accumatte or some other focusing screen put in, but as I understand it this is not a standard modification, must be done by a repair tech and is rather costly. Rollei does have later TLRs with built in meter, etc, and presumably a brighter screen but they are very high priced. (Good old ones aren't cheap either!)

    So I am considering a Hasselblad 500CM. Will an early 70s Hasselblad (500CM, waistlevel finder, *not* accumatte screen, chrome 80 f2.8 C T*) be noticeably brighter than the Rollei TLR? Will I be able to see the corners well? The local camera shop / rental does not have any used 500CM in stock for me to compare, and their rental pool has only a 503CW, which might help me understand the sound and feel of the 500CM, but not the brightness. Is there any *brightness* advantage by moving to a mid 1980s - early 1990s 500CM without accumatte, and with the black metal 80 f2.8 C T* also from the mid1980s? I assume that an accumatte in either an early or late body will make a big difference and that there will not be much brightness difference attributable to the bodies themselves... is this correct?

    As a side note, some of what I do with the Rollei is street photography, and for that I really like its quiet shutter, as well as the way people react to it. I'm hoping that with a chrome lens on the Hasselblad it will look old enough to seem non threatening... but I'm kind of worried about the noise. I know parts are no longer made for the C lenses. I also know that the Hasselblad is much more complex mechanically than the Rollei, but has a reputation for durability. And I have been told that below 125 hand-held shots are subject to mirror vibration. But in its current condition my Rollei is challenging to compose and focus due to dimness, and I have to have it focused at 3 feet when I wind it or else it won't cock the shutter, half the time it wants to double-expose frame #1, the focusing movement has roughness, depth of field indicators don't move, etc.

    I especially welcome the experienced advice of any of you who have used both cameras to comment on finder brightness and any other issues I may be overlooking, and I thank you all in advance for your polite help.
     
  2. fotod69

    fotod69 Member

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    I've been using Rollei twins for years and it sounds like your camera needs a transport overhaul and a Maxwell bright screen installed by Harry Fleenor at Oceanside Camera. After installing these screens I've been very satisfied as how bright they are and easy to focus even in the corners.

    It might be easier and cheaper to find a Model F Rollei in good condition and have the screen installed. I've found that when buying Rolleis that have been cared for they give many years of reliable service and their ease of operation and incredible optics make photography a joy. See ya
     
  3. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    If you say street photography, Rollei TLR is the answer certainly not a Blad. Nothing else beats it's compactness, silence and discretion. As for slow speed handheld , the Rollei is kind of a Leica.
    Changing the glass isn't that expensive and is definitely important.
    The 500CM is a completely different philosophy. Rent a 503 for few days, you will get the same feeling as a 500. Earth shakes when you shoot, focusing isn't really fast (heavy lens and sometime sticky helicoidal, some vigneting in the screen) and loading film takes longer than the Rollei.
    What made Hasselblad the standard for rental and use was more the composite system for studio than anything else.
    The Rollei is like an extension of the hand. You understood... I love them !
     
  4. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    I second fotod69, Harry Fleenor is great.
     
  5. skahde

    skahde Member

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    No. Having used an F and older Hassis the old Hassi-screen is even dimmer than the one in a newer 2.8 Rolleiflex. There may be an improvement compared to your E but a marginal at best.

    As others have said: an overhaul and a new screen for your Flex seems to be the way to go in the situation you describe.

    best

    Stefan
     
  6. micek

    micek Member

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    I have also used both, and regardless of the clarity of the screen, for street photography the TLR is definitely preferable. I regard my Hasselblad as a tripod camera.
     
  7. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    I also have both the Hassy and a Rollei 3.5F. The Rollei is much quieter and unobtrusive, and as micek says, the Hassy is really a tripod camera.
    I don't know about the earlier Rolleis but the F series are a doddle to swap screens, just move the two small levers to one side and drop in the new one.
    I fitted a Beattie intenscreen to mine, but also have the same screen in the 'Blad and they are more or less the same in brightness.

    Cheers, Tony
     
  8. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    It may not only the screen bee a problem but the mirror too. Have a look into the finder lens. You will be able to judge its condition then. The older mirrors were silvered on surface and then covered with a varnish of schellack (it's german, I don't know the term in english). If this varnish is eroded by the the time (and it always is) the silver suffers from corrosion and is getting black.
    Both mirror and screen can be swapped by an repairsman for relatively little money considering the price of a new old camera which condition you can not judge either.

    Ulrich
     
  9. WRSchmalfuss

    WRSchmalfuss Member

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    ROLLEI TLR screens

    Why don't you ask for an cost estimate for the replacement of a brighter screen for your TLR? Ask at info@wiese-fototechnik-de.
     
  10. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    If you like using the Rollei TLR then I wouldn't let the cost of a bright screen change me to a different camera system. I use both a late Hasselblad and a 2.8F and found the hasselblad to be much brighter so I got a Maxwell screen and put it in and now it is every bit as bright as the hasselblad. I think you should go with the cost of Harry Fleenor and a maxwell installation. Actually I think you should get a Rollei 2.8F.
     
  11. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Another vote for the emerging consensus. I've shot both. I much prefer the Rolleiflex for the reasons already stated. A new Maxwell screen and a CLA will cost tons less than buying a Hasselblad rig of similar condition, will give you a better-than-new shooter, and will keep you going for another 20+ years without fail.

    Harry Fleenor by all accounts does great work, but he's backed up. If you're on the East Coast, you might consider Krikor Maralian, Krimar Photo Shop, www.krimarphoto.com in NJ. Krikor was the Rollei repair guy for Marflex and does ace work, and his turnaround is usually within a few business days.

    I break with the others and say stick with the E. I have a 3.5E and a 2.8C and prefer them to the later models, which have coupled meters and (gasp) batteries. If you prefer manual shooting, the E-series can't be beat. If you really want to obsess, the C-series is nice -- it's the last of the round-aperture Rolleiflexes. Beginning with the D-series, Rolleiflex went to a 5-blade aperture.

    Sanders
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2007
  12. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I've never shot a Rollei - but would never consider my Hassey 503CW a good "street camera".

    As one poster put it - "the earth shakes" when you trip the shutter. I almost always use either a tripod or monopod when I shoot mine.
     
  13. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    One thing I miss when using a Hasselblad that a Rollei has, is the viewing versatility. That is, you can use the WLF, or open the sports finder and still focus with the magnifier, but compose at eye level.
    I'm not certain the noise is necessarily that much of an issue though, but quiet is nice.
     
  14. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Noise becomes an issue if you own a Rollei; if you own a Hassey it is not an issue.

    The rest of the world does not appear to care about the shutter sound. Probably because they do not understand why we are still using film. :wink:

    Steve
     
  15. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    The sound that a shutter makes must be important or the digital cameras would not bother synthesizing it :smile:

    I have a Hassy 500CM, which I got to use as a handheld camera (I shoot primarily LF). The shutter is loud, and if you are trying to be inconspicuous, the TLR is much better.
     
  16. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    I've gotten so used to the Maxwell on my Rolleiflex 2.8E that I struggled for several months with my SL66 viewfinder until I saved the required $$$ for another Maxwell!

    A Rolleiflex is just so much more portable than a MF SLR like the Hassie or SL66. As long I only need the 80mm lens, the Rollei wins for the camera of choice to carry around and shoot, especially w/o tripod.
     
  17. PrexaDotCom

    PrexaDotCom Member

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    I'm going to close this thread out with the news that after much watching and some bidding on e-bay, as well as searching the various used camera stores online, I found and purchased a Rollei 2.8E Planar with an Beatte Intenscreen already installed. The screen makes all the difference in the world. I can see absolutely edge to edge, even under dim conditions. And the camera itself is in much better condition mechanically and optically than my old one was when I first got it, so I'm very happy with the way things worked out. Thank you all for your kind and useful advice.
     
  18. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Member

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    The only Rollei TLR I had any experience with was my father's Rolleicord which had a horridly dim screen. I've never looked down into the newer models, but I'm sure they're better. The original screen that came with the 500-series camera was pretty bad, too. If you buy used--like a 500C/M--I'd recommend at a minimum the second generation Bright Matte screen or, better yet, the third generation Acute Matte screen. Occasionally, I find that the Acute Matte screen doesn't have enough contrast to focus properly on some subjects, but the viewfinder view is simply delicious! I have both and sometimes switch them out depending on what I anticipate photographing.

    Good luck.
     
  19. fotod69

    fotod69 Member

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    I've had Maxwell Bright Screens installed in both my Rollei 3.5 F cameras by Harry Fleenor and they are a joy to use. I've yet to see a better screen and am considering putting one in my large format camera
     
  20. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    Fix your Rollei and keep on shooting.
     
  21. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    Congrats to your new camera. Have fun with it!