Rolleiflex sharpness blues

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by FilmDontLeaveMe, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. FilmDontLeaveMe

    FilmDontLeaveMe Member

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    I'm sad today.

    I picked up a Rolleiflex 3.5F from a fellow a couple months ago. I previously had a Rolleicord with Tessar I bought for $125 from a local shop and absolutely fell in love with it, but sadly it perished in a car accident. I decided to step up to a real Rolleiflex with a Xenotar for a significantly larger sum than my first Rollei. Condition is pretty great and the lenses look wonderful. It's been shooting like a dream.

    I shot about 10 rolls through it, but haven't had time to develop until just last night. I expected solid results, but the negatives lack crispness, enough so that I noticed it with the naked eye. I had one odd roll from my old Bronica GS-1, which is a good performer, but the optics aren't as legendary as the Rollei. Those negs were noticeably sharper than any of the 10 Rollei rolls. The Rolleicord outpaced it, too, with a vengence.

    For background, this includes photos taken at various apertures and focus distances, including a lot at infinity. Shutter speeds were usually 1/250 - 1/60, so nothing crazy.

    So.. what gives? I don't change equipment very often and I made a leap for this camera, but now I'm disappointed. I'm not thrilled to send it off for service after buying it as a fully functional camera (with a fully functional pricetag). Too much time has passed to ask the seller about it, especially since I still trust it was sold to me in good faith.

    Maybe I'm just looking for a shoulder to cry on :cool: Suggestions or consolation welcome!
     
  2. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Are the negs unsharp over the entire neg? (partial might mean the front is out of alignment -- see if at infinity, the sliding front part with the lenses is parallel with the body of the camera.

    Check the pressure plate -- make sure it is on 6x6 and not for 35mm film (you should see "6x6" if it is in the proper place). The film plane is set back a little for when the camera is set up for 35mm film due to it not having the paper backing.

    Good luck!
     
  3. jochen

    jochen Member

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    Hello,
    check the viewing screen, maybe it is built in upside down. Check the infinity focus with a plain glas on the film rails marked with Edding Pen stripes on the side towards the film, shutter on B, and a very strong magnifying glas.
     
  4. FilmDontLeaveMe

    FilmDontLeaveMe Member

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    I got excited that the pressure plate might be the easy fix, but it's set on 6x6. When out at infinity, it appears to be parallel. The distance from the body on the taking and viewing lens is the same.

    I thought maybe the viewing screen could be installed incorrectly, but at infinity then sharpness shouldn't be a problem. Maybe I should have gone with the 'Blad!
     
  5. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Best post so far. You have a an easily correctable problem. Alternat ideas on the glass idea is using Scotch Transparent Tape, or whatever the frosted tape is called, on a piece of small cheap picture-frame glass rubber banded to the film rails. as your groundglass, or use the groundglass itself from the finder, rubber banned against the film rails at infinity, then re-install the groundglass dull side down and check infitnity there too, That will tell you if you need to pop the front bezel off the camera and re-adjust the taking lens.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2013
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    maybe a cla ?
     
  7. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    As an owner of a few Xenotar and Planar Rolleiflexes who is consistently blown away by their sharpness let me tell you your camera is out of whack. Send it for adjustment to a good tech.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I'd get it checked, Rollei's quality control was good so it sounds like somethings not right. I use two Rolleiflex TLRs and the results are excellent.

    Ian
     
  9. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    A good rule of thumb, would be to always run one film trough a new camera, fired at various distances and apertures (and shutter-speeds), to check the over-all performance and sharpness.

    Most likely, your viewing-lens needs some adjustment, or that or your ground-glass may be upside down or mis-aligned. (I had that on my 2.8F, which has a removable ground-glass).

    You don't say where you live on your profile, but you can find very reputable service-people for Rolleiflex, all over the world, for example on this page:
    http://www.rolleigraphy.org/rolleiflex_service.htm

    You can also google specific people, when you've decided who you'd like to use, as most people on that list, has reviews and experiences scatted around the Internet.
    Too bad your Rolleiflex is not 100%, it should be very nice and sharp and contrasty. My very old Rolleiflex Automat 3.5, is very different and much sharper than my Yashicaflex, I can tell you.
    The first half of this blog-entry, has some shots with my old Rolleiflex Automat 3.5, absolutely love it (and use it more than my 2.8F, as it is so much cheaper, uglier and less likely to be stolen out of my hands in various European cities) :smile: http://helino-photo.blogspot.no/2013/03/trip-to-russian-federation.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2013
  10. selmslie

    selmslie Subscriber

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    I agree. Others have recommended http://www.rolleirepairs.com/index.htm and that's where I will go when I need service. I meticulously tested my Rolleiflex 2.8E (Zeiss) against my Hasselblad 80 2.8 Zeiss (nearly the same lens) and it was difficult to tell that the Hasselblad version was only slightly better. I would bet that comparing the Rolleiflex 2.8 to the 3.5 it would be hard to see much difference in sharpness either.
     
  11. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Fleenor is the "best" indeed, but he has a very long turnaround (at least when I had to send my 2.8F for CLA), when I checked in December 2012, he had a 11 week turnaround time.

    I ended up using Brian Mickelboro in London, the camera is flawless now, great service and very speedy (1.5 week turnaround)
    - but he has limited supply of modernizing parts like the bright-screen option and cannot fix/replace an old meter (very few do that anyway) and so on.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 22, 2013
  12. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    Where are you located? Krikor Maralian (krimarphoto.com) is great, and very fast -- I mean you will have it back within a week from when you send it. I have had several Rolleis serviced by him. He's in New Jersey, USA.

    I know how you feel, though -- now you have to spend a fair amount of extra money on a camera you thought was in perfect shape. Very discouraging.
     
  13. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    One other thing to check (didn't see it mentioned). Not all Rollei's are loaded the same way, regarding rollers over and under the film.
    I don't know the details on this, but my 3.5T and 3.5F are loaded differently. Be sure the film is in the right place.
     
  14. rrocco

    rrocco Subscriber

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    A simple thing to check is to see if the elements of both lenses are screwed in tightly. I had a similar issue on one of my tlrs and came to find that the taking lens, which I removed the front element to clean out some dust, was a few turns away from tight. Tightened it up and all was well. If this is the case and its happening at infinity, would be the taking lens. Good luck.
     
  15. JPD

    JPD Member

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    My 3,5F had sharpness issues when I bought it, so I sent it back to the camera store and they let their Rollei specialist fix it. When it came back the focus was spot on. I've had 30 or more Rollei TLR's over the years (and still own 15-20) and the 3,5F with Planar beats them all when we talk about sharpness. I still love the Tessar and Triotar for their own personalities though.
     
  16. gdmcclintock

    gdmcclintock Subscriber

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    Rolleiflex Repair Woes

    A couple of years ago, I purchased a 1950s Rolleiflex 3.5 Tessar that was sharp, but dim, so I took it to Krikor Maralian to have a new Maxwell screen installed. He installed the screen and "adjusted the focus" and returned it to me. The resulting photographs were not sharp and I returned the camera to Krikor 5 times (I drove to his shop, about 1.5 hours). He was unable fix the camera's focus problem, suggested some cameras "cannot be repaired" and refused to refund 100% of the Maxwell screen price because the screen was now "used". I had previously purchased a 2.8 Planar model from Krikor that continues to work great, so I was surprised and disappointed that he could not repair my camera and chose instead to lose a good customer for the sake of the the cost of a Maxwell screen. I kept the screen, still have the camera that I do not use, and will never again send a camera to Krikor.

    Buyer beware, I guess....

     
  17. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Are you sure that it wasn't the maxwell-screen that caused the issue?
    - Maybe you were better off with the original one, albeit dim. (who knows, maybe with that screen, it's tack sharp) ^^
     
  18. Mark Feldstein

    Mark Feldstein Member

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    I always support a CLA on a new piece of gear after I initially check it out. BUT before sending it in, try removing the focusing hood, put like an 8x loupe directly on the ground glass (gently) for focusing. Hang a newspaper or an eye chart on a wall and run a bunch of test exposures making sure to get your camera as square, plumb and level to the target as possible.

    Also, if it's been awhile since you've had your eyes checked you might consider doing that. I was surprised at one point when I discovered using a corrective diopter in my focusing hood or viewfinder made a huge difference in my image sharpness. It creeps up on you, ya know?
    Mark

    "If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself". Eube Blake
     
  19. gleaf

    gleaf Subscriber

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    If it is a Rollei T series? if so there is no bottom rear roller. on the hother series Rollei's you need to go under the back bottom roller when threading the film to have it register correctly. It assists in keeping the film tight.
     
  20. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    Harry does very nice work, I think the turn around is about 8 weeks now.


    Mike
     
  21. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Harry is the best bar none. I've used others due to turn time and cost only to find later I should have sent to Harry in the first place, if you know what I mean.
     
  22. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    This is an older thread, but just wanted to thank everyone for their responses. I've been sitting on it because I got a quote for a CLA saying that all the prices were double because it's a 3.5f type 1, and apparently they're a lot more complicated to work on. I got a little skiddish after that, but I'm finally going to bite the bullet and send it off. I got to compare it to a 3.5E with Planar and, basically, no comparison. There's definitely something off.

    So, off it goes, wallet be damned! Maybe I'll offload either the E or F once I have everything straightened out.
     
  23. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Update #2. It's in Harry's hands and now I decide if it's worthwhile. Just out of curiosity, what is a Fleenor overhauled 3.5f Planar worth out in the wild? I looked around but they're all over the place!
     
  24. martinjames

    martinjames Member

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    For a buyer that is knowledgable about Rollei's the fact that Fleenor has serviced a camera can definitely be a big plus. Although I don't know that anyone can say for certain exactly how much more one could ask for such a camera. As you've noted, prices can be all over the map at any given time.

    My feeling is, if Harry's doing the work you are going to get back a Rollei that functions exactly as it should. Possibly even better than it ever did before, even when new. And as an owner of a 3.5F Type 1, I strongly suggest you hang on to it. There were far fewer of the Type 1's made than any of the other F models so it has a bit more exclusivity (not to say that's extremely important, just interesting). I happen to like the Type 1's interlocking aperture/shutter speed control arrangement (somewhat like the EV system on Hasselblad/Zeiss lenses). Not everyone does.
    In any case, you'll soon have back in your hands a correctly functioning Rollei. Enjoy!