Dealer price list from 1972 shows the 2.8F at $577.50 which would be $3,107.71 today. So, the price of a 2.8 has doubled since then.
And of course, the market for them has not. Presumably in 1972 they sold a lot more of them. They're effectively a custom-made object at this point; if no one was willing to pay that price, they wouldn't be for sale at all.
I heard that old Rolleiflex Automats are cheap on eBay these days. $300 or so? That's cheap for such a great camera.
I have a 1953-54ish automat mx with the 75/3.5 tessar, and it's a great camera. I paid $225 for it locally. It's more rugged than a comparable yashica and both use the same filters and bay-I accessories. The rolleiflex shutter is only inaccurate with sub-freezing weather, it gets a stop slow. Probably a CLA would fix that, as that has already been done to my Yashica.
Buy yourself an old Mamya TLR for a fraction of the price of a Rolleiflex and spend the rest of your money on a long vacation.
No - just get a used Rolleiflex and spend the rest of the money on a nice long vacation with the Rollei. The Mamiya C220/330 is a great camera no doubt, but the ergonomics and aesthetics of it are a LONG way from the Rollei. I would use the Mamiya TLR in the studio any day. In the field, hand-held, I'd much prefer the Rollei.
North America just north of that sharp right turn North America makes on the Atlantic coast.
I agree that the prices are high for what you appear to be getting, but I do understand, I work as a designer for a low volume company, so perhaps I can explain this a bit better.
You have to look at what your money is paying for not at the tangible item.
Lets say that Rollei makes 2500 cameras a year and they sell them wholesale for about 4000 USD each and COG's (Cost of Goods) is 1800 per unit.
That works out to about 110 employes at 50,000 USD a year.
Now, would you work making a high precision instrument getting paid 50,000 USD a year?
And that is where the money goes. The price is high, but that is what it takes to keep the factory afloat in theory, they also have taxes, duties, rent and so on to contend with.
"Would you like it if someone that painted in oils told you that you were not making portraits because you were using a camera?"
"Shouldn't it be more about the joy of producing and viewing the photo than what you paid for the camera?"
I bought an Automat IV on Ebay. The craftsmanship is amazing. What startled me most was when I made a print from shots off the Rollei. It's shockingly sharp. Didn't expect that from a 75 year old camera.
Recently saw the Vivian Maier show at the Howard Greenberg gallery in NYC. All of her self portraits from the 1950's and 60's show a Rolliflex, so I assume that all of the rest of the photos were taken with the same camera. They are all tack sharp, with no flare and technically are the equal of anything that can be produced today. I suppose that is why the prices remain high - an amazing tool that is as good today as it was 50 years ago (if given a little TLC).
You have to think of the original cost in terms of the working life of the camera. A Rolleiflex has a good chance of operating for 50+ years. I have a 3.5f, which I was given about 4 years ago. It had been in a family friend's attic for about 30 years, after being used for about 20 years. I brought it in for a CLA, and was told it was operating perfectly. Shutter speeds were right on. Nothing had to be done to bring it up to spec. The technician wouldn't even take money from me, having only done a lens cleaning.
There aren't many analogue cameras, and zero digital cameras that will operate that well after about 60 years. All in all, amortized over the camera's life span, it's relatively inexpensive.