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  1. #1

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    Rolleicord: basic user advice sought, please

    I posted this request on the Leica Forum, which as a Leica user is where I usually get good advice. I was recommended to post it here, and since I always do as I'm told, here it is:

    'I have acquired a Rolleicord twin-lens camera for next to nothing. Can anyone tell me anything about it? I guess it was made in East Germany, having DRP stamped on it, and it seems to have a serial number of 797810; it has a Carl Zeiss Jena Triotar 1:4.5 lens. A previous owner has written '1968' on the box lid. I would like to use it, but have never owned a camera of this type before. Could someone please give me basic, beginner's, advice on how to get results from it? I have so far divined that slowly and carefully will be a good place to start. I'd be grateful if someone could help me with some basics. Many thanks.'

    I have had a look around the various forums here and couldn't see that there is a thread dealing precisely with this. If there is one, I should be grateful for directions to it. The camera appears to be virtually unmarked. I need to put a roll of film through it to test it. What I'm asking for is advice on basic techniques. I am at the start of my learning curve here, and any advice will be most gratefully received.

    Thanks in advance,

    Chris

  2. #2

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    You have a Rolleicord that is older than you think. Rolleis were built in Braunschweig which is in Western Germany. The Zeiss triplet is from Jena, but since this may be a pre-WWII camera, there was no East or West Germany at the time.

    The fresh film spool goes into the bottom chamber. If there is a empty take-up spool in the camera, it needs to be positioned into the top chamber.

    To load the film, thread it into the top take up spool, wind a bit with your thumb on the bottom placing light pressure. Stop winding when you see the big arrows appear on the film's paper backing.

    Close the rear door, wind the film while looking into the ruby red window, slow down a bit when either dots or the words Kodak Professional appear and stop when the first frame number appears in the red window at. Reset the film counter and you do not need to use the red window after that.

    Do remember to cock the shutter before each exposure and enjoy the camera. Start with some 400TX @ EI 200 and develop in Rodinal.

  3. #3

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    P.S. All of the above presumes that this is a pre-WWII Rolleicord. [Edit] The Rolleicord II retains the ruby window. The Rolleicord III does not use a ruby window. [End Edit] The Rolleicord III has a mark on the film rail at which to line up the large arrows on the paper backing on the film. Upon reaching this point, simply close the door and then you are ready to shoot.
    Last edited by Solinar; 02-04-2007 at 07:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #4
    Chaska's Avatar
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    The serial number seems to indicate the Rolleicord 2, from before the war. Solinar is correct on the flim loading. This link is for a manual for a 5, but has an addendum for a 3/4 that I have found useful for my Rolleicord 3, http://www.matthes.com/Rollei/Manuals/Cord5/cord5.htm. With the Triotar most say to stop down to at least 8 to keep the corners but should make a fine lens for people at any stop. Another site for more info: http://johnsrolleionlypage.homestead.com/ Enjoy your new toy, the Cords are my favorite TLR's.

  5. #5

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    Thanks, guys, it's good of you take the trouble. Well, well, it does indeed seem to be older than I thought. I have found the Rollei Club website, and if I have interpreted the information correctly the camera is a Rolleicord Ia Model 3, made sometime between 1938 and 1947. I must say, it's in astonishingly good condition for its age.

    I'm more into using than collecting, so I want to have a go with it. I'll get a roll of film and try it. Unfortunately, I don't have access to a darkroom and my film scanner (Minolta 5400) can't do MF, so I shall probably have to get it processed commercially.

    Thanks again for your help. Any other hints on techniques?

    All the best,

    Chris

  6. #6
    Antje's Avatar
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    Wow, that is awesome. I loved my 70 year old Rolleicord I - loved, because I made the mistake taking it home to my parents' place at Christmas and showed it to my camera-crazy dad. Guess who is a happy Rolleicord owner now...

    I was pleasantly surprised by the great image quality and the easy handling. Oh, and at the store, I was asked if I wanted to have it for display or for use - I was surprised anyone would consider not using it. They are beautiful IMHO, but also reliable, excellent tools. Have fun with it!

    Antje

  7. #7

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    Chris: I also have a Rolleicord, Model IV. Your camera is equipped with the three-element Triotar. Later Rolleicords have the 4-element Schneider Xenar lens. The Triotar makes a very nice portrait lens, especially when used at more open aperture settings, like F3,5 to F5,6. At the smaller apertures like F8 the Triotar produces good sharpness across the film's width, so is fine for scenics. The old Zeiss lenses have beautiful image quality.
    You may want to make sure the "works" of the Rollei are clean, so the shutter can be depended on. If it hasn't been cleaned internally, find a repairman who has experience with mechanical cameras.
    Manuals (printed or CD) for the different Rolleicords can be found online.
    If you haven't done your own developing, you will definitely want to get something like a Paterson tank & 120 reel, and a few inexpensive accessories (thermometer, etc.)...and DO YOUR OWN! You will LOVE the results, and perhaps never send B&W film to a lab again. My favorite developer, D-23, is also "home-mixed", easy to use and WONDERFUL for Rollei negatives! Best, Tom Greer

  8. #8

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    I have a Rolleicord V and LOVE the camera. Its my only medium format at present, but I am shopping for another. I shot with the Rollei for approx 10% of my photos, which produce about 30-40% of my best shots. Now that I have a new light meter I will use it more often.

    A few words of advice. Set the shutter speed before you cock the shutter. Its supposed to prolong the life of the shutter. Thats if your Rollei operates in a similar fashion. Second, SLOWLY wind the film, and when you feel the slightest bit of resistance, stop. Do not wind the film past the first click, it can damage the camera.

    I suggest these methods because when I first bought the camera the shutter was damaged and the film advance was defective. It cost me around $200 to overhaul the shutter, repair the advance, and CLA. I paid less than this for the camera.

  9. #9
    Mike Kovacs's Avatar
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    FYI: DRP = Deutsches Reichs Patent, used before Germany split into West and East.
    If it says Zeiss or Rollei, the answer is YES!
    My Flickr Gallery

  10. #10

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    Antje, Tommy, bgaspard, Mike

    Many thanks for the hints and explanations. Much appreciated. My luck continues because someone has sent me a manual which will get me started, along with the advice I've received here. I've bought myself a couple of rolls of film (just about all I've had to spend so far ), so I'm set to start practising. A bit of sunshine on all the snow we've been having would be nice.

    Thanks again,

    Chris

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