Rolleiflex TLR FX vs Rollei 6008 AF
I love shooting my FM3A, but have always been entranced by square format and german optics. Now, after years of gear fever.. I culled my gear back severely.. and really do find myself using basically a max on 3 primes.. ever. Usually on the one for months on end..
I could now see myself surving almost completely with the Nikon 85mm f/2.0 AIS.. So when it comes to MF.. I have been thinking that in reality... I probably dont need any more than the one focal length a TLR offers for my photography. So my questions are;
1) Is the current model Rolleiflex TLR 80mm really state of the art despite the camera's antique appearance?
2) Will the 80mm on 6x6 give me the same tele-compression effect as a 80mm on 35mm?
3) Will the DOF be the same as the 85mm on 35mm?
Cost in not an issue, neither is versatility. Reliability is important and being relatively hassle free is why I don't feel like playing russian roulette with 2nd hand TLR's on the net. If you tell me I'm better of with a blad and 100mm lens or 6008 with Scneinder however I'm willing to listen.
PS. If there is anyone in OZ who wants to go digital for commercial reasons, I'd love to swap a 5D/135L/35L/24L/HP Design Jet for a full analog setup.
1) probably not, but so isn't your nikkor. the rolleiflex lens is legendary and for a good reason.
2) well...if you'll shot from the same place as with your nikkor, it will give you the same effect but you'll have more area around your subject. if you'll compensate for it and take the shot from closer distance, you'll lose the compression effect. it's the same as crop factor with dslr.
3) yes - with similar problems - if you'll go closer, dof will be more shallow.
I hope it makes sense.
If you want the same perspective like you get from 85mm lens on 35mm film, you'll need something around 150mm on 6x6.
As a long-term Nikon and TLR user I would say yes, the Rollei FX is state of the art insofar as
a) no one else is building a more modern TLR and
b) the FX is probably as far as anyone can go in modernising the classic TLR concept - autofocus would be impossible without a really meaty motor, auto exposure too would require servo drive to the aperture and shutter speed controls and there's no room for this!
There is no comparison with the 6008, this is far more versatile but also heavy and bulky and its natural home is the studio.
On a practical level, I personally like built-in metering to offer an AE mode, the Rollei is still "match needle" ("match LED" now), which I find too slow on occasion. The 80 mm on 6x6 is semi-wide, on 35 mm it is long-focus and is not comparable. Build quality is probably not up to classic standard,but a new FX will probably be more reliable than a 40-year-old 2.8F.
What it comes down to in the end is that almost all photographers who have used a Rollei TLR for any length of time would say that if they had to work with only one camera for the rest of their lives, it would be their Rollei. I would too, but if I owned an FM3a, which I do, I wouldn't get rid of it!
If you like 85mm with your Nicon you may be better off with this one in Rollei TLR, if money is not an issue.
It delivers about the same angle of view as your Nicon lens. The predecessor of this model is used by Sanders MacNew for most of his stunnig portraits.
I have an FM, FE, and F4S, which I use with an 85mm f2.0 AI lens. I like those combinations of cameras with that lens, and that relationship of foreground to background objects. If you stood at the same distance with a medium format 80mm lens, then that relationship of foreground and background objects would be similar. In fact, if you cropped your medium format shot down to 24mm by 36mm, it would be tough to tell the difference.
I got to work on a (as yet unpublished) book project in which I used a borrowed Rolleiflex. While I was not too crazy about the ergonomics of using it for hand held shooting, the results were quite amazing. This was probably about a 40 years old camera, yet the lens was quite good, even with colour transparency film. I could only imagine that the newest version is equal or better than the old version.
One problem that came up with the Rolleiflex was really close focusing. I did have a close-up set with that borrowed camera, but it was really tough to use, and parallax was not quite right, throwing off the framing a bit.
I have also used a Rollei 6008i several times (also borrowed), and found it to be the most ergonomic medium format SLR I have yet used. You definitely notice the weight, but that grip makes it easy to manage. It is not compact, and will attract lots of attention, perhaps even getting comments about whether it is a video camera.
As far as Schneider or Zeiss/Rollei, either choice is quite good. I like Schneider lenses on my 4x5, though on a Rollei 6008 I think the choices are too close to tell the difference. A nice feature of the 6008 AF is focus confirmation with manual focus lenses; my prefence is manually focusing, though it might be a feature that sways you towards a 6008 AF.
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Your depth of field will be about the same with an 80mm lens on 6x6 as with an 85mm. on 35. The differences are that you will see significantly more gradation of black and white images with the larger negative, and the square format combined with the greater negative size will give you more freedom to crop. Also, a TLR is much quieter than an SLR, and freer from vibration, because of the absence of mirror slap. On the other hand, as has been noted, closeups are easier with an SLR. I've been shooting Nikons for a long time myself, and love the freedom that they give. On the other hand, I have been shooting increasingly with medium format because of the advantages I mentioned above. One note of caution on the Rollei SLRs, however--it's much easier and less expensive to find lenses and repairs if you go with the Hasselblad system, and the picture quality is about the same. Hope this helps!
Very good point. It is for this very reason that I have recently bought a Hasselblad 503CX and 150mm f4 Sonnar from KEH, and plan to sell my Rollei 6003 with 80mm f2.8 Planar. I just can't afford the Rollei lenses, even used.
Originally Posted by Richard Mendales
I'm one of those people David warned you about. Yes, if I could only use one camera for the rest of my life it would be my Rolleiflex TLR. In my case a F 3.5 If you check with the top Rollei techs they will tell you that the coatings on the new lenses are start of the art. They will also tell you to buy a used F model and have it overhauled. Most seem to think that the older ones are better made than the newer ones. I know this statement can start a flame
war but I trust my guy.
43mm is the medium focal length in 24x36 as it is the diagonal of the format. 79mm is the diagonal of the 6x6 format (56x56mm) and 80mm is the nearest focal, so the 80 is « more » the normal medium lens for 6x6 than the 50mm is for 24x36. So if you want the same angle in 6x6 than in 24x36 with a 85mm, you need a small tele, and the 135 mm is the nearest equivalent focal in angle in 6x6. And you know what ? The old Tele Rolleiflex and the new Rolleiflex FT have both a 135mm lens ! So I join Ulrich to suggest you a Tele Rolleiflex (or the new FT).
What is to know about the old Tele Rolleiflex (1961-1975) :
- taking lens is a Zeiss Sonnar f/4 135mm
- the shortest focus distance is 8,5 feet so you'll need the special close-up set Rolleinar x0.35 to do closer portraits, or maybe the Rolleinar x0.7 ;
- lenses are not multi-coated, so avoid sun in the field ;
- there's no specific tele lens hood, you can use the standard bayonett III lens hood (for the 2.8 Rolleiflex, the lens cap is the same too) ;
- it has the usefull sensor-roller that automatically stops the film advance at the first view of the film after loading ;
- you probably will need a handheld lightmeter as the built-in lightmeter might not be precise enough or out of order ;
- waist level finder is removable and can be replaced by a prism that is very heavy. Not my style ;
- the ground glass is removable and it can be replaced by a modern one with microprism and stigmometer, as clear as the one on a 6008 pro (not as clear as a 6008i's HD-screen) ;
- parallax correction is built-in in the finder, a mask moves according to the distance of focus under the ground glass ;
- there's a depth of field indicator on the distance knob coupled with the iris ;
- it is known that some old Tele Rolleiflex suffer from lens separation, it is not fixable, so watch that (as you could watch for fungus) before buying one ;
- on any Rolleiflex, a shock on the front lens block might have slightly modified the parallelism of the lenses and/or their perpendicularity to the film plane. The result is photos not as sharp as it should be. Any deformation of the back do the same issue. It can be repaired.
About the new Rolleiflex FT :
- taking lens is a modern Schneider Tele-Xenar f/4 135mm ;
- lenses are HFT multi coated (equivalent to Zeiss' T* coating) ;
- ground glass is modern and clear ;
- the built-in light meter is TTL ;
- it can use a TTL flash ;
- it doesn't have the sensor-roller to automatically stop on the first view ;
- it doesn't have the coupled depth of field indicator.
Anyway, the Tele Rolleiflex is IMHO a great travel camera. I have the chance to own the 3 focals available (55-80-135) and I usually take one or two at a time because of the weight. The discretion of the shutter compensate the volume of the camera, and the waist-level finder « way » is not agressive, you look more humble, so you can easily shoot people. The vintage look also is sympathic and might be less sought after by thieves.
Last edited by jeanba3000; 03-11-2007 at 09:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.