Last summer I bought a Rolleiflex T. I liked it but I sold it to buy a 4X5 Graflex RB which I had been wanting for a while. I have read on other posts and on this thread that the film transport mechanism on the T isn't as robust as other Rolleis. Still wanting a Rollei, last month I bought a Rolleiflex Automat. It's a little beat up but the test roll seemed to come out nice. I will probably send it to Rollei tech Krikor Maralian in New Jersey for a CLA. If you really want a Rolleiflex I think you should consider the Automat.
I have a Minolta Autocord and I love it. One nice feature about the Autocord is that film moves from the top down instead of the bottom in other tlrs which eliminates the film bending before a shot is taken. The film moves flat towards the film box. I've heard from different techs that say that it does and doesn't matter in terms of sharpness. Given that Rolleis are so good may make it a moot point. The focusing lever on the bottom of the camera is nice because you don't have to move your hand from the bottom of the camera like on most tlrs but Minolta used cheap metal for the lever and it can end up breaking and some people end up with focusing with a nub. Mine was broken and I got lucky and found someone who custom made a very strong metal focusing lever for Autocords. I bought it and had a someone install it so now I have focusing lever that is incredibly strong.
Also, Autocords seem to have obtained some kind of cult status and I've noticed that their price have been going up on Ebay. That might cause you to pause from getting one, but they are optically very good.
I have a Yashica 24 tlr, the problem with some of the earlier Yashica tlrs was light bouncing around the film box inside the camera causing flare. Flare was an issue with mine and I cured it by flocking the film box and the flare problem was cured. Now the images from it have great contrast. I think the better Yashicas are the early Yashicamats 124s. I've head the later Yashica 124G have more plastic parts. The Yashica 124Gs are very popular now so their price is higher.
Good luck with your choice.
Last edited by Chrismat; 02-07-2012 at 07:04 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I have both a Roleicord, a Va11, and a Rolleiflex Automat from around 1954, and I love them both, I also have a weltaflex tlr which, while not as fancy as the rollei's,pushes them a close third,(Rolleicord/rolleiflex joitn first, can't chose between them for image quality, and both built like a brick), but I while I use the rollei's more I Would not part with the weltaflex as it is a lot of fun.
I use all three makes of camera mentioned, with slight model variants. I would summarize as follows:
Rolleiflex T....My favourite. Utterly reliable, had mine since 1978. Not once has it needed to see the inside of a camera repair shop. Tessar lens excellent, particularly for black & white. Slightly on the "cool" side with colour, so a skylight filter recommended in most situations.
Yashics 124. ....As has already been mentioned, less plastic parts than the 124G model, so probably a better buy if you can find one. Built in meter accurate, but it is geared for the older mercury battery type, so an adapter need for silver oxide replacement, not a major problem. Lens quality excellent, slightly less contrast the the Rollei. Comments have been made re. the 124G being more fragile than the Rollei, but my 124 has been fine, and should last for years if you don't "hammer" it. Focussing screen not as positive as the Rollei.
Minolta Autocord.....Lenses give superb quality, as good as the Rollei in my opinion. It's a very "quirky" camera. The film loads in the opposite direction to other TLR's, making it awkward to reload while on the move. The unusual focussing lever takes some getting used to. Definitely a camera for slow, methodical photographers, not for those in a hurry.
Summing up.....The Rollei T, would be my first choice, but these are getting difficult to find in really good condition, and when they are, they're very expensive. The Yashica 124 or 124G would offer the best value for money, and there's more of them around. The Autocord is more difficult to find since they were discontinued earlier, and offers more of a challenge to the photographer due to their quirky operation, but if you can get used to it, it's an excellent camera.
Rolleicord V is quite easy to find in good condition. They weren't often banged around by pros but were well handled by keen amateur photographers. The Xenar lens performs beautifully. I've had and used Autocord, 124G, Rollei 3.5 w. Planar and some other TLR cameras but I've always liked the Xenar as the top lens. Rolleicord usually needs a brighter view screen. There are several alternatives around from $30 to $150.
Thank you for all your replies.
I am watching several auctions to get the idea on the prices of the models involved and can already see that Autocord in a good condition will easily cost as Rolleicord Va or Rolleiflex T. Rolleicord Vb sells for even more (collectors, or are these really so good?).
Concerning the Autocord and its focusing lever - if it is broken - is it hard to have a replacement made? Who would do such a job in Europe? I would not discard a camera because of one weak part it it can be replaced under reasonable conditions.
It was mentioned that the screen of the Rolleicord is darker - is it the screen itself, or the fact that the viewing lens is actually f/3.2 and not f/2.8 (about a half a stop difference). I do consider the Rolleicord, but if it costs as much as the T, but has darker screen and misses the "cool" film advance and automatic shutter cocking ... than I am not so sure. The weight difference agains the T is only about 100g and the reliability point is hard to quantify (but real - I do trust experienced repairmen)
How is the screen in Autocord compared to T or Rolleicords?
I am checking also the "top" models - E and F in 2.8 and 3.5, but there the price starts about 600+ €.
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Matus, the slower viewing lens of the Rolleicords can be a disadvantage. (I believe they are f3.5?) The Autocord's viewing lens is f3.2, as I recall. I have found the Yashicamats are the best -- f2.8 and very bright, better than either of the others. I have never used a T so I can't compare that one. It's probably worth considering a replacement focusing screen if you decide to get a Rolleicord (the V is the one I'd recommend).
If you have had a good experience with the T you used to have, then that is important to consider. But what you have heard about their reliability agrees with what I have heard from repairmen as well.
The Autocord does indeed have a fine lens, but the Xenar on the Rolleicord is fully its equal, and I think the Yashinon is just about as good. So really the optics of all three are comparable.
I have two alternatives for you to consider, both really most similar to the Rolleicords. The Ricoh Diacord G has a wonderful lens, and a really useful dual focusing lever system (you can use either hand) that's a lot better than the single lever on the Autocord (and not a weak point, like the Autocord's). It's knob wind, like the Rolleicord. The other camera to consider is a later model Yashica D, which has the same Yashinon lens as the Yashicamat but is a knob wind camera. A big plus is that it has an f2.8 viewing lens.
Neither the Diacord nor the D has a built in meter. One drawback of them both is that, unlike the other cameras, neither has double exposure prevention. I don't know how easily available these are in Germany, but they're worth looking for.
Just to add another choice, you might consider the top-of-the-line Ricoh TLR, the Ricohmatic 225. Think of it as a Diacord with automat features, double exposure prevention and built-in meter. Its lens is in the same lofty category as the Autocord Rokkor (my preference), Rolleicord JSK Xenar and Yashica Mat Yashinon, all 4-glass Tessar types. It's a step up from the Diacords in that it has faster lever-style film advance with automatic shutter cocking, ala Rolleiflex, and adopts the arguably superior top-to-bottom film feed path used by the Autocord (where the film path goes around the bend post-exposure, not pre-exposure, thus allowing better flatness -- supposedly). The dual-lever focusing enables focusing with either hand, and the levers are robust stainless steel as opposed to the pot-metal single-lever of the Autocord (which is fragile but replaceable with a sturdier remake, and often is -- Karl Bryan in the U.S. who provides international service, can do this; methinks Will van Manen on your side of the pond can do this too). The Ricohmatic 225 and the Minolta Autocord are my own personal top choices in the category of cheaper-than-but-almost-comparable-to Rolleiflex TLRs, but I agree with Nick that a late Yashica-D with Yashinon taking lens and 2.8 viewing lens is a good alternative. It's a great value-for-money proposition. My only quibble is that except for the 124g, the Yashica TLRs lack internal film chamber baffling and hence are more susceptible to flare from internal light scattering. The advanced Ricohs and Autocords have rather good internal film chamber baffling, as do the later Rolleicords such as the V. The V (not Va or Vb) is my choice among the 'Cords, because it's relatively cheap and easy to find and is the last and best of the right-hand focus knob models, which personally I find best for handling.
Last edited by prumpkah; 02-08-2012 at 05:56 PM. Click to view previous post history.
If the focusing lever is broken on the Autocord, it will be difficult to find a replacement (unless you buy a beat up Autocord for replacement parts) or to have one made. I was lucky with the one I found. The person who made it did not make many of them, I think the one I bought was the last one. If you find your self looking to purchase an Autocord online, make sure you ask the seller to test the focusing lever to see if it moves freely. If it doesn't, walk away. If you are careful with one with a working lever, you shouldn't have any problems.
The focusing screens with my Yashica 24, Autocord, and my just purchased Rolleiflex Automat are about the same in terms of brightness. I think my Yashica may be the brightest, but just by a little.
Last edited by Chrismat; 02-09-2012 at 12:14 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Karl Bryan does good work on Autocords, including focus lever replacement (with one made of a more robust metal). He also does very reasonably priced CLAs for cameras with sticking levers. Definitely consider him.
Thanks. I would say a picture starts to emerge:
Rolleicord - darker screen (slower viewing lens) - it is worthwhile to invest in brighter screen. Technically simpler, but reliable. The lightest candidate. Misses the fancy features I liked with the T though.
Rolleiflex T - mechanically not as robust as Cord or "true" Flex. Brigth screen. Has all the fancy features. If I have not contacted Harry Fleenor it would be a no-brainer The one I had had the aperture-shutter coupling which I got used to and liked, although the lever was a bit hard to hold and pull in the cold (a bit small).
Automat EVS-MX (last version). In some way predecessor to the T, but as far as I understand with the mechanics of a Rolleiflex. I am not sure whether the lens is "the same" (performance, coating) as the T - as it is somewhat older (not much though). I understand that the EVS feature is done in a different way than on the T or on the 3.5F (type I and II) and is the same as 2.8D. But the idea is the same as with the T and I liked that actually.
Autocord - I am still not sure how does it compare to the above once in mechanical stability or robustness, but has interesting design and good lens. CLA can be had on the week part (focusing lever). Screen brigntess between T and Cord. Weight the same as the T.
3.5 or 2.8 E, F - pricey beasts, technically very good. About 200g heavier than the T.
Ricoh (and some other) TLRs - I have read some good things about these, but there user base is smaller and actually a reasonably priced one is not easy to find.
Yashica TLR (D, 124, 124G) - the lens is good, but the experience with the body are mixed. As the price for a nice 124 is very comparable to nice Rolleicord V I would probably pass on Yashica.
1) I would still love to head about the mechanical robustness of the Autocord.
2) If I would consider a new screen - what would you suggest? What are the prices and where can I get one? How to get one installed on a camera that does not allow to detach the focusing hood?
3) I have not heard too much about the Automat EVS-MX model - would love to hear more.
Last edited by Matus Kalisky; 02-09-2012 at 02:49 AM. Click to view previous post history.