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  1. #1
    viridari's Avatar
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    bit of a noob, dizzied by Rolleiflex options

    For the last several months, I've been lucky to enjoy a Mamiya C330 that was loaned to me by a friend who introduced me to the joy of shooting film.

    I believe that loan is coming to an end soon.

    I've saved up a little money for more strobist gear, but if I'm going to be deprived of what has become my favorite camera, I'd like to fill its place rather quickly. While I do love the C330, my neck does not. I do enjoy going for long walks around downtown Raleigh so I'd appreciate something lighter.

    I don't require decent built-in metering since I carry a Sekonic L358 everywhere anyway.

    I do place a higher value on having good glass and reliable mechanical parts.

    While my research tells me that I might be happy with a Yashica Mat 124 or 124G, I know that if I get one I'm still going to want a Rollei. I might as well just nip that in the bud and get the Rollei first and be done with it.

    But there are so many options!

    My working budget is total around $500. $600 max. I can get a CLA'd Rolleiflex 3.5E Type 1 in that price range. Is this likely to be my new favorite camera? Am I looking at the wrong model Rollei? Is this model known for having sharp glass? The taking lens is described as a Schneider Xenotar 75mm f3.5.

    So primarily I'm interested in urban walk-about photography, as well as a fair bit of portraiture and artistic nudes. I'm set up for off-camera flash so the f/3.5 wide end isn't going to be a limiting factor for me (except on walk-abouts, I'm usually shooting between f/8 to f/13 anyway when I have my lights).

  2. #2

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    Check these lens tests.......

    http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/MF_testing.html

    I totally agree with going ahead and getting a Rolleiflex. Advice I should have followed ages ago.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    viridari's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post

    Very enlightening chart! Thanks much for sharing. If I understand what those numbers represent, then this camera with that lens is no slouch!

  4. #4
    GM Bennett's Avatar
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    Hi, Viridari -

    I've had a thing for TLR's, and Rolleis in particular, since my dad bestowed his '54 MX EVS on me in my early teens. Almost 30 years later, I have acquired an embarrasingly (or impressive - the adjective depends on whether it's my wife or me talking) large collection of TLRs, including a number of Rolleis and the 3.5E with the 75mm Xenotar you're looking at. It's a great camera, and the lens sample on my camera is very sharp. I think that $500 is a fair price for a CLA'd 3.5E, considering that a CLA would probably run about $150 +/-. I found the screen on my 3.5E to be pretty dim compared to some of its contemporaries, but one of Bill Maxwell's replacement screens has made a significant difference.

    Having said that, you could probably buy a Minolta Autocord, Yashica Auto Mat, or Mamiya C220 for 1/2 to 1/3 of your budget and get equally impressive results. The Mamiya, as you know, gives you the option of interchangeable lenses, and the C220 is lighter thant the C330, although still heftier than the Rollei, Minolta, and Yashica.

    Hard to go wrong with any of the above, IMHO; good luck! Graham

  5. #5
    jmcd's Avatar
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    I have a Rollei with single coated Xenar (Rollei Automat 3), and one with a multi-coated Tessar (MX-EVS). Both are great and make fantastic images. The single coated lens has much more reach into the shadows, almost a stop.

    I would look for taking glass that is clean and clear. I have accepted a small scratch on my Xenar, and the results are very nice, probably in large part because the lens is so clean.

    From the 1950's onward at least, the standard screen is fine for me if it is clean, and the mirror is clean, too. The Maxwell screen is a treat, and a help in the corners in dim light—a very bright view, and snappy. For daylight, I like the standard screen for its gritty snap.

    Most important, I think, is to buy from a good technician who also sells, or get your camera serviced if you think it needs it. Serviced well, the Rollei TLRs are a real treat, smooth and dependable.

    As for weight, my older type 3 is lighter and better balanced than my MX-EVS. The type 3 is my favorite, but I think the MX-EVS might be more sturily built. But the type 3 is still going strong after nearly 60 years. One would be right at home in downtown Raleigh.

  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    The most important part of that chart is listed below:

    1. It appears that film flatness is a serious issue with some medium format cameras. It may be that 120 film "bows" in the middle of the pressure plate for some of the cameras tested. It shows up most frequently when shooting 6x9 (2 1/4 x 3 1/4) format cameras and film backs and earlier Rolleis.
    The above, coupled with camera shake can outweigh most any difference between the lenses in that chart.

    I know, I have a Rollieflex 2.8F Planar, Rolliecord Xenon, Yashica Mat 124G, Rolleiflex SLR with 80mm 2.8 Planar, and Horseman 6x9cm. They all are infinitely capable of film bulge and blurry pictures with stochastic infrequency. Of all those cameras, (when used at F11) the sharpest one is the one that holds the film flat that day and the one that doesn't jerk when the shutter is pressed.

    Also, see the last page of this PDF, with respect to film flatness : http://www.zeiss.de/C12567A8003B8B6F...ile/cln10e.pdf

  7. #7
    viridari's Avatar
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    Heh... they conclude that one should use 220 film instead of 120. But 220 is so hard to get anymore with any kind of variety.

  8. #8
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Just to point out the physics of it. The film can never bulge 'backwards' beyond the pressure plate. It can only 'lie flat' or bulge 'frontward' toward the lens. If it bulges forward, it shifts the focus of the center of the frame to BEHIND the focused point. So pictures at infinity will be in focus OK at the edges of the horizon, but there will be nothing in focus (near or far) in the center of the picture. When shooting portraits, the ears will be in focus.

  9. #9
    viridari's Avatar
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    So are you suggesting that this is particularly a problem with the camera that I'm asking about?

  10. #10
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    The 3.5 Xenotars and 3.5 Planars were supposedly the absolute tops in terms of lens quality. And the Rolleifexes (except for the "T"), with their little "under the roller" film loading were supposedly best for minimizing film flatness issues. The T loaded just like the Rolleicord, Yashica, Autocord, etc.
    A good, clean, well-working Rollei with perfect 4 element or more glass is an investment, not a purchase.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

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