Jan 312014
 

The Friday Film: The Rolleiflex 3.5F by Ibraar Hussain

This isn’t really a Gear Site, but, if people want to contribute stuff about gear then gear will be featured. To carry on the Gear tradition, I bought myself a precious little Gemstone of a camera.

For those interested in the Leica and rangefinder experience – I suggest you also look to the TLR experience and the Rolleiflex experience as it will give you a completely different feel and vision in your photography. Just owning a classic Rolleiflex is a pleasure in itself, and using one gives a feeling of excitement and productivity and the feel of it all being an event – even if the subject is your cat lounging around the sitting room!

There are many Rolleiflex TLR’s to choose from; Automat’s, Rolleicord’s, 2.8 Planar’s, Tele-Rolleiflexes and many special editions.

80TWIN PRINt.indd

The Rolleiflex is still being made by DHW Photo http://www.dhw-fototechnik.de to this day, and is a work of art, with modern ground glass and super bright image – expensive, but cheaper than a Leica!

I bought myself a mark 1 Rolleiflex 3.5F – a Classic with a capital C and considered by many to be one of the best camera’s ever made.

A camera used by some of The Greats throughout the years and capturing some of the iconic photographs in history such as David Bailey, Richard Avedon, Robert Doisneu, Fritz hence, Eduard Boubat, Lee Miller, Diane Arbus, Robert Capa, Vivian Maie amongst many others.

And a Camera used by iconic movie stars and rock stars over the years .

James-Dean-taking-a-photograph-of-Anna-Maria-Pierangeli-with-a-Rolleiflex

CelebrityCameraClub14

Marilyn Monroe with a Rolleiflex (2)

Connery Behind The Lens

Parades End. Call Sheet #22

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Celebrities with Their Vintage Cameras (32)

Paul-McCartney-Rollei1

I’m not saying owning one will make one great or into a celebrity! But it’s apiece of history which is still a joy to use and can yield lovely results on par with The Best. I’m no expert on Rolleiflex TLR’s but I do know there are many user groups and lists of serial numbers. Buying a Rolleiflex of this type is an investment too.

The value will only go up (depending upon the condition of your Rolleiflex) and one can treasure it as one treasures a Rolex or collectors watch. Anyway, I bought mine with a Rollei bayonet II yellow Filter, lens cap and a Rolleinar II close up filter – a two piece filter with lenses for both viewing and taking lenses.

The close up filter is called the Rolleinar and comes in many different strengths. The Rolleinar I will enable you to shoot head shoulder shots with the 75mm f3.5 standard lens.

The Rolleinar II which I have will be face shots – or close-ups of other subjects.

I wanted a Rolleinar I but for some strange reason, the Bay II Rolleinar’s (along with ALL Bay II accessories) are 3 to 4 times as much as anything Bay I or III (Bay I for the Rolleicord Tessar and Bay III for the f2.8 80mm Planar) so I picked up a bargain Rolleinar II.

IMG_4652 IMG_4628

If you have never used a TLR before, it’s easy peasy to use. Flip open the waist level finder to look into a big image of the square scene. Focus using the knob on the left, wind the lever forward and then back, and trip the shutter using the release on the bottom right front of the camera.

It is so easy and so straight forward without any settings getting in the way.

Mine is metered, the array of glass bulbs below the Rolleflex logo is where the selenium meter captures the light. I didm;t bother with the inbuilt meter and just used Light Meter App on my iPhone for the one roll I shot with this camera. The dials at the front are for Shutter speed and Aperture.

I took mine along to my favourite place – Brecon in Wales a few weeks back, and snapped a roll of 10 exposures at the ruins at Tretower Castle. A lovely desolate place in the midst of the Beacons. I shot a roll of Rollei Pan 25. A very slow 25 ISO BW Film which is basically Agfapan 25 rebranded.

I developed the roll in an Agfa Rondinax 60 daylight Tank – great idea, if a bit temperamental, with Rodinal developer. I Scanned using an Epson 4990 flatbed and used Photoshop CS4 to process.

The negatives were lovely with high contrast and rich blacks, and I was pleased with every shot (I wasted 2 by exposing them accidentally in the Rondinax while loading).

I include a selection of snaps here (minus family snaps of me and the Missus).

I have owned a TLR before: MPP Microcord TLR reviewed here on stevehuffphoto.com http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/11/02/the-mpp-microcord-tlr-by-ibraar-hussain/ But this was my first Rolleiflex TLR and it is a keeper and a pleasure to use and to own.

All photo’s of this first test roll.

Rolleiflex 3.5F Mk 1.

Carl Zeiss 75mm f3.5 Planar

Rollei Yellow Filter

Rollei Pan 25

Rodinal.

Rondinax 60 daylight tank.

castle tower Untitled-1 Untitled-2 Walls walls2

 

Sep 082012
 

The Rolleiflex 6008 integral 6X6 camera review by Ibraar Hussain

It’s difficult to review such a camera as the Rolleiflex 6008 integral, as it is very advanced, yet needs to be made the most out of by able hands, who can get the most out of the handling and astounding lens line up. I wanted a 6×6 camera and I ended up buying this instead of a Hasselblad 500CM.

The Rolleiflex 6008i is part of the 6000 series of Medium Format 6×6 SLR which Rollei released as competition to the Hasselblad 6×6 Cameras, which was a mistake, I was told by a friend to look out for a Rolleiflex instead of a Hasselblad, but I didn’t know he meant the TLR – and instead I end up with this!

Rollei had traditionally been famous for their TLR’s such as the Rolleiflex and Rolleicord series of Cameras.

But with Hasselblad striking new ground with their SLR’s and the gradual disinterest in TLR’s Rollei engineers set to work on a 6×6 SLR system which would leave Hasselblad years behind technologically.

The SL66 was released which was purely mechanical, though it is a beautifully crafted piece, it’s main downfall is its size, weight and the V series like structure meant ergonomics were not up to modern standards.

This was followed by the SLX, and it is a futuristic camera compared to the SL66. It lacks the traditional look of the Hasselblad V series, and instead is very modern in design and electronics.

The shutter and everything is electronically controlled, so without a battery it will not function – this could be a disadvantage to those used to mechanical cameras.

From Carn Llidi, Pembrokeshire Coast. Wales. 50mm Distagon HFT f4. Fuji Provia 100F

The SLX was followed by a series of 6×6 Camera’s which follow the same design ethic. Easy to use 6×6 Medium Format SLR’s with advanced features, superb build quality and stellar lenses.

There are many available, and some more advanced than others. They are BIG, boxy creatures, heavy, yet fairly compact (not behemoths like the SL66) with perfect ergonomics and very versatile – incorporating a ‘grip’ with features such as shutter speed control and shutter release on them. So these could be used in a Studio, and also on the move.

The SLX mk 1 has solid German engineered build BUT has quirky electronics, and collectors/dealers suggest looking out for Mk 2 version which is far more reliable.

The crowning glory of this series are the lenses; superb glass from Schneider, Zeiss and Rollei (Mamiya) are all beautiful and pin sharp.

The most advanced Manual Focus version is the Rolleiflex 6008 integral II, and this was followed by (I believe) the worlds first 6×6 Auto Focus SLR; the Rolleiflex 6008 AF.

Light, shadow and clouds over the Beacons. Wales. 80mm Planar HFT f2.8. Fuji Provia 100F

This I believe was a competitor for the Contax 645, as both had Auto Focus, yet the Rolleiflex had the better build, larger negative size and a much wider array of Lenses (the downside being that many were MF rather than AF), plus a more illustrious lineage (as Contax 645 was Japanese built and a Kyocera camera rather than a purely German made SLR). I’ve spoken to photographers who have had both, and by and large they all prefer the look and feel of the Rolleflex images rather than the Contax.

The 6008i and AF can take Digital backs, so are more than geared towards the Digital age (though I have never used, nor can I afford a Digital back)

Rollei’s last foray into the market was the Rollei F&H designed and built Rolleiflex Hy6 6×6 SLR, which was also funded by Jenoptik (spun of company from Zeiss Jena which, I suppose, makes this possibly the last purely German Zeiss camera)

This magnificent camera takes Film along with Digital backs.

Though you can find Leaf and Sinar badged versions of the Hy6 – it is a purely German built beast and is STILL manufactured in Germany by F&H under their new guise

Sunset over the irish Sea. Pembrokeshire. Wales. 50mm Distagon HFT f4. @ f16 Hitech 3 stop ND Hard Grad. B+W Polarizer. Fuji Provia 100F

DHW Fototechnik interesting article 

Anyway, I have the Rolleiflex 6008i. I bought it a few months back and my kit consists of the standard camera, 120 Film back, a Polaroid back, Grip, battery and 2 lenses; The 80mm HFT Planar PQ f2.8 and the 50mm HFT Distagon f4. I’m looking to purchase a 150mm f4 Sonnar portrait lens. I’m also on the lookout for any Schneider lenses, which can be very expensive.

The PQ lenses are geared towards the more advanced features of the 6008i, AF and Hy6, the non-PQ lenses are compatible with every Rolleiflex 6000 and Hy6 series camera, but they can only be metered using the ‘stopped down’ method on the 6008i and AF and Hy6, on other 6000 series and SLX they are perfectly normal.

Saying that, the non-PQ lenses are identical to the PQ optically and are Bargains, costing less than half that of the PQ.

I bought the 6008i for travelling! Yes, a big heavy beast to take around the Mountains of The Hindu Kush and Karakoram when I go to visit again next time (with my Missus this time, I know you’re reading this, I won’t leave you behind again!)

But this beast, it’s easy to carry, the Action Grip is a revelation, it has a camcorder like strap, and can be adjusted to suit, it has a shutter lock, exposure lock and power/motor drive switch – it means I can trek, climb even, and won’t be resorting to clunky holding and fiddling as on a Hasselblad and can hold and shoot with one hand!

Marching Sheep being herded. brecon Beacons. 80mm Planar HFT f2.8 Fuji Provia 100F

Focussing the waist level View Finder gives you a massive bright image, it’s quick to shoot, and can shoot at 3fps.

The ergonomics are second to none in a camera this size, and I can shoot on FULL AUTO with ease! yes, a MF camera with full A mode, that even a compact digital camera snap shooter can use as long as they can focus manually!

the 6008i features centre weighted metering, spot metering along with multi-spot (a la the OM4Ti)

The other superb feature, which tends to put people off from MF camera’s is the Magazine dark slide, a simple slider! And one can chop and change magazines with ease!

I have only shot two rolls with this camera, as I’m ‘saving it’ for holidays and treks – I can only imagine the portraits I’ll get with Ektachrome e100vs of exotic looking peoples in the Hindu Kush and Karakoram.

Until then, I’m including a few photo’s I’ve taken on a Roll during my recent trip to Pembrokeshire in Wales, where I thoroughly enjoyed using it, but felt like a bit of a twat walking around with it as I got so many stares!

So all in all, an electronic, versatile, very easy to handle and use, wonderfully built 6×6 SLR with stellar lenses in the right hands (not mine) whose quality will most likely blow any 35mm sized SLR, DSLR or RF from here to Timbuktu! With the legend “Rolleflex” boldly inscribed on it! Pure class!

Drystone wall across the moors. Brecon. 80mm Planar HFT. Fuji Provia 100F

The SLX mk 2 can be bought for as little as $400 more or less with WLF and 80mm Planar, other’s can be bought for even less or for very expensive prices. If you want AF (the AF is obviously not to modern standards) you can check out the 6008 AF but these demand high prices.

The SLX mk 2 can be bought for as little as $400 more or less with WLF and 80mm Planar, other’s can be bought for even less or for very expensive prices – much less than a Hasselblad 500C/M.

QUIRKS

I need to mention these, in case people start lambasting me for failing to mention these.

1) Electronics, as mentioned earlier, the SLX mk 1 suffers from Electronic issues. And earlier versions of other models (correct me if I’m wrong) are said to have issues too. Though later ones do not, well, they’ll have as many issues as any other electronic camera I suppose

2) Battery. The Battery pack is an old fashioned one, and over time holds less and less charge – BUT these days that doesn’t mean much any more as alternative battery packs compatible with the charger are offered by some camera show and Dealers, and you can get a car charger accessory plus spares.

3) Ultimately the SLX/6000 series is an Electronic camera, so don’t expect eternal ownership, one day electronics MUST fail on every sort of electronic camera, whether a DSLR, Leica M Digital or Contax SLR/645/G series and the Rolleiflex.

4) In heavy rain, I have heard that if the rain seeps in it MAY affect the electronics UNTIL the camera has dried.

Sunset. Pembrokeshire. 80mm Planar HFT Fuji Provia 100F

Sep 032012
 

The West German Rolleiflex SL35

by Ibraar Hussain

In the history of photography there are a few legendary marques which have achieved Grail like status, and will always have a place high up in the pantheon of the Photographic Gods, far above Oriental pretenders. Marques which are coveted by collectors, professionals and those wishing to own a piece of History and precision, beautifully crafted engineering. Carl Zeiss of Jena (Est. 1846), Leica of Wetzlar (Est. 1913), Victor Hasselblad of Gothenburg (Est. 1841) and Franke & Heidecke of Braunschweig (Est. 1920) also known as ‘Rollei’.

Hasselblad and Rollei have been famous for their Medium Format cameras, Leica the M series, and Zeiss everything from 35mm to Medium Format Pentacon’s. Back in the day, the industry was smaller and more ‘in house’, and Rollei were the first to move production outside Germany when they acquired factories in Singapore, but their TLR’s were always German built.

Young Cadet 50mm SL-Xenon B+W Yellow Filter Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

The sands of time flow and times change, nowadays some of the original companies are great behemoth like Multinationals with factories and offices throughout the World. Carl Zeiss has been splintered into many factions, or spun off to form other companies such as Jenoptik, Docter Optic and Praktica (a shadow and mockery of its former glory) with other great associated names such as Exakta Ihagee and Pentacon having bitten the dust.

These days it’s 35mm Range Finder, the Zeiss Ikon is manufactured by Cosina in Japan, Zeiss manufactures Optics in Germany.

Modern Hasselblads are manufactured (bar the V Series) in Japan by Fujifilm and Leica make their M series in Portugal (complete with Chinese made components) (and are then ‘finished’ in Germany to warrant the ‘Made in Germany’ inscription).

Rollei has been split into three companies, the brand name ‘Rollei’ has ended up like Praktica has, owned by RCP-Technik GmbH & Co makers of budget Digital Cameras and accessories. The other branch specialises in producing old Agfa Film stock under the brand Rollei Film, but the real Rollei still survives as a small German based camera manufacturer spun off by Rollei engineers and employees with a direct connection to the original founders. DHW Fototechnik manufactures extremely expensive high-end and collectable Medium Format Cameras such as the Rolleiflex Hy6, the Rolleiflex 6008i and new versions of the Classic Rolleiflex TLR. These cameras are very expensive, but oh so beautiful and exquisite – especially the new TLR’s.

Schneider Kreuznach 50mm f1.8. Agfa APX 100, Rodinal. Silver reflector.

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My Niece Rolleigon 135mm f2.8 Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

Anyway, enough of the history, I seem to be going on and on a bit too much!

Most people covet a Leica M, and for good reason, they’re beautifully built and in the right hands make beautiful photographs, and they’re wonderfully built, solid, heavy and with a feel of precision, damped metal perfection – they look, feel and manifest sheer quality that just to handle one and own one is a joy – think Patek Phillipe or A Lange Sohne.

There are other camera’s out there which are just as beautiful to behold, and just as well-built and exude just the same feeling of quality, worth and treasure, and the Rolleiflex TLR is one such, others are hidden gems, overlooked, under rated such as the Exakta series and Pentacon Six, and can be bought relatively cheaply – if a Mint example can be found, in the 35mm sized world one such example is the Rolleiflex SL35.

The SL35 was Franke & Heidecke first 35mm SLR, and the original SL35 (and the far more rare and expensive SL350) is Rollei’s best.

A snap in Medieval City of Nottingham SL Xenon 50mm f1.8 Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

There are three versions of the SL35, the German-made SL35 of 1970 – 1972 and the later Made in Singapore version 1972- 1976 – both identical on the surface, but not the same underneath. Sure they are made using the same looking parts, but the Singapore versions aren’t built with the same love, care and precision as the German-made ones. I have both examples and you can feel the difference.

The German-made SL35 and SL350 are collectors items, a Mint example is a camera to keep – forever.

Later SL35E and SL35M aren’t in the same class as even the Singapore built SL35 and to be honest, aren’t worth bothering with as collectors items (though they are worth it if you want to use the exquisite optics and the more advanced features they have).

The SL35 is beautiful to behold, it has a simple, totally spartan but elegant bauhaus like design, devoid of superfluous switches and dials, even the hotshot is an after market accessory. The simple lines are difficult to date, 50ies? 60ies? 70ies? the design is timeless and in my view is as glorious as any classic Range Finder.

The German SL35 I have is the stealthy SL35 black, and the attention to detail on it just makes one smile and it begs to be used. It is crafted of solid metal, and feels dense, weighty. Ken Rockbuster describes a Leica as feeling like a well oiled revolver, and I can tell you that this Rolleiflex feels much the same. I also have a Mint German-made SL35 Silver body which is also a beautiful piece of work.

Pembrokeshire Wales. SL-Xenon 50mm f1.8 Kodak Portra 400

Comparing it to the redoubtable Olympus OM2n, the Olympus looks and feels sort of cheap in comparison! Sure the Olympus is a better camera, by better I mean it has Aperture priority and a user-friendly light meter, but then again a Seiko is probably more reliable and accurate than a Patek, and a Casio even more so. The Rolleiflex doesn’t need any gimmicks, it’s simplicity is its strength and any photographer who’s worth his or her salt should thrive with it.

The Film wind crank winds forward with a precision mechanical zip and it’s released to be eased back with a nicely damped slide. The shutter emits a satisfying thunk as it trips.

Looking at top of the camera, the only controls we have are the Film wind crank, shutter release with the stylised “R” situated on top of the shutter speed dial, the button near the shutter release is the stop down/ depth of field preview button. On the other side we have a solitary film rewind knob/ dial.

At the front we have the self timer lever and that’s about it! Basic as it gets!

Olympic Stadium Stratford, London. SL-Xenon 50mm f1.8 B+W Yellow Filter Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

The Camera has a built-in light meter, powered by a small watch size battery and this is activated by pressing the Stop Down Button, it manifests itself in the form of a needle, visible through the big bright viewfinder (about as big and bright as the VF on an Olympus OM2n)

The meter isn’t the highlight of this camera, as it’s annoying pressing the stop down button, then having to control aperture and shutter speed to get a correct exposure. I have used it, and it’s fairly accurate but only to test it out – I find it easier and thus tend to use a hand-held incident Minolta Autometer III which is pretty good, but the internal meter is there if ever required.

The lenses, well, there are some gorgeous lenses available for this camera, lenses made by Zeiss with the HFT coating (HFT is Rollei trademarked T*) Schneider Krueznach, Voighlander and Rollei Rolleinar lenses. They render beautifully, they probably aren’t as sharp as more modern equivalents but that doesn’t matter, as they manifest a lovely feel in the photographs.

By Lord Byron’s House, Nottingham. SL-Xenon 50mm f1.8 B+W Yellow Filter Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

The Zeiss and Schneider lenses are expensive, some more than others, the Voightlanders are rebranded Zeiss and Rolleinars, the Rolleinars can be bought for peanuts, but that doesn’t mean the Rolleinars are crap – on the contrary they’re superb lenses, made by Mamiya in Japan, well built and of very high quality, in fact tests show they’re to a hairs breadth of the Zeiss and Schneider in terms of quality.

I have the Schneider 50mm f1.8 and the Rolleigon 135mm f2.8 portrait lens., My next lens is going to be a 28mm Rolleinar, though I am watching a 25mm Distagon on eBay.

To sum it all up, the Rolleiflex SL35 is a stunning piece, and to demonstrate how much I value mine I wouldn’t swap it for any other camera bar a new Rolleiflex 4.0 FW – even if offered an Leica M3, M6 or an M9 I wouldn’t swap it – it is my favourite camera and even though I’ve not owned it long, and have only shot a couple of rolls with it, I prize it above all my others. the Rolleiflex SL35 just oozes class, a camera which you can keep and use FOREVER – it’s a joy to own and to handle, turns heads and in my opinion is just as classy as any Leica and it has those magical legend “Rolleiflex” inscribed on it!

 

Bird over Bedfont Lake. Middlesex. SL-Xenon 50mm f1.8 B+W Yellow Filter Agfa APX 100 Rodinal

my rudimentary ‘blog’; http://rolleiflexed.wordpress.com and Flickr; http://www.flickr.com/photos/71817058@N08/

I’ve only shot three rolls of Film with this Rolleiflex SL35, two shot on Agfa APX 100 and developed in Rodinal, the other roll is Kodak Portra 400. It currently has half a roll of Agfa APX 100 left in it. The shots were basic family snaps and stuff, and I’ve included a few examples here – I’ve yet to shoot the camera in anger! Rudimentary scans with Epson Scan Epson 4990.

I tried to take some pictures of the Rolleiflex with my Kodak Easyshare Z990 – but pictures cannot do it a justice.

For more information check out this excellent site:

http://captjack.exaktaphile.com/rollei/dugrew.html

I bought my Black with SL-Xenon for £175 (around $280) and the SL35 Silver body for a meagre £20! That’s $30 !!

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