View Full Version : Bought 1950 Rollei TLR model; did I waste my money?
From an extremely reliable seller on e-Bay I purchased the Rollei 2.8A camera with a Zeiss Opton Tessar f/2.8 taking lens, but I failed to research which taking lenses are best. If you have used this specific model, would you kindly opine about its capturing qualities in terms of tonality, sharpness, and clarity with today's 100 speed films? Also, therefore, did I waste my money upon buying this? Thank you.
I've had good experience with the Tessar lenses on Rollei TLRs with all types of modern films. I don't know how much money you have into the venture so far, but I doubt that it is a waste. Find a lens hood and use it. Have fun!
The 2.8 Tessars were not quite as well regarded as the 3.5 Tessar, but it is still an excellent lens that will perform on par with modern lenses, especially when stopped down to f4 or below.
Apparently, I think, there were some mismatched tessars. I can't remember if they were opton or jena, but google mismatched tessars and rolleiflex and you'll find the story on some forum or another. The bad reputation of the 2.8 lens comes largely from that batch, though I do believe the consensus is that it won't be as sharp (esp. wide open) as the 3.5. That said, there's always variation in lenses...so...you won't know until you shoot it. You may have a great camera! And you just as easily could have purchased a 3.5 model that wasn't the best. Most of us never know the difference since we don't do lens resolution tests, so shoot some film and see what it does. Anyway, you can enjoy shooting a fast and pretty rare 'flex model.
Oh my God. You wasted your money.
It's worse than having just thrown it in the street or flushing it down the toilet.
If you live to be 100 years old, you will always be haunted by that terrible day when you pushed the "bid" button on eBay, and were sent spiralling into a morass of fear, horror, loathing and shame for buying that odious Tessar.
For ISO 100 film, the tonality is TERRIBLE, worse than a box Brownie or a $2 thrift shop Instamatic. The sharpness, or rather lack of sharpness, is embarrassing. Your prints will elicit snickers and derision wherever you go.
You're not imagining it. You really did hear it. People point and whispering: "There's the foolish man who WASTED HIS MONEY buying that crummy Rollei. HA HA HA HA HA!"
May God one grant you piece and respite from the shame and horror of this grievous error.
LOL Valdemar, you're making the man feel bad. It couldnt be so bad as to be a lifelong remorse would it. Just go out and shoot :P
It's a reasonably uncommon camera. I think most of the mismatched lens sets (Jena) were exchanged in a factory recall.
I think it's virtually 100% certain that he got one of those mismatched lenses.
The way he described it, there's no doubt about it. The camera cannot make a sharp photo.
Too bad. I feel sorry for him.
Ah, enjoy it.
take a few photos at f2.8
remember, what the pundits of yesteryear called a dog is the must have of the present time.
look at the Canon 50/f1.2 lens or the so called Winogrand lens , the LTM Canon 28mm f2.8
these were passed over as being so-so for many years, but now they are highly desired.
Unfortunately, I have to side with Valdemar! It's definitely one of the bad batch, why else would it be sold on the auction site by a reputable dealer. I'll tell you what, just because I'm that kind of guy, I'd be glad to take it off your hands. Just let me know. :angel:
From Ferdi Stutterheim:
"After the Second World War an expensive wide aperture 2,8 A model having a Carl Zeiss Jena 2.8/80 mm Tessar was marketed, next to the standard 3.5 model and the economy "Rolleicord" model. The 2.8 was made for the American market. For post-war Europe the price was simply too steep. The 2.8 Tessar lenses were manufactured by Carl Zeiss Jena just before the war for the Zeiss Ikon Ikoflex. After the war the unmounted lens elements were purchased by Franke & Heidecke. Before delivery they were state of the art "T coated". Before or after this process a number of elements were mixed up. At this point you have to know that at Carl Zeiss lens elements are matched to compensate for minor lens faults. One minor fault is compensated by another minor fault to achieve an optimal result. In this case about one third of the Tessars had unmatched elements, resulting in poor optical perfomance. When this became evident, Franke & Heidecke recalled all 2,8 A cameras in order to replace the CZ Jena lenses for new Opton Tessars from Oberkochen. A Rolleiflex 2,8 A with an original CZJ Tessar is a nice collector´s item. In theorie there is a 2 in 3 chance for a good performing CZJ Tessar, however it is likely that satisfied customers did not take the trouble to have the lens replaced.'
I think M. Valdemar is priming you to sell it to him for cheap. Use it and enjoy it.
Just find a famous classic photographer who used this model of Rolleiflex in its day , a Lee Miller, Capa, or W Eugene Smith, etc.
and hype the living fcuk out of it on forums like this.
It would help if you can post some large images on this forum taken with this camera, preferably of some charming old world city on fine classic B&W emulsion showing lots of bokeh and pretty girls.
then you will have 'em drooling and searching for a Rollei TLR model such as yours.
demand and price will go up and up.
you were so lucky to get in on the ground floor.
Well, I should also provide some background information. My father gave me a Baby Rollei when I was twelve and I still have it, in mint condition, but I haven't used it since the 1970s. Since then, I have been strictly a Leica photographer and their lenses are fantastic, but I occasionally yearn for images from the 120 format and that is why I bought the Rollei 2.8a. Again, I stupidly failed to consult others on which 2.8 or 3.5 lens is highly recommended and I then carelessly bought the 2.8a. Maybe I should toss the 2.8a into my garbage can, buy some 127 film and have fun using my Baby Rollie in addition to my beloved Leica M and R equipment, and never look back.Choices, choices, choices--they never end in life, do they!
I forgot to mention that in the next week or more, I will load some Ilford film into the 2.8a, capture images at multipe f-stops, develop the film, scan it, and post another message showing my findings. By the way, I just noticed that the 2.8a's fastest shutter speed is 1/400th of a second, whereas my Leica R8's is 1/8000th of a second. Yecch!
Yes, but the leaf shutter lens in the rollei flash syncs at all speeds. And who ever shoots at 1/8000th shutter speeds?
Your Opton Tessar will probably be wonderful.
There are a couple of practical downsides to the 2.8A. It takes Bay II lens accessories, but it is a non-standard Bay II. This specifically relates to the lens hood. A Bay II lenshood for a 3.5 Planar/Xenotar camera will mount on the 2.8A about 30 degrees off-kilter. And as for lens caps, I forget which Bay II lenscaps it takes, whether pre-F or post-F, if either. So that kind of stuff will be harder to come by compared to Bay I.
Like other Rolleiflex from this era, the 2.8A lacks baffled film chamber, slotted tripod mount plate for quick-release accessory, and multiple exposure capability. In its favor, it has wonderfully smooth controls, no EVS system, and lovely 10-bladed aperture.
FWIW, I like mine:
Wow, Vitaly---the b&w image of the leaves you captured in Togo is wonderful and it compels me to load some FP4+ or Delta 100 in mine and create 12 test images!
A bad Rolleiflex lens? Rather, you are discussing preference.
Nothing but the best for Sammy.
james dean used a rolleiflex as did sammy davis jr.
... and look where they are now!
I've got a 1938 Rolleicord & I love it.
tbm, don't look at the camera as an investment, just have fun with it.
you get to be with a young Kim Novak and then you die.
May God grant you piece... - M. Valdemar.
I'm sure God will grant him PEACE... although the devil may get him a piece.
I bought my T model (1966) with Tessar f 3.5 about twenty years ago for $75. A couple years ago I spent $230 on CLA which to me was well worth it.
A couple years ago I spent $230 on CLA which to me was well worth it.
I hope folks pay attention to this comment. A good professional overhaul isn't cheap but I, too, advise people that it is well worth it if one really wants to use vintage cameras. I did similar wiht a Rollei many years ago and was rewarded with more than a decade of reliable service.
Gumby, I completely agree. I have sent 4 cameras recently for CLAs with another one going in June. I have had 2 lenses CLAd also recently and both the lenses and cameras are just wonderful now.
"I think it's virtually 100% certain that he got one of those mismatched lenses."
Yes, just like the Hubble telescope!
I don't think a Tessar 2.8 will disappoint you although the lens design is not as good as Planar or Xenotar. Like others, Rolleiflex and Rolleicord never disappoint you.
When you get your pics back you will begin to love it. That's what Rolleiflexes TLR are all about.
I have such a 1950 Rollei since a few weeks and I really love it!
Obviously, it is an "oldtimer" so if you want "modern" looking color pictures you'd better go with more modern lenses (later Rolleiflex models from the 70s onwards, for example - the question is not the basic lens design, but the coatings have been largely improved over the years).
If you can accept - or even like - that the color contrast (but not the sharpness) is a little bit lower with the 50's 2.8 Tessar, this will be a perfect camera for you. I have not "scientifically" tested it yet, but my results so far have been excellent for my taste (I scanned the pictures at 4000 dpi), at least at somewhat stopped down apertures. Only exception: shooting directly into the sun gives some significant flare (much more than a modern lens), so there are limitations with high-contrast scenes.
Unfortunately, accessories (Bay II) are hard to find (as mentioned above) - but you will not need too many of them anyhow.
So, try it out and enjoy your great (and really rare) oldtimer - a true camera for "conoisseurs" and a real classic !
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