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Rolleiflex 3.5E: Wow and Double Wow
Old 05-03-2018   #1
roscoetuff
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Rolleiflex 3.5E: Wow and Double Wow

After trying Rolleiflex SLX and 6008 and loving the output and flexibility of an SLR in medium format but not really liking the weight, bulk, etc. for everyday MF carry, I've tried 2 folders and a TLR. The folder works for portability that I can slip into my briefcase and carry to work, but it lacks a bit in sharpness - actually by design... and leaving it at "a bit" understates the softness. While it can be a feature for portraits, it's not a first choice to leave a photographer at the mercy of his landscape. So I went back and re-read some of the advice received before swinging for a folder and decided to take a plunge on a Bay II TLR. Don't ask me why... it just happened.

Received on Monday and since then I've shot a bunch of TMY-2 and despite what some would have you believe about 3.5E Xenotars, the negs now running through the scanner are some of the sharpest I can recall. The camera is absolutely no slouch... even if it's something my grandpa might have run before I was born I like what it's producing. So yeah... I get it now.

I love the way you can get low angle shots without having to lie down as you would for an SLR without a WLF by just bending low, and I've been totally impressed with Rollei's integrated accessories - especially the bayonet filters and quick release tripod mount. These things ain't cheap, but for the most part, they seem really well thought out and integrated into the design concept of the TLR.

There was a time I really wondered about the slow speed of some MF lenses, but without a rotating mirror, slow exposures come out very sharp anyway. And the shutter is absolutely one of the quietest I've ever shot. (Bronica SQ series has one of the loudest btw). And the whole package is lighter by half and smaller by good measure than a Bronica SQ, or the Rolleiflex SLX and 6008 series cameras... which are all amazing and problematically challenged at the same time in their own right.

But wow. I am absolutely won over with this crazy two-eyed monster. Now as they say, "I get it". Together with the upgrade to a new, tiny Sekonic 308 meter, what an improvement! Some of the best B&W I've managed so far in this "return to film" adventure over the last 14 months. Developed on a Jobo in Ilford ID-11 1:1, it's a real sweet combo. Highly recommended to anyone on the fence about these crazy cameras. The gear packs up small and you can have everything you need and the "system" is capable of producing in a fairly small bag. What it lacks in traditional SLR cool design and flexibility it makes up for in simplicity... and it's Art Decco lines have a "look" of their own that already has attracted more attention than I'd expected.

So at least for now, the Mamiya 6 RF envy is over, and I'm having a lot of fun just letting the camera lead me where it will. While there's really no cheap way into the Rollei empire, the denizens seem a happy group... even here amongst the (patrician) collectors who make the lives of us more plebian shooters relatively expensive. And yes, I will be sending this puppy out for a tune-up now that I'm convinced it'll be worth the fare.
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Old 05-03-2018   #2
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Glad you like it. I think TLRs just appeal to some people. I felt that way about the Yashica MAT 124G I had, but strangely enough, I never liked the Rolleiflex with the good Schneider-Kreuznach lens I had. Partly I don't know why, and partly I think because I had a Mamiya Super Press 23 by then.

As to the old folders, if you get a good one I think you will be surprised at the lens quality. But you never know what an old folder may have been through in life. I have several Welta folders, 35mm and 6x6. Fortunately mine are good. I have a Zeiss 6x9 folder with Novar lens that is unbelievably sharp.

But no matter. If you like that Rolleiflex, enjoy it to the max. TLRs can for sure be fun to use.
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Old 05-03-2018   #3
karateisland
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Getting a TLR was a revelation for me, too--my 2.8D is my first MF camera, but I am totally blown away by it.
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Old 05-03-2018   #4
lynnb
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Grab yourself some Bay II Rolleinars. You'll be able to focus close, and there appears to be no image degradation. Rolleinars come in a set (viewing and taking lenses); the viewing lens corrects for parallax.

Rolleinar I on a 124G:


Rolleinar III (aspect ratio crop only):
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Old 05-03-2018   #5
roscoetuff
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Lynn: Got the Rolleinar # 1 and have a # 2 on order. I see there's a # 3, but don't see a lot of clamor for that. Nice shots btw.

Rolleipol: Worth picking up, or better to get a good Bay _ adaptor and polarizing lens separately? So far, I've picked up the yellow and orange Bay II filters - which are kind of my standard B&W go-to's.
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Old 05-03-2018   #6
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I'm also just now realising the appeal of TLRs. I've used a bunch of folders and had a Pentacon Six that died on me, so I went for a Yashica 635 (for the lens).

The first time I took it out, I hated it. Focusing screen flare, handling I wasn't used to etc.

But I've shot 5 rolls with it now and I love it. Better results than with any folder or the P6, and I'm starting to really enjoy the handling.
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Old 05-03-2018   #7
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That's what I thought when I received my 2.8C Xenotar, I did have to replace the
bellow's inside which I did but when I got the scans back wow (I just said the same thing).
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Old 05-03-2018   #8
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The only people that dismiss the Xenotar are Zeiss purists. It is a fine lens.



And the Rolleinar adds much to the Rolleiflex experience.

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Old 05-03-2018   #9
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They are great fun, and with the leaf shutter they can sync with a flash at any speed. A basic manual flash and cheap radio triggers will open up all sorts of possibilities, esp since you already have the Sekonic 308.
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Old 05-03-2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roscoetuff View Post

Received on Monday and since then I've shot a bunch of TMY-2 and despite what some would have you believe about 3.5E Xenotars, the negs now running through the scanner are some of the sharpest I can recall. The camera is absolutely no slouch... even if it's something my grandpa might have run before I was born I like what it's producing. So yeah... I get it now.
I'm not sure what you've read... but the 75/3.5 Xenotar in my 3.5F is probably the sharpest lens I've used... and that list includes both the Rolleiflex and Hasselblad Planars...
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Old 05-03-2018   #11
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I am into interchangeable lenses. Wide, medium and short tele are 3 giant boxes and are worth a kings ransom
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Old 05-03-2018   #12
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My Xenotar was also very sharp. Great lens. Not much to say between one of those and a Planar.
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Old 05-03-2018   #13
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There's a lot to learn in terms of getting the most out of it. But for a one-lens guy (most of the time), the zoom-with-your-feet thing works, and the camera just inspires some creative thinking. What the camera may lack in lens versatility, it seems to make up in other ways and function as a great tool for making images.

Love seeing these images! Thanks!
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Old 05-03-2018   #14
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I have the Planar version of the 3.5E, the lens is almost too sharp

Untitled by Mattia Marchi, on Flickr
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Old 05-03-2018   #15
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I think for portraits... the sharpness may be a hang up. Am getting a soft focus filter so my wife won't have a fit when I snap her. Maybe her only neg is being negged about having her photo snapped. Dunno why... as a two-year-old once said, "Her beautiful". Cameras should have my eyes
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Old 05-03-2018   #16
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I can put my Rolleiflex Automat MX EVS and Rolleicord Vb in a Bowery Bag. As for sharpness, the Tessar on the Automat is no slouch:

Sagebrush by bingley0522, on Flickr
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Old 05-03-2018   #17
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The Xenar on the Rolleicord Vb is no slouch either:

Sherman Island Bridge by bingley0522, on Flickr
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Old 05-03-2018   #18
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I love looking at the negs that come from my Yashicamat 124g...printing from them is way too much fun too...
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Soft focus options
Old 05-03-2018   #19
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Soft focus options

Rolleiflexes have very sharp lenses, whether Schneider or Zeiss.
For those looking for soft focus adapters, Rollei did make their own, called the Rolleisoft. It comes in different strengths. 0 and 1, with 0 having the weaker effect.

There are earlier versions that Rollei called the "Duto" filter.
Apparently, the name has carried on as a generic label for the soft focus filters that have concentric rings on the glass.

If the genuine Rollei filters are too expensive, then Hoya makes a DUTO filter in 43mm size. I use it on a Bay 2 to 43mm thread adapter.
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Old 05-03-2018   #20
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The Xenotar and the Planar are sharp, with great tonality, great everything. You can't tell them apart except for colour rendition. The Xenotar is cooler, the Planar is warmer (Zeiss colour). I've been using the Mamiya c330 with various lenses. Fine. Then I grabbed my Rolleiflex - smaller, lighter, compact, tight, smooth, luxurious. Just the best.

Enjoy your camera, I understand what you mean. You cannot go wrong with a Rolleiflex.


Kodak Ektar 100


Fuji Acros 100


Velvia 100F
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Old 05-04-2018   #21
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Talking

I hate my TLR, A Rollei Automat, with Tessar!
The wrong way round viewing, the short length film.
Imagine your 35mm with 12 exposures or Digital!

Then you get back your shoot (Color done by lab).
I have more successful exposures than any other of my cameras.
Years ago i exposed a 220 roll and had 23 images worth big enlargements!
Looking at negatives over the years, I realized that I would have shot less and saved money!
A pro when I began pro work advised me, "Go medium format!".
Advice instantly forgotten in age of SLR's..
A few years later jumped onto medium Format with Mamiya because of need of long lenses, for portraiture. 135 mm and 180 mm.
If one has chance to use Medium Format TLR grab it!
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Old 05-04-2018   #22
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The Xenotar and Planar were identical lenses made to Rollei specifications by different manufacturers. I've had (and have both) over the years and never saw a difference. Any difference people see between the two I put down to subjective opinion.

The little Rolleinars are a great addition.
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Old 05-04-2018   #23
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well, to be pendantic, the xenotar and planar are somewhat different designs, and objectively measure differently, but I do agree they are both great. I got a 3.5F not long ago and am loving it too, can't get enough really. It's just so fun to shoot and great image quality in a very compact package.
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Old 05-04-2018   #24
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Irving Penn grafted a Hasselblad Stovepipe finder to a Rollei frame. Now that is a cool way to view Rollei.
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Old 05-04-2018   #25
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Any FB folks, welcome to join and participate in the Rolleiflex / Rolleicord User Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/346766212036744/
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Old 05-04-2018   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nokton48 View Post
Irving Penn grafted a Hasselblad Stovepipe finder to a Rollei frame. Now that is a cool way to view Rollei.
You can purchase an adapter to adapt the Hasselblad finder to a Rolleiflex. I have one.
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Old 05-04-2018   #27
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I also have a Rolleiflex 3.5E Xenotar, it's my favourite camera. I am almost always happy with the results from it. The dog photo below was only possible using the Rollei, it was the last frame on the film. I had just taken 3 or 4 shots of the dog with my Canon rangefinder but none of them worked as well - wrong angle. Luckily the owner and pup were very patient for me.



Bulldog and woman
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Old 05-06-2018   #28
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What a great shot!
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Old 05-20-2019   #29
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E Series Rolleiflex 3.5 Planar TLR
Film: CatLabs Film 80 X, ID-11 1+1.

Sue 1 by Bill Smith, on Flickr

Around the Light Beacon by Bill Smith, on Flickr
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Old 05-20-2019   #30
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Lovely photos!

It's always hard to beat a Rolleiflex TLR. I've had four or five of them over the years—my favorite was a lovely 1951 MX with the Zeiss Tessar lens. Just a great camera: light, compact, and amazingly versatile.

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Old 05-20-2019   #31
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I know with their idiosyncracies, they're not for everyone, but I'm with Roscoe....If you get it, the rewards are great. I've used many medium format cameras including the Mamiya 6 & 7, RB67, Fuji Texas leicas in 6x7,6x8,6x9 & both 65 & 90 lenses, Plaubel Makinas. Had a Rollei 2.8F & 3.5. The one that stuck with me is a '58 Rolleiflex T. It's done many travels as an only camera. It never ceases to amaze me. Most recent shot with TMY2, rolleinar 1. A 20" print on Ilford Classic FB. IMG_8463 by , on Flickr
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Old 05-21-2019   #32
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I use my Rolleiflex for street photography. Most people do not have any idea what it is, let alone how it works, which makes capturing candids infinitely more effortless than when using a "normal looking" camera.

The Planar lens on my bay II is the sharpest lens I have ever used. That combined with the size of the negative and the dynamic range that is possible means that, for my purposes, I am not making any compromises by using film.

I use all three Rolleinars. They are good for portraits, and of course cat pictures.

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Old 05-21-2019   #33
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I've been shooting TLR's for going on 11 years, starting with a Series E 3.5 Planar Rolleiflex, then a couple of Rolleicords and a Mamiya C220f kit (just need the 250mm lens and I'm complete). Recently I traded my Hasselblad 500 C/M kit, I love Zeiss glass, who doesn't? I just didn't like shoot with it as much as my TLR's, so I traded it for a recently overhaulled Type 3 Rolleiflex 3.5 F with the Planar lens, I couldn't be happier.
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Old 05-22-2019   #34
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At the moment I have these Rollei's:


Rolleiflex Original, 3,8 Tessar.
Rolleiflex Standard, 4,5 Tessar
Rolleiflex Standard, 3,8 Tessar
Rolleiflex Standard, 3,5 Tessar
Rolleiflex Automat, 1937, 3,5 Tessar
Rolleiflex Automat, 1939, 3,5 Tessar
Rolleiflex 3,5B ("MX-EVS"), 3,5 Tessar
Rolleiflex 3,5 F, 3,5 Planar
Rolleiflex 4x4 ("Sport") 2,8 Tessar


Rolleicord I, 4,5 Triotar
Rolleicord I, 3,8 Triotar
Rolleicord II, type 1, 3,5 Triotar
Rolleicord II, type 4, 3,5 Triotar
Rolleicord 1a, type 1, 4,5 Triotar
Rolleicord 1a, type 2, 4,5 Triotar
Rolleicord 1a, type 3, 4,5 Triotar
Rolleicord 1a, Polizei, 3,5 Triotar


I used to have more models, like the 2,8 F, 2,8 E, 3,5 E3, Tele-Rolleiflex, 3,5 A (MX), the first postwar Automat, the grey 4x4, Rolleicord II type 2, 3, 5 and 6, III, IV and V, but sold them. Can't use them all.

They are beautiful cameras with a rigid feel to them, and easy to use. A big plus is that they don't need servicing as often as SLR cameras, and how quiet they are. My favourite focal length is the normal one for every format, so I don't miss the option to change lenses. The Tele-Rolleiflex was wonderful, but I didn't have much use for it.

Lately I have used the 1939 Rolleiflex Automat. It's in mint condition and the Tessar is excellent. It's weighs less than the 3,5 F and is easier on the neck. The 3,5 F with its coated Planar is of course better for colour.
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