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Anyone out there using a Rollei 4.0FW?
Old 11-30-2018   #1
chasfreeland
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Anyone out there using a Rollei 4.0FW?

I have a used Rollei 4.0FW in quite remarkable condition on reserve at a local camera shop. But before finalising the purchase, I would like to know if anyone is currently using this camera and about their experience(s) with it. How does it compare with the older Rollei wide angle cameras as to build quality and so on? The dealer pointed out that since this is a newish camera and lens, it does not suffer from the separation issues that are allegedly common in the older wide angle lenses. Any comment? Is the vintage model still preferable from a user's rather than a collector's point of view? I already use a Rollei 2.8F and I would like to pair this wide angle camera with it.
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Old 12-01-2018   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasfreeland View Post
I have a used Rollei 4.0FW in quite remarkable condition on reserve at a local camera shop. But before finalising the purchase, I would like to know if anyone is currently using this camera and about their experience(s) with it. How does it compare with the older Rollei wide angle cameras as to build quality and so on? The dealer pointed out that since this is a newish camera and lens, it does not suffer from the separation issues that are allegedly common in the older wide angle lenses. Any comment? Is the vintage model still preferable from a user's rather than a collector's point of view? I already use a Rollei 2.8F and I would like to pair this wide angle camera with it.
I have not yet been blessed with a Rollei Wide so I am not able to, as you have requested, speak to the pros and cons of using one of the late FW types. Still, I can make a few observations you may find helpful perhaps.

The 135mm Sonnar used in the classic Tele Rolleiflex is quite notorious for manifesting failure of the cement used for optical bonding. But I have personally never heard of the 55mm Distagon used in the classic Wide model being affected, ever, and I've been reading anything I can find about Rollei TLRs, obsessively, for at least a decade. That's not definitive, but suggests the dealer is overstating the point (or conflating it with the well known and well documented fault the Tele lenses suffer from, which I suspect may be the case). Frankly I would disregard the issue when deciding whether to go with an early or late Rollei Wide.

Given the choice, I would prefer the classic model. They look prettier to my eye, and have the automat film loading featured in the classic models for over forty years (excepting the Rolleiflex T, of course). These things matter to me. The latter day Rolleiflex models have always tended to be rather expensive compared to the Franke & Heidecke/Rollei GMBH made versions but with a rise in interest in film imaging in recent years, prices may be evening out in certain cases. With only (roughly) 3000 classic Rollei Wide models being produced, they have always attracted a degree of interest from collectors, as well as those photographers who prefer the Rollei way of imaging.

Bear in mind that although a Rolleiflex is very long wearing, after several decades of use, one of the originals is likely to need at least a service to be at its best again. On the other hand, a late type with only light amateur use may well be good to shoot without ado. Personally I am aware of the difference and, notwithstanding, would still take a good early model, even if I had to fix it. But if it is important to you to find something you can shoot immediately it may suggest a late model Wide is an easier proposition.

I can't recall offhand which bayonet size the modern Wide models take for hoods, filters and lens caps. Is it still Bay IV? One undisputed challenge entailed in owning a classic Wide is finding (not to mention, affording) genuine Bay IV accessories, which are by far the most expensive of all the different sizes used by the various Rolleiflex and Rolleicord versions. If, for example, a full range of filters is important to you for black and white imaging it would be prudent to investigate availability and pricing before committing to either version of the Wide.
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Old 12-01-2018   #3
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The FW is a later model, not the original one. -> http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Rolleiflex_4.0_FW

It should not have the delamination issues mentioned.

The mid- to late fifties saw Zeiss (and perhaps other manufacturers too) trying new ways of cementing lens elements (UV curable glue?) which in time has proved unreliable. I have seen Planars (both in Hasselblad and Rollei) having delamination issues. The Planars have curved and quite thin elements, which means that they might crack should one try to separate and reglue the optics.

I can't vouch for every specimen out there, of course, and quite possibly there are a great amount of pristine Planars still hanging around from that time span.
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Old 12-01-2018   #4
sepiareverb
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I use an FW, I’ve had it since new, maybe 8 or 9 years now. The lens is exceptional. I had one winding problem, the camera jammed up, and I had to send it to DHW in Germany for repair as I couldn’t find anyone in the US that would open it. This was about 5 years ago. Other than that, the camera has been fantastic. I much prefer a meter in camera, and this one is very good, but I find I need to take a reading with the magnifier up and my eye at it, for the cell is in the upper chamber, and stray light from the screen can influence the meter.

I had a vintage Rollei F something, and the FW/FX cameras are a little less silky smooth in winding, but I wonder how much of that is simply volume of use. The latest cameras are very firm and seem very precise in winding, not sure if there are differences in construction in the newer bodies. I have an FX as well, which came to me well used, and it winds a little more smoothly.

The loading of the newer cameras is different, but I’ve not seen any film flatness issues at all.
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Old 12-01-2018   #5
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This is PanF+ in DD-X 1:4 shot with the FW at f4 IIRC:

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Old 12-01-2018   #6
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How would you compare the lens of the Rolleiflex Wide with the Hasselblad SWC's Biogon?
The SWC may be a more practical wide angle camera to get than the Rollei Wide. I may be wrong here.
I got the Tele and not the Wide because of the cost difference then. My dream was to have 3 cameras only:

Wide-Normal-Tele all Rolleiflex TLR cameras.
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Old 12-01-2018   #7
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Besides the dramatic difference in FOV, they are quite similar in quality. No obvious distortion in that fencing.
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Old 12-01-2018   #8
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55mm/4 vs. 38mm/4.5.
The Wide has a high collectability added value.
Both cameras are great cameras overall.
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Old 12-01-2018   #9
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The FW has a 50/4.0 lens, different than the original Wide.
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Old 12-01-2018   #10
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Good catch! The lens got slightly wider.
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Old 12-01-2018   #11
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I believe the 38mm is an absolute no distortion lens. I have no experience w/ any of them but i believe the 38mm is on a different level, a different class. Itīs a highly specialized architecture lens/camera.
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Old 12-01-2018   #12
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Quote:
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I believe the 38mm is an absolute no distortion lens. I have no experience w/ any of them but i believe the 38mm is on a different level, a different class. Itīs a highly specialized architecture lens/camera.
The Biogon is a remarkable design for its time. Although Apollo flights used several different camera and lens combinations in flight and on the lunar surface—notably, the famous Earthrise image Bormann shot during Apollo 8, made with a 250mm Sonnar, and the 500mm Tele-Tessar Dave Scott used, when he made the only stand up EVA on the moon, through the LM docking hatch during Apollo 15—the first modified 500EL Hasselblads used on lunar EVA (the Electric Data Camera, or "EDC") were fitted with a special 60mm f/5.6 version of the Biogon. Its ultra low distortion made it the most suitable lens available for photogrammetric imaging.
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Old 12-01-2018   #13
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I wish. At $4k+ for a cult/collector camera, it's a hard sell. Hope the one you have found locally is a better deal.
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Old 12-01-2018   #14
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I wish. At $4k+ for a cult/collector camera, it's a hard sell. Hope the one you have found locally is a better deal.
The 38mm swc? 4K?
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Old 12-01-2018   #15
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I think this thread is about the Rolleiflex Wide???
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Old 12-01-2018   #16
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2K-2.5K is an average SWC cost.

Yes, we are comparing MF wide angle cameras and there are two extremely nice cameras that are the Wide Rollei and the SWC Hassie.
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Old 12-01-2018   #17
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2K-2.5K is an average SWC cost.

Yes, we are comparing MF wide angle cameras and there are two extremely nice cameras that are the Wide Rollei and the SWC Hassie.
The shop where i saw the tele rollei... sold a swc for 1.3K a week ago. It is a bit of a pawn shop. Someone got lucky.
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Old 12-01-2018   #18
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Thank you one and all for your thoughtful responses. I, too, would prefer a vintage Rollei Wide, model K7w, I believe it is, produced from 1961 - 67. One such camera did turn up at this shop. It was there on Friday and sold and out the door by Monday, so I didn't even get a chance to see it. This one, the 4.0 FW is in like new condition and the price is about the same as the classic. But, it does lack that intangible charm of the vintage models, looking rather like a replica. Yet, still attractive overall. But I wanted to use this camera for travel , so thought a newer model would be better. I am a bit afraid of having mechanical issues on an old camera while travelling. I have a 3.5 f, for example, so plagued by shutter problems that I don't carry it about as a user anymore. Not reliable. Thanks, too, for the pictures from the 4.0FW lens. Haven't heard any complaints about the Super-Angulon lens for the 4.0W. The only complaints have been about the leather covering, which seems quite vulnerable to scuffs. There was also some talk on another photo forum about focussing issues. The viewing lens, one poster maintained, is inferior quality, making focussing problematic. But another user chimed in saying that after 600 rolls of film through her 4.0 FW, she's had no problems and considered the camera quite reliable and a breeze to use. Anyway, thanks again for the impute. It has all been useful and helpful to me.
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Old 12-01-2018   #19
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How much are they asking?
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Old 12-01-2018   #20
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Corran, the shop's price is about $4,000. I am in Bangkok, so I do not have a lot of latitude shopping around for a better price. But, checking on the 'Bay, $4K is about the going price for this now-discontinued camera. Which is why I'm inquiring about this. The steep price made me balk. Thought it best to be sure that 4K would be justified. My dealer maintains that prices on Rollei gear, this model included, still keep going up on the Asian market, so buy now or pay more later!
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Old 12-01-2018   #21
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Not that it matters, but my personal opinion is that $4k is much too much for what such a camera provides. The price reflects rarity and collectability. Hence why few people are "using" the camera (which to be fair is unfortunate!).

I have some cult/collectible cameras/lenses/etc. but only bought them because I found them at prices that I couldn't refuse. If you have the money and feel like spending it on such a camera, go for it. Personally I'd rather have a more common 6x6 camera with a medium wide and more money for lots of film.
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Old 12-01-2018   #22
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That's sound advice, Corran. I may take it.
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Old 12-02-2018   #23
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I have the old original version with the Zeiss Distagon. It makes an ideal two camera kit with the 3.5F and I have travelled all over the world with them. Indeed the price reflects it rarity but it is a tool I have come to enjoy. I had it CLA’d by Fleenor and a Maxwell screen put in. The more modern FW has a stock bright screen and likely won’t need a CLA so that’s money saved right there. I had the FW briefly before opting for the one I have now. The built in meter is nice but unnecessary I thought.
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Old 12-02-2018   #24
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If one wants a wide angle camera, still 6x6, and can forego the Rollei, a Bronica SQ series or a Hasselblad with a 50 Distagon could be alternatives, for example.

If a TLR, Mamiya C series with a 55 or a 65 is also possible, of course.
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Old 12-02-2018   #25
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Just some random thoughts:


1. The FW would undoubtedly have multi-coated lenses.


2. I would prefer the wider 50mm focal length of the FW.


3. I don't like the film-feeler mechanism in older Rolleis. It seems an unnecessary complication to me and I don't trust it (though I have no real reason not to trust it). I feel safer lining up the arrows with the red dots.


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Old 12-02-2018   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMur12 View Post
Just some random thoughts:


1. The FW would undoubtedly have multi-coated lenses.


2. I would prefer the wider 50mm focal length of the FW.


3. I don't like the film-feeler mechanism in older Rolleis. It seems an unnecessary complication to me and I don't trust it (though I have no real reason not to trust it). I feel safer lining up the arrows with the red dots.


- Murray
The film feeler mechanism in the 3.5F failed on me while shooting in Taiwan last month. Good thing I always travel with two cameras. I do prefer matching dots loading for this reason. The newer Schneider 50mm is much higher in contrast and probably sharper if I recall. I prefer a lower contrast lens for b/w. The tonality of the Distagon is quite lovely.
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Old 12-02-2018   #27
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Thanks again for the additional comments. Our discussion hasn't brought any crippling criticisms of the camera itself to light, just the high price of admission. If you want to play Rollei wides, vintage or contemporary, it looks like 4K is the price of admission. I'm familiar with Rollei, but have never used the Bronica system. Anyway, none are available locally. Hasselblad is fine, but the mirror slap means that a tripod is a must for shutter speeds slower than 125th. Since it is a new camera, funds would indeed be saved not having to CLA or repair (let's hope). But, as I've found out, the requisite lens shade is expensive, about $200, and filters go for about $100. (Available through Leica-Lisse, in the Netherlands.) There's also a carrying pouch, which is pricey. Bay IV fittings means that I'd have to spend for these items because the Bay III stuff I already have won't work. So, that would be even more cash out of pocket. Still, it's a temptation.
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Old 12-02-2018   #28
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Zero focus issues for me, even with my aging eyes. I wore my reading glasses at first, but find the magnifier lens much simpler, and I can meter at the same time more reliably. The leather does find itself marked here and there, I wouldn’t go as far as scuffed tho. On the rear of the camera where it rubs against a zipper on my one jacket there are some marks, minor tho. The latest version, with the Rollei branded lens (Apogon?) has a black leather which may be different.

Another possible modern wide angle 6x6 camera is the Bessa iii/667W. Also a very good lens, modern coatings, meter onboard and Aperture Priority even. I work with that camera too, less comfortable in the hand, but fast. Has the option of going 6x7 as well. Some have reported problems with this camera as well, but mine has been completely faultless.
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Old 12-02-2018   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasfreeland View Post
I'm familiar with Rollei, but have never used the Bronica system. Anyway, none are available locally. Hasselblad is fine, but the mirror slap means that a tripod is a must for shutter speeds slower than 125th.
What you gain is a through-the-lens viewing, but I do see the point of the Rollei when it comes to handholding a lower shutter speeds.

While sharpness might be an overrated idea, there are times when a tripod still comes in handy, and then it matters less what sort of camera one is using.

But if the temptation is there and the money is available ... get going and do some good work with the camera. If you happen to find it not to your liking, you can probably sell it for close what you paid the first time.
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Old 12-04-2018   #30
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I considered this question too (old vs. new rolleiwide) and went with the older one. Better build quality, more features and functionality, no electronics to fail, basically the same price.
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