Relleiflex announced two new cameras for the Photokina 2012 show: the Rolleiflex FX-N (pictured above) has a new Heidosmat 2,8/80mm viewfinder lens and a Rollei S-Apogon 2,8/80mm main lens. The other specifications are identical to the previous FX model.
The Rolleiflex Hy6 Mod2 includes some firmware and design improvements:
Read more on PhotoRumors.com: http://photorumors.com/2012/09/11/new-cameras-from-rolleiflex-hy6-mod2-and-fx-n/#ixzz29NNVmRyd
One of the family
ODD how a surprise gift from the past—in this case, a medium-format camera inherited from a deceased relative—can rekindle an interest left dormant by advancing time and technology. According to a faded receipt, the camera in question, an early Rolleiflex Automat, was bought in 1937 by an uncle and taken back to Africa, where he was a missionary doctor. On his return to Britain many years later, the camera was put into storage where, for some unfathomable reason, it remained untouched for the better part of half a century.
Your correspondent wrote late last year about the pleasure he gets on all-too rare occasions from firing up his ancient Hasselblad SLR (single-lens reflex) camera and shooting off a roll or two of 120 colour-reversal film (see “Point, shot, discard”, December 31st 2011). The sudden acquisition of the Rollei TLR (twin-lens reflex) has renewed his passion for medium-format cameras with their attractive 6cm-by-6cm picture frame.
But before loading one of the rolls of 120 film he keeps stashed in the fridge, he considered it best first to have the old Rollei cleaned, lubed and adjusted. Leaving the 75-year-old antique with a local camera shop was out of the question. Clearly, the work would have to be done by a technician who understood the foibles of this legendary piece of equipment. But who?
Rolleiflex cameras were made by Franke & Heidecke in Braunschweig, Germany, from 1929 until the firm went bust in 2009—a victim of rising costs, the recession and changes in the marketplace. DHW Fototechnik, a firm resurrected from the ashes of Franke & Heidecke by former employees, continues the good work, albeit on a reduced scale.
A trawl of the internet netted just two sources of technical expertise with the requisite reputations. In Frankfurt, there was Jürgen Kushnik, who had learned the trade at RolleiWerke in Braunschweig, and had risen through the ranks to become branch manager of Rollei of America, before returning to his native Germany.
The other was Harry Fleenor, who had spent over 45 years repairing Rolleis at factory service centres in the United States. When the company went out of business, Mr Fleenor bought all the test gear from Rollei of America and set up shop in Manhattan Beach, California—just 15 miles down the coast from where your correspondent resides. With camera in hand, he was round at Mr Fleenor’s repair shop in a trice.
No question that Oceanside Camera Repair in Manhattan Beach has a global reputation among Rolleiholics. Endorsements from around the world cover the walls of Mr Fleenor’s store. The business has so much work on hand that your correspondent will be lucky to get his refurbished Rollei—complete with a new Maxwell screen—back before Christmas. That alone speaks volumes about the resurgent interest in the brand.
In fact, analogue cameras generally are enjoying something of a revival. In part, this is due to the plethora of old film cameras that can now be had for a song on eBay and elsewhere. Over the past decade, professional as well as amateur photographers have flooded the second-hand market with analogue cameras in excellent condition as they traded up to ever-more exotic digital models.
But something more fundamental is at work as well. Tales abound in photographic circles about an irreverent band of shutterbugs who have become disillusioned with digital. Your correspondent can understand why.
On the one hand, he appreciates the way digital cameras let him experiment endlessly by taking numerous shots of a scene, each time with a different exposure setting, and then deleting or editing the less successful ones until an all-but perfect image remains. On the other hand, he enjoys the challenge and forethought involved in setting up a shot with an analogue camera. The discipline of having only a dozen shots on a roll of 120 film concentrates the mind no end. Making every image count heightens the sense of achievement.
While modern digital cameras are marvels of automation, they have become almost too efficient at doing their job. Lost in the process is a sense of personal satisfaction that comes from solving the exposure equation oneself. It is hardly surprising that a growing number of people find them more than a little sterile.
What is surprising, though, is that—despite all the wonderful old cameras and lenses on the secondhand market that are capable of taking pin-sharp pictures—today’s analogue renaissance is being invigorated largely by a movement that preaches “low-fidelity” photography. The movement, known as lomography, gets its name from a toy camera made by the LOMO optics company in the former Soviet Union. The Lomography Society, founded in Austria in the early 1990s, comprises both a world-wide community of users and a company that produces a line of cheap analogue cameras and film for enthusiasts.
Lomographers advocate spontaneity and favour optical distortion and intense colour saturation in their pictures. Cheap cameras with plastic lenses help create the distortion, while any leakage of light into a camera body is accepted as part of the creative process. In rejecting the values of classical composition and processing, lomography is closer to abstract art than analogue photography.
One particular trick lomographers use widely is cross-processing. This involves processing colour positive film for slides (normally developed using the so-called E-6 process) using the chemistry for developing colour negative film for prints (the C-41 process). This produces images with the intense saturation and high contrast that are prized by the community.
Occasionally, the technique is reversed, with colour negative film being developed as if it were slide film. This muddies the colours and flattens the contrast. Yet another technique, called redscale processing, is employed when colour print film is deliberately loaded into the camera back-to-front, allowing the film to be exposed from the wrong side. The resulting images have a strong red cast.
The best thing about the global lomography movement, though, is not so much the abstract images it celebrates, but the way it has helped revive the dying business of film processing. For that, analogue photographers everywhere can rejoice. And thanks especially to the lomography movement’s enthusiasm for the Lubitel, a simple medium-format TLR made in Russia by LOMO, online services have sprung up to process 120 roll film properly, quickly and at reasonable prices. Two of the most successful online labs today are 120processing.com and oldschoolphotolab.com.
With his recently acquired Rolleiflex, your correspondent is looking forward to becoming more knowledgeable about TLR photography. Having, until recently, taken most of his pictures with either an analogue SLR or a rangefinder camera, he has evidently much to learn about “waist-level” imaging.
In certain ways, TLRs are simpler than SLRs. Because they use two separate objective lenses riding on the same focusing carrier—one for the viewfinder, the other for taking the actual picture—no mechanism is needed to prevent light from reaching the film while the image is being focused. To block the light, a traditional SLR needs either a noisy focal-plane shutter, or the reflex mirror itself is made to do the job. In either case, the mirror has to be flipped out of the way when the shutter is depressed, so light can pass from the lens to the film.
By contrast, the reflex mirror used in a TLR (for turning the light through 90º so the image can be seen on the big ground-glass viewfinder on the top of the camera) is fixed. Not having to be flipped out of the way, there is therefore no shutter lag. Like a rangefinder camera, a TLR takes its picture the instant the shutter is released.
That comes in handy in street scenes and other situations involving sudden movement. No wonder the Rolleiflex was used so widely on the battlefield by photographers on both sides during the second world war. Your correspondent feels privileged to follow in their footsteps.
- 1920 Paul Franke and Reinhold Heidecke set up a little firm in Braunschweig, Germany. They start developing camera protoypes with Goerz lenses.
- 1921 Their first camera is launched, a stereo camera called the Stereo Heidoscop with Carl Zeiss lenses.
- 1923 The Heidoscop is re-designed into a rollfilm reflex camera for 117 roll film.
- 1926 The new camera is marketed as the Rolleidoscop.
- 1927 The first prototype for the twin lens reflex camera.
- 1928 Ten more prototypes are manufactured, nine of which have a Carl Zeiss Tessar F4.5 taking lens and the tenth a F3.8 Tessar. Decision is made to market both models simultaneously.
- 1929 The twin lens reflex camera, the Original Rolleiflex, is launched and an instant hit. The number of orders from all over the world is far above expectations.
- 1930 The great order stock and problems with sub-contractors force Franke & Heidecke to acquire a larger factory. This enables them to build 20,000 cameras annually. The Baby Rolleiflex prototype is finalized.
- 1931 The Baby Rolleiflex is manufactured. It has improvements that are later incorporated in the “full-grown” 6×6 Rolleiflex, such as a lever wind.
- 1932 The improved Rolleiflex model 620 is launched. It accepts 120 film and has a lever wind.
- 1933 The first Rolleicord – a less costly model, sold at less than half the price of the Rolleiflex.
- 1936 The Rolleicord production line has been improved and the Rolleicord 1a is launched. Work is started on a new Rolleiflex production line.
- 1937 The new Rolleiflex Automat wins a Grand Prix at the Paris World Fair.
- 1938 The Rolleicord II is re-designed with a Triotar finder lens and a double bayonet mount on the taking lens. The Sports Rolleiflex is launched.
- 1939 All Rolleis are now fitted with the bayonet mount on both the finder and the taking lenses.
- 1939-45 During the war no new cameras are designed. The factory is damaged during bombings in 1944.
- 1946 The factory is rebuilt, but with difficulties since material is in short supply.
- 1949 New Rolleiflex and ‘Cord production lines prepared.
- 1950 Rolleicord III is on sale with the Compur-rapid shutter, X synchronization, Schneider Xenar or Zeiss Triotar F3.5 coated lenses. The Rolleiflex Automat II is launched. Paul Franke dies on 18th March and is succeeded by his son, Horst Franke.
- 1951 The Synchro-Compur shutter replaces the Compur-Rapid on Rolleiflex. The Rolleiflex 2.8A is released. It has a Tessar F2.8 80 mm lens.
- 1952 Rolleiflex 2.8B is launched with a F2.8 Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar lens.
- 1953 Rolleiflex 2.8C is launched with a West German Schneider Xenotar lens. A range of accessories for the bayonet III is presented.
- 1954 The Rolleimarine under-water housing for the Rolleiflexes is designed. Rolleicord V and Rolleiflex MX-EVS are launched. For the first time a Zeiss Planar 2.8 is available for the Rolleiflex 2.8C.
- 1955 The Rolleiflex 2.8D with Planar or Xenotar and EVS system is launched.
- 1956 The Rolleiflex 3.5E and the 2.8E are available with built-in exposure meters.
- 1957 The Baby Rolleiflex is re-introduced. Rolleicord Va.
- 1958 Rolleiflex 3.5F with coupled exposure meter. Rolleiflex T.
- 1959 Tele Rolleiflex with Zeiss Sonnar F4 135 mm. Rolleiflex E2 (both 3.5 and 2.8) with removable hood.
- 1960 Reinhold Heidecke dies. Rollei Magic with automatic exposure.
- 1961 The Wide-Angle Rolleiflex with Zess Distagon F4 55mm.
- 1962 Company name changed to Rollei-Werke Franke & Heidecke. Rollei Magic II. Rolleicord Vb.
- 1963 Launch of the Rollei 16 for 12×17 mm.
- 1965 Rolleiscop home slide projector.
- 1966 Rolleiflex SL 66, Rollei’s first single-lens rollfilm reflex camera. The Rollei 35 is presented as the smallest full frame 35mm camera.
- 1967 Production of computer flash units begins with models E60 and E66.
- 1969 Four Super-Eight cameras are launched.
- 1970 Rolleiflex SL35, the first 35mm SLR camera from Rollei. New factories at Uelzen and in Singapore.
- 1972 Rollei takes over the Voigtländer brand following the collapse of Zeiss Ikon.
- 1973 The Rollei P 66A, the first automatic 6×6 slide projector, is launched.
- 1974 Rolleiflex SLX, the first electronic MF camera system is launched. 2½ million Rollei 35 were sold.
- 1979 Company is renamed Rollei-Werke Franke & Heidecke GmbH & Co KG. Rolleiflex SL35 E is a new popular SLR. Production of TLR stopped; orders are filled by old stock.
- 1980 Rolleiflex SL 2000F, the first 35mm SLR camera with interchangeable magazine, double viewfinder system and integrated motor drive.
- 1982 After a bankruptcy petition and following deal, the company is reorganized as Rollei Fototechnic GmbH.
- 1983 1000 Rolleiflex 2.8F Gold Aurum are made. Rolleiflex 6006 is released as the successor of SLX with interchangeable backs.
- 1984 Rolleiflex 3003 35mm SLR.
- 1985 Rolleiflex 3000 P and 6002.
- 1986 RolleiMetric, a digital 3D industrial measuring system, is launched.
- 1987 New name again: Rollei Fototechnic GmbH & Co KG. The TLR is back with the Rolleiflex 2.8GX with TTL exposure and flash metering.
- 1988 Introduction of the Rolleiflex 6008 with a range of new fine lenses.
- 1991 Rollei enters digital photography with the Rollei Digital Scan Pack for the Rolleiflex 6008. The Prego AF is the first modern Rollei compact 35mm camera.
- 1993 A new generation of dissolve projectors, Rolleivision twin MSC 300, is introduced.
- 1994 The Rolleiflex 6003 without interchangeable magazine is an export hit. The digital imaging system is extended with the high-speed Digital ChipPack back.
- 1995 Launch of the Rolleiflex 6008 integral.
- 1996 A new digital back, the DSP-104.
- 1998 Rollei presents the bellows camera system X-Act at Photokina. Rollei introduces APS cameras into its product range.
- 2000 Rollei celebrates its 80th anniversary.
- 2001 Launch of five new compact cameras, AFM 35, a new series of dissolve projectors, and two new digital cameras.
- 2002 Launch of six new compact cameras, the Rollei d530 flex digital SLR camera, the Rolleiflex 6008 AF (the first 6×6 medium format camera with auto focus) and a new digital 35mm camera (Rollei d330 motion). Rollei also presents at Photokina the Rollei 35 RF (range finder-camera) and the Rolleiflex 4.0 FW (new wide-angle TLR camera).
- 2006 Launch of the Rolleiflex Hy6, a medium-format camera for digital camera backs of Sinar, offered as Sinar Hy6, also produced by Jenoptik and Leaf for Leaf’s digital camera backs as Leaf AFi
- 2007 Launch of the Rolleiflex 4,0 FT, a re-design of the 1959 Tele Rolleiflex. RCP buys the right to use the brand Rollei for its digital cameras.
- 2009 (March) Franke&Heidecke announced that it was going into insolvency, saying it couldn’t pay its bills.
- 2010 DHW Fototechnik managed to relaunch the production of Rolleiflex, Rolleiflex Hy6, Rolleivision slide projectors and Rollei 35.
- 2012 DHW Fototechnik has announced two new Rolleiflex cameras and a new electronic shutter for Photokina.