Differences Among Rolleiflex TLR Models
brian steinberger09-30-2011, 07:56 PM
I’m very interested in a Rolleiflex TLR. I’m somewhat familiar with the different models but wanted some insight from those who have used each kind, mainly the difference in lenses.
My main options are:
The Rolleiflex 3.5 with either Xenotar, Tessar, or Planar
The Rolleiflex 2.8 with Planar and Xenotar
Am I missing any?
I’m leaning towards a 3.5 version since it will be cheaper. Can anyone please explain the differences between the Tessar, Xenotar, and Planar lenses?
Also, which models have an in camera meter?
Basically I think it’s just the difference in lenses I’m wondering about. I’m a sucker for sharp lenses, but a lens with character would be fun for what I want to do with this camera too. Which lens of the 3 has the most “character?”
I have a 3.5 F and a Rollei T with the Tessar and really can’t see any difference between the two at middling apertures. If the choice was between a really clean T and a very used 3.5F I would certainly go for the T.
As for the Planar versus Xenotar, don’t beleive all the hype around the Planar because the Xenotar is just as good. If you can find an affordable 3.5, don’t sweat on which lens it has. BTW, there seems to be more of the Xenotar equipped Rolleis in the US for some reason.
The 2.8 Rollei really just gives you an extra stop over the 3.5 and usually comes at a premium which is a bit hard to justify….it looks really great though!
And my recommendation would be a clean 3.5F. Rollei’s rock!
One thing you really might want to think about is changing out the screen for a maxwell. Much brighter. Very nice. Expensive, but nice.
Another thing is the never-ready cases many flexes came in. I’ve never used mine. Don’t find them useful and they strike me as an invitation to fungus. Anyone else think this?
The 3.5s, either Tessar-type or Planar-type, are lighter than the 2.8 Planar-types.
The best bang for the buck is probably a meterless Planar/Xenotar 3.5E, ‘type 2’ (before the removable focus hood). $500-800 maybe in prime condition, and you will never look back. The rolleiflex T’s Tessar lens has a rep for being a step up from previous tessar versions, but the T has some design issues that bother some people.
I’ve noticed that this forum really doesn’t discuss TLRs much. A place with repeated discussions of Rolleiflexes is the TLR forum at Rangefinder Forum-
Between 1952 and 1960 or so, Rollei turned out constant variations of models with ever changing little tweaks and features. For example, the ‘E’ series has maybe 10 variations when you deal with the type 1, 2, and 3 (plus a sub-variation of 2, I think) with and without meters and with 2.8 Xenotars and Planars and 3.5 Planars and Xenotars.
I have a 2.8C Xenotar because it has a 10-bladed aperture, but I recognize that my interest in 10 blades means things to me that it doesn’t to others. I moved to this from a Xenar (and Minolta Autocord) because I was shooting wide open more and more and wanted better sharpness to the edges. For other people, this quality is either not important or counter to how they want their images to look.
The biggest potential problem I have heard of is the EV dials that cannot be uncoupled on some models (well, on some *variations* of some models). Beyond that, I would decide if you prefer Tessar/Xenar to Planar/Xenotar for basic look, especially at wider apertures. then how much you want to spend.
And remember, you are looking at cameras over 50 years old. Get something recently overhauled or be prepared to pay for an overhaul.
You know already that a TLR and you get along? Rolleis are nice but they aren’t magic; they are still TLRs with all the quirks and limitations.
for what it’s worth…. the sharpest medium format negatives I have ever made have been with my beloved “Rolleiflex T” that has a Ziess 75mm f3.5 Tessar Lens which I believe is single coated. I usually shoot it at f11 or f16. This is compared with negs made using Bronica SQ and Mamiya RB equipment ( I ALWAYS used the mirror up function with these so it should not be the SLR mirror factor). And I mean the best of the Rollei negatives are NOTICEABLY sharper using an 8x loupe.
I have a feeling you can’t go wrong with a Rolleiflex. =P Have fun!
The construction of the T is as sturdy as the others but are less expensive usually for camparable conditioned cameras and since most ‘Fexes today need a cleaing there is more in the budget for that or accessories.
As for the meter in camera, while it is sought after, I prefer not to have it. It is faster than a handheld meter when it is strung on your neck and taking snapshots. but I prefer the handheld meters leaving me an option of an averaging or spot, reflective or incident. I tend to use a tripod so metering, then mounting it on the tripod and hitting the shutter and then dismounting it for another reading, etc. is too time conuming. Also, most of the selenium meters today need either repair or at least calibration and there are few techs it seems to do this.
Some of the Tessar’s were CZJ as well, and that includes some of the Optons which had to pass West German quality controls.
Discussion on Rolleiflex: 2.8 or 3.5? C/D or E/F?
I got a Rolleiflex 3.5T and just recently an MX-EVS and a Rolleinar/filter set. These cameras are addicting. I’m now wanting a Planar/Xenotar lens but I’m unsure on which models to pursue. I know condition is most important but the 3.5E/F seems to be the most popular models on the internet. Some say that they were built better than the C/D but others say that they were built just as well. I’m not sure.
1. Are there any reasons to not pursue the C/D cameras? I heard that one of those, forgot which model, is known as the bokeh king because the number of aperture blades.
2. Is the f3.5 just as sharp as the f2.8 at wide apertures?
3. What’s the going price for Bay II and Bay III Rolleinar I’s? keh.com doesn’t have any and ebay prices are erratic with these things.
1) Condition is key on any of these. By the time of the C, rollei had pretty well settled on most of the mechanicals. The C has those plastic rings around the shutter release and flash port, which really annoy some people. As you get into the later models, there are more and more interlocks and mechanical systems. Like the depth of field indicator on the late Es (or all Es?) and the coupled meter on Fs (or only some metered Fs?).
The 2.8C has the 10-bladed Synchro-Compur shutter. D and later have 5-bladed apertures. I am not certain about the 3.5C’s aperture, but they are pretty rare anyway.
Another issue is meter or not on later models. I find the extra bump for the meter annoying, but many people prefer the meter cameras. Selenium meters are often not working, though, and the plastic cover for the needle is often cracked.
By the way, the 2.8s are 80mm, the 3.5s are 75mm. Small difference, but it is a difference.
2) For all intents and purposes, yes. Sample variation and alignment (i.e., condition!) mean more than any design differences.
The main advantage to the Es and Fs is that they will be easier to resell. Other than that, get the one in the best condition with clean lenses.
To warn you, though, the lenses kick some serious a**. I have a 2.8C Xenotar and it has spoiled me. Most every other lens I use looks soft now.
Another place on the web that has a large number of Rollieflex people. Search through the forum, as this type of question comes up every month or so it seems. It also has a sales forum, with real people with real reputations, so it is much safer than ebay and such.
For the cost of a truly minty 2.8F you could buy two, maybe three D series. I purchased a 2.8D in mint condition for $800 a year ago. I have the Xenotar lens and I can’t see any real difference between it and the Planar.
Just beware that you will have to invest in separate filter types for both.
roel 6×6 says:
The image quality of the 2.8F is ever so slightly better than the 3.5F, but at a whopping perhaps not justified price difference. For filters and such your MX will be easiest and cheapest to find those for, Bay ll and Bay lll filters command stupid prices. Mechanically the T is the weakest of all the Rolleiflexes but you already have that one.
Well, I have always thought that the six element Planar f3.5 was the sharpest lens on the R-flexes by a very small margin. The difference between 3.5 and 2.8 versions and between Planar and Xenotar is minimal.
There are quite many things that can go wrong on an old Rolleiflex, and if you cannot check the camera yourself, I would recommend buying it from a respectable dealer.
Some nice classic photos
|1||Strangers to Reason: LIFE Inside a Psychiatric Hospital, 1938|
|2||It’s About Time: Classic Stroboscopic Photos|
|3||GOP Women Party Hard, 1941|
|4||Growing Up Romney: Mitt’s Early World|
|5||Photographer Spotlight: Allan Grant|
|6||Mad About the Boys: Rare Photos of Beatles Fans, 1964|
|7||Being 007: Behind the Scenes at James Bond Auditions|
|8||Gunning for White-Winged Doves, 1961|
|9||Streisand: Early Photos of an Insecure Star|
|10||Einstein’s Office: Genius in the Details|