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.