How good is Rolleiflex 2.8C – A review in 1952


Modern Photography, May 1952, pg. 57-98 
The New Rollei 
How Good is the New $385 Model 2.8C Which Incorporates Suggestions Made by 
Photographers?…By Arthur Kramer 

“The New Lens” 

“The camera’s most important feature is its new 80mm, air-spaced 
five-element f/2.8 Schneider Xenotar lens. The f/2.8 lens on a previous 
model was a four-element objective which often gave trouble when used wide 
open. The makers of the Rolleiflex claim this trouble has been eliminated 
in the Xenotar lens. Optical and practical tests (which we will get to 
later) indicated that this was true – at least on the cameras tested.” 

“The Lens – How Good?” 

“Finally we get to the most important of all the improvements – the lens. 
This is not the first f/2.8 lens ever put on a 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 Rollei. Many 
photographers who have used or tested the previous f/2.8 model, which this 
new camera supersedes, felt that the definition was not up to their 
acceptable standards. Wide aperture lenses which must cover comparatively 
large film areas are often notoriously poor in edge definition at full 
aperture. Practically all Automatic Rolleiflexes have up to this time been 
supplied with four element Tessar or Xenar f/3.5 or Tessar f/2.8 lenses. 
The new Xenotar is a five-element lens of the air-spaced type. It was not 
until the advent of modern optical coatings that the full advantage of such 
a design could be exploited.” 

“Bench Testing” 

“The camera was taken to a well-equipped optical laboratory and placed on 
an optical bench. The lens appeared to be free of astigmatism. It showed no 
shift of focus when stopped down. There seemed to be the faintest trace of 
flare at f/2.8 but this disappeared when the diaphragm was stopped down to 
about f/3, a definite improvement in this respect to what we had previously 
seen in other lenses of similar focal length and aperture.” 
“The definition at the edges was far above that of the old four-element 
f/2.8. This individual Xenotar lens looked excellent in bench tests, but 
that did not guarantee excellent pictures. Only extensive tests on actual 
film could tell about that.” 

“Practical Testing” 

” The camera was also checked for lens, film, and ground glass alignment. 
Then it was ready for the film tests. An f/3.5 Rollei of known image 
quality was used as a control unit The first test was made on a cross-lit 
brick wall A series of shots was taken at various distances and apertures 
with both cameras. Negatives were carefully enlarged to about 30×30 inches 
and examined over the entire field. Results showed that the Xenotar f/2.8 
lens wide open was equal in most respects to the f/3.5 lens wide open. It 
did not noticeably lose definition when stopped down to f/22. A second 
Xenotar tested actually had better definition at f/2.8 than the older type 
lens had at f/3.5! The tests were repeated on various objects and at varied 
distances with the same result. The next test was of a more practical 
nature. Portraits of actor Jack Palance (!) were shot at full aperture with 
the camera at its closest distance, about three and one half feet (page 
59). The inset on the enlargement shows the entire negative area. The 11×14 
glossy prints were quite sharp, and had excellent image quality. Twenty 
rolls or film were used on a variety of subjects. Results were consistently 


2 responses

  1. mighty interesting blog you’ve got going here! right now I’m interested in a rolleiflex 2.8 user camera. something in between my yashica 635 and bronica c. I’m wondering what’s differing between the early models though. they say here that the lens is a big difference, but if it’s only concerning corner sharpness vs center sharpness than it don’t matter much to me. did they add to functions and reliability any during the early models much?

    1. I dont think there is any enhanced function in the later model. On the contratry, I found that the early models have a slightly better built quality. Just my two cents and thank you for visiting my blog.

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