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Monthly Archives: July, 2015

Harold Feinstein’s Favorite Camera: The Rolleiflex

Harold Feinstein Photographer – The Rolleiflex camera: Love at first sight.

 

The Rolleiflex camera: Love at first sight

Seeking Shade, Coney Island, 1946. This is one of my very first photographs shot with my neighbor's Rolleiflex the year I began taking pictures. I love the simple framing of the square, which helps to compose the elements of the photograph.
Seeking Shade, Coney Island, 1946. This is one of my very first photographs shot with my neighbor’s Rolleiflex the year I began taking pictures. I love the simple framing of the square, which helps to compose the elements of the photograph.

Someone once asked me what my favorite camera was. That’s easy. TheRolleiflex medium format TLR. In fact I would call it the most beautiful camera I’ve ever seen. It was relatively easy to use, light weight, extraordinarily well-constructed, simple and had the best lenses in the business. Everything worked again and again and again. Constant reliability, performance and excellence in a camera. I suppose the only objection some might have to it would be looking down into finder lens. But that never bothered me. As a medium format twin lens reflex with 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 (in) format, there are two lenses — the taking lens and the finder lens. You look down into the finder which is giving you a reverse image mirrored from the taking lens. You do see what you get with the exception of very close range photographs. Visually the square format is elegant and symmetrical, but also offers the option to crop either vertically or horizontally. And, the 2 1/4 film means generally better quality large prints than you can get with 35mm.

The Rolleiflex Automat, Model 3 was produced from 1945-1949. It was my very first camera.
The Rolleiflex Automat, Model 3 was produced from 1945-1949. It was my very first camera.

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The Rollei was the very first camera I ever used. Initially I borrowed it from our upstairs neighbor in Bensonhurst, who later made me rent it for $5 a day — an extraordinary amount of money for a 15 year old in 1946. But, I did get hooked on it and later was able to save my pennies and purchase my own.

I had the Rolleiflex Automat Model 3 which was produced between 1945-1949 and also known as the K4B2. It was available in two lens. I couldn’t afford the more expensive Zeiss Jena Tessar lens and instead used the Schneider Xenar lens, which I found just as good.

I recently found Jacob Deschin’s book: Rollei Photography: Handbook of the Rolleiflex and Rolleicord Cameras (Camera Craft, 1952) in a box, which prompted these musings. I contributed two essays and a number of photos to it. Here are a few for you.

Sharing a public bench, NYC, 1948
Sharing a public bench, NYC, 1948
Boy in Sunglasses, Coney Island, 1949
Boy in Sunglasses, Coney Island, 1949
Passengers Sleeping & Reading on NYC Subway, 1949
Passengers Sleeping & Reading on NYC Subway, 1949
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The history of Rolleiflex Cameras

MJ;i : Howto CAMERA/ROLLEI-HISTORY.

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1928

Rolleiflex
Original

First TLR camera ever produced
by FRANKE & HEIDECKE.
1932

Rolleiflex
Standard

First model that uses
120 roll film.
1934

Rolleicord I

First Rolleicord series
that was launched as
the inexpensive version of
Rolleiflex series.
1936

Rolleicord Ia

Longtime seller model
from the prewar to the postwar.

Rolleicord II

Popular model with
bayonet mount on the lens.
1951

Rolleiflex V

(Rolleiflex
Automat MX)

Model that has epoch-making
Automat film loading mechanism.
1953

Rolleiflex
2.8C

First Rolleiflex 2.8 series
for the practical use.

Rolleicord IV

Model with multiple exposures,
and the switchable M & X syncs.
1954

Rolleicord V

First Rolleicord series
that has the light value system
built in the shutter.
1956

Rolleiflex
2.8E

First model that has
built-in electric exposure meter.
1957

Rolleiflex
4 x 4

4x4cm format TLR camera
with stylish design.
1958

Rolleiflex
T

Mid version of Rollei TLR camera.
1959

Rolleiflex
3.5F

Perfection of Rollei TLR camera.

Tele
Rolleiflex

Model with 135mm tele lens.
1960

Rolleiflex
2.8F

Well constructed TLR camera with
the largest lens opening of F2.8.

Rollei Magic

Unique TLR camera
with automatic exposure.
1961

Wide Angle
Rolleiflex

Best TLR camera for scenic photography.
1962

Rolleicord Vb

Last model of Rolleicord series.
1987

Rolleiflex
2.8GX

Last Rolleiflex TLR camera
with TTL metering.

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