The 3.5 E3 is sort of a hybrid between a 3.5 E, a 3.5 F type 2 and a 3.5 F type 3. 1) The 3.5 E3 has the EVS meter system of the E, hence there is no filter compensation dial on the focus knob side. Also the 3.5 E3 takes a "T" type meter, not an "F" type meter. 2) The 3.5 E3 has the peep window like the 3.5 F type 2, where the apertures are closer to the body and the speeds are closer the front of the camera. 3) The 3.5 E3 has the front plate of the 3.5 F type 3. ie: below the taking lens it says "Made in Germany" on top of "Franke & Heidicke". This is reversed on the 3.5 F type 2. The self timer on the E3 is like the one on the 3.5 F type 3. There is a difference between the self timer placement between the 3.5 F type 2 and the 3.5 F type 3. 4) On a 3.5 E3 the handy exposure table on the back of the camera looks like the one on an E type camera as opposed to the ones found on the F type cameras. > There is one more similarity/difference that I neglected to mention that is > rather important and that is the 3.5 E3 has a 45 mm interlens distance > (between the centres of the taking and viewing lenses). The 3.5 E (serial > numbers 1,740,000-1,870,000), and 3.5 E2 have a 42 mm interlens distance. > This makes a difference for accessories that take advantage of both lenses at > the same time, such as the Mutars and lens caps. A 3.5 E or 3.5 E2 lens cap > will not fit a 3.5 E3 or 3.5 F camera and vice versa. here links to a nice collection of images made from Rolleiflex 3.5E3
Just read this good write up by Sergio Ortega , in 2010.
I’ve owned and used both cameras, in a variety of situations for over twenty years, with B&W, color negative and color transparency films, and have compared thousands of negatives taken over the years with both a C330F and 80mm 2.8 Mamiya (the newer, black lens) and a 3.5F 75mm Schneider Xenotar. Here are just a few of my impressions of these two cameras:
If you want to use additional focal lengths, other than the normal 75 or 80mm, the Mamiya would obviously be your only choice. Mamiya’s 55mm is a great WA lens for 6×6. The Mamiya 180mm is a great portrait lens. The Mamiya range of focal lengths is very good, and there are some really excellent buys to be found. With a Rollei you’re only going to have the normal lens, unless you want to spend a ton of money on one of the very rare Rollei Wide or Tele versions.
I would say that both normal lenses on these cameras are excellent, but would give a slight edge to the Rollei Xenotar or Planar, if only for sheer sharpness across the entire aperture range, but not by much. And this may just be a bias on my part towards the more expensive, German glass. And I am also of the opinion that the older Rollei lenses (Xenars, Tessars, etc.) are not in the same league as the newer Xenotars and Planars, unless you stop them down to f8 or f11. In comparison, I would say the newer Mamiya lenses are better than the older Rollei (non Xenotar/Planar) lenses.
It’s also my opinion that the newer Mamiya lenses perform better with color transparency films, giving greater contrast and color saturation than the older German Xenotars/Planars. The latest Rollei GX lenses are another matter. Color transparencies taken with the Mamiya 80mm have more snap, crackle and pop than the Rollei; the Xenotar has a more subdued, delicate look in color. Some folks prefer one over the other.
In B&W, with a properly focussed shot on a tripod, at the lens’ optimum aperture, I usually cannot tell the difference. But, the Rollei Xenotar does have a certain smoothness of tone and gradation that the Mamiya does not always have. For B&W work, I think the Rollei is a great camera.
For handheld work, I prefer the Rollei. It’s much lighter, smaller and easier to focus and manipulate than the Mamiya. It’s a great camera for unobtrusive photography, very quiet and very easy to handle.
On a tripod, I prefer the Mamiya. It’s really better suited for tripod work, has a stronger tripod mounting attachment, and is generally more of a studio camera. Both cameras can be used in either situation, but the Mamiya can get pretty heavy and bulky when used handheld. The Rollei is amazingly light and agile as a handheld camera.
The Bellows on the Mamiya allows for closer focussing for still lifes and some types of portraiture. To focus up close with a Rollei, you need a Rolleinar lens set attachment. I really like the bellows focussing design on the Mamiya.
Mechanically, the Mamiya feels like a truck, although a very well-built one. The Rollei feels more refined, much more precise, like a finely crafted sports car. While both are very sturdy, reliable cameras, I really think the Mamiya could withstand rougher treatment than a Rollei. I’d really hate to give a good Rollei a lot of rough use.
The Rollei is a much more complex design; the Mamiya is a very straightforward, simple design. If something happens to the Rollei’s lens, the entire camera’s out of service. With a Mamiya, you can just remove the lens, replace it or have it repaired. I think that over the long haul the Mamiya would give fewer problems with shutters, film advance, focussing, etc. Prices on good, used Mamiya equipment are extremely reasonable. Good used Rolleis are getting harder (and more expensive) to find all the time. Accessories for the Rolleis (hoods, filters, caps, etc.) are really scarce. Mamiyas take simple screw-on lens attachments/filters.
I’m sure others will add their opinions to this debate. It should be very interesting. Good luck, Sergio.
I was reading RFF forum this moring and saw an good write-up on comparison between 2.8c and 2.8e, as well as xenotar and planar lens.
If you are in the midst of deciding on whether to get a 2.8c or 2.8e, this post would be very helpful.
Originally Posted by Sarcophilus HarrisiiI don’t think this is correct.
I have never seen a 2.8D with the plastic locks. Every image I have ever seen of one has metal types. My own D has these also. It’s not uncommon for Cs to have one or both missing; my own C does not have the PC connector lock. I have wondered how hard it would be to reproduce these but I suspect the cost of tooling up for a high quality replacement of a limited run of items would put people off price wise.
The C is better value for money. It’s also a historically significant model for Rollei.
What are the finest lenses Rollei ever fitted to their TLRs? I don’t want to start a flame war between Tessar/Xenar owners and others, because, honestly, I have never met a Rollei TLR I couldn’t love at first sight–but most would respond that the Xenotar and Planar lenses are the best of the best. Well, both these lenses debuted on the 2.8C model Rolleiflex.
I think the out of focus effects of all the lens and shutter types, from what I have seen, are wonderful, but I do confess I like the way the shutter of the C renders any out of focus highlights as circles, instead of pentagons.
Do you want a built in light meter? I prefer without, personally, and usually incident meter with a hand held meter. The E models have a cover plate for the meter cell if a meter isn’t fitted to a particular camera. One of the things I like about the older models like the B, C & D is that because meters were not fitted, they have a simple “Rolleiflex” plate in front of the viewfinder assembly. I therefore feel that, aesthetically, they are the most beautiful Rolleiflexes. Maybe the D, with those aforementioned chrome metal locks, is the prettiest of all?
Functionally, other differences between the two include the EV system, which is fitted to the D & E model but not the C.
The Synchro Compur shutter fitted to the C is a Compur Rapid type with booster spring for 1/500. There are several implications in practical use as a result of this. Firstly, it’s a reliable shutter. However it’s not possible to select, or de-select, the maximum speed after the camera has been wound and the shutter is cocked. In use it is not a major problem, because the C model was also the first to be fitted with double exposure capability. I have had to train myself not to wind my C on after shooting. If, in the rare instance I need to change on or off of 1/500, I simply stop the lens down to f/22, fire the shutter with the taking lens covered, and use the double exposure release to cock the shutter again after I have re-set it. So there is a work around, but, it is important not to try to adjust on or off 1/500 if it is cocked because it can damage the shutter.
Secondly, and also related to 1/500, you mustn’t set the self timer with 1/500 selected. It will lock the shutter up. Because I do some landscape I will often use the timer to trip the shutter without bumping the camera, so maybe I use a timer more than some. During my first roll with it, I set the timer with 1/500 selected and the timer wouldn’t release, and the shutter wouldn’t trip. I ended up disregarding my own advice, and shifted the shutter speed down to 1/250 (against the not-insubstantial tension from the booster spring) so I could free the shutter. Luckily, I got away with it but it’s not recommended. In any event, unless you need a group portrait in full sun, 1/500 should never be required with timer, but, FYI–it will lock the shutter up.
The last point regarding the C shutter installation is that, it does indeed feature a wonderful ten bladed aperture which keeps the lens opening nearly perfectly round at all stops. However. It also uses the “old” scale of shutter speeds; Ie 1/500; 1/250; 1/100; 1/50; 1/25; 1/10; 1/5; 1/2; 1s; Bulb. The good news is that the shutter can be set to select intermediate speeds Eg. 1/125 or 1/60. According to page 24 of the original owners manual for the C: “Intermediate speeds may be set at any points between 1 sec. and 1/10th sec. and between 1/25th and 1/250th sec.”
The most common lens fitted to the C is the Xenotar. A wonderful lens but sadly coatings are often less than perfect. At least the front cell is a single piece of glass, unlike the 2.8 Planar types, so re-coating isn’t nearly as difficult or, presumably, as expensive as removal is a straightforward affair. You need to check condition closely though, for scratches or coating deterioration.
The last point is that the E model has a nifty sliding depth of field strip inboard of the focus knob linked to the aperture control. So as you adjust the aperture the depth of field range automatically alters. The C has a traditional printed scale showing the numbers of all the stops next to their depth of field. For landscape use I think the old design is actually better suited to hyperfocal focussing because you can see the DOF for all the stops, not just the one that is selected. YMMV.
The most important factor should be condition. Apart from the Rolleimagic models I don’t think there is any such thing as a bad Rollei TLR model (and there are a few die hard who still use the Magics!). I’d love a pre-war model one day, because I believe they all have their own appeal. So by all means look for the preferred model type you want (you can’t really go wrong with any of them) but condition is always key.