How to test a Rolleiflex?
There are a number of threads on this forum that deal with the topic of having a Rolleiflex repaired, or more precisely, who to have work on your Rollei. Most photographers only realize there is a problem after the film is developed, so I though I would give some general guidelines on how to test a Rolleiflex.
2) Now try the slower speeds in order 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15 (on older cameras 1/2, 1/5, 1/10) do they seem to be cut in half each time, if so then the slow speed retard is probably in good adjustment. Usually if the 1 second is slow, the problem will become less pronounced as the speeds become faster.
3) This is a biggy! Try the 1/15 and 1/30 (on older shutters 1/10 and 1/25), do they sound the same? if so then the shutter is out of adjustment and will need to be put back into adjustment. Between 1/15 and 1/30 is were the shutter goes from the low speed retard to the high speed retard, if they are the same speed then the low speed retard has slipped.
4) Work your way up from 1/30 to1/500 (1/25 to 1/300 or 1/400) do they seem to be half as you go, if so then they are okay. The most frequent trouble is with 1/250 to 1/500 being the same speed. If they are the same speed then the high speed retard is out, or the main spring is fatigued. In many cases it makes no difference if the 1/125 is okay since most people never use the 250, or 500.
5) acceptable tolerance for a leaf shutter is +/- 25%! That means that the 1 second can actually be 1.25 seconds and the 1/500 could be 1/375; also, most people don’t realize it but the shutter shoots at about +/-15% repeatable, and shutter speeds should be check at least 5 times and an average taken to come up with the actual speed.
7) Other film advance problems are: The counter did not reset to zero when the lever was depressed, this will require cleaning. The crank grabs intermittently, in which case the ratchet is gummed up, stiff winding, noisy winding, does not stop on the back stroke, all will require work.
There are dozens of other things that can be looked at but most will show up in a photograph, so I will let that be the definitive test.
I hope all of you will find this information useful, and I think that these tests should always be performed before you ship your camera off for repair; then you can see just how honest your repair person is.
by Mark Hansen June 2004
Here is how I clean Maxwell screens, it depends on how filthy it is. If it is just a little dusty I blow it off with compressed (canned will do) air and call it good. If it has a few dirty spots (dried spit, soda pop, finger prints) I use a cotton swab and some Isopropanol, and very lightly wipe it (after blowing off the dust). If the screen appears to have excessive grime on both sides then I remove the hood from the camera, via the four screws through the flange of the hood. Once the hood is off, I put a playing card down in front of the springs (on top of the screen to protect it) that hold the screen and then I remove them with a pair of tweezers. The screen will drop out and you can clean it with warm soapy water while wearing a pair of rubber gloves, and then dab dry with a clean cotton cloth. Remember when putting it back in to replace the foam pads that go in each corner and reinstall in reverse order.
While the hood is off you may as well blow the dust off of the mirror, and from inside the mirror chamber and clean the rear of the viewing lens, I also clean the hood completely with the cotton swab and alcohol.
by Kelly Flanigan June 2004
The Rollei TLR‘s that I have tested for friends from Ebay have twice caught cameras that had missmatched lense; ie front element has been swapped; to make a better looking; more saleable camera. This practice was of swapping was considered wrong in the National Camera Repair course I took over 3 decades ago; but seems to be alot more common today. If you are lucky; the match will have the same focal length lenses. If wrong; NO CLA can fix the abortion/hack job. Here the viewfinder and film plane can only be in focus at one distance; and all others will misstrack. Some earlier threads mention that there is no risk to a lens swap; with Rollei TLR’s or even Retina IIIc’s. One should check the infinity and two close distances for focus; if buying an unknown TLR; to weed out the cosmetic/nonfunctional collectors cameras; from the working cameras; that focus great.Many cameras just “go bad” to do lack of usage; the shutter gets gummed up. At one ham radio swap meet; a guy was hawking old cameras. He had a can of lighter fluid under the table. A typical gambit is to loosen up the old birds prior to sale; just enough to fool the customer. The leaf shutter camera my friend bought from him worked a few weeks; then gummed up. Removing the old grease and dirt is how we fixed it. Sometimes the lighter fluid gambit works along time; sometimes it just helps make an old gummy camera saleable for a day. This is like recharging your old cars battery the day before sale; stuffing bananas in the wore out rear end; getting the engine warm before the customer arrives; putting a tad of anti freeze under the cap to act like the fluids were changed; wiping the shocks so they appear new; adding fake oil change stickers!
Many TLR’s have dirty mirrors; cleaning the mirrors alone brightens the viewfinder alot. Some ancient cameras really need resurfaced/replated mirrors; if a hacker cleaned the mirror wrong; and or oxidation took a toll. We we told in the camera repair business to always let the customer think the new wazzoo screen did ALL the brightness improvement; so a customers ego would feel better with the super high price of a wazoo screen.
Most gummy shutters get quicker after a few shots. The moving average climbs with each shot; then settles in. This means a roll of film shot quickly will have decent speeds. A shot done a day later will be slow; if it was mid roll.
The film feeler transport adjust is sensitive to film + paper thickness. Old Ilford FP4 in the 1970’s was thicker in this combo that Kodaks Plus-X. Sometimes a camera will work fine with one film; and not with another brand. Let your repairperson know what film(s) you use; if you have a problem like this.
The feeler tension of the film sense can be correct; but the mechanism gummed up. One of my Rolleis is like this; if not used enough. It will always trip on the 2nd frame; and not the first; in not used in months. Then the second roll ALWAYS correctly trips and works correctly; if the second roll is within a day or so.
|Opinions expressed above are that of Mark Hansen and Kelly Flanigan, reproduced here for the benefit of those thinking about jumping into Rolleiflex TLR. These discussions are available on www.photo.net|
Rolleiflex 2.8C vs 2.8E
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.