Rolleiflex

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Rolleiflex is the name of most of the 6×6 TLR cameras manufactured by Franke & Heidecke and later Rollei GmbH, in Germany. There was also a range of less expensively specified models named Rolleicord.

Rollei also used the name Rolleiflex for several ranges of medium-format SLR and 35mm SLR cameras from the late 1960s to the 90s, one SLR for 126 film, and one digital camera. However, the name is most closely associated with the TLR cameras.

The Rolleiflex TLR was first made in 1927, shortly after the Rolleidoscop, a stereo camera with a focusing reflex viewfinder, and might be seen as derived from it. A prototype TLR camera for 9x12 cm plates, dated to 1920, was made several years earlier,[1] but was never made commercially.

With its simple construction and high quality optics, the TLR was a widely used professional camera, but the late fifties introduction of much more versatile SLR cameras in 35mm (Nikon) and 6x6 (Hasselblad) formats spelled the end. Rollei did later introduce SLR cameras but never regained their market position.

One of the early Rolleiflex innovations was the speed winder whereby a single turn of the winder handle advanced the film and cocked the shutter. This seemingly simple innovation, which required quite complex gearing, transformed the camera especially compared to plate cameras that were still commonly used by press photographers well into the fifties. Popular with press and sports photographers, the camera was also used by many fashion photographers. The in lens leaf shutter meant flash could be used at any shutter speed and the reflex image was bright since the separate viewfinder lens had a large aperture.

The biggest disadvantage of a fixed lens was only partly addressed by versions with different focal lengths.

Contents


Rolleiflex TLR models

"Original", "standard" and f/3.5 models of Rolleiflex

Rolleiflex 2.8

Rolleiflex 4x4 (Baby)

Tele Rolleiflex

Wide-Angle Rolleiflex

Rolleiflex T series

Rollei Magic

Actually not a real Rolleiflex but added here for sake of reference.


Notes

  1. 9x12 cm prototype 'Rolleiflex' (not actually so named by Franke & Heidecke), with 15 cm f/4.5 Tessar lenses, and with both reflex and rear focusing screens, sold at the 24th Westlicht Photographica Auction, on 23 November 2013.

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