Rolleiflex old standard model
|image by Chris Bertram (Image rights)|
Franke & Heidecke had introduced the 6×6 TLR design in 1929 with their original Rolleiflex. While the model discussed here is sometimes (confusingly) called the "original" Standard, in fact this is a revised model offering several improvements over the 1929 Rolleiflex: Hinged back, crank film transport, and a sports finder giving a very different appearance to the viewing hood. Obviously, "old standard" was not the name at the introduction; it became known by this name after the introduction of the new standard in 1939.
These names are not to be found anywhere on the camera; Rolleiflexes are generally dated and identified by serial numbers. Collectors distinguish between the three sub-variants of the old standard with the factory's internal type numbers: 620, 621, and 622. The war photographer Robert Capa, later a co-founder of Magnum, used an old standard Rolleiflex (as well as a Contax) during World War II.
The finder is the best part about this Rolleiflex. When looking into the waist-level finder, the photographer finds a relatively clear ground glass screen. To help keep vertical lines vertical, this Rolleiflex has a built-in spirit level, visible in the finder. (In German it's called a Libelle.)
The sports finder is an advanced design. When looking through the opening, you see a cross with a little concave mirror in the middle. There's a small hole in this mirror. The iris of your eye is reflected in the mirror and the small hole helps you center your object in the frame.
The first versions of the standard had a Compur shutter with speeds to 1/300. Beginning late in 1932 a Compur Rapid version was made with speeds to 1/500 sec. The international shutter speed series is displayed, with the exception of 1/250s which is shown as 1/300s.
Shutter speed and aperture are visible in a window on top of the camera. On later Rolleiflexes they're set by two wheels on either side, but on this model they're set by two levers around the taking lens. The shutter is operated by a sort of pendulum below this lens. It is set by being moved from right to left and fired by being moved from left to right.
Lens and focus
The "old standard" has a Heidoscop-Anastigmat 75/3.1 viewing lens and an uncoated Carl Zeiss Tessar 75mm with maximum apertures of f/3.5, f/3.8 or f/4.5.
The focusing knob is engraved with distances from 1.7m to infinity. It is surrounded by a depth-of-field scale. It is however possible to turn the knob a second turn for closer focusing. The distances below 1.7m are not marked on the scale, but you still can focus on them. This is not a malfunction: its operation is described in the manual. Lenses do not yet have a bayonet mount; they accept push-on filters and hoods.
Film formats, backs and transport
The manual states that it takes 2 1/4 ×2 1/4 inch pictures on B2 film (the Agfa/Zeiss "B2" film size is equivalent to Kodak's 120 film size and was commonly referenced on German cameras at that time). The hinged back could be replaced by plate adapters. This model of Rolleiflex introduced lever advance of the film. (The earlier model had had a knob.) Along with the lever came a frame counter that blocks after 12 shots. It then has to be reset to completely wind the film. There's no red window in the back to check how many shots have been taken. Transporting the film does not cock the shutter.
Type K2, Build 620 : from 1932 to 1934, about 4.926 units
Type K2, Build 621 : from 1932 to 1935, about 38.248 units
Type K2, Build 622 : from 1934 to 1938, about 51.849 units
- Claus Prochnow, Rollei Report 1, Braunschweig, Lindemanns Verlag, 1993, ISBN 3-89506-105-0.
- Original Rollei TLRs at Rolleiclub.com
- Rolleiflex old standard Flickr group, including sample images
- Rolleiflex Standard user manual (pdf) at Richard Urmonas
|Leather case from|
old standard version 622
image by Charlie Wood (Image rights)