IntroductionDear Readers, in the previous article, I described the Leica cameras that served me well for decades. This article is about my Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex (TLR) cameras. I bought my first one in Houston, Texas, in 1980. I wanted to try medium format film and thought about a Hasselblad camera. Instead, I decided to buy a used Rolleiflex, use it for awhile, and then "move up" to the Hasselblad. Well, 25 years later, I was still using the Rolleiflex and never bothered with the 'blad. In the early 1980s, you could still buy a brand new Rolleiflex 2.8F from the New York vendors for about $2000. That was serious money in 1980, but afterwards, I, and many other photographers, wish they had bought one while they still could. Franke & Heidecke went bankrupt in the 1980s and went through a series of reorganizations. Camera production continued at a low pace until about 2014.
|Early-1960s Rolleiflex advertisement|
Lenseswheeldon.plus.com). The Rolleiwides were rare and now sell for serious prices at camera auctions. But, if you want one, you can buy a brand new wide for $5,575 from DHW-Fototechnik GmbH, marketed by Rolleiflex USA. Cool, I want one.
Newer Rollei Cameras
|The Vicksburg trash clean-up crew, 2003|
Rollei PhotographersHave you seen recent pictures of Hollywood royalty? Most paparazzi snaps of movie starlets are terrible because they are taken by tall men with huge digital cameras held at their eye level, so they are looking down at their shorter victims. In contrast, Rolleiflex portraits in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s gave a well-proportioned look to their subjects. Rather than the "tall guy using a eye-level digital SLR with a short lady" look, where her head is huge and feet diminish downwards, in a Rolleiflex portrait, the body was centered and evenly-proportioned. Tall men had a somewhat heroic look. Some recent micro 4/3 cameras have a folding LCD screen, and you can hold them at chest level, just like a Rolleiflex.
|Marilyn Monroe (from Library of Congress)|
|Elizabeth Taylor with her Rolleiflex|
|Old railroad pilings in Crosby, Mississippi, Kodak Panatomic-X film.|
|Road leading from gravel quarry off North Washington Street, Vicksburg, Mississippi, Panatomic-X film.|
Update March 2017: Some nice magazine covers from Shashin Kōgyō (写真工業), a monthly Japanese magazine about the photographic industry.
|Ur-Rollei 35 gold and lizard skin commemorative model|