A Classic Rolleiflex TLR Medium Format Camera

smokey

Smokey

It wasn’t that many years ago most of us were film shooters. Like almost everyone I know in the photography world I now shoot digital (and almost exclusively Adobe CameraRAW files). I made the switch a bit late, holding out with film until 2009. I shot primarily with three camera legends: the original Nikon F, the Leica M-3 and the Rolleiflex TLR. Amazing cameras all three—and I miss them occasionally, but I would never go back to shooting film. The Nikon and Leica were both 35mm and I shot Chrome (Kodachrome 25, 64 and sometimes 200). Back then we called it ASA and not ISO and it referred to film sensitivity rather than sensor sensitivity.

041_rolleiflex_3

The Rolleiflex TLR was a Twin Lens Reflex camera that shot 120 film (2¼ x 2¼ inch square format). The Nikon F was one of the first successful SLRs (Single Lens Reflex camera) and the Leica M-3 was a classic rangefinder camera. In retrospect I guess my Rollei was a bit cumbersome to use, but the shots could be absolutely amazing for the day. It was a great portrait camera and was also used extensively in photojournalism. Few could afford its high price tag in the 1950s which would be well over $3,000 usd at today’s prices (when adjusted for inflation). I inherited my mint condition Rollei after my father passed away.

About seventeen years ago I shot the above image of my Black Labrador Retriever “Smokey” in his prime. A black dog in tall grass with late afternoon sun. I don’t remember the camera settings but they were probably something like f/11 at 1/125s. I could get better technical results today with digital and post-processing in Photoshop, but it would be hard to replicate the same warm, rich feel of this film shot. Unfortunately, this is a low-res scan from the original 8 x 10 inch color print. Smokey was a beautiful dog and I think this image does him justice, but I wish I had taken many more photos of him after I switched to digital.

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3 responses to “A Classic Rolleiflex TLR Medium Format Camera

  1. My dad had one of those Rolleiflex cameras but he never aspired to your level. Wish I’d held on to it when “stuff” was being tossed after the divorce. I did end up with a lens but the rest of the camera bag was empty….sigh

    Might take up photography in my old age and aspire to take pictures of my own fingers and a flashbuzz of various catz. Have a Happy and Safe Eve. ~~dru~~

    • Those cameras still hold their value. A mint or near-mint Rolleiflex TLR 2.8 can go for as much as $4,000 usd on today’s collector’s market. No joke. I have a couple of near-mint Leicas too that would sell for a small fortune. I loved shooting with those old cameras but digital is so good now that its completely left film in the dust. There are still some diehard film shooters but they’re few and far between. Photography can be a great hobby (or profession) but can still be pretty costly. 🙂

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