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TLR, hard to use?
Old 01-22-2013   #1
vegard_dino
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TLR, hard to use?

Hello all.


I am new here.

The look and feeling of vintage cameras is getting to me more and more.
Now I am using a Pentax SLR from -67, and I really like it.

But, the look of the TLR like Rolleiflex is really super cool.

How are they to use?
If to get one, what to go for?
How is the service(repair need on these cameras, no more than my SLR?

Oh yes, the camera will be used for photographing nature and some portrait, small grope/family photos.

All tips and help is welcome.

Thanks all.
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Old 01-22-2013   #2
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I can only speak to the Rolleiflex cameras that I have owned. I think they need a bit more in the area of repair than 35mm cameras I have owned (Canon RF, Pentax, Nikon, Contax RF and Leica). They are fairly easy to use, but some find them difficult to get used to. Rolleiflex is, in a way, a way of life. I would suggest you start with a Rolleiflex Automat MX (1951) or the newest Rolleicord V series you can afford, and see if you like it. Avoid the Triotar (3-element) lenses and go for the Tessar or Xenar.
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Old 01-22-2013   #3
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Using a TLR isn't hard, but definitely different. You have to get used to looking down to compose, and the image is reversed so you have to learn how to properly move the body up/down/left/right when the image is reversed to adjust the composition. It takes some getting used to but it's not that difficult, it just takes practice. Also, you need to get used to composing in a square format instead of a rectangle.

There are lots of choices for TLRs, from Rolleiflex and Rolleicord, Minolta Autocord, Yashica 124, Diacord, etc. All will give good results though the Rollei's are the "Cadillac" of TLRs. If you're in the US there are repair people here, some very pricey, some less so. Depending on who you go to, the price for a CLA seems to be on par with other cameras. And afaik you don't need to do them any more frequently than for other cameras.

Welcome to the forum, the TLR section has lots of information you can dig through about different TLRs.
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Old 01-22-2013   #4
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Hi, and welcome to the forum.
Most TLRs use waist level finder with focus magnifier, so you'll shoot from a lower angle than you normally do. This results in a new perspective, also need some getting used to, left-right is reversed, some also experienced difficulties in maintaining straight horizon.
Depending on your budget, there are Yashicas, Mamiyas and Minoltas, also some Ricoh, and on the other end were Rolleis; simpler and cheaper Rolleicord and the big brother Rolleiflex.
Build quality on these cameras is awesome, the lenses are sharp for most use thanks to the big negative. You can do a search, quite a few members did extensive comparison tests on the lenses.
Shutter wise, Seiko and Compur are two of the major manufacturer I think, and repair generally takes longer time and more care than focal plane shutters on most SLRs.

For people and family portraits, I think you'll love them. People love it and you don't look like you're shooting them. Candids are also easier to get, compared to SLRs, all the more so compared to your Pentax 67!

Hope this helps.
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Old 01-22-2013   #5
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The waist level finder is fantastic for "getting down to the same level" as kids.

As for the image and direction reversal, well, you get used to it.

Hardest thing I find is focusing fast enough for a kid who moves frequently.

And trying to get him to look at me, while I'm "looking down".
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Old 01-22-2013   #6
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I think the ergonomics are a personal thing. I like TLRs a lot, and find them intuitive in use. Also the combination of the small size and image quality is great. Because TLRs are fairly self-contained [brick-like] they can be more compact than a 35mm SLR and lens.
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Old 01-22-2013   #7
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I have just bought my second Rolleiflex, giving up on the first one as TLRs were just not for me. But the sexiness of the camera, small size, and the right camera at the right price brought me back.

I find them a bit of a faff to use compared to say, a medium format range finder, for a few reasons.

1) Apart from on tripods, I prefer to hold a camera to my eye, not look at ground glass.
2) I much *much* prefer range finder focusing to ground glass, adding a split screen from Rick Oleson helps this though. I don't know how anyone copes with plain ground glass on a TLR.
3) The image is horizontally flipped, takes a while to get used to that one.

The upside... Beautiful cameras, just beautiful. Extremely high image quality in a small package. I find them easier to load than Hasselblads. Fixed lens reduces the GAS a bit for me.

I think the key is to accept that it'll take some getting used to, and adapt to it's ways, because it won't adapt to you.

Service can depend, some people have a lifetime of faultless use from a Rolleiflex or Leica or whatever, some people don't, it's mostly luck based I think.

Which one to get? I'd say it does not matter a hell of a lot, Rollei I don't think ever made a bad camera, but I'd personally get one with interchangeable focus screens, and give Rick Oleson $30 for a better one.
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Old 01-22-2013   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matt_mcg2 View Post
I think the ergonomics are a personal thing. I like TLRs a lot, and find them intuitive in use.
I very much agree with this. I would go to say that some people have a "TLR personality" and find them easy and natural to use; others are never able to get on with them. The only way to find which type you are is to handle one for a while. If you know someone who has one, or maybe can find one in a camera store that you could hold, look through the viewfinder, etc., that would be a good place to start. If you're still not sure, look for something cheap, like one of the less expensive Yashicas. If you find you don't like it, you can almost certainly resell it at little or no loss.
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Old 01-22-2013   #9
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Hello and thank you all for the information.

Yes, I guess the left-right takes some time to get used to.

A Rolleicord Vb, is it a simple version of the Rolleiflex? Have seen a Rolleicord Vb with a Zenar lens, so the lens is ok, why the lower price? Less functions?

The "looking down" will be a bit odd.
Is Rick Oleson a dealer for cameras?

Thank you for helping, and taking time for my odd questions.
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Old 01-22-2013   #10
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Thank you for the good tip.
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Old 01-22-2013   #11
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Rick Oleson is this guy:

http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-175.html

The screens are a good improvement on the standard one I got, and pretty inexpensive.

As far as I know, Rollei has never shipped anything other than great lenses, sure some are better than others, but they're all great. Hell, I've got a folder with a 60 year old Tessar in it which is sharper than I'll ever need.
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Old 01-22-2013   #12
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TLR's are easy to use as long as you have a minute to take a shot

Inevitably you will take better pictures
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Old 01-22-2013   #13
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The Rolleicord Vb is a very fine camera built to Rollei's exacting standards. I have owned two of them. They are less expensive because they have fewer features and a less expensive lens. The Xenar is generally considered to be not quite as good as the Planars and Xenotars on later Rolleiflexes, but is fully the equal of the Tessars on the earlier Rolleiflexes with which Rollei made its reputation. You will find it quite satisfactory for almost any use.
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Old 01-22-2013   #14
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Yes, the Rolleicord Vb with the Xenar would give you a great start, and fewer repair bills. Go for it!
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Old 01-22-2013   #15
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a small grope can be very nice, but one has to be careful about asking permission first
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Old 01-22-2013   #16
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Thank you all for helping me.

Also, do I NEED a meter when using it outdoors? I think, not sure, that the Vb was without one.

Will give the dealer a call tomorrow.
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Old 01-22-2013   #17
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If you're shooting negative film, I'd suggest you don't need a meter *at all*, unless you're very particular about exposure and getting a certain look. People coped without meters for decades, we can too. Remember, a disposable camera has no way of altering exposure at all, fixed aperture, fixed shutter speed, fixed ISO film. Most of those shots come out just fine as negative film has incredible latitude for overexposure, and a little bit of latitude for under exposure.
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Old 01-22-2013   #18
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I think the Vb has an exposure table right on the back, so you can do without a meter. But I would definitely consider getting one. Do you have a "smartphone" of some kind? There are very good exposure meter applications you can get (some are free of charge) that work quite well in my experience.
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Old 01-22-2013   #19
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Well sad. Thank you.
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Old 01-22-2013   #20
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Never found a Rolleiflex hard to use at all. It was the second adjustable camera I used (first was an Argus C3) and the only thing that took a little learning time was understanding that the viewfinder showed the subject oriented left-right reversed. I was twelve at the time.

Other than that, you load film, set exposure, focus, frame, release the shutter, wind on to the next exposure ... What's so difficult?

G
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Old 01-22-2013   #21
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Most of the reason to go to MF is image quality. This is slow, high-quality photography. You're gonna want your exposures to be spot on. Get a good meter. I like the Sekonic L-308s, but there are lots of great meters out there. Remember: only 12 pictures on a roll. You want to make each one count. Oh, and get a lens shade and use it ALWAYS.
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Old 01-23-2013   #22
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Thank you for the tip.
A shade I will get.


Oh, you all make it sound so easy.....So, I have to try these out
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Old 01-23-2013   #23
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Yes, I also use Sekonic 308s, a hood, and a short cable release will be useful for slower speeds. Enjoy!
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Old 01-23-2013   #24
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What Vics said.

I bought a Rolleiflex Automat through the classifieds here. Lovely machine. I had come to vertical viewfinder first through the Nikon Coolpix 4500. It was great for children. I just told them there was something wrong with the camera and I was trying to fix it. On the other hand the TLR way is a slow way but that's good. I have my first roll of Ektar in mine, only the 4th roll of anything I've had in it, and will be out with it in the morning.

The clincher for buying mine was not a picture but a word, or two. Frank S posted that every photographer has to have a Rolleiflex some time. I had to agree.
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Old 01-23-2013   #25
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The fact that the view is flipped wasn't too problematic for me. After using the Rollei a few times and working at training your brain a bit, leave the camera for a day or two. Go back to your camera and without having to give the matter too much thought you'll find it's not so hard to compose that picture..

Funny how if you ponder over a problem, the bain will seemingly continue working on it while you're getting on with other things and sometimes pop the answer into your mind at a later date :-))
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Old 01-23-2013   #26
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I use my Rolleiflex GX with 45 degree prism and very happy with it. Get the prism for easy shooting.
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Old 01-23-2013   #27
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Quote:
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a small grope can be very nice, but one has to be careful about asking permission first
+1. No offence and sorry for the extra post, but one has to be careful while using these words!
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Old 01-23-2013   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegard_dino View Post
Hello all.


I am new here.

The look and feeling of vintage cameras is getting to me more and more.
Now I am using a Pentax SLR from -67, and I really like it.

But, the look of the TLR like Rolleiflex is really super cool.

How are they to use?
If to get one, what to go for?
How is the service(repair need on these cameras, no more than my SLR?

Oh yes, the camera will be used for photographing nature and some portrait, small grope/family photos.

All tips and help is welcome.

Thanks all.
So far, I have shot two rolls and have one loaded. If I can do it, then anyone can and I am quite happy with the results of my first roll used as a test. The double exposures are hard for me to avoid but I got fewer on the second roll.

Come to think of it, it may the Ciroflex that puts me back to the point where I can actually make a photograph. I must try that this week because my mental/emotional block is still there.
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Old 01-23-2013   #29
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Thank you all!

A lot of good info. I will follow the classifieds here and maybe one will come up for sale.

Or, any good shop who do stock them?

I was over at a shop here and looked at one, a Vb, it is, I think, good, but to expensive. Close to 1000 Euro, a bit over my range.

But, I have ordered a meter, so it is a start.
Oh, yes, also found out that the local dealer is selling 120mm film, goood.
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Old 01-23-2013   #30
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Hello there,
I've bought a Rolleiflex from eBay, and also from a dealer, both are fine. Depending on what country you're in, a dealer may be best, or perhaps eBay or some other classified source.

Just a quick thing, 120 film is not "120mm", "120" is a code number, not a measurement.

If you're in the EU, I can likely give you some dealer names, if you're in the USA or elsewhere I'm sure others can chip in.

I'm certain you won't regret a Rolleiflex!
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Old 01-23-2013   #31
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Thanks for the reply and info.
Oh, sorry about the 120mm name.......

I am in Norway, so maybe you can help me with some names. I say thank you.

Thanks
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Old 01-23-2013   #32
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From a British supplier:
http://www.ffordes.com/category/Medi...ns/TLR_Cameras

Range from 150-500
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Old 01-23-2013   #33
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Thanks for the link.
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Old 01-23-2013   #34
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I used to have a Mamiya C330 but just didn't take to it, primarily because it just seemed unnecessarily bulky. Someone recently gave me a Rolleicord V (Model K3C). It is so small and handy. I just loaded a roll and will give it a go this weekend. The shutter speed "sounds" accurate but I may still spring for a CLA.
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Old 01-24-2013   #35
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You know that you don't have to start with a Rolleflex, right?

Plenty of high-quality TLR can be had for $100 or less nowadays.
After you decided that you like shooting with TLRs, then come up with your Rolleiflex acquisition strategy.

Oh, and you may or may not care about the flipped image anymore. I find some of my best TLR photos are actually reversed sideways, when I corrected it, I don't like it as much
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Old 01-24-2013   #36
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I cannot get on at all with Rolleiflexes, but accept that I'm in a minority. Great results; about as intuitive (for me) to use as a computer program.

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Old 01-24-2013   #37
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I guess that's why we're all different. I find RF's harder to use; visualisation of narrow depth of field especially.
I can even shoot action


Life is too short not to shoot with a Rolleiflex!
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Old 01-24-2013   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vegard_dino View Post
How are they to use?
If to get one, what to go for ?
Yep, they're very difficult to use, I had a HELL of a job taking this photo single handed while riding my reynolds 753c bike at about 8mph in 1983.

Rollei 3.5f - I've got about 3 or 4 but haven't used a Rollei for more than 20 years so I can't comment about repairs.


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Old 01-25-2013   #39
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Thank you all for helping me.
Great photos, thanks.

Oh, a TLR juts got to try it out, even if some here say it is hard to use....
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Old 01-26-2013   #40
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I can't comment specifically on Rolliflex or Rollicord, only held them, haven't owned one.
When I wanted to start into medium format, I was given the suggestion to get a Yashica 124, as they were relatively cheap and quite sharp.
I found that using the TLR, made me slow down and think, resulting in more keepers. It did take some getting used to, but that was part of the fun.
I don't think you will regret trying a TLR, Rolliflex or other.
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