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A 1939 Rolleiflex Automat and a roll of Fuji NPH 400
Old 1 Week Ago   #1
Swift1
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A 1939 Rolleiflex Automat and a roll of Fuji NPH 400

My last major camera purchase was a 1939 Rolleiflex Automat RF111A. It came to me with a stuck shutter, so I sent it off for a CLA, and finally got it back in early November. I've just finished the 2nd roll in the camera, so I thought I might share some thoughts on the camera, and some images from the 2nd roll.

So far, I really like the camera, more than I figured I would. It's not in collector condition, but it is in fairly nice condition. All the metal work and black surfaces are mostly scratch free, and everything operates smoothly. The lenses a clean, and the viewfinder is pretty good (could be a bit brighter). The uncoated Tessar seems fairly sharp from what I've seen so far. I haven't really figured out how best to expose for the low contrast uncoated lens. Most of my scans come out initially with low contrast, almost like they're overexposed and the shadows are all midtones. I feel like I'm having to adjust the levels too much after scanning, but I love the final results.
These photos are all from the same roll of expired Fuji NPH 400. They were all shot on two separate occasions, in downtown Medford, Oregon. Fellow RFFer GerryM helped me with most of them.


























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Old 1 Week Ago   #2
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These all look very nice.
The uncoated lens tessar definitely gives a nice pastel like color pallet with the fuji400.
The tree in the second to the last one gets a nice framing effect.
Like a wall mural that extends to real life.

Best!
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Old 1 Week Ago   #3
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Great photography. I like the 2 last shots. Well done. Nice colour.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #4
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Love the subjects and the beautiful soft contrast. Nicely done.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #5
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I rather like the elks lodge reflection towards the front.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #6
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These pictures, viewed as a group, have something that is difficult for me to put words to. I like them, and I don't know why.
They are all pictorial, but somehow abstract. Every one could have people in them, but they don't. There could be a person in the Mailbox shot, but not sure. Where did they all go?
Or is it all about the camera and how it works now?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #7
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Thanks everyone!


Quote:
Originally Posted by davidnewtonguitars View Post
These pictures, viewed as a group, have something that is difficult for me to put words to. I like them, and I don't know why.
They are all pictorial, but somehow abstract. Every one could have people in them, but they don't. There could be a person in the Mailbox shot, but not sure. Where did they all go?
Or is it all about the camera and how it works now?
I most often take photos of ordinary scenes without people, so while the post is about the camera and how it works, the photos are meant to be part of the ongoing collection of my work.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #8
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I like the way you pick your subjects, Colton. For one thing, your perspective is different from most everyone else due to the lower shooting angle. But you have a way of isolating certain elements to give the photo a particular feeling.

And a shout out to gerrym for being your assistant. If you ever come to the Blue Ridge, let me know.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
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Beautiful, I'm old but it still surprises me how these close to 80 year old manufacturers made such quality products. I think all the way through high school I only saw one Rolleiflex. We only had Brownie Hawkeye Flash cameras that were top of the line.

Very nice processing, beautiful images and all from a 1939 camera.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farlymac View Post
I like the way you pick your subjects, Colton. For one thing, your perspective is different from most everyone else due to the lower shooting angle. But you have a way of isolating certain elements to give the photo a particular feeling.

And a shout out to gerrym for being your assistant. If you ever come to the Blue Ridge, let me know.

PF
Thanks PF
I would love to go out east and see more of the continent, but air travel is quite difficult for me now. I will look you up if I'm out that way though.
Gerry is great and has been helping me take photos for a few years now.


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Originally Posted by charjohncarter View Post
Beautiful, I'm old but it still surprises me how these close to 80 year old manufacturers made such quality products. I think all the way through high school I only saw one Rolleiflex. We only had Brownie Hawkeye Flash cameras that were top of the line.

Very nice processing, beautiful images and all from a 1939 camera.

Carter
Thank you, Carter.
One thing that really impresses me about Rolleiflex is that, at a time when most camera makers were still in the early stages of concepts like ergonomics and ease of use, Rolleiflex figured out a design that really didn't need any improvement for nearly a century. In terms of use , my 1939 Automat operates nearly exactly the same as a 2014 Rolleiflex.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #11
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A really nice set of pix.
The colors very muted.
The lens is definitely prone to flare!
I have a later Automat (54 about)
Use a lens hood! I do, makes a difference.
I find most TLR shots esp. mine all look like taken long ago.
Guess that's the style.
Enjoy, make more images.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #12
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Love the shots.

Uncoated lenses rule. The muted colors are an oasis of calm in an oversaturated, HDR kinda world. It's why I hang on to my Super Ikonta B with uncoated Tessar 480mm 2.8.
And flare? Sometimes life itself blinds us so why shouldn't it blind a shot every now and then?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #13
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I agree with the others. Very fine work.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #14
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I have an Automat from 1938. Same uncoated Tesaar. I haven't used it for any color work in 20 yrs, just BW. I may have to go get some color film to run through it after seeing your photos.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
I have an Automat from 1938. Same uncoated Tesaar. I haven't used it for any color work in 20 yrs, just BW. I may have to go get some color film to run through it after seeing your photos.
Same here. I have a beater 1933 Art Deco Rolleicord and need to shoot some color. I think it has a Triotar but can't remember.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #16
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Lovely work Colton. I've been following it on Flickr. You have a very good eye for composition and colour. Looking forward to seeing more
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Old 1 Week Ago   #17
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Love the Automat, it is my fav. Rolleiflex.
I usually would go for B&W but the color tones in your images really look great. Thanks for sharing them.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #18
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Hey Colton,
That pre- war Rollei may become a constant companion. The results, IMO, are just about perfect. Fits your style to a "T".
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Old 1 Week Ago   #19
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Automat with Tessar was my first Rolleiflex... I don't know why I sold it...
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Old 1 Week Ago   #20
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My Automat took a dive off the workbench one day, caving in the lens standard, so I traded it for parts. Then I got a K4a which I really like, and a 'Cord V to go with it. They all had/have S-K lenses, but give the same performance wise.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leicapixie View Post
A really nice set of pix.
The colors very muted.
The lens is definitely prone to flare!
I have a later Automat (54 about)
Use a lens hood! I do, makes a difference.
I find most TLR shots esp. mine all look like taken long ago.
Guess that's the style.
Enjoy, make more images.
Thanks for the comments. So far I haven't seen much flare from this lens, but I haven't used it a lot. The one photo of the Medford Mailbox building was shooting straight into the sun, but most of the sun was behind the building. Still, I expected more flare in that one.


Quote:
Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
Love the shots.

Uncoated lenses rule. The muted colors are an oasis of calm in an oversaturated, HDR kinda world. It's why I hang on to my Super Ikonta B with uncoated Tessar 480mm 2.8.
And flare? Sometimes life itself blinds us so why shouldn't it blind a shot every now and then?
Thank you This is the first camera that I have bought with an uncoated lens. I'm impressed with it so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
I agree with the others. Very fine work.
Thank you, Richard.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
I have an Automat from 1938. Same uncoated Tesaar. I haven't used it for any color work in 20 yrs, just BW. I may have to go get some color film to run through it after seeing your photos.
I primarily shoot color film and I bought this camera with the intention of using it for color, but I will likely shoot some B&W with it to see how it comes out. I'm thinking that this camera and Fuji Acros would make a great combo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by x-ray View Post
Same here. I have a beater 1933 Art Deco Rolleicord and need to shoot some color. I think it has a Triotar but can't remember.
Sounds like a cool camera. One of my favorite photos I took using a Zeiss 6x6 folder with a Novar triplet lens. I think the old triplets are often underrated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lynnb View Post
Lovely work Colton. I've been following it on Flickr. You have a very good eye for composition and colour. Looking forward to seeing more
Thank you, Lynn.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #23
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Colton, These are great!

I recently acquired a 50s Rolleiflex Automat with a coated Tessar. Having fun with it. About to process a couple more rolls from it today. I think it's challenging to compose in the square format. I need practice!
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Old 1 Week Ago   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucadomi View Post
Love the Automat, it is my fav. Rolleiflex.
I usually would go for B&W but the color tones in your images really look great. Thanks for sharing them.
This is my third Rolleiflex. I also have a 2.8C with Planar, and a 3.5F with Xenotar. I really couldn't pick a favorite. They each have their own charms.}
This Automat weighs about 65% of the 2.8C or 3.5F, so it feels smaller and more compact. I always tell people, you really can't get a bad Rolleiflex TLR, assuming it's working properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry M View Post
Hey Colton,
That pre- war Rollei may become a constant companion. The results, IMO, are just about perfect. Fits your style to a "T".
Thanks Gerry
I am really quite impressed with this old camera. I certainly hope to do lots of shooting with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by valdas View Post
Automat with Tessar was my first Rolleiflex... I don't know why I sold it...
Better find another
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Old 1 Week Ago   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farlymac View Post
My Automat took a dive off the workbench one day, caving in the lens standard, so I traded it for parts. Then I got a K4a which I really like, and a 'Cord V to go with it. They all had/have S-K lenses, but give the same performance wise.

PF
That's sad about the Automat dying Good thing you were able to replace it.
The Schneider Xenotar in my 3.5F is probably the sharpest lens I own. A friend has an old Automat with an uncoated Xenar and that thing is wicked sharp too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gnuyork View Post
Colton, These are great!

I recently acquired a 50s Rolleiflex Automat with a coated Tessar. Having fun with it. About to process a couple more rolls from it today. I think it's challenging to compose in the square format. I need practice!
Thank you. Ya, composing with square takes some getting used. At first it always feels like you have too much foreground, and never enough space on the sides
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Very nice
Old 1 Week Ago   #26
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Very nice

I enjoy Colton's work quite a bit. Have become hooked on his Flickr.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #27
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Your pictures with this camera have a gentleness about them. Like they are very polite scenes as opposed to the vivid screamers that I take. I really like them.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiho Cracker View Post
I enjoy Colton's work quite a bit. Have become hooked on his Flickr.
Thank you

Here's a photo of the camera, and the period correct lens cap that I found on ebay for $12. I also have the original Rolleiflex leather case that came with the camera.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swift1 View Post
Thanks for the comments. So far I haven't seen much flare from this lens, but I haven't used it a lot.
Actually, all of your photos have flare. Uncoated lenses exhibit what's called 'veiling flare,' which is an overall slight addition of density to the entire frame. It opens the shadows without affecting the midtones and highlights much. It is why your photos have that unique look with such open, detailed dark tones without looking flat.

The look can be simulated with modern lenses by a technique called "pre-exposure." Using a camera that allows double exposures, you first cover the front of the lens with a translucent white glass or plastic. An Expodisc works perfectly. Then you make an exposure through it that is underexposed several stops. Usually Zone I is used (four stops underexposed). You meter through the plastic to determine this exposure.

After that, you remove the plastic, recock the shutter without winding the film, and take your picture normally. The slight fogging of the film from the pre-exposure opens deep shadows without affecting higher tones much. Like your camera's uncoated lens does, but in a more controlled manner.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
Actually, all of your photos have flare. Uncoated lenses exhibit what's called 'veiling flare,' which is an overall slight addition of density to the entire frame. It opens the shadows without affecting the midtones and highlights much. It is why your photos have that unique look with such open, detailed dark tones without looking flat.

The look can be simulated with modern lenses by a technique called "pre-exposure." Using a camera that allows double exposures, you first cover the front of the lens with a translucent white glass or plastic. An Expodisc works perfectly. Then you make an exposure through it that is underexposed several stops. Usually Zone I is used (four stops underexposed). You meter through the plastic to determine this exposure.

After that, you remove the plastic, recock the shutter without winding the film, and take your picture normally. The slight fogging of the film from the pre-exposure opens deep shadows without affecting higher tones much. Like your camera's uncoated lens does, but in a more controlled manner.
Ahh... that makes sense.
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