Advice needed: Rolleiflex condition photos vs reality

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by mechs, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. Hi All,

    I am contemplating buying a Rolleiflex 2.8 (leaning towards an E but F would be ideal) and need some advice.

    I have been looking at reputable seller listings on the bay and am trying to determine what cosmetic imperfections I should and shouldn't worry about when I'm ready to buy.

    I have attached a couple of photos from listings for your consideration as examples.

    In the first example, the camera is listed as "Mint -" and 94%, the optics are clean, and the camera loosely matches Dan Colluci‘s advice about examining the original paint on the crank side of the camera as a visual test of its general wear. That said, look at small dent in the highlighted area.

    Screen Shot 2021-07-29 at 13.59.49.png
    Screen Shot 2021-07-29 at 14.00.42.png

    Are little dents and dings like these potential signs of trouble with the optics or overall performance of the camera?

    Are they considered normal wear and tear for an item marked as excellent or mint?

    When looking at the ding like this, is it assumed that the camera has at some point been dropped or smashed against a hard object and had an overhaul?

    The next example has a serious dent in the bottom right.

    Screen Shot 2021-07-29 at 14.07.41.png

    For those of you who own a Rolleiflex, which one of the above is a deal breaker when purchasing these cameras?

    Would you have any problem buying a camera like the above two examples if the glass, shutter, viewfinder, and the operation were otherwise mechanically in excellent shape?

    And, realistically, what are the odds of finding a 2.8E or F with almost no cosmetic issues?
  2. "Assuming" something had an overhaul is a NO NO on the internet. Even if claimed to have had a "recent CLA", the seller must provide documentation or it didn't happen.
    Re. your examples, I would personally avoid any camera with visible strong impact to the structure, it is too big a risk unless you have good return and refund privileges. I would rather accept reasonable wear and factor in a competent CLA.
    Or you can buy a completely rebuild and often LN from: Link --> Magicflexcamera Camera shop
    He usually do not have many to choose from on the site, but if you follow his Instagram account, you'll get an idea of what is in the pipeline and notification when new things goes up.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
    invisibleflash likes this.
  3. I actually looked at that link a few days ago. The cameras look incredibly nice but the prices are out of my range unfortunately.
  4. Given what those cameras go for, I'd never accept either defect. The "shallow" dent still required an impact to make it, and the second one is worse, plus the damage around the winding crank. I'm very picky when it comes to cosmetics, but TLRs that have been in cases don't have problems like that. I once dropped a Yashica and it actually cracked the main casting. You couldn't see much visually unless you knew what to look for, but it was junk and had to be replaced. I have a Mamiya TLR with a small dent near the finder, but I didn't pay much and those things are more of a tank.
  5. You can't rush into it. It takes time. Cameras come up all the time. Put it on your want list and get updates each day.
  6. AJG


    Are you getting this to use or to collect? I have several old Rolleiflexes that look worn in terms of paint since I have never used cases with any of my cameras, but they function well even if they don't look pretty. I would concur with previous comments that dents could indicate big problems with alignment, etc. that may not be easily corrected. And even if you do find a pristine sample, don't be surprised if you need a CLA anyway. These cameras are old and most of them won't have seen much use for quite a while so expect to find lubricants hardening or disappearing. That said, I have always found a Rolleiflex to be one of my favorite cameras to use--the first time I picked one up it just seemed to fit my hands and "make sense" in a way that almost no other camera does for me. Good luck on your search.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  7. I know, outside my pay-rate as well, but that guy is a perfectionist.
    The 2.8F currently available for €4,500 is probably better than new. And think about it; €4,500 wouldn't even buy you a new film Leica (without lens) and besides having to be on a waiting list for an unknown amount of time, they often come with issues and headaches out of the box!
    Nobody would be able to make a Rolleiflex 2.8F today for even close to €4,500.

    Anyway, patience will pay off. I have a 1937 and a 1972 rolleiflex, both in good working condition and worth an overhaul if they start to act up.
    Didn't pay more than a few hundreds for either of them, but not Planars of course.


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