Rollei 2.8 GX, some reflections upon its use

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by nick_sofroniou, Aug 4, 1997.

  1. I was asked to give some comments upon the 2.8 GX, so here are some thoughts of mine after a year and a half with the camera.

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    There has been some discussion in the MFD about equipment suitable
    for lightweight travelling, and the most common response is to suggest a Fuji or Mamiya rangefinder type camera. However, having owned a Fuji 645 I found that I didn't like the vertical orientation of the viewfinder, and having to continually turn the camera on its side for a horizontal shot seemed odd. The Mamiya 6/7 is a great camera if you are satisfied with composing your shots in direct optical viewfinder, and don't mind an all electronic camera.

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    If, like myself, you prefer a two-dimensional reflex arrangement then the fixed lens TLR setup pioneered by Rollei is a good alternative. The standard 80mm focal-length of the Planar lens is useful and gives such quality that one can crop to give a small telephoto effect. The weight is 1.2kg and it is compact in size, whilst the built in meter is accurate, though restricted in its low-light capabilities. The parallax compensation works by moving the screen in proportion to the set distance on the focusing knob. This is clever, though I can't say I have noticed many benefits over the Mamiyaflex's system with a moving indicator in the viewfinder. The main advantage of the Rollei over my old Yashica D is the wide open lens-performance, a total absence of flare, and the bright viewfinder. The latter has a standard microprism/split-image centre spot which is discracting when used with both eyes open at waist-level since the centre goes dark for one of your two eyes. This I got round by changing it for a ground-glass center-spot screen that is a bit slower to focus, but is nicer to compose the image with. It has markings for 6.45 in vertical and horizontal format which are also helpful.

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    The standard camera has a minimum focusing distance of 1 meter so the Rolleinar sets of close-up lenses are worth having. They are lightweight and allow a minimum distance of 0.5 meter and adjust the parallax compensation with the add-on viewfinder lenses. I use B&W bayonet III filters which are excellent, and carry all this in a belt pouch made by Camera Care Systems, together with a small pouch containing my incident lightmeter. This setup is very managable when threaded through the belt of my backpack, it has proved to be robust, and performs fine in sub-zero temperatures (just watch out for the falling dew-drops from a cold nose hitting the focussing screen!).

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    If you are satisfied with the minimalist fixed lens approach, the drawbacks of the camera include the price, the fact that it will soon be unavailable new, and the lack of 220 film capability --- its very annoying to have to change the film in a storm. Minor quirks are the lack of detents on the spool holders that makes film changing more awkward than it need be, the strap fixings that rotate to ensure a twisted strap when you take the camera out to use, and the fact that you cannot fit a filter to protect the viewing lens when one is in place on the taking lens.
     
  2. Nick,
    I'm the one who sent you the e-mail with the request. Thanks very much for taking the time to comment on your use of the camera. I'm going to go ahead and find a used one to put in service as a "winter camera for the car." Here in Michigan, USA, relying on batteries in the middle of winter is an "iffy" proposition.

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    Regards,
    Bob Cook
     
  3. Well, the strap lugs don't bother me in the least: the factory strap is grand and I have never experienced any problem with twisting.

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    As to the filters, I DO put filters on both lenses simultaneously. Try Heliopan or F&H filters.

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    Marc
     
  4. It's a great camera! The only thing I don't like is the combination straps -case.
    In order to take off the case for film changing you have to take off the straps first. I find this annoying. This means the case is not very usefull . I use it for storage only. I plan to modify the case. Older models are more easy to handle on this point: they can lose their cases while the straps remain on.
     
  5. I own a 3.5F type 3 TLR with a Planar lens. I find this camera a joy to use. It is true that it is a bit old fashioned with its Selenium meter. However, the meter does work and works well. I also like the automatic film-changing feature, which makes film loading a joy.

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    The GX is a camera I would like to own. I would certainly appreciate the performance of the HFT lens and more versatile, albeit different, metering arrangement. However, I am bothered by the fact that the GX has an archaic film-loading system. The lack of 12/24 capability is not a problem, but might be appreciated. Most importantly, the GX does not appear to have the solidity of an F-series TLR. It is more like a Rolleicord with a superb lens.

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    Also, I prefer the 75mm focal length to 80mm.

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    I have a prism finder for my 3.5F, which I use infrequently. However, I was told that this finder would obscure the LEDs in the GX.

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    Best of Light,

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    Chris
     
  6. Chris Fortunko wrote:

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    "The GX is a camera I would like to own. I would certainly appreciate the performance of the HFT lens and more versatile, albeit different, metering arrangement. However, I am bothered by the fact that the GX has an archaic film-loading system. The lack of 12/24 capability is not a problem, but might be appreciated. Most importantly, the GX does not appear to have the solidity of an F-series TLR. It is more like a Rolleicord with a superb lens."

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    There has been some discussion along these lines in the magazine of Club Rollei. Those who have owned both cameras don't seem to have this view. Personally I have owned both a Rollei SL66E and a 2.8 GX and found the build quality to be superb for both models. The film loading is no more archaic than most other systems which involve lining up the starting arrow of the film with a dot in the body. My complaint was that the spool holders are sprung and won't stay out whilst you insert the film, which makes loading the film something of a handful.

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    Regarding Chris' query about the F prism obscuring the meter LED's in the GX, you do have to use the special GX prism if you want to make use of the built in meter. Since this costs a small fortune, I have never bothered looking into it further.

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    Nick
     
  7. I recently picked up an "F" prism for use on my 2.8GX. It does NOT obscure the meter diodes, so you can use the older prism & use the meter. Your view might be a little bettre with a Maxwell-type bright screen, but it works just fine with the Rollei screen provided.
     
  8. Let me add my strong vote for the 2.8 GX. I have one
    and I love it. I also have several other cameras
    (35mm and medium format)but I find myself using the
    GX more and more. It has a superb lens, excellent
    metering system, and almost all of the earlier
    Rollei attachments work. True, it's expensive, but
    I've never regreted the money I paid for it.
     
  9. Had the opportunities to own both the GX and 3.5F Planar version 5.Eventhough the GX has a faster lens and very good meter,performances from F4 downwards look equal to me,as far as contrast,resolution,tonality and color rendition.Flare is better controlled in the GX though.Both are excellent devices for street photography,so quiet and non obstrusive! Khai Do.
     
  10. I have many Rollei TLR's, but not a GX. I often use the selftimers on my cameras, and the GX doesn't have one. How much can it cost Rollei to add a selftimer on the GX model? Also the film loading and counter systems on the GX is simpler than the earlier models, so I agree that thie model is more like a Rolleicord than a Rolleiflex.
     
  11. I recently acquired a GX and am told that the new Copal Shutter is much more accurate and reliable than the old Synchro-Compur Shutters. I was told this by a very reputable Rollei repair person with years of Rollei experience in repair. I have no way of validating except through Rollei. Any thoughts on this by current GX owners? Anybody else?
     

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