Rollei vs Hassy vs Contax 645 (?) HELP!

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by allison_mills, May 4, 2004.

  1. First, some history on me....I bought about 2 years ago a used in
    great condition Rollei TLR 2.8 planar lens.....and it changed my
    life! I now only see in squares. The square format works for me and
    what I do (fine art). So, naturally, I upgraded to the Hasselblad
    501cm. It is now at the repair place getting fixed for the third
    time since I have owned it in a year. I am a little over it. Sad
    but true. So, I am researching new cameras at the present. I am
    really drawn to the Rollei 6008 and not so drawn to its price. I
    have friends with the Contax 645 and they love it. And I keep seeing
    it's name pop up. And I have played with it and love it's design and
    how flexibleand portable it is. But there is the issue of format for
    me. I know some of you are shaking your heads but that's just me. I
    have to say that I am really loving the idea of having a film advance
    motor in the camera that both Rollei and Contax offer. I am really
    in quandary about this. I just want the camera so I can go take
    pictures! I am presently renting a 503 with a film winder on it and
    I think it is pretty loud and heavy. I would love to hear opinions,
    I need a camera therapist! Should I just get over the square thing
    and just go for the Contax? I still have my trusty TLR and I am
    keeping it but I want a body that can take a nice portrait lens.
    Thanks in advance!

  2. Square is cool. Diane Arbus shot square format. Look for a Kowa 6x6 as an alternative to Hassy. I would rather have the Contax 645, myself
  3. Allison, If you are into portraits, you may want to strongly reconsider the Contax, as the maximum flash sync is only 1/125. I have all three cameras: Hasselblad 503CW, Rollei 6008 Integral, & Contax 645.

    The Rollei, compared to my 503CW, is leauges ahead as far as modern conveniences go. It has multiple metering modes including spot, built-in motor drive, built-in dark slide, and included action grip. But those features have a price and it is the weight. It is much heavier compared to the Blad. True, if you add the Winder CW onto the Hassy, then the weight factor is somewhat negated, but I was never too fond of that winder anyway. Picture quality is about the same, as would be expected. I like the Acute-Matte focusing screen in the Hassy alot better than the Hi-D screen in the Rollei. Images seem to snap into focus a little easier. Also, I don't really like the Nicad Battery Pack in the Rollei because it has a memory effect and adds to the weight of the camera. The Hasselblad needs no batteries at all & is always ready to go.

    The Contax has picture quality that is at least as good as the other two cameras, and the 120 Macro is outstanding. The camera is also much, much lighter than the Rollei and adds the convenience of auto-focus. Although the auto-focus does not really work that well in low-light situations. Personally, I prefer the square when shooting portraits, but like the rectangular format better for landscapes. Another feature I like about the Contax is that the film inserts and backs work for both 120 & 220 films. You simply rotate the pressure plate 180 to change from 120 to 220. It’s a tough choice to make between the three cameras. But if I had to choose only one, for me, it would be the Hasselblad.
  4. I don't do battery dependent cameras myself but my wife loves her Contax 645. However, it doesn't auto focus fast enough for some and it eats expensive batteries. To solve the battery problem I purchased the grip handle that uses AA batteries and now my wife has no complaints at all.

    I have heard that one of the reasons that the Contax focuses slower than the Hasselblad H1 is that Zeiss won't build the focusing mounts loose enough.
  5. I doubt you'll find anything that exceeds the image quality of your old Rollei 2.8 TLR. They are a nice portrait camera.

    Cost can be a challenge with Rollie SLRs. For low prices, check out Robert White in England or HKSupplies in Hong Kong (there are other places, of course, so look them up as well). If you needed to use 6x4.5, there are Rollei backs in that format.

    Or how about a Mamiya RZ with 6x6 film back? This would be a low price approach and the optical qualities of Mamiya lenses seem to be on par with the German glass. It'd be a larger solution than a Contax or the Rollei SLR. But it sure would be very versatile.

    Just a few thoughts... Good luck.
  6. Why not a tele Rollie TLR? Used or new...
  7. db1


    What is wrong with the 501cm? What could go wrong?
  8. Allison,

    Your leaning over to the Rollei 6008 seems a very good idea to
    me. Having used a Hassy in film school extensively has learned
    me how to hate its concept that just screams for mechanical
    jams and focusing problems when the back gets old. In 1989 I
    bought the first 6008 and I've never looked back. Of course I am
    always interested in new developments, so I have checked out
    anything new that came after it. Yet, I think square images offer
    more versatility by nature. It is never a problem to crop a
    rectangular out of it, but see what happens if you try to crop a
    square out of a 6x4.5. Why not use a 35mm camera then? You
    would at least need a 6x7 camera to take care of this problem.

    Today I was honoured to help a friend unpack his brand new
    6008AF, and again I realized that for me this concept of medium
    format camera is still the best compromise available. Portrait,
    landscape, macro, high speed, studio, travel (yes, I travel with it
    too, although I do own a Mamiya 6 that usually stays in the bag),
    fashion. (See some samples spread throughout my website.) I
    can do about anything I need to with it. I'm sure you can too. Do
    yourself a favour. ;-)
  9. Any camera is good in good hands. :)

    I would get both Rollei and Contax and gave them a test drive.
    Nobody else but you should decide.
    Frankly if you like square format and you got used to it - why to force yourself into something else? I have Kiev for 6x6 and Contax 645 and cannot recall when did I use Kiev for a last time but I`m not a 6x6 person.

    If you don`t need fast sync speed - I would vote for Contax. Square format with 4.5cm sides will be all yours anyway - if you scan your film it does not make much difference from 6x6 size. If most of your work is outdoors with TTL fill flash - get Rollei. Both systems have wonderful lenses and very capable camera bodies. Rollei is just a bit heavier and bulkier but it`s not such a big deal.
  10. Allison, Im having the exact same problem. I currently shoot with a Yashica TLR and Im in love with the square format. I dont ever want to change. Its perfect for me.

    I also own a Contax RX and I just love Contax cameras. Im about to purchasea system and Im loooking at a Hassy 500 CM. I would rahter have the Contax 645 cause I love the feel and just love the way Contax lays out the buttons, but I do not like the format. I wish it were 6x6 cause I would definitely buy it. The format is more imfortant to me and its not like the Hassy sucks.

    Good luck.
  11. No doubt 501/503CM are old technologies. Try changing a lens and a back and the bellows, and one could get it all jammed if done without a strict discipline! Or look at its MLU or aperture preview mechanism. All so much obsolete compared to Rollei 6008i/6001.

    I have a lot of respect for Hasselblad cameras, however. If you do not dwell on it, i.e the idea of a film advance motor, maybe you shall get past the initial infatuation. I think you might still come around to appreciate the simplicity of 501CM. The reason I say is, it is expensive to change cameras, and if you look at it, you have an adequate tool to do portraits.

    If you really want to start afresh, then look at even a 6001 pro. It is more than a match for a 501CM, and is cheaper. The changing of its back is wonderfully simple. Buy Contax only if you want to do eye-level shooting. I am very happy with Rollei SLRs.
  12. Allison,

    What exactly is breaking on your 501?

    Where are you sending it? Maybe to the wrong shop? Maybe you should try David S.
    Odess....he is a frequent poster here and he just fixed a lens for me (hopefully he isn't the
    one you are already using!). You can pick up a 500 CM body from so can have a spare body for less than $300 easily.

    A couple of observations.....In your post, you mention "Fine Art", 'TLR/6x6 changed your
    life" and "Portrait Lens".

    That all adds up to.....shoot with your TLR. Have a Hassy w/150 on hand for closeups.
    What do you want a Motor Drive for? Especially on a format that only gives you 12 shots
    per roll. Just another thing to break and make noise.

    The Planar 'flex is a great portrait camera if you don't need closeups. I am getting ready to
    try out a Mutar 1.5x on a Rollei for closeups...we'll see.

    I also have a 500 cm with a 150 C lens. It
    looks like a million bucks. KILLER Lens.

  13. Hmmmm....where to start on the Hassy. It has jammed numerous times, like where the shutter button just locks. I can unjam it, but I don't like to. I know that it jamming happens on the blad but I feel like it has happened one to many times. The latest thing is the upper shutter leaf (I know that I am not using the right terminology here) isn't laying flush with the top of the inside of the camera. Hope that made sense. So, I was getting this lovely blur at the bottom of all my negatives that just got larger over time. Like I said I love the TLR but I want something that can take a 150 lens. I have the Rolleinar for my TLR and it's OK. I also take a lot of shots outdoors of my son running around and sometimes he is pretty quick and he is off and running and in the distance so I would like to have the option of having a longer lens so I could catch whatever he is doing. I have missed some neat shots because of that, which happens with any lens, I know. I mostly work outside with available light, so I need something that can take whatever the elements throw me. Not that I would work in the pouring rain, or freezing cold, but I just thought I would add that in there. =)
  14. I had always hear about the Jamming problem but it had never happened to me....UNTIL

    I thought I had a lens fully mounted and I fired the shutter. The Lens was turned and
    locked on all the way. JAM. I ended up breaking my Lens (following some bad instructions
    I found on the internet).

    Are your jams caused by User error? (not being critical...I just confessed to mine).

    The Hassy and Rollei TLR really are the standards in Portraiture. Everything else has to be
    qualified with a "just as good as Zeiss Optics" or some other claims of sharpness.

    Do you already have a 150? You should at least rent one and see the results for yourself
    before you buy into another system.

    I laugh (loudly) when I read a comment about the 501cm technology being "old" and how
    you can get a Matrix Meter Prism and Motor Drive blah blah blah.... All that stuff is great if
    you are running around shooting a wedding. (Actually I just shot a friend's wedding with
    all of my old technology...looked fine to them).

    Don't give up too might just have a Hassy body that has been "fixed" too many
    times by someone who shouldn't have been working on a Hassy.

  15. If you see only in squares, why switch to 645? There is no advantage there. If the price of the 6008is bothersome, why not think about a
    used 6006, 6003, or 6008 with a warranty? If I already owned a 501CM body, I would have it repaired correctly by a competent Hassy repair tech, and get the 120 and 180 lenses for it for portrait work. I believe
    that a well executed square portrait sets your work apart from the
    run of the mill rectangular portrait guys. The 120 and 180 lenses also
    set you apart from the run of the mill 150mm portrait lens perspective.
    as far as the film winder on the 503 goes, it seems to throw the balance of the camera off for my tastes. Always try before you buy!
  16. Allison,

    One other vote for Rollei, I have the integral and love it with lenses choices from Zeiss and Schneider, range from 30-1000mm and flash sync up to 1/1000 with some of the lenses.6x6, 6x4,5 you name it (BTW this 645 back is the most shopisticated 645 back in MF system, you don't have to rotate the camera you only need to rotate the back and it has 120/220 capability) .Auto focus or manual it's on the system, you choose.If I were you and has the budget for brand new I'd go with AF model since you can also use the manual lenses.If yo do lots of studio you probably love the master control unit, it's a must!.I know this camera depend on batt but how many rolls do you exactly need for one session? one batt can hold easily 40-50 and for me that's more than enough. Good luck with the choice!.

  17. I too looked at all of the above cameras, and decided on the
    Rollei 6008AF, with manual lenses for now. I love the square
    format also, and felt that the Rollei had the most features and
    capabilities for portraiture, landscapes, and even documentary
    work. It just feels right in my hands. I found to
    have excellent pricing. If you are in the US, the exchange rate
    works against us buying from Robert White in the UK, otherwise
    they also are very reputable.
  18. Another vote for the Rollei - although I am sure the others are capable as well.
    Then why Rollei? Because you really want the square, which leaves the Contax out, and because the Rollei has all features you ever might want and have to buy seperately for the Hasselblad - all built in.
    Yes, the Rollei is a bit heavy, but it handles beautifully (at least in my hands). Handheld shooting is no problem.
    The metering is spot-on, can be used with both the prism or the wlf. The winder adds to the ease of use, etc etc.
    I don't know where you live, but I wonder if the Rollei is more expensive than the HB - in Holland they aren't, even if a lot people think they are.
    But then again, you already have got a Hasselblad, so buying into Rollei will be more expensive anyway.
    On my site I put sort of a Rollei review. Nothing scientific, just my experiences.
    Enjoy whatever you choose! Wim
  19. Alison,

    I'm surprised about the number of problems you've experienced with the
    Hassie. Nevertheless, this is a vote for the Rollei system with the proviso that
    you buy second hand. There's a heck of a lot of good equipment, regardless
    of make, out there to be bought at reasonable prices.

    In the UK I would recommend MXV and ffordes (they have a huge amount of
  20. Allison,
    Without making arguments in favor of either system, if the Rollei's what you want,
    consider buying it used. KEH has had 6008 kits (body, back, 80mm lens) for under
  21. Send the 501 to:

    Brad Sherman
    Precision Camera Service
    798 Woodlane Rd.
    Mt. Holly, N.J. 08060

    (609) 859-1700

    He will fix it CORRECTLY. I bought a beatter '69 500C off of eb*y cheap that had been "overhauled". It was in poor shape. Brad went through it and now it is smooth as butter. He had to replace the magazine lugs on the bottom of the camera to get the magazine to line up properly, fix the rear baffles, and fix the shutter release among other things that were not quite right with it.

    Now I would take it as my only camera on an around the world trip if I had to.

    The 501 has a solid reputation and it sounds like there is an adjustment problem with it.
  22. Allison,

    Shouldn't you be considering the Pentax 645AF also, if you are considering the Contax 645? Like the Contax, it offers AF and built in winder but unlike Contax and Hasselblad, it eschews the potentially unreliable film back for easier to use film inserts like the Rollei. Optically, Pentax matches the others in quality and lacks only the fast F2.0 lens the others have.
  23. Allison,

    the upper shutter leaf on a hassy lens might be one leaf intentionally bent so that shutter leaves don't cut each other.

    If you are missing shots while changing lenses and for other reasons, then maybe you need to go to a Rollei 6001/6008. The motor drive and the backs are wonderfully integrated for fast shooting. Somebody mentioned weddings: I think one can run circles around a hassy (and two backs) by a Rollei 6001/6008 with even one back and two inserts. Who wants to worry about matching backs and serial numbers. And cocking a shutter or not when changing a lens or a back. And if that is not product obsolescence then what is?
  24. All 3 are great choices. Friends of mine had issues with the older 500Cs but I never did. Still, having one in the shop and one in the hand is an option. Personally, Hasselblad fit my hands nicely and worked well compared to the Rollei 6003 I tried. Rollei offers more lens choices and a neat film back, but I moved on into larger formats. If you like the handling and workflow of the Hasselblad way, then stay with it. In the long run, it will be the more productive benefit. If not, Rollei & Bronica offer system 6x6. Or, a mint Mamiya TLR Pro-S is a contender for portraits! I still use my Rollei & Minolta 'Cords for square, but do more 6x7 - Hassy is gone for now, but probably not forever.
  25. "... And cocking a shutter or not when changing a lens or a back. And if that is not product obsolescence then what is? ..."
    It takes more skill and concentration to tie shoelaces. One wonders why obsolescent shoelaces still exist in this day of auto-one-button-wind-fast-forward-everything.
    This whole thing about Hasselblad jamming is becoming an urban legend, just because a few people do it unintentionally.
  26. In Hasselblad sections of there are 13 threads on jammed Hassy. I just searched the titles in a haste. In Rollei there are two: none for Rollei 600x but for a TLR and SL66.

    So much for a myth/legend.
  27. Lakhinder, My apologies. I didn't mean to sound rude to you!

    I was just trying to point out that a certain procedure, which is not at all difficult to follow (even someone as inept as myself figured it out the first time around), is preceived as a fatal flaw, and thus dissuades people from exploring a certain camera brand. You are right that people experience the jam, but their numbers are minuscule compared to those who don't. Other such "flaws" abound. For example, in the Leica Forum (of there are people, some of them long-term users, who burn hole in their shutter curtains because they don't want to use a lens cap. Now that's an expensive fix, but it doesn't stop people from buying the camera. With the Rollei, and similar products, the battery drainage issue (running out of juice, and also dying in colder temperatures) has, I'm sure, caused more picture losses than has the Hasselblad jam. I don't have empirical evidence, just anecdotal. Sorry if this has turned into a long paragraph! I'm not trying to defend the Hasselblad brand, just trying to get people to focus on the positive aspects of a tool.
  28. Allison, your choice may be guided by your style of shooting. I love the square also and therefore the 645 is out. My style is slow paced so the Hassy with its necessary attention to details such as how you switch backs and lenses is not a problem, neither is hand-held metering. As far as the rollei goes, I've been tempted and even though I can afford it, I choose to stay with the Hasselblad because I can buy great lenses for very cheap on the used market. Who knows how long it will be before the dreaded digital revolution will finally take over. I would rather not have invested many thousands in the Rollei system when the Hasselblad has essentially the same lenses. I too am surprised at your poor luck with the 501. Perhaps you should pick up a used but not abused 500c/m body for about 300.00 and surely you would have better luck, there are very few who have mechanical problems with these. Bob.
  29. Vic, please do not worry about it. You were very graceful in your last note. Thanks.

    I have a lot of respect for Hasselblad cameras. But every now and then when brand issues come up, I feel the subjective gets mixed with objective views. And I like to point out some things which if were happening in some japanese system, people would jump up and down!

    The Hassy shutter cocking discipline irked me most actually when I added a bellows to the lens. The thought of adding an extension ring on top of that made me wonder just how complicated the order of removing extensions can be! And then the mechanical reliability starts going down by an order.

    My setup would not cock the lens simply because the bellows had its cocking lever off by a few degrees of orientation! So the coupling would not transmit the necessary effect. The bellows worked okay by itself. The lens worked okay by itself. But not together! Yes the system was ready for servicing. But look at the failure!

    I agree with you, we should focus on the positives of the current camera Allison has. And that was my advise to her too: that she should stay with what she already has, as cameras are expensive gadgets. And they are simply gadgets, not the actual photography, or the photographs! Equipment debates always end up in mud!

    Lastly I share the sentiments expressed so well by Robert Nancarrow in the post immediately above. He has given such practical advise which I would like to follow if I were a current owner of Hassy system. The equipment debate has a new frontier: digital vs film ;-)

    BTW: I also have heard anecdotes about Rollei batteries. If I had to travel to Antartica for an extended tour, obviously I might have to choose some other camera than a Rollei.
  30. Lakhinder, you are right! When doing macro photography with Hasselblad, one can encounter some or all of the problems you mentioned.
    I found a very good solution:
    1. I got myself a spare part lens barrel of a Zeiss/Hasselblad Makro-Planar lens with its long focusing helicoid. 2. I also got myself some Zeiss Luminar lenses from the used market. 3. I had a mechanic make me a threaded ring to adapt the Luminar lenses to the lens barrel.

    The combination is rather small, lightweight and has only one single mechanical interface with the camera.

    The best thing is: the Luminar lenses are tiny, so they do not obstruct the lighting of my macro subjects. This works very well for me.

    In the Rollei 6000 system, the solution is similar: get a normal extension ring plus the Rollei shutter adapter plus a Zeiss Luminar lens. Then have a mechanic do an adapter ring and start shooting.
  31. Well, all I can say is I'm gonna have to actually go see one, and hold one and see how they feel. Since I live in the south finding these cameras to try isn't so easy for me, but I will probably make a day out of it and go to Atlanta. I think that getting a used hassy body and a used a 150 lens might help me in the meantime. Thanks to everyone for acting as my camera therapists. Of course I will let ya'll know what I decide. Thanks for all the help and advice.
  32. Allison, It is worth reading this article. I read it every time I lust for something in the photographic world.:
  33. Allison,,

    You mentioned going to Atlanta.....

    KEH ( doesn't have a showroom, but their warehouse is located there. I
    would imagine that if you called them, they would pull a couple of systems out for you to

    I think that they have to ship it to you (I might be wrong about that). I am sure that they
    would have to charge you Sales Tax if they did sell to you in person.

  34. Thanks John. I have been to KEH before and I think that they would let me a couple of bodies and such. They are so nice and so easy to deal with. I actually live a quarter of mile inside the Georgia line, so I actually would have to pay sales tax...=).

    In response to the chasing bullet article. I tend to agree with the overall theme of the author's argument. But, I think some people can overthink and obsess over the small things. I just try to enjoy what I do and hell, I just want something that works and takes a decent picture, lol. =)

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