rolleicord ii... reality check please

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by f_ph|1, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. hello.
    just got one of these, thinking foolishly that it might be a backup to my rolleiflex.
    ...the rolleicord is not a rolleiflex.
    ok... so the issues began from jump street... wasted 4 rolls of film trying to figure out how to get the thing to work properly.
    finally figured it out, although when using the counter it only goes to 8. then i have to push and hold the button in to advance manually to the next frame.
    and the pictures are soft. sort of. not like the rolleiflex.
    mad disappointment.
    then i noticed something a bit odd about the scanned images. it seems as though the raison detre of this camera and its non-zeiss like zeiss lens is the tonal range.
    I seem to be able to push the blacks waaaaaaaaaaay deeper than images made with other 6x6 cameras i've used, all the while retaining delicate highlight fading to pure white..
    am i deluding myself in order to deal with the fact that i bought a camera with a crappy lens... or.... is there something really different about the tonal range?
  2. for example...
  3. and... same image...
  4. The Rolleicord II has a Triotar lens. Just like the name suggests it is a simple triplet (3 element lens). The image quality is not like the 6 element Planar in your Flex. Use the Cord for certain portraits. You'll save the cost of a No. 2 Softar.
  5. My earlier comment was written while you were uploading the pictures. I see that you already took my advice. :) It looks like you focused on the right hand or even the front rim of the tray. The sharpness of the hand is what I would expect of a Triotar. Try focusing on the eyes next time. I guess your screen may be a bit dim for exact focusing with this kind of lighting. Good luck.
  6. It looks more like a shallow dof issue combined with some motion blur (not shot from a tripod). The subject's right hand is in focus.
    I know when I get new gear my mind tends to race and I stop paying attention to the details. I laugh at myself later.... ;)
  7. yeah... another thing maybe i did not emphasize enough: the finder is REALLY dim and DIFFICULT to focus in low light.
    clearly, the focus is quite a bit off, but i posted the image here to illustrate my suspicion with regard to the tonal range of the lens. it seems a bit broader than my 3.5f.
  8. ok...
    clearly, this post was a mistake.
    lotta responses... none of them speaking to the question. yet they are compelled to respond...
    i know... the spirit of ansel compels thee.
    must be in some form of photo geek hell. never shoulda dropped that rangefinder long ago...
    never mind.
  9. Shooting wide open in dim light with a plain GG screen is not the best test for a Rollei II. A camera of this vintage likely needs a CLA. The counter mechanism can get sticky and malfunction. Stop the Triotar down a couple stops and it works fine.
  10. I've owned a few Rolleicord III's and like them and the Schneider Xenar lens very much. Had a Rolleicord II that I picked up for $50 and got similar results as the OP. Sold it shortly afterwards. I don't know if all Rolleicord II's perform like this, but I know my Rolleicord III produces extremely sharp images. Schneider Xenar is essentially identical in optical design to the Zeiss Tessar found in the Rolleiflex.
  11. "tonal range of the lens"... what's that?
  12. The coatings of the lens may well be affecting the tonality of the image. The lens produces less contrast maybe the shadows are a bit futher up the one curve of the film and that means you can push the scans around a bit more.
  13. clearly, this post was a mistake. lotta responses... none of them speaking to the question. yet they are compelled to respond...

    Actually, I thought the responses weren't too bad, but I would add three things.
    (a) This is a really old camera, and in this condition I hope you didn't pay more than fifty bucks or so. The transport needs a CLA, but if you're going to spend ~400 clams on a top-class CLA you may as well start with a better camera.
    (b) You should get a better image with a Triotar, even wide open. If you were focused on the eyes, your taking and viewing lenses are not matched and the camera needs a CLA. See (a) above.
    (c) I would have given this a couple of stops more exposure to bring up trace detail in the shadows. It's hard to assess the tonal and contrast properties of a lens until you've blown a few rolls through it under good exposure and development condidtions.
  14. brian:
    what Stuart said.
  15. The old Rolleis (Pre 1960) have terribly dim focusing screens by now. One of the problems is the mirror; much of the silver has likely deteriorated. I had a Rolleiflex Standard (1932) that was nearly impossible to focus in dim light.
    I have a Rolleicord II TYpe 5 with Triotar. The Triotar is EXTREMELY sharp in the center, but gets fuzzy towards the edges. The Tessar and Xenar do also, but to a lesser extent. That's why Zeiss came up with the Planar. Planar = Flat surface=sharp all the way out to the edges. Nonetheless the Triotar is a unique and useful lens. It's nowhere near as bad as your example if the camera is working properly.
    My suggestions: Get an old Yashicamat and rob the mirror from it. Use the mirror in your old Rolleicord as a template. Better yet, get an old POlaroid SX 70 and rob the mirror from that. Much brighter and should improve the ground glass image. Also replace the ground glass, as noted by previous posters.
    Check that the taking lens is focusing in sync with the focus lens. How? Set the camera on a tripod. Get a Tape measure. Place an object on a table. Put a BRIGHT light on it. Focus with the ground glass and shoot a frame. NOW carefully measure the distance between the FILM PLANE (back of the camera) and the object. Set the focus mark on the camera's scale to that exact distance. The F-stop should be set to about f4 or f5.6.
    When the film is developed, carefully examine with a quality loupe. That will tell if the taking and viewing lenses are True.
  16. Russ Rosener
    Focus with the ground glass and shoot a frame. NOW carefully measure the distance between the FILM PLANE (back of the camera) and the object. Set the focus mark on the camera's scale to that exact distance.​
    F Ph, Russ Rosener
    I Disagree! Two things can go wrong (re: focusing) with a TLR.
    1. Chassis has been bent, or something similar, resulting in the image not being sharp (same object) simultaneously for the viewing and the taking lens. What you propose will make the focusing scale agree with the viewing lens, the taking lens being still discrepant with these two. You need to check with a ground glass and a loupe in the actual film plane, against the ground glass of the taking lens.
    2. Distance scale ring has been tampered with. Viewing and taking lens are consistent, but distance scale is discrepant. What you propose would indeed cure that problem, which is both (imo) less likely than #1, and (imo) a lesser issue (except for pre-setting focus to infinity).
    You might want to perform a test using: (page 18). Of course, use a tripod; and I second Russ's other recommendations.
    Similar considerations apply for a RF camera. (1) Adjusting the RF to obtain sharp images on film; (2) Having the distance scale accurate. Except for not being able to reach infinity, I view (2) as a minor issue.
    And... Russ: superb image.
  17. thanks for your input. problem solved.
  18. Nice solution. That's very similar to my solution to a Rolleicord Vb that started acting like it wanted to be serviced.
  19. The Rollei II was made 1936-37 and had uncoated lenses but as Ross demonstrated, you can still get great quality pics. The older Rolleicords do test your patience a little, but I've found that slowing down produces better pictures in general (unless you're a fast-action photographer, in which case you'll be using something else).
    Shame that you'll never get the same kind of image on the Hassleblad ;)
  20. My sentiments exactly Seth. I've got a Hasselblad 501c and a couple of lenses. Fantastic camera, but the 3 element Zeiss Triotar has a unique optical signature that can't be duplicated. Some of the older, non coated German lenses are very unique.

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