Rolleiflex TLR 2.8 Planar vs. Hasselblad 80mm T*

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by roger_haynes, Sep 9, 2000.

  1. I currently have a Hasselblad 500 cm body without a lense or a back
    and have the opportunity to purchase a Rolleiflex 2.8f Planar TLR.
    Through reading through threads her it appears that there is some
    speculation whether the Rollei can deliver images on par with a
    Hasselblad standard lense. I would very much like to get responses
    from people that have used both and have opinions on how close the
    quality of pictures are between these two systems and lenses. I
    shoot primarily b&w landscapes.
  2. I don't know what you've heard, but old-timers in photography know that nothing that uses 120 film shoots sharper than a Rollei TLR, everything else being equal. This is partly because both the Planar and the Xenotar are top-nop lenses, and partly because of inherently superior film flatness. On Rolleis and other TLRs, the film runs directly from spool to spool across the film gate. But Hasselblads, like most, if not all 120 SLRs require the film to execute a double reverse curl in its path from spool to spool.
  3. Sorry, I meant to say that the Planar and Xenotar are *top-notch* lenses.
  4. I still have problems with film flatness with my Rollei--more than with my other medium format camera, the Pentax 645. With the Rollei, if you leave the film in the camera a few days, the second shot never seems to be very sharp where the film was bent coming up under the roller. I tried it on a resolution chart, and there was a severe drop in image quality between the first (already in place shot) and the next one that had taken a bend waiting in line. If I put a roll in, and shoot the whole roll in one session, the Rollei's Planar produces the most breath taking sharpness and color of any medium format camera I have ever used. The shutter is so smooth and vibration free--something the Blad can not compare with.
  5. I have done resolution testing and considerable black and white landscape work with two Rollei TLRs – an F model 3.5 non-multicoated and the newer GX, which has a multicoated Planar. I’ve also used an SL66 for a number of years. This camera has the same 80 Planar as the Hasselblad. It also has the reverse-curl backs that can be the source of film flatness problems referred to above. So, my experiences may be helpful to you.

    In general, all of these lenses are capable of very good results. I have what I consider to be very sharp 16 by 20 prints from all three cameras. Given the high level of performance that the optics can produce (the Rolleis, Hasselblads and Zeiss Planars all deserve their excellent reputations, in my view), I think the decision as to which camera to buy might be best made on the basis of the other attributes of the cameras. For example, do you need other lenses or backs? What conditions are the cameras in? Does the Rollei meter work and satisfy your needs?

    That said, there are some differences among the lenses. The TLRs use 5 element versions of the Planar while the SLRs use a 7-element design, which, according to one Rollei technical rep, was needed to clear the mirror. This rep, by the way, claimed that the GX Planar was rated higher than the SLR Planar by a German photo magazine test. Although I find that newer lenses are often improved designs, even without considering multicoating, there are very knowledgeable people on the Rollei user group forum who claim that the GX Planar is identical to the older F model Planar except for the coating. If that is true, and if the multicoated Planar you are considering is not an improved version over what is on my SL66, then the comparison of my lenses should be of interest.

    In general, I’d rate my GX Planar as slightly better than my SL66 Planar. Wide open the GX can actually produce a very nice (all-be-it somewhat lower contrast) image, with minimal curvature of field. That cannot be said of the 7-element Planar on the SL66. On the other hand, most of my shooting is on a tripod, where I prefer f 11 with both lenses. Additionally, the SL66 Planar is slightly better at f 22, in the very corners of the field (outside the 8 by 10 framing), and with a dark red filter.

    Multicoating is a real improvement. I’ve heard owners of 2.8 F Rollei TLRs call their single-coated Planars “flare magnets.” That front element is not protected at all from stray light or physical damage. On the other hand, with my single-coated 3.5 F (just slightly better protected) I generally used a lens shade (get the metal one, not the new rubber one), and I never noticed flare as a problem.

    Both cameras, like the vast majority of medium format cameras, have film flatness problems. The film tends to “remember” the curl that comes before the film gets to the film plane. The problem is worse with the reverse-curl, interchangeable backs, but it’s there with both. Fast shooters don’t give the problem much thought. However, slow landscape shooters like me might find the problem significant. With black and white film, I shot every other frame only with both cameras in order to avoid the problem.

    (By the way, I now use my Fuji GA645Zi much more than any of my other cameras. It’s 55-90 zoom is about as good as the SL66 Planar, and the camera is the only medium format camera I’ve used that can hold the film flat enough to shoot like a 35 mm.)

    Good luck.

    Paul Roark,
  6. > Both cameras, like the vast majority of medium format
    cameras, have film
    > flatness problems. The film tends to “remember” the curl that
    comes before the
    > film gets to the film plane. The problem is worse with the
    > interchangeable backs, but it’s there with both.


    How well do you feel that the Rollei 600x backs have solved this
    problem? Is it still an issue? For maximum sharpness, should
    film still not be left in the camera between shooting sessions?
    How long can film be left in the 600x back before the film
    "memorizes" the curl?

  7. Doug,

    I don't have a 600x series Rollei, so I can't really answer the question. I rented one once, and my initial impression was that it was a clear improvement over the SL66 with respect to flatness -- perhaps the best interchangeable back MF camera (at least 10 years ago). However, the weight and other things put me off (being a backpacker), so I really didn't do enough testing to be sure.

    I've found so many factors -- film type and even humidity -- that I think people ought to test their equipment with the film they use.
    Some films, like Tmax 100 and Agfapan 25, seem to be able to hold the film plane for days (but forget the next frame). Others, like Tech Pan in high humidity, turned out to be so unpredictable in my SL66 that I abandoned my efforts to use TP in that camera.

    The Contax 645 with 220 in it is real appealing with respect to this issue.

  8. Here's my experience with comparing Roger, for what its worth.

    I shoot with several MF TLR's; Rollei, Minolta, Yashica, Ricoh, even Kalloflex. My best shooter (out of 40 or so use-able TLR's) is a late 50's Minolta Autocord, unmetered. A comparable camera is a Rollei Automat Model X, and MX, both with Tessar lenses. About two years ago, I rented a Hassy 500CM with the standard 80mm Planar, and shot it next to my Autocord, pointed at a vintage Ducati single in warm, late afternoon light. The images from both camera's were very good, shot between f5.6 to f11. The best images came from the Autocord, shot at f11, the best images at f5.6 came from the Hassy. I determained in low light, the Hassy worked better, but the Minolta produced the best overall images. The Hassy with the A12 back and lens was $1200. I bought the Minolta for $105. Both camera's are comparable with the 2.8 Planar, although friends with 2.8's claim the Xenotar is sharper yet. Film flatness? Way overblown. Anyone who leaves a roll of film in a camera for 2 weeks can't be very concerned about image quality.
  9. Well this concept of the film retaining the curve has really been
    enlightening. I'm glad to have read these posts. I'm definitely
    going to finish each roll, and not preload magazines too far in
    advance and let them sit in my camera bag.

    Thanks for the commentary.
  10. Doug, not preloading film magazines too far in advance might not help. My experience is similar to Paul's. I've also noticed that, with reverse curl feed paths, film flatness can suffer after even a few minutes on the roller, depending on temperature and humidity.

    Paul, that Contax 645 with the 220 vacuum back would be appealing to me too, if only we could get T-MAX 100 in 220 rolls.
  11. Roger, I have 500cm 2.8T-star, 2.8C ( Xenotar multi-recoated), 3.5F4 Pl, 3.5T1. The best of them are 2.8 T-star and 2.8 C, the true "high fidelity transfers". Both of them are razor sharp. Seems, multi-recoated Xenotar is a little better, images are more natural, more "airish". Before recoating 2.8C pictures were equal to 2.8T-star and 3.5F4 Planar. I shoot color and B&W. By the way, I prefer 2.8C Xenotar becouse of beautiful "bokeh", so as its aperture is absolutely round.

    Best pictures,
  12. In the Rollei 600x magazines, the film doesn't wrap back and forth like in every other MF SLR magazine. Instead, it just goes from one spool at the top to one spool at the bottom, just as in a 35mm slr (left to right). This is why the camera body has a tall profile. Second, the film only gets curled when the drawslide lever is down, which pushes the film out and into the film plane, which is in the rear of the camera body. If you plan to let the camera sit for days or weeks with film loaded, simply sliding the drawslide lever up releases the tension off the film, so it's no more curled up then the film on the original spool.
  13. I own and have used both Planar lenses and Rollei TLR and
    Hasselblad 501C cameras for a few years now.
    Although the two lenses have the same name, the similarities
    stop there. The 80mm Zeiss Planar on the Hasselblad is a
    much newer and more contrasty lens. It's sharpness is
    sometimes too much. I once photographed a model's bare back
    and blew the neg up to a 16 x 20 inch print. She was rather
    disconcerted to see each fine hair on her back rendered in
    detail. And It was shot near to wide open.
    However if I had to pick one of the lenses, it would be the old
    Rollei TLR Planar. This lens has a smooth, creamy texture and
    "feel" that modern lenses just do not posess. In fact, I think that
    today's lens manufacturer's crank in way too much contrast. Get
    a lens hood for the TLR (square, metal) and forget about flare
    and multi coating. Really the two cameras compliment each
    other well, so try and get both. I like the Rollei for travel images
    and scenics. But the versatility of the Hasselblad is unmatched.
    It's a tough decision. Whichever of these cameras you buy, you
    can't go wrong.
  14. Roger,
    I have Hassy, Rollei 6008i and now Rollei 2.8gx TLR.
    For B+W landscapes stick with the Hasselblad SLR and build on it with various lenses.
    The issue is not whether the 80 mm TLR can match the 80 mm Hassy lens.
    The issue is that the TLR has only one lens (a minus), has no mirror ( a plus) and is very fast and quiet (a plus). The
    pluses make it alot like a mediium format Leica M type camera--good for street shots etc.
    For tripod mounted, filter requiring shots like with the landscapes---you want the Hassy.

  15. One of the biggest problems of the rollei lens is the relatively lack of contrast, wide-open to F5.6. It is OK with B&W, butthe rendition of the slides are often different from what I want.
  16. I have had both a 3,5 and 2.8 Planar Rolleis and the 3.5 was in my opinion slightly sharper but it could well have been just an impression. I got rid of my Rollei because I wasn't confident of leaving a film in the camera for more than 48 hours due to the film curl mentioned above. Of course I have no absolute proof as by the time I had developed the film it was as correct as it could be. A friend who changed from a Rollei to a Hassie said he never experienced film curl even leaving the film in for a month but, as he said, he wasn't looking for it and never noticed or suspected it.

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