What's with Rolleiflex T? Why are they prices so high now on eBay?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by alan_ang|1, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. this is something which i cannot understand... does anyone know what is it about the Rolleiflex T's? their prices have been going up and up on eBay... in some cases, as high as the 2.8F...
    anyone noticed the same or is it just me looking at the 'wrong' adverts?
  2. I don't know, but I might guess that qualitatively the rendition of a Tessar lens (4 elements) with black and white film, at less than its full open aperture, is as good or better than the 5 or 6 element options, notwithstanding the extra elements and the half stop better speed of the latter.
    Are you looking at competed listings or as listed unbought buy now prices? Not all cameras sell at their listed price.
  3. I think part of it is that one of the self-portraits of Vivian Maier that was part of the first release of her work showed her using a Rolleiflex T. I noticed a lot of comments from people about needing to get one of those cameras.
    Of course it looks as if she used a variety of Rolleis over the years, but the initial connection- Vivian Maier and Rolleiflex T- might have stuck in people's head.
  4. The "T" is a bit of an outsider in the Rollei line up, considered not to be Rollei's finest (which may also be due to it being meant as a cheaper, entry-level camera). Maybe that (being a bit of an outsider) is what now draws in a bunch of collectors? Or there's some thing going around along the lines of the (original) Lomography movement, and people are drawn to what should be (allways was) a cheap Rolleiflex, driving the prices up beyond cheap without being aware of it.<br><br>The Tessar, though not bad, is no match for the Planars.
  5. eBay sellers are asking all sorts of crazy prices these days. I just looked at an ad for a Retina 1A w/ Ektar 50 3.5 lens, and they were asking $1000. My. And to think I let mine go for $70.
    The T is a bit of an odd duck for a Rolleiflex. I've owned 3, and each one imaged differently than the others. One made shots that looked more like a Nikon, while one was classic Tessar. I heard that they kept "improving" the optical formula during the camera's run. The shutter/aperture setting takes some getting used to, but they're good cameras. On the down side, mine never felt as solidly built as other Rolleiflex cameras, and there's plastic parts in the aperture/EV readout that will eventually fail. Not a cheap fix. $200 to $300 would be a good price for a user to me, but I'd much prefer one of the cheaper, older Rolleiflex models w/ uncoated Tessars.
    O.G. is on the money about the Planar image quality. My 3-E had one that blew my Hassy lens away in sharpness and overall IQ. But uncoated Tessars and Tri-X are made for each other, especially for portraits.
  6. Perhaps it is a matter of the condition of the camera. My 2.8 E3 had seen a lot of use by the time I acquired it. Worked fine, looked terrible. I doubt the 'T' was widely used professionally; perhaps clean examples of the 'T' are now more common than the 'F' ?
  7. Be aware that on the T shutter/aperture are belt driven instead of brass gear driven. The belt is a week part and new ones are scarce as hens teeth. Other Rolleiflexes and Rolleicords are better built.
  8. I doubt the 'T' was widely used professionally​
    In Britain, during the 'sixties and the early 'seventies, the 'T' was the default TLR for local and regional press organisations. If you looked around a press scrum outside of London, anything that wasn't grey was pretty sure to be Japanese.
    The only working photographers I saw using 'F's were wedding operators. In fact, the guy I worked for in the mid 'seventies had a gleaming 2.8F, which no one else was allowed to touch. I shot two or three weddings on a Saturday but had to make do with a Yashicamat and the boss's old Microflex as backup.
  9. QD, Steve and others: My experience is with their 35mm counterparts, the 4 element Tessar versus 6 element designs (Double Gauss type) and with coated optics. I would like to see comparative tests with each and with black and white film at a stop or two below maximum aperture. Across the image field, microcontrast and resolution are better with the Planar type at full aperture or at f4 (admittedly, there it is not a contest), but in terms of tonality rendition at the f stops we normally use with B&W film, I think the Tessar design would surprise many. That may not be the principal reason for current interest but it may be a strong qualitative one. If anyone has the two cameras and would do a test with a common subject matter, it would be interesting to see.
  10. Hipsters and young Asian women buy them, take self-portraits, and then post on flickr to show how ironic they are.
  11. Some of the prices are an eyeopener, but I'm not selling mine.
  12. FWIW, I have a Rolleiflex E Planar and a Rolleicord Vb Xenar. At the apertures I use them, generally f/11, I see zero difference in practical use. I have never shot comparative test charts, but it wouldn't mean much anyway, for all the obvious reasons I won't go into.
    I'm a normal-lens kind of guy, and they're both excellent cameras. I prefer to use the Flex E, but the Cord Vb wins when I want to keep weight down, like on a backpacking trip. It's nearly a pound (~450gm) lighter.
    I have never used a Flex T. However, 'they' (meaning internet pundits/fanboys 'they') say the Tessar in the T was one of the best tessars ever made. I don't know whether this is true. This has been ascribed to special high-index glass that was used in those Tessars; I don't know whether this was the famous thorium glass of the 1960s.
  13. "I don't know whether this was the famous thorium glass of the 1960s."
    Rolleiflex manual by Alec Pearlman, published by Fountain Photobooks, London, Chapter 24 p. 31 (or 34): " It is fitted with f/3.5 Carl Zeiss Tessar lens made from new Lanthanum glass, which gives even better resolution and colour correction than previous Tessars."
    It seems to be true since the use of rare-earth glass by main brands was started in earlies '50es: E.Leitz with their Elmar 2.8/50 Summicron 2.0/50, Carl Zeiss Jena and CZ Oberkohen with their Tessar 2.8/50, Schneider Kreuznah - S.A. and Symmar not MC, Asahi Pentax - Super Takumar... etc. Then due to environmental and health problems appeared in the process of preparing rare-earth type of glass they came back to obvious technologies.
    There were the lens comparison by John Lehman on the forum :
    By its simpler design and features Rolleiflex T fits between the budget Rolleicord and the Rolleiflex F models. So, its price seems to be also in between.
    BTW, some Germans say that the letter T means (T)heodore Uhl - the first letter of the name of the camera designer, not the lens first letter.
  14. I always saw the Rollie T as the redheaded stepsister to the Rollie line. I had a plain old 3.5 Rollie but always considered it superior to the T. If I ever saw a hard working pro with one of the T's I don't remember.
  15. didn't realise there were so many responses as i had gone on a holiday and didn't had time to check this tread... 'done' prices on ebay had definitely gone up... and some at prices almost similar to 2.8F! that's way too high... still makes me wonder if i am missing something... shouldn't the T's cost less?
  16. It should, Alan. It most certainly should. Much less.

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