Who is buying a new Rolleiflex TLR

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by benny_spinoza, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. It amazes me that Rolleiflex TLRs are still made, and that they are apparently selling well enough for there recently to be a newer version made with closer focusing. But who buys these things? Japanese collectors? If I had money to burn, I would love to have one. Just curious...has anyone out there reading this silly post actually bought a new one lately?
  2. Hi Benny...
    I'm not a Japanese, and I'm not a collector...but I'm found of Rolleiflex TLRs. Why ? Because these cameras have all I need to take some nice pictures. I own a Rolleiflex T (type 2) and the Tessar lens is fantastic ! Very sharped, really ! The camera is not bulky, and it's a real pleasure to do a photographic walk with it. I bought mine in second hand for 950$ and I'm very happy with it.
    And more... Each time I'm doing some pictures in the street, a lot of people ask me :" what'is this ?"" is it a new camera ?"" is it a digital camera ?" "You have a nice camera",and so on...So, with a Rolleiflex, you don't practice photography in the same way that with a digital DSLR....No. Definitively no ! First, it's not agressive, you don't SHOT at the others, your head is bowed to look at the focusing screen. Second, as a photographer, you're OK with all the persons in a street and you explain how you "take" a picture. People are so curious ! And today, a Rolleiflex is not an UFO but an UPO !
    And no batteries, no card, no heavy lenses...Just this dead cert : when you need it, your Rolleiflex TLR is always ready !
  3. At, I believe, a price of £5,000 apiece ($7,500 ?), or thereabouts, I'm not in the market for one just now - but I would love one! :)
  4. In 2011, out of curiosity, I emailed DHW Fototechnik and they told me a Rolleiflex 2.8 FX could be bought directly from the company for €4199 including VAT.
    I don't know who buys new models, and I don't know how many are made every year. Buying a used TLR, you can't be 100% sure the body was not previously mishandled and possibly has unseen damage. There's also the issue of aging lenses and inaccurate or non-functioning meters. A used TLR may require servicing before it can even be used. If price is not so much an issue, buying new takes all that out of the equation, and you additionally get modern TTL metering.
  5. "First, it's not aggressive..." Hmmm, I once witnessed a Rollei shooter told in no uncertain terms to get his camera out of an unwilling subject's face; or else!
    Meanwhile my little digital zoom compact with shutter sound turned off and LCD screen twisted round allowed me to take the scene sideways and from a distance with no such threat. I've often used little digitals to photograph candidly in pubs, coffee shops, etc. without drawing any attention to myself - curious, friendly or otherwise.
  6. My first TLR was a YashicaMat 124G with dubious lens quality, but I loved the format
    and layout... until I wore it out a couple years later. If I had the money, I would buy
    one in a heartbeat. On a side note, one of my favorite books on the Rolleiflex is of
    Sammy Davis Jrs book of photographs. He loved to shoot with his Rolleiflex. Ive considered buying a used one because of the simple layout and sharp lens, but havent felt it gives me anything more than a 500cm with 80mm film. The book it totally worth adding to your library. But then I guess he could afford one.
  7. Within the present day restraints of TLR photography it is no doubt a magnificent machine, akin to a large format Deardorff, Arca-Swiss, Linhof-Technica or Leica MP, but is it justifiable for black and white or color photography when modern MF film cameras are available new or used, more versatile in use (other than portraiture, perhaps) and at similar or considerably lower cost? Maybe a Rollei will last longer and work more precisely, if that is really important and you happen to be in your twenties or thirties, but I think that 95% or more of the ultimate TLR experience and image quality can be had with a well-preserved and considerably less costly Autocord or Mamiya TLR. And they also soldier on with minimum service, if that is important.
    Sorry if my response appears like a small rant. I do like sheer quality which is also part of the appeal of a Ferrari or Porsche 918, but not at any price and will accept the reliability and driveability of a simple BMW, Ford or Subaru.
  8. Old TLR's whether they're Rollei's, Yashicamats, Autocords or whatever. have so much more character than new stuff, if only they could tell their stories. And they just keep going if used and stored with care.
  9. I bought a new FX a few years ago from B&H but you can buy them now from Rolleiflex.US for a little cheaper than you are saying I think:
    I have both a very late 2.8F and the FX. From a user standpoint having owned and used my FX awhile I do much prefer it to the older F. It isn't the optical difference so much though the FX has less tendency to flare, it is more just handling it. Even though I have had a recent service from Fleenor on the F the FX film transport is much easier and the focus is much easier and I prefer not to use the auto feeler which was dumped for the FX. I like the feel of a new camera. It is a lot of money but not when you compare other new cameras of high quality with a lens. You get a very high quality lens with that Rollei price and you don't need a film back. It is in affect the very best range finder type camera with the range finder having a lens that is focusable and sees the exact same image as the taking lens.
  10. If a well-fixed lady can spend $15,000 for a purse, why can't a well-heeled gent spend a few thou for a classic camera? Classic cameras are dirt cheap as compared to classic automobiles although in these sad days you can get an original Tucker Torpedo for $800,000. That sum that would buy a room full of Rolleis, Leicas and so on.
  11. The YashicaMat 124G does not have dubious lens quality. If it is in good working order it has excellent lens quality. The CdS meter points in all directions and the winding mechanism is very poorly made but the lens is a gem.
  12. Tucker Torpedo sounds like a 1960 brassiere. Am I right? I guess some people will collect anything!
    IMHO; the sweet spot in performance versus price is (i) get an 'original' Rolleiflex with a Planar or Xenotar, and (ii) get a good ($$$$) overhaul from someone like Mr Fleenor. You should be able to do that for under a grand, and you can spend the 5k you'll save on processing, women, and substance abuse.
    Hey. Or vintage foundation garments, if that's your thing.
  13. The Godfather director dude made a film about the Tucker Torpedo. It's an automobile. Only about 50 were made.
  14. The old Rollies were good enough for Avadon and dozens of others for decades, They are still good enough for me (I have three), and they are good enough for you as well. If you have the money and must have new, go ahead. And while you are at it you can buy a nice pair of hiking boots from Hermes for $1425. 00
  15. O.K. So I count just one response in which a new Rolleiflex was bought new in the last several years! So do I need a Tucker Torpedo to hold the Rolleiflex? Just curious. So lets see....about 5.5 grand for a new Rolleiflex, and don't forget the 15K hasselblad flextight scanner to scan the 120 film. Hey, that's not much more than some digital heads have wasted on their digital cameras, only to replace them every other year for the lastest and greatest. I have a 1957 YashicaMat that still works, but when I want to use film, I get out the Hasselblad. Better image quality than the YashicaMat, but the YaschicaMat is still pretty good. Ah, but a new Rolleiflex, what a beautiful machine that is.
  16. I have Rolleiflex E. Got it last summer from KEH and never been happier with the purchase. I would buy a brand new one in a heartbeat if I have extra disposable dollars and I would not regret it for a sec. Unlike Tucker Torpedo that did fill the promise (this darn thing never had helicopter engine) Rolleiflex always delivered and unlike Testarossa it does not need to be insured
  17. I might consider it when my 3.5E wears out. It's 40 yrs old nowand still going strong. Will likely outlast me.
  18. Rolleiflex has a big "problem":
    The old TLR are still working fine after 40 or more years and you find a lot of them on second-hand at ebay. Why consider buying a new one? :)
  19. The obvious answer to the question of who buys new Rolleiflexes is "trendy people with large discretionary incomes".
    Aside from that, there are lots of good TLRs out there, some for very low prices on eBay.
    And not only old Rolleis -
    My two TLRs are an East German Weltaflex and a West German Ikoflex.
  20. "The obvious answer to the question of who buys new Rolleiflexes is "trendy people with large discretionary incomes".
    That might be true but as the only person so far in this thread that has bought one I can say that is definitely not me. I am well below the poverty line and have no health insurance but I found a way to finally get the FX. I have used Rolleis since the mid 1970s and have traded up many times, starting with a T and going through Es and 3,5Fs and a few 2,8Fs. I have been lucky to always sell for more than I paid.. that is the good thing about Rolleis. I paid 3000 for my new FX and I could get most of that back if I had to.
  21. I started my us dealership expecting mostly to sell the Hy6 Mod2 cameras but the TLR sales are keeping pace which is a pleasant surprise. (Dennis, thanks for posting the link)
    I think a lot of the new sales of TLR's are in the FW since you can't find the wide version for sale easily, and of course you can't buy an older close focus version so the FX-N is in new territory. Definitely these cameras last a lifetime and there are quite a lot of excellently usable older Rolleiflex's out there, but rather than hurt sales I think that helps since people have come to know and love them over the years. I have my own FW, but also use a 2.8F form the 60's. The really great thing about the new models is that they have ttl flash metering and I do like the electronic exposure metering as well.
  22. OK, D Purdy,
    I should have said "AN obvious answer", rather than THE. ;)
    I, as a genuine obsessive-compulsive old camera amasser, can certainly appreciate people wanting these new or used.
  23. Thanks for all the great posts. I was afraid that someone would accuse me of being a troll! When you think about it, the TRL design is brilliant. Maybe someday, when I am retired, and provided C41 film is still made, I will buy a new one. Hey...one can always dream. And Eric...glad to hear TLR sales are keeping pace with the Hy6. Hope your business grows!
  24. Look here:
    As you can see many MF film cameras ares till manufactured and sold.
  25. Steve, an impressive list of current offerings, with only a few omissions (Arca Swiss, Cambo and a few other 120 film cameras with lens stage movements). The bargain there seems to be the Fuji GF 670 6x7 (+ 6x6) modern folder at under 1700$. A different beast than the Rollei, but quite useable. The clone Bessa III of V-C is fine, but quite a bit more costly. Retail prices for the Mamiya 7 and Rolleis suggest some possible advantage of consulting the second hand market for mint examples.
  26. Arthur,
    And add to that list the Alpa. A very interesting camera system, that can be used with a roll film back (I assume the "baby graflok" type, e.g., 6 by 9 Horseman?) or a digital back with adapter plate.
  27. I used a Yashicamat 124G extensively in the 90's until around 2004. Great image quality, flash sync at any shutter speed, watch out for the flash x sync lever, that can catch out the unwary and leave you with no photos. Most regular users tape it down so it doesn't switch to M accidentally.
  28. A new one? No. Far to expensive. Hipsters wannabe photographers seem to be picking up used ones as fashion accessories, so that market is fairly strong. Perhaps Rollei should start making a non functional model that could be sold cheaply to be used in Facebook and blog selfies.
  29. I came completely by chance to TLR's about 10 years ago, seeing a second-hand Yashicamat 124G for roughly 100 Euros at the local camera store. For this price I couldn't have done much wrong and bought it for kicks, to give it a try. It was love at first sight. I loved the simplicity of the camera, the "one-lens-does-it-all" approach, and above all the square format and its particular dynamics.
    Being so much in love in TLR's, the next step was obviously to look toward a "real 'Flex". I had been considering a used 2.8 GX for the lens coatings (I shoot almost exclusively color slides), more recently produced shutter (to avoid a CLA) and integrated light meter (to avoid carrying one). This is when I had the chance to spend some time in Japan. Back then the Euro/Yen exchange rate was in favour of the Euro, and despite living in Tokyo I was still paid in Euros. I found a brand new 2.8 FX for a very good price, slightly over twice the price of used 2.8 GX's back then. This was a no brainer and I bought it in a heartbeat.
    I hence belong to the bunch of people who bought a brand new 2.8 FX. I am no collector, I acquired it solely to use it and heck, I still use it regularly. I would like to mention as well that current 2.8 FX prices are well beyond my budget.
    Side note, last year I bought my first digital camera to complement the Rolleiflex. The 'Flex with Velvia 50 being my "good weather" camera, I was looking for a bad weather/low light/carry everywhere kind of camera. I picked a Fuji X100s which IMHO has a similar approach as the Rolleiflex: one lens and manual controls. And it even does square pics!
    The 2.8 FX (and to a lesser extend the X100s) definitely cured me from GAS! Everything which does not fit into that focal length is simply not photogenic, period. I plan to use the 2.8 FX for a long time to come.
    Happy shooting,
  30. "Everything which does not fit into that focal length is simply not photogenic, period." - Etienne​
    I was tracking you up to this point. Can you elaborate?
  31. Hi Jim,
    it was a reference to Brett Weston's quote about large format photography: "Anything more than 500 yds from the car just isn't photogenic."
    In my case I sure sometimes wish I had another lens with a different focal length, e.g. a 100mm to complement the 35mm equivalent of the Fuji. Or a wide angle Rolleiflex (only thinking about its price is sobering). However, should this happen, I convince myself that I do not need another lens/camera and either work it out with the focal length I have at hand, or don't take the picture at all.
    This approach definitely improved my photographic composition skills while liberating me from the everlasting dilemma "what is the best lens for this shot" and from lugging pounds of equipment which proved useless most of the time. The best lens is the (only) one I have.
    Hope this clarifies my point.

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