Monday, June 23, 2008

Rolleiflex T

The Rolleiflex T was originally designed to fit between the budget Rolleicord and the Rolleiflex F models.
The 'T' designation is understood to stand for Tessar as the camera is fitted with the cheaper 4 element lens often found on Rolleicords rather than the Zeiss Planar or Schneider Xenotar found on the 'F' models.
Some say the T really stands for (T)heodor after its designer Theodor Uhl whose sevices were apparently dispensed with after the bean counters at Rollei saw his handiwork.
That didn't stop the camera becoming a success with a production timeframe of 1958-76 and about 127,250 units being made.
My version of the camera comes in grey leather and judging by the serial number was produced in the early 1960's as a rule of thumb most grey cameras are early (pre 1966) a majority of T's are black.
A list of serial numbers can be found here
should you wish to date your Rollei.

The picture above shows the easiest way to tell the T model from a distance, it is the only Rollei with the shutter button on the side.
Even though the camera is positioned between the budget 'cord and the pro 'flex it certainly has more of the Flex's 'genes'
I've often seen people give the advice to get a Rolleicord over the T as the lenses are pretty much equal and the cords are cheaper, I'd advise that prospective purchasers should get a T as they are much better in daily use.
Below is one of the main reasons I prefer the T to my Rolleicord

The view above graphically illustrates how much brighter the T is compared to a similar aged Rolleicord, no doubt later Cords have better screens but I've always found them duller and slower to focus.
The Tessar lens is a design classic, less elements than the Planar and by some accounts not as sharp at the edges, but for the Portrait type work that TLR's excel it is a wonderful lens.

Both of the above images were taken within minutes of ripping open the box, they were taken on Neopan 400 with guessed exposures.
I've had the camera and just love it if you are teetering on the brink of buying a Rollei just do it!
I recently saw this quote on a Photo forum:
"Get a Rollei. Life is to short to have spent it with photography without a Rollei".

©Text and Images Mark Antony Smith 2008


Charlie Wood said...

Have you had the focusing screen out your Rolleicord?
the undersides of them and the mirror are often dirty, a clean can work wonders.
I cut myself a replacement mirror for my rolleicord as the silver was flaking off.
You can also add a frenzel screen from a donor TLR to improve things.
How are you getting on with your Fuji RF?

Photo–Smith said...

Hi Charlie
Well I have the 'cord on approval and the slow speeds aren't that good either.
Its got the Xenar lens which is good, but to have it serviced and put it into A1 condition would bring me up to the cost of the Rolleiflex T.
I'm loving the RF, I'm using Fujichrome in it a fair bit and shooting landscapes. I find the only problem (as with all RFs) is depth of field visualisation but that minor and the lens is pretty sharp.
The idea is to have Rollei for people shots mainly B&W and to use the RF for landscapes.
I'm pretty much a fan of having one lens and zoom with my feet, so fixed lenses are no problem.
That said I just bought a Rolleinar close up lens for 'full face' portraits.
Have Fun

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this comment will find it's way to you, since this is on a very old post. However, I have the same camera you have pictured (Rolleiflex T). The manual does not explain the three shutter release choices, one is for self-timer, but could you explain the other two buttons? So far I am just guessing to get it to work, but sure would like to know. thanks, Kim

Photo–Smith said...

Hi Kim

There is a PDF manual available on Mike Buktus' site:

Cut and paste this address into your browser

sebas said...

What kind of film they use? is it 120 6x6? thanks for help me!

Photo–Smith said...

They use standard 120 film, and give 6x6 although you can get adapters to use them with other film types. The Rolleikin allows you to use 35mm