This is the ultimate in twin lens cameras, the famous Rolleiflex’s were the very best when it came to fixed lens TLR cameras, and mine is no different. A constant favourite that often gets dragged along on my many travels and adventures and really the only top down cameras that I can use comfortably. To make it even better I’m the second owner of this beauty.
Maker: Franke & Heidecke
Model: Rolleiflex 2,8F K7F3
Type: 120/220 Twin Lens Reflex
Lens: Fixed, Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8
Year of Manufacture: 1969
The biggest strength on these cameras is the optics. The Carl Zeiss lens produces an image second only to maybe Leica. And the big 2.8 aperture makes it good for any situation. Secondly the fact you can use this camera with a meter without needing batteries. The meter is selenium based and the one in my camera is dead on, but it also means you can use the camera with an external meter since it is mechanical. The camera, if properly maintained is super quiet which makes it really great for street shooting, and I have used it for such, you just have to be quick about focusing, metering, and shooting before the subject moves out of the way. But mostly the camera cuts a strange enough figure on the street that most people are willing to pay attention to it. And finally the 6×6 format means that when you eventually go to printing your work, you can easily print in landscape or portrait off of one negative.
And while I have nothing but praise for this camera there are a few things that can throw off someone looking at picking up one of these fine cameras. Like all older cameras the meter is often the weak point. And many of these selenium based meters after many years of being exposed to light (remember, these meters are always on) will begin to loose sensitivity, but don’t let that stop you, the camera will still work. You may need to get a meter app for your smart phone or just get a proper external meter. Using this camera isn’t exactly the easiest either, having to look down, and compose while mentally flipping the image and thus your movements backwards to match up what’s on the screen. And hand-holding isn’t that easy either, you really want to be shooting above 1/125″ if you want to go handheld.
The Low Down
This certainly isn’t the cheapest way to get into TLR photography, but personally it’s one of the best. And while I specifically reviewed the 2.8F model, there are plenty of older model Rolleiflexes and Rolleicords that feature the same optics that the 2.8F has. And they will work perfectly as well. And really even if you get one in need of work they really are worth spending that extra cash on getting a clean, lube, adjust (CLA) done to bring it back up to working order. It’s one of those cameras if you’ve used it, you love it.
And one of the best parts, you can still get this camera new through B&H if you have 8,900$ laying around.
All photos shot at Hilton Falls Conservation Area in Milton, Ontario
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford FP4+ (ASA-125) – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 10:00 @ 20C