Here is a review on the Rolleiflex 3.5f, the best TLR camera ever, and the first camera I bought with my own money. I’ve been lucky finding cameras at garage sales, so if you ever have the chance to visit garage sales, you might find a beauty like this as well!
I bought this camera at a garage sale for $25 in 1963 with savings, Christmas money, and birthday money when I was 13. I took family photos with it, and my father used it occasionally for job photos. He was a roofer and waterproofer. My stepmother never gave the camera much notice. She was not photographically inclined. Almost all the photos from this time are lost from sloppy moves. The camera survived because it was mostly kept rolled up in a shopping bag behind the seat of my father’s Studebaker truck. His truck was an island of order in a household of chaos.
Along the years, my father added a Beatty Intenscreen and a Rolleinar 2. The stock focusing screen was rather dim, and close-up capability always helps on the job. It’s now almost 49 years later, and it still works perfectly, even the light meter. In my opinion, the Rolleiflex 3.5f is one of history’s greatest picture takers.
Anyway, here are the technical specifications:
- Focusing lens: Heidsomat f/2.8, parallax correction, very accurate.
- Taking lens: Xenotar f/3.5 to f/22, very, very sharp.
- Shutter: Synchro-Compur 1-1/500, B, sync at all speeds, M and X.
- Light meter: match-needle, selenium cell, ~EV3 to ~EV17 at ISO 100.
- Format: 6cm X 6cm on 120 rollfilm with Automat frame counting.
- Size: small for the format.
- Weight: rather heavier than it looks.
- Material: glass, metal, and leather.
So everyone out there, go ahead and hunt for cameras in garage sales, estate sales, boot sales, swap meets, charity shops, and second hand stores. Also, don’t forget to search all your relatives’ attics and basements!