Rolleiflex Automat - Staff Review

2008-06-21 6

The Automat was the first Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex camera with an automatic film counter system, and a “Grand Prix” winner in the 1937 Paris World Fair.

image found here

Rolleiflex is renowned for its cameras, notably the medium-format Twin Lens Reflex line. They were lightweight, compact-sized, easy to use, and had bright viewfinders. But what sets it apart from its competitors is the superior glass optics made by Zeiss and Schneider.

The first batch of the Automat was introduced in 1937, with enhanced models produced until 1956. Considered as a groundbreaking Twin Lens Reflex camera during its time, it had the automatic film loading and transport feature, which made it very convenient to load film. Back then, this feature wasn’t common – they had to feed the film between rollers and pass it over the film gate before they could mount it on the take-up spool.

Just like the other Rolleiflex TLRs, the Automat was equipped with a 3.5/75 Carl-Zeiss Jena Tessar lens, a self-timer, and a Compur-Rapid shutter (a high quality, German made shutter). In addition to the Carl Zeiss lens, it was the first Rolleiflex with a Schneider Kreuznach Xenar taking lens.

Vicuna is one of the lucky few who still uses the Automat today. His was a family heritage from a grandfather who purchased the camera in 1939.

I’m the third generation of the family to use it and it’s still working perfectly well as almost 70 years ago. The pictures are sharp, colors are perfectly reproduced with a fantastic subtle contrast in almost every situations. Whether I use color or B&W, the results are equally impressive. I only took it once to a specialized photo shop to make a general clean-up, about 15 years ago, and it still works like magic. Well, this camera is just the equivalent of perfection for me and the privileged witness of my family history for the last 70 years!

Here are two neat tricks to try if you have a Rollei, courtesy of Vicuna:

Rollei with Yellow filter – i had the chance to have with my old Rolleiflex a original yellow Rolleiflex filter, called “Rolleiflex Filter Hell” with the filter holder of the cam. I tried it out and went to a beautiful graveyard in Nice, thinking that this yellow color could give a nice vintage taste to the shot. Very easy with the original filter holder, but you can easily hold a filter in front of the lens without it. The effect? A very smooth old taste, with sometimes a slight vignetting on the corners (surely the effect of the filter holder, because the Rolleiflex doesn’t have this effect usually) and was very satisfied about that. So, if you have the chance to have a Rollei, try to find the original old filters and you’ll not be disappointed.

Rolleifish trick – If you have the fisheye lens designed for LC-A (the one you attach magnetically with the metal ring), you can use it in front of your Rolleiflex, because the lens has the same size as the Rollei lens. The only thing, for sure, is that you need to hold it with your fingers on it. To focus, hold it first in front of the viewing lens, then just move it downwards to the shooting lens. If you can stay almost in the same position (to not lose the focus) it will be OK. You’ll have very cool Fisheyes in square format with the usual quality of Rolleiflex shots!

written by shhquiet on 2008-06-21 #gear #mf #120 #rolleiflex #staff #review

6 Comments

  1. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    I just find out a new trick! The filters intentended for the Zenitar fisheye lens (who are screwed at the back of the lens) fits perfectly on the Rolleiflex lens! That means that you can add a nice red, Green or yellow filter easitly to your Rolleiflex shots even if you haven't the original Filter Holder and filters!! :))

  2. pederzani
    pederzani ·

    I've got the rollei magic!

  3. balzzac
    balzzac ·

    i have a rolleiflex automat... (im not sure specifically what its called) and it dosent do vignetting as in your picture, could it possibly be because of c4 processing or specific makes?

  4. balzzac
    balzzac ·

    ohh sorry i just read the rest.

  5. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    I have some more rolleiflex Automat shots to submit! :))

  6. onphyr
    onphyr ·

    I got a 1945-49 Automat model 2 K4B from eBay for very cheap, considering the quality of the camera. I also have a Rolleicord III K3B which has the same Xenar lens. Both cameras are very impressive, especially given their price, and I recently got a red filter for them (both Bayonet 1) to try our with B&W film. I'll post them up when I get them scanned.

More Interesting Articles

  • Vintage Camera Reviews: Kodak Bantam 828

    written by Mark Hannah on 2016-06-01 #gear
    Vintage Camera Reviews: Kodak Bantam 828

    I first discovered vest pocket cameras while searching for folding cameras and I fell in love with the design and compactness of them. By far, my favorite vest pocket camera is the Kodak Bantam 828.

    2016-06-01 4
  • Urban and Delicate: Marta Bevacqua's Daguerreotype Achromat Photos

    written by Lomography on 2016-05-06 #news #gear
    Urban and Delicate: Marta Bevacqua's Daguerreotype Achromat Photos

    Italian photographer Marta Bevacqua's sensitive and dreamy universe is an ode to women. Her new series shot with the Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens is set in an area of Paris and plays with the concept of soft femininity in this modern world.

    2016-05-06
  • The Lomo’Instant Wide "Share The News" Rumble

    written by Lomography on 2015-10-21 #videos #gear #news
    The Lomo’Instant Wide "Share The News" Rumble

    If you’ve been living on Neptune for the past week (wait, how the hell did you get there?), you might have missed the memo – The brand new Lomo’Instant Wide has landed! Pre-orders are flying in for the world’s most creative wide format instant camera and lens system and we’ve decided to launch a competition to spice up the fun even further.

    2015-10-21 8
  • Shop News

    Celebrate summer with the Lomo'Instant San Sebastián

    Celebrate summer with the Lomo'Instant San Sebastián

    Walk along the sandy shore, take a dip and splash around, and celebrate summer with the Lomo'Instant San Sebastián! Inspired by the Spanish surf town, this nifty newest edition of the Lomo'Instant is perfect to capture your colorful instant summer snaps!

  • From Experimental to Ordinary: LomoAmigo Martin Dietrich Tests the Minitar-1 Art Lens

    written by Lomography on 2016-01-29 #people
    From Experimental to Ordinary: LomoAmigo Martin Dietrich Tests the Minitar-1 Art Lens

    In order to escape the world of facts and figures, tax auditor Martin Dietrich discovered photography as his creative counterpart almost seven years ago. On a trip to Paris he fell in love with analog photography and the magic of film has been fascinating to him since then. But he also appreciates the benefits of digital photography. For Lomography he tested the Lomo LC-A Minitar-1 Art Lens on his Fuji X-Pro 1 camera. Check out Martin's photos and learn more about the founder of the popular Neoprime magazine.

    2016-01-29 3
  • There Are So Many More Reasons To Fall In Love With The Lomo'Instant Wide

    written by pearlgirl77 on 2016-01-10 #gear
    There Are So Many More Reasons To Fall In Love With The Lomo'Instant Wide

    In the first part of my Lomo'Instant Wide Review I already showed pictures you can take with the standard 90mm lens, the wide angle lens, the close-up lens, the splitzer and the remote control. But with all the other extras this camera can do so much more!

    2016-01-10
  • Faaabii's First Impressions of the Minitar-1 Art Lens

    written by Fabian Schreiter on 2015-11-16 #gear
    Faaabii's First Impressions of the Minitar-1 Art Lens

    Faaabii took the Minitar-1 Art Lens on a trip through the city of Stuttgart and tested it with his analog and digital camera. In this review he describes his experience and shows his first results!

    2015-11-16
  • Shop News

    LomoKino on sale!

    LomoKino on sale!

    Embrace the magic of movie making and capture 144 frames of glorious analogue action on 35mm film with the LomoKino! Get it now at a incredibly low price while supplies last!

  • Newcomer of the Week: skyler_burkhart

    written by Lomography on 2015-12-20
    Newcomer of the Week: skyler_burkhart

    At first, Skyler only visited the Lomography website to take a look at sample photographs taken with different point-and-shoot cameras. Seeing the immense focus given by the community to film photography and experimentation, two things she absolutely loves, she immediately signed up and started her own LomoHome. In this interview, she talks about her go-to camera, the difference between digital and film photography and more.

    2015-12-20 1
  • Community Amigo Hannah Bailey on Shooting Action and Sports

    written by lomographysoholondon on 2016-05-08 #people
    Community Amigo Hannah Bailey on Shooting Action and Sports

    UK-based Hannah Bailey photographs women in sports. She talked to us about being a huge fan of film cameras and her series of skateboarding shots taken with the LC-A and an OM10.

    2016-05-08 2
  • Artist Update: Western Thoughts, Eastern Dreams by Kamila K Stanley

    written by lomographymagazine on 2015-11-10 #news #people
    Artist Update: Western Thoughts, Eastern Dreams by Kamila K Stanley

    Kamila K Stanley is always on the cusp of an adventure. In the early part of 2015, she started inviting fellow photographers to join a collective named after a verse from "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." And ever the curious observer, she spent some part of the year in Turkey. With a camera and reserve of 35mm films, of course.

    2015-11-10 1
  • Shop News

    The New Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 Art Lens now available for pre-order in Shop!

    The New Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 Art Lens now available for pre-order in Shop!

    We're grateful for the overwhelming support from all our KickStarter backers. For those who were late to the party, we're happy to let you know that the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 Art Lens is now available for pre-order in the shop! Estimated delivery date slated for January 2017!

  • Svatopluk (aikosmile) and his Weapon of Choice: Lomo LC-A

    written by lomography on 2016-04-16
    Svatopluk (aikosmile) and his Weapon of Choice: Lomo LC-A

    Losing his first LC-A+ camera during a life-changing trip left a deep impression on Svatopluk and opened his eyes to the enduring quality of film photographs. In this interview, he lays down the advantage of shooting with the LC-A and how it helped him appreciate the beauty of the day-to-day grind.

    2016-04-16 2
  • Caleb Savage: Into the Darkroom, Out in the Open

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-10-08 #people
    Caleb Savage: Into the Darkroom, Out in the Open

    When asked to recall the moment they first became truly interested in photography, most photographers would remember the magical feeling of picking up a hand-me-down or secondhand camera, the thrill of shooting an entire roll through, and the elation upon seeing and holding their first ever set of photographs. Caleb Savage, however, had quite a unique experience. At 10 years old, he had his first taste of working in the darkroom making prints at Boy Scout camp, thereby beginning a more than a decade-long affinity with photography.

    2015-10-08
  • Motion Pictures: LomoKino Films by UNT New Media

    written by katphip on 2016-07-22 #gear #culture #people #places
    Motion Pictures: LomoKino Films by UNT New Media

    12 New Media students from the University of Texas, all armed with Lomography cameras, travelled to New York City for an advanced studio art course in May 2016. They each shot one roll of film in a LomoKino per day, and the results were exciting and diverse. Read more here.

    2016-07-22