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Nick's Classic Corner - No 23 - Rolleicord Vb

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Benchista, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I've covered the Rolleiflex T already, the mid-price offering in Rollei's later TLR range; now I'll take a look at the last and greatest model in the entry-level Rolleicord range. My first Rollei was a 'Cord V, bought for pretty much half the going rate at the time as the shutter was a bit sticky at 1s and 1/2 s. However, the Vb has a couple of extra features that makes it quite a lot more versatile and useful, so we'll look at that.

    As I've said, the Rolleicord range was a cheaper version of the Rolleiflex - what that meant in practice was no automatic loading system, knob wind instead of lever wind, a straightforward depth of field readout, simpler aperture and shutter speed setting, and shutter cocking separate to windon. However, it remains a very-well made bit of beautiful German engineering, and a delight to use. Also, although not using the wonderful Xenotar or Planar lenses, the 75mm f3.5 Schneider Xenar lens fitted is an absolute delight - very slightly soft wide open, but very sharp once stopped down. The lens (and f3.2 Heidosmat viewing lens) takes Bayonet I lens accessories - filters and lens hoods.

    On the left side of the body are two spring-loaded film spool retaining knobs, and the focusing knob. Mine is marked in feet, from 3 to infinity - it's incredibly smooth and accurate. In the middle is a film speed reminder dial.
    On the other side is the wind-on knob and (interchangeable) film counter - it can be converted with a Rolleikin kit to shoot 35mm film instead of the usual 120.

    On the back is an exposure chart. The back itself is interchangeble, and has a moving pressure plate for the two film formats.

    Most of the controls are on the front - an M X V switch for choosing the correct flash sync or self timer; the flash sync socket; a locking lever; on the sides of the lens assembly, a shuttter speed selector and aperture selector; and under the lens, the cocking lever/shutter release, and a cable release socket. I use an accessory shutter button that screws into the cable release socket and which I think improves handling. The shutter speed and aperture selected are displayed on the left, and the EV on the right; the camera can be used in EV locked mode to set the EV with the right lever and select the chosen aperture/shutter speed pair with the left, or shutter speed and aperture can be set independently if both levers are adjusted at the same time.

    Perhaps the best feature of the camera is the viewfinder - both hood and screen are interchangeable, and even the standard (gridded) screen is much brighter than earlier models. It also moves to allow for parallax compesation.

    The hood is the simpler type, with magnifier and push-down direct vision sports viewfinder, but it can be replaced with the fancier 'Flex F type which allows focusing whilst using the sports finder, or even with a prism.

    On the base is a tripod socket and the bacl release, as well as four feet which allow the camera to stand on a level surface. However, a better option for tripod mounting is the Rolleifix quick release braket.

    All in all, it is indeed a simpler, cut-down Rollei, but with some features that make it nice to use - by far the best Rolleicord, and more enjoyable to use than many early Rolleiflexes. And it gives at least as good quality as any fixed-lens TLR from any other manufacturer, courtesy of the excellent lens. But then I do love Rolleis...
  2. PeteE

    PeteE Well-Known Member

    Many years ago now the local newspaper the 'Brentwood Gazette' started using ONE only COLOUR photo on the front page and they would accept only medium format slides so I started supplying them with 6x7 from my 1968 Mamiya Press Super 23 -- they had a 'Staff Medium Format' the Rolleicord VB and they had an E6 processing line in Chelmsford office -- then I heard they had sold the VB to a local dealers near me for £50-00 -- I enquired and he said I could have it for £ 60-00 -- well, I BOUGHT it -- my first 'Rollei' camera -- I got a 16-on set off ebay for £5-00 and have it fitted now --- I did a lot of local Press work with it and a few weddings as it was easier to carry about rather than my Mamiya Press -- It has had ONE repair -- a piece of a spring broke off inside -- it cost me £45-00 but thought it worth it and it all works sweetly still and I got one photo in 'AP' magazine from it !
    Here is my £60-00 Vb --
    Rolleicord Vb by pentaxpete, on Flickr
    Here is the 16-on format photo I got in 'AP' magazine, Ilford XP2 Super
    Signal to Go! by pentaxpete, on Flickr
  3. Malcolm_Stewart

    Malcolm_Stewart Well-Known Member

    Mine is one of the light grey bodied versions, supplied to the company I worked for as part of the Philips Oscilloscope Camera kit. The kit included a special hood for Tektronix oscilloscopes, and a close-up and viewing offset feature. It became redundant once the Polaroid Oscilloscope camera was available with its instant check on results, and obviously was so much better for this task.
  4. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Yes, I think the story of the Phillips Oscilloscope kit is worthy of a piece to itself, but I've never owned one - it is fascinating, though. And I like the look of the grey version.

    As a student, I worked with OM1s as oscilloscope and microscope cameras - although we hardly ever actually used them.
  5. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    My Nikon F3 and Nikkormat both came off microscopes, and my FrankenLeica most definitely came off a microscope because I removed it myself (it's an MDa) - lots of cameras, whether designed for the purpose or not, have been used for just that.

  6. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Yes, we had an MD on one particular bit of kit, but I never saw it used.

    My Leica CL (No 35) was used by the previous owner on a very Heath Robinson home-made copy stand, along with close-up lenses - never did find out what for, although I do own the stand as well.

    I do own one microscope adaptor, for Praktica - always wanted to try it at home, but I don't have a microscope. ;)

    The latest Gray's of Wesminster ad with the medical Nikkor reminds me of another area of specialist photography - medical and dental. Yashica were big players in this area, ISTR.

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