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Nick's Classic Corner - No 31 - Rolleiflex Old Standard

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Benchista, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    The original Rolleiflex was introduced in 1929, but 1932's Standard Rolleiflex (later known as the Old Standard) was really the start of the success of the Rolleiflex - it used 120 film rather than 117, and had lever wind. And it was also the camera Capa used during WWII.

    Originally, it was available with 75mm f4.5 or f3.8 Tessars, with a Compur shutter with speeds up to 1/300s. Conventional wisdom states that the f3.5 Tessar was introduced as an updated version with the Compur Rapid shutter (speeds to 1/500) in 1934, but my (old, tatty and rather battered) example has the f3.5 lens and the Compur shutter, so conventional wisdom ain't always right...

    On the left of the camera is the focusing knob, which rather bizarrely rotates nearly twice - I've no idea what focus distances are once you get past infinity the second time..
    There's also a retaining knob for the take-up spool.
    On the other side of the camera is the windon crank, frame counter, and a button to reset the counter once it gets to 12.

    Aperture is controlled by a lever on the left of the lens assembly, shutter speed by one on the right, and both read out on top of the lens assembly in true Rolleiflex style. Despite the years, these levers are wonderfully smooth, as is winding on.
    Underneath the lens assembly is a shutter cocking/release lever - similar to the Rolliecord one. There's also a cable release socket. The shutter on mine appears to work fine at all speeds.

    Back release is much simpler than later models, and next to it is a covered red window for checking when film is loaded correctly - this camera predates the automatic loading system.

    So to the hood - it's opened with a spring-loaded catch at the back, and all four sides are independent, unlike later versions. There's a fold-out magnifier at the front, to allow better use of the gridded screeb, which also features a bubble level to ensure the camera is straight.
    Viewing on mine is incredibly dim, as the mirror is in very poor coondition - not helped by the scratches all over the viewing lens. Mercifully, the taking lens is clean.
    Fold down the sides and back of the hood, and push down the central part of the front portion, and you're left with a direct vision frame with a cross, in the centre of which is a little mirror - once you see the reflection of your iris in this mirror, your eye is in the correct position to use the sports finder. Ingenious, and works well.
    On the back of the hood is a depth of field table, and on the back of the camera is an exposure table.

    My camera comes complete with a nice leather case - not as clever as later ones, but protects the camera well, and as always with Rollei is more ready than most. There's a yellow window in the back to allow use of the exposure table.

    What we have, then, is a camera that even 80 years on is entirely usable and capable of decent resuts. If only the mirror was in better nick, I would use it quite a bit, because it's fun and living history.

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