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Nick's Classic Corner - No. 5 - Rolleiflex T

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Benchista, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    In 1958, the standard Rolleiflex range reached perfection with the 3.5F, a very sophisticated and effective camera capable of superlative results. However, it was getting fairly expensive, and although Rollei had a "budget" model in the shape of the Rolleicord Va, there was still a gap that F&H decided to fill with an entirely new model - the Rolleiflex T. In place of the 5/6 element Planar or Xenotar, the T sported a 4 element 75mm f3.5 Carl Zeiss Tessar taking lens, with an f2.8 Heidosmat-branded viewing lens. In common with all later Rolleis, it featured a bayonet filter mount on each lens for filters, close-up lenses etc, in this base the smallest Bayonet I size. Early models were finished in a distinctive grey leather, later ones in black.
    As with all Rolleiflexes by this time, wind on was by a rapid folding lever, situated on the right. Unlike all other Rolleiflexes of the era, though, it did not have Rollei's patent "automatic" loading system, and relied on lining up arrows on the film's backing paper with red dots inside the camera. The frame counter is also on the right.
    On the left of the camera is the focusing knob, with a simple depth-of-field scale marked on the camera body, without the wonderful DOF indicator used on the "better" models. Also on this side are two retaining knobs for the film spools.
    So to the lens panel: starting at the bottom, on the left is a locking flash synch socket, on the right a locking shutter release button. Above it, on the right is a selector for electronic flash, bulb flash and delayed action ("V") - pull it out to move the settings. Shutter is a leaf shutter Synchro-Compur MXV, speeded 1-1/500.
    On the left is the exposure selector - this is EV locked, which means that you can move it to select different shutter speed/aperture pairs retaining the same exposure value. To change the exposure value, you have to pull the selector out and then adjust it. The EV setting is shown in a window on the side of the viewing lens, with shutter speed ("t") and aperture ("f") displayed in true Rolleiflex style in windows on top of the viewing lens.

    The viewfinder hood is removable and can be replaced with a prism. It's less sophisticated than the F hood, but still has a magnifier, and the front central portion can be pushed down to give a direct view frame for sports shooting. The screen is also user-interchangeable, and it features built-in parallax compensation by means of moving the screen as you focus.

    On the back of the camera is an exposure guide. The back is opened in standard Rolleiflex fashion with a latch on the base around the tripod bush. The back is removable.

    The T could be ordered with or without an exposure meter: those with it have a selenium cell under the name plate, to which a diffuser could be fitted. There's a high/low selection switch above. The needle is built in to the focus knob - turn a dial to match the needle with a red marker, read the Exposure Value on the side, and transfer that to the EV setting switch.

    As with all Rolleis, there are a mass of accessories available: prime one is a 35mm Rolleikin adaptor. Very popular of course is the Ever Ready Case - probably the best ever designed.

    In use, it feels very slightly less well made than the F, but it's still a very nice camera to use. The screen is bright and a treat to compose on. If you've not tried shooting with a Rollei, or indeed any TLR, it's a different experience that makes you very much an observer of a scene, and I find that can make me concentrate more on composition. Shooting the square format is always liberating to me, too. I always really enjoy shooting with a T, and even if I do slightly prefer the F, it's still a lovely camera to use.

    Also, I believe that the T became the prototype for the later GX and FX models, as the tooling for the F models had been sadly scrapped.
  2. John Tarrant

    John Tarrant Active Member

    I owned a Rolleiflex T many years ago and found it a simple machine to use and it caused me to take up photography professionally and I ended up photographing countless weddings, babies and dogs with it. Much to my regret I sold it to fund a trip to Morocco (a very adventurous destination all those years ago!). In my dotage I am now trying to find one so thatI can enjoy the simplicity of medium format photography.
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    You are digging up the old posts today John!
  4. Nigel S

    Nigel S Member

    Try Brian Mickleboro who is justifiably recognised as the only Rollei repair expert worth knowing. I recently bought a mint grey T from Brian which he had just serviced. However, do avoid eBay as there is an awful lot of abject scrap being sold on there! The last 4 out of 6 TLR's I bought on there had to be returned, and on a couple of occasions I struggled to get refunds. Caveat Emptor!
  5. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    I used a grey T in the 1970s but scrapped it after the paper tape, on which the shutter speeds were printed, tore and I got a quote for fixing it that was more than I'd paid for the camera. It was the least well made of the Rollei range that I used. Even the RolleiMagic was a better made piece of kit!

    Kirsten with Rollie Magic.jpg
  6. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    If you were so inclined you could probably pick big technical holes in that but every time I've seen it I've just thought "What an adorable photo".

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