Soooo, I finally ended up with a Rollei TLR … though not the one I really wanted, but heck Rollei’s are over-priced these days so I had to make due with a Rolleicord.
The Rolleicord is the little brother of the infamous Rolleiflex. Franke & Heidecke decided to make a cheaper (more economical) version of their very popular Flex line of twin lense reflex cameras … this way more amateur photographers could get a hold of a high quality camera.
The Rolleicord line started in 1933, and there were many variations of it over the 44 years it was in production. The Rolleicord is easily recognized by its knob winding, instead of the crank winding that the Flex’s have.
I got this one in … of course … “for parts” condition. It has issues with the shutter, the shutter lever knob is bent and not really attached, the leatherette is distrested, and probably a number of other things that are broken.
I was reading up on various versions made by F&H and the model I have appears to be a Rolleicord III with a Triotar lens … 1950-53.
The Triotar, as you may guess, is a triple element lens … and even though it sounds like a simple cheap setup, it can produce some nice dreamy images. It appears that it is very favourable to portrait photographers.
Ok for you Bokeh lovers !!!
Reinhold Heidecke was employed by Voigtlander making precision instruments. After learning the trade, he left the company to try to form his own to make new roll film cameras that were easier to use (than the current products out there). Reinhold Heidecke teamed up with Paul Franke in 1920 to form a new company called … wait for it … Franke and Heidecke. Their first cameras were stereoscopic types, but the third one was a charm. This was their first TLR, the Rolleiflex made in 1929.
The Rolleiflex is considered the mother of all TLR’s (ok, I made that up … but it could be true). The design of the Rollei TLRs will be copied by everyone else that came after it, and the Rollei’s are still one of the most coveted cameras to this date (I should know as I am still trying to get a hold of a cheap one).
In 1966, Rollei made their first viewfinder 35mm camera … and it also happened to be the smallest 135 film camera ever. It was so cool that Queen Elizabeth went out and bought one (Ok, she probably didn’t actually do that … but she does own a gold one).
The company name did change with the addition of Rollei-Werke before the F&H, and in 1979 the company changed name to Rollei, then in 2007 the company broke up into three bits … these bits broke, kinda.
Before it’s end, Rollei made a number of cameras (TLR, 135, 6×6, sub, and even digital) and other photographic equipment like slide projectors … but if you told someone today that you have a “Rollei” it will always refer to the Rolleiflex TLR.