Tag Archives: Rolleiflex

The designers

I thought I would put in some credit for those who gave us these great cameras … not the manufacturers but the ones that designed them. There are two names that need to be mentioned here based on the cameras that I have blogged about.


Oskar Barnack

For those in the world of old screw mount rangefinders you will know this name, or at least the last name.

Oskar Barnack worked for Ernst Leitz (and for those of you that do not know this name … he is the founder of Leica … and another note about Dr. Leitz is that he saved Jews working for him by transferring them to the offices outside of Germany which later became known as the “Leica Freedom Train”).

Oskar had this crazy idea of making the film format smaller to reduce the camera size, as a way to avoid using the large plate cameras available during the early 1900’s. The small image on the roll film would later be enlarged during the printing stage.

Oskar designed Leica’s first 35mm camera. It took him about 10 years to get something in 1914 (known as the Ur-Leica) that he would use to as a base to produce their first production model.

The Leica I was brought out at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1925. It had a fixed collapsible lens.

In 1930 he designed the camera with an interchangeable mount … the first Leica threaded screw mount (LTM).

The Leica II came out in 1932 and added the coupled rangefinder.


Barnack’s design would trigger a number of camera companies to copy his design, and to this day the legacy of this camera can still be seen in the Leica M series.



Reinhold Heidecke

This is the guy who gave us the Rolleiflex.

Reinhold worked for Voigtlander. He left the company after his attempts to suggest a new type of roll film camera did not pan out. He tried to start his own company and ended up partnering with Paul Franke. Thus begat Franke & Heidecke.

Reinhold designed a Twin Lens Reflex camera. He did not invent the first TLR camera (I think the first was in 1885), but what he did with the concept was the thing. Using his design knowledge about the triple lens stereoscopic cameras he first designed, he took that further into a twin lens camera that was a reflex design, used medium format roll film (roll film invented by Eastman started to become common) and a new mechanism for focusing. The first prototype was made in 1928.

The Rolleiflex was immediately popular. Easy to use, small in size, a large film format, and some of the best optics (Zeiss).


This started the TLR revolution, and like the Leica II the designed was copied by numerous other manufacturers.

DHW Fototechnik still manufactures the classic Rolleiflex.