Rolleiflex 3.5 f TLR
As you may know from my last post, I’ve been exploring black and white film, learning to process the negatives and taking pictures with much older cameras than my usual Nikon D800e. In my last post I wrote about the Agfa Billy Record that I received as a gift. Bitten by the vintage camera bug and enjoying the unique qualities of these older cameras (and film in general) in this post I’m introducing my latest acquisition, a Rolleiflex 3.5f TLR. My Agfa Billy is as old as my Dad; this camera is just a few years older than me. Something rather nice about that. I’ll be on the hunt for a camera that perhaps my grandad may have used as a young man next. This camera was manufactured in 1961
Purchasing this particular model however came out of a challenge suggested at a meeting of the Royal Photographic Society South West Region. The idea was to take some photographs in the style of Vivian Maier and/or Lee Miller. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the meeting where the two photographers were discussed as I was in Iceland. However, I did do my homework and the Vivian Maier story particularly captured my imagination.
I watched a couple of documentaries and was fascinated by this photographer’s life and how her amazing life’s work didn’t come to light until her death. Vivian Maier took pictures with a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) a camera I knew little about other than the name. I was really taken with the design and whilst not having too much success taking pictures in the style of Vivian Maier, I thought the least I could do was take some pictures with a similar camera to Vivian Maier. There is something particularly romantic to me about this classic design. The special feature of TLR cameras is that they have two lenses of the same focal length with their focal planes aligned. The lens at the bottom of the camera is the one that takes the picture (often called the ‘taking lens’), while the other is used in the viewfinder system.
I’ve taken just the one film so far with this camera, using Ilford Pan Plus 50, developed in Ilfosol 3. I didn’t realise when I chose Pan F Plus 50 that it’s considered a difficult film to use. It has a very fine grain and produces fine detail but does have a tendency to be a bit contrasty apparently. I have been advised to over-expose (set ASA rating to 25 rather than 50) and to shorten the developing time. As this was the first, however, I went with standard settings and the recommended developing times.
The garden pictures below came up a little under-exposed however, it was very bright yesterday afternoon, dark shadows were being cast by the sunshine and metering correctly would have been a challenge for even the latest DSLR. I think the camera has done a brilliant job. The tulip and teasel picture came up perfectly exposed. All negatives were scanned using an Epson V600 and then processed in Photoshop. I corrected the under-exposure as best I could, toned the ‘prints’ digitally with cyanotype toner which I think works rather well. I hope you enjoy the pictures. I often say this but I certainly enjoying taking them and processing them.. :-)
75mm f/22 1/15 sec. ASA(ISO)50
Beautiful Adrian! Wonderful soft sharp tones. Just had a view on my iPhone but will have a bigger look. Great challenge and experiment. Keep it up!
February 2, 2015 at 7:34 pm
Thank you Chris. I’m really enjoying this new area of photography to explore. I’m really quite energised by it all. I’m not giving up my D800 or my landscape work, it’s just nice to have this exporation and experimentation going along side. :-)
February 2, 2015 at 8:41 pm
I agree with you! It enlarges your scope! Looking forward ( as always D800 or Flex or … ) to more of your work!
February 2, 2015 at 9:38 pm
February 2, 2015 at 9:39 pm
As always a pleasure Adrian! Glad to hear it keeps your spirits up!
February 2, 2015 at 9:40 pm
Love the teasel image, MM 🍀
February 2, 2015 at 7:54 pm
Thank you Mick! :-)
February 2, 2015 at 8:41 pm
What a piece of history ~ and to go through the ‘real’ processing of these shots must feel tremendous…the tulip photo is very impressive.
February 2, 2015 at 7:59 pm
Thank you Randall. I think this is a nice combination, processing the negatives and then digitalising them. I hope to get around to ‘printing’ for real at some point but for now this is a good working compromise. I love these old cameras. They have real character and I think the photos reflect that. As I said to Chris, I’ll not be giving up my D800 but I am enjoying working with film.
February 2, 2015 at 8:59 pm
Whenever I read about people taking and developing film photos I think “Wow; that’s neat! I should try it!”
. . . and then I remember . . . film. You got to really love it to enjoy it, and I never did.
It does not keep me from saying “nice photos!”, but you won’t hear me say “let me try it!”
So, nice photos. I especially like the birdbath/sundial combination.
February 2, 2015 at 8:05 pm
Thanks Emilio. You cetainly do have to love it to enjoy it. It’s a lot of work compared to digital but developing negatives isn’t so hard and then scanning them into the computer takes away the need to print in the old fashioned way. I hope to get around to that simply because the process interests me but this a complimentary pastime for me, it cetainly won’t replace my digital work.
February 2, 2015 at 9:10 pm
February 2, 2015 at 8:13 pm
Thank you very much!
February 2, 2015 at 9:10 pm
This brings back a lot of memories. The pics look very good. The advice given to you about the film sounds about right.
I regretted selling mine a few years after it went. Always thought the pictures from it had a certain ‘bite’ to them. Lovely lens, lovely camera to use, certainly encouraged you to take your time and the results always showed this.
February 2, 2015 at 8:44 pm
Thank you David. I’m enjoying the process very much and I think you’re right, each picture requires just that little more thought and I do think it shows in the results. It’s certainly nice to be working with grain as opposed to digital noise.
February 2, 2015 at 9:34 pm
your work is simply spectacular. I always enjoy your blogs but this time you hit it out of the park!
February 2, 2015 at 8:56 pm
Thank you so much Austin. That’s very kind of you to say.
February 2, 2015 at 9:35 pm
That first image is an ethereal joy…
February 2, 2015 at 11:06 pm
Thank you Sally! :-)
February 3, 2015 at 9:10 am
Well done, Adrian. These are all fabulous, but the last one is my favourite. The detail on the sundial is so clear, and the objects on the table and bench add so much interest. :)
February 3, 2015 at 1:25 am
Thank you very much Sylvia! All bits and pieces left out of the shed at the end of the summer.. tsk :-)
February 3, 2015 at 9:26 am
February 3, 2015 at 11:54 am
Absolutely great photos! Working with the old cameras must be thrilling. I especially love the third photo with the bench; just something about the light in that one that I like.
February 3, 2015 at 1:58 am
Thank you Angeline! It’s great fun and there’s something a little bit magical about opening the developing tank when all the chemical prcesses are complete and you look to see if you have pictures or not.. :-)
February 3, 2015 at 9:27 am
Wow, my dad used to photograph weddings with the Rollies! They are things of beauty, not my favorite to shoot with, but they were always my favorites to play with.
February 3, 2015 at 3:23 am
Thank you Dave. A very good wedding camera I’d imagine. :-)
February 3, 2015 at 9:28 am
Very! He had two, a wide angle and an 85mm, I believe, not sure about the focal length, but when he used it the backgrounds were marvelous.
February 3, 2015 at 5:29 pm
I can imagine Dave. I’m very much looking forward to getting to know the camera.
February 3, 2015 at 7:26 pm
February 3, 2015 at 5:51 am
Thank you Irina! :-)
February 3, 2015 at 9:28 am
Remember the camera well. Still have it.
February 3, 2015 at 6:13 am
I wondered if you might still have a Rolleiflex Shimon! :-)
February 3, 2015 at 9:28 am
classic beauty :)
February 3, 2015 at 9:53 am
It is indeed Joshi, thank you!
February 3, 2015 at 10:32 am
your experimenting is coming on in leaps and bounds and your Tulip/Teasel shot is gorgeous!
February 3, 2015 at 1:38 pm
Thank you very much Noeline! I was particularly pleased with the tulip shot. I think the grain in the film gives the picture a really nice quality. I’ve not done much still life but I’ve a feeling this camera is going to be well suited to it.
February 3, 2015 at 4:22 pm
One word:WOWWWW!!No,….one word is not enough:beautiful pictures!!
February 3, 2015 at 4:39 pm
Thank you very much indeed! :-)
February 3, 2015 at 7:25 pm
I really like the graininess in the tulip shot Adrian……it looks like a pencil drawing.
February 3, 2015 at 5:52 pm
Thank you Mark. The Pan F plus 50 film is supposed to be a very fine grain film but when I scanned and processed the image in Photoshop, a little bit of sharpening and extra contrast and the grain became quite visible in a very pleasing way I thought. Digital grain or ‘noise’ just isn’t the same. :-)
February 3, 2015 at 7:28 pm
February 3, 2015 at 7:40 pm
February 3, 2015 at 8:39 pm
February 3, 2015 at 11:58 pm
Thank you Lou! It’s a lot of fun experimenting! :-)
February 4, 2015 at 7:03 pm
Love that first one!
February 4, 2015 at 12:30 am
Thank you Pat! I’m really pleased with the first picture. :-)
February 4, 2015 at 7:02 pm
Wow, I don’t know what to say. Some folk actually like underexposed. Me, for example. A digital camera could never give you these results, I can get a drawing to look better than a black and white photo from a digital camera, but with this old film camera I could not be certain, I think I has me beat!
February 4, 2015 at 8:53 am
Thank you Sonja. It’s intersting isn’t it how different black and white film is to a converted digital image. This all certainly widens my scope considerably and I’m enjoying the experimentation enormously! :-)
February 4, 2015 at 7:01 pm
Astonishingly beautiful images.
February 4, 2015 at 11:58 am
Thank you Debi! :-)
February 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm
I enjoyed them very much. While each piece of equipment lends you flexibility, your great eye and skill quarantees a great image.
February 4, 2015 at 4:10 pm
Thank you so much Elena, you’re very kind! :-)
February 4, 2015 at 6:59 pm
Love B&W Chill and the first photograph was stunning show of elegance.
February 4, 2015 at 5:24 pm
Thank you so much Mary! I’m enjoying the older cameras and exploring black and white film a lot!
February 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm
Nice set Adrian; lots of work went into this series and it shows. Wishing you many more great images with your TLR.
February 4, 2015 at 8:55 pm
Thank you very much John. I’m enjoying getting to know the camera! :-)
February 4, 2015 at 10:24 pm
Great images, captured in a great way, Adrian. Seeing your Rolleiflex reminds me of my desire to own one when I still shot mainly film. I should acquire one myself – just for the fun of it – and to rediscover the old magic of film-based photography. :-)
February 5, 2015 at 10:53 pm
Thank you Otto, I think you should. These cameras are a lot of fun with amazing results. Some say hard work, I’m enjoying the processing and that element of surprise.. :-)
February 6, 2015 at 3:04 pm
What fun – I’m happy for you. Such a different process. The floral still life is superb, and I also like the wooden chair shot very much. Looking forward to more, and yes, it makes me happy, too!
February 8, 2015 at 12:49 am
Thank you Lynn! I really am enjoying this new branch of photography. It seems to be catching too which is great! :-)
February 8, 2015 at 1:16 pm
These are great, Adrian! I especially love the tulip & teasel, it’s so beautiful. :) A couple of weeks ago I went to the exhibition “Finding Vivian Maier”, her photographs were fantastic, especially those taken with the Rolleiflex I think.
February 8, 2015 at 5:40 pm
Thank you Camilla. I haven’t seen the Vivian Maier exhibition. I’d really like to. I think she did most of her photography with a Rolleiflex. :-)
February 9, 2015 at 7:43 pm
This is so beautiful, Adrian… thank you for showing us!
February 9, 2015 at 8:35 pm
Thank you very much Lily, that’s very kind!
February 9, 2015 at 8:48 pm
I think your followers are enjoying your camera play as much as you are Adrian. I just love that tulip shot – very Georgia O’Keefe I think. Looking forward to seeing some Iceland shots tho!
February 10, 2015 at 12:34 am
Thank you Tina. I hope that people are enjoying my vintage camera experimentation. I seem to have got the developing side under control. I need to start thinking about printing some of these negatives but that a whole other story.
Iceland is just two weeks away today. It’s looking very snowy just at the moment. A stark contrast to my last visit.
February 10, 2015 at 3:21 pm
Snowy sounds like great photos in the making Adrian!
February 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm
I do hope so Tina! :-)
February 10, 2015 at 6:35 pm
Adrian, what a wonderful set and how exciting to be shooting with a Rollieflex. The first image has a grace and clarity that really made me stop and enjoy its beauty. The Vivian Maier documentary is not to be missed. Incredible street photography.
February 10, 2015 at 2:48 am
Thank you Jane. Vivian Maier’s photography was amazing and what struck me most was she took photographs for herself, because that’s what she loved to do. For no other reason. From what I gather about her, I doubt she’d have even had a blog, had such things been available to her.
February 10, 2015 at 3:25 pm
Such a beautiful and artistic virtual tour! Bye. Kamila
February 10, 2015 at 12:49 pm
Thank you very much indeed Kamila! :-)
February 10, 2015 at 3:26 pm
Beautiful work Adrian, it’s great to see these images made with the Rolleiflex. Look forward to seeing a lot more. Love Vivian Maier’s work too!
February 12, 2015 at 11:55 am
Thank you very much Simon. I’m looking forward to taking a lot more pictures with the Rolleiflex. It’s quite a character!
February 12, 2015 at 7:38 pm
The tulip and teasel is lovely, and I like the detail of that last image of the garden table etc,,, enjoy the camera! I passed up the offer of a roleiflex a while ago as I really don’t want to get back into film!! NB WordPress unfollowed me so I am just catching up on some of your posts!
February 14, 2015 at 10:54 pm
Thank you Sue! Film is a lot of work and expensive. I’m a nightmare in the darkroom. The MS makes me so clumsy. I dropped the nice shiny wet Roche Rock roll of film, fresh from the developing tank, on the floor yesterday evening. I had to rinse it all again but some of the frames were still in a terrible state and unusable. I will persevere for now as I am enjoying the process. :-) (N.B. WordPress seems to do things like this every now and then)
February 15, 2015 at 9:24 am
I think the tulip is just a great black and white shot. Please continue exploring old cameras :)
February 15, 2015 at 6:13 am
I will do Philipp, thank you again! :-)
February 15, 2015 at 9:19 am
Very beautiful photos. Photos are very inspire to me that and I try to make photos in black and white.
February 15, 2015 at 8:52 pm
Thank you very much. That’s a lovely compliment! :-)
February 15, 2015 at 10:34 pm
These images really prove that you don’t need modern ‘high tech’ digital to produce beautiful images Adrian. I’m starting to feel guilty that all my old cameras are languishing in cupboards, unused. I think I will stick with digital though.
February 21, 2015 at 10:39 pm
Thank you Dave, I really don’t blame you for sticking with digital! Photography is so much easier and more accessible now we have digital. Film photography is a lot of work as you know. :-)
February 22, 2015 at 8:46 am
Beautiful work. These are full of stories.
March 1, 2015 at 10:10 pm
Thank you very much Karen. I love the Rolleiflex particularly!
March 3, 2015 at 12:32 pm