Feb 8, 2009

Rolleiflex T - The first day


Rollei introduced the Rolleiflex T (type 1) in 1958. It is the traditional 6x6 Twin Lens Reflex design, so commonly associated with the Rollei brand. This model was in production until 1976 (type 3).
As the name suggests, it was equipped with a 75mm f/3.5 Carl Zeiss Tessar lens as a taking lens.
Finder lens was a 75mm f/2.8 Heidosmat.
Bayonet size 1, for hood and filters.
Shutter speeds and aperture values were controlled by a lever rather than by the wheels you could find on the other Rollei models of the period.
The price was set between the more expensive Planar models and the Rolleicords, that had either a Carl Zeiss Triotar taking lens, or a Schneider Xenar.
Some T's could accept the device called Rolleikin, which allowed the use of 35mm film with this camera.

In 1985 I bought a Type 1 on the used market, I don't exactly remember when or where. Most probably in Germany.

The photographs you see bellow are from the first and second rolls I ever took with that camera! Yes, I had never put a roll of film through it before.


All photographs taken on the 3th of September 1985, in a spanish small town called El Burgo de Osma.

These images were scanned directly from the Tri-X negatives, developed in D-76, diluted 1+1.

I still keep on having difficulties with scanning! I have no doubt that I could get better tones in my wet darkroom, using my cold-light Zone VI enlarger.

When I lived in Germany, every year I would travell to Portugal, if possible more than once a year. I always travelled by car, as the trip was a big part of the fun. I would very often choose the smallest roads I could find in the map, if I was using a map at all. Only the way back used to be more on a kind of rush, driving endless hours without stop.

The back sit was full with the kids and the dog.
In 1985 it was only two kids and one dog, later on a third kid also took place in there.

Than one year the lady-dog decided to procreate just before the holidays, so we also had to bring the five puppys along... They were just too small...
You can imagine us counting puppys everytime we stopped to take a break. Some just liked to hide under the sit, so we were never sure if one had stayed outside, still taking a pee...
Somehow we managed to get all of them back home...

Although I tried often to change the route, to avoid boredom and learn new places, every now and then we came across El Burgo de Osma. Not a very beautiful place, but photogenic in a way. At least photogenic enough to be a reason to stop for a while and stretch our legs...

On this particular time I must have been a little anxious to try my "new" Rolleiflex!

I already used Hasselblad cameras, and even had owned a Mamiya C330 for a short time, some years before.
But I never had used the famous Rollei TLR. I thought that it's wonderful silent shutter must be great to shoot some street photography.

Well, I guess I was right!

Please allow me to dedicate this post to Mr. Fritz Henle (1909-1993), the great "Mr. Rollei".

I was lucky enough to meet him shortly, when he had an exhibition in Amerika Haus, in Heidelberg, Germany. I also had one there, don't remember if before or after his one...
Later on we still changed a couple of letters, and I wish I could have visited him in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands where he lived.
I have the consolation of looking at his photographs on the fine book I own published by Edition Braus Heidelberg 1994, edited by Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte der Stadt Dortmund.

Mr. Henle was born in Dortmund, Germany, but went to the USA in 1936. He worked for such magazines as Life, Mademoiselle, Holiday and Harper's Bazaar.

I very much admire his very fine classically composed black-and-white photographs.

On our short encounter I could see that he was a true artist and gentleman.

Let my humble images pay him some tribute.



  1. Thank you Jon, I am glad that you aprecciate.


  2. Your pics are great, I just have a Rolleiflex Automat EVS and a Rolleicord Type 3

  3. Hi, nice photos of Portugal scenes ... Living in Germany I once planed to go there every year, too, but things came out different. Nevertheless, the shots remind me of some of mine I took with an old Hasselblad 80 mmm C-Planar in 1995.

    Only one thing I would like to correct: The "T"-model Rolleiflex isn't named by it's Tessar lens, as there appear to be some with a Schneider Xenar, too. It's a somewhat simplified version of the "Automat". It was already available in a pre-WW2-version, and became re-invented with slight modification in the 1950ies.

    But anyway & again, very nice photos; and what such "Old Ladies" can do technically is allways surprising.

    Greetings from Berlin,


  4. Hello Peter,
    I am glad that you comment after such a long time. It's good to see that people keep taking a look on my older posts.
    Maybe you are right (vielleicht...). I don't know, but I have read about what you say about the Xenar before (can't remember where). But the only book that I have for reference is "Collector's Guide to Rollei Cameras" by Arthur Evans. On this book all Rolleiflex T are listed has having Tessar lenses. He even states under remarks: "The T (for Tessar) was designed to place a model between other Rolleiflexes and the Rolleicords".
    He lists: Type 1 (Oct 1958-66). Type 2 (1966-70). Type 3 (1971-76). He also states about the model 3: "This is the last Rolleiflex to use the Tessar lens". All three models have the 75mm f/3.5 Zeiss Tessar as the taking lens, according to him. He actually lists various models that can have the Schneider Xenar (without counting Rolleicords), starting with, as you say, the Automatic Rolleiflex (type 4, 1945-Sept49). Then came some Rolleiflex X (starting also in 49), Rolleiflex MX,Rolleiflex MX-EVS (finishing with Type 2 in 1956).
    I hope that I didn't oversee something...
    Well, I admit that I may be wrong. As I said before, I have also heard your point of view, and if I am not confusing things, the name T should relate to the name of the person who designed this model, or something like that...
    Nevertheless, GREAT CAMERAS!
    Viele Grüsse aus Portugal,

  5. Hello Rui,
    I just found your photos when i was looking for a hint for a Rodinal/APX100 pairing when i dustet my old Nikon FM. I like this photos you took with the "T" i also own a "T" Model with a Tessar, i absolutely love this camera an it's quiet shutter. You're a wonderful Photographer. Glad i found your Photos. I like your "Eye"
    All the best from Hamburg, Germany

  6. As you wrote "Nevertheless, GREAT CAMERAS!"

    I agree - I like the model T very much, it´s my favorite Rolleiflex. It´s light weighted and I think the rendering of the (modern) Tessar is a kind of its own. I also own a Rolleiflex T with as Xenar lens.
    Most important: your pictures. I love them. And I love Portugal

    Viele Grüße aus Deutschland. Tino.