My friend (and only known regular reader of this blog) Ron got a bit over-zealous bidding on twin-lens reflex cameras on ebay, and ended up ‘winning’ a Rolleicord III and a Yashica 635 at about the same time. He thought the Rolleicord might be broken, so he dropped it off one day for me to have a look. I figured out that it worked fine, though the shutter speed adjusting lever seemed stuck at first – a bit of force loosened it, and it works fine though is still a bit tight to move at the higher shutter speeds. I held on to it and shot a couple rolls of film to see how it worked, and I really liked using it.
Ron liked both cameras, but grew more attached to the Yashica since he was shooting with it, and I was avoiding seeing him so I wouldn’t have to return the Rollei. He enjoyed being able to shoot 35mm film in the Yashica (but don’t ask me why you’d want to use a big TLR camera to shoot little 35mm negatives).
Feeling a need to own just a couple more fly rods – flyfishing being his major avocation – Ron didn’t see the need to own two TLR cameras, so he offered to sell the camera to me for what he had paid. That put a small dent into the cost of his two new fly rods, and gave me a great new camera at a good price. Win-win.
The Rolleicord III is a great camera for me. Not too big and heavy; good lens; decent, though a bit dark, viewfinder; rock-solid build; silky-smooth focusing and winding; auto-stop film winding and frame counter. The auto-stop is a great step up from my Ricohflex, as you don’t have to watch the red window while winding to make sure you stop at the right place for the next shot. Just shoot and wind.
The Rolleicord line is the cheaper little-brother to the famed Rolleiflex. The Rolleicords, as I understand, were built similarly, but with not quite as good of lens, not quite as fast of lens, knob winding instead of the Rolleiflex’s lever-wind, and a few less features (for instance, no double-exposure prevention mechanism on my Rolleicord). They also sell these days for a fraction of the price of a Rolleiflex, so I think they’re a good buy.
The image quality I’ve gotten from it is great. The lens is quite sharp corner-to-corner, with no apparent vignetting at all. Very crisp images.
The images shown here were shot on Tmax 400 black & white negative film. Scanned by North Coast Photo (Enhanced Scans). These were some of the scans that came back dark and overly-contrasty, but came out great when they redid them for me.
These images were shot on the Super Ricohflex 120 TLR camera on Tmax 400 film.
I like the quality of these images from the Ricohflex. The first shot is a little soft, due either to not focusing quite right or a little camera motion, but I think the softness gives it a dreamy quality that I love. I don’t think the softness comes across much in the small size shown here.
The original scans that I got back from North Coast Photo were extremely high-contrast, with shadow and highlight detail lost, as I mentioned in an earlier post. Color scans that they did were great, but the ones from black and white film were disappointing. I emailed them and explained the problem, and they asked me to send the negs back, and they rescanned them and reimbursed me for the return shipping cost. These redone scans turned out great. Hopefully they now have solved whatever problem they had, and will produce good black and white scans in the future.
Some shots from a ski trip up north near the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota earlier this spring. These were all shot on Kodak Gold Max 400 color print film with my Kodak Retina IIIc. Black and white conversions done in Lightroom.
Not sure 35mm film will give you enough resolution?
Below is a crop of part of the image above. This is from 400 speed Kodak Gold Max color print film, not known for fine grain as far as I know. With a fine-grained film like Ektar 100, I imagine the results would be even more impressive. This was an Enhanced Scan by North Coast Photo, resulting in a 3339 x 5035 pixel image, or equal to greater than a 16 megapixel image. From 35mm film! In a 55-year-old camera!! Gotta love the Retina IIIc. This old technology called film isn’t so bad after all.