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Author Topic: Istvan Nagy's Take on the Rolleiflex  (Read 3505 times)
BarbaraArmstrong
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« on: February 16, 2013, 07:21:05 PM »
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What an enjoyable piece to read, and enticing!  I very much enjoy the square format, using it often myself, and appreciated his observations and commentary, and the included visuals.  The first image was enough to make me melt and want to use whatever was needed to accomplish something similar.  Of course, it is probably my creativity that needs to be upgraded, rather than my equipment!  Thanks for this piece! --Barbara
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2013, 07:49:33 PM »
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Yes, I found it a terrific essay. As he suggests, I too have often found that when I have been limited to one fixed lens and short rolls of film, that the quality of my seeing goes way up.

I'd love to get a Rollei 2.8 as a companion to my own 5DII!
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2013, 12:57:31 AM »
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Never had a Rolleiflex, but they'll pry my Yashica Mat 124G from my cold, dead hand, largely for reasons mentioned in the article.  Well written!

Mike.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2013, 01:48:01 AM »
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Yes, a very good read. The companion to my 5DII is a 1915 Kodak Autographic Special. Six shots per roll and the "sunny f8" rule for exposure. The files are not better or worse than digital, just different. The devil is in the scanning but. Such a lot of dust, and the process can introduce too much shadow and highlight detail and lose the "film" look. However it has been fun to go back to developing B&W negs again.
Thanks István.
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Rob C
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2013, 04:18:27 AM »
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The Rollei that I had was a second-hand copy of the 'cheap' T version with a 3.5/75 Tessar. It made not unsharp but, rather, kind images of people. It, and an Exakta Varex 11a accompanied me into my new world of the self-employed.

In time, I bought a Mamiya C something to which I fitted a 180mm optic. As work became better, I decided it was time to take the leap and go 500C 'blad; my work could only improve.

Then, I did my first outdoor fashion shoot with the 'blad and the first print. Bloody hell: nothing was as sharp as it should have been. I had been utterly ignorant of the phenomenon of mirror bounce, something I'd not found in the 35mm slr world at all.

Yes, if you are happy with a fixed lens, have the patience to carry (and use) a tripod, then I too would recommend a Rollei TLR. As a single camera? Nope; frustration will eventually defeat you, as in the first time you want to shoot a full headshot. Worse, if you do go for the alternative Mamiya TLR system and a longer lens, then you will find yourself confusing yourself with a little red line that moves up and down the screen indicating where the top of the actual shot frame might be. Drove me nuts! And I used it professionally so I was 'used' to it.

Something to remember: if you are working at the nearest focussing distance of a TLR, then be aware that parallax works not just in up and down mode; shooting down (or up) at an angle means that the two lenses are no longer parallel to the object you want crisp. Just think of the standard brick wall test: yes, you should be able to get great coverage and crispness with a TLR when you shoot straight at it, but imagine the effect if you shoot at an angle: what you focussed on with the screen lies about an inch and a bit further in another plane.

Were I to want to return to 6x6 (nominally!") I would select a 'blad every time.

I absolutely agree on a point made elsewhere in this thread: taking out a single lens makes you think. Before you go out.

Rob C
« Last Edit: February 17, 2013, 04:28:43 AM by Rob C » Logged

mvsoske
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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2013, 08:49:01 AM »
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Never had a Rolleiflex, but they'll pry my Yashica Mat 124G from my cold, dead hand, largely for reasons mentioned in the article.  Well written!

Mike.

+1
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Fulvio Senore
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2013, 09:44:59 AM »
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Thank you for this essay. My father bought the same Rolleiflex model at the time, and I remember him taking photographs with it.
I remember him asking to keep a finger vertical to help him focus with the center split image focusing aid...

Lately he gave it to me and I used it sometimes. Prints were definitely different from the ones taken by a 35mm camera. I even shot some marriages of friends and the prints were gorgeous. You had to know what you were doing rather well because a roll contained only 12 images, then it took time to change it.

In the end that camera, and other cameras of the time, is something completely different, built in a different way for different people. I think that it would be instructive for young people to handle such a camera for some time.

Curiously, now I use a Panasonic G1 (mountain hiking, I need a light camera) and the viewing experience in the finder reminds me the one of the Rolleiflex, with that grainy appearance.
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ned
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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2013, 01:10:21 PM »
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I have also been bitten by the medium format bug. My choice was a Bronica SQ-Ai and I am in love. Been developing both color and black and white at home. My digital stuff has not been used in months. (well except for the kids school play where I had too).
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markd61
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2013, 08:04:34 PM »
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I was first exposed to TLR joy by my mother's Beautyflex that she loaned to me in high school. The front standard was not parallel to the film plane but I got dreamy TS effect from it that was accentuated by a fairly soft 75 mm lens.
In 1979 I bought a Rolleiflex 3.5  from a retiree in Palm Springs who desperately wanted me to buy his Minox instead. The Rolleiflex was $50 and the Minox was $100. As I had (and still have) zero interest in Minox I jumped on the Rolleiflex.

I enjoyed it for years and did my whole MFA project with it. Sadly I sold it to a friend for $100. The good part is he still enjoys it.

A delightful, quiet, and contemplative way to make beautiful photos.
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JackWinberg
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« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2013, 08:26:36 PM »
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This thread has generated a wave of nostalgia in my deepest recesses.  I could never afford an actual Rollie as a kid, but finally managed to obtain a Yashica Mat, and really loved it.  Sadly, I sold it along with all my film equipment when I "went digital" several years ago, and I regret having done so.

Still, the adventurous striving for image "perfection" in the digital idiom is deeply rewarding, just "different".

Ah, well........... .   Undecided

Jack Winberg
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Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2013, 03:35:55 AM »
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"This thread has generated a wave of nostalgia in my deepest recesses.  I could never afford an actual Rollie as a kid, but finally managed to obtain a Yashica Mat, and really loved it.  Sadly, I sold it along with all my film equipment when I "went digital" several years ago, and I regret having done so.Still, the adventurous striving for image "perfection" in the digital idiom is deeply rewarding, just "different".Ah, well........... .    Jack Winberg"

   



This, posted in a thread about Rolleiflex, made me lean back in the chair and think.

It brought me to the realisation that there are basic communication problems here in photography land. For some, it’s all about the quoted “perfection”, and for others, apparently a tiny minority, it’s still about pictures, with technique being a factor of less importance, in the sense that once you know how to do something reasonably well, it’s time to forget the technique and just concentrate on the image.

I realised, in my own life, that when faced with less than excellent models because of budgets, reasonable technique was the single factor that allowed me to bring home something useable. Work carried out under such constraints never soared, but it certainly knew how to fly high enough to pay the bills.

This lower dependency on “perfection” might have been partly due to film. We were all accustomed to seeing grain, in some degree or another, and it didn’t do anything particularly negative to us; our attention was pretty much always concentrated on the image within the page – how well or otherwise some editor had used it, whether we wished we’d taken that shot ourselves, all of them aesthetic considerations. Today, I get the sense that that sort of looking has become a thing of the past; today, it’s as if the technical “perfection” referred to in the quoted post has taken over from the emotional kick of the message within the image – the medium, in fact, really has become the message.

If this needs further proof, then I believe that I see it in the digital retouching, which appears to me to have become far more important than the subject matter that’s been retouched into fantasy. Does photography itself become diminished?

Rob C

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sdwilsonsct
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2013, 03:52:23 AM »
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... digital retouching, which appears to me to have become far more important than the subject matter

Processing is a lot easier to do, and discuss, than photography.
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Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2013, 08:32:04 AM »
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Processing is a lot easier to do, and discuss, than photography.


That's probably true insofar as discussion goes, but I have yet to find digital processing particularly instinctive when compared with the darkroom, which gave one's hands, especially, a direct sense of participation in the making of a print. Even today, years since I last touched a wet print, I feel my hands and mind instinctively wishing to form a shadow with which to burn in or hold back... One procedure was visceral where the other is cerebral.

Rob C
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JackWinberg
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2013, 09:11:07 AM »
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Of course, "perfection" implied the striving inherent in any artistic process toward aesthetic satisfaction, an elusive and ever evolving entity.  I endured years of feeling awkward with the evolution from silver halide to pixel image modification, trying to make a translation from my familiar darkroom procedure into digital processing.  I have finally made some peace with the concept that there is no direct translation, only similarity, and one had best "go with the flow" of current techniques.  I LIKE the expanded range of possibilities, and now find it enabling.

"Perfect" is so subjective, so evolving, and DOES (in my mind, at least") so connect to the picture itself. All a matter of philosophy.

Jack
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VidJa
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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2013, 04:49:05 PM »
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Thanks Istvan,

for a beautiful essay and showing some pictures of our lovely small country in this beautiful format and for returning me to my first days in photography. I must have been 13 or 14 when our art teacher send us onto the street with a bunch of Lubitels for a summer project. I still remember those days giggling in the school darkroom and the oh's and ah's when our films were developed. I still have the portraits of my first girlfriend, shot with one of those bricks on Ilford FP4. They are even after all that time among my best pictures. I now realize why, I was still ignorant of any photographic technique and followed my feeling and vision. I agree with Rob C that this is the one lesson we should never forget....its all about the picture.

I too went down the technical road like many of us so later on I switched to Nikon and Agfa APX25 in Microdol, and although this combo is as sharp as my brand new D600, it never rivalled the look of the 6x6 negatives. Right now I don't even have the space for a darkroom, so lightroom IS my friend.

For now, I couldn't care less about the technical stuff. This weekend I left my D600 at home and took my old D50+20 year old 35mm (oh no, only! 6 MP) on a rough hiking trip, delivering stunning scenery from Belgium, just because...I followed my feeling and vision.
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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2013, 04:56:37 AM »
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Istvan,

A good read this essay. Familiar in more than one way. Reflects my thoughts on 6x6 and on TLRs. I searched for the posture of the photographer bowing to his subject and it was there in another phrasing. My favorite MF camera though is an Iskra 6x6 folder that I can put in my pocket which is harder with a TLR. Pointing a camera like that or an SLR on a person, in the street or with portraits is different for the subject and the photographer of course. But the square format is still a nice format even when the viewfinder is part of a rangefinder. Like you I live in Eindhoven and walk or bike along the Dommel. Square format images of inland Spanish towns are quite present in my prints too. The MF folders I collected for use were more a stop gap solution till DSLRs gave me similar resolutions for my inkjet wide formats, that 35mm film just did not deliver in practice I checked Chris Perez's tests and made my choices  of MF folders. Of course his test of the Rolleiflex Planar is in another category. I am more or less past this period but the folders are still here and I miss that square format. A design of a digital camera that has much of what you describe is possible and the experience I think can be improved upon. I recently wrote something in another forum:
http://www.dpreview.com/articles/7898773566/cp-2013-interview-with-olympus-toshi-terada#comments
A timer added to force slow mood should be included :-)

Like rangefinder concepts were brought back in digital cameras, even improved upon in Fuji models, the 6x6 TLR experience should not be lost.

--
Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst

http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm
December 2012, 500+ inkjet media white spectral plots.
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OldRoy
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« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2013, 01:22:46 PM »
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Read the piece; went out for a walk. Almost immediately I ran into a young person (ie under 40) shooting a Rolleiflex - which I don't recall occurring, ever, in the previous 6 or 7 years.

I blame it on that C.G. Jung.

Roy
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G*
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« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2013, 05:01:13 AM »
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Although I will not return to clunky MF cameras and time consuming analogue shooting I am missing the look through a not-2x3-viewfinder quite often. How about a camera with contemporary internals that produces square format files, wouldn’t that be great? Consider a camera of your favorite manufacturer that can use lenses that were made for 24x36mm on a square sensor of roughly 30x30mm – which would not be such a huge problem to develop I guess. Who’s with me?
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2013, 08:40:06 AM »
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Although I will not return to clunky MF cameras and time consuming analogue shooting I am missing the look through a not-2x3-viewfinder quite often. How about a camera with contemporary internals that produces square format files, wouldn’t that be great? Consider a camera of your favorite manufacturer that can use lenses that were made for 24x36mm on a square sensor of roughly 30x30mm – which would not be such a huge problem to develop I guess. Who’s with me?


Say 36mm x 36mm and you might gather a following...

;-)

Rob C
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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2013, 01:38:52 PM »
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Say 36mm x 36mm and you might gather a following...

;-)

Rob C

Well I would prefer the smaller size, sensors improve fast enough. A 20x20mm for an M4/3 lens system. Roughly wastes an equal amount of the sensor area and the lens coverage, I estimated. Should cover a 1.61 : 1 aspect ratio, vertical and horizontal, and a square format halfway + all aspect ratios within the limits. Viewfinder window adapting to the chosen frame aspect ratio and Tiff or Jpeg output based on that but RAW output with the data of the entire sensor area. Some Panasonic M4/3 cameras already have a few choices in aspect ratios that are not simple crops on the normal frame but shift the use of the sensor area. This is a more radical approach. Ergonomics optimized for a camera that has no need for rotation. Olympus OM-D style image stabilisation and sensor quality.  A viewfinder that is more aimed at composition,  like the TLRs or SLRs without a prism. EVF style that can be tilted upwards but with a square viewing field or integrated in the camera with the same features.  The M4/3 lens catalog is already quite big and that size of lenses will keep the camera quite small.

--
Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst

http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm
December 2012, 500+ inkjet media white spectral plots.
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