My forays into various types of film cameras usually go something like this: 1) Go to the internet and read/watch something that leads to a link to another link to yet another link about a really cool camera. 2) Become entranced with the thought of using said camera. 3) Perusing eBay and buying a (usually inexpensive) camera. 4) Liking it. 5) Buying a more expensive version of the same camera. 6) Looking for a really cheap version of the expensive camera.
The last step is related to my other hobby–cycling–which I use as a springboard to find interesting things to shoot. I always carry a camera in my handlebar bag, but I’m concerned about taking really expensive kit on the bike in case the jostling might damage the delicate internals. For this reason, I have a minty Olympus XA and a somewhat more used XA (that still takes great pictures) that I carry on the bike.
A recent journey through the wonderland of cameras involved TLRs. I had never tried one, but I was intrigued and bought a Lomo Lubitel 166 (which I will write about separately). Shooting with that camera convinced me that this was, indeed, a very fun way to take pictures, which led to … Rolleiflex. I’d been thinking of buying a Rolleiflex for a while, so away to eBay I went! I tracked down a very nice Rolleiflex K7A Type 1, with an f2.8 Tessar lens. I shot some film with it, and was hooked. Such a nice camera!
Too nice, in fact. I didn’t want to have it bumped around on the bike and possibly harm the recently CLAed internals.
Back to the internet, which planted the seed of buying a less-expensive but still nice Rolleicord, sort of the Chevrolet of Rollei TLRs. I hunted around and found a great Rolleicord Model III Type II that cost about 1/4th of what I paid for the Rolleiflex. It took amazing pictures, and I was quite happy with the purchase, but …
Could I go even cheaper?
Well, eBay turned up a third camera, a Rolleicord II with a Carl Zeiss lens, made in 1937 in pre-WWII Germany. It arrived and, although the leather case was falling apart, the camera seemed to be in fine condition. Shutter speeds seemed right, everything worked, it was even cleaner than I thought it would be from viewing the listing on eBay. And all for about 1/15th the price of the Rolleiflex! Sure, it was missing the folding focus magnifier, but I found a super low-cost solution to that problem.
In went some film, and … success! More than 80 years after it left the factory, the little Rolleicord is still delivering high-quality images that are pin-sharp, yet manage to have plenty of character. My journey to the bottom of the price spectrum found a great little camera that I can safely carry, knowing that if it gets bumped around, there’s only about $65 worth of equipment at risk.
And now, on to the photos, from the first few rolls of film. Enjoy.
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