5 frames with...

5 Frames With A Rolleiflex 2.8F – by Floyd K. Takeuchi

There was delightful synchronicity in the opportunity: photograph an up and coming jazz quintet during a practice session.  I’d been considering trying Ilford Delta 3200 in my Rolleiflex 2.8F, a 1980 Whiteface with a lovely Schneider-Krueznach Xenotar. Shooting in a small music practice room with no windows was the perfect setting for using a high-speed film with a camera whose leaf shutter tops out at 1/500th of a second.

And it was a chance to photograph a group of young musicians who’d embraced acoustic jazz, playing classics of the 1950s and 1960s.  The Rolleiflex, which was older than all of the musicians, looked and fit the part.

I metered the Ilford at 1600, which gave me just enough leeway to hand-hold about half the shots. I was significantly more confident with the Rollei on a tripod, however. As it was only the band, me and a photographer friend who was shooting 35mm, there was room to move with the TLR on a sturdy tripod.

My Rolleiflex is fitted with a Maxwell brightscreen, a necessary addition for me to use the camera. It’s also been overhauled by Harry Fleenor, the Rollei repair specialist in California, who took my very clean camera and turned it into an all-but-new one.

The musicians were great. They ignored me as I worked my way around and occasionally through the group. I exposed three rolls of the Ilford Delta 3200. The band’s leader was Daniel Sananikone on trumpet, Grant Cravalho on piano, Jeremy Lawi on drums, Bronson Nishikida on saxophone, Arthur Davis on trombone, and Anthony Burruso on bass.

Arthur Davis on trombone, Anthony Burruso on bass, and Branson Nishikida on saxophone

Branson Nishikida on sax and band leader Daniel Sananikone on trumpet

Jeremy Lawi on drums.

Grant Cravalho on piano, with Anthony Burruso (bass) and Daniel Sananikone (trumpet)

Arthur Davis on trombone

I was happy with the results. Grainy and gritty enough to suggest (in my mind, at least) the classic jazz performance photography of the 1950s and 1960s of William Claxton and other photo greats. I made sure to provide band members with 8 x 10 prints, an appropriate thank you, I thought, in an age of emailed jpegs.

Floyd K. Takeuchi
www.floydtakeuchi.com

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6 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Abe
    February 13, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    I love these! Great compositions, and I appreciate how your choices of camera and film helped give you the look you were going for.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Terry B
    February 13, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    I have fond memories of the f2.8 Xenotar fitted to a metered E2 I once owned in the early 1980’s. It was an exceptional performer, albeit I wasn’t too keen on the EV shutter, but I needed it to fund a 5×4 outfit and so the E2 had to go. There is something very appealing about the classic look of the last Rolleiflexes that some years later I acquired a very nice metered 3.5f with Planar, the prices of Rollei f2.8’s having risen to more than I wanted to pay “just for the look”.
    If I’m honest, I think that the Xenotar was marginally sharper than the Planar, at least with my samples, but not now having the former to hand, I can’t be sure.
    For stage 2 of your photoshoot, may I suggest you ignore health and safety and get the lads into a smoke-filled darkened club lit only by spots, and get some “authentic” jazz images.😁

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Faraz
    February 13, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    I have an identical minty Rolleiflex 2.8f ‘whiteface’ with the same lens. The meter is interesting, I thought it was dead and assumed that selenium cells of this age simply do not work. Then just a few days ago I was out with the camera and a spot meter and noticed the needle moving accurately matching my readings on the spot meter. At other times it doesn’t move at all.

    Anyway, there’s certainly a joy to using these wonderful and very capable machines that uplifts the whole experience of shooting. It also seems to generate a lot of interest. I have a few (read too many) film cameras, and this one gets the most compliments by far. Doesn’t stop people asking to see preview LCD at the back though, lol, these millennials.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Terry B
      February 13, 2019 at 9:38 pm

      Faraz, if your meter responds and the needle is deflecting properly to give you accurate readings, I’d say the selenium element is working fine. What I’ve very occasionally noticed with the meter on my 3.5f is the meter needle not deflecting, but is positioned at its lowest point, i.e. where it would naturally lie with no light falling on the cell. A little twiddling with the setting wheel frees it up. Now I’m guessing that what causes the needle to stick is when it is the setting wheel which pushes it to this extreme position. In other words, the needle is pushed further than where it would lie if left to rest naturally. Now, this may not be the case with yours.
      Something else you can try, and this situation has arisen with some of my old hand-held selenium meters, is try pressing gently on the honey comb cell when the needle is not responding, and if this causes the needle to then deflect you have a problem with the wiring connection from the cell to the electrical coil to which the needle is attached.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Terry B
      February 15, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      Faraz. Do you point out the pre-view on the top and explain it’s live view as well? 🤣

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Faraz
    February 15, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks Terry, I’ll try this – I’ve gotten comfortable with using an external hand held light meter, but it’d be nice to know the original one is still working.

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