The Rolleicord VA is a medium format (6×6) camera using 120 film. It is a twin lens reflex (TLR) camera. It has Xenar 1:3.5 75mm as a taking lens and 1:3.2 75mm as a viewing lens. This camera is version 2, which, according to camera-wiki.org, was in production from 1958 to 1961. The Rolleicord is the sister camera to the iconic Rolleiflex and was designed and manufactured with enthusiasts in mind. It is a product of excellent engineering and is easy to use. It has a shutter speed range of 1/50s to 1s and bulb and aperture range of f/3.5 to f/22. Although it has ASA/DIN settings, it doesn’t have a built-in light meter.
A couple of years ago, when I first came to own this TLR, the slow shutters, ie, ½ sec and 1 sec were sticky – a common issue with vintage cameras, as I’m sure many of you know. Other than that, it was in good working order and seemed well looked after by previous owner(s). I had it serviced by a former Rollei service engineer and since the service all the shutter speeds have been as they should be.
Back in August this year, I spent a few days in South Pembrokeshire in Wales in the UK. The following 3 photos were made during this period. In addition to the camera, I used a tripod and a spot light meter – Sekonic Dualmaster L558.
I arrived at Tenby old town before the sunrise and eventually set up my camera on the tripod at this scene to make the first exposure of Tenby on the film.
One might say that this image defies the common compositional advice not to cut the image in half. However, I wanted to capture both the subdued ambient light before the sunrise and the moon, which was a bit higher than I would have liked. Had I tilted the camera slightly downwards to fill the frame with more boats and houses, the moon would have been pushed too close to the top edge. I thought that would affect the balance of the image.
Townscape of Tenby. In principle when I make this type of town image, I try not to include people nor cars as they can cement the image in time. For this reason I would have preferred the image without the two parked cars on the right hand side in the middle ground. Should I have moved a couple of steps down to avoid them? The number of decisions a photographer has to make in a matter of seconds can be challenging!
Two fishing trip stalls which I decided to try before I left Tenby. I particularly liked the symmetrical and yet asymmetrical aspect of this image.
This image was made more than a month later at Sharpness Dock in Gloucestershire. A place I have visited several times before.
I was hoping for some clouds in the sky and when I left for Sharpness in the morning, the sky seemed promising. However, after a 30 minute drive, the sky was clear, apparently the weather was not on my side. Even so the rising cranes out of chaotic metal frames on the ground were picture worthy. Again I broke the conventional composition advice.
Another month and a half elapsed and the season of autumn has arrived. The autumn leaves provide an array of photographic opportunities. On this occasion appearing to floating in the air.
For the above 5 images, I chose a roll of Ilford Delta 100 for its fine grain. It is one of my frequently used films for black and white photography.
I thoroughly enjoy using this camera every time I am out with it. The whole process of image making with this camera is rather slow, especially when using a tripod but it forces me to think more carefully about exposure and composition.
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12 thoughts on “5 Frames with a Rolleicord VA and a roll of Ilford Delta 100 – By Iksung”
Thanks for this lovely post! I am really impressed with what you do both in terms of composition and technical execution! I have only just started on developing my own black and white film and I see from your pictures that there’s a lot to learn for me, they seem incredibly diligently and well processed .
While I like all the shots, the Tenby Alley stands out to me in terms of atmosphere, but also in terms of composition. To me it looks a tiny bit like something from M. C. Escher, as though the town was weirdly folding into itself. As for your decision to include the cars: if it was to maintain that perspective, it was the right decision. The supposed loss of timelessness is far outweighed by the benefit of that perspective. As for timelessness, the boat in the alley is also a clue… I guess a shot that doesn’t hint at least roughly at some period is really hard to take if you don’t reduce the picture to something purely natural.
However, I love to see the Rolleicord being so competently used and look forward to more posts!
Thank you so much for your generous compliments, Stefan. I am truly flattered. With regard to the Alleyway (Tenby) image, having spent a considerable amount of time, I finally reached to this composition, where everything seemed to fall into place (except the cars of course). By this time, however, there were more and more dog walkers around in the town so I had to make an exposure before any of them walked into the frame. This is my first post with 35mmc. I hope I will be able to make more contributions.
Excellent camera which has the possibility with a rollei accessory of making 4.5×6 images, i.e. 16 views on 120 film. Yashica wide-angle optics must be used with diaphragm openings of 11 and 16.22 for good image quality. I took many slide and black and white photos, it is without doubt one of the best 6×6 reflex cameras, I preferred it to the rolleiflex. The rolleicord uses most of the accessories of the rolleiflex 3.5 and the yashica mat 6×6.
Whenever I use my Rolleicord, I am amazed by the impressive build quality and the sharpness of the lens. I am sure it will be even more so with Rolleiflex. I will be very excited and happy if I ever own a Rolleiflex one day.
Don’t fret too much over the compositional suggestions. Some pictures will do well if the “rules” are ignored! (As yours do, and very well at that!)
Thank you Rich for your comment. As you said, I don’t pay too much attention to those ‘rules’, though I am not a habitual rule breaker in other areas. 🙂 When I am happy with the image in the viewfinder, that’s when I release the shutter.
Iksung, I agree that taking photos with a TLR are slower, especially when you do it on a tripod. I’m new to TLR photography myself and find if I don’t take the time to compose the scene on a tripod the scene isn’t composed well, it’s off center or not straight, and I feel like it’s a waste of the precious 12 frames on the roll. Nonetheless I think you did a great job and love the third shot of the fishing shacks! Thanks for sharing!
Hi Charlie B. This camera is my first TLR but I used to shoot with SLR (6×6). My only issue with my Rolleicord is focusing (partly due to I wear glasses). So I often use the Depth of Field indicator on the camera body. I am glad you like the fishing shacks. I like images with symmetrical aspect.
Very nice shots. Great compositions. You are taking real advantage of medium format.
Thank you for your kind words. I used to shoot in 6×6 most of the time until I purchased my first DSLR Nikon D70 a long time ago.
I have just acquired a Rolleicord very similar to the one you have. It is my first 6×6 TLR, having been a 35mm and a digital user for too many years. Have just put in a film and taken a range of shutter speeds to see…Still waiting results. Great b&w pictures.
You will find 6×6 format demands a rather different approach from 35mm format especially in terms of composition. Good luck with your new camera!