Rolleiflex 2.8 E medium format film camera
5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Rolleiflex 2.8E at the Hannover City Park – by Christian Schroeder

December 23, 2021

I’m totally new to TLRs but I can already say that I really enjoy the shooting experience with them! So I’m happy to show you now five frames I took at the Hannover city park (“Stadtpark”), some of the first frames taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E ever.

Since the outbreak of Covid, I have been avoiding travelling as much as I can. Apart from some rare and short family visits, my whole life has been taking place at home – and within a radius I’m fit enough to reach by bike. Well inside this circle sits our city park, less than four kilometers away from my house. I still try to see the situation as a challenge and a chance: revisiting places I’ve been many times before, peeling the onion and taking home some new impressions – even if they are relatively insignificant.

The Hannover City Park in Autumn

I chose the Hannover city park as I wanted to see a less common flora in its autumn costumes. And yeah, the park wouldn’t disappoint me. At the end of October, the colorfulness had reached its peak. As phases of transition, I find both spring and autumn exiting. Autumn, however, carries this sweet melancholy in it. Whereas spring bursts with life and light, autumn is a pompous farewell, to be followed by months of cold, grey and short days.

Around four o’clock, the sun was pretty low. At least I could see the sun at all – already a rather special occasion these days. Thus, quite a few people were resting on garden chairs, scattered on the park’s central lawn. But not me; I swirled around, examining trees and shrubs to see if they would provide a nice photograph.

Because I didn’t want to include people in my frames, I focused on narrow sceneries and details. A nasty thing are these info panels at the bottom, providing the plants’ botanical names: they disturb the photograph and steal the attention. So compose your frames carefully!

Rolleiflex in Action

The Rolleiflex appears like a point-and-shoot camera to me – though an old-fashioned and big one. Compared to other medium format cameras, it is not bulky or heavy at all. As you can’t change neither the lens nor the film back (looking at you, Hasselblads!), there are not that many variables to think about – easy to concentrate on your subject. Most Rolleiflex users will also tell you how much they love viewing the world through this magical square inside their waist-level finders. Holy cow, they are absolutely right! But not only the viewfinder convinced me: the whole user experience seems pleasant and unique, like Phil already pointed out on this site.

I deliberately chose a model equipped with the Schneider-Kreuznach Xenotar lens, which seems less appreciated by us analog connoisseurs than its Carl Zeiss counterpart. (Head over to Casualphotophile to read Josh’s opinion on the Zeiss.) In my perception, Rolleiflexes are considered as the gold standard among mechanical medium format cameras. So at least I had opted for the odd lens option on the rather popular instrument.

A large birch tree, photographed at the city park Hannover

The easiest way to exclude “image troublemakers”: just point your camera upwards!

 

the bottom of a tree trunk on a green lawn

I suppose the subtle interplay of light and shadow as well as the figure-ground separation give this tree trunk a three-dimensional quality.

 

the city park Hannover is full of sculptures and artworks like this female body between red-organge leaves

The Hannover city park is full of artworks.

 

a small tree with colorful red leaves in front of a dark green shrubbery

My favorite image from this series; I love the sparkly-swirling background.

 

a plant with a few intense red leaves

As close as possible. – The brownish tones of this one are quite interesting (all images shot on Fuji Pro 400H).

I hope you enjoyed my souvenirs from the Hannover city park. Thanks for stopping by!

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Pierre-Alix L Favillier
    December 23, 2021 at 10:03 am

    wow… now I know why people want the 2.8..

    stunning

    • Reply
      Eduard
      December 24, 2021 at 9:46 am

      Exactly. I fell in love with this look and bought a Rollei 2.8 because of that.

  • Reply
    Terry B
    December 23, 2021 at 10:31 am

    Christian, lovely images!
    My first Rolleiflex, but not my first TLR’s, which were the Yashicamat and Mamiya C330, was the E2, with the f2.8 Xenotar. I never experienced an f2.8 Planar for comparison and, in all honesty, given the reputation of Zeiss, I accepted that I had an “inferior” lens. But how wrong I was. I subsequently part exchanged the E2 to part fund some 5×4 gear and when I later acquired a 3.5f it was with the Planar, based on some advice from a pro photographer.
    That was when I realised just how good the Xenotar that I had was and I preferred it over the Planar. Oh, how easy it is to be wise after the event!

    • Reply
      Christian Schroeder
      December 24, 2021 at 10:33 am

      Hi Terry!
      Interesting story – from the sweet little Rollei to a full-grown 4×5 is quite a leap! Happy to hear that with the 3.5 you subsequently had both (although you regretted selling your 2.8). I personally love to live in both worlds: for my architecture work, I currently use the rather complicated and slow Hasselblad ArcBody view camera. For casual jobs, I instead rely on my point-and-shoot-like Rolleiflex. Speaking of the Rolleiflex / Hasselblad comparison: do you know the YouTube channel of Ari Jaaksi? He is brilliant – I admire his creativity. Definitely check him out!

      • Reply
        Terry B
        December 24, 2021 at 4:55 pm

        Hi, Christian.
        Wow! That ArcBody is some neat piece of kit. I’ve never heard of it. A bit of a niche, and unique, product but if one can justify owning one, then I can fully see how useful it would be. Much, much smaller, and no doubt much lighter than my MPP Mk.VIII rangefinder. And, funnily enough, I used a 6×6 rollfilm back on the MPP for much of my work, only resorting to full 5×4 film when this was a necessity. But even had I known about the ArcBody back then, it would have been something way beyond what I could afford!
        As an aside, I do have a mint 35mm Kenlock Bellows set and which I acquired decades ago but never used because I couldn’t find adapter mounts. This unit resembles a miniature Sinar monorail, and has full movements on the front and rear standards. With cheap lens adapters for digital bodies and lens adapters I’m minded to attempt to put it into service. There’s little on the internet about the unit, but here is one link that shows what it looks like.
        https://www.pinterest.com/pin/507569820507001363/
        Thanks for the link to Ari Jaaksi, I’ve had a quick look and will view in full after this post.
        Christmas Greetings.

        • Reply
          Christian Schroeder
          December 25, 2021 at 3:05 pm

          Hi Terry,
          the ArcBody is indeed a fantastic camera for its purpose – although I must add that I haven’t employed any of its tilt capabilities yet. But you’re absolutely right, it is a very expensive piece of equipment. I mainly use it outside during the winter season for architectural subjects – rather light and compact, I can easily take the camera and a small tripod with me when riding my bike. Handy, as this allows me to access a broad range of environments, in the city as well as in the countryside. I will soon prepare an article for 35mmc, showcasing some recent images taken with it.
          Please keep me updated with your Kenlock Bellows – would be interesting, if you are able to make it work.
          Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    Matthias Jambon Puillet
    December 23, 2021 at 10:46 am

    Amazing colors!

  • Reply
    Jonathan
    December 23, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    What a pleasure to see such beautiful and high quality images: perfect exposures, wonderful deeply saturated – but not oversaturated – colours, and impactful clear subject/ ground compositions that are visually compelling and enjoyable to take in and linger on.

    These images go way beyond those taken of some object or scene merely for the purpose of demonstrating the capabilities of a particular camera/ lens combination.

    The bar has been raised significantly – bravo!!

    • Reply
      Christian Schroeder
      December 24, 2021 at 10:37 am

      Hi Jonathan, thank you very much for your very nice feedback! 🙂

  • Reply
    Louis A. Sousa
    December 23, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    Classic Rollei!

    • Reply
      Christian Schroeder
      December 24, 2021 at 10:35 am

      Indeed!

  • Reply
    Kevin Lord
    December 23, 2021 at 2:56 pm

    Inspiring. Thank you for posting. I plan to put my first roll through my newly purchased Nikon 35mm this weekend. Now I see how far this film curiosity can go.

    • Reply
      Christian Schroeder
      December 24, 2021 at 10:35 am

      Alright, have fun with your “gateway drug”! 🙂

  • Reply
    dansk66
    December 23, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    Just this week I became an owner of my first TLR, a Rolleicord V. (I am 87, what have I been missing all these years?) Have not yet taken any real photos with it. But it had a partially used Kodakcolor film in it. So “Found Film” has another member. I am having the Kodak film processed. My Rollei only has a 3.5 Xenar, but I am going to try it out soon.

    • Reply
      Christian Schroeder
      December 24, 2021 at 10:43 am

      Hi Geoff!
      That sounds exciting – I am always torn what to do with such old undeveloped films from previous owners. Are they worth the money for development and scanning – or have they degraded too much over the course of the years? The glimpse into another person’s former life: what will it reveal? Should I or should I better not have this glimpse at all? Anyway, enjoy your new camera!

  • Reply
    Matthias
    December 23, 2021 at 10:11 pm

    As always in your posts outstanding and inspiring images. My favorite is the third one with the statue – such a fine composition and beautiful colors.
    Looking at these colors it’s a shame that Fuji is discontinuing the Fuji Pro 400H.

    Choosing a Rolleiflex with the Xenotar lens in my opinion was no mistake. The images look fantastic. I think only very few people could see a difference to the Zeiss Planar. Do the Schneider Xenotar and the Zeiss Planar have a different optical formula ? As far as I know the Zeiss Tessar and the Schneider Xenar share the same optical formula (4 elements in 3 groups) so perhaps also the Planar and the Xenotar do.

    • Reply
      Christian Schroeder
      December 24, 2021 at 10:47 am

      Hi Matthias, thank you for your comment!

      Concerning Pro 400H, I have found a good deal at a store called Kamera Express. They still seem to have plenty of it in stock, at least in 120. I recently ordered five more five-packs: compared to Kodak Portra, the Fuji is cheaper, it has a better reciprocity failure (good for my night projects) and it soon will be gone forever.

      Concerning the Planar / Xenotar debate, I just read an interesting article at Magicflex Camera: even to the expert, the characteristics of the two lenses are hardly distinguishable. As long as the Xenotar is a little underrated, it might just be a good price-saving option. 🙂

    • Reply
      Rock
      December 24, 2021 at 8:32 pm

      I agree with Matthias, Chris. Beautiful images!

      • Reply
        Christian Schroeder
        December 25, 2021 at 3:10 pm

        Thank you, Rock! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kodachromeguy
    December 24, 2021 at 2:28 am

    Well done, Christian! Lovely separation of colors and toners. You have the eye.
    Did you meter with the built-in selenium meter? If it is still linear, you are indeed lucky. Also, I note your Rolleiflex has the distance scale in feet. How did you get this body?

    • Reply
      Christian Schroeder
      December 24, 2021 at 10:54 am

      Hi Andrew,
      actually, I almost always rely on my external Gossen meter (habits!) – although the Selenium still works fine, at least according to my little tests.

      For me as a metric guy, the feet scale was indeed a little difficult to get used to in the beginning. However, I don’t use it that often – just in some cases, when I need a second opinion whether my focus adjustment is plausible or not.

      I bought the camera from an ebay seller located in the Netherlands. The ’flex seemed to work okay, although the ground glass appeared very dark (I couldn’t quite see the corners in the viewfinder under most circumstances). As I really, really enjoyed the camera and the way of shooting with it, I decided to invest in a major overhaul and sent it to Paepke – a well-known technician located in Duesseldorf / Germany, who also inherited the tools and spare parts for the R system from Leica (I can highly recommend his services!). Paepke immediately confirmed that the ground glass was way too dark and exchanged it on this occasion. Now, composing is a breeze.

  • Reply
    RJ
    December 24, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    These are beautiful images! Did you scan these with a DSLR?

    • Reply
      Christian Schroeder
      December 25, 2021 at 3:10 pm

      Hi RJ, thanks! No, I didn’t scan them with DSLR – I had sent the film to Carmencita Film Lab in Spain for development and scanning. They use a Fuji Frontier scanner (or a Noritsu on request). I asked them to scan the negatives rather bright and with warm tones. (https://carmencitafilmlab.com/)

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