5 frames with... Photos & Projects

5 Frames with a Rolleicord IIA – by Tom O’Neill

At the beginning of this year I found myself in one of Japan’s second hand camera shops. Wherein I fell in love with a Rolleicord II. It seemed as if it was meant to be for I have never owned a medium format camera before. Being in a foreign country, this seemed like a faultless opportunity for me to try new things.

The Rolleicord IIA sports a (three element 75mm f3.5 Carl Zeiss Triotar as it’s taking lens. I found this lens to produce a more soft/dreamy like feel to the photos. However when stopped down the lens almost competes in sharpness neck to neck with its contender the (four element) 75mm 3.5 Schneider Xenar which is flaunted on the later model Rolleicords.

Being manufactured in 1937 the shutter speeds aren’t anything such as ground breaking. However, they are sufficient enough ranging from 1-1/300th sec, which also includes a bulb setting. I found shooting street photography on the Rollei TLR to be challenging but unfathomably stealthy. Shooting from near waist height with a flipped mirror image isn’t easy to get used to by any means. Although once I got the hang of it I felt almost invisible to any subject as people didn’t seem to notice me taking a shot.


Even though the Rolleicord doesn’t look and feel as aesthetically pleasing as its successor the Rolleiflex, it still holds its own and is a worthy medium format TLR. Here’s a few shots using Fuji Pro 400H.

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  • Avatar
    March 31, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    These photos are really great. I love the waist-level perspective.

  • Avatar
    Lilianna Elrod
    September 1, 2018 at 1:25 am

    I adore that briefcase shot!!!

  • Avatar
    Christian M.
    September 10, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    Nice moments captured. The lack of technology make them sort of timeless but also betray the current modernity of the world. What was the cause of the light leak?

  • Avatar
    September 16, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    What a coincidence Tom, I have just won a Rolleicord V, which has the Xenotar on Ebay. I haven’t received it yet, but am busy scouring the net for any info on Rolleis, as you do :)….

    Just a bit of info to add to your article, the Flex is the professional version of the Rollei camera, the Cord was aimed at the amateur/hobbyist. It has a different set of facilities and is slightly better turned out, but the lenses are with the exception of the Rolleiflex’s with f2.8 Planar, the same for both models. the two types were made concurrently until 1977, when Cord was ended.

    Something that I have read a number of times is that the Cord’s are often much better than the Flex’s because the latter have had a much harder life being worked hard by their owners, compared with Cord owners who kept them in their leather cases and dragged them out for weddings, funerals and Bah-mitzvahs etc..

    Excellent snaps by the way.

  • Avatar
    Nathalie Porter
    September 30, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Now I’m questioning my decision to seek out a later model with Xenar lens, this dreamy aesthetic looks fantastic. Great pictures!

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