40 Years with Rollei

by Dennis Camp on 4 June 2011 -

First of all, I would like to introduce myself to you; my name is Denis Camp. I am now retired, having been Chief Technician and Lecturer in Photography at Loughborough College. I am an `Associate of the Royal Photographic Society’ and have a distinction in photography with the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain, D.P.A.G.B. I am also a founder member of the `Leicester Forest Photographic Society’, now one of the largest clubs in the Midlands, formed in 1966.

I am also a Judge and Lecturer to photographic clubs and societies. I have been working with Rolleis for well over 40 years; my first Rollei, bought in the Sixties, was a Rolleicord III. I used this for some 10 years, until I did the usual thing and traded up. I then bought a new `Rollei T Grey’, which I still have. The Seventies and Eighties were a good time for changing cameras, trading up and doing part exchanges.

Alas now, all but a few of our photo shops have all gone. I do most of my buying and selling now through photographic specialists; to name a few that are excellent to trade with: ‘Ffordes’ in Scotland, ‘Photo Design Studio’ in Devon, ‘Jon Harris’ in London, and ‘Camtech’. I am constantly being asked when I am going to change to digital. My answer is always the same, ‘not at the moment’ as I am quite happy with film. I still have most of my negatives from the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, etc. I use mainly 120 21/4 format, but also use 35mm photography; 35mm is usually done on Leicas. I have an M.P., M6 and a Leica R62 Reflex plus a selection of lenses. These are all manual cameras, which I tend to prefer.

' Collette' taken with a Rolleiflex 2.8 GX ‘Helmut Newton’ Fuji Pro 160S

As you probably know, the cost of the new 2¼ Rollei and Hasselblad (DIGITAL) kits run into thousands of pounds, with certain models still in the experimental stage. I find the Rollei a suitable camera for traveling around, ideal for holidays, until recently that is. The recent restrictions of airports can make traveling with cameras like the Rollei more difficult, subjected to the restrictions on hand baggage. I have even been asked to open the back of the Rollei, so always make sure you leave with an empty camera.

Over the last 40 years I have built up quite a number of Rolleis in my collection. I have a Rolleiflex 2.8GX ‘Jersey Limited Edition’, a ‘Helmut Newton Edition’ as well as a new Rolleiflex 2.8.F ‘Mark 4’ white-faced model. I often get asked which is my favourite Rollei; very difficult this one. I must say my favourite would have to be the Rolleiflex 3.5F, the white faced model made in 1979. It has the Schneider Xenotar f3.5/75mm lens, 120/220 facility, and a meter. I believe only a small number of these were made. It is a superb camera, the last of a great run of the 3.5Fs. (Main photo is of a Maltese Fishing Boat’ taken with Rolleiflex 3.5F, Mk4, Fuji Reala)

‘Still Life’ , Rolleiflex 2.8 FX, Fuji Reala

The build quality of all the 3.5Fs, I think, is outstanding. I also have 2 of the MK4s with Planar f3.5 lens. While I was talking about build quality in the Rolleis of the Seventies and Eighties, how does this compare with the new and latest ‘Rollei 2.8f FX? Some months ago, I had the chance to buy one of the FXs secondhand, the camera, mint, only 2 years old complete with case and box, etc. Dare I say I do not think that the build would stand up to heavy rough use; they have tried to make them lighter, but the quality remains, as ever, excellent.

Remember the Seventies and Eighties, when the wedding pros used to almost throw their 3.5Fs and 2.8Fs into the car boot and leave them on the back seat of the car? I suppose with a price tag for a new 2.8FX of £2,450 including VAT, one has to say, ‘handle with care’. A few months ago, when on holiday in Malta, I saw a chap using one of the new Rollei FXs, a rare sight indeed. We got chatting and before long, both finished up in the coffee shop, chatting about Rollei past and present. He was, in fact, French, but had excellent English. However, in the next couple of issues, I hope to be showing you some of my work with the various Rollei T.L.Rs. My main interests have always been in Portraiture, Still Life, Macro Work and Pictorial, when I can get out and about. I hope to show you some examples of my portrait work in the next issue, and just what can be achieved by using a Rollei T.L.R.

Previous post:

Next post: