Rolleiflex SL35 -- Rollei TLR Quality in a 35mm Camera

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Paul Howell

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The Rollie that was priced to be in the same league as the Leicaflex was the SL2000 and the and the follow up the 3000. Same lens mount, built in motor drive, interchangeable backs focusing screens, not sure if there were interchangeable heads as well, the examples I've seen show sort of a waist level finder to used at eye level. I think it was all made in Germany.
 
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This is an older picture, I have even more since then. But, other than this new SL35, none of these are both all mechanical and made in Germany.
Group Small Rollei.jpg
 
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Back then, while examining the new Rollei 35 I indeed did buy a Leicaflex SL. The two did not compare in quality. Rollei TLR is in a league by itself. The Rollei 35 was just one of many 35mm SLRs in a crowded market at the time.
That being said, you are enjoying your newly acquired Rollei, which is more important than quibbling over minutiae. I admire your ability to open up camera to make adjustments,metic.
Have fun!

Do you still have the Leicaflex SL? Or what is you favorite SLR today?
 

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As a lifelong Rollei fan, back when the SL35 was current I remember wishing it had more features and a lower price than the competitive offerings at the time, because the Japanese makers had really trounced the 35mm slr market with quality and value. Kind of like the Japanese motorcycle phenomenon of the same time.
Glad you are bringing one back to nearly mint.
Fortunately, the photo gear that was completely out of reach in my formative years are now affordable for the most part, and my admiration for them has not diminished in the least.
 

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There was also an SL350 which had a few improvements over the SL35.

I believe all of the SL350s were made in Germany.
 

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It looks in great condition. Surprised to hear of an SLR that was better made than the Leicaflex, but that probably applies to the SL. The earlier Leicaflex Standards are built like Swiss watches, and the build quality is way above their rangefinder cameras.

Amazing lenses too. But w/ eye glasses, that huge viewfinder image was severely cropped for me. I shifted to Nikon AF film cameras, and have been shooting them w/ R lenses for as long as they've made the adapters.
 

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Somewhat off topic, but for a camera built like a Swiss watch was the Swiss Alpa, an off shoot of a Swiss watch maker, or at least parts for watches. Hand made with jewel movements, I've only had access to one for couple of weeks, smoothest camera I have ever owned.
 
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Somewhat off topic, but for a camera built like a Swiss watch was the Swiss Alpa, an off shoot of a Swiss watch maker, or at least parts for watches. Hand made with jewel movements, I've only had access to one for couple of weeks, smoothest camera I have ever owned.

I have 3 Bolexes and have opened them up to see amazing design and craftmanship. A few years ago I was actually looking for an Alpa to see how the 35mm Kern lenses compare to the little ones on the Bolex.
 
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Surprised to hear of an SLR that was better made than the Leicaflex,
SL35 a contemporary, well built camera but the Leicaflex SL had a list price twice as much according to my 1975 Consumer Report Camera Guide.
Also, I like the Zeiss lenses, but Modern Photography showed the Leica lenses to have more contrast when tested back in early 1970s. Again, they were twice as expensive too.
 

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Do you still have the Leicaflex SL? Or what is you favorite SLR today?

Yes, I still have and use my SL. In fact also have original Leicaflex as well as SL2 (although since I normally use rf cameras under poor light, I see no advantage with SL2).;Also use Nikon F, and a couple years ago acquired an F2. Also a Nikkormat EL. I have had some others pass through my hands, but these are the SLRs I prefer. Never felt the need for autofocus.
Hasselblad is my SLR choice for MF, especially 2000FCM (as long as it keeps working) because with adapters I can use a wide variety of lenses, including those from my long departed but not missed 1000F.
As for relative prices of cameras. My Nikon F with lens cost $150 in Japan in 1964. My Leicaflex SL was a Leitz dealers special passed on to me. With about 50 years of trouble free use, not a bad deal for either Nikon or Leicaflex.
I do find the clean simple design of your Rollei 35 quite attractive. And it looks like a camera comfortable to hold when shooting.
 
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The SL35 is thinner than both the SL35M (which is not really a Rollei design) and the tiny but thick SL35E.
Feels very comfortable in the hand. A joy to carry around (and I have been carrying it around the last two days with joy!)

The two most used controls, Shutter Speed Dial and Wind Lever, have a beautiful precision feel. Both are metal with ball-bearing detents.

I have quite a few AF Nikons, and was looking for a clean F2, but I have NO manual focus Nikon lenses and 15 manual focus Rollei 35mm lenses. So the SL35 was a more practical mechanical camera choice. That is not to say a F2 and a few manual focus Nikon lenses are out of the question.
 
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Ian Grant

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Unfortunately, the 35mm Rollieflex cameras gained their reputation for unreliability very quickly, the quality control wasn't up to scratch. As mentioned earlier it was similar with the Leicaflex cameras.

I had cameras stolen in the early 1980's, I was using Pentax K mount for 35mm, I looked at the options for maybe changing and the Rollieflex SLRs were an option, but they were getting poor reviews based on build quality.

The upside is the excellent Zeiss lenses.

Ian
 

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Congrats on resurrecting an almost-forgotten camera. I've never even seen one,and I've been around since these were new. i'm sure you'll have fun with it- and get good results too.
 
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A little something I missed when I bought this camera. The plastic knob on the rewind crank is missing.
Found that out yesterday when I started rewinding my first roll from this camera.

I was able to get a replacement from a parts camera
3C1F6691-4513-4C34-8ECD-7DE3E3ACC79E.jpeg

66DB06D4-EA67-45E2-95EB-3A35207BEB2D.jpeg
 
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I missesd this on first inspection because it is hidden behind the tripod socket (which is removed in this picture).
Someone with their mitts on this camera had bent this lever which actuates the stop-down pin. Again, probably trying to press real hard to take a picture.
I had already bent it back in the image below.
In case anyone is using one of these cameras (German or Singapore) if this lever gets bent, the aperture will not stop down all the way when turning on the meter. This is independent of the system that stops down the lens for the exposure though.
SL35 bent lever.jpg
 
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Do you think that once bent the level will likely bend again?

None of my lenses require any special force to stop the lens all the way. Someone must have really mashed on the button, I presume to try and take a picture with the meter button.
 
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