Episode 64: Rollei Rollei Rollei

For this, the 64th episode of the Camerosity Podcast, the gang finally devotes our full attention to one of the most popular brands of cameras ever made.  A camera brand that was so popular, they named the entire company after it, the Rolleiflex!

Originally founded by two ex Voigtländer employees who had an idea on how to build a better soldier’s camera, a new company called Franke & Heidecke was created, and from there, a whole legacy of twin lens, and eventual single lens reflexes was born.

Joining Anthony, Paul, Theo, and Mike are returning callers Bill Smith, John Roberts, Marc Gordon, Patrick Casey, Rafael Espinosa, Tim Peters, and first time callers Dean Robinson and Steve “Johnny Appleseed” Lederman.

In this episode, we will cover the early history of the company, how Paul Franke and Reinhold Heidecke first got started, the early and later Rolleiflex and Rolleicord TLRs.  We also cover their transition into both medium format and 35mm SLRs, the compact Rollei 35, the Cosina made Rollei 35 RF, and a few other Rollei models.

We ask the tough questions like what is the difference between a Rolleiflex and Rolleicord, are the triplet lenses really that much worse than the Tessars, are German Rolleis better than Singapore Rolleis, and what are everyone’s favorite models.  In addition to Rollei GAS, we briefly discuss a strange Japanese Rollei copy, why people tend to blend in better using cameras with waist level vs eye level viewfinders, the confusing transition from Voigtländer, Zeiss-Ikon to Rollei, and whether or not Vivian Maier was creepy.

As always, the topics we discuss on the Camerosity Podcast are influenced by you!  Please don’t feel like you have to be an expert on a specific type of camera, or have the level of knowledge on par with other people on the show.  We LOVE people who are new to shooting and are interested in having an episode dedicated to people new to the hobby, so please don’t consider your knowledge level to be a prerequisite for joining!

The guys and I rarely know where each episode is going to go until it happens, so if you’d like to join us on a future episode, be sure to look out for our show announcements on our Camerosity Podcast Facebook page, the Camerosity Discord server, and right here on mikeeckman.com.  We usually record every other Monday and announcements, along with the Zoom link are typically shared 2-3 days in advance.

For our next episode, we are finally going across the pond for another European time zone friendly episode.  If you are a fan of the show but are asleep or otherwise unable to join us for our regular recordings, this is the episode for you!  We will record Episode 65 on Monday, February 12th at Noon Central Standard Time (-6 UTC), 1pm Eastern Standard Time (-5 UTC), 6pm Greenwich Mean Time (+0 UTC), 7pm Central European Time (+1 UTC), and 5am Tuesday morning Australian Eastern Daylight Time (+11 UTC).  We look forward to hearing from you!

In This Episode

  • Rollei Almost Didn’t Exist / Paul Franke and Reinhold Heidecke Originally Worked for Voigtländer
  • The Original Idea for the Rolleiflex Was to Be an Improved Vest Pocket Camera
  • Franke & Heidecke Heidscop / Rolleidoscop
  • The Rolleiflex First Went on Sale in 1929 / It Is Difficult to Tell Every Rollei Apart
  • Early Rolleiflexes Were Designed for 117 Film / Some Were Modified to Use 620 Film
  • Differences Between Rolleiflex and Rolleicords / Dim Viewfinders
  • Was the 1950s the “Golden Era of Rollei”? / Triplet Lenses Can Sometimes Be Very Sharp
  • Mike’s First Attempt at Repairing a Rolleiflex Old Standard
  • Rolleiflex T and Rolleimagic / TLRs with Interchangeable Lenses / Bay Filter Mounts
  • Japanese Rollei Copy, the Rollekonter / Meopta Flexaret TLRs
  • Rolleiflexes Are Precision Machines That Require Regular Service and Cleaning
  • Honeywell Distributed Rolleiflexes in the US For a While
  • Heinrich Peesel / Rollei 35 / Rolleiflex SLRs / Ifbaflex SLR
  • Rolleiflex SL66 Medium Format SLR / Rolleiflex SL26 Instamatic / Rollei A110 and E110
  • The Confusing Transition from Voigtländer to Zeiss-Ikon to Rollei
  • German Made Rolleis vs Singapore Made Rolleis / Triplets vs Better Lenses
  • Cropping 6×6 Images / TLRs Are Great for Street Photography
  • Vivian Maier / Being Confronted While Out Photographing People
  • Mike Loves Vivian Maier’s Work But Thinks She Was Probably a Little Creepy
  • Cosina Made Rollei 35 RF is Based off the Bessa R2


The Camerosity Podcast is now on Discord!  Join Anthony, Paul, Theo, and Mike on our very own Discord Server.  Share your GAS and photography with other listeners in the Lounge or in our dedicated forums.  If you have questions for myself or the other guys, we have an “Ask the Hosts” section as well where you can get your question answered on a future show!  Check it out!  https://discord.gg/PZVN2VBJvm.

If you would like to offer feedback or contact us with questions or ideas for future episodes, please contact us in the Comments Section below, our Camerosity Facebook Group, Instagram page, or Discord server.

The Official Camerosity Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/camerositypodcast

Camerosity Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/camerosity_podcast/

Theo Panagopoulos – https://www.photothinking.com/

Paul Rybolt – https://www.ebay.com/usr/paulkris and https://www.etsy.com/shop/Camerasandpictures

Anthony Rue – https://www.instagram.com/kino_pravda/ and https://www.facebook.com/VoltaGNV/

Camerosity can also be heard on the following services:

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@camerositypodcast

Google – https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkLnBvZGJlYW4uY29tL2NhbWVyb3NpdHkvZmVlZC54bWw

Apple – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/camerosity/id1583252688

Amazon Music – https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/9d316c9e-5461-4fa5-9e04-24fd27fffc3f/camerosity

Podchaser – https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/camerosity-1985806

One Comment

  1. Regarding “creepy” Vivian Meier: even if you’ve seen the movie “Finding Vivian Meier” the biography “Vivian Meier Developed” by Ann Mark’s is worth a read. The movie is primarily the story of the photos, the book is the story of Vivian Meier, the person. As for creepy, yeah, a bit… Hoarding and Vaseline.

Like this Post? Let me hear your thoughts!