A few years ago I was bored with digital photography and started shooting 35mm film again. Digital lets me do anything but there is no challenge! The film results were beautiful but I was still not having the fun I was looking for! I decided to try medium-format photography but didn't want to just stumble into it, I wanted a Rolleiflex.
Rolleiflex is actually a series of cameras first produced in 1929, by German camera company Franke and Heidecke. The simple, square 6×6 centimeter images revolutionized photography. The Rollei made it easy to take large, high quality negatives (and positives) with its simple, elegant and incredibly reliable compact design. The TLR or Twin Lens Reflex camera became a staple of pros and news photographers the world over.
I never thought I'd own one. Thank you eBay!
Unlike the monster digital SLRs I was carrying around, the Rolleiflex takes you back to a simpler, messier time. Film advance is by crank. You may adjust your shutter speed, your aperture and the ISO rating of the film — with dials. You can focus, you can move the camera (and your body) around but the lens is 80mm and zoom is something you do by walking closer or father from your subject.
It is this simplicity that brought fun back to composition for me. Instead of taking 100 massive shots and reviewing immediately on a digital camera back, with a Rollei you look DOWN into the viewfinder! You compose a reversed image in a mirror projected on a screen by the viewing (top) lens and when you hit the shutter, it opens the taking (bottom) lens to expose the film.
120 roll film is easy to get. I buy most of mine on Amazon. I've bought a few cameras, a large set of filters, wide-angle and close focus adaptors, and flashes. Anything that needs fixing I send to Harry Fleenor at Oceanside Camera. It takes time but he does amazing work. I send film to SF Photoworks for processing.
After spending a few years with the Rolleiflex I may be getting ready to try large format!