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Rollei cameras

The Rolleiflex camera - history

Paul Franke and Reinhold Heidecke's medium format 6cmX6cm twin lens reflex camera has been imitated by dozens of other manufacturers but not one managed to capture the magical and almost mystifying essence of the Rollei - the name by which it is affectionately known by generations of users.

Its origins lie in the town of Braunschweig in Germany where the two men founded a partnership and a factory to build their first stereo camera, the 45mm X 107mm Heidoscop launched in the 1920s. It was with this and the Rolleidoscop model which followed that Francke and Heidecke established their high level of manufacturing skills.

By the time the first twin lens Rolleiflex was produced in 1929, the company's reputation for quality machine work had spread far and wide. The new camera's f/4.5 Zeiss Tessar lens produced outstanding results, bettered only by the f/3.8 version which began production later the same year.

In the decades since it was first established the company has been a manufacturer of a wide range of photographic instruments for miniature and medium format film and more recently for digital capture used by photography enthusiasts and professionals working in fields as diverse as fashion, defence and medicine. In recent years, the company made bodies for the Sinar Hy6 and Leaf medium format digital cameras but in early 2009 it was forced into administration.

Some names of Rollei camera model types are as follows; Rollei 16s, Rollei 35SE, Rollei 35B, Rolleicord Vb, Rolleicord Va, Rolleidoscop, Heidoscop stereo camera, Rolleiflex TLR, Rolleiflex Automat, Rolleiflex 2.8C, Rolleiflex F, Rolleiflex E, Rolleiflex 2.8F, Rolleiflex 2.8F Aurum, Rolleiflex 3.5F, Rolleiflex SL26, Rolleiflex SL35, Rolleiflex T, Tele-Rolleiflex, Rolleiwide, Wide-Angle Rolleiflex, Rolleiflex 4X4, Grey Baby, Rolleiflex Black Baby, Rolleimagic, Rollei 2.8GX, special Helmut Newton edition, Rollei 3003 series, Rollei 600 series, Rollei 35RF. The rarest Rolleiflex is a 1933 Rolleiflex Standard 9X9cm format camera of which only 9 or between 54 and 56 were made depending on which source is the more reliable.