The humble Rolleicord VB Produced from 1962 – 1966 for the Type 1 and 1966 – 1977 for the Type 2, it stands ever so slightly feature-dwarved by it’s larger more professional brethren. (The Rolleiflex crowd.) With a Schneider Xenar lens it has only a little less optical performance but just as much character and is loads of fun to shoot with.
I inherited this beauty and have run a few rolls of Lucky SHD100 and Ilford FP4 through it.
First impressions upon handling it is very similar to it’s brothers, Although it does seem slightly smaller or slightly lighter but it’s very hard to be certain. It has a similar waist level finder to the Flex’s and it is almost as easy to focus, it’s a little more touchy and a little harder to find the image “snapping” into focus but is still quite good.
It’s downfalls stack up on the right (when shooting) side of the camera, starting with the film winder. here you have a turn style knob. It is intelligent enough to lock out when the next exposure is in place and ready. This is a good feature but winding can be slow so try not to use this camera for shots of sporting events or children running around.
Although it lacks the lever wind of the Flex’s it makes up for this by having a seperate shutter cock, coupled to the shutter button. this allows the photographer to make use of the artistic “double exposure”. Which simultaneously allows the photographer to make use of the “accidental double exposure” this is something to be aware of.
Below is a double exposure example.
The shutter release may just be in the most uncomfortable position immaginable. It sits right on the bottom of the taking lens and is cocked by pulling to the right and released by pushing to the left. This seems to get in the way when you are framing and reaching for it without looking leaves your fingers poking around needlessly. I never quite know which hand i should be using on the shutter release and this is a time waster, additionally to this if you mount your cord on a trigger action handle then the entry point for the shutter release cable cannot be used as the mounting base gets in the way of the entry point which faces down. This is a disaster for useability, it’s a catch 22. You can’t use the ordinary release and when you grab your handle you find that’s unuseable as well.
The shutter release really is my only gripe with this otherwise fantastic little alternative. I use the word alternative because that’s really all it is. If you had the option of the Flex you would opt for it without thought. However with the economic crises the Rolleicords are looking to be a very attractive option for those with shallow pockets. You can get a steal on ebay for a fraction of the price of a Rolleiflex.
The Rolleicord VB takes standard 120 roll film available anywhere. I buy mine on ebay or get expired stuff from my local lab, you should too the results are just the same.
Loading the Rolleicord is the same as most other TLR’s of the same era. You drop the film spool in and take the film OVER the rollers and feed into your take up spool. Wind the knob and the film will go tight, continue winding until the arrows on the films backing paper lines up with the little red dots on either side. Close the back and lock.
Now continue winding until the number 1 shows in the frame counter, the film advance knob will lockout at this point preventing further winding. You are now ready to cock the shutter and take your first exposure.
Exposure controls are on the right side (when shooting) of the camera and is a push-pull lever to control EV (Exposure Value), by pressing in on the button while pushing/pulling you will adjust the aperture against the shutterspeed. Shutter speed values from B – 1/400th sec. and Aperture from f/3.5 – f/22.
The results shooting with the Rolleicord are excellent, you’re already shooting medium format so you know you have the ability to resolve very fine details, the Schneider Xenar lens with it’s 4 elements is a great taking lens, it’s a copy of the formidable Zeiss Tessar found on the Rolleiflex’s. Stop this lens town to f/5.6 and you should get a very sharp image with no vignetting.
Overall this is a fantastic TLR and for careful photography when it counts this little beauty on a tripod will produce great results.