film, light, water


March 15, 2024

This  occasion was  before the TLR  was damaged by salt water from a rogue wave in late 2022. Though the  camera body can be repaired,   the elements in the 3.5F Planar 75mm  lens  have separated due to a breakdown in the glue used to cement lens groups together.   This cannot be fixed in Australia as the people with the necessary optical skills aren’t working  any longer as  they have either retired or died. So the camera can no longer be used.

This is a pity as I have had the TLR   since the early 1980s.   It became  my  favourite camera as it  was  an excellent, lightweight  walk around medium format camera that made good images.  Replacing it with another Rolleiflex TLR in good working order  is just  too expensive — its  approx. $A2-3000+ .

 This is one of the last images that I made made with the TLR — light amidst sea fog:

I replaced the TLR  with  the more latter  all mechanical,  Rolleiflex SL66   from the 1960-70s. The latter was made by Rollei in response to the medium format photographers abandoning  the Rolleiflex TLR in the early 1960s and moving to the  more flexible Hasselblad and Mamiya SLR systems. Rollei’s  series continued with the 6000 series in the 1980s before they went bankrupt. They had a 80-year run.

Like Rollei Hasselblad in the first decade and a half of the 21st century were trapped by a vicious cycle of limited capital, short-term decisions, small scale, high production costs, and aging brand. But in 2017 the financial resources provided by the Chinese drone maker DJI, who had acquired a majority stake in Hasselbald, enabled them to make the transition. Unlike Hasselblad Rollei  had no Chinese investment and they were unable to make the full transition to digital technology.  Rollei’s  transitional attempt was the 2007 hybrid film/digital  Hy6, but the digital back was just too expensive then. Things have changed since. The recent Hasselblad 907x and its CFV 100C digital back, though expensive, is a more financially accessible modern digital version of the old medium format film cameras.

Though the old  Rolleiflex SL66  is  solidly built and much more versatile than the TLR, with its interchangeable film backs and lenses, it is much heavier and more cumbersome to use.  It’s a brick. I carried the SL66  with me when I was walking in Japan in 2023, but I didn’t use it  as an everyday,  walking around  camera.  I only used it on specific occasions. 

What is emerging  from my  little experiment about light  is that I am finding that photographing light is more difficult than I’d expected.  I struggle to find ways to do it,  or to find the suitable situations. Hence my hesitation about this experiment becoming a series.

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