At some point after the Mamiya 645 but before the Mamiya 7, I had a brief stint with the Rolleiflex 6006. While Rolleiflex is a name that typically associated with TLR (twin lens reflex) cameras, Rollei did offer a large number of medium format SLRs as well. This series of cameras has a pretty confusing naming system and I'm often perplexed by the features of each model, or lack thereof. The ones that matter are modular, with removable film backs, finders, and lenses. However, unlike other modular SLRS, they have a fairly compact design and can be packed away easily.

The Rolleiflex SLRs can be found with lenses from Rollei, Schneider, or Zeiss - all of which have a reputation for great quality.  The lenses can also be reverse mounted for macro work. Another rather rare feature of the series is that the light meter is built in to the body, not an accessory prism finder. You can have metering and automatic exposure utilizing the waist-level finder instead of a bulky eye-level prism. Can you name other medium format SLRS that have this feature? I've listed the ones I know of at the bottom of this post. Of course, prism finders are available if desired.

A common criticism of this series would be the rechargeable NiCAD batteries - they are prone to failure and often need replacement. Spare batteries and chargers are rare and therefore expensive. I've never experienced this issue, but keep it in mind as this is a fully-electronic camera. You won't be able to simply stroll into a convenience store if you run out of juice.

Overall, this system was enjoyable, if unremarkable. Sure, you can get great images out of it - I think the standard 80mm lenses are very sharp, but lack the "character" that I want from a film camera - especially medium format cameras. Nothing can compare to the Pentax 6x7's 105mm f/2.4, in that regard. My sloppy scans below don't really do the negatives justice, but they're below for reference.

Given the price of these systems, the high cost of the lenses and the hassle of finding replacement batteries, this wouldn't be my first choice. That said, they're capable workhorses that have professional build quality and high-end optics. They're incredibly capable tools in the right hands, so don't pass one up if you can get a good deal.

* In case you were curious, here are some other medium format SLRs that have in-body metering:

  • Bronica EC-TL
  • Hasselblad 200 series
  • Rolleiflex SL66 SE