Rolleiflex SL66 Review (Rollei SL66E tilt camera)

Rolleiflex SL66 Review (Rollei SL66E tilt camera) + YouTube + Tilt Portraits

My latest purchase!  Here is a short Rolleiflex SL66 review explaining why I bought the camera instead of a Hasselblad and why it is possibly the best Rolleiflex / any make camera! (I love it!)  Scroll down for lots of Rolleiflex portrait examples..

Rolleiflex SL66E

Hasselblad vs Rolleiflex vs Mamiya

It was during my usual online research when I stumbled across the Rolleiflex SL66 E  camera when  actually looking to buy a Hasselblad 500C.  I was weighing up whether the 500C (and it’s lenses) could do what I wanted. The answer was no so instead I settled for a Mamiya M645 1000S camera with a fast Mamiya Sekor 80mm f1.9 lens.  I received the Mamiya 645 then only days later I discovered the Rollei SL66 / SL66E.

Best Rolleiflex?

On paper the Rolleiflex SL66 E appeared to be the holy grail of cameras and unlike most others I knew of.  Is it the best Rolleiflex / best film camera?  The two striking features for me were (1) the lens could be tilted to give a tilt shift style look and more similar to what is seen with large format cameras and (2), every lens can be mounted in reverse to become a macro lens!  Brilliant!  I couldn’t believe my luck on this discovery and bought a SL66E from eBay just hours later.  Vintage film cameras hold their value quite well so if I didn’t like it I could just sell it again.

Rolleiflex SL66 E  – About

The Rolleiflex SL66 E was manufactured between 1982 and 1992 and is a 6×6 format medium format film camera that comes with a Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 2.8 HFT lens.  It has a waist level viewfinder (which I prefer) and also a light meter though it doesn’t work on my camera.  This is fine as I prefer to meter manually.

My first chance to use the Rollei SL66E was with model Nella.  Here I used 120 Fomapan 400 film and developed in 1:150 Rodinal.  I tend not to read  camera manuals but once I had shot 12 exposures and it continued to take pictures I got a little worried.  It turned out that the gearing in the SL66E film back was not always turning as I cocked the shutter resulting in an film overlap issue.  Below are some example photos –

Rollei SL66E Flickr Photos

Rolleiflex SL66 E 6x6 Film

Rolleiflex SL66E Overlap Portrait

Rollei SL66E Fomapan Portrait

Being gutted about the SL66E overlap issue, especially with my high hopes for the SL66 I ordered myself a spare Rollei film back.  The next shoot was a 3 day London portrait photography workshop with models Gina and Katie.  I was counting the exposures and no more overlap problem. Great!  I still await the colour film to return from the lab and have only developed one roll of B&W film so far but here are a few sample images. Katie on 120 Kodak Tri-X 400@1600 in 1:150 Rodinal.

Rolleiflex Portraits – B&W Film

Rolleiflex SL66E Tilt + Tri-X 400@1600

Rollei SL66E Tilt Portrait

Rollei SL66E = Smiles Allround

Rolleiflex Portrait Photography – On Colour Film!

Rollei SL66E + Fuji Pro 400H Tilt Fashion

Rollei SL66E Tilt Portrait - Bokeh Love!

Rollei SL66E + Fuji Pro 400H

Fuji Pro 400H Cross Processed

Rolleiflex Portrait Examples – Slide Film! (Expired film)

Epson v700 120 Film Insert

Rolleiflex SL66 E Tilt Portrait

Rollei SL66E 6x6

Rolleiflex vs Kiev 88

Perhaps a strange comparison but one of my earliest 6×6 film camera purchases was an ARAX-CM (Kiev 88).   The Rolleiflex SL66E is much heavier than my ARAX-CM but I love the ability to tilt the lens on the Rollei.  (Love!)  It means I can do selective focus photos again and it takes me back to my freelensing days with the Nikon D800 (and on the Nikon FM!)

Me & My Rollieflex SL66E

The Rolleiflex SL66E is my Holly Grail camera!


Related posts

120 Kodak Portra 400

(Rolleiflex + Portra 400)

Author: matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.

26 thoughts on “Rolleiflex SL66 Review (Rollei SL66E tilt camera)”

      1. Hi thanks! I still have the SL66E but it needs repair again sadly as jammed. It would potentially be my favourite camera if it didn’t keep jamming! It’s such fun to use and can give stellar results.

  1. Hi Matthew, glad I found someone has the same overlap problem with SL66 as I have too :S
    I have been looking around… But mine was worse because besides 3-4 overlapped frames, the rest were not even exposed. I observed that the frame clocked for looks like 645, could it be some settings need to be put right? The package I received has a 645 film back which make me more suspicious about it. Hope your SL66 works fine now and share some tips with me 🙂 Speak soon.

    1. Hi, my camera just been for repair in London as jammed. Expensive to repair. I hope it will now keep working. I bought a new film back on eBay straight away and this fixed overlap issues. Good luck and I hope to share new samples soon 🙂 Matt

  2. Beautiful images Matt. I hope this camera will go on to give you years of trouble free service after that initial set-back.
    I’ve not used a Rolleiflex but I do use a Hasselblad 500c/m from time to time. I have to say that I find the Hassie to be a very awkward camera to use. Its ergonomics are very poor. Image quality is superb of course. However the tilt feature on your 66 looks fascinating.

  3. Hi!
    I recently stumbled upon a collection of abandoned analogues cameras and I’m trying to buy some of them in the new year.
    There are a Rolleflex sl66 and a Mamiya 645 1000s. Since I have no experience whatsoever with medium format film you post is kind of a gods end for me.
    Which one should I pick? The Mamiya is a comlete set, with 50mm, an 80mm and a 210mm lenses (not sure right now with tele lens) There are some filters, the handle, a second screen, a cord release and a prism view-finder with light meter.
    The Rolleiflex has “only” 3 lenses. No magazine. The 80mm and the tele lenses are from Zeiss, the 50mm is Rollei.
    You have both, which one do you prefer if you had to pick one?
    Im kind of undecided because the Mamiya is a very complete set and a bit younger. The Rolleiflex has better lenses and can do tilt-shift but is older.

    1. Hello congratulations on your find. You can’t really compare the 2 cameras as the Rollei is a level above. Perhaps buy the 645 to use and play with and buy the Rollei as an investment and to use in the future. I have both cameras still but my Rollei needs repair again. The Mamiya 645 is a simple camera and easy to use. But get both I would! 🙂 Cheers Matt

  4. I’m having GAS for that Rollei, especially the metering in the WLF is a cool feature that I miss in my Hassy. Closer focussing distance and also the 1/1000 shutter speed are quite attractive. Seems more fragile than the Hassy though.

    1. Hi Davie. I’m pretty sure the SL66 is as good as it gets! I have maybe 35 cameras and I’ve not found better (even though I try!) All that said and I’ve not used mine for years. If you are happy to get it unjammed yourself I am open to offers to sell it. You can email me if interested – Thanks Matt

  5. Matt the built in meter on the SL-66E/SE means a 4mm cut-out at the top of the viewfinder area for the 2red, 2yellow and 1green led’s. Much better with a bog-standard SL-66 and hand held meter. A much better viewing experience- no cut-out. I put my SE back and got an SL-66 because of this.

    1. Hi Stuart, sorry for the slow reply. Good to know thanks. Sadly my SL66E has been dead for years after giving up on repairing it each time it jammed up. Best camera but rarely worked 🙁

    1. Yes.. if you’d like to buy it! THE best MF camera no question.. but sadly the film transport used to jam up as the camera is trying to be too clever. So hardly used.

  6. Hi Matt,
    I juste discovered your reviews, it’s a really great job, very helpful ! Thank you !
    May I ask how you will compare the viewfinder of the SL66 to a Hasselblad with Accu Mate ?
    Thanks for any advice

    1. Thanks Marcel! Sorry for my late answer. I think the SL66 is still easier to see.. Hassy are fine once you get used to them. RZ67 maybe the easiest (see that review – I used 6×6 back on mine)

Leave a Reply