Rolleiflex SL66 E
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.
On paper the Rollei SL66 E appeared to be the holy grail of cameras and unlike most others I knew of. 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
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.
The Rolleiflex SL66E is much heavier than my 6×6 ARAX-CM (Kiev 88) but I love the ability to tilt the lens. I can do selective focus photos again and it takes me back to my freelensing days with the Nikon D800.
Colour photos coming soon!