Rolleiflex SL66 Review (Rollei SL66E tilt camera)

Rolleiflex SL66 Review (Rollei SL66E tilt camera)

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



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