I bought this bad boy a few weeks ago and since I've been seeing similar ones on lots of hipster photographer's blogs, I thought I'd share a little bit about it so that next time you're sippin' on some PBR at a rooftop barbecue and some guy with a lot of stubble and a plaid shirt tries to sound impressive by talking about medium-format photography, you can join in on the conversation and prove that you don't have a symbolic tattoo and/or be a vegan to know what's up.
This is a Rolleiflex. It's part of the medium-format family, which means that it uses film that's larger than the 35mm film you've probably seen in most modern film cameras. Photographers like this genre because as the size of your film increases, graininess decreases and detail increases. The model that I have is categorized as a "twin lens reflex" (TLR) because it has two lenses - the one on top is reflected into the viewfinder and the one on the bottom captures the image.
Lots of professional photogs use Hasselblads (which hipsters LOVE to name drop). They have higher quality parts than brands like Rolleiflex, but the difference is about like that between a BMW and a Toyota - they both do the job but one is a little more refined.
I was nervous about having to choose individual apertures and shutter speeds (there's no "Auto" setting on this baby), but shockingly, when I got the film developed none of the images were significantly over/under-exposed - the camera or the film must be pretty forgiving!
Here are my favorite shots from my first roll of film:
I love that the light almost looks like you can reach out and touch it. I've been trying to get this effect in Photoshop for months, but I can never get it to look nearly as good as this!
All of these images look a little more candid and less contrived than what I've been able to get with my digital camera.
There's something nice about not putting an image into Photoshop and throwing 15 layers on top of it. The original is so pretty that it'd be a shame to mess it up with lots of editing.
In case any of you are thinking about getting a Rollei, I thought I'd break down the costs for you, since this info was almost impossible for me to find when I started researching.
Camera: $220 (here)
Film: $19 for 5 rolls, each roll has 12 exposures (here)
Developing: $9 for the actual film processing, $5 for the CD (I used this place)
If you do the math, it ends up costing a few bucks every time you press the shutter, so it's not a camera that I use every day, but I can't wait to bring it along on my San Francisco and California adventures!