This is my first and likely last Rollei – it’s not a camera that I’ve been after for my collection. I tend to collect and appreciate cameras that came from Japan with a favorite Kodak and Polaroid thrown in for fun.
It’s a twin-lens reflex (TLR) medium-format 120 film camera made in Germany. It’s also known as the Rolleicord Ia version 3.
Surprisingly I haven’t found much about this camera other than what’s been repeated over and over on the web. It was made between early 1938 maybe even late 1937 to late 1947 with about 12,150 produced with little indication that there were much in the way of changes made to the design during that period. I believe that I’m spoiled by sites such as Paul Sokk’s that provide a plethora of well-researched info about Yashica and the wonderful cameras that they produced and at this moment, I haven’t found an equivalent site for the Rolleicord.
My new to me Rolleicord – likely a domestic model not intended for export.
It’s a wonderfully simple camera with a straightforward placement of the operating controls. This particular camera hasn’t been used in years so at the moment everything is a bit stiff from sitting around. On the plus side, the shutter does fire and the speeds sound correct… always a good thing. The taking lens (the bottom lens) looks to be free of significant issues – no mold, fungus or cleaning marks.
The original leatherette covering is complete and with the exception of a few areas remains well attached. The metalwork is free of corrosion which is amazing since the camera was made over 80-years-ago. There are a few spots of missing paint from use but no large-scale loss or failure of the factory applied paint.
The exposure guide is in German. I’m guessing that an English version was produced for export prior to the start of WWII (see below).
Exposure guide in English around the timeframe of my camera (1938-1940). (detail from a larger web image)
The winds of war were blowing across Europe in 1938. While not fully engaged in the World War yet, I’m sure many manufacturing companies in Germany were seeing an uptick in production for the military which meant less production for civilian uses. I’m guessing that production of Rolleicords might have taken a big hit in the ensuing war years. I imagine the only way to tell a war era Rolleicord Ia from a post-war model is by the change from “DRP and DRGM” on the nameplate to “DBP and DBGM” which occurred after the war (see images below).
“Pre-war” and war era Rolleicord nameplate with “DRP and DRGM”. The Ia type 3 differs from the original Rolleicords as it’s the first with a cast nameplate and recessed logo.
The change to the post-war nameplate. (detail from a larger web image)
It’s a lightweight camera – this one weighs just 748 grams without film or a take-up spool installed. It’s reported on various sites that the weight of this model is 730 grams. Maybe mine has a few extra grams of dirt inside as I’ve yet to remove the viewing hood and tackle the inside below the focusing screen. By contrast, the first Yashima (later Yashica) twin lens reflex made in 1953 weighs 857 grams empty.
On the cameras right side, the focus knob distance scale and depth-of-field scales share the look of the Rolleicord Ia version 2 which was made in the previous year – the distance scale and DOF scales are in black with white engravings. Most Ia type 3 models have a chrome scale with black engravings. Mine may have received the older knob and scale only to use up parts from the previous version.
“Typical” Rolleicord Ia Type 3 focus knob and scales. This may also be an export model with the “Made in Germany” details on the knob. (detail from a larger web image)
My next step is the removal of the viewing hood for that good internal cleaning. I’m not sure if I’ll run a roll of film through it but I know I should. How often do you get to shoot with an 80-year-old camera?
Eighty years of dirt, dust, debris, and degradation to the original factory installed reflex mirror.
Thanks for stopping by! – Chris
Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.
Copyright © 2015-2018 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.