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Opinions about the SL66


Hi Everybody,
I have to decide of both SL66 or 500cm Hasselblad I would have to choose ? I would like to use it on tripod but also handheld. I find especially the short distances possibilities of the SL66 very useful.
I would appreciate a lot if the SL66 users could share their impressions.
All my best
The Hassel is far better than SL66. Mechanically, the Rollei is very complicated and the TTL is not well resolved. My mechanic, a very good crafter, and a lover of Rolleiflex TLR hates the SL66. His opinion is taxative: the SL66 is a failed experiment.
Your mechanic is wrong. The SL66 is a lovely piece of kit. The build in bellows facilitate close-up photography without the need for ring or a special macro-lens. All it's lenses do have a bayonet at the front-end to allow retro-mounting, again without the need to carry (and buy) a retro-mounting ring. The camera sports all kinds of safety-featuers, which prevents mistakes like taking of the filmback without a inserted slide, taking an exposure without advancing the film etc. All of this is done mechanicly, which probably makes it a demanding camera to repair, but in my eyes hating the SL66 says something about the capabilities of your mechanic. There are some things to concider though if you intend to buy one. It's a heavy beast, making it difficult to shoot handheld. Focusing (and operating in general) is a slow process, further impairing "point and shoot". It's really a camera for photography from a tripod, working with a seperate light meter and cable relaese. It forces you to take your time and think before taking a shot. Most shots tend to get better that way. And lastly, it's well worth it to buy a new focusing screen for it because the old ones are not as bright as new ones. The late Barry Thorton used this camera before he went digital. You can visit his website to see some shot's the SL66 is capable of taking.

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Regards Jaap Jan

P.S. Nicolas, if you need some more info, just ask
Sorry, Jaap. I don't discuss the SL66 is capable to take good photos: it has a Zeiss lens and a shutter. Put them on a wood box and you can have very good takes...
My mechanic is the better Rollei mechanic in Spain. And his opinion is: mechanically the SL66 is very complicated and difficult to repair; the TTL is not resolved at all.
Jan, do you have see many cameras disassembled? Are you really able to estimate the complexity or simplicity of a camera mechanisms?
I am a lover of Rollei cameras, but not "the failed experiment".
And last but no least, as "heavy beast" on a tripod I prefer my Linhof Technika 4x5". Provided with a telemeter and a viewfinder, is more fast than SL66.
Sorry, you are wrong. I wasn't talking about Zeiss and shutters. Actually there is no difference there with Hasselblads. They have Zeiss and presumably shutters. What they don't have is an inbuild bellows and a device to move the lens axis to a different angle from the filmplane. Just because it is to hard for your mechanic to repair a SL66, doesn't make it a failed experiment. There are many good and wellmade machines that are difficult to repair. And yes, i have seen the interior of the SL66 and allthough it contains a lot of parts and bits, it is repairable like any other mechanical device. Apart from that, among medium format camera's, it's a camera with unique features that set it apart from ordinary boxes with lenses like Hassies


I had for a long time been considering purchasing a SL66, or actually the SL66E. Hence I am following this thread with interest and see that this is becoming a heated discussion.
Allow me to ask if Mr. Francprieto has ever used the SL66? If not, then he is just going by the words of his mechanic rather than trying one out at length for himself to formulate a more serious opinion. Right now the statement sounds cavalier, i.e. "someone else said this about that". At any rate, the topic of discussion was initially a query about macro-photography and not about camera maintenance/repair.
Sorry, I don't want a heated discussion. Yes, I have a SL66SE with a set of lenses. For hanheld, I prefer by far my Rolleiflex TLR: you can shoot at 1/30 or less without problem. In fact, one of my work in progress about Spanish gypsies nowadays, is becoming with my 1962 year old Rolleiflex. I enlarge to 20x24" with an outstanding sharpness and quality (I develop my 120 film in a pyro developer of my own).
What do you have theoretically superior in a SL66 on tripod? In fact, the possibility of macro photography and tilting.
But you don't have the freedom of movements of a large format camera... you can't make a full Scheimpflug with SL66 and consequently YOU DON'T WORK with the better apertures of each lens. To achieve an "in focus from 0 to infinity" (very easy in an LF camera using the Scheimpflug technique) you will have to stop down your lens with inherents flare' problems and lost of REAL SHARPNESS. And more: to maintain your lens aperture you will have a elongated exposition with inherents problems like wind, reciprocity failure or others...
But, there's the subjective point of view: if you feel you are ok with the SL66 use it. In fact there are good photographers like the late Diane Arbus they only feel comfortable working with uncomfortable equipment, helas!!!
By the way, do you have see the Hassy 205? I think is a great medium format camera with an oustanding TTL system and the new series os Zeiss lenses are superb.
I have checked the TTL of this camera with my calibrated SpotMeter on a light controlled 18% Kodak Grey Card. The linearity is near perfection would be highlight or lowlight, and as a zone system practitioner for more than thirty years I find the possibilities of this camera are not for ignoring.
If you like the SL66 buy one, you will have a good camera with a very good lens. Additionally you will be able to make some small tiltings that can help you. But please, don't trust the TTL at all and be carefull don't spoil it or your wallet will understand the consequences.
In fact, we have in Spain a sentence: "apprentice of many works, master of any".
I think the sentence revered to, sound more like "apprentice of many arts, master in none" and if so, I wonder who in this odience it is directed at. Maybe it's better to focus on the malus and bonus of the SL66, since that was the original question. Franco is probably right about the TTL. The SL66 requeres an special viewfinderhood for TTL light metering. I never used one. I saw one for sale ones, but it looked a bit of a clumsy, oldfashioned affair ( the camera is over 35 years old) so I bought a Sekonic instead. The tilt provided by the SL66 is ofcourse limited compared to the possibilities of a technical camera, but this is also outside the scope of Nicolas' question. I cxan't really compare lensquality to the ones that go with Hasselblad. The ones Zeiss had to design for the SL66 were very simple'just tubes with lenselements fixed in them and the diafragma. The designers needed not bother themselfs with moving glas around to focus. They also could place the diafragma anywhere they thought best. So there were very little obstructions to their prefered symmetrical lensdesign. I cannot tell you how they compare with other mediumformat lenses though. For easy focusing, however, you really should replace an old focusingscreen with a brighter one, for ex&le made by Maxwell

Regards Jaap Jan
Yes, I will mean exactly "apprentice of many arts, master in none" but my very poor English has betrayed me. With this sentence I wanted to refer the fact that SL66 can make many things, some better than others. In no way I wanted to mention guys of the forum. Sorry for the bad understood.


What's one more opinion? I've been ponderng this question from a verydifferent angle - about getting something more portable than the 6003/8 series for handheld use. I r-examined the 500 C Hassy's and the Rollei TLR, and glanced (aoplogies) at the older Rollei. Conclusions were as follows:

The hassy is attractive, but a bear ergonomically. The later ones seem to compromsie the 6x6 viewing area. The earlier ones are neat for classic use, esp. lens availability. The metering prism just starts to cludge the whole thing.

The 66 is (for me) too vintage.

The TLR is wonderful, a bit heavy in the older models. WOnderful shutter feel. Great compositional usability.

The 6003 (with the simpler back) is actuallyabout the same weight as an older TLR (I think 3 lbs, 11 oz, with back and handle and lens) vs. the 3 lbs for the GX. THe older TLR is more yet. The hassy is also about 3 #.

The meter on the 6003 is practically unbeatable. You really can't miss with it. The drive train is up to date, and the stability is pretty good - I hand hold to 1/60 all the time, and actually slower sometimes with luck.

For my money, I'd go the 6003 - better in all ways. And a dream to use. If not, the TLR, and then the older Hassy.

For what its worth!


If I may cast a simple opinion, not about cameras but about forum participants, please allow me to applaud the healthy exchange of useful information amongst the more experienced so that the newbies and others may benefit. This is a true international spirit of sharing common interests. Senor Francprieto, your coverage of gypsies sounds very intriguing and LENSWORK Magazine may be interested in publishing something of this quality! We would love to see s&les of your TLR work. See
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for more information.

I also love using the TLR's, with either Planar or Xenotar taking lens. I also have Maxwell focussing bright-screens installed on both of them and its a pure pleasure. Any comments about Planar (on 2.8f) compared to Xenotar (on 2.8e), not from MTF point of view but more about color saturation and sharpness? I found the Planar more color-saturated and Xenotar a little sharper, and am curious if my perception is accurate. Some of my results are at
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but unfortunately my scanner doesn't do justice to the resolution of medium format. If anyone has suggestions about which scanner is economical yet good, please let me know.


Active Member
I also think comparing the SL66 to Hassy 500 series or the RF 6008 system is a little like comparing apples and oranges. Perhaps the camera it needs to be compared to is a Mamiya RB 67 which also has the built-in focussing bellows.
I first owned the first model SL66 and now the SL66SE. The original SL66 has some weaknesses, which can be improved through repair upgrades (longer mirror release lever, brighter screen etc.). Bob Shell and Rollei Repair expert Harry Fleenor coached me through that on the Rollei list and the upgraded SL66 was much more reliable. I had the chimney finder TTL hood and it worked well but was slow to use and rather large. The built-in spot/int. meter on the SL66SE is MUCH more convenient to use and the camera remains mechanical except for the metering (only one small & common battery needed). No heavy battery packs and chargers.
As for "complicate repairs" on the original SL66, here is a quote from B. Shell to me, dated 1 Jan 2000:
"The SL66 is one of the easiest cameras in the world to work on, IF you know what you are doing. All of the mechanical stuff is on the left side, only the focus rack is on the right. The screws to take off the side cover are under the leather, so it is best to have spare leather on hand in case you mess it up getting it off. The shutter speed knob and film advance crank are attached to the side plate and come off with it. All internal parts are big. I don't know if you can still get the repair manual, but if so, and you are pretty good with tools, you could probably do your own repair."
Electronic repairs on the SL66SE are a different matter. H. Fleenor doesn't even touch them. Recommended is Paepke in Duesseldorf, Germany, where my SL66SE was overhauled before I bought it. The reasons I chose the SL66 are:
1) superb built-in macro capability.
2) relatively affordable lenses (as compared to 600x system),
3) ability to use all kinds of 3rd-party lenses (I use an old 4.5/150 mm Schneider Xenar on M39 adapter plate and a 5.6/500 Novoflex).
I must agree with Francprieto that for outdoor, handheld MF street/people shots I would always prefer a Rollei TLR.


Forgive me if this doubling up, but i think I put this in the wrong place before.
I have an SL 66 with a reasonable compliment of lenses, but would like a longer one. Say a 300 or 400. Money is an issue. I don't want to spend a lot on it. I have been told that some of the Pentacon 6 lenses can be adapted.
Can anyone offer any information on this.


Active Member

You can adapt a number of Novoflex lenses the SL66. I found an older Noflexar 5.6/500mm (KS500) and 4.5/240mm (N240) with their respective mounts (ROLLAN & ROLLAN-200) made by Novoflex for SL66 on EBAY. Novoflex also still makes their current 400mm follow-focus lens in a nice SL66 version. As far as I know you can also adapt the Zeiss Jena Sonnar 4/300 or the Pentacon 5.6/500 for Pentacon Six/Exakta 66 to SL66 by removing the focussing helicoid and adding an SL66 mount. Zoerkendoerfer in Munich, Germany does this, but at some cost.
Hope this helps, Jan


Thanks very much for this Jan
The reason I asked really is that I am in Budapest at the moment and there are lots of lenses for Pentacons and Exactas, in fact it’s a real cornucopia of Eastern block cameras that I had only had passing acquaintance with in the past. But the Zeiss Jena lenses I am told are quite reasonable. Not sure what their coatings are like. I have one one on an Exacta 35mm that is more attractive as an artifact than it is as a useable camera.
However, May I ask several further question:
‘How good were your Novoflex’ lenses? What sort of money did you pay for them, and you said ‘with their respective mounts (ROLLAN & ROLLAN-200)’ Sorry I don’t understand, were the mounts separate?
Zoerkendorfer, is the the same as the Zoerk company ?

And lastly, I had heard someone talk about using a body cap and drilling a hole in it to use as an adapter for the 300/4 Sonnar for the Pentacon . I don’t mind doing this, with the subsequent manually operated diaphragm, but is it possible?
Is the distance from the back of the lense to the film plane not important ?
Is the body plug for a 66 the same as for later models, are they available and are they made of metal?
And, of course, am I asking too many dumb questions?
Actaully a last q i have just had a mail from someone telling me that the Zeiss jena lenses were teally for monochrome any info on this is welcome
Thanks for your help


Active Member
Hi Perry:
I am still testing my Novoflex lenses, so no final word yet on optical quality. The KS500 with ROLLAN mount was about $450, the ROLLAN-200 and 240 mm lens head about $150. It looks like the ROLLAN-200 should really be used with the 200mm lens head. But there was also a special KS240mm head for the ROLLAN.

Yes, I meant the Zoerk company in Munich (
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). Looks like he can adapt a cheap 8/500mm to SL66 with good results.
If you can get a reasonable priced medium format 4/300 Sonnar or 5.6/500 Pentacon in Budapest, go for it. They are quite good. Look for the later multicoated versions if you are worried about flare or true color renditions.
Perhaps its cheaper to get a used Pentacon Six TL or Exakta 66 for these lenses, then to try to adapt the Pentacon Six breech lock mount to SL66. But it has definitely been done before. I think, Bob Shell mentioned it on the Rollei List. Not sure about your body cap approach. The SL66 bodycap is made from sturdy plastic but may not withstand such modification. 300mm Sonnars and Pentacon 500mm lenses are HEAVY! Novoflex or Zoerk will defintely do a better job. Or in the US you could ask S. K. Grimes (
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). They mounted a Xenar 4.5/150 on a blank SL66 lens plate for me. The latter are available for $60 from Hadley Chamberlain ( and very solid. Hope this helps,


New Member
I've used SL66's since their introduction in the mid '60's, have owned them since 69 and currently own one with heavy use since 1974 with one repair, and one unrepairable magazine which I save for parts.

I just brought my kit in this morning to use as one of the cameras to be used in the semester long 96CH hour CU/Macro class I created and have taught for over 12 years.

I know that it is a very complicated camera and repairmen hate it, but it is truly a fine camera.

Because of my half century long career in photography, and my experience at Celestron, I tested numerous cameras for vibration and camera shake. The SL66 is the best in the world for hand holding (honestly, I did these tests), and the 35mm SLR's are an atrocity as are most of the MF cameras.



New Member
I have a SL66SE and a Rolleiflex 2,8 TLR.
I am also a LF photographer (Linhof 4x5" Master Technika) and I have been using in the past several other MF cameras (Mamiya 645, RB67...)
The SL66SE is an outstanding camera, by far the best MF camera I have ever used, even better than Hasselblad's 500 and 200.


I think that not one MF camera is the best for anything - I would prefer teaching no nonsens photography to the unskilled but pictorial talented with a Rollei TLR and if fidling with different "ad ons" does not bother you I would prefer the Hasselblad as it is a fantastic system and perhabs the best looking MF around - same with the SL 66 as it to must have some benfits such as the closeup focus - but I believe that the SL 66 is - compared to the Hasselblad - a rather rare camera and will probably be more and more difficult to service ?? As the whole matter of MFs and LFs is probably on its way into oblivion because the Digital will world will provide new formats and new ways


Active Member
I would still agree with you on the quality of the SL66SE for more stationary (tripod and studio) use. However, I have sold mine earlier this year because I needed something more portable and compact for travel. All in all the SL66SE stayed home too much to justify keeping it. I have since bought a used Contax 645 with 80 Planar and 120 Macro Planar. The latter makes up for the superb Macro capability of the SL66. I am still in the testing phase and still have the 500mm and 200 mm Noflexar and 150mm Xenar with SL66 mounts, which I might adapt to the Contax via a focussing bellows.
Enjoy the SL66SE. It is indeed the culmination of a very versatile system that should have been continued with a more automated focal plane shutter body and built-in winder. I do miss the square viewfinder image.