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Rollei rangefinder with Mmount



I opened this thread because of the importance of this new camera for the M-community.

Rollei announced in September the release of the Rollei 35RF with M-mount for December 2002.

This is normally no big deal anymore since we are used to rangefinders of third parties with M-mount already. But this time the lenses are coming from Carl Zeiss Germany. They are new designed for this camera and all with M-mount.

In my humble opinion this is the first time that there could be a threatening for Leica M. As long as we do not have more details, it is difficult to judge, but it looks like a very promising (for the consumer) and competitive (for the producer) year 2003.

I will add more information in the next posting.



This camera is the Cosina Bessa R-2. It was shown in a Rollie dress at Photokina. There isn't really anything new here...


This is the photo of the Rollei 35RF. It looks very similar to the Contax G1/G2, but the dials are remind also to the M6 TTL. Time will tell how many similarities the Rollei-body has to the Contax G adn M6.


The lenses are different to the G-lenses. The most remarcable difference is not only the different focal length, no they have DOF scales on the lens!

The first Zeiss lenses coming out for the Rollei RF are the Sonar 40/2.8, Planar 50/1.8 and Sonar 80/2.8. So it seems that all three are totally new desigend, which makes it appealing since the newest "Zeiss wisdom" can be used in these lenses.

More lenses are announced, but not specified. Technical data in the next posting.



Dirk, That's the Cosina Bessa-R2...not a clone of the Contax G2....


...and this is part of the press statement ( tried to delete all the marketing bla bla):

September 2002

Rollei 35 RF

· Professional 24 x 36mm format
· Featured to satisfy the accomplished photographer
· Cutting-edge performance of interchangeable ZEISS lenses
· Durable, high-quality metal body
· Well-balanced, timeless design
· Complete functional range even if batteries are low (except for exposure metering)

For the time being, there will be three interchangeable lenses for the Rollei 35 RF:

Sonnar 40mm f/2.8 HFT

The famous candid lens of the legendary Rollei 35, with its ideal focal length for outdoor and indoor photography. A lens ideally suited for news photography. Its initial aperture of f/2.8 gives it a wide margin for shooting in low light with excellent focusing results.

Planar 50mm f/1.8 HFT

The typical standard lens, with outstanding correction and sharpness, light in weight and very compact. A focal length well adapted to available-light photography. Well-suited for a wide range of subjects, from interiors up to half-length portraits, without or without artificial lighting or flashlight, even in unfavorable lighting conditions. (in preparation for the first half of 2003)

Planar 80mm f/2.8 HFT

A medium focal length for portraiture, also well-suited for landscape details and candid shots from a certain distance. In medium-format photography, it became famous for its excellent flatness as the standard focal length of the well-known twin-lens “Rolleiflexâ€. Experts consider it one of the best available lenses for creative photography.

Further interchangeable lenses are in preparation.

Technical specifications
Rollei 35 RF

• Negative size: 24 x 36 mm on size 135 film

• Lens mount: M bayonet

• Shutter: Vertical-travel laminar metal focal-plane shutter; 1 s – 1/2000 s and B

• Camera body: Made of die-cast aluminium

• Focusing: With coupled coincidence-type rangefinder

• Exposure display: Overexposure warning, correct exposure, underexposure warning

• Metering system: Center-weighted TTL average metering upon light depression of shutter release

• Metering range: EV 1 – 19 (ISO 100/21°; 1 s at f/1.4; 1/2000 s at f/16)

• Flash synchronization: PC terminal and hot-shoe contact; sync speed 1/125 s and slower

• Film advance: By one or several turns of advance lever; double-exposure lock; optional T Winder can be attached to bottom plate

• Film rewind: By crank in rewind knob

• Frame counter: Additive, with automatic reset when camera back is opened

• Film-speed setting range: ISO 25/15° - 3200/36° in one-third increments

• Exposure-meter power supply: Two 1.5V alkaline-manganese (LR44) or silver-oxide button cells (SR44)

• Dimensions (mm/w x h x d): 135,5 x 81,0 x 25,5

• Finish: Metal cover plates silver-finished

Subject to change without notice



I did not say that it is a clone of the Contax G. As the R2 looks similar to the G2, the 35RF is also looking similar.

As stated in the above posting, Rollei announced this already in September. Since this site was then not online yet, I did not mention it earlier.

But nevertheless I find it a kind of "surprise" that Zeiss is producing now lenses with M-mount.

If you look at the prices of the G-lenses, you will see that they cost significant less then the M-counterparts, without beeing worse. And they have autofocus which makes the design and production even more difficult. So I expect here a very competitive environment betwen M lenses and Zeiss lenses with M-mount.



Hi Dirk,

you sure that Zeiss will be producing the lenses? Perhaps I read over it, but I couldn't find any direct reference to it in the press statement. The Rollei and Zeiss webpages do not mention it either....




I know it is confusing, but I have the Rollei news brochure in front of me. On one page with the images of the body (as above) there is the Zeiss logo on it, but on the lens itself, it is written Rollei Germany.

In the text, they write in one of the bulletin points:

"Cutting-edge-performance of interchangeble Zeiss lenses" (page 6)

This is confusing but it happened already in the past that Zeiss is designed a lens and Rollei got the license for producing it. I guess this is also the reason why the coating is not called "T*", it is called "HFT". HFT is basically the same as T*, but only used on Rollei produced (not mandatory designed) lenses.

As an ex&le: The 80/2.8 HFT for the Rollei 6008 or GMX is the Zeiss lens design from 1960 (!). It was NEVER redesigned since then (also quiet remarcable).

The only change was that in the past the coating was not really named, and Rollei calls it HFT. There is somewhere a Zeiss articel about T* vs. HFT on the Zeiss homepage.



... I forgot to mention that the Rollei 35RF with the 40/2.8 TOGETHER cost 1800 Euro!


Dirk said: > Rollei announced in September the release of the Rollei 35AF with > M-mount for December 2002.

AF with an M mount? I don't recall that, and I have been paying close attention to postings regarding Rollei.



I'm sorry, Dirk, I personally don't see the new Rollei 35RF offering as being all that important in the M community. I don't think it brings anything new or particularly interesting.

I can't see one Zeiss 40mm f/2.8 lens being much competition to Leica lenses. No-one would want to buy this lens for use with a Leica M, because there is no 40mm frameline and f/2.8 is too slow. No doubt there will be other lenses to follow, which might prove to be more competitive.

As to the Rollei 35RF body, as others have said it's just a rebadged Voigtlander Bessa R2. Cosina have done a lot of rebadging, e.g. for Voigtlander (Bessa L, T, R, R2 - their own brand anyway), Nikon (FM10) and Olympus (OM-2000).

(BTW, I agree with your perception that the shape of the camera resembles a Contax G).



I have mixed impressions about the Rollei RF introduction. First, it could be a win/win situation.

People who can not afford a Leica M body right, but want to start long-term with the M-system could buy this Rollei starter kit and have the option later on to buy leica lenses without the expensive Leica body (although there is still partly this frame issue). Leica would be pleased because this would offer them higher sales in lenses, which is currently a ratio of ca. 1/3 (1 M-body for 3 M-lenses). The hesitation for the buyer to do this might be less, because of the brandname Rollei and Zeiss.

On the other hand the Rollei seems to have soem features many would like to have on their M6-body, if they do not like the M7 (1/125 flash speed, 1/2000 shutter speed, better filmloading, film window, slimmer body etc.). So there will be Leica users, who buy this body as a second, more modern body - similar to the Konica when it was introduced, a best seller by the way.

What I am thinking also about is what happens, if Rollei offers more lenses. I heard on the net rumors about a 24mm and a 135mm. These could be used also on Leica M (in addition to the already announced 50/1.8). I do not know how the resolve then the framing issue. This could hurt Leica sales and as we all know this is not something Leica really can afford in the moment.

This all depends of course on how well the lenses will be. I am not sure yet, whether all these lenses will be newly designed, or - and Rollei did this alraedy often in the past - whether they are just old designs in a new mount. Zeiss licensed years ago some old designs to Rollei in Medium Format. I have to check this.

Anyway, the more competition the better - at least for us

In a few weeks/months we will know more about that.

In general I am thinking about adding in this forum some threads about other M-compatible brands like Konica Hexar RF etc., if there would be any demand for it. I find it interetsing to have all choices in one forum to compare better and see what others think about it. My own estimate is, that at least 40-50% of the Konica sales are from Leica owners, who have already a Leica M.

Would love to have some feedback from other members, whether this would be interetsing for you.




I assume that the Zeiss-built lens(es) for the Rollei 35RF will be M-mount, not screw-mount like the Coaina/Voigtlander lenses? If so, then the question of frameline selection arises, because it looks to me as if the Rollei 35RF has the same Voigtlander and Konica manual selector switch for the framelines as the Bessa R2. There is no way the lenses could select the framelines automatically and so it's possible that the Zeiss lenses designed for the Rollei may not have Leica-style selection cam built into their mounts. This would make them a bit useless with a Leica M body.

With a screw-mount lens, on the other hand, you must use an adapter to mount it on an M camera, which at least enables you to buy the right adapter to bring up the frameline pair that suits the lens, i.e. 35+135, 50+75 or 28+90.

Of the focal lengths mentioned for the Rollei-Zeiss lenses (40, 50, 80, with possibly 24 and 135), only 50 and 135 would be compatible with Leica M framelines, assuming there is no selection problem. (It beats me why anyone would want both 40mm and 50mm). From all this, I still doubt that there would be much temptation for M owners to use these Zeiss lenses instead of Leica lenses.

Regarding your suggestion to start categories for M-type cameras from other manufacturers (e.g. Voigtlander and Konica), why not? I'm sure there would be quite a bit of interest. They feature quite frequently in other Leica forums/lists.


I would be interested in discussion of the Konica as I was considering buying one. Although I went off in another direction in the end it is still something I bear in mind. I'm sure others would be interested too.


> According to Zeiss' website, the Rollei High Fidelity Transfer" is a multilayer coating co-developed by Zeiss and Rollei. It was done as the T* lenses couldonly be done at Zeiss Oberkochen to small batches. They also say that the optical performance of HFT is so close to Zeiss T* that "one can hardly detect any difference in all practical picture taking." And finally, Zeiss admits that any lenses produced by Carl Zeiss for Rollei at Oberkochen are actually T*, but are designated HFT!


Let us wait for some comparative analysis of the 40/2,8 against the Summicron-C 40/2 or Summarit 40/2,5; the 50/1,8 against a Summicron and the 80/2,8 against the Elmarit-M 90/2,8.


This is really kewl... I was kind of worried about my G1 film camera because of all the digital noise going on, but rangefinders seem to be having a renaissance.



I have a Bessa R and a Leica M7. I will never buy another Bessa-like body. What I would find exciting in this is the area of wide-angle lenses. I already have a Heliar 15mm and a Scopar 21mm, but having a Biogon 21 would be much better, not to speak about the Hologon 16.

I am an architect and I think Zeiss could attract some of my colleagues too if manufacturing the aforementioned lenses in M-Mount.

Personally I don't like this play with Rollei name, Voigtlander name, when these are simply Cosinas. I have an old Voiglander and this is a masterpiece not a plasticy Bessa R.



"Personally I don't like this play with Rollei name, Voigtlander name, when these are simply Cosinas. "

Whatever, Rudolf.

You should thank the stars that SOMEBODY still makes rangefinders at all. As for these being "simply" Cosinas, that's a darn snobby attitude. Not everyone has $2000 for an M7 body (I don't). The Bessa Rs I've been looking at are kewl little cameras, and I've heard the R2s are even better. The viewfinder is great too.

So, get off your high horse, lose the attitude. I've had two Porsches that I couldn't keep pouring money into (a new water pump every 30k miles?). It's good that Yashica is into Contax and Leica has somebody to keep them financed and that Cosina is making good film cameras.

I want to buy a Leica, I really do, that's why I hang around the 'boards. However, I can afford Contax lenses, or Cosina, and I just can't afford Leica right now.


I am so bitchy tonight, it's been a long week, and I am just off work and GOING HOME! Yaaay! James Bond weekend.

Proud owner of a Contax G1 and three lenses. 90mm, 45mm, 35mm