My First Day With The Rolleicord


Today was my 1st full day with my Rolleicord and I managed to get out over the lunch hour and burn through my first roll of film. I had a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus, Black and White Print Film in the camera and only about 30 minutes. Having never used this type of camera before I just wanted to actually run through the steps and see what I could come up with. I drove to a parking lot and walked around a bit trying to find something to shoot. I came across a fire hydrant that looked interesting so I spent about 6 exposures playing with the settings (and guessing as best as I could what the correct exposure value was). I also took some images of a nearby building. After I finished up the 12th frame I pulled out my Canon S95 and tried to replicate the view of the fire hydrant that I had with the Rolleicord. I ran it through Silver Efex Pro and used the Ilford HP5 film emulation to come up with this:

Day 299-Rolleicord Fire Hydrant Simulation

I hope my image from the Rolleicord is close to the one above but we’ll see… I know its not much but my objective was just to get used to using the Rolleicord, which I started to accomplish. I say “started” because it is going to take me a while to get used to the camera, for a main reasons:

  1. Everything is manual- There is pretty much zero automation on the camera. It doesn’t even have a light meter. Mind you, I’m not complaining about that at all because that’s what I wanted. But, it is going to take a while to get used to (and relatively proficient in) setting everything prior to capturing the image. Figuring out what exposure settings to use is going to be the hardest part. I really want to do as much as possible without the aid of a light meter, so that slows me down quite a bit. I even found myself forgetting to focus the camera a couple of times. I’m sure this is because 95% of the time my DSLR is set to auto focus.
  2. The image in the viewing screen is backwards-Because of the way the camera is designed, the image you see on the camera’s fairly dim viewing screen is reversed. That means you have to move the camera in the “opposite” direction when trying to align the shot. My brain isn’t used to working that way so I think it will take me some time to adjust. I also think its harder since you are looking down toward the ground instead of at the object you’re photographing.

Other than those two things (which aren’t complaints, just observations) I really enjoy the camera. I’m sure that with a few more rolls of film I’ll start to become comfortable using it. The important thing is that the camera seems to work fine so any “less than optimal images” are going to be due to operator error :-)

I’m going to send this 1st roll off to the lab for processing so I should have some sample images w/in the next week to ten days. In the meantime I plan on shooting a couple more rolls of film this weekend if I have time.

I’ll update you on my progress with this camera in the next week or two so stay tuned…

Happy Shooting!

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  1. Mary says

    You’re going to have fun! I’ve had a Yashika Mat 124-G for close to 40 years. It was my dad’s. When he decided he was finished using it and I was quite heavily into photography, he gave it to me. It’s been a while but I think I see things in it upside down rather than backwards. (I should get it out and check – and use it again.) It’s amazing what great pictures we can get with these old cameras with nothing automatic. I doubt it will take you long to get used to it since you’ve used film. I got some wonderful pictures using mine.

    • Mark says

      I think the upside backwards part is going to be the hardest, especially when trying to get the image level. I went out this AM and got a few more images and things are getting a little easier but it will take some time. I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of images the camera produces!

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