When I first got my new (old) Rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera (see here and here) I knew I would need some equipment to go with it but, being profoundly ignorant about vintage cameras, I wasn’t quite sure what to get. A few months on and I have learned a bit and spent a bit more. Here’s what’s currently in my camera bag, what I’ve found works, and what I probably wouldn’t buy again (the things I think were excellent purchases are in bold below):
- Billingham Hadley Digital bag: I knew from the outset that (though it is lovely and the design is perfect) I would not want to put into tough daily use the original Rolleiflex leather case that came with my camera. I’ve never been a great fan of Billingham bags, always been more of a Think Tank girl myself. But I walked into the Wex showroom in Norwich, there it was on the shelf, it fit the camera perfectly with a space at the side for my exposure meter and a pocket for film, phone etc, and I knew I’d found the perfect bag.
- Sekonic L-758D exposure meter: I already owned this, it fits in the bag nicely and it does the metering job perfectly. Though to be honest these days I mostly use the Pocket Light Meter App on my iPhone – it does the job just as well for a fraction of the price.
- Mechanical Cable Release: I had faint memories of using one of these with my original Rolleiflex, in particular for long shutter speeds and tripod work. I remembered right.
- Film: add to taste! I am currently still playing the field but loving, in particular, Kodak T-Max and Ilford Delta 3200.
- Eddycam Camera Strap: My decision not to subject the original Rolleiflex case and strap to daily use means I need to find an alternative strap for my Rolleiflex. I tried going without a strap for a bit but it felt too risky. I tried one of the Optech Pro straps I use on my DSLRs but it was too heavy for this little camera. I’m currently using a beautiful Eddycam strap, nice and thin, butter-soft elk hide leather, and it feels heavenly about the neck. Ideally I’d like something narrower still, with a quick detach system for tripod use but meanwhile this strap is suiting me nicely.
- Gitzo GT1544T Travel Tripod with Really Right Suff BH-30 Ballhead: Compact, light as a feather, small enough to tuck into a big handbag, astonishingly stable. I’ve had this tripod-head combo for several years, it’s my back up for my DSLRs when I’m feeling too lazy to carry a big tripod. Married to the Rolleiflex it is a match made in heaven.
- Rolleifix quick release tripod mount: You could screw an Arca Swiss plate direct into the base of a Rolleiflex, but it is not a good idea – the base of these cameras is thin and soft, and you can allegedly damage it by screwing in a tripod plate direct. Instead the advice is to use one of these Rolleifix plates which are designed for the job and spread the load properly. I got mine on Ebay. It works beautifully.
Footnote: Have you ever walked into a camera shop and had one of the staff come up to you and say “Please, please, let me look at your camera”? No, neither had I, till I got my Rolleiflex.