I headed out to the West Australian Wheatbelt with a battery of cameras: a Polaroid SX-70, a Kodak Cresta, an Ilford disposable, and a Kodak Hawkeye, but the Franka Rolfix was the sentimental favorite. I bought it in Ottawa for fifty dollars, mainly because of the stamp near the hinge: “Made in Germany U.S Zone”, and the first time I shot Velvia 50 slide film through it, it was like I’d rediscovered my childhood, well, the part where I found old cameras in junk shops.

Slide film is prohibitively expensive in Australia and the only E6 processing is in Melbourne, so when I moved back to Perth, I started using Ektar 100. I don’t think there has been any sacrifice in quality, though print film (negative film) can never quite capture the brilliant tones in fine-grained slide film.

However, the attention here belongs to the Rolfix. It is a camera that never achieved anything like the fame Ikontas and other folding medium format cameras but once the mechanisms are understood, it delivers consistently excellent results. Its only drawback is a maximum shutter speed of 1/250th of a second but the aperture stops down to f/32. Maybe not so great for sports photography but brilliant for landscapes.

Another point about aperture: it is fluid on the Rolfix. Unlike a lot of lenses that move between, say, f/8 and f/16 with only f/11 in between, the aperture allows for increments, so if your light meter (absolutely necessary) recommends say, f/9 or if experience suggests the exposure is a touch above or below the meter reading, you can easily make the adjustment.

If there is one annoying issue with the lens, it is that even at a small aperture like f/11, focus is so sensitive that at any distance closer than infinity you need to know the precise distance. Again, a great camera for landscapes.

…and landscapes is something the wheatbelt has plenty of.

You could say there isn’t much else, not these days with towns on their last legs as the blight from rising salt levels, drought, and the decline of agriculture in Australia take their toll.

Thanks for reading,

~ John

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About the author

John Toohey - Avatar

Photographer/Writer back in Australia after twenty years in Istanbul and Montreal, who intends to finish his PhD thesis on Edwardian landscape photography and postcards as soon as possible.

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  1. Great photos John! Love that timeless Australiana feel of the country towns and other older architechture that can still be found in our country. Looks like a great TLR also, those Rollei’s are a solid on the quality. I’m also a TLR shooter myself (Mamiya C330f), so I particularly enjoy seeing other TLR cameras/shooters/images around. I highly enjoyed your 5 frames. Hope to see more in the future.

    1. Hi Michael, thanks, The R olfix is actually a folding camera, that said. I just received a flexaret TLR today. I’ll post results here!

  2. Hi John – nice to see these; looks like there’s a bit of a glow from that lens? I’m in Adelaide (actually there are two E6 labs here that I know of) but I also think why bother shooting E6 these days? I tried a bit of Ektar recently and found it pretty bitey and contrasty – a bit like the E6 you can shoot when you’re not shooting E6! I drove through the WA wheatbelt a couple of years ago; nice to be reminded of it. Cheers.

    1. Thanks James, yes, I could add that Ektar comes into its own with some cloud coverand even some haze.

  3. Great Australia ! A free contry with great values, which are not bought by dictatures … …
    Great pictures. Love these places 😉