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,
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