Rolleiflex 6008, 6001, 6002, 6003, 6006 – Beyond Hassy?

Rolleiflex 6008 medium format camera

I owned the Rollei 6008 non-AF model with 80mm Zeiss lens for years, but I had to borrow specs from Wiki and Philip Greenspun. (and comments on Luminous Landscape to a lesser degree) This is a VERY complicated camera, as you’ll soon see. Very technologically  advanced for its time. And, yes, they do, (at least did), have a model that was fully compatible with digital backs. But I only used film. And I’m not a very techie guy. And when most people think of Rollei’s, they think TLR’s used by Helmut Newton or Vivian Maier.


Rollei 6008


A Supercharged Hassy

The Rollei 6008 Integral is an SLR for the medium format, available with 6x6cm or 4.5x6cm frame. The 6008 is part of the successful 6000 series which launched in the mid 80’s. There was the SLX, 6006, 6002, 6003,(a cheaper 6008) The 6000-series introduced major electronic features such as multiple light metering modes in body, making it light years ahead of my 503 Hassy. Which had just had a shutter failure. So when I brought it in to be fixed, this was sitting in a display, so I said “what the hey!’

Also had TTL auto flash metering, programmed exposure control, auto bracketing, the build-in roller dark slide, and eventually  autofocus. Although mine was manual focus. The Rolleiflex 6000 series blew away the others at that time , namely Hasselblad and Mamiya. Weirdly, they never caught on in a big way. Probably because they were a bit too automated, and most photographers were uncomfortable depending on the rechargeable batteries they required. Image wise, the Zeiss lenses were identical to Hasselblad in every sense. So, the images were identical,…square format and all. Of course, eventually even Hassy’s had batteries, as do all digital cameras. For the 6000 series, digital backs were also available later. The lenses contain a fast linear motor driven leaf shutter (max. speeds 1/500 or 1/1000 sec.) and motor drive. Almost like a medium format Nikon F4s/F5.

All the 6000s are Awesome

The Rollei 6008 was really an amazing machine, and I think Hasselblad was caught off guard at the time. I had no problems going back and forth between a Nikon F4s and this medium format auto drive wonder.

I want to say they were copying the 6×6 format of the Hassys, but remember, the TLR Rolleiflex used by Helmut Newton was also 6×6. Lenses, film magazines and viewfinders are interchangeable. Each lens was a leaf shutter and diaphragm electronically controlled from the camera body. In fact, you could get Rolleigon, Zeiss or Schneider- Kreuznach lenses. I used Zeiss, but was told (anecdotal), that the Schneider images would cut you like a straight razor. I don’t see how they could have been sharper than the Zeiss, but I thought the pricing was over the top for a ‘maybe’ incremental increase in sharpness or contrast. And, anyway, I shot fashion, not detailed landscapes.


Rollei 6008

Miles Davis by © William Coupon


The Bad

One bad thing, (back then), was same focal length lenses were about a $1000 more. Nowadays, they are about the same. The other deal is it has a rechargeable battery. This was the main objection by the Hassy crowd. However, I never had a battery go bad or drain on a job. I think the “mechanical” everything guys were trying to over think a “what if” scenario.

Lots of film backs were available, including 120, 220, 70mm, 6x6cm and 6×4.5cm, and Polaroid of course. Moving a handle took care of the dark slide. You couldn’t remove the back without first doing that. What a GREAT idea. No more forgetting the darkslide! The ISO dial coupled to camera making it almost impossible to not get the right ISO dialed in and coupled to the meter.


Rollei 6008


Backs were also more expensive than Hasselblads. (by a couple hundred bucks)

While the motor drive could only attain 2 FPS, for medium format that was pretty good, and a Godsend for fashion. (and probably weddings)

Autoload Film

Loading film was almost as easy as an F5 with it’s autoloading motor drive. Maximum sharpness was a breeze. (by keeping a totally flat film plane with the autoload. Viewfinders were an easy change from the stove pipe to the 45 and 90 prism finders. When not in the studio, the  Rollei 6008 TTL flash worked well with the Metz and SCA employed. However, with the built in motor drive, 9.6V battery, etc. the camera could get quite heavy. (but much lighter than a Mamiya RB67) The action grip is a must have in my opinion.


Rollei 6008

Rolleiflex 6000 series with ‘Action Handle”


The meter LED’s were quite visible, even in bright sun. And metering was always spot on! Spot, Center Weighted, and Multi-Pattern. Almost like a Nikon F5. (Nikon was better on the Multi,…but, along with TTL, that was always their forte)


Rollei 6008

© Federico Mastrianni with 80mm Zeiss lens on Rollei and Kodak Tri-X


Rollei 6008 (and others) Joy

In essence, the camera was a joy to use. My only caveat would be that it is an electronic camera. And failure would, in all likelihood, be catastrophic. But then, so would your 5D. A PDF datasheet from Rollei for the 6001, 6002 and 6008 is available HERE.

Rollei made the 6001, 6002, 6003, 6006 and 6008 models. They are all equally awesome. And cheap right now.  Rollei 6000 Series





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