Rolleiflex MX: An Icon of Mid-Century Photography

The Rolleiflex MX, introduced in 1951 by the German company Franke & Heidecke, is one of the iconic cameras of the mid-20th century that played a significant role in defining professional and enthusiast photography of the era. Known for their exceptional craftsmanship and image quality, Rolleiflex cameras were renowned for their twin-lens reflex (TLR) design, and the MX was no exception.

The twin-lens reflex design, featuring two matched lenses, one above the other, was a distinguishing characteristic of Rolleiflex cameras. The upper lens, or viewing lens, was used for focusing and framing the scene, while the lower lens, the taking lens, captured the photograph. This setup allowed for waist-level viewing and focusing, a distinct contrast to the eye-level viewfinders commonly used in single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras.

The Rolleiflex MX was the first model to introduce a synchronized flash, a major advancement for the time. This feature allowed the flash to fire at the precise moment the shutter was fully open, thus ensuring proper exposure of the photograph. This was particularly important for indoor and low-light photography.

The MX used 120 roll film, producing 6x6cm square negatives, a format that was popular among professional photographers for its large size and high image quality. The camera was equipped with a high-quality 75mm f/3.5 Zeiss Tessar or Schneider Xenar lens. It also included features such as a self-timer and a depth of field scale.

Despite being introduced over 70 years ago, the Rolleiflex MX remains a coveted piece of equipment for many film photographers. Its robust construction, image quality, and unique waist-level viewing system give it an enduring appeal. The Rolleiflex MX, like other models from the Rolleiflex line, is more than just a camera; it is a piece of photographic history, reflecting a time when the pace of photography was slow and each shot was carefully considered and crafted.
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