Rolleicord III - twin lens wonder

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Medium Format Cameras:

Rollei Rolleicord III

by Karen Nakamura



Overview and Personal Comments

The Rolleicord III was introduced in 1950 by the Rollei-Werke Franke and Heidecke corporation. The Rolleicords were designed as the less expensive version of the flagship Rolleiflexes. They retained the same twin-lens design and excellent leaf shutters of their more expensive siblings.

My Rolleicord III was bought out of the estate of Marion Carpenter, the first female White House photographer and personal photographer of Harry Truman.

It came with the Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 75mm f/3.5 coated taking lens and Heidosmat 75mm f/3.2 viewing lens. The shutter is a Compur-Rapid with speeds from 1/500 sec to 1 sec. + B. The flash sync is 'X' (electronic flash) only.

The Rolleicord III also came with a Zeiss Triotar variation, I'm not sure if that was cheaper or more expensive, but my guess is that it's the former (a simple triplet, guessing by the name). Attached to the camera internally was the Rolleikin 35mm adaptor, more on that below.

The condition of my Rolleicord III is excellent. The lenses are extremely clean and the body leatherette is in perfect shape. The camera shows no sign of use. However, perhaps because of non-use, the slow shutter speeds (1/10, 1/5, 1/2, 1 sec.) are dragging. A light cleaning and lubrication should get them to working condition. It came with the rare Rollei aluminum double lens cap.


Interesting quirks

The Rolleicord III improved on the earlier Rolleicord II (1936-1950) by adding a faster sync speed (1/500 on all models; as opposed to 1/300 on the Compur Shutter); X sync; and bayonet lens mounts. The Rolleicord IV (1953-57) improved on the III by adding M sync for flash bulbs as well as double-exposure prevention.

You energize the shutter of the Rolleicord III separately from winding the film. There is no double-exposure interlock.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my Rolleicord up and found inside it a 35mm film cassette! Rollei produced a device called the "Rolleikin" (gosh what a cute name!) which was an attachment which let various Rolleiflexes and Rolleicords use 35mm film. Unlike the Yashica 635, the viewfinder doesn't have framelines for 35mm. It originally came with a 35mm mask that fit over the viewfinder ground glass, but unfortunately that was lost somewhere in the estate process.

The Rolleikin shoots 24x36mm regular frames. This is unfortunate since it could have taken advantage of the medium format lens and taken 24mm x 55mm panaromic photos. But because of the orientation of the film vertically, they would be very vertically TALL photos, not horizontally wide such as the Hasselblad/Fuji X-Pan. You would have to rotate the camera 90 degrees to get horizontal panaromas, which is not easy with a TLR.

Technical Details

Camera Name
Rolleicord III
Rollei-Werke Franke & Heidecke
Place of Manufacture

West Germany

Date of Manufacture
Focusing System

Twin lens reflex

Fixed Lens

Taking lens: 75cm f/3.5 Schneider Kreuznach Xenar
Viewing lens: 75cm f/3.2 Heidosmat
-both lenses have the red delta symbol indicating coating


1 sec - 1/500 sec. + B

Metering System


Flash Mount

PC-cable attachment on front side (X sync)

Film type / speeds

Type 120/220 film (medium format)

Battery type
Dimensions and weight
Retail price



About Rollei

Rollei started out life as the Franke & Heidecke company in 1920. They first started using the Rollei name in 1926 with something called a "Rolleidoscop" stereo camera. People know Rolleis for their famous line of Rolleiflex and Rolleicord twin-lens cameras, which they first started making in 1929. The Rollei 35 miniature camera came out in 1966. In 1970, they moved production to Singapore but by 1981 they had to declare bankruptcy. Many changes of ownership later, in 1995 they were bought out by the Korean company Samsung, which is continuing production of Rolleicords and Rollei 35s.


On the Net



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