One Roll with an Impractical 35mm Camera: The Rolleiflex SL 2000 F

It’s all in the title, this is a beautiful camera, but the SL 2000 F is an impractical tool.

When I first laid my eyes on this camera, I was dumbfounded that I had never heard of this camera before. It was introduced at Photokina in 1976, but not released until 1981. I don’t know why it took so long to bring it to market. I’m sure Rollei was worried about how well sales would be. Sales weren’t great.

Why do I think this camera is so impractical? It seems like they were modeling Sl 2000 F design after the Rolleiflex 6008 medium format cameras. The SL 2000 seems to be too small in the hands to be comfortable, any bigger and it would be too unwieldy for a 35mm camera.

There is a shutter button on both sides, this seems like a good idea, well it isn’t. Pressing the shutter button feels like pressing a door bell. There’s no useful tactile feedback from it. The button also wobbles while your pressing it and this makes you wonder at what point is the shutter going to fire.

This is an Aperture Priority camera. The focal plane shutter is not that impressive. Shutter speeds go from 16 seconds to 1/1000. Flash sync is 1/60. The side-mount flash hot-shoe is novel, but also not very practical. Like the M42 mount, there is a single pin that pushes the aperture blades closed. I’ve had an M42 lens or two with a bent or broken pin.

This report is not all doom and gloom though. The lens mount is shared with the SL35 line of cameras. Carl Zeiss and Schneider Kreuznach had a lot of lenses for this mount. The lens I tested with this camera was the Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.4 lens. This is not a top performer, the edges are a bit soft, but the images are quite lovely.

I wanted to shoot more film through it, but I didn’t have time. I’m ok with that though. I would look at the camera on my desk want to pick up, but I had no urge to shoot with it. The thing I really didn’t like about it, the viewfinders. Yeah, two viewfinders. One in back of the camera, by the way, it had a wonderful diopter adjustment, and the top viewfinder. Both were difficult to see through, they weren’t very bright and they feel cramped. It wasn’t a good experience for me.

Final thoughts

It’s a beautiful camera, the lenses are lovely, and Zeiss QBM lenses are more affordable than the Contax version of these lenses. I had the opportunity to buy this camera, and turned it down. It would just sit on my shelf collecting dust.

Leave a Reply

Film and Sensor Skip to content