Is this the end for Rolleiflex?


by Bellamy /

2 min read

Is this the end for Rolleiflex?
Could this be the end of the road for Rolleiflex cameras? Well, quite possibly judging by the insolvency auction the company that makes them is now preparing for. Read on.

The iconic brand Rolleiflex has not had an easy time of it over the last few years. Ever since digital came along things have not really worked out all that well for them. After being bought out by Samsung in the mid nineties things went downhill pretty quickly. Management takeovers, investor groups and then finally the company was split in two, one selling speciality stuff including film, the other became Franke & Heidecke GmbH, Feinmechanik und Optik, and set about making cameras again.


Although they didn’t. Within 3 years they went bust. And the camera manufacture was handed over to DHW Fototechnik and for a while things looked to be OK. Ex-employees running things and new products at Photokina, including a fancy new electronic shutter (*edit, in my haste this should be electronic meter, my bad). Perhaps the phoenix was to rise from the ashes?


Well, it looks like that is going to be another no. Judging by this insolvency auction that will be taking place in April. Yes, that is right, they are selling everything that they would need to manufacture these cameras in a massive auction. Just like Fuji did a while back with an entire film making factory. There are tons of images on the site and it really looks like they are selling the lot. Including drawers full of soldering irons.


So It looks like this could be the end of the (very long) road for the Rolleiflex cameras. Which is a shame, but not really all that surprising. The cameras are outdated, even with the new electronic shutter (which had reliability issues), and they have not been able to keep up in an age of immediacy.


I wonder if anyone will buy all of this lot and make the cameras again? It seems more like a poisoned chalice to me rather than an opportunity. Everyone who has bought this brand seems to have gone bust. But if you are quite bonkers enough to do it, then you can buy just about everything you could possibly need to set up a camera manufacturing business.

Still, it seems to me like this could be the final days for those great cameras. Fortunately the original ones were so well built that there are still thousands of them out there, shooting away and burning film. So even if what we know now as the Rolleiflex camera is gone, it most certainly will not be forgotten.

You can see the auction here–heidecke-gmbh-salzdahlumer-str.-196-38126-braunschweig/auction/2669/ though it is in German, so you might need the old google translate.


29 comments on “Is this the end for Rolleiflex?”

    Giovanni March 13, 2015 at 11:32 pm / Reply

    Such sad news. I hope they can pull through.

    Hogarth March 13, 2015 at 11:45 pm / Reply

    This is indeed sad news, but not all unexpected. On sites that sell new Rollei TLRS (the only cameras I actually like from them) the price nearly doubled a few months back from around 5k to around 9 1/2k, which is insane.

    I handled a Rolleiflex 2.8gx and it seems like a pretty solid camera compared to their old offerings, though reviewers do not seem to think so.

    Rui Esteves March 14, 2015 at 12:12 am / Reply

    My first reaction to this was of sadness. However, as much as I like my old Rolleiflex 111A, that is just it, I like my 76 year old TLR.

    Its always sad to see such an iconic name go down, but what else did it had to offer now a days? 8 to 9K USD TLR? Not even close to affordable for the majority of the people out there.

    ZDP-189 March 14, 2015 at 12:22 am / Reply

    To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
    a time to be born, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
    a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    a time to dismantle a time honoured brand and sell it to a VC who will bling up last year’s Sony cameras and charge stupid money;

    Derek Kennedy March 14, 2015 at 1:15 am / Reply

    “After being bought out by Samsung in the mid nineties things went downhill pretty quickly”

    Theres your problem

    Rick March 14, 2015 at 1:41 am / Reply

    Having owned a couple of them at one time, They were solid and beautifully manufactured. The optics were great and on one even the exposure meter worked quite well. I always lusted after their SL66, the camera from a design standpoint was beautiful. At one point I owned a Hasselblad 500c/m and I must confess that w/o an eye level prism I found them to be very frustrating to use. I didn’t usually carry a step stool and a tripod with me. I find the decline of the best items have usually and sadly gone kaput. Polaroid, Agfa Gevaert, makers of my all time favorite paper, PRK 111, Portriga Rapid what a loss, Konica, . They should if they could engineer a digital Hexar,sad,sad, sad.

    Marcio K March 14, 2015 at 2:00 am / Reply

    Very sad. But as people have said, their current prices are somewhat insane.

    And if I have a camera repair shop, would be very interested in this auction. Rollei colimators starting by 25 euros, complete testing bed with Leitz, Rollei and Zeiss instruments starting by 100 euros…

    Xenotar March 14, 2015 at 2:11 am / Reply

    Seems to be some misinformation in this article and comments:

    “…The cameras are outdated, even with the new electronic shutter (which had reliability issues), and they have not been able to keep up in an age of immediacy…”

    Bellamy – Rollei makes multiple products – including digital: they have kept up with technology. The

    Rui Esteves – the current TLRs don’t cost anywhere near US$9k – try low 5k.
    Not sure where you got your info, but RolleiUSA website will confirm it is inaccurate.

      Bellamy March 14, 2015 at 8:44 am /

      Hi there,

      Yes, I am aware they make multiple different products. But they are made by a different company. In this article we are talking about the film cameras the company was making. They are outdated and have not been able to perform on the market.
      Digital imaging is handled by a separate company now.


      Rui Esteves March 14, 2015 at 5:06 pm /

      I got my info from

      Last time I checked was last year, but it turns out to be the same yet, 8 to 9K.

    Damien March 14, 2015 at 2:35 am / Reply

    My real question, as a film shooter, is not about the end of film. It seems that some small companies have the ability and/or the faith to produce the goodness in small batch. I love Adox products to name one and even if I don’t use Lomo or CineStill or whatever of the 5-6 companies that still produce films, I feel so fortunate that they keep making their stuff.
    My real question, as a film shooter, is about the end of film cameras. Second-hand ones are aplenty for now, but it is a finite market of ageing tools, especially those with electronic inside. My return to film is not that old (3 years ago) but I already went through two Nikon FE, on Nikon FA and two Minolta XD. I finally bought two Nikon F2 and had them CLA’ed in fear of the future (but then, bye bye aperture-priority, i.e. bye bye “my style” of shooting).
    What kind of choice do we have now for new cameras? Basically, Cosina. For how long? Or you can sell a kidney for a Leica or Hasselblad. And even then, you could have sold a kidney four years ago for a Rolleiflex and find yourself today with an expensive camera that the company cannot CLA anymore.
    The end of Rolleiflex saddens me, but not as much as the thought that film may die because of the lack of cameras that make use of it.

    Jan March 14, 2015 at 6:43 am / Reply

    Hmmm… Braunschweig isn’t too far. I wonder how heavy this think is:–heidecke-gmbh-salzdahlumer-str.-196-38126-braunschweig/auction/2669/article/371421/lightbox

    Marian Tudor March 14, 2015 at 8:21 am / Reply

    What about the Rollei films? Who made them ?

      Bellamy March 14, 2015 at 8:41 am /

      Rollei films are made by a separate arm of the company now. They are safe and sound.

    Shashinka March 14, 2015 at 8:35 am / Reply

    its a shame. But just like everything else, it’s time has come. Luckily there are plenty of uses ones still floating around that if someone wants a classic Rollei or Rolleiflex, it won’t be too hard to find one.

    Phil Stefans March 14, 2015 at 1:33 pm / Reply

    If they concentrated on making fully manual TLRs again they might find a market (maybe if they also sold iphone covers and tshirts), as opposed to the stupidly priced digital ones which only retired bank CEOs want to and can afford to own.

    Recently had my 60 year old Rollei CLAd so it should be good for another 60 years.

    Brett March 15, 2015 at 5:49 am / Reply

    I luckily bought an FX-N in October and soon afterwards I noticed that the Rolleiflex.US website had them listed as out of stock. Such a shame, its like when Hasselblad killed their V series. I hope part stocks for the coming years stay up for the ones that exist. I absolutely love mine to death.

    Smolk March 15, 2015 at 7:56 am / Reply

    Reliability issues? This is a poor and surprisingly superficial article. I love your website, but this article is not up to par. DHW have been unlucky, times unfavourable, but the 6000 series cameras, with the Hy6 mod 2 as the latest, are not a backwards design. If you only refer to the TLR, better say so, and yes, that’s a model that has run its course (although I happily use my two TLRs more often than any other). My 6008 Integral still outperforms my Sigma Merrills, and that really takes something. It’s also highly convenient, with top notch lenses. It may not be surprising anymore that the brand disappears, but you really don’t shed any helpful light on it. I’m disappointed.

      Bellamy March 15, 2015 at 8:10 am /

      Had you read instead of skimmed the article you would see that I am referring to the TLR’s, which have suffered reliability issues with the electronic shutter. I share the information that I am given. I know that the 6000 series is excellent, but it is not a competitive system in todays market.

      Smolk March 17, 2015 at 11:02 am /

      I read, better than you did apparently: you do not even mention the acronym TLR. Just check again.
      Your photos include the SL66 and 6000 series, the text does not explicitly limit it to the TLR, lt alone the modern one, while the title just refers to Rolleiflex. In addition, electronic shutters also apply to other models than the modern TLRs. And if you knew the company that well, you’d know they served the 6000 series.
      I still think you did a quick article without much research. I understand it happens. I don’t like your denying that.

      Bellamy March 17, 2015 at 12:50 pm /

      Fair enough, you are correct. In my haste I had not explicitly written TLR cameras. I stand corrected.

      Smolk April 3, 2015 at 6:52 am /

      Ah well, I read it here first, credit to you, and as a user of both a 2.8C and a 6008 i, I’m also just very disappointed, I should admit. I love these products. I sold the Pentax 645 lenses I had because I love the Rolleiflexes & lenses more. Besides my other analogues, all 6×6 or 6×9. Only digital I have are the Merrill DP2 and DP3. I don’t have a website, otherwise I’d have at least 3 bags to show. Thanks for your service in generally!

    Rolleifox March 16, 2015 at 8:43 pm / Reply

    “It seems more like a poisoned chalice to me rather than an opportunity. Everyone who has bought this brand seems to have gone bust. But if you are quite bonkers enough to do it, … ”

    Says Mr “BELIEVE IN FILM” huh??

      Bellamy March 16, 2015 at 8:55 pm /

      Yes, so says I. The need is not just for the equipment, but the the expertise, the management, the promotion and the innovation. It could be done, but it would take a great deal of money and people to do so.

    Ali Maz March 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm / Reply

    Hi Bellamy.

    I am confused, exactly which TLR camera did they make that had an electronic shutter? The modern TLRs had electronic meters but manual shutters – I am not aware of any Rollei TLR with an electronic shutter, at least my FX doesn’t. I though the electronic shutter they made had nothing to do with TLR.

      Bellamy March 16, 2015 at 8:53 pm /

      Yes, that was a mistake on my part. You are correct, they had electronic meters, not shutters.

    johnny v March 23, 2015 at 3:07 am / Reply

    While not good news, I don’t believe this is the”end of film cameras” or the “end of film”. However, it seems that the future of film cameras is going away from “high end” products to “toy cameras”. Is it better or worse? Who can say, but as long as film & film cameras are being manufactured (even if it means more Lomo & Fuji instaxes) I’m happy.

    Zeno March 26, 2015 at 1:45 pm / Reply

    Some intruiging lots such as #561:

    contents of room, no key, contents unknown.

    or this one:

    #1117 small safe, digital lock, contents unknown, €25

    Clockcam April 8, 2016 at 2:38 pm / Reply

    It seems, in this “modern world”, we live in the good stuff is going down the tubes, and the junk lives forever. I’ve got a few rollei TLRs in my collection, they are great cameras. Seems most of the stuff being made today is plastic, throwaway junk. I’ve serviced cameras, for a few years, but not the new stuff. A lot of it, in my opinion, when it breaks (and it will) should just go into the trash. I’ll get of my soap box, now!

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