Rollei GmbH is a German camera manufacturer with an impressive line of cameras and a history that is closely connected with the history of photography. They set the standard for TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) cameras and has had great success, especially during the 1950s when almost every newspaper photographer used a Rolleiflex. After being purchased in 1995 by Samsung Techwin, part of the South Korean Samsung Group, it was sold back to its internal management in 1999. In 2002 it was bought by a Danish investment group, and in 2005 was split into two different companies: "Rollei GmbH" in Berlin, owner of the Rollei brand and selling various OEMequipment, and "Franke & Heidecke GmbH, Feinmechanik und Optik" in Brunswick, an equipment factory. In early 2009, Franke & Heidecke GmbH, Feinmechanik und Optik declared itself insolvent. Currently Rolleiflex digital and analog medium format cameras, Rollei 35 and Rolleivision slide projectors are being produced by DHW Fototechnik - a company founded by former Franke & Heidecke employees.
- 1920 Paul Franke and Reinhold Heidecke set up a little firm in Braunschweig, Germany. They start developing camera protoypes with Goerz lenses.
- 1921 Their first camera is launched, a stereo camera called the Stereo Heidoscop with Carl Zeiss lenses.
- 1923 The Heidoscop is re-designed into a rollfilm reflex camera for 117 roll film.
- 1926 The new camera is marketed as the Rolleidoscop.
- 1927 The first prototype for the twin lens reflex camera.
- 1928 Ten more prototypes are manufactured, nine of which have a Carl Zeiss Tessar F4.5 taking lens and the tenth a F3.8 Tessar. Decision is made to market both models simultaneously.
- 1929 The twin lens reflex camera, the Original Rolleiflex, is launched and an instant hit. The number of orders from all over the world is far above expectations.
- 1930 The great order stock and problems with sub-contractors force Franke & Heidecke to acquire a larger factory. This enables them to build 20,000 cameras annually. The Baby Rolleiflex prototype is finalized.
- 1931 The Baby Rolleiflex is manufactured. It has improvements that are later incorporated in the "full-grown" 6x6 Rolleiflex, such as a lever wind.
- 1932 The improved Rolleiflex model 620 is launched. It accepts 120 film and has a lever wind.
- 1933 The first Rolleicord - a less costly model, sold at less than half the price of the Rolleiflex.
- 1936 The Rolleicord production line has been improved and the Rolleicord 1a is launched. Work is started on a new Rolleiflex production line.
- 1937 The new Rolleiflex Automat wins a Grand Prix at the Paris World Fair.
- 1938 The Rolleicord II is re-designed with a Triotar finder lens and a double bayonet mount on the taking lens. The Sports Rolleiflex is launched.
- 1939 All Rolleis are now fitted with the bayonet mount on both the finder and the taking lenses.
- 1939-45 During the war no new cameras are designed. The factory is damaged during bombings in 1944.
- 1946 The factory is rebuilt, but with difficulties since material is in short supply.
- 1949 New Rolleiflex and 'Cord production lines prepared.
- 1950 Rolleicord III is on sale with the Compur-rapid shutter, X synchronization, Schneider Xenar or Zeiss Triotar F3.5 coated lenses. The Rolleiflex Automat II is launched. Paul Franke dies on 18th March and is succeeded by his son, Horst Franke.
- 1951 The Synchro-Compur shutter replaces the Compur-Rapid on Rolleiflex. The Rolleiflex 2.8A is released. It has a Tessar F2.8 80 mm lens.
- 1952 Rolleiflex 2.8B is launched with a F2.8 Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar lens.
- 1953 Rolleiflex 2.8C is launched with a West German Schneider Xenotar lens. A range of accessories for the bayonet III is presented.
- 1954 The Rolleimarine under-water housing for the Rolleiflexes is designed. Rolleicord V and Rolleiflex MX-EVS are launched. For the first time a Zeiss Planar 2.8 is available for the Rolleiflex 2.8C.
- 1955 The Rolleiflex 2.8D with Planar or Xenotar and EVS system is launched.
- 1956 The Rolleiflex 3.5E and the 2.8E are available with built-in exposure meters.
- 1957 The Baby Rolleiflex is re-introduced. Rolleicord Va.
- 1958 Rolleiflex 3.5F with coupled exposure meter. Rolleiflex T.
- 1959 Tele Rolleiflex with Zeiss Sonnar F4 135 mm. Rolleiflex E2 (both 3.5 and 2.8) with removable hood.
- 1960 Reinhold Heidecke dies. Rollei Magic with automatic exposure.
- 1961 The Wide-Angle Rolleiflex with Zess Distagon F4 55mm.
- 1962 Company name changed to Rollei-Werke Franke & Heidecke. Rollei Magic II. Rolleicord Vb.
- 1963 Launch of the Rollei 16 for 12x17 mm.
- 1965 Rolleiscop home slide projector.
- 1966 Rolleiflex SL66, Rollei's first single-lens rollfilm reflex camera. The Rollei 35 is presented as the smallest full frame 35mm camera.
- 1967 Production of computer flash units begins with models E60 and E66.
- 1969 Four Super-Eight cameras are launched.
- 1970 Rolleiflex SL35, the first 35mm SLR camera from Rollei. New factories at Uelzen and in Singapore.
- 1972 Rollei takes over the Voigtländer brand following the collapse of Zeiss Ikon.
- 1973 The Rollei P 66A, the first automatic 6x6 slide projector, is launched.
- 1974 2½ million Rollei 35 were sold.
- 1978 Rolleiflex SLX reached market, Although originally shown to selected dealers in late 1973 and shown at Photokina in 1976 it is unlikely anyone purchased one retail until 1978. For the record, it was first available in the UK in September 1978 and Rollei were their own distributors in the UK. Rollei were in the habbit of showing camera's years before the marketing date in order to keep the users faithful to the brand, for example the sl200f was being advertised in the UK magazines as early as 1979 using camera's that were obviously wooden mock-ups.
- 1979 Company is renamed Rollei-Werke Franke & Heidecke GmbH & Co KG. Rolleiflex SL35 E is a new popular SLR. Production of TLR stopped; orders are filled by old stock.
- 1980 Rolleiflex SL 2000F, the first 35mm SLR camera with interchangeable magazine, double viewfinder system and integrated motor drive. This was not marketed commerciall until after the re-organisation of Rollei below. Under Rollei-Werke Franke & Heidecke Gmbh & Co KG the lauch date was programmed to be 1981.
- 1982 After a bankruptcy petition and following deal, the company is reorganized as Rollei Fototechnic GmbH.
- 1983 1000 Rolleiflex 2.8F Gold Aurum are made. Rolleiflex 6006 is released as the successor of SLX with interchangeable backs.
- 1984 Rolleiflex 3003 35mm SLR.
- 1985 Rolleiflex 3000 P and 6002.
- 1986 RolleiMetric, a digital 3D industrial measuring system, is launched.
- 1987 New name again: Rollei Fototechnic GmbH & Co KG. The TLR is back with the Rolleiflex 2.8GX with TTL exposure and flash metering.
- 1988 Introduction of the Rolleiflex 6008 with a range of new fine lenses.
- 1991 Rollei enters digital photography with the Rollei Digital Scan Pack for the Rolleiflex 6008. The Prego AF is the first modern Rollei compact 35mm camera.
- 1993 A new generation of dissolve projectors, Rolleivision twin MSC 300, is introduced.
- 1994 The Rolleiflex 6003 without interchangeable magazine is an export hit. The digital imaging system is extended with the high-speed Digital ChipPack back.
- 1995 Launch of the Rolleiflex 6008 integral.
- 1996 A new digital back, the DSP-104.
- 1998 Rollei presents the bellows camera system X-Act at Photokina. Rollei introduces APS cameras into its product range.
- 2000 Rollei celebrates its 80th anniversary.
- 2001 Launch of five new compact cameras, AFM 35, a new series of dissolve projectors, and two new digital cameras.
- 2002 Launch of six new compact cameras, the Rollei d530 flex digital SLR camera, the Rolleiflex 6008 AF (the first 6x6 medium format camera with auto focus) and a new digital 35mm camera (Rollei d330 motion). Rollei also presents at Photokina the Rollei 35 RF (range finder-camera) and the Rolleiflex 4.0 FW (new wide-angle TLR camera).
- 2006 Launch of the Rolleiflex Hy6, a medium-format camera for digital camera backs of Sinar, offered as Sinar Hy6, also produced by Jenoptik and Leaf for Leaf's digital camera backs as Leaf AFi
- 2007 Launch of the Rolleiflex 4,0 FT, a re-design of the 1959 Tele Rolleiflex. RCP buys the right to use the brand Rollei for its digital cameras.
- 2009 (March) Franke&Heidecke announced that it was going into insolvency, saying it couldn't pay its bills.
- 2010 DHW Fototechnik managed to relaunch the production of Rolleiflex, Rolleiflex Hy6, Rolleivision slide projectors and Rollei 35.
- 2012 DHW Fototechnik has presented two new Rolleiflex cameras and a new electronic shutter for Photokina.
Small Format TLR
Medium Format TLR
Medium Format SLR
Rolleiflex SL66 Series
- Rolleiflex SL66 (1966-86)
- Rolleiflex SL66E (1982-86)
- Rolleiflex SL66X (1982-92)
- Rolleiflex SL66SE (1986-93)
Rolleiflex SLX Series
- Rolleiflex SLX (1976-79)
- Rolleiflex SLX Model 2 ("New face") (1978-85)
Rolleiflex 6000 Series
- Rolleiflex 6006 Model 1 (1983-89)
- Rolleiflex 6006 Model 2 (1989-93)
- Rolleiflex 6002 (1986-90)
- Rolleiflex 6008 Professional (1988-92)
- Rolleiflex 6008 Professional SCR 1000 (1993-95)
- Rolleiflex 6003 SCR 1000 (1994-96)
- Rolleiflex 6008 integral (1995-2002)
- Rolleiflex 6003 Professional (1996-2003)
- Rolleiflex 6001 Professional (1998-current)
- Rolleiflex 6008AF (2002-current)
- Rolleiflex 6008 integral2 (2003-current)
Medium Format view camera
- X-Act (1998-current)
35mm viewfinder cameras
- Rollei 35 (1966-1974)
- Rollei 35T / 35S (1974-1980)
- Rollei 35TE / 35SE (1979-1981)
- Rollei C35 / B35 / 35B / 35LED (1969-1978)
- Rollei 35 Classic (1990-current)
- Various limited editions (current)
- Rollei 35 RF (1981)
- Rollei AF Prego (1991)
- Rollei AFM35
- Rollei QZ35W / QZ35T
- Rollei X70 zoom
- Rollei XF 35 (1974-1980)
- Rollei Prego Micron (199?)
- Rollei Prego Zoom (35-70mm, 1993)
- Rollei Prego 70
- Rollei Prego 90
- Rollei Giro 140
- Rolleimat F / AF / AFM (1980-1981)
- Rolleimatic (1980-1981)
- Rollei 35 RF (2002)
- Rolleiflex SL35 (1970-1976)
- Rolleiflex SL350 (1974-1976)
- Rolleiflex SL35M (1976-1979)
- Rolleiflex SL35ME (1976-1979)
- Rolleiflex SL35E (1978-1981)
- Rolleiflex SL2000F (1981-1984)
- Rolleiflex SL3003 (1984-1994)
- Rolleiflex SL3001 (1986-1991)
- Nano 60 / Nano 80 (1999-2000)
126 film Cameras
Pocket Instamatic 110 Cameras
- Rollei A110 (1974-1981)
- Rollei E110 (1976-1978)
- Rollei Pocketline 100/200/300 (1977-1979)
- Voigtländer Vitoret 110 EL
- SL81 (1969)
- SL82 (1969)
- SL83 (1969)
- SL84 (1969)
- Rolleiscop (1965)
- P35 AF (1970)
- P37 (1972)
- P37 AF (1972)
- Rolleivision Twin MSC 315 & 325 (current)
- Rolleivision MSC 535 P (current)
- Rolleivision 66 dual P (1996 - current)
- Parker, Ian. Complete Rollei TLR Collector's Guide. 1929 to 1994. Hove Foto Books, 1993. 180 pages. ISBN 1874031959.
- Prochnow, Claus. Rollei Report 1-5, http://www.rollei-report.com
- DHW Fototechnik The successor of Rollei
- Rolleiflex USA Authorized US Dealer, online shop, and source of technical information.
- DHW Fototechnik unveils new Rolleiflex cameras for Photokina 2012
- British Journal of Photography: Out of Franke & Heidecke's ashes, rises DHW Fototechnik
- Rollei Camera Manuals (PDF) : Photo-Manuals.com
- Website of the Rollei Reports books by Claus Prochnow A very good resource on products by Rollei
- History of Rolleiflex models Focuses on Rolleiflex TLR cameras
- Rolleiflex TLR Price & Information Guide
- Club Rollei User Club for all Users, Collectors and Enthusiasts of Rollei photography
- International Rollei Club website with a database of all Rollei cameras
- Images and specifications of all Rolleiflex SL66 cameras, lenses and accessoiries
- Camera-Info Rollei Forum with links to other forums in various languages
- Orphan Cameras: user manuals for various Rollei cameras at butkus.org
- Review of Rolleiflex 600x cameras
- Rollei section at Retrography.com by Simon Simonsen, Denmark
- Visiting the Rollei manufacture in 1937, a picture album and Cameras, user manuals, ads and catalogs at Sylvain Halgand's website
- Rollei page at Collection G. Even's site
- DHW Fototechnik (Manufacturer of the modern medium format Rolleiflex cameras and repair)
- Information on Rolleiflex 6000 system
- DHW Fototechnik - The successor of Rollei (English and German)
- Paepke Fototechnik Repair and maintenance for Rollei equipment worldwide (English and German)
- Rollei Repairs by Harry Fleenor Repair and maintenance for Rolleiflex TLR cameras
- Rolleiflex Repair Shops and Related Services worldwide by Ferdi Stutterheim