tlr66.org

Link to main site: Rolleigraphy: Rolleiflex User's Site

Home > Rolleiflex 6×6 cm TLR > Focusing Screens

© 1998-2021 Ferdi Stutterheim

Page Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Where can I buy a replacement focusing screen?
  3. What size is my focusing screen?
  4. Rolleiflex TLR camera’s with fixed finders
  5. Rolleiflex TLR camera’s with detachable finders up to F-type
  6. Rolleiflex 2.8 GX, 2.8 FX, 4.0 FT and 4.0 FW
  7. Notes
  8. References

Introduction

Early Rolleiflex TLRs have rather dim focusing screens. Quite a lot of buyers are interested in replacing the screen for a brighter one. Choosing a screen is based on a personal preference. A brighter screen is not necessarily easier to focus. In general terms a very bright screen may lack snapping into focus. On the other hand you can see whatever you are focusing on. When people get older they may prefer a brighter screen anyway. Considerations when upgrading the screen are: where can I buy the replacement screen, which size do I need, can I do it myself or to whom shall I turn to. This page aims to help you making choices.

Where can I buy a replacement focusing screen?

A quick search of the internet will deliver suppliers who offer screens for a few tenners and the screen will arrive at your home in a week or so. I have not purchased one myself but people who did seem reasonably satisfied. It is that easy but you may end up with a screen that doesn’t fit your Rolleiflex or does not suit you. I know two suppliers of quality screens who are able to give good advice. The latest generation screens are in current production and can be obtained from the factory.

Quality screens in several sizes with or without a choice of focusing aids are offered by Maxwell Precision Optics1 and Rick Oleson BrightScreen2. Mr Bill Maxwell has no website but he can be found on Facebook. I have his contact details at the bottom of this page. His screens are of the highest quality and he can advise which screen to use. His prices reflect the quality. Expect to pay a few hundred US$. I do not have any of his screens in my Rolleiflex but I do have one in my Linhof. I am very happy. Mr Rick Oleson does have a website. You can order on line, selecting camera brand, type of screen and size. His screens are said to be of high quality and his prices are under US$ 100. I have not yet been a customer. For a comparison between a Maxwell and an Oleson screen read Mr Edward Goodwin’s blog3. His comparison is not entirely valid because he compared a screen without focusing aid with one having a micro-prism focusing aid. Never the less he gives a fair assessment of the two screens and a good view on the differences.

What size is my focusing screen?

The next question is about screen size. From the 1920s to present screens in five different sizes have been made. Over the years the finders have been upgraded several times and a different finder construction often meant a different screen size. From the late 1960s the factory aimed at one size screen for all medium format Rollei camera lines. The TLRs were adapted to take the screens of the SL 66 and later the SLX and System 6000. It all depends on the era the Rolleiflex was made.

Three different size screens were built into camera’s with fixed finders. A fixed finder means exchanging the screen is not a DIY job for most users. You will need a qualified technician to do the job. It makes sense to have this done when the camera is need of service. Checking and recalibrating focus will be done anyway. Some technicians provide the screen and your worries about screen exchange are over. Others do not regularly replace screens or offer screens you do not like and may ask you to send a replacement screen with the camera.

Screen Sizes of Rolleiflex and Rolleicord TLR camera’s

Camera model lines Camera
production years
Particulars Screen Size Original screen(s) when
camera was first sold
Rolleiflex Standard
Rolleiflex New Standard
Rolleiflex Automat
1932 - 1949 Fixed finder 57 × 63.7 mm Standard screen
Rolleiflex 3.5, 3.5 A, 3.5 B
Rolleiflex 2.8, 2.8 B, 2.8 C, 2.8 D
1950 - 1956 Fixed finder 56.5 × 63.7 mm Standard screen
Rolleiflex 3.5 C (E)
Rolleiflex 2.8 E
1956 - 1959 Fixed finder
Exposure meter
56.5 × 62.7 mm Standard screen
Rolleicord Vb
Rolleiflex T
Rolleiflex 3.5 E2, E3, F
Rolleiflex 2.8 E2, E3, F
Tele-Rolleiflex
Wide-angle Rolleiflex
1958 -1984 Detachable finder
Exchangeable screen
64 × 69 mm Bright screen
(Hell-Einstellscheibe)
Rolleiflex 2.8 GX 2.8 FX
Rolleiflex 4.0 FT, 4.0 FW
19xx - 1984 Detachable finder
Exchangeable screen
56 × 63 mm Bright screen
(Hell-Einstellscheibe)
Super bright screen
(Superhell-Einstellscheibe)
Matte screen
High D-screen

Camera production years should be seen as guidelines only. In each row the key factor in screen size is printed in bold. The information in rows 3 - 5 is accurate. The rows 1 and 2 should be seen as ‘best effort’. Around 1950 the screen became slightly smaller (57 mm > 56.5 mm). Based on 1950 I have placed camera models in row 1 or row2. I suppose that will be accurate but I am not really sure. In the exposure meter group the actual presence of the meter is not important. The capability of having the meter is. I could not find any information about screen sizes of the Rolleicords I - Va. The Rolleicord Vb has the detachable finder that determines its size.

Rolleiflex TLR camera’s with fixed finders

Standard screen

The standard screen is to be found in Rolleiflex and Rolleicord camera’s with fixed finders. It was not sold separately to users because the screens were not seen as exchangeable by the user. When a screen was damaged it had to be replaced by a qualified repairer with a collimator for calibrating the position of the screen. Shims may be necessary and recalibration is needed after screen replacement.

The standard screen is a glass matte screen. This is a screen modern users often want to replace. It is not very bright with even darker corners. A Rolleigrid Fresnel lens can be placed on top the standard screen for better brightness, especially in the corners. The Rolleigrid is no longer made and is not easily obtainable as a used piece.

Bright screens

The original bright screen for detachable finders (1958) was also available in sizes for fixed finders. The factory sold upgrading kits with the bright screen and shims for some years. The kits were not very popular. I have never seen one on offer.

Bright screens

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Sizes
Rolleigrid lens 1953 - 1961 Fresnel lens with clear-view spot for brighter and more evenly lit
screen. The Rolleigrid is only to be used combined with a standard
glass screen. It is to be placed on top of the glass screen with the
rough side facing the screen and is held by a notch at the front and
a button at the back of the finder. FOGRI4
54 × 58.5 × 1.1 mm
Bright matt screen 1958 - 1984 Bright matt screen without focusing aids. Evenly lit up to the
corners. Advised when focusing aids would interfere with composing.
Portraiture f.i. Grid lines. Factory choice 1958 - 1966. As spare part
only.
57 × 63.7 mm
56.5 × 63.7 mm
56.5 × 62.7 mm

Rolleiflex TLR camera’s with detachable finders up to F-type

Bright screens

The Rolleiflex camera’s were equipped with detachable finders from 1958. Focusing screens can be exchanged by the user. Several screen options were offered. The screens were no longer screwed on to the camera body but are held in a hinged spring loaded frame. The springs push the screen down on to a sliding frame that is moved while focusing. Differences in thickness of screens do not matter. The springs will compensate for this. The sliding frame acts as parallax compensation.

The bright screen combines a matte screen and a Fresnel lens in one piece. It is made of plastic. It was developed and produced by the Rollei factory. A choice of bright screen options were available to suit all photographers and all kinds of photography. There is less need for replacing bright screens but with advancing age users often consider replacing it for an even brighter screen. For owners of the classic TLRs - up to the F-types - that means finding a third party screen.

bright matt screen with split-image wedge 1529, Photo F.W. Stutterheim
Photograph of a Rolleiflex bright screen with split-image wedge in its hinged frame in a Tele-Rolleiflex. The screen has grid lines. The finder hood was removed for this image.

Bright screens for 6×6 cm TLRs up to F-types

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Sizes
Bright matt screen 1958 - 1984 Bright matt screen without focusing aids. Evenly lit up to the
corners. Advised when focusing aids would interfere with composing.
Portraiture f.i. Grid lines. Factory choice 1958 - 1966. As spare part
only.
64 × 69 mm
Bright matt screen with
split‑image wedge.
1963 - 1984 Bright matt screen with split-image wedge. Evenly lit up to the
corners. Universal use. Split-image rangefinder for precise focusing
on vertical lines. Grid lines. Factory choice from 1966. FOIND
64 × 69 mm
Bright matt screen with
micro-prism spot.
1967 - 1984 Bright matt screen with micro-prism spot. Evenly lit up to the
corners. Exact focusing not depending on vertical structures.
Sharpest focus is marked by a ‘shimmer-free’ image.
Grid lines. FOERA
64 × 69 mm

Rolleiflex 2.8 GX, 2.8 FX, 4.0 FT and 4.0 FW

Bright screens of the SL 66 era

A number of focusing screens were available for the SL 66 line of camera’s. The modern TLRs Rolleiflex 2.8 GX, 2.8 FX, 4.0 FT and 4.0 FW were designed to accept screens of the SL 66 or the System 6000. The screens are interchangeable. The following table lists the screens that were offered in the SL 66 era. I do not know when production ended. Some screens were upgraded in the System 6000 era.

Bright screens of the SL 66 era

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Size
Bright matt screen 1966 - Focusing screen with microfine structure for full-area focusing and
unobstructed composition. Also suitable for small-aperture lenses
and for depth-of-field monitoring. Grid lines. #560 040, #560 045
56 × 63 mm
Finely ground glass screen 1966 - Finely ground glass screen for ultra-precise focusing, especially in
macro photography, at all apertures and with more powerful focusing
magnifiers. No grid lines. #560 030
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
split‑image wedge
1966 - Universal screen for the most demanding focusing requirements,
with wedge and matt screen. The split-image wedge gives extremely
precise focusing on vertical lines, e.g. for architectural photography.
Grid lines. #560 050, #94 911
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
micro-prism spot
1966 - Universal screen for rapid shooting with micro-prism spot and matt
screen. Allows trouble-free focusing even in poor light. Sharpest
focus is marked by a ‘shimmer-free’ image. Grid lines.
#560 060, #560 065, #64 913
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
clear-view spot
1969 - 1988 Special focusing screen for macro‑photography and photomicrography
with clear-view spot, measuring scale and matt screen. The clear-view
spot allows parallax-free aerial image focusing at extremely small
apertures. e.g. through a microscope. Reproduction ratio is set on a
scale. Grid lines. #560 100
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
central split-image wedge
and micro-prism ring
1976 - Universal screen with split-image wedge, micro-prism ring and matt
screen. Split-image wedge for precise focusing on vertical lines.
Micro-prism ring for focusing to a ‘shimmer-free’ image. Matt screen
with microfine structure for full-area focusing. Grid lines. #560 180
56 × 63 mm

Super bright screen

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Size
Super bright matte screen with
split‑image wedge and micro-prism ring.
1987 - Special focusing screen for extreme unfavorable light.
Grid lines. #560 170
56 × 63 mm

Bright screens of the SLX and System 6000 era

Focusing screens of the SL 66 and the 6000 models are of the same size. The screens also fit the Rolleiflex 2.8 GX, 2.8 FX, 4.0 FT and 4.0 FW. The present Rolleiflex Hy 6 is also equipped with screens of this size as far as I know. The factory does not publish detailed specifications of this camera costing €10,000. New screens should be available from the factory and perhaps from remaining dealers. Some screens of the SL 66 era were updated, mainly with respect to grid lines. Often the grid was omitted or replaced for guidelines for 4.5×6 cm horizontal and vertical shots. In order to keep the finder image as clean as possible are guidelines limited to the corner areas. In the next table only new or updated screens are listed.

Bright screens of the SLX and System 6000 era

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Size
Bright matt screen with
micro-fine texture
1988 - 1992 Micro-fine structure for focusing anywhere in the frame and easy
composition, also suitable for very low-speed lenses and for checking
depth of field. No grid. #97 052
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
micro-fine texture
1993 - Micro-fine structure for focusing anywhere in the frame and easy
composition, also suitable for very low-speed lenses and for checking
depth of field. Guidelines for horizontal and vertical-format 4.5×6 cm
shots. #64 911
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
split‑image wedge
1993 - 1995 Micro‑fine structure and split‑image wedge for higly precise focusing.
Guidelines for horizontal and vertical-format 4.5×6 cm shots. #64 913
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt screen with
micro-prism spot
1988 - Universal screen for rapid focusing with micro-prism spot and matt
screen. For easy and precise focusing even in poor light. Focusing
criterion: no image shimmer. Guidelines for horizontal and
vertical-format 4.5×6 cm shots. #97 074
56 × 63 mm
Bright matt LSC screen 1966 - Special screen for use with Digital Scan Pack.
Guidelines for 41.2 ×35 mm shots. #61 396
56 × 63 mm

High D-screen

The brightest screen is the high definition High D screen. The High D screens fit the Rolleiflex 2.8 GX, 2.8 FX, 4.0 FT and 4.0 FW. The most recently produced TLRs have the High D screen from factory. The screens of the Rolleiflex 2.8 GX and later TLRs are not suspended in the spring loaded frames. The screen rests on a sliding frame. The hinged frame top does not hold the screen, just covers it.

High D-screen with split-image wedge 1516, Photo F.W. Stutterheim
Photograph of a High D-screen with split-image wedge. It rests on its sliding frame in a Rolleiflex 2.8 GX. It has guidelines for horizontal and vertical format 4.5×6 cm shots and marks (TOP and OBEN) indicating the top side of the screen.

High D screen

Screen type Production years
focusing screen
Particulars Screen Size
High D‑screen with
split‑image wedge
1996 - High definition screen for outstanding brightness of viewfinder image
and precise focusing even in critical lighting conditions, such as in
twilight or in a portrait studio. A central split-image rangefinder
facilitates focusing on vertical lines. Guidelines for horizontal and
vertical-format 4.5×6 cm shots serve to align the camera with high
precision. #10 772
56 × 63 mm

Notes

[1]
Mr. Bill Maxwell
Maxwell Precision Optics
P.O. Box 33146,
Decatur, GA 30033-0146,
U.S.A.
Telephone (404) 244-0095
e-mail: Maxwell Precision Optics
Particulars: Focusing screens for Rolleiflex and other camera’s.
About this entry (01/2020). Contact details: no recent information. Back
[2]
Mr. Rick Oleson
Rick Oleson BrightScreen
Particulars: Focusing screens for Rolleiflex and other camera’s.
About this entry (01/2021). Website: up. Back
[3]
Edward Goodwin Photography
Maxwell screen compared with the original Rolleiflex focusing screen.
Edward Goodwin Photography
Maxwell and Oleson focusing screens side-by-side. Back
[4]
The order code, order number (6 digits) or part identifier (5 digits) is printed in bold. The order code (also telegram code) was used for ordering camera’s or accessories from the factory. Back

References