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Baby Rolleiflex (1931)

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Baby Rolleiflex 010
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The original Baby Rolleiflex is a smaller version of the Rolleiflex, taking 4×4cm pictures on 127 film. It was introduced by Franke & Heidecke in 1931 (127,000-523,000). New variants followed in 1934 and 1938.

With this camera line Rollei was attempting to expand their already popular line of TLR Cameras by making a smaller variant for use with format 127 film. The first version of this camera was basically a 3/4 scale copy of the Standard model, of camera, with an exposed shutter and viewing lens. There are four basic versions of the pre-war Baby Rolleiflex: Exposed shutter, with speeds set by the shutter dial (1931-1933), later models have levers attached to the shutter (1934-1937). Both the dial set and lever set cameras came with either a 6cm f: 3.5, or 6cm f:2.8 Tessar taking lens. The later version of the f: 3.5, and f: 2.8 camera had a rectangular lens window above the viewing lens, that showed both the shutter speed and f-stop, magnified for easy viewing. All pre-war Rolleiflex cameras used a simple film transport, of the same design as the Standard. A spring loaded lever on the side of the camera, was turned clockwise, which advances the counter to the next number. Unlike the Automat film transport; this system required the user to load the film to the first frame, via the ruby window, and then reset the counter to the number one, with a small button.

Baby Rolleiflex 003

The final pre-war variant of the Baby Rolleiflex was called the Sports Rolleiflex, made from 1938-1941 (622,000-733000). This camera was in layout and design a 3/4 scale copy of the Rolleicord of the time. Gone were the exposed shutter, and viewing lens, the focus was via a double cardioids, with a much faster lock to lock focusing, that would better allow the camera to be used for action; hence the "Sports'" name. All models came with the 6cm f: 2.8 Tessar. Early cameras have only a bayonet (bay I) on the taking lens, while later models have a bayonet on both lenses. It is of interest to note that virtually all accepted sources of information on this camera, end the serial numbers at 733,000. I have inspected a camera with a serial number above 733,000 and I can assure the reader it does exist. My best guess is that it was assembled from spare parts after the war when Rollei needed cameras to sell

All of the pre-war Baby Rolleiflex cameras are fine user cameras, but they are more sought after by collectors, than users, with the 2.8 models fetching the greatest sums, and the Sports Rolleiflex, commanding a premium.


In 1957, a completely different 4×4cm Rolleiflex was released. See Baby Rolleiflex (1957).

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