In 1935 the Rollei factory Franke & Heidecke made two different camera models, the 6×6 cm Rolleiflex and the 4×4 cm Baby-Rolleiflex. The Rolleiflex was an expensive camera aimed at the professional market. The purchase price was in the same range as the Contax and the Leica. In order to expand production a less expensive camera aimed at the non-professional market was developed.
It was going to be a camera with the same built quality but less expensive by having slightly less elaborate specifications. Important specifications were the same, others slightly lower and less important specs were dropped. All this made the new camera substantially cheaper. The name Rolleicord was eventually chosen.
Specifications identical on both the Rolleicord and Rolleiflex:
- Twin lens reflex camera.
- 6×6 cm film format.
- Finder lens with larger aperture than taking lens.
- Finder system
- Carl Zeiss Jena optics.
- Compur shutter
Specifications nearly identical on the Rolleicord and the Rolleiflex:
- Triotar1 (3 elements) lens instead of a (4 elements) Tessar.
- Aperture2 4.5 or 3.8 (Triotar) instead of 3.5 (Tessar).
Specifications different or missing on the Rolleicord:
- Knob film wind instead of crank transport
- No automatic film transport3 to frame 1
- No shutter release button on camera body but by handle on the shutter
- Shutter not automatically cocked with film transport.
The Pre-War Rolleicords
The Rolleicords have parallax compensation from the start. The Rolleflex only from 1937.
Two versions were offered. One has an Ardeco style cover and a 1:4.5 f=7.5 cm Triotar taking lens. The second one has a black cover and a 1:3.8 f=7.5 cm Triotar. The viewing lens is a 1:4 triplet. Its name is spelled Heidoskop, later Heidoscop.
Cameras have 1:4.5 f=7.5 cm Triotar taking lenses, except for 500 special Police cameras with a 1:3.5 f=7,5 cm Triotar. The Police camera has a 1:3.2 f=7.7 cm viewing lens.
The Rolleicord II has updated lenses: a 1:3.5 f=7,5 cm Triotar taking lens and a 1:3.2 f=7.5 cm viewing lens.
The Post-War Rolleicords
Production of the Rolleicord was continued after WWII. The Compur shutter CR00 was replaced for faster 1/500 s Compur-Rapid CR00 and a Compur-Rapid X CRX00. The later one with electronic flash synchronisation. New taking Schneider Xenar lenses were added to the Zeiss Triotars. Both Zeiss and Schneider lenses are coated.
- Das Rolleiflex-Buch, Heering, Dr Walther, ISBN 3-928126-00-8, im Heering-Verlag, Seebruck am Chiemsee, (1967).
- Rollei Report 1, Franke & Heidecke. Die ersten 25 Jahre 1920 - 1945, Prochnow, Claus, ISBN 3-89506-105-0, Lindemanns (1993).
- Rollei Report 2, Rollei-Werke Rollfilmkameras 1946-1981, Prochnow, Claus, ISBN 3-89506-118-2, Lindemans, (2000).