Superb! 1939 PLAUBEL ROLL-OP, 6x4.5 Coupled Rangefinder Camera, CLA'd Freshly Serviced!
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use
This is a circa 1939 Plaubel Roll-Op. It’s a medium format, coupled rangefinder camera which is arguably one of the best medium format rangefinder cameras of the prewar era. It was introduced by Plaubel in 1933 and was produced in Germany until 1939 as a fine quality, professional press camera. Capable of producing 6x4.5 cm images on 120 roll film, it was an expensive, high end camera. Its body was carefully constructed, wrapped in fine quality leather and fitted with a coupled rangefinder. It utilized the same accurate wide base rangefinder that was fitted to the Plaubel Makina. This camera also features a unique auto-stop winding system. Basically this allowed the photographer to advance the film advance knob until it stopped and he was ready to shoot again. This meant you wouldn’t be slowed down, searching for numbers through a red counter window. Auto-stop winding was quite unusual for folding cameras and it remained that way for decades. Only a small number of designs ever featured it and whenever it was available it was always on expensive, cameras top of the line cameras.
Because of its professional status, this camera also has counter windows on the rear of the camera. This is a back-up feature that insured that even if the film counter system failed out in the field, a photo-journalist could still continue shooting.
Another advanced feature of the Plaubel Roll-op was that the lens and shutter moves together as a unit when focusing. This provides better lens performance (especially up close) than the more common “front cell focus” in which only the front element is turned in or out. This feature allows this camera to close focus down to a meter.
During WWII war correspondents on all sides of the conflict used the Plaubel Roll-Op because of its compact size and quality images. As a result it was in high demand and in short supply. These photographers often reached for the Plaubel whenever they wanted to produce a higher resolution photograph than even a Contax or Leica could manage on the grainy films of the period. These Plaubels were used intensively and as a result most of them are very worn and many are no longer usable.
Personally I’m quite fond of these cameras. They represent the very best construction techniques and design details of the late 1920’s / early 1930’s era. I’ve owned and used many classic rangefinders over the years including Super Ikonta, Voigtlander Bessa RF, Rifax, Certo Super Sport Dolly RF, Balda Baldaxette and Welta Weltur. And I can personally confirm that the Plaubel Roll-Op is a very enjoyable camera. Very popular with users as well as collectors, few owners are willing to sell them. Because of this and the very limited number of good, clean, usable examples they will always be desirable and hard to find.
This Plaubel is in beautiful condition. It’s carefully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. The top quality Compur-Rapid shutter works smoothly and all speeds (T, B & 1 sec – 1/400th) are appropriate. The slow speeds buzz along smoothly and the fast speeds are clean and snappy.
The bellows are supple and completely light tight. The coupled rangefinder works well. It makes focusing quick and easy and never leaves you guessing about distance or focus.
The lens on this camera is a fast & sharp 2.8/7.5 cm (75mm) Plaubel Anticomar lens. (The Plaubel Anticomar, the Zeiss Tessar and the Voigtlander Heliar set the highest professional standards in their day and still perform very well today). The Plaubel Anticomar lens is exceptionally clean. There are no scratches. There are no separated elements, crystallization or other problems and it’s capable of producing beautiful photos with modern color and B&W films.
All in all this is a wonderful classic camera. Load it with your favorite film and keep it handy for that perfect shot you’ve been looking for. The one with the perfect Ansel Adams light breaking through the dark storm clouds that leaves you wishing you had a classic medium format camera with you.