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[Rollei] Visit to the Rollei factory at Braunschweig

Hi all,

Yesterday and today members of the Rollei Club of the Netherlands (RCN) paid
a visit to the Rollei factory at Braunschweig. The RCN (around 600 members)
is the largest Rollei Club in the world. The club is financially supported
by Rollei Fototechnic. In many countries there is no Rollei Club at all!
Mentioned were Germany(!) and the U.S.A. So guys over the water, leave the
disputes on the spelling of the word lens(e) and found a Rollei Club.

We choose to arrive at lunchtime yesterday. After lunch in Rollei´s
conference room we visited the new Rollei museum. It is located in the old
house at Salzdahlumer Strasse 196. This is the house and grounds Franke and
Heidecke bought in 1920 to build their new factory. The odd thing is, there
are hardly any Rollei cameras in the museum. The contents were bought by
Samsung from a private collector. Koreans are very keen on history and
heritage. After the Rollei management buy-out the new owners found
themselves not only as owners of a factory but as owners of a non-Rollei
camera collection too. All Franke and Heidecke and Rollei Werke prototypes
went to the Braunschweig Municipal  Museum in 1981 and rest in the cellers
never to be shown.

After a guided tour through Braunschweig´s old town we assembled in the
brewery and pub "Zum Löwen" (The Lion). As it was a very hot day we were in
for a few pints! At 11 p.m. full of beer and food we had to make our rather
difficult way back to the hotel.

This morning we had the factory tour. Personally I was glad to see the TLR
production line still working! The 2,8 FX was on. A special edition for a
Japanese patron. On this camera the Rolleiflex shield shows classic style
print. It has special snake style leatherette. "No reptiles were harmed for
the production of this camera". The camera backs show chrome rims rather
than black painted ones.

The TLRs are built on a production line like the one in the old days of
Messrs. Franke and Heidecke. About six people to assemble a TLR.

The 6000 series cameras are assembled by teams of only two workers. One
person builds the film back, the other one the camera. Assembling the slide
projectors is a one woman job. She takes care of the complete assembly of a
number of projectors.

You will be glad to hear that the Quality Assurance departement takes a 100%
sample. All 6000 series bodies are put to the test. A special lens and a
test chart is used. A b/w film is run through the camera, developed and
checked on the lighttable with a (Rollei) loupe.

Of all Rollei produced lenses a MTF curve is taken on Carl Zeiss equipment
as part of the license agreement. (They put their own Rolleigons in the
machine too!). Just too bad the dustbin was empty! Some of us were prepared
to take a lens of their hands which showed only minor faults. These go back
to production. Usually one optical element is replaced by an other one. The
"faulty part" is stored to be used when  another faillure arrives with a
different problem. This is Zeiss´ "entspannte Optik Produktion" (relaxed
optical production). A minor optical fault is compensated for by another one
in a different element. I believe the Leica people use only perfect
components while trying to build a perfect lens. When we look at the price
sheets, many of us will notice that Zeiss´s prices are more relaxed too.

After lunch we started to make our way home and found ourselves in Germany´s
weekend rush hour, which they call a "Stau" or a (20 mile) tail back between
the cities of Hanover and Bremen. Please, don´t mail me from Germany to say
we were so lucky because the usual tail back is over 30 miles ;-). Quite a
number of Germans joined me in my travel to my home state of Friesland in
the Netherlands where they have moared their boats.

Ferdi Stutterheim,
Drachten, The Netherlands.