Rolleicord 101: Re-learning Photography in the 21st Century

Thursday, March 7, 2013 | Washington, DC, USA (map)

The original Instagram
A few years ago, I was poking around my family's attic in Baltimore and came across my dad's old Rolleicord camera. Clueless as to how to produce a picture with it, I let it sit—until recently.

Back home for Christmas, I was chatting about photography with my friend Jordan, who encouraged me to dust the camera off, find some film, and start experimenting. Suddenly curious, I browsed some online hobbyist sites and learned that the camera was made between 1950 and 1952 in Germany. (The letters DRP and DRGM on the body apparently indicate that, even at that date, it was manufactured under the pre-WWII patents.) I also found a user's manual whose hokey mid-century style, if not its advice, was priceless. (When photographing children, "Never use force"!)

Rolleicords and their cousins, the higher-end Rolleiflexes, were once ubiquitous, I am told. But several technological generations later, a Rollei makes for a fairly unusual sight. In New York around