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My Blog

An ongoing series of informative entries

The Rollei X-Act2 Story

15 March 2020


Well its been a while and I found it difficult to find any helpful l information on the web about people who are using this awesome camera. So I thought Id just do a final wee follow up, add a few more images and offer my help if anyone else if moving to this very flexible system system.

This image shows a Schneider 105mm f5.6 Enlarger lens fitted to one of the Butler Lens panels 

( I'd have to say they fit a bit nicer than the original panels - Higher grade aluminium has been used therefore a better finish is possible)

Quick update on the recessed panel from B&H USA - It is on its way so looking forward to seeing how it fits and if the recess is enough to allow for the 47mm to focus to infinity with enough room for some movements if required. Also Eric =at Rollei USA has found me rear bellows standard also - sadly the exchange rate is a bit cruel at present, but needs must!

16/03/2016 Well things moving a bit quicker at the moment, the Novoflex recessed lens panel arrived today and it fits the Rollei standards perfectly. But........., theres usually a but, the actual recessed part of the panel is to big to fit in the bellows buy a couple of mm. - So there ends that idea to see if it all works.

20/03/2016 Couldn't really stop thinking about how close the Novoflex panel was to actually fitting so out came the Digital Callipers and there

was on 1/2 a mm in it - the actual flange was 2.75 mm thick so I had the Butler Boys wip of a 0.5mm (giving an extra mm total) and job done - slips neatly into the bellows recess and the next issue was fitting the 47mm Schneider. Alas the Copal shutter mechanism was about 5 mm to large in the diameter (the shutter cock lever and the Open shutter button) both restricted the lens to be fitted, so swap out the copal shutter for a Linhof Shutter that is considerably smaller and job done!! Works a treat and allow infinity focus on the Sony and about 

10mm of movement shift.

Also made a mount to accept my Busch's Aplanatsatz Mod E Lens set from around 1890 - surprising good results considering Im using a lens that is well over a 100 years old. Now its time to get stuck in and use this camera for what she was made for! ( maybe also hunt for a nice 90mm Digitar of some sort)

20/6/2016 Further updates here - have purchased from Eric in the US, the correct rear bellows uint for the 47mm and it is currently having a Copal hole flange adapter made for it.

But more interestingly at this moment, I have also purchased a Exakta to Sony E series adapter and have been experimenting with some of the lenses from my collection and have stumbled across the Stellar resolving 40mm

The results are just amazing for such a Vintage piece of glass - pays not to discount the oldies!

Then along came a Sony A7R

So still grieving with the loss of the CFV 50 back I've continued with the original plan of mounting the Sony A7R to the back of the Rollei. The amazing instrument engineers at Butlers Engineering here in town have crafted me some new lens panels and a rear mount for the Sony. I purchased from B&H a T2 Sony E mount adapter and retaining ring - this was then cut down to allow just 10mm clearance from the rear standard panel (FFD does not apply when using the camera this way) - this was secured in place with a Meade T adapter retaining ring to the standard. Then the mighty 36 Meg Sony is able to be attached. Camera rotation is done by rotating the entire mount.

The Image here shows the Sony fitted with a Schneider 150mm on the Rollei with a small degree of front tilt being used in my studio (Aka Mans Shed or Shrine to all things photographic!). When the mount is finalised ( Small issue of vignetting with longer focal lengths, removal of the Meade flange and slight internal flaring will resolve) The Sony will be tethered to allow remote firing and viewing of images for focus check etc. Studio workflow does utilise the live view feature of the Sony with 100% magnification to check focus areas on shift planes.

And so it continues............... Currently I'm still awaiting my parcel from B&H in the States with my recessed board - that hopefully will resolve the issue with the 47mm on the Rollei.

The Hasselblad CFV 50 Back Story

But as I write this I'm in a quandary curtsy of Mr Greg Webb of C.R.Kennedys, NZ. He very kindy gave me access to a Hasselblad CFV 50 back that just happens to fit effortlessly onto the rear of my Rollei ) and a 500C/M from my collection for that matter!)

I need to firstly describe the experience of holding the back, then fitting it to 500C/M. It instantly took me back in time and the ease of use, the familiarity, feel quality of build are just sublime. And then the files .................... Oh so beautifully lush and exhibiting outstanding detail and DR. I have to admit - Im ruined now and so desperately want to own one - so maybe the Sony might be sold off to help fund a medium format back of some description. Opposite see the CFV 50 fitted to the Rollei in the shed - a dream to use and the live view and focus aid just made it a seamless workflow - didn't get around to a full tether as I wanted to experience it in the "Raw" so to speak. I could use this anywhere with ease and craft amazingly detailed images.

So again thanks to Mr Webb and Hasselblad for being who they are and still doing the business I have had the pleasure of enjoying for the past 40 years.

Hmmm look at that back fitted to the Rollei!

X-Act2 Part Two!

Posted 2/3/2016

Part two of the story..............

Once you start something like this it appears to become all encompassing and you find you need extra bits and pieces to make it all come together. The next item of desire was something a bit wider than the stable of lenses I have - I have a 90, 150, 270 etc with plenty of coverage, plus a selection of enlarging lenses which have proved to be extremely good performers.

Then arrived the Schneider 47mm, which is just amazing - but alas is unable to fit the Rollei and provide infinity focusing without some sort of extra solution.

Im on the hunt for an original Rollei rear bellows unit, clearly not common as I have cast the net very widely- Globally and encountered some extremely helpful and nice people and some others who are clearly there to just rip you off!.

Rollei USA is a great site and Eric there has been extremely helpful (rollei us) They have solutions and pieces available, but the current exchange rate is a bit of a killer from my end. - But on Eric's blog he mentioned that you can also use the Novoflex Lens adapters on the Rollei, and thus I have ordered from the awesome B&H the appropriate recessed lens panel and eagerly await it's arrival. - Dammit, just been told by B&H it won't arrive State Side till late March.

The Rollei X-Act2 Journey Part 1

In January 2016 - I purchased one of the coolest cameras I've ever owned ( A Rollei X-Act2 ) with the intent of fitting a DSLR to the back of her and utilising the full range movements available on the device. Then playing with stacking of the digital files to create the final Giga Images.

The camera came with a tidy Schneider 150mm fitted and a spare lens panel. It also came with a Hasselblad V Back adapter, view finder adapter and a Silvestri ground glass screen. all in a fitted case. Then the fun began, along with some lessons in optics and acrylic forming.

Seing I wasn't going to use the viewing back - I removed the fitted unit from the rear panel and crafted a piece of black acrylic with a 42mm hole in the centre to take a T2 canon adapter. The then allowed me to fit my Canon 5D Mk3 to the rear standard of the Rollei.

With the 150mm attached infinity focus is obtainable and the results were very pleasing . (more on the images later)

The issues around the extended FFD (Flange Focal Distance) need to be resolved if wider focal lengths are to be utilised. Hence the decision to acquire a Sony A7R Mirrorless body, besides being an awesome 36 Meg sensor, it actually has a better effective FFD (including the front hand grip than its newer brother the Mk2. Fitting it to the rear standard is now a breast by using a custom adapter crafted in the UK by Richard Gale at These are very reasonably priced and I eagerly await it's arrival. 

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