This was an excellent opportunity to compare my Rolleiflex 2.8C and 2.8F in small details. Essentially, both cameras take 12 6x6 photos and function almost identically, with the exception of a few minor differences that we will discuss later.
The lenses on both cameras, Xenotar and Planar, are excellent.
The Rolleiflex 2.8F arrived at my workshop with its self-timer level loose; it seems the inner screw got unscrewed! and three pieces were missing inside: two of them were in the front panel about to migrate to the winding panel, and the guilty screw was already in the focusing panel. I put everything back together correctly and put nail polish over the screw to make sure this wouldn't happen again, and besides this, I checked all the visible screws around.
The release shutter lock.
Both release shutter lock and the catcher of the flash contact are made of plastic in the 2.8C, I was surprised when I saw them for the first time.
They are made of metal on the 2.8F, so they should last longer.
Both work well.
Aperture and speed wheels.
The left wheel is aperture, and the right wheel is speed. 2.8C has small knobs under the wheel, so when your thumb attempts to turn the wheel, it presses the knob, making the turn possible. This is most likely the solution to an undesirable change in aperture or speed. The 2.8F, on the other hand, lacks this feature; instead, the aperture and speed are changed via clicks, allowing for accidental wheel changes.
self timer and Flash modes M-X.
The flash modes are on one side on the 2.8C, and the self timer is on the other, because the self timer is a separate piece from the shutter and is located under the front panel.
2.8F has the self-timer integrated in the Synchro Compur shutter, and by pulling the lever to the right, it's activated and ready for the shutter release.
Straps for Rolleiflexes evolved from the Automat version with lugs to the scissors type used on 2.8E and 3.5E models.
Also, we can see the counting for shooting 35mm film in the 2.8C and a plain spool holder in the 2.8F.
feeder spool spring.
In the 2.8C, there is a spring for keeping the film tight while feeding; it works fine, but in the 2.8F, there is an additional spring that keeps the feeding spool in place unless there is winding; this way, the film stays perfectly tight until the coil.
shutter Retaining ring.
Rolleiflexes focus by moving the front plate forwards and backwards, that's a moving part that goes directly to the film chamber, so it has to be light-tight. The usual way for TLRs is a retaining ring that holds the shutter to the front plate, it goes into the camera through a felt trap about 2 mm thick, and normally all is fine; if that felt is worn out, you might have light leaks.
However, at some point, someone in F&H devised a new method, no light trap, a retaining ring that connects to another ring (pressure type) lock into the film chamber, using the old bellows solution from the folders, which are circle type, about 3 cm extended, and designed in such a way that they fold outwards the rear lens.
I'm not sure what models have bellows and what models have a retaining ring, a colleague of mine suggested that they are randomly organized; the last photos of the slide are from the Rolleiflex exploded view of a 3.5F, different types.
Note about servicing Rolleiflexes: Every time one with bellows arrives, I curse in German.
One of the most significant improvements of Rolleiflexes was the ability of the user to change the focusing screen without the use of a screwdriver or much complexity.I think it started with the Rolleiflex T, 3.5F, and 2.8F and posterior models.
In previous models like my 2.8C, when installing a new screen, unless it has the same thickness, you have to A) collimate the viewing lens or B) put shims here and there so the viewing lens matches the taking lens.
In models with removable WLF, just put in the new screen, and it should be fine. Also, you can place the prism for focusing and shooting at eye level.
Almost every WLF has a loupe for fine focusing, but not many of them think of people with eyesight problems.
The Rolleiflex 2.8C loupe can be moved upwards for a better image, and the Rolleiflex 2.8F loupe can be changed for another with a different graduation.
Aperture and speed marks.
As we can see, there is a red stripe in the 2.8C for placing the aperture and speed marks but not in the 2.8F. This is because of the shutter differences. Compur Rapid in the 2.8C doesn't go with "clicks," so an aid for setting up speeds and aperture is welcome. In the 2.8F, the second version of Synchro Compur shutter has clicks between speeds.
Another distinction is the B setting in 2.8F, which is no longer called B because it has a coupled light meter; you can go to 1 second exposure, 2-, 4-, 8-, and so on; in fact, it works as B mode as long as the shutter release button is pressed and the shutter is opened.The aperture and speed positions are also changed between models, but the good news is that the aperture wheel is still on the left and the speed wheel is on the right.
A big warning here: When the camera is cocked at 2.8C, you can't go from 1/250th to 1/500th or vice versa due to the shutter design. You might break or force something inside the shutter. 2.8F does not have this problem.
The focusing knob of the 2.8F has the light meter needle, obviously, but something I was not aware of until I looked closely was the diameter of the focusing knob. The one on the 2.8C is a bit smaller than the one on the 2.8F, so you have a finer focusing, I should have checked the degrees of a turn from infinity to the closest focusing point to be 100% sure.
This difference has generated some controversy among users, the background out of focus parts resulting of shooting with a almost rounded aperture or with the pentagonal shape from 5 aperture blades.
As for my experience, if I shoot, say, a portrait and behind my subject are some trees and branches and leaves (the usual), the light coming through them will have pentagonal shapes, while doing the same photo with an almost round aperture will have a rounded shape. I guess it's a matter of taste.
I might have missed some other small details; you are welcome to comment if any information is not correct or you want to add something I missed.
Thank you for reading.