The Rolleiflex Digital TLR That Was Too Good To Be True

The Rolleiflex Digital TLR That Was Too Good To Be True

A few weeks ago, an intriguing "Coming Soon" tweet popped up in my Twitter feed, teasing the announcement of a new Rolleiflex digital TLR. I gave the tweet a like and followed the account since the idea of a twin lens digital camera sounded interesting, although strange, and thought little of it until the account issued another tweet titled "My Apology."

By the time college student Josh Knox issued his apology for what turned out to be a "study on the world of product pirating and the spread of misinformation on the internet," the news had already spread rapidly and been picked up by a number of sites. Photographers were understandably excited about the prospect of such a unique camera, and many people fell for the rouse promising a digital Rolleiflex in April 2023. The "Coming Soon" tweet was viewed over 120,000 times, and retweeted hundreds of times. 

The replies to this tweet ranged from the old standard, "Shut up and take my money now," to heartfelt pleas not to play with photographers' emotions. Some people realized it was a hoax and tried to bring reason to the discussion, but the news spread rapidly despite reservations. Ultimately, hearts were broken, dreams were crushed, and one BFA student was forced to apologize for what he considered a harmless school project.

"I never expected the project to grow into what it did."

Josh didn't realize that Rollei was, in fact, still in business, when he decided to use their name for his fake digital TLR account. Rollei still produces a variety of photographic equipment, although they stopped making cameras in 2014. Once the cat was out of the bag, the account name was changed from "Official Rolleiflex," to "Fans of Rollei," and the apology was issued detailing what had happened.

Luckily for Josh, there has been little blowback to his prank other than some sites needing to print corrections or retractions, as well as a bunch of disappointed photographers on Twitter. Regarding his project, I for one thinks this kid deserves an A in his pirating course. 

Pete Coco's picture

Pete Coco is a portrait photographer and musician based in New York. When not performing as a jazz bassist, Pete can be found in his studio working with a wide range of clients, although is passion is creating unique portraits of other musicians and artists.

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I was surprised it got the traction it did. A digital TLR is wildly economically inefficient in today's market and would be, at best, a huge gamble for any company.

I would love a digital TLR for street photography because people LOVE seeing the film ones and actually want to interact. BUT I totally agree with you Alex; I've tested many low-production kickstarter-style cameras and they've all straight-up sucked. The only way forward would be for one of the big camera manufacturers (maybe Fuji?) to engineer a new TLR form factor for an existing model.

It would be totally cool. Like Fox Mulder, I wanted to believe... LOL. Oh well.

I regularly order stuff from Rollei. They are based in Germany and are essentially Jinbei and produce strobes – I guess in China – that are sold under many different names: Jinbei, Rollei, Westcott, etc...

But they have other affordable accessories. Even "Smart Tags" which are similar to Apple's Air Tags and many other things for competitive prices.
The quality is I would say "ok" but not bad. I once ordered a power adapter for one of their strobes. They sent me 3 or 4 units and they were all defective. I gave up and bought a 2nd battery. But their C-stands are better and cheaper than anyone elses here in Germany.
So I was not surprised about this announcement because if you know their inventory this would not make sense. But whatever...they are still going strong here in Europe.

It’s too bad they are not making cameras anymore. But if the QC is that bad maybe it’s for the best lol

In the end they are just a distributor of chinese products which they rebrand (and modify here and there). I am not sure but I think they don't develop their own products anymore. If a camera might come out I think it would be based on a chinese product.

Personally I would love to see (own) a digital TLR. Unfortunately, I don’t see anything like that coming soon or in the future. Major manufacturers are concentrating on the latest 'flavor of the month' items. For them to switch up now for a product that may or may not be of great interest for a huge photography population is risky. There's no telling how much of the market would be flocking to it. But, hell yeah I'd love one.

Maybe some one will make a 3D printed digital TLR!