For most of my time in photography I was convinced that I needed a camera system with optimal versatility. The twin lens reflex did not seem to be that system. It was only in the past few years that I have come to appreciate the work flow and ease of use of the twin lens design. For the work I do now these cameras are perfectly matched. Framing and focusing with a nearly opaque infrared filter on the lens is a snap and they take up much less room in a backpack on those hikes into the wilderness.
Franke & Heidecke was the company that made these and they also had developed a camera system (Hy6) that was compatible with digital capture backs developed by a number of different companies. They were just beginning to market this new system when the bottom fell out of the world economy in late 2008 and the bank withdrew it's funding. It was widely reported in the trade press at the time that F&H were insolvent and the Rolleiflex was no more. What wasn't reported was three of the former employees of F&H (Rolf Daus, Hans Hartje and Frank Will) had found the resources to continue production of some of their product lines. They formed DHW Fototechnik and continued manufacture until this past fall when once again they were forced into receivership. They had insufficient resources to properly market their products and sales were not robust enough to continue.
This week the bankruptcy court in Germany is auctioning off the assets of DHW Fototechnik and it looks like this employee owned company will be no more, unless someone steps up to buy the facility and machinery and continue production. I said hello to the twin lens just three years ago and now I fear having to say goodbye to the iconic Rolleiflex much too soon.