With the Rolleiflex SLX of the seventies the factory introduced electronics in medium format photography. From a commercial point of view the electronics were revolutionary. By present technical standards the (outsourced) electronics are quite primitive and even for the seventies measure they were not as good as they should have been. There were quality issues with the first series. The cameras that still work today will be good ones. Never the less the electronics are quite old by now.
First attempts aimed at a smaller, lighter, simpler, cheaper version of Rollei’s fully mechanical SLR, the SL 66. No bellows, no tilt option, no focal plane shutter but a leaf shutter. The camera was already named SLC 66. It turned out to be a difficult project. Smaller could also be lighter but smaller also meant that hardly any parts of the SL 66 could be used. Cheaper was out of reach. Another desire was electric film transport next to the traditional crank. Eventually a completely new camera was designed without detachable film magazine. The crank was dropped too. The film transport was electric only. The name of the new camera was SLX.
The film back - that can not be removed before a film is fully exposed - made the SLX less desirable to professional users. The exchangeable film inserts are a positive point. The un-exposed film can take the place of the exposed film. There is no need to move the empty spool. The insert has two transport gears and can be used either way. All major camera functions are electronically controlled and the common mechanical leaf shutter is replaced by an electronically controlled direct-drive shutter capable of exposures of 1/500 s. The shutter is an original Rollei design and unique in photography. The aperture too is set by a direct-drive motor.
Rolleiflex 6000 System
The SLX developed into the Rolleiflex 6000 System. The camera has a detachable film magazine. At the time of introduction the 6008i was the most sophisticated MF camera on the market. Thanks to electronics the price was competitive with respect to the Hasselblad camera that still was a fully mechanical camera. Unfortunately that was also the case with the SL 66 and the 6000 System mainly killed the SL 66 and not the Hasselblad.
For studio use a model 6001, lacking most of the refined multi-system auto-exposure module, is even more competitively priced. A unique feature of the 6008i is the 4560 magazine for 4.5 x 6 cm exposures. The 4560 magazine can be positioned for landscape or portrait style exposures.
In February 2002 a new Auto Focus Rolleiflex 6008 AF came on to the market. A world first in 6 x 6 cm photography! With new Schneider Kreuznach optics it features full Auto Focus, faster than 645 cameras by other manufacturers. With non-AF Rollei System 6000 optics the camera showed "in focus" confirmation. In medium format AF lots of glass have to be moved when focusing. That makes medium format AF a bit slower than 35 mm AF. At present (2019) the 6008 AF is difficult to repair. The electronic boards are unavailable. The situation for the 6008i is better.
The comparative charts
The comparative chart now is a complete listing of all SLX and 6000 System cameras. It had to be split into two pages based on year of introduction. The numbering is quite confusing.
The original list was partly based on work by others. The origin is uncertain but I have found a 6000 System Data Sheet that could be the original source. Several web-versions were in the public domain for years. The present list is updated and edited. I have listed the focusing screen that was original to the body but that does not guarantee it is still in the camera. The screens of the Rolleiflex TLRs GX and later, the SL 66 and all SLX and 6000 System cameras are interchangeable. "yes" means: function available or accessory can be used. "no" means: function not available or accessory cannot be used.
Film changing systems
Magazine or Back
Film magazines are designed to be changed in mid-roll without losing a frame. Film backs are designed to remain on the camera. Both are described on one separate page. The links in this paragraph will take you to it.
Power supply systems
The Rolleiflex SLX and 6000 System camera’s are completely power dependent. A number of power supply systems are or were available. Batteries and chargers are the basic system. The power supply is described in an addendum. The links in this paragraph will take you there.
Coded Serial Numbers
in 1982 Rollei began to use coded serial numbers instead of a sequential numbering system. The coding system is explained on a separate page. The digits placed in the second and third position of the coded number are called the Index.
In a modular camera system with backward compatibility exposure modes of a camera and lens combination depend on the supported modes of both camera and lens. The most limiting factors determine the capabilities of the set. The original lenses designed for the Rolleiflex SLX offer only shutter priority AE and manual metering. When mounted on a more sophisticated camera of the 6000 System that is no different. PQ lenses have an aperture simulator and offer not only shutter priority AE and manual but also aperture priority AE and program mode. All this only with cameras that support these modes. The studio camera Rolleiflex 6001 for instance only supports flash metering. PQS lenses offer all these modes with a higher top speed of 1/1000 sec. The higher top speed however can only be achieved with camera bodies that were designed to support PQS lenses: all 6008, both 6003 and 6001.