Hi everyone,

I would like to share with you a happy story of medium format perseverance, analog faith, unconditional film love, and some kick-assing top of the notch camera. Namely, a Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar.
But let's make it short. (I will break the narrative by putting photos taken at different times with the camera in question.)

I am Italian, and came to Bogotá, Colombia without speaking a word of Spanish. That was never a problem though, as being Italian my hand gesturing was always, well, handy.
One day I was wandering the streets of this city, when all of a sudden something caught my eye; an unmistakable shape got my attention. Yes, it was the Rolleiflex 3.5F.
I went in the shop that had it and believe me, it was one weird place. To name one, the camera was being used as bookends.

I entered, I enquired, I conquered.

I left the place with the camera on my hands, having paid for it 85.000 Colombian Pesos, more or less 25 American Dollars. The guy thought I was insane to pay a bookends for that price, and I thought that guy was insane to let me go with a 3.5F for that price. Maybe we both were a bit insane.
That price however came for a reason; this glorious 3.5F was really beaten up. On my way back home I could see more and more all the wrong with it, and I did wonder what possessed me to get it. Those doubts wouldn't last long though. Once I got to my flat I immediately ordered a Maxwell Precision Optics screen.
The way I saw it, I was finally the owner of a camera I had always wanted, albeit (yet again) in a very poor state.

Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar / Fuji Pro 400H
Minolta Autometer IVF / Epson 4490
Cundinamarca (COL)

In the 5 years following this moment of inspired madness I have tried to have it fixed repeatedly; I sent it to a few shops but every time, what a disappointment! They would tell me they'd do something to then not do it. Others would give me some prices to have it fixed that I could have bought myself a car on that tag.
I know I know, I should have sent it to Harry Fleenor from day one, but I didn't. And that's another story.

Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar / Kodak Portra 400NC (expired)
Minolta Autometer IVF / Epson 4490
Bogotá (COL)

4 years pass, and I am getting depressed. But then, thankfully, a good friend of mine and a very talented photographer (Maurizio Franzini) introduced me to one of the greatest camera repairers I have ever met, an Italo-Colombian named Blas Iannini. That was the moment I started seeing the end of the tunnel. I left him the 3.5F and with it a part of me, too.
But Mr. Iannini was painfully honest when he told me he had not repaired many TLRs during his career, so I decided to give him a hand.
Whilst he was busy with the camera, I contacted the one and only Rick Oleson, who I had bought months earlier a screen from (for another Rolleiflex of mine, an Automat MX.)
Rick was incredibly helpful and kind; he sent me tons of info in form of drawings, photos, emails, etc. on how to (dis)assemble the camera. Once I got it, I passed it to Blas and the wait began.

Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar / Ilford XP2 400
Sekonic L-398 / Epson 4490
Cundinamarca (COL)

Of all the problems this camera had, the most serious one had to do with the lenses; they were not aligned and the viewing one was also tilting to one side. I believe the camera got frontally smashed, and home-repaired. Meaning: no doubts they opened it at home to disassemble it, without having a clue what they were doing.

Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar / Ilford Delta 100
Minolta Autometer IVF / Epson 4490
Bogotá (COL)

Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar / Fomapan 200
Minolta Autometer IVF / Epson 4490
Bogotá (COL)

Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar / Ilford XP2 400
Sekonic L-398 / Epson 4490
Bogotá (COL)

Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar / Ilford XP2 400
Sekonic L-398 / Epson 4490
Bogotá (COL)

A few months passed by and I finally get the call I was waiting for; it was Blas telling me my camera was finally ready. Without further doing I rush to his shop with an HP5+ on my hands.

The camera looked great. More importantly, it was perfect. There are a few bits missing, but really not that important. I'll look around for them.
We run some tests at the shop, and I left to shoot the HP5+, which I did in less than half an hour.
I am now running to another shop, that of Mr. Efraín Gómez, owner of 'Poder Fotográfico' the best film-only photo lab here in Colombia. Some Rodinal 1:50 and the roll came out flawless.

The man himself, a.k.a. Efraín Gómez
Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar / Fuji Provia 400 (expired)
Sekonic L-398 / Epson 4490

Now, why am I writing all of this?
Well people, truth of the fact is, patience is the key. Perseverance, too helps. I have waited 5 years to have what I wanted. And now I finally do. But before going out shooting, I decided to take the camera's light meter off. Medium format-wise, I grew up with an Automat MX and have always preferred a hand held light meter to anything else. And I don't see why I should change my mind now.

Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar / Ilford HP5+
Minolta Autometer IVF / Epson 4490

Rolleiflex 3.5F Planar / Ilford HP5+
Minolta Autometer IVF / Epson 4490

Streets of Bogotá, here I come.