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Franke & Heidecke closes

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Carsten W:

--- Quote from: uaiomex ---I'd guess that P1 decision to adopt or not the Hy6/Afi depends on how deep they are involved with Mamiya.
--- End quote ---

I doubt it; they own a controlling share of Mamiya. More likely, it depends on the price that they have to pay for the AFi (I doubt the Hy6 is for sale; being Sinar's camera at this point). Combine the AFi with the P65+, a rotating adapter, and the Schneider lenses, and you have a compelling studio camera which can compete with Hasselblad on its own turf. It would take a long time before the AFD could evolve that far, and before the leaf shutter lenses are ready.


Title: Franke & Heidecke facing the end
Feature: news
Date: 8 July 2009

The German company behind the Rolleiflex twin-lens camera system and the 6x6 format camera body for both Leaf and Sinar has closed, BJP can reveal. Its closure also deals a heavy blow to the Leaf AFi system and reshapes the entire medium format camera landscape.

Last week, BJP learnt that Franke & Heidecke had sent a letter to its 131 employees, spelling the end of all operations. Paul Franke and Reinhold Heidecke formed the company in 1920, when they launched the Werkstatt fur Feinmechanik und Optik, Franke & Heidecke workshop. The company developed and successfully marketed the Rolleiflex brand and became a major player in the medium format camera market.

When digital took over, Franke & Heidecke developed the 6x6 body it marketed under the Rolleiflex Hy6 name, and licensed to Leaf and Sinar, which respectively sold it under the AFi and Hy6 brands.

Already, the news of Franke & Heidecke's demise has claimed one victim: the Leaf AFi camera system, which BJP can confirm is now on hold. Ziv Argov, head of sales and marketing for Leaf Imaging - a company created by Phase One and former managers at Leaf - tells BJP that while it has the rights for the Leaf AFi, it 'is not planning to manufacture it. With the complex situation in Germany, the Leaf AFi is currently on hold'.

He adds: 'Leaf Imaging will not be selling the AFi on Day One of operations. We have to determine its viability. We are very interested in participating with others in making the system commercially available. Obviously, this will require one more partner with production capabilities, including lenses, shutters, and so on.'

Franke & Heidecke's closure only precipitated the demise of the AFi system. Last month, in a wide-ranging interview with BJP, Henrik O Hakonsson, president and CEO at Phase One confirmed the AFi system was being re-evaluated after Phase One agreed to form Leaf Imaging to buy Leaf's assets. He had warned that the system's fate would be determined by Franke & Heidecke's financial situation.

Sinar is also affected by the Franke & Heidecke closure. Speaking to BJP, a Sinar spokeswoman reacted to the news: 'Unfortunately the final decision about the Sinar Hy6 camera is still pending,' she says. 'Sinar is still confident this product will continue. A final decision is expected around end of July.' However, the company is refusing to comment further in an effort to control its message, according to the spokeswoman.

The financial troubles at Franke & Heidecke started last year after the firm partnered with Hans R Schmid Beteiligungs to inject new finance to support an increase in its production of camera systems and lenses. However, by January this year the company appeared to be running into difficulties and it announced that its chief executive officer would leave the company following disagreements with the new partner, who had become the majority shareholder as part of the investment deal.

'In view of different views regarding past and future policies and cooperation with the new partner Hans R Schmid, Mr Bodo Fischer offered his resignation from the management of Franke & Heidecke, an offer that was accepted by the company,' the firm said in a statement in January.

In a March statement, the company said it was being forced into administration.


However, after three months of negotiations with the German government and banks, Franke & Heidecke told its employees on 01 July that it would close down and end all its operations by September this year, putting an end to 80 years of Rolleiflex cameras and the two-year old collaboration with Jenoptik, Leaf and Sinar to produce the 6x6 medium format camera.

The 'open' digital platform initiative came after Hasselblad announced its H3D camera would no longer be made compatible with competing digital backs (BJP, 18 October 2006), citing a lack of co-operative investment from other makers.

The development of the camera was, at first, largely financed by Jenoptik, which hoped to recuperate the costs by 'franchising' the camera to Leaf, and by distributing it through its subsiduary company, Sinar.

It is widely expected that Franke & Heidecke's demise will reshape the entire medium format camera market, with Sinar expected to communicate the future of its product lines this month.

Check for further updates.


Incisive Media Ltd. 2009
Incisive Media Limited, Haymarket House, 28-29 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4RX, is a company registered in the United Kingdom with company registration number 04038503

dated july 29:

Brent Daniels:
There is some good news for the owners of Rollei products. F&H has set-up a service centre that will not be affected by the financial situation and will offer service into the future.

The quoted items below are direct from inquiries made of F&H as of 2 days ago:

we, F&H, are still doing the service on all shutters, lenses and cameras. Of course you can send the
shutters to us for repairing, even in the future.

Best regards, Rolf Daus

No, service is not effected by the financial situation, also a small production-team is here.


Brent Daniels


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