Rollei 35. A love story.

I recently traded an old digital camera and some lenses I couldn't seem to get rid of for a Rollei 35 film camera. At first I wasn't sure of this decision, for all practical purposes the camera is older than me and they range in price depending on condition, the "made in _______" stamp on the back, and a few other factors. But this one was beautiful, had a serial number ending in 666 which could be good or bad, and included the original case and strap.

The Rollei 35 is one of greatest feats of pocket camera engineering ever. While some favor the Contax T, which I love too, there's just something special about the engineering of the camera. I had read a really great in depth article by David Aureden here:

To summarize, this camera is manual, no automatic features, but it does have a CDS cell light meter operated by a small batter hidden inside the tiny camera. The camera lens rests in the body and is pulled out prior to use and in order to be put away, the shutter must be wound which I love because then you're always ready for that first shot. The camera is exceptionally crafted, it feels very solid. Two dials on the front adjust the shutter speed and aperture. The winding lever is on the left side unlock most viewfinder cameras. I actually like this and find the camera so well designed that shooting is almost effortless other than checking the meter on top that has matching needles when the exposure is correct.

As an avid street photographer, I love how stealthy it is, I can stash it in my pocket when not in use, and I generally just set the shutter for the weather at 500 for sunny, 250 for overcast, and 125 for early evening. I also shoot with 400 speed monochrome film as I've read that the Tessar lens is exceptional for shooting black and white. The f3.5 minimum aperture is perfect for my style of shooting, especially since the camera is zone focus, which means you estimate the distance to your subject and adjust the small ring around the lens so the number on top matches the distance.

Prices of film cameras have gone up quite a bit since people have realized a film camera is similar to an expensive "full frame" digital camera. You can still get these for about $250 if your savvy at ebay. One great thing about this camera is how many are still out there due to high production and such great build quality. I bought mine in a trade for about $250, but checking out recent prices, they seem to have gotten a bit higher, especially for the S model and those made in Germany vs Singapore.

Let me know your thoughts or questions about the rollei 35, it's definitely one of my top favorite cameras.



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