Feb 24, 2011

Rollei 35 S - Photo Gear (11)


Not much bigger than a packet of cigarettes, the Rollei 35 is one of the smallest full-frame 35mm cameras, ever built.

Compactness was mandatory for its innovative design, the HFT Sonnar lens and the Rollei Compur shutter (on this version) being the guarantee for high- quality performance.

Coupled to aperture, shutter and film speed, the CdS exposure meter was of the match needle type. Like all classic cameras (the 35 S was built 1974 - 80), mercury batteries can be a problem to substitute, generally forbidden because of environmental issues.

I simply overcome the nuisance by using no batteries at all in such cameras.

I bring an external light meter instead!

You will notice that some dials and levers work differently, and are placed differently, than on most 35mm cameras:

Shutter speeds (1/2 s – 1/500 s, B) and aperture values (f / 2.8 – 22) are set by the two dials on the front of the camera;

Film transport lever is on the left side and winds to the left;

The film cartridge goes in the right side of the camera and the film travels to the left;

The rewinding crank, the exposure counter, and the acessory hot-shoe for flash are located on the underside of the camera;

Removable camera back to facilitate loading and unloading film;

You can release the lens by pressing a button, and turn and push it back into the body. It is then small enough to fit into a pocket (filter size 30,5mm)…

The Rollei 35 S is the smallest camera I use. Not much, I must confess…

Although the viewfinder is very satisfactory, and the shutter very silent, I miss the possibility of using a rangefinder (of course, it would make the camera bigger!) for exact focusing.

I can live with it, but 40mm focal distance is not really my dream for estimating the distance of my subjects…

For a little bit more size and weight, I definitely prefer to carry the robustness of a Leica M…

Nevertheless, the Rollei 35 might be an option in case you are looking for a small film camera with a price tag that can be better accepted by an average / not insane human being.

Long live the Rollei!


1 comment:

  1. Long live Rollei ! There are many fans of this little camera and her siblings (TE, LED) here in Japan. I have a 35LED but the transport mechanism got stuck, unfortunately. The 40mm Sonnar 1:2.8 lens is a stunning performer, Zeiss Sonnar design. The same lens was available in a set with the Rollei35RF (Cosina Bessa 2A copy), the only true 40mm lens available in Leica thread-mount.