The God of Streets
The Rollei 35: worth the hype?
To most people the Rollei 35 is a cute little camera that is not worthy of much attention. Some choose the Lomo LC-A instead and some just move on to the Leica market. I have two Leica cameras at this point (both rangefinders) and if I had to choose one camera to use for the rest of my life I would choose the Rollei 35.
The form factor, size, ergonomics, portability, everything is perfect on this camera. It is a silent, small, cute little powerhouse that can take the best photos if you know how to handle it. It is a zone focusing camera (you guess the distance from the subject) and I am pretty sure if Leica bought the design the latter models would have rangefinders on them.
OK it is small it is silent but what is so good about this camera? The best thing about this camera is that it is not like a camera to the commoners. It looks like an accessory and I carry it like a necklace so even more. When you take out the lens and get ready to shoot no one bats an eye. When I have my Leica it is because I want people to see it as well. Leica is a luxury item and the Rollei is a tool and sometimes I am shocked by the quality of images out of the Rollei.
TESSAR LOVE <3 !!! That lens is so amazing. It is single coated which means colors will not be that good looking and as the wavelength of colors are different your images might not be as sharp looking on color film. But hey, there is Rollei 35S for that with the Sonnar lens for color photography.
My preference is the Tessar because the Rollei 35 has a better build quality than the 35T, 35TE, 35S, 35SE and others in this family. The metal feels more solid and the camera generally heavier. These cameras are not made to be dropped so if you get one please please please handle with love and care.
Zone focusing: is something you can do only if you have a good eye for distances. I basically use this camera stopped down at f8 but if you are new with it you should buy yourself a cheap laser rangefinder and test yourself during the first month or so.
Lightmeter: these cameras have a bad system for metering light. I mean the window for the lightmeter and its accuracy are things that I appreciate but the battery will die fast if you have the meter exposed all the time. I carry it around with the lightmeter taped because the battery for it costs about 10 Euros (will survive for a year or so). I do not need a meter at this point but if you need one you should get a copper PX625 housing and use Zinc-Ion 1,4 V batteries (will last a couple of months). (google: replacements for PX625, ebay: MR-9 Battery Adapter for Film Camera Exposure Meter Mercury MR9 PX625 PX13)
Hard to use: this camera is not a camera for starters. This could even be the next step from a Leica where you feel like a rangefinder is unnecessary as you zone focus all the time. It is fully manual and not easy to load out on the streets. You might get about 39-40 photos per roll for all the hassle you are up against while loading the camera. If you use Leica you already know what film loading hassle means.
If you know what you are doing and if you feel like you are ready to commit to street or candid lifestyle photography you should really go get one of these beauties right now. You can do flashless Bruce Gilden kind of photography without being realized that you are taking photos. 40mm is not that wide but it is also not as tele as 50 so when you master it you will appreciate the art of being a street ninja.
Baris Tandogan 2018