I had a look through all my negatives the other day in my current filing folder and all but 2 rolls were 6×6, (these two were 6×7) so I tried to think of the last time I shot 35mm, I couldn’t remember..
Since I started this folder 2 years ago I have shot 60 rolls of 120 with my Hasselblad and with the exception of my Pentax 67 and those 2 rolls, all my other cameras have been dormant since. Every now and again I look at my Nikon F and want to use it but the image quality of medium format always pulls me back!
Next month I was supposed to be doing the Welsh 3 peaks challenge with some work colleagues (which will no doubt be cancelled with Covid-19 ending the world). Now I wanted to take pictures but I didn’t want to lug a medium format camera around, and the last roll I ran through the F was basically unusable, either a shutter issue or a film issue but nothing came out, If I’m honest i just kind of put it down and tried to forget about it ever happening.
So I started watching a few youtube videos on rangefinders and other compact 35mm cameras and came across the Rollei 35, I took the plunge and bought myself one off the Bay and took it with me back to Snowdonia (again) last week.
First impressions after picking up the camera are great, its built really well and operates smoothly, I love the design of it and it fits nicely in my coat pocket – ideal when you are travelling light!
I loaded a roll of Tri-X400, my go-to film and took it along with me everywhere I went (I also had the hassy with me on this trip), I bought a Weincell battery for it to replace the now non-existent dry cell batteries it was designed for and the light meter works just fine! After spending the last couple of years looking through a 6×6 viewfinder, the one on this seems tiny (although it is a good size for a camera this compact).
Focus is achieved by zone focusing rather than using the viewfinder, so around the lens front element is a distance scale and you rotate it to the distance that you estimate your subject to be. For this trip it was fairly simple because most of what I look were landscapes, but the ones of Bo and the trig point up Moel Siabod I set to 0.9m (estimating them to be just over arms length away), and the focus was bang on.
The advance lever is on the left hand side of the camera and even now, after not using a lever advance camera in all this time I still automatically try and do it with my right hand! The shutter gives a crisp, quiet click, something I’m also not used to, and I did manage to get 37 images to my roll of film, 2 of which about 2/3rds of the way into the film were completely bleached out. Unsure why, I don’t remember having any problems and the rest of the film has turned out fine…
So overall I’m really happy with this camera, its compact and the images it takes are nice and sharp, I’m really surprised at the quality considering how small it is. Im on my second roll of Tri-X and can’t wait for the sunny days to arrive so I can put some colour through it!