Rollei 35 S

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by tjaded, Nov 16, 2006.

  1. tjaded

    tjaded Subscriber

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    Hi all--
    I'm wondering about the quality of the Rollei 35 S cameras. I haven't shot 35mm in a long time, but since that is the only way to get Kodachrome I am going to set myself up with something. The way I'm looking at it, if I'm going to get out a camera with multiple lenses, some weight/size issues, etc. I might as well use a medium format...but again, Kodachrome. So that led me to rangefinders. I've never used one and so I don't know where to start. I've dumped a lot of money into medium and large format systems lately, so I kind of need to budget myself on a 35 rangefinder. I seem to remember the Rollei 35 S being well thought of and the price is very reasonable. I'd love to try a Leica or voigtlander, etc. but I don't think I can find anything in the lower end of the price scale. Any thoughts on the Rollei or thoughts on a different route to take in the 35mm rangefinder world?
    Thanks!
    Matt
     
  2. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Rollei 35's are very nice indeed, with a few provisos -

    1) They aren't rangefinders; it's a zone focus deal. Whether this matters to you depends on the sort of shooting you want to do. It put me off getting one for a while but in practice I don't find it a problem for my usage.
    2) They are a fixed focal-length camera, you can't change the lens. That being said, a good example of either the Tessar or Sonnar version will be sharp as a tack, if you get the focussing right (see point 1).
    3) The handling is... quirky! It's a love it or hate it thing. I happen to love it. Your Mileage May Vary. (I would recommend one with the meter on the top deck rather than in the finder, though...)
    4) The old joke is that it's the size of a pack of cigarettes and weighs the same as a vending machine! Its all-metal construction makes it amazingly heavy for its amazingly small size.

    Comparing it to a Leica or Voigtlander isn't really a like-for-like match. I have a Tessar version and am utterly besotted with it as a carry-everywhere fully-manual camera. It isn't a rangefinder, though. Neither is it an automatic PAS.

    I have only shot B&W with mine but they have an excellent reputation with slide film (especially the Sonnar), the meter on mine seems very consistant and the aperture moves in 1/3 stop steps.

    Best advice - see if you can find someone near you with one (lot of APUGgers in the Bay area) who will meet up and let you check it out. That way you'll know what you're getting into.

    Whatever you decide, I hope it all works out for you.

    Best regards,

    Frank
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2006
  3. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    The Rollei 35S is a great little camera but it has not got a rangefinder. An alternative with rangefinder could be the Olympus XA.

    Hans
     
  4. butterflydream

    butterflydream Member

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    Except Soviet cameras, I think not so many exchageable lens RF cameras would come into the similar budget as Rollei 35 due to the cost of lens.

    For fixed lens RF cameras, how about the japanese cameras in '70s?

    Stephen Gandy's Cameraquest has excellent overview on them.
    http://cameraquest.com/com35s.htm

    I also liked '60s old Voigtlander RF cameras, but it was not easy to find one with good condition.
     
  5. Kevin Roach

    Kevin Roach Member

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    I always considered the rollei 35s kind of collectors' cameras. For the price you could get a LOT of usable rangefinders with similar features. A screw-mount Leica costs about the same. The japansese 70s rangefinders are cheaper. A retina or voigtlander folder fits nicely in your pocket.

    They are kinda cute tho
     
  6. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Call Adolph Gassers and see if they have one for rent. That way you can test it out and see if you like it. Gassers even has a parking lot for free across the street from them. It's also close to the Embaracdero Bart station.
     
  7. tjaded

    tjaded Subscriber

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    Thanks for the tips...one other question. How would you compare a Rollei 35 to a Voigtlander Vitomatic IIA? Which lens is better, etc?
     
  8. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I've had both the S and the T. I actually found the T to be sharper. I'm still working at getting my T back from my ex-wife. Geez.....
     
  9. Donsta

    Donsta Member

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    The Sonnar lens on the 35mm S is the sharpest 35mm lens I have ever tested bar none. The tessar is slightly softer opened up, but very close from f5.6 to f11.
     
  10. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    The 35S is a very lovable camera and I use mine a lot as I walk around with a camera in the pocket. It actually fits in my front pants pockets.. not being the type to wear tight jeans.

    But I think the important issue is the type of photography you tend to do. If you walk around shooting close up details.. say from 6 feet to 3 feet.. it probably isn't the best camera as the focus is too critical for guesstimation. If you generally shoot 15 feet and further it is very easy to do the focus estimate. It is best to shoot a 400 speed film and get a couple extra fstops or shutter speeds to get maximum sharpness.
     
  11. tjaded

    tjaded Subscriber

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    Esentially, I will be using the camera for two things--first and foremost to shoot Kodachrome in the mindset of "use it or lose it" and losing Kodachrome is a sad thought (and a whole different topic!) The second thing I would like to do is have a camera with me when I am driving around town to take shots of things/places/etc. that I would like to go back and revisit with large format. From the sounds of it, the Rollei will fit the ticket!
     
  12. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I do like my 35s and it appears that it will fit the bill for you. But, as noted in a prior post, the slower film (ISO 64 I assume) with it's attendant need for wider aperatures could be an issue with zone focusing. I don't know about your stable of LF lenses, but it would be nice if the field of view of whatever 35mm you use matched your most common or favorite 4x5 lens (after adjusting for 4x5 dimensions. But be careful that a prior owner did not force the lens when closing it (an all too common problem).
     
  13. Mike Kovacs

    Mike Kovacs Member

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    They are terrible cameras that shoot terrible slides :wink: :tongue:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I brought my Rollei 35 (Singapore Tessar) to the UK a couple of months ago and managed OK with 100 speed slide film.
     
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  15. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Mike,

    They look really good.

    Rich
     
  16. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    I've had a 35S (f2.8) (Singapore) since 1983 and it has a beautifully sharp lens, BUT the meter has become unreliable though it works at high light levels. No-one can fix them since parts are not available. For black and white or colour neg work guesswork is often ok, but for reversal work it's not acceptable. A Voigtlander VC meter II on a cord around my neck is the solution.
     
  17. butterflydream

    butterflydream Member

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    They are terrific to my dictionary.
     
  18. hka

    hka Member

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    I also own an S-type but can't use him at the moment because the battery. Can somebody tell me where I can get those batteries PX625-HD or wich type you are using therefore... I had sometime ago an replacement type but discoverd some lightmetering problems. Thanks
     
  19. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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  20. hka

    hka Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2006
  21. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The battery only operates the meter. The shutter is manual, as is aperture selection.

    I would buy a handheld meter and forego the convenience of the onboard meter.

    With most shooting, you'll be pressed to see the difference between the Tessar and Sonnar lens.

    The backward ergonomics aren't that difficult to become accustomed to. Some users never seem to be able to adjust, and if you're very rigid and believe a camera should operate in a very particular manner and controls need to be in certain locations, then the Rollei might night be the best choice.

    Great little cameras, best pressure plate ever and very sharp photos.

    Getting good at estimating distances does take time. The 40mm lens helps to compensate for some -- but not all -- focusing errors.
     
  22. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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  23. wfwhitaker

    wfwhitaker Member

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    For shooting chromes, you might want to look for a 35SE which has a better meter, but the same lens.

     
  24. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I'm not a fan of the SE or TE. The placement of the LEDs inside the viewfinder is not intuitive with this camera.

    The camera's original meter is designed to be held at waist level (more or less), so that you can use the index and thumb of each hand to rotate the aperture and shutter speed dials while you peer down at the meter needle. It's so easy even a caveman could do it. Set the exposure, take your shot.

    Moving the LEDs into the viewfinder requires you to either use it as aperture priority or shutter priority. The camera is too small, and front mounted shutter and aperture dials on either side of the lens is not ideal, which makes the lack of in-viewfinder information even more difficult.

    You usually just spend time rotating one of the dial and invariably pull the camera down to check the settings. The you put the camera back up to your eye to find that the green LED is no longer set. So you rotate, check, rotate.

    This is one of those cases where they should have embedded three LEDs in the top deck and skipped in-viewfinder metering or just not used LEDs at all. Sometimes, improvements aren't really improvements. This, I think, is one of those cases.

    The CdS meter is "good enough" for most scenes, I think.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2006
  25. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    elekm - Thanks for saving me all that typing!
     
  26. hka

    hka Member

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