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Thread: Rollei 35 S

  1. #1
    tjaded's Avatar
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    Rollei 35 S

    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
    --------------------
    "Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it." -Paul Strand

    www.glasskeyphoto.com

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    FrankB's Avatar
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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 FrankB; 11-16-2006 at 03:41 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    The destination is important, but so is the journey

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    clogz's Avatar
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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
    Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.

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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.

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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

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    Aggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjaded View Post
    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
    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.
    Non Digital Diva

  7. #7
    tjaded's Avatar
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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?
    --------------------
    "Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it." -Paul Strand

    www.glasskeyphoto.com

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    Eric Rose's Avatar
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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.....
    www.ericrose.com
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    "civility is not a sign of weakness" JFK

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    Quote Originally Posted by tjaded View Post
    Thanks for the tips...one other question. How would you compare a Rollei 35 to a Voigtlander Vitomatic IIA? Which lens is better, etc?
    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.

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    dpurdy's Avatar
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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.

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