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Re: [Rollei] Rollei 35

At 18:17 2/3/02, Marc James Small wrote:
>At 12:53 PM 2/3/02 EST, ROBROSE2   wrote:
> >I just purchased a Rollei 35 made in Singapore with a 40mm/3.5 Tessar 
> lens.
> >Any insight into the quality of this camera as a picture taker.  I've 
> always
> >liked its looks so I took the plunge.
>The camera is capable of extremely good work.  It is a bit quirky but you
>soon adjust to its foibles.  Light meters are often accused of being
>unreliable but the ones I have owned have always been pretty accurate.

As a long time owner and user I "second" the first sentence, but disagree 
with the first part of the second sentence.  Its controls may be different 
from how the Leica "A" was laid out (which defined basic control locations 
on nearly all cameras), but I wouldn't go so far as saying it's 
"quirky."  I've seen much greater oddities.  After you use it for a while, 
you will likely understand why it has become a "cult classic."  I bought a 
35T and a 35S near the end of their production in the 1970's and still 
have, and use, the 35S.  Little did I know then the status they would have 
now; 20-30 years ago they were simply one of the finest and smallest 
full-frame 35mm cameras to be found.

You should be surprised by the sharpness and contrast of the Tessar, a lens 
design dating to about 1903.  It's elegantly simple and one of the finest 
lens designs of the 20th Century.  Also became one of the most copied and 
cloned designs after Zeiss' patents on it ran out.  Roughly translated from 
German, its nickname was "Eagle Eye."

Some advice about usage:
(a)  The metering was made for the 1.35 Volt PX-625 Mercury cell, which is 
no longer made (due to a ban on Mercury cells).  This is not an uncommon 
problem; many cameras from its era used the cells.  I do *not* recommend 
using a 1.5 Volt PX-625A Alkaline cell, Duracell's or anyone else's 
cross-reference notwithstanding.  The metering design relies on a constant 
1.35 Volt reference.  Alkalines gradually drop in voltage about mid-way 
through their usable life.  Even if you calibrated and compensated for the 
higher voltage, the Alkaline voltage falloff curve makes it impossible to 
remain accurate.  Three major workarounds for this are available:
- -- Wein 625 Zinc-Air cell.  This is a ~1.4 Volt cell specifically designed 
to replace the PX-625 Mercury cell.  It has greater capacity and longer 
life compared to "hearing aid" cells.  You won't find these on the "hearing 
aid" rack in the drug store, but should be able to get them at any major 
camera store.
- -- MR-9 Adapter.  This is a "shell" with the 625 form factor that holds a 
smaller 1.5 Volt MS76 Silver cell.  The shell contains a "non-draining" 
regulator to drop the Silver cell voltage to that of the Mercury 
cells.  Silver cell voltage falloff over usable life is similar to the 
Mercury cell; they hold constant voltage until the very end of life.  This 
is the solution I've used in several cameras and they work very well; use 
only Silver cells in this adapter, not alkalines or lithiums.  The MR-9 
adapter can be bought here:
- -- Do-it-yourself adapter.  This is a home-made version of the C.R.I.S. 
MR-9 adapter using the carcass of a PX-625 or PX-625A.  If you have the 
requisite skills and tools, instructions for it are here:

(b)  The meter has a fairly wide angle of acceptance and like most 
hand-held meters its average reading is not weighted toward center or 
bottom.  Don't let it be fooled outdoors by bright sky.  If there's a lot 
of bright sky I often tilt the camera down about 15 to 20 degrees to reduce 
the influence of the sky.  The meter *is* accurate if operated by the 
proper voltage and you keep in mind that the user must sometimes "weight" 
its reading.

(c)  Hold the camera upside down when using a flash in its shoe and keep 
the flash above the lens unless you want the old horror movie lighting 
method!  This may be what Marc referred to as "quirky."  It's not as bad as 
it sounds.  I operate the shutter release with the left thumb and wind with 
the right one.

(d)  Practice a little at estimating distances to make your focusing more 
accurate, especially at closer distances.  This is not as hard as it sounds 
and you can often use cues from objects around you to help if you know 
their approximate dimensions.  The 40mm focal length is more forgiving of 
focus error than longer lenses, which helps.

- -- John