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Rollei 35 SE

in Photography - Hiking & Backpacking Cameras

Average Rating
4.80 / 5 (5 reviews)

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John Chan
( ouroboros )
Rollei 35 SE on 08/02/2005 11:38:51 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

The Rollei 35 SE is an all-manual/all metal leaf shutter pocket camera that is no longer in production. Collector's editions can cost upwards of $1500 USD but good used examples can be obtained from KEH for ~300 USD.

This camera was once considered the smallest form-factor full-frame 35 mm and at slightly under 12 oz (with film) its still pretty light compared to SLR's or even larger digicams. I picked this camera over the Contax T3 for several reasons.

1. Its simple. Only 3 controls (focus, shutter speed, aperture) and battery dependence is limited to the Cd/S meter cell

2. The lens (CZ Sonnar 40/2.8) was and still is the best lens you can get on a compact 35 mm. No flare at f2.8 and terrific bokeh. The film pressure plate system is based on the Leica M pressure plate and provides the FLATTEST film plane in a compact camera system allowing the lens to perform its best. Focus is not coupled to the rangefinder but with daylight shots using f8-16 DOF is sufficient for great results without too much guessing of focus distance.

3. Ergonomics. Quirky at first, you quickly get use to the two control dials on the front of the camera. LCD menus are the bane of creative photography (for me at least). Camera forces you to forego flash use (which is actually a blessing).

4. Intuitive meter. With slide film all you have to remember for correct exposure is to point the meter cell at your hand (~18% gray card) adjust shutter speed/ aperture combination so that the bottom red LED (underexposure) JUST turns on. 1/2 stop under every time. Bonus is the aperture dial is free spinning (no detents) so you can "fine tune" exposure when bracketing that "breathtaking shot".

5. Maintenance. Not too much to go wrong. CLA on this camera usually limited to slow speed escapement and requires fine screwdriver, graphite grease, toothpick.

Its not quite as light as the Contax T3 but neither is it as battery dependent.

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David Kuchtrczyk
( dkucharczyk )
Old classic but good if you like 35mm on 08/06/2005 23:55:01 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Can't believe I found this on here! It's a great all manual film camera if you are up for that. Fits into a very small rectangle about the size of 3.5 rolls of 35mm film lined up. Numerous accesories were made for it including filters and lenses.

I agree that it's results can match many SLRs. Only issue I had with mine is the lens system getting stuck (you must manually extend the lens system to take pictures). Camera has quite a following, ebay shows over 20 units for sale as of today.

Everett Vinzant
( wn7ant )

Ultralight backpacking + lomography = Rollei 35 series on 04/23/2011 12:08:35 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I just picked up a Rollei 35 LED for $50. One KEY thing about ANY Rollei that uses a battery. They may not make the battery for it anymore (at least in the U.S.). The 35 LED uses a 5.6 volt battery that had mercury in it. It hasn't been made in the U.S. for some time. There is a battery replacement, and there is an adapter that allows you to use four hearing aid batteries. Adapter is located at:
The camera series (Rollei 35) is WONDERFUL for documenting (on film) your trip. The camera is fun, and the idea of waiting for pictures until after you develop the film gives a feeling of Christmas at any time of the year. I might recommend a 35B because all the controls are around the lens barrel, it's fully mechanical, and is often less expensive. It's a little mechanical workhorse. I like the LED because the batteries only job is to supply power to LED's located in the rangefinder. These LED's indicate when you have the exposure set correctly. If the battery dies, the rest of the system is mechanical. If you know the Sunny 16 rule and are using 200 speed film, you'll have a VERY forgiving configuration given power failure. I'd recommend a small drysack for storage of it. Film storage containers are obviously great for keeping film dry. You can also use a film container to store filters (24mm) you use with the Rollei 35 series. If anyone runs into a filter for infrared work (24mm), post the link here. 73

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Jeff Loen
( jloen )
Excellent mountain camera on 01/28/2012 21:09:57 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

My first exposure to this camera was after a spectacular slide show of a Mt Everest climb at college in Missoula in the 1970's. The photos were all knock out gorgeous, and then the presenter pulled the camera out of his pocket and said "this is the camera I used". It looked unbelievably small to have taken such great photos.

More recently I've obtained three, a 35 LED Triotar, a 35 Tessar, and a 35 SE Sonar. I've used them hiking the AT and running around Mt Rainier and almost every shot has been a keeper for making enlargements.

I develop and print my own film, so this system works well for me. I consider the lack of computers in my photography work stream to be a plus. I reserve digital for happy snaps and work, but the Rollie 35 comes out for the serious stuff (when there's not room for medium or large format work).

Edited by jloen on 01/28/2012 21:12:41 MST.

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Elliott Wolin
( ewolin )

Hampton Roads, Virginia
Rollei 35LED was a workhorse on 07/23/2012 13:44:21 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I purchased a 35LED right after it came out in the late 1970's. The first model had a faulty on/off switch and they replaced it for free. From that day on I had nothing but praise for the little bugger.

It was the about lightest thing going, fairly inexpensive, took great pictures (for its size), worked in all conditions, and it was very simple to use. And if the battery died you could still use it (assuming you could guess the proper exposure).

I probably took over 7000 photos, mostly slides, with that camera. I'd still be using it if digital cameras hadn't made it obsolete.

I sure loved that camera...

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