12-19-14 Why I decided to return my Beautiful Black Rollei 35 Travel Camera

35mm film test photo from my Rollei 35 film camera
35mm film test photo from my Rollei 35 film camera

I’m FINALLY getting around to explaining why, after all my research, I decided to return my awesome mobile Rollei 35 travel camera. It was a beautiful machine, the black version.

It’s a totally portable 35mm film travel camera and amazing small. I was really excited to get it. However, after shooting two test rolls of film, I discovered it has it’s drawbacks…

**Be sure to check out my 35mm film test rolls after the fold**


The Rollei 35

As soon as it arrived, I took my new Rollei 35 on a trip up to Beacon NY, where I headed with friends to the famous Dia: Beacon art museum. I shot test photos along the way, and when I got back to NYC, had the roll developed, just for negatives, and scanned them with my Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner. I was surprised to find a handful of them had a strange “fog”! See for yourself, below.

My first test roll of photos with my Rollei 35 (no post processing):

I talked to several folks about it and they suggested light leaks or flaring from the sun. However, the sky was overcast the day I shot the test roll. The only thing to do was to shoot a second test roll and see if it happened again.

So I did my thing. I took some photographs around Union Square and got the roll processed and scanned the negatives myself.

Here’s what I found in the second test roll (no post processing):

Conclusions about the Rollei 35

Although the Rollei 35 took some awesome shots and it was a great feeling to shoot real 35mm film, I found the process of shooting, then running down to the camera shop to have my negatives developed and then scanning them, took a lot of time and was going to get expensive. I was also bummed that focusing by distance was not as easy as I had hoped. Unlike DSLRs and point and shoots, you can’t see what you’re going to get in the Rollei 35 viewfinder. For focus, you only adjust a dial based on how far you estimate your subject is from you. In my sample photos, you can see it’s a little tricky to get the focus just right. Perhaps a sign of our times, but I like my photos to be in focus. That said, the photos I should do have a lot of atmosphere, which I really like.

I think if I had more time and money, I’d love using the Rollei 35 because it’s a beautiful machine and the photos are real film! Also, it’s just so portable!

However, in my current scenario it would require too much effort and expense, unfortunately. Especially when I see what my 5D Mark II can do when I process the photos using Alien Exposure 5. They look almost, and maybe even exactly, like 35mm film, only without all the hassle!

So, I returned my Rollei 35 camera.

After this experience, I’ve decided if I’m going to shoot actual 35mm film, I’ll use a camera that can get focus easier. That way, my film won’t be “wasted” on as many blurry shots. That’s the plan!

NOTE: I believe all the fibers visible in my test photos were due to a dirty film processing machine at the place I had my negatives developed.


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Posted December 19, 2014 by Gabriel in category "35mm Photography", "Gear", "Photography