After using a DSLR for years I listened to an old friend of mine and spent £221 of my hard earned cash on a beautiful mint Rollei 35 SE which I bought from a German camera shop through ebay. What I liked the most about it is its tiny size, reputation for a stunningly sharp lens (Sonnar 40mm f/2.8) and minimalist look and feel. I also liked the idea of owning a camera that was older than I was, it felt like I was holding a piece of photographic history when I opened the parcel.
My first reaction holding this camera was how nice the weight was, it felt industrially solid and sturdy, with bold aperture and shutter speed markings on dedicated rotating wheels and a very bright viewfinder with clear parallax markings. Three little diodes (red-green-red) come to life within the viewfinder when the shutter release is half pressed, and help you expose the shot correctly with the input of the light meter. (Important tip, always focus your shot first before metering otherwise you might forget about it!)
This little camera has taught me a lot over the past few months from a technical perspective, but most importantly it has completely changed my way of thinking about photography and shifted my thought process from a passive digitally driven shoot on-the-go attitude to a creatively proactive project driven mentality where all the thinking takes place before the shot.
As soon as I received it, I loaded a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400, closely followed by some Dubblefilm Sunstroke and shot the 2 rolls back to back over the next few days in London and the Cotswolds.
The excitement I felt when I was on the way to pick up the negatives was something exhilarating and quite unexpected, and luckily for me, I was not disappointed. Here are 5 of my favourite shots from my first 2 rolls of films with the Rollei 35 SE ; a simple, compact and relatively inexpensive way of discovering or rediscovering film photography…
I hope this article will inspire more people to start shooting film if you haven’t done so before.
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