Compact Photographers

35mm Compact Photographer #10 – John Roberts – Rollei 35 Shooter

Name: John Roberts ( @jrphotographybc )

Where you are from: Victoria, BC, Canada

What you do: Store Manager of Kerrisdale Cameras ( )

What else in life do you enjoy: Cooking for my family, and music

How long have you been taking photos? Since I was 12, family went to Europe for a vacation, and grandpa lent me a camera to take photos with during the trip, and 27 years later I am still pounding through a roll of film a week at least.

I really need to get better at scanning my images in a timely manner *Looks at stack of unscanned negatives* (Sigh)

What sort of photography do you enjoy or partake in the most (street, landscape, etc): Portraits is my favourite subject to shoot, followed by Street and Landscape

How big a part of your photography life are 35mm compact cameras? My Rollei 35 goes everywhere with me, and shoot a roll of film a week with this camera alone, plus other cameras. I love capturing image of everyday life with my friends and family, and complete strangers.

What about the experience of shooting with them appeals to you? I love how discreet they are, and how people basically ignore you with them, it allows for a much more natural look to the photos with street photography.

Do you feel they have effected your style? become part of it? or are the reason for it…? I am willing to get a lot closer to my subject, due to how silent they are.

Which is/are your favourite cameras? the one/s that go with you the most? My Rollei 35, Olympus OM-D E-M5, Shen-Hao HZX-4×5-IIa, and the Contax G1, in that order


What is it specifically about these cameras that appeal to you so much? The Rollei is such a pleasure to shoot with, there is no real thinking with it, you either got it right, or you buggered it; it is sharper than holy heck and does a lovely job with B&W film. I basically sunny 16 it with this camera, well… more like F/8 and be there, and just adjust my shutter speed to make it work.

The E-M5 just fits my style of shooting, and it looks like it fits in with all my other film camera. The 4×5… well, self explanatory, the quality of images that it produces are just mind blowing. And the Contax G system, the lenses are second to none for quality, and the 45mm F/2 Plannar has that lovely Zeiss glow

What was the path to this shooting habit? How did you discover it appealed to you? It started many years ago when I was in high school, working for the school yearbook and the newspaper, I discovered I loved to take photos of people. Then when I was 19, a friend asked me to photograph his wedding, and I have been photographing people ever since. Everything from street, portraits, boudoir and weddings; if people are involved, I photograph it.

Show us your favourite/best image/s taken with a compact camera? Rollei 35 taken at Confederation Park in Burnaby BC, the camera is small and silent, and goes unnoticed.


I just love how this photo turned out, I loved how the light was coming through the trees, and the movement from the wind, and I think this image really conveys the mood I was going for here.


What films do you shoot with and why? Rollei Retro 80S is my current favourite, I love it’s tonal range and contrast for portraits especially with a yellow filter, Ilford Pan-F 50+ for landscape, FujiFilm Reala (mostly in 120) and Pro400H, again for portraits. I shoot Reala at 80 and Pro400H at 320, then have them developed normally; I find the colours are vastly improved when you do that. If I can get my hands on more before it is all gone, EFKE 25 is #EPIC with landscapes and portraits

How, where, why do you process and or print your photos? C41 I have done at @CustomColorProLab in Vancouver, they have been doing my work for many years. B&W I do myself in my makeshift darkroom in our spare bathroom. I scan with my Epson V600 at home.

What other cameras/type of camera do you regularly shoot with and why – what situations require something else/more if any? Please don’t make me list all my cameras… you can see my list on my Flickr Profile! That said, I absolutely looooooooove TLR’s, I have 4 of them, long live the square format!!! Not including other medium format cameras I own; I shoot a lot of portraits with my medium format cameras.

Oh, and the previously mentioned 4×5, and I am starting to get to doing more portraiture with it as well. Love the look it gives. I have been shooting Ilford Harman Direct Positive Print fiber paper, and I love the look of the paper, and besides that I screwed up on the development of this attached image, I am really happy with the image of my friend Caitlin turned out.


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1 Comment

  • Avatar
    John Ferebee
    February 26, 2014 at 4:29 am

    I nice interview with a true film guy. Thanks for sharing.

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