You may have noticed that I’ve had a few posts recently featuring shots taken with a Rollei B35, which has become my favourite 35mm camera, at least for the time being. In fact it might even be my favourite camera in any format – 35mm, 120, or 4×5.
That doesn’t mean it produces the best image quality – for from it. But I like the fact that it can be easily carried out and made ready to shoot with the minumum of fuss – the opposite of my Intrepid 4×5, even though that can produce the highest technical quality of any of my camera.
The B35 was the most basic of all the scale-focus 35mm models that Rollei produces. The 40mm Triotar lens is often criticised for being less sharp than the Tessars and Sonnars on other models. But I quite like the soft glow I get from some of my Rollei B35 shots, and if I want a sharper result I could pick another camera.
The camera features a selenium-cell uncoupled meter and requires no batteries, even for metering. That’s a plus point for me because I tire of cameras with batteries that chew up batteries fast then die. Of course, the selenium cell on a camera that’s nearly 50 years ago, has a high probability of being wildy inaccurate. When I bought the camera I didn’t even check the meter because I didn’t expect it to work.
In fact the meter gives readings that compare very closely with other cameras and with my Sekonic spot meter. All of the shots shown here, here, and here were metered with the B35’s built-in meter. However when I took the shots in this post, at Skipton Castle, I had with me the Sekonic spot meter (because I was also shooting Velvia in a Yashicamat) and I’m fairly sure I used the spot meter, at least for the internal shots which had a wide light range from the shadowed stone walls to the scene through the windows. At least, that would have been the sensible thing to do.
At the time I was doubtful how well the camera and film would cope with the dynamic range; but when I scanned the Ilford FP4+ negatives I was amazed at how well detail was held within the highlights and the shadows.
I bought a 30 metre bulk roll of FP4+ recently so I think there’s going to be FP4+ loaded constantly in the Rollei B35 for a while.