February 07, 2011

Rollei 35T

Last Christmas, I received an unexpected treasure: a Rollei 35T. It was a surprise gift from someone very special, and I've had a lot of fun learning how to use it.

When this little 35mm camera is not in use, it's wonderfully sleek and compact. In fact, it's not much larger than modern digital point-and shoot cameras from just a few years ago.

But this Rollei has a trick up its sleeve: its collapsible lens must be pulled out from the body and clicked into place before the aperture can be set and photos taken. In the photo above, the lens is extended toward me. It's a unique system: pull the lens from the body, click it into place, set the aperture, shutter speed, and focus, and press the shutter. Then, in order to return the lens to the storage position, advance the film, press a release button, turn the lens just a tad to release it, and push the lens back into the camera body. Fascinating... I love it.

And there's one more trick: the camera has a built-in, battery-powered light meter. But the type of battery it requires is practically impossible to find nowadays, and the nearest match has a slightly different voltage. It works, but the light meter gives slightly incorrect readings... but some educated guesswork will compensate for that. It's all part of the fun.

One day in January, I had some time to myself in San Diego, and I took the opportunity to try out the Rollei at the Mission San Diego de AlcalĂ . This was my first shot: the reconstructed facade of the southernmost California mission.

The camera and I then proceeded to the basilica. I set the camera (which I had mounted on a small tripod) on a little table near the front, then took a few exposures. Since it was a low-light indoor shot, I wasn't able to use the exposure meter at all -- I used the bulb setting, held the camera steady on the table with one hand, and opened and closed the shutter with the other. The exposure time was a guess... several seconds. And I got this result! Yess!

I took the same shot a few more times, increasing the exposure time just a little bit each time. I also gave each photo a slightly different monochrome effect in Lightroom.

I then took the camera to the back of the church, where I set it on the floor and tried a few more shots. Since there was no table back there, the floor was the only place I could set the camera down. I like the low angle... so it was a win-win.

Low angle, from the back of the basilica.

My next outing with the Rollei was back in Virginia Beach, where I took it to one of my favorite spots: Fort Story.

New Cape Henry Light

I then took the wooden walkway over the sand dunes and to the beach. I like this spot on the coast!

I snapped a few more shots, and I again experimented with different monochrome effects using Lightroom software.

I enjoyed photographing the sand dunes and grasses... they make for a beautiful and peaceful beach scene.

Two faux half frames. They're two adjacent photos on the negative, and I framed the crop so that half of each photo would be included. I then added the black lines on the left and right to make it look like the images end there.

I was pleased with the results of the first roll of film from the Rollei. The photos came out better-exposed than I expected (considering I had to guess a little bit with the light meter), but I realized that I need to work more on the manual focus. If you look closely at the images, you can see that a number of them aren't quite sharp. But I like having something specific to work on and improve, so I can't wait to run another roll through the camera.

Vielen Dank, Otto!

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