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Celebrating film photography, gear, and artists. Check out gear talk and interviews in the blog!

13 Jul '15

VIDEO Gear Review: Rollei AFM35 35mm Point & Shoot Film Camera

Posted by Mike Padua in 35mm, Cameras, Gear Reviews, rollei, Videos

 

The short story: high quality 35mm point and shoot camera with a sharp lens and Rollei's HFT lens coating.

The long story: A small point and shoot released in the 90s that, at the time, competed with the likes of the Contax T2. It weights about 9 ounces, it has a more curved grip than the Contax T2. This camera is actually designed by Fujifilm, and is absolutely structurally identical to the original Fujifilm Klasse (not the Klasse S or Klasse W). It is, in essence, a rebranded Fuji camera. The one difference: it uses Rollei's HFT coating on the lens, instead of Fujifilm's EBC coating. Rollei's HFT coating is said to be the same as Zeiss' highly regarded T* coating.

The lens is a 38mm focal length slightly wider than "normal," but not that wide. Max aperture is f/2.6, slightly faster than most of the fastest point and shoots with models like the Olympus MJU II/Stylus Epic and the Contax T2 being f/2.8. Minimum focus distance is 15.7 inches. Shooting modes are Program Auto (the camera chooses both the aperture and shutter values--full auto, basically) or Aperture Priority, where you choose the Aperture and the camera chooses the shutter speed. Reads DX code from 35mm film cassettes and sets ISO accordingly, from anywhere between ISO 50 and 3200.

There is no way to manually override the film speed like you can on the newer Klasse S and Klasse W, so if you want to do push/pull processing or want to shoot at lower-rated ISOs with your stock of expired film, you're out of luck. It  has a built-in flash with a guide number of 11. Meter is very accurate, as are most point and shoots from the 90s. Flash has a red-eye reduction mode. Highest shutter speed is 1/1000th of a second. It DOES NOT have an exposure compensation function; instead, it has a +/- half-stop or full-stop bracketing feature, where the camera takes three pictures total: 1 picture at the proper exposure, one picture below, and one picture above.

I was originally put off by this because I like using exposure compensation. I realized with color negative, there is so much latitude that it doesn't matter much to me in practical use. I've never used (and probably never will use) the bracketing feature. It uses a CR2 battery. For my point and shoot of choice (for now at least), I chose this over a Contax T2. I owned both for several months, and I wanted to go with the highly loved and appreciated T2, especially because it has exposure compensation. I had a LOT of trouble focusing the T2. About 1 in 5 pictures were mis-focused or back-focused. I thought something was wrong with my camera so I bought another--same problem. I talked to a couple friends that had T2s and I asked them if they had issues--they both replied with a resounding "YES," that they had issues with a lot of pictures being out of focus, and they both independently remarked that they felt like maybe was something wrong with their cameras, or that maybe people just didn't want to talk trash about the T2 because it's such a well-loved camera.

Don't let this turn you off getting a Contax T2 if that's what you want--by all means, try one, because you might love it. Take everything I say with a grain of salt because sometimes I don't know what I'm doing (that was for you Contax lovers; I said it for you so you don't have to!). By the way, I really loved the T2. Very much. I just didn't like the out-of-focus pictures I sometimes got. But I digress. I ended up selling this Rollei in favor of the T2, and frustration with the T2 made me sell that camera and I ended up getting the Rollei again. I decided I could live without exposure compensation. My one nitpick outside of the lack of exposure compensation: the lens assembly moves into place and locks focus on the half-press after a split-second delay, as opposed to other point and shoots like the MJU II/Stylus Epic where the lens does its focus move after a full press (inevitably causing shutter lag). However, after locking focus on the half-press, there is absolutely NO delay from between when you do the full-press to when the shutter opens. You could call it a quirk or an advantage (or both), but after getting used to it, it is nice to be able to have essentially no shutter lag as long as your focus is already locked.

Overall and fun camera to use. It's very sturdy and definitely nice looking. The silver color might be too bright for some people, but you can get the original Fujifilm Klasse in silver OR black. This is not a camera you hear a whole lot about, but it fits right in there in the lexicon of high end film point and shoots. The newer Klasse models have more features and custom functions, but naturally command a much higher price. Thanks for reading! Please visit the shop to help support this site.


1 Comment

It DOES have a (fixed) 2 stop exposure compensation: press the flash button 4x till you see the ‘no flash’ plus the ‘sun’ underneath it.

Posted by www on February 18, 2017

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