Feb 18, 2017

30-30-30 : Day 03 : Rolleiflex SL35M

Setup for Day 03 (Feb 17th, 2017):

Camera: Rolleiflex SL35M Black Paint
Lens: Schneider-Kreuznach Rollei SL-Xenon QBM 50mm f/1.8 with Pentax Y2 yellow filter + Takumar 50mm hood
Film: Ilford PanF+ 50 ASA (black and white, expiration date unknown)

Scans will get uploaded here after I develop the negs.

Mini-review of the setup:

Camera: Camera is pretty smooth to operate and quite intuitive for almost every function. Shutter speed dial is different from most top plate knob style dials but easily accessible. Viewfinder is pretty good clear but with glasses, I couldn't get close enough to see the whole frame at once. This one has a diagonal rangefinder which I found useful. I could barely make out the aperture direct readout from the lens, unless I moved my eye below where I could see the most of the ground glass, so consider that a non-function for my use.

Focus past roughly 20-30 ft went immediately to infinity, which I've not seen before in 35mm SLRs. I'm not sure why it wasn't showing focus more clearly at longer distances but this threw me off enough to focus multiple times before taking a shot.

The film advance winder standoff position was very natural for me, made it easy to hold the camera in my right hand and walk around, even with no strap. Winding was fairly smooth, easy to load film in the take-up spool but the little white tabs seem like they are a long-term use liability.

Weird detail: In order to keep the film door closed, you have to push the film rewind knob down into the body after loading film. This caught me off guard. Minor detail but was a bit odd.

The camera feels fairly well built in that it's not poorly machined anywhere but is not even close to the class of the Pentax Spotmatics or mid-production Canon rangefinders which feel more solid and durable and "pro" in use. This felt quite cheap in comparison to the lens attached to it.

I could sell this camera body and not miss it.

Lens: I think this is the only "Xenon" lens I have in the collection at this time, seems to be fairly rare for this Rollei QBM mount. Not too much information out there but this is a sought after lens for collectors of the Rollei 35mm SLR system as it is one of the lower production # lenses, but what does that mean for people that want to use it?

Lens is super smooth to operate. Focus glides from one extreme to the other and feels great doing so. Easy to hone in on a particular distance in the viewfinder and adjust slightly back and forth with zero slop or play. The focus ring is machined metal, I don't think there is any plastic on this lens (at least on the exterior) so it feels like a solidly built piece of gear.

Aperture ring feels like it could use new grease but it has nice firm detents for half and full stops (I think it skips half stop between f/11 and f/16) so is great in operation and stays where you put it. It has 5 aperture blades which can be expected for a "budget" lens but not optimal. With the lens speed being f/1.8 it's not too hard to shoot it wide open if you don't want to see the blades in the out-of-focus highlights.

I decided to throw on a Y2 yellow filter and used an Asahi Pentax 50mm Takumar metal screw in hood as this lens did not come with a hood and I can't find proof that there is a dedicated one.

This lens, depending on image quality, will likely stay.

Film: Got this in a mixed bag of film so I'm not sure on expiration date, but it does seem to have the newest packaging so it can't be *that* old. I've had poor luck with this film when it is expired (interactions with the backing paper on 120 format, mostly), so I'm curious what to see this will look like in 35mm and in less-expired form. I have a bulk roll of this that is a fair bit expired (branded as Arista from Freestyle when they were still re-labeling film), so I'm hoping for good results.

Low speed film in these old cameras makes it easy to shoot at wide apertures even while the sun is still high in the sky days.

Here are the results (click to see bigger):

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