Rollei 35SE
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There are opportunities where you want to have a small camera available that you can take with you wherever you want. In my case mainly for skiing, cycling and motorbike tours. There were (and are) out there many competitors in this league, but I don't wanted to accept a degration in picture quality compared to the good old Minolta Rokkor lenses. The solution I found was a Rollei 35SE that was manufactured from 1979. Many others I tested did not come close concerning picture quality!

Rollei 35 SE with its original bag.
The Rollei 35 was built with different lenses, mainly a Tessar 3.5/40mm and 
here my SE with its Rollei-HFT Sonnar 2.8/40mm, 
a ingenious Carl Zeiss Oberkochen lens design produced in license by Rollei. 
In my tests this lens (five element construction) showed excellent contrast and sharpness, 
not reached by any other ultra compact 35mm camera!
Also the mechanical built quality is excellent and it is one of the 
smallest 35mm cameras available!


For transportations sake the lens is pushed in (left picture)
for shooting the lens is extended to its working position (right picture).

A view in the heart of the Rollei 35 SE.
On the left you can see the flash shoe, frame counter and the rewind knob,
on the right side the film chamber with opened pressure plate.
You can see - not a single millimeter has been wasted
by the genious Rollei engineers.

Despite all this the camera in addition has a good functional CDS exposure meter. 
As seen in the picture the exposure is signalled in the view finder with three LED's.
The two Red LED's signal over/under exporsure, wheras the middle green LED
signals correct time and apperture settings at the front side.

Since 1979 my father and I am the first hand owner of this Rollei 35SE and all over the years it functions perfectly! The lens is a "class of its own" in the league of ultra compact 35mm cameras and the pictures are not distinguishable from the best SLR lenses! The sonnar lens design has a world leading reputation especially concerning contrast. This goal is reached by avoiding some glass air transitions by combining more lenses into groups compared to other common lens designs as gaussian or the planar designs. 

The only problem with this camera is that you have to estimate the focus distance! Astonishing a thing you can train yourself very good and the good depth of field of the 40mm also helps to get wonderful sharp pictures.

Tannheimer Tal
January 1980 
Rollei 35SE; Sonnar 1:2.8 40mm; 1/500 f11; Kodachrom 64
showing the fantastic contrast of this sonnar lens.


In my personal tests neither a
Canon AF 35M (best rated by the german magazin TEST theses days) 
nor a 
delivered in any way comparable picture quality to the Sonnar lens.

The Rollei 35 SE in my opinion has the following advantages:

Excellent class leading picture quality due to the Sonnar lens.
As compact as possible construction.
Very good mechanical built quality and durability.
Manual light meter.