The Camera that the Rollei 35 Should Have Been.

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Mar 4, 2017.

  1. Well, that's what the illustrious Stephen Gandy has to say about the Petri Color 35 on his great Cameraquest website. While the current thread on this Forum regarding the Rollei 35 extols the virtue of that little camera, and while I don't want to ruffle the feathers of Rollei aficionados, I'll have to admit that I tend to agree with him. Here's the little Petri Color 35 in my collection.<BR><BR>


    Petri Front pnet.jpg
    Petri Color 35

    The camera is shown here with it's lens in the extended position. The focusing wheel that is mounted on the rear and protrudes above the top deck also serves to retract the lens into the body for carrying around, so that it's nearly flush with the steel lens shroud. Here's a photograph of the top.<BR><BR>

    Petri 35 top Pnet.jpg

    The Color 35 seems to have come out of nowhere; Petri cameras were not really renowned for radical design or excellence of manufacture, and the Color 35 exhibits both. The camera features a rather meager range of shutter speeds, in my opinion it's only major drawback, but it's one of the few cameras where everything can be operated from the top of the cameras, rather after the style of the Fuji and Voigtlander rangefinders. The focusing wheel moves a focusing scale inside the viewfinder, compensating somewhat for the lack of a rangefinder, and the centre-the-pointer scale for the CDS exposure meter is located to the side, making for a slightly crowded viewfinder. Both aperture and shutter speed wheels are coupled to the meter. Here's a diagram from the instruction booklet.
    Viewfinder Pnet.jpg
    The 40mm Petri CC f/2.8 lens is a sharp little Tessar-style four-element design, remarkably resistant to flare. The meter will operate only when the shutter is cocked and the shutter release half-depressed, and seems accurate enough on a 1.5v button cell rather than the original 1.35v mercury battery. Overall, its a very comfortable and convenient camera to use; I'm familiar with the Rollei 35 and I find the Petri Color 35 a much more usable design. While it hasn't the jewel-like qualities of the Rollei or the same excellence of finish, it's solid and very well put together, with standards of design and finish surpassing anything Petri had done before. Or since, for that matter ...<BR><BR>

    Rather than my trying to provide a fuller critique, I'd suggest you read Stephen Gandy's very full and entertaining article:<BR><BR>

    I had the remains of my last roll of Arista EDU Ultra 100 in a cassette waiting to be used, only about a dozen shots or so, so I loaded up the Color 35 and snapped some images around town this morning. Here are a few samples; development was in PMK Pyro, scans from an Epson V700 Photo using Silverfast SE software.<BR><BR>

    Open Pnet.jpg

    #2 <BR><BR>

    1920s Pnet.jpg

    <BR><BR> Plaza Pnet.jpg

    EEE Pnet.jpg



    MarcelRomviel and PapaTango like this.
  2. Great series, Rick. I already have three Rollei 35's (35, 35S, and 35B), but if I find a Petri Color 35 that looks good and works I would buy one as I've always wanted one. When the Petri hit the market it had a faster lens than the original Rollei 35 but a slower top shutter speed so buyers had to make a choice. Here in the USA I don't see many Petri Color 35's for sale that are fully functional and those that are command a high price. Thanks for an enjoyable post.
  3. Funny, I was thinking about mentioning that camera as well. I had a black one and did prefer it to the Rollei. That was one solid, capable little camera, as your fine photos illustrate. What I particularly remember is that it was quite heavy for its size, more like a tool than a toy.
    PapaTango likes this.
  4. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    Fine results, Rick. About the only thing missing on the Color 35 was a distance scale on the lens, otherwise a very practical design. I collect Petri SLRs and always felt Petri a brand that never got the respect that they deserved, particularly their lenses, which I have found to be competitive with the best Japanese optics of the day. The FT and V6 (below) are nice shooters, as are some of their older rangefinders. <br><br>
    <br><br>Petris and accessories
    DownWithModerators! likes this.
  5. Nice pictures, as usual, but the Petri was no Rollei.

    If one wants a more conventional small RF than the Rollei 35, the better versions of the Canonet are a better choice than any of the other small 35mm cameras of the time.
    • Canon-QL17-2-e.jpg
  6. I never knew about the Petri. That Canonet looks like a nice little camera!

    Kent in SD
  7. A bit more compact than the Canonet (but with f2.8 lens) is the Olympus 35 RC. Shutter priority automation or full manual. Of course, neither Canon nor Olympus have collapsible lenses so you need a big pocket.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
  8. MTC  Photography

    MTC Photography Moderator

    I had a Canonet 20 years ago. It has a electronic shutter, died many times, finally gave up

    Rollie 35s and Rollei 35 have all mechanic shutter, which outlast any electronics shutters
  9. The Canonet in the photograph above has a mechanical shutter - I have the chrome version of the same camera - the battery powers only the meter.
  10. Well, given my view of the massively overrated Rollei 35, the Petri looks a much more practical attempt to achieve a similar end result.
  11. Of course, another very small contender is the Haking Halina 35X, roughly the same size and weight as the Petri.

    Halina 35X Pnet.jpg
    Haking Halina 35X


    With it's main claim to fame being "the most shiny camera ever made", the chrome-plated Halina 35X was produced by Haking in Hong-Kong in the early 1960's and bears the proud "Empire Made" slogan on the base plate. Equipped with a 45mm Anastigmat f/3.5 triplet lens and a top shutter speed of 1/200th, it doesn't take very good photographs, though it's up with most of the similar little cameras of it's era. It appears to be a copy of the Nihon Seiki Ranger 35, a version of which I have with a Nescon 35 badge. However, the Halina 35X seems to have a found a following in Lomoland, and it sure is shiny...
    John Farrell likes this.
  12. And it has a red dot, Rick.
  13. Ah, yes indeed... It didn't take long for the Japanese camera industry, immediately post-WWII, to cotton on to the value of the red dot. Yamato, for example, who made a whole raft of little rangefinder and P&S cameras, often under the Palmat and Pax brands, used the red dot consistently.
  14. Both shiny and Empire made: indeed, what could be better?
  15. MTC  Photography

    MTC Photography Moderator

  16. Rick,

    This is a camera that escaped my notice. I found an ad and some pricing info. The camera sold for $75 US in 1969. This is comparable to other cameras of this type. It seems to me that Petri use to be one of the low cost marketers.

  17. Here is a test from Modern Photography April 1969.

    Part 1.

  18. Here is Part 2 of the test.

  19. Thanks, Marc, a handy reference to have. Love the ad! I wonder what happened to the great copywriters of yesteryear?
  20. Back when, I had two Cannot 1.7QL's, both of which were dogs and a Cannot 28 which was a gem. I wanted to try the Petri but never found one on Ebay when I looked. Eventually settled on an Olympus Pen D which was also a gem until it died. I still have the pieces in a box.

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