Rollei 35 … correction.

Hmm, in my haste I forgot a step …

The front consists of two plates, instead of one.
The first one holds the two dials … and underneath that is the main front plate that holds the lens and gears. I forgot about that and forgot about the first plate.

So the first plate is screwed onto the second.

This is what happens when I take everything apart and try to explain it in reverse … or at partial stages when I have to take it apart again because I missed something.


Babble .. on

I feel like typing something …

Ok, so I am going to tell you a bit more about me.

Long, long ago in a land far away … no, that’s not right … A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … nope, that’s not true either … ok, it was many years ago.

My beginnings that started this blog originates with my father. I was introduced with building/fixing thing from him. I grew up in a house with a basement full of tools. I played with tools, which was a really cool thing. Most importantly I was curious … so curious that I wanted to know what happens if you loop a wire into an electrical outlet … or how high can you build a fire with petroleum products.

I was lucky enough to go through an education system that had programs that introduced me, early on, to metal and wood work. This continued through to high school … I still remember my metal shop teacher saying “sal ammoniac”.

My start with photography happened in highschool with an interest in Astronomy. I really wanted to get a telescope … but for some reason I ended up buying an SLR camera kit (a Canon T70) from Astro Photography. Later on in life, through a family connection, I got a job working at Japan Camera Centre as a salesperson. I wasn’t all that great at sales, as I really only cared about the equipment. I ended up spending more than a decade there, working myself up to managing one of their stores. As a photographer one of the best things to do is work at a camera store … you can buy stuff at cost price … and also get introduced a lot equipment.

Another piece of luck was my wife. We worked together at JCC and eventually got together … ahh, those were the days. I was also introduced to a new friend, through my wife who worked at Silvano Colour Lab, Craig … I think he was like me, but many years before me and he knew everything about fixing and making things that were beyond my knowledge, he is one reason why I started this blog … I wanted to pass on my experiences, like the information that both he and my father passed on to me. In some way I am not actively refurbishing cameras for myself, if I did it would only be for few cameras that I would use myself … not for the purpose of just refurbishing them. I have to give credit to the Internet for allowing me to share this information to all of you.

Hmmm, I’ve gotten bored with writing now … or I have lost interest in caring on with this topic … so long and thanks for all the fish … the end.

The Rollei 35 … fix

The Rollei 35 is not all that difficult to disassemble, that is after I guessed at what to take apart … though putting it back together is a different story. My main purpose for the fix is to figure out what is jamming the lens mechanism.


  • Slotted screw drivers
  • Pointy tweezer
  • Pliers
  • Ronsonal
  • Q-tips


The first Remove the top plate

Unscrew the winding arm cap. There are two washers underneath. Remove the three screws holding the arm on. Pull off arm.

Remove screw from rewind release. The shaft is held by tension spring wire – turn it the so the flat edge can pass by the wire, then pull it out.

Remove the three screws holding the top plate.

Turn the camera sideways while pulling off the top plate … you will probably have to wiggle it on the viewfinder side first. Note that there is a small slider pin and washer underneath/within the shutter button and it may fall out.

If you are not taking out the viewfinder, put the winding arm screw back on to keep the winding gear from falling out. if you do want to pull it out, then put two marks on the big gear to register its position.

If you want to pull out the viewfinder (which is not actually attached to the camera), first take off the large winding gear and the bits underneath. Then unscrew the plate and remove it.

Note that there is a spring arm attached, that keeps the winding mechanism under tension (this tension is used to pull the winding arm back).

The viewfinder is housed in a plastic case. You can get in between first two viewfinder lenses, so it can be cleaned without removal.

Put this all back together. You will probably have to fidget a lot with the spring to get it under tension … just be patient and it will happen.

Then (as I mentioned earlier) put the winder cap screw on the large winding gear to keep it from falling out.

Unlock and pull off the back of the camera

Now we need to take the front of the camera off. Luckily, the leather is not the flakey leatherette material … so the first thing to do is to neatly peel back the leather in the front corners to get access to the four screws that hold the entire front plate on

My picture shows all the leather has been removed, but you do not need to go that far … and also the shutter speed and aperture control dials have been removed, which you do not need to do either.

There is a differential arm on top that slides behind a screw, so you will have to remove screw. There is also a spring under tension between the arm and the upper body, so pop one end off.

Now you can pull off front and look at the back.

The back is filled with gears, arms, levers, do dads, and thinga majigs, that couple everything together.

The shutter gears are also here.

In my poking around I found that there was a loose screw jammed close to the shutter speed mechanism (you can see it at the 10:30 position). When the screw moved around it would get caught by the lens as it is extended, and also would stop the lens from rotating. I never did figure out where that screw actually originated from.

Ok, so now put it all back.

For the dent that I had in the top plate I used a hammer … no, not directly against the metal … I placed the plate on a hard flat wood surface, then I used a bamboo chopstick (from my local famous Chinese Food restaraunt) to use as a punch. Work softly and continuously move around … patience Danielson … and eventually you can get to an acceptable flatness.

Reassembly note:

  • Do not over tighten the winding arm top plate screw.
  • When putting the rewind release shaft back in, note the position of the pin, then put it in half way, then turn the shaft so the pin is at the bottom, then you can push it in all the way

Rollei 35 (original)

The Rollei 35 was a 35mm roll film camera made by … Rollei.

It was conceived and designed by Heinz Waaske who was an engineer at Wirgin. He had designed 16mm subminature cameras for them, but when he presented his design for a miniature 35mm format camera to Wirgin, they declined … he even asked Leitz and Kodak.

Heinz later would work for Rollei. It was during this time that Heinrich Peesel (general manager at Rollei) accidentally saw his prototype, and immediately wanted this camera in production.

The Rollei 35 is a cool looking camera (hmm, I’ve stated that before … well it is). The design of the camera made it the smallest 35mm roll film camera in 1966. It utilized the old rangefinder collapsing lens concept, except the shutter and aperture were coupled to the mechanisms in the body, this means when the lens is extended levers/arms would inter-connect to ones in the body. The camera used scale focusing, with big shutter speed and aperture dials on the front. It also had a built in light meter.

Too bad that it was too small to have a coupled rangefinder mechanism … that would have made this camera “excellent!!!” … to all you dudes and dudettes.

The first model had a Tessar lens, Gossen light meter, and a Compur shutter. Production changed from Germany to Singapore for some models (the one I have is Singapore) … but they kept the same manufacturing standards. They produced a number of versions of the camera with different components or mechanisms … I think the Rollei 35S is the most sought after model because of the Sonnar lens.

You can read much more here:

I was lucky enough to be offered a Rollei 35 (original) model to repair. There was a problem with the lens locking mechanism, it would sometimes engage/disengage) it seems like something was interfering. The body also had a big dent, and was missing some screws (I am not the first one to disassemble this camera.

In my haste to restore this camera I never took a picture of it when I got it … so here is a picture of after I fixed it up … did I not say is looks cool !! FYI: I would guess the Rollei 35 is about 75% smaller than my Sony NEX-6.

Rollei … rhymes with poly … but not F&H

Reinhold Heidecke was employed by Voigtlander making precision instruments. After learning the trade, he left the company to try to form his own to make new roll film cameras that were easier to use (than the current products out there). Reinhold Heidecke teamed up with Paul Franke in 1920 to form a new company called … wait for it … Franke and Heidecke. Their first cameras were stereoscopic types, but the third one was a charm. This was their first TLR, the Rolleiflex made in 1929.

The Rolleiflex is considered the mother of all TLR’s (ok, I made that up … but it could be true). The design of the Rollei TLRs will be copied by everyone else that came after it, and the Rollei’s are still one of the most coveted cameras to this date (I should know as I am still trying to get a hold of a cheap one).

In 1966, Rollei made their first viewfinder 35mm camera … and it also happened to be the smallest 135 film camera ever. It was so cool that Queen Elizabeth went out and bought one (Ok, she probably didn’t actually do that … but she does own a gold one).

The company name did change with the addition of Rollei-Werke before the F&H, and in 1979 the company changed name to Rollei, then in 2007 the company broke up into three bits … these bits broke, kinda.

Before it’s end, Rollei made a number of cameras (TLR, 135, 6×6, sub, and even digital) and other photographic equipment like slide projectors … but if you told someone today that you have a “Rollei” it will always refer to the Rolleiflex TLR.