Which Rollei35 Has Rangefinder? – All You Need to Know

People often ask, which Rollie 35 has a rangefinder?

Let’s find out!

Which Rolli35 Has Rangefinder?

The Rollei 35 is a rangefinders camera that is small, light, and easy to carry around with you at all times.

The ROLLEIS 35 has an optical viewfinder that lets photographers see exactly what they’re shooting without having to peer into the viewfinder of their cameras.

Rollei 35

The Rolleiflex 35 is a 35 millimeter rangefinder compact digital single lens reflex (DSLR) made by Carl Zeiss AG. Introduced in 1996, the Rollei 35 replaced the Rollei 25, which had been produced since 1975. The Rolleiflex 35 is the only 35-millimeter DSLR currently being sold. The Rolleiflex 35 is an updated version of the Rollei35.

Technical development

When the first subminiaturized 16mm movie camera was introduced, Heinz Waasche, chief engineer at Wirgin, suggested that the buyers of these new small movie camcorders weren’t interested in the smaller format because they wanted a camera that was just as big as their existing 35mm SLR.

He then went on to design a 35mm camera that was only one-third the size of the viewfinders of the day.


The three-element 50mm f1.4 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* ZF.2 was sourced from Carl Zeiss

Sliding tubes allow lenses to retract inside cameras when they’re not in active mode.


Because of the limited range of available space around the full-featured eye, the use of the traditional central shutters was not possible. Therefore, Waasche came up with a new type of shutter, which was divided into two functional parts.

One part was fixed inside the body of the device, while the other part was attached to the moving slide. When the slide was moved outwards, the two parts were connected. Only when the slide was pushed back into the body, the two parts were disconnected again.

The two parts were then locked together by means of a spring mechanism. Only when the slide had been completely retracted, the whole assembly could be inserted into the body.

Film Compartment

Waaske filed patent applications for the shutter construction as well as the compact, five-sprocket-wheel format. This design differed from the conventional eight-sprocket-wheel layout.

Another difference to the traditional design was the cocker. On the Rollet 35, the cocker is located at the top center, and the film rewinder is at the bottom center of the camera.

The cartridge sits in the upper center and accordingly, the exposure lays upside down on the film, reflected in the inverted position of the exposure markings (type, number frames) on the film.

To change the film the back must be pushed upwards and pulled out completely, like on the Contac, for example.

Light Meter

For the shutter-based exposure metering system of the prototype camera, we chose a selenium cell-based exposure control from Metrowatt. Later cameras used an electronic shutter-based exposure control.

The Rollei 35 Standard Model

The original design of the Rolleiflex III was based on the idea of a compact 35mm SLR with interchangeable lenses. To achieve this goal, the Rollei engineers designed an extremely small mirror box (with a focal length of 50 mm) and a very short back focus distance (0.5 m).

The Rollei designers also chose a fixed shutter speed of 1/125 s, which would allow them to create a fast film format without having to change any mechanical components.

The Rollei engineers were able to produce a new type of film cartridge called the Rollei Fokker, which allowed the Rollei III to shoot 120-roll film at a rate of 6 frames per second. The Rolleiflex IIIs were produced between 1954 and 1957.

For the PX13 (PX625=MR9), a place was found inside the housing. The film winder knob of the engineering model was replaced by a winder crank, and a hot shoe was added for mounting an electric flashlight at the base.

Placing the hot shoe on the bottom of the body was not possible due to the underlying exposure metering and transmission gears. Mounting the hot shoe at the frame lid would likely cause damage when used with one of the heavy flashes of that time.

Therefore the design had to be inverted when used with a flashlight, to get the light above the lenses. The project was named “Rollei Private” at first, but later on, when Peisel wanted to designate all Rollem cameras according to the film format, the project got the new title “Rollei 35”.

In 1967, the first version of the digital single-lensed reflex (DSLR) appeared. Its name was Contax II. It had an APS film format sensor and a fixed focal length of 28 mm.

The shutter speed range was 1/1000 sec to 1/4000 sec. The aperture range was f2.8 to f4.5. The ISO sensitivity ranged from 50 to 400. The price was about $1,000.


As most 135mm film SLRs from the 1960s were viewfinder-only, Rollei did not include one. However, they did experiment with including internal rangefinders, which would have been similar to the ones found in some modern compact digital point-and-shoots. Unfortunately, due to space constraints, they decided against using them.

Which Rollei35 Has Rangefinder?

Which Rollei35 Has Rangefinder?

Advanced Models

Rollei 35 S

Due to its large popularity, as early as the late 1960s a luxurious and beginner’s version of the Rolleiflex 35 was planned. However, due to the manufacturing shift to Singapore, it wasn’t until 1971 that the calculation of a five elements glass was assigned to Zeiss, who would also produce the front element.

This Sonnar f2.8/40 was to be mounted with a front element focusing system, just like the Tessar, allowing a similar mounting in the slide tube. Only the two front lenses were to change position when focussing.

But, when finished the camera didn’t focus sharply enough at close distance, and mass-produced lenses had to be delayed by one full calendar month. The project was halted and Zeiss designed a brand new front element with a focussing mechanism by shifting the entire front element.

Rollei’s head of design, Richard Weiss, concluded: “We’ve gotten ourselves into a precarious losing situation because of this. Developers have realized that in the future they should check out lenses, even if produced by Carl Zeiss, more skeptically.”

The tools for creating the new shutter mechanism were manufactured by Prontor, a Zeiss subsidiaries company in Kalmbach that had previously taken over the manufacture of the old shutter from Compur (a Zeiss subsidiaries company).

Rollei 35 T

With the introduction of the Rollei 36 SLR, the former Rolleiflex 35 SL was renamed Rollei 35 SLT, without any further changes, but a projected version with a leather cover was not accepted because of the textile covering frays.

Rollei 35 TE and Rollei 35 SE

The original design didn’t include an auto-exposure feature. To get an accurate reading, the camera had to be removed from your eye line. This meant you couldn’t see what you were shooting through the lens. Also, if you wanted to change the setting, you had to move the camera back to the same spot. These two things made focusing difficult.


We hope that this guide has been useful. If you have any questions please let us know in the comments section below.


  • Herman Riggs

    Herman is a writer, researcher, and product reviewer here at The Outdoor Stores. His knowledge and expertise in firearms are immense. He knows well which gun is suitable for which purpose and how to handle it correctly. You can benefit from his passion by reading his posts on this website.

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