I’d always wanted one of those fancy little Rollei pocket cameras, but— for whatever reason— hadn’t ever bought one. On a recent whim, I took a “today is the day” -type moment, and followed it to its logical conclusion. Thus, a lovely Rollei 35T with a Rollei Tessar 40mm F/3.5 and non-functional (unnecessary?) meter came into my possession.
Not to name names, but my first several rolls through the Rollei started with “K” and ended with “odak Tri-X 400”. It is a film I am very comfortable shooting and processing, so, well…
At any rate, I found that the Tri-X looked good, the Rollei lens was sharp, and the entire package fit in my pocket — but I wasn’t really inspired. I tried a couple of different stocks through the diminutive Rollei, each just fine, none so special as to try again. I was actually feeling a little over it when I remembered I had a few rolls of ILFORD FP4 PLUS laying around leftover from a recent wedding shoot.
I happily use FP4 PLUS at box speed in daylight settings, when I know that even tonality and skin-flattering smoothness are my number-one considerations — but it does lack a certain punch when shooting non-portraitesque scenes. I thought that my quick ISO 400 sunny sixteens math skills that I’d honed shooting other meter-less cameras would make for an easy time with the FP4 PLUS with a 2-stop push in processing (side note: D-76 forever).
I found the increased contrast and controlled-but-visible grain the Tessar + FP4 combo gave me was very appealing in a “was this shot today or 75 years ago” kind of way. The silvery smooth tones are enhanced to the point of having some little sparkle of the magic that I’d hoped for from this tiny camera—I guess I found my film.
There will be more samples from this combo at instagram.com/kettlepotblack.
Thank you, all!
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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