Look, I'll be honest. The first roll I shot with my Rollei 35? The first triumphant roll to celebrate my long-awaited return to film? I put it in wrong and paid £16 to have a Snappy Snaps assistant tell me they could only salvage six frames.
That was more down to me than the camera, a world famous compact released in 1966 and manufactured for more than 30 years in various iterations. It's great too, and when it's in focus, it's pin sharp. I should emphasise "when in focus" because like lots of compact 35mm cameras from the era, it uses zone focussing, which means guestimating distance, turning the focus ring accordingly and hoping for the best.
Besides focus, there are dials on the front of the camera for shutter speed and aperture, and a small battery-powered exposure dial sits on top of the camera. All of these dials and doodads make for not the most seamless shooting experience, and the Rollei 35 performs best when fed enough light to set it to f8 and a focus point of infinity. That said, I've also managed to take some indoor pictures I've been super pleased with - all it took was a super wide aperture, super slow shutter speed and a very steady hand.
All of this grumbling might make it sounds like I'm not a fan, but there's something so... manual about the Rollei, and I love it. From setting the exposure, peering at the exposure dial and guessing the distance, everything's left completely up to the user. If you're coming from digital, or even something like the Olympus XA2 which looks after the exposure for you, it can be a daunting (but fun) learning curve that really puts all the control (and blame if things go wrong) in your hands.
Practice also makes perfect, and I found myself improving at zone focussing, and found that my exposure (especially with a more forgiving film like Portra 400) was more likely to be bang on if I set the ASA to 320 or so.
Some of my favourite film photos have been taken on the Rollei, a few of which are below...