Mint Camera has long been working on a new 35mm film compact camera, and it has now revealed its pocketable snapper is a remake of the cult classic, the Rollei 35, that is 'Coming soon - Summer 2024'.
With the go-ahead from Rollei to use its legendary branding – both the logo and the name – Mint is calling its creation the Rollei 35AF. Addressing what it perceives as pitfalls to the original model, Mint is equipping the modern-day version with autofocus, hence the name 35AF.
It all sounds promising, right? I for one am excited to get hands-on with the cult-classic spin-off, however, the estimated list price of the Rollei 35AF, according to the Mint Camera's blog, is $650-800 (around £525-650 / AU$900-1,100). Gulp. If that astronomical price still hasn't put you off what is a mere 35mm compact film camera, you can join the waitlist on the Rollei 35AF product website.
A faithful remake?
Mint Camera has shared photos of a Rollei 35AF prototype alongside an original Rollei 35 S, plus photos of it in the hand (see above). This early prototype is ahead of the newly acquired branding and finishing flourishes being applied but as you can see, the original is being faithfully recreated with a modern twist that addresses what the makers believe were Rollei 35 drawbacks.
The first is moving over to autofocus from the original's fiddly manual zone focus system. We don't know the technical specifications of the autofocus system, but it should make taking sharp snaps a lot easier. That said, some Rollei fans believe that the original's manual focus is workable if you simply set it to infinity.
There's also the Rollei 35's peculiar flash mount placement on its underside. Most cameras that can hold an external flash do so using a hotshoe / coldshoe on the ergonomically better position on top of the camera, from where the flash illuminates your subjects in an aesthetically pleasing fashion. Classic portrait lighting comes from above, not below.
Rollei 35s usually stand the test of time, but essentially you're stuck if there's a problem. The reality with super old analog cameras is that spare parts and skilled technicians are hard to come by should your camera cease to work. A modern-day version could address that, provided the customer support frameworks are in place.
You can pick up a secondhand Rollei 35 (available in various models) for anywhere between $125-400 / £110 / £355 depending on its condition (or splurge on limited edition gold-effect models for around $1,000 / £1,000). Cost-wise, the odds aren't in favor of the new Rollei 35AF. However, kudos to Mint Camera for its dedication to film, I wish it well with its labor of love. Hopefully, I'll get to rattle off a few rolls of film with one later this year.
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Tim is the Cameras editor at TechRadar. He has enjoyed more than 15 years in the photo video industry with most of those in the world of tech journalism. During his time as Deputy Technical Editor with Amateur Photographer, as a freelancer and consequently editor at Tech Radar, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with cameras, educating others through news, reviews and features. He’s also worked in video production for Studio 44 with clients including Canon, and volunteers his spare time to consult a non-profit, diverse stories team based in Nairobi. Tim is curious, a keen creative, avid footballer and runner, and moderate flat white drinker who has lived in Kenya and believes we have much to enjoy and learn from each other.