Rollei A110: in which I apparently know how to repair vintage cameras

Lomography announced a few weeks ago that they had started production on 110 cartridge film, which is exciting because it hasn’t been made since Fuji discontinued theirs in 2009. (But a lot of pro photo labs will still develop it.) The rumor was that they were going to announce soon after that they had designed a 110 camera to shoot it in. And they did, and it was a total sad trombone moment for me, because it’s a Fisheye camera. As I’ve said before when explaining why fisheyes don’t interest me: there are only so many photos of dogs’ noses than I can take. It just doesn’t do anything for me, okay?

So I started researching vintage 110 cameras. Most of them were junk, as the film was primarily aimed at people too stupid to figure out how to unload 35mm without exposing it. But a few camera companies made some quality 110 cameras, and probably the best one ever made was the A110 by Rollei. Or at least the earlier models; later on they produced some in Singapore with cheaper parts, and they also released the E110 for the more budget-minded consumer.

So I’m poking around on eBay last week, not really intending to buy anything, just getting a feel for the price. Which is averaging around $300, so maybe not. But then I find a seller with a cache of all kinds of non-working cameras, and he has an A110 for next to nothing because the film compartment won’t open. Not that I’m Ms. Fix-It or anything, but that seems like something that can be fixed? So I asked him if there was any battery corrosion (no) and was it stamped “Made in Germany” (yes), and I forked over considerably less than $300.


rollei a110, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

110 cameras are among the smallest ever made, which is why they’re fun. They make small prints, too. The A110 is small even for a 110, and some fans call it the “James Bond camera”. (And I just realized I used a Field Notes pen for scale. HI, I’M SARAH, AND I’M A HIPSTER.)

Anyway, long story less long: I got the camera, I fiddled with the release button and the film back for a couple of hours, it popped open (opening and closing it a few times loosened everything up and now it opens easily), I put in a battery, everything seems jake. I won’t know how it shoots until I run a cartridge through it and get it back from Dwayne’s Photo, but if the shutter works and the lens is intact, there’s no reason to think it won’t work just fine. Rollei makes superior products, there are Rollei cameras from the 1920s that are still in use.

I got a camera that’s currently retailing for $300 for less than $50, including the price of a 6V silver oxide battery and 3 film cartridges from Lomography. I’m pretty damn pleased with myself.

So that’s one more camera I can cross off my wish list. Other cameras still on it:

medium format Rolleiflex
Rollei 35
Kodak Instamatic
Polaroid SX-70
Fuji Natura Classica

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. LightHouseBlues
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 12:39:16

    Love this, wonderful!

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