Unless you are an avid point and shoot film camera collector, it's likely you have never heard of the Rollei AFM 35. First of all its a marvelous little camera, but the misconception that it lacks exposure compensation seems to keep it out of the premium compact conversations.
The most popular premium compact point and shoots are probably the Contax T2 & T3, Ricoh GR, Yashica T4, and Nikon 28 Ti ( yes I know there's more). The Yashica feels less premium than the others I would still consider it premium by its stellar lens and high price point. It is these cameras that the Rollei AFM 35 is not only comparable to but can confidently compete with.
Rollei AFM 35: The Good
When talking about premium compacts the Rollei AFM 35 is one of the most affordable at $200 to $500. The value on this camera is due to its spectacularly sharp f/2.6 38mm S-Apogon lens with HFT coating. With fully automatic settings, Aperture Priority, and 10 step manual focus option, it's pleasing to use at any skill level. A simple combination power/aperture knob make it easy and comprehensive to shoot quickly.
Rollei AFM 35: The Bad
It's a mix of two features that can make this camera rather annoying for many photographers. Firstly the default flash setting is AUTO. Secondly, every time you turn the off camera your settings are reset. As a result when you take a photo in a borderline flash situation, you have to remember to manually turn off the flash after powering the camera. It's quite embarrassing when you think you're blending in to your surroundings only to have your flash fire in public.
Another thing is its rarity. More often than not there is not even one listed on eBay. Although due to a spelling error in the listing, I won the Rollei pictured in the top of this article for $190 USD.
Rollei AFM 35: The Klasse
The Rollei AFM 35 is actually made by Fujifilm, it is a white-labeled Fuji KLASSE. In 2001 Fuji released the KLASSE in Japan, and the Rollei AFM 35 in the United States. Six years later in 2007 Fuji released the KLASSE S & KLASSE W.
From what I can tell it was first mentioned in the March 2002 edition of American Photo, in an article titled:
"SEX OBJECTS: Alluring Cameras for Guys Who Take Pictures"
Images from the Rollei AFM 35
Here are some shots from my first 4 rolls shooting with the AFM over three months (in random order).
Afterthoughts on the AFM 35
Even so, I will surely keep this camera in my collection and continue to shoot it. Most of all the meter in the Rollei AFM 35 is outstanding, it is a shame I have yet to shoot a roll of slide film on it.
How to Set Exposure Compensation on the Rollei AFM 35
Back to the exposure compensation misconception. I'm not sure if it's the difficulty in pushing the buttons that make this uncommon knowledge, but this camera is widely labeled as not having exposure compensation. But of course it does, so long as you have average to tiny fingers. In conclusion, understanding that the Rollei AFM 35 has +/- 2 EV exposure compensation, it is not only a viable option for a premium compact film camera, but one of the most affordable in its class.
Press Top Center button until the desired compensation (e.g. 0.5 or 1.0) is displayed. Hold the button down and select the desired combination by pressing the Top Right Button. Release the Top Center button as soon as this combination is displayed.