Petri Color 35 E Fully Automatic
In the 1960s, photography became accessible to all walks of life. The rigid contact print formats gave way to the Kodak 135 format, so old-style cameras kept shrinking to match. More images could be squeezed onto a roll, where the half-frame format gained popularity in the amateur market. Users now looked for the next stage, full-proof instruments, so the manufacturers stepped forwards.
Petri, a manufacturer far from rear bleachers, took the successful 7 series, squeezed it a bit, and introduced the very compact 35 E. A tiny camera, yet a full 35mm frame, complete with a light meter and a selection of shutter speeds. Then, three years later, after the elusive Color 35 D, they introduced a small camera with a long name, all caps and italics: PETRI Color 35E fully automatic (sic).
I am sure Petri didn’t realize it then, but this camera is perfect. Almost a modern-day point-and-shoot. Easy to use, easy on the eye, and easy to carry. Sold in both Germanys under Braun and Ihagee, reintroduced by Petri under Micro Compact, and revived by Cosina after Perti’s demise, there was sure something in this pretty little thing.
The camera is the epitome of good design. Borges said he tried several times to write the perfect novel and got Don Quixote each time. Same here; if you try to draw the ultimate camera, the Color 35 E will be the result.
Highlights, in no particular order:
- Fully automatic; you only need to set the distance. For the global village, it is marked in meters, feet, and pictographs.
- The distance settings are visible at the bottom right viewer corner. Not sure if it is by design or lack of.
- The viewer window is tiny but clear enough, with clear parallax correction marks.
- The lens pops out for use. In older cameras, it takes to pull out and turn to lock. Here it pulls out smoothly and locks in place. It protrudes about 10mm – 3/8″. Markings, metric and imperial, are on top of the cylinder, set against a clear line on top of the fixed barrel. Pictographs are on the side of the fixed barrel against a mark on the rotating part.
A red screen drops inside the viewer to warn against shooting with a collapsed lens.
- Flash guide settings, compensating for distance, are at the bottom of the protruding lens barrel. Unusual, as such settings are commonly on the flash gun. There was a dedicated ‘dumb’ gun using disposable bulbs.
- A red screen appears in the viewer when poor light conditions, similar to the paddle on the Olympus Trip 35 and its sisters.
- The meter activates with shutter cocking, assuming to conserve battery power. The battery information window by the viewer shows a red/blue area. A check button at the side activates a needle over the applicable color.
This camera is negligible for the collector, as all Petri models are. It is cheap to acquire, although not many are offered for sale, perhaps as the return will be little. It is nice to have if you are into compact viewfinders or a similar category.
|Color 35 E
|Ihagee Exa 35 E
Brown Phokina Compact 35 S
Cosina Compact 35 S
|390 gr, Body with lens
|Class average weight
|344 gr, Body with lens
|Two blades scissor type