Engineering Marvel – Petri Color 35

Petri Color 35 Front

Petri Color 35 Front

  • Petri Color 35
  • Super Compact 35mm Mechanical Viewfinder Camera
  • Date Of Birth 1968
  • Petri 40mm f2.8 Color Corrected and Coated, Collapsible (Tessar Type)
  • Petri MS Shutter B 15 30 60 125 250
  • Four Blades Aperture 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22
  • Cross Coupled Match Needle CdS meter ISO 25 – 800 / EV7 – EV17
    Meter Turns On By Cocking The Shutter, Needle Inside Viewinder
  • PX675 1.3V Battery (Works with 675 Zinc Air, No Problem With LR44.)
  • Hot Shoe and PC Sync Terminal, X-Sync At All Speed
  • Focus via Scale Inside view finder
  • 40.5mm Filter Size
  • Dimension 101mm x 64mm x 43mm
    In a Nut Shell, Smaller Than Olympus 35RC and a bit bigger than Rollei 35
  • Weight 390g

Petri Color 35 Back

The wheel in the middle extend, retracts the lens and also control focus, click stop at infinity. Frame counter is located on the left top corner. The meter turns on by cocking the shutter, shuts off after firing.

 Petri Color 35 Top

Petri Color 35 Top

Shutter button, speed, aperture, rewind, hot shoe and battery test button are conveniently located on the top. The Shutter speed and aperture wheel ARE both coupled to the meter.

Petri Color 35 Bottom

Petri Color 35 Bottom

Rewind release, tripod mount and back cover lock is located at the bottom. “Feets” are also provided.

Petri Color 35 Back Opened

Petri Color 35 Back Opened

With the back removed, pressure plate reminds you of the Rollei 35.

Petri Color 35 Lens Retracted

Petri Color 35 Lens Retracted

Lens retracted all the way in the body for carrying.
Shutter button is locked when the lens is retracted passed infinity.

Petri Color 35 Lens Extended

Petri Color 35 Lens Extended

With the lens extended all the way out will be the closest focusing distance. My estimation is 0.8M – 1M.

Petri Color 35 size compare with SRT

Petri Color 35 size comparison with Minolta SRT

The dimension is 101mm x 64mm x 43mm, just a bit bigger than a Rollei 35, but smaller then an Olympus 35RC.

Petri Color 35 with Prazisa External Range Finder

Petri Color 35 with Prazisa External Range Finder

I decided to cheat with an external rangefinder mounted on shot shoe, instead of using scale focus.

Viewfinder of the Petri Color 35

Viewfinder of the Petri Color 35

Viewfinder of the Petri Color 35, with separate needles for distance scale and metering.

Petri Color 35 Lens

Petri Color 35 Lens

The 40mm f2.8 Petri Lens is a Tessar type design.

Petri Color 35 Shutter

Petri Color 35 Shutter

I unfroze the shutter and gave it a tune up.

Petri Color 35 Top Cover Removed

Petri Color 35 Top Cover Removed

A view under the top cover reviews some of the genius design, all carefully planned.

Like some of the others have said before, this is what the Rollei 35 should have been.

Do not mistaken this post as a comparison with the Rollei 35, there will be a lot more to cover such as direct comparison on specs, image quality, built quality and reliability.

If your Petri Color 35 needs to be worked on, let me know.


59 thoughts on “Engineering Marvel – Petri Color 35

    • Well what did you think about it? I actually shot a test “strip” (7 frames) it did pretty well minus the 80s Tri X 5063. I am very impress how the camera pack everything the way it did, design wise it is superior than my Rollei 35.

      • I’ll pull the trigger next time I encounter something nice, then. I’ve been looking for good deals on legacy lenses anyway. Thanks!

          • Definitely a macro lens, as I won’t be missing the autofocus and will finally be able to try that genre. Maybe even some 35 or 50 prime, in case I stumble upon a good deal. Which is the problem, because I’m quite limited both in funds and local availability.

            • Ahh I can’t help you there, I only have one or two macro lens. Maybe you should look up some close up filters. Or when you get a 50mm, get a reverse ring.

        • Wasn’t bad to adjust, if you think about it, Contax RF and Kiev RF has a wheel at the front for that even though you can also use the lens. But the Argus C3 focus just with the wheel in the front. Only thing that was a bit weird to me at first is , that wheel also extend the lens out to shooting position. Multi function.

    • Oh you’re missing out, for a fraction of the price of digital camera you can get a very nice film camera(s). Got any idea what you’re looking for?

  1. Wow! This is awesome. I’ve been shooting with a F80 for film but you might’ve just tempted me to travel back in time a little bit more.

    What benefits would you say these older ‘manual’ film cameras have over the newer auto-everything ones?

    • Manual cameras benefits the user tremendously.

      A lot of the newer “auto-everything” cameras are designed that so you can do your job easier (it’s supposed to, but if you don’t know what this and that does it can make it worst). However you can also look at it as doing YOUR job for you (which is not necessarily what you want, is what your camera picked for you).

      Let’s talk about a complete manual camera, even one without a meter.
      – Mechanical cameras are usually a lot more reliable in a lot of different situation, and you never afraid it’s going to run out of battery in the middle of a job.
      – No meter forces you to either, bring a meter, or learn how to eye ball it, and I eyeball with great success most of the time. It’s an adventure.
      – I find the manual film advance is a lot less annoying then the motor advance, some of them sounds loud, funny, or annoying.
      – Auto focus can be good at stuff like weddings, but for things that needs precision focus, nothing is better than manual focus, and if you mess that up you can’t blame anyone else, but keep practicing.
      – Old cameras, a lot of them are over engineered.
      – It’s more stripped down, it’s a relationship between you, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and focus. That is really all you need.
      – It’s more “fun”. You can easily fail, but when you did good you feel more accomplished.

      I guess the easiest way to say it….
      Do you want to drive a car that response to what you want it to do, or you want one with traction control and parking sensors (because apparently we are not good enough on our own?) or the extreme – autopilot.

      By the way, I actually have an F4, but i barely use it, I rather use my Nikkormat.

  2. Thanks Derek! That’s such a good run through. I shall be on the look out for one. I love how purely mechanical it is. I felt that way when I got the D80 after my DSLR, but this is taking it that next step. I’ve been mainly street shots anyway so I don’t need pin point accuracy with my focus, that and I’ve been closing down the aperture so I’ve got more DoF to work with.

    What would you recommend I keep my eyes peeled for? I think I’d just like a 35mm to go with. I don’t feel I’ll need a range of lenses to go with one of these beauties.

    Thanks for your time with that write up! It was great.

    • If you want to keep on building your nikkor collection. Look up a Nikon FM, or even the Original Nikon F / F2. And that way you can shoot AI / AIS nikkors. Non AI won’t fit on digitals.

      But lately I have migrated to Minolta SRT series as my main SLRs.

      My official street camera is an Exakta VX with waist level finder.

      Also have to bring up rangefinders. Look up the Yashica Lynx series, also if you wanna attract attention, get the Argus C3, the brick.

      Don’t worry about their specs too much, I’d say look them up and see which one looks more fun for you! Let me know if I can help you on anything else.

      • Great, I have a look around at those models.

        Yes, I’m a little bit familiar with the rangefinders. I had the privilege of borrowing someones Leica M9 for a day and I love the feel of it. So different but really satisfying.

        Thanks mate! You’ve been a wealth of info!

  3. I own such a camera, a black version, I have used it since1970’s. Still works great. I agree that it is a great little camera, very rugged. I also use an external view finder attached to the flash shoe. The pictures are very good especially if you use either a monopod or tripod.
    Using such a camera teaches you about photography, understand depth of field, Metering. (for portraits use a Sekonic external meter). The negative are easy to scan if you want digital prints, and it is still very inexpensive to print pictures.
    Black and white (proper term is Monochrome) are very good as well and enlarge easily to more than 11 X 14 without loosing much details.
    I used to own the M6 Leica (Titanium), and realized that after going through my denial period that I was sold on the beauty of the shape of the M6 camera more than its usefulness, so got rid of it and still use this Petri Colour camera. The quality of the pictures are truly awesome.

    • A black one eh? I always like a black one better. No doubt on the leica Ms. They are rather handsome (except for the goofball m5) . Are there any chance you have samples of the petri color 35 online that I can look at? I would love to see them!

  4. I just picked up a black version of this camera at an estate sale and found your blog while trying to research it. Its in pretty nice condition except that the shutter is froze up. Your right…it is a beautiful little camera. Are there any easy ways to fix it or could you look at it for me? Believe it or not but I am also in west Michigan, I live in Manistee. My email is and my name is Richard. Thanks!
    P.S. Great work. Your images are beautiful.

  5. Hi Derek, my name is Karen Garcia and you follow my blog and I’m a journalism major student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions for my next blog entry! As I see from you blog you use different types of cameras so I was wondering if you could let my readers know whether or not you prefer looking for a specific camera either through the internet (Ebay, Etsy, or Amazon) or by looking in vintage stores? What is the best website to look for vintage cameras? What do you think is an easier way to find a specific camera? What is your profession and full name? It would be greatly appreciated if you could answer my questions!
    Thank you!!!

    -Karen Melissa Garcia

  6. Hi Derek, I just found one of these in a thrift shop. How do you get the top plate off? There’s something loose in the viewfinder so that I can’t see the scale focus indicator or light meter properly. I’m guessing it’s some small mirror? For one brief moment, everything was aligned and I could see that the meter worked and how to focus. Everything else seems to work well, so I’d like to try to fix this. Thanks.

      • I need also this info. The top cover is a little bit dented where the aperture and shutter speed wheels are…Also, can we find somewhere the exact grain “leather”?

        • Been a while, without looking at one – think you just take the screws off and take the wheel on the back off. I think you can leave the two dails on top. Exact grain leather ? Well you will have to look at those camera leather online stores and match it.

  7. Hi Derek, I have just obtained a petri color 35, really impressed with it, love it but the shutters are sticky on 1/15 & 1/30. Also the meter needle does not move with a new zinc air battery. Was thinking of buying one of the reprinted repair manuals on eBay, in order to open it to fix it, necessary do you think? I think the sticky shutters might be an easy fix, but not sure about the meter have you had any experience with the meter or meters similar? – Thanks

    • Through cleaning and lightly lubercation on the shutter will be good. Meter doest work first thing I would check is the wires to the battery compartment as they are easily corroded after the years. However shooting without a meter is not that hard really.

      About the service manual its all about your skills. Would you prefer references or you have confidence to work on it without? Also depends on how “proper” you would like to do it.

  8. Hi Derek,

    Quick question – does the shutter need a battery to operate, or are they separate?
    Sorry for the really basic question here… I have a Color 35 that doesn’t have a battery, and the shutter doesn’t work… and I wonder if the battery will bring it to life of there’s no hope.

    Sorry for my broken English.


  9. Hi Derek.

    I live in South Africa and am about to purchase what looks like a mint condition petri 35 for about the equivalent of $9.

    Only issue is that the shutter is jammed as in Richard’s comment above. Can you shed some light on the issue please.



    • Greetings to south Africa!

      I don’t have to camera on hand anymore but I will go by photos and memory, I shall email you with a picture showing the approx location.

  10. Hi Derek,
    Well, I got that black Petri color 35 with the jammed shutter and thanks to you and your pictures I had it repaired in fifteen minutes. The mechinism was stuck for no reason I could observe, so I loosened the two pivot screws and it fired immediately. I did a little cleaning with isopropal alcohol and carefully lubed it with extrafine sewing machine oil. Working great now except one little item – the battery check. With the camera set to f/22 & shutter @ B and a new battery I push the button but the needle fiies down, as if the battery was weak or bad. When pushed a bit harder it flies to the top of the range. The light meter seems to be working fine. Any guesses?
    Now for another camery story – When I said I had bid and won the black Petri 35 I didn’t mention I had also bid on a silver model at the same time. I did this because I had bid on 15 Petri 35s over the past year without winning one so I thought to bid on both hoping to win one. Well I won both, much to my wife’s chagrin. The light meter doesn’t work on the silver one and both cameras have the same battery check issue. The shutter, aperture and focus knobs work fine but when cocked the LM needle just pops to the top of the range and when fired drops to the bottom (off position). I’m guessing corroded wires but again, got any ideas?
    Last, You mentioned you would like a repair manual; me too want to go in Halves on one?
    Happy trails,

  11. Derek,
    Sorry to take so long to get back to your blog. Also want to thank you for the photos and how to safely remove top cover. The 2nd Petri 35 had the same stuck shutter mechanism so that part was an easy fix. The light meter was a bit more difficult. The wire from the battery compartment to the light meter had come free. I needed a lower watt soldering iron to fix it, so I bought a battery powered Weller 8 watt, 6 volt and it worked great. Now the camera is fully operating. The silver one is in better condition than the black one, which has a goot bit of brassing, but is more stelth. I plan to sell the silver one on ebay next week. Hopefully for more than I paid, ($97.00 + $8.95 shipping) but on ebay, who know???
    Thanks again, P.S. I did buy a repair manual, which arrived after my repairs. It has good exploded views, so if you or anyone needs a page copy (copy rights expired) let me know.
    Happy trails,

  12. Hi Derek,

    I’m have a Black Petri 35 for long, but the shutter blade seems stuck and not functioning.
    Also, the film counter and meter is not working.

    Can I get some advice from you on the repair?

    Thank you

  13. Hi Derek

    I have just got one of these little beauties. It seems fine apart from one problem – the meter overexposes consistently by about 3 stops. If I allow for this the pictures it produces seem to be nicely exposed, so I’m assuming it simply needs to be adjusted. Do you have any advice on removing the top plate and adjusting the meter?


  14. Hi Derek,

    My wife and I are lucky enough to have not one but two black Petri Color 35s. Both work, but suffer from the same problem – the bright frame tends to slip and drop downward in the viewfinder. I presume it is actually upside down in the camera as it will drop back into place if I tap the camera gently downwards on my hand.
    Is this an easy repair? (I have fiddled around with the innards of Olympus Trip 35s but that’s all). Or should I get a professional to do it.

    Thanks for the info and for the website,


    • If my memory serves me correctly all you have to do is to glue it back. Trick is to open the top without damaging it. You could always open and look and decide.

  15. Hi I just read your excellent article on the Petri Color 35. Are you still offering repair of this? Mine seems to work fine except the viewfinder mask keeps popping loose and has to be smacked back in to place.

  16. Hi Dehk! I need some advice to repair the Petri Color 35 (bulb is not working, the meter is erratic, and the selector of speed is off) Can you help me?

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