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Rollei A26

Style, film format Fixed lens 126 cartridge

Lens, shutter Coated f/3.5 40mm Sonnar, leaf shutter

Photo quality Decent

Ergonomics Push-pull film advance

Another unusual 126 cartridge film cameras is the Rollei A26. Note that Rollei used Rolleiflex for those cameras that used reflex viewing (except for the Rolleicord) and Rollei for its viewfinder cameras.

Anyway, back to the camera. The Rollei A26 is a much simpler camera than the Rolleiflex SL26. The target audience for this camera likely was someone 1) wanting to use 126 cartridge film, 2) with a bit more discretionary income and 3) wanting a simpler camera than an SLR but still wanting a European brand.

Similar to its 110 camera, the A26 uses a push-pull design to advance the film. It works well enough, although the front-mounted shutter release (red rectangle in the photo -- it really is red) is a bit of an oddity. It requires a very light touch, although I don't care for the position. But so what.

The A26 is a zone-focus camera, and the f/3.5 Sonnar should give sufficient depth of field to account for minor focusing errors. The photographer can use either the symbols on the top of the lens or the distance scale engraved below it.

When the camera is closed, the lens retracts and a protective panel slides into place. The lens retracts and the panel slides each time the film is advanced.

The auto-exposure system is driven by a single 625 mercury cell (now using a zinc-air battery) that requires the photographer to remove the left side panel to replace. Of course, at that time, mercury cells lasted for several years, compared with the zinc-air's expected six-month lifespan.

The dedicated C26 flash unit can be charged only with an AC adapter. It carries no user-replaceable batteries (AA, for example), so you'll want to make sure the flash is fully charged before heading out of the house.

The flash attaches to the camera by a thumbscrew that runs the length of the flash into the side of the camera. Fully assembled, it's a bit much. At least the case was made to hold both.

In use, the camera is easy enough to use, and the flash unit gives you another surface to grip. I was pleased with the photos I received, although the auto-exposure system was fooled by side-lit scenes. There is no exposure-compensation, nor is there any indication of aperture or shutter speed.