The first steps of the Rollei factory into the world of subminiature cameras led to the Rollei 16 for 16 mm film. It was a high quality beautifully made camera. The downside was the lack of a 16 mm still picture film standard. Not only was there single and dual perforated film there was also no standard film cartridge. Attempts by Rollei to agree to (at least a German) standard cartridge had failed and Rollei was forced to market film for their Rollei 16 cameras.
Kodak size 110 film
When Kodak announced the size 110 film cartridge with 13 × 17 mm film format in 1972 Rollei was keen to develop a suitable camera. The cartridge itself was not of high quality. It lacked any means to keep the film flat. The 110 cartridge was obviously destined for simple cameras at the lower end of the market. Nevertheless Rollei aimed for a high quality camera. A possibly not working prototype was showed in Singapore in 1973 but it took another two years for production cameras to show up in 1975.
Rollei 110 cameras
Rollei A 110
The Rollei A 110 camera is easy to handle. The cartridge makes film loading simple. A push-pull system is used for film transport and cocking the shutter. Film speed is automatically set for film rated at 19 - 21° DIN (ASA 64 - 100). The lens is a Rollei-made 4 element 2.8 Tessar. Fully automatic exposure. A first was automatic exposure with flash bulbs. The Silicon photo diode not only measures available light but also flash light making automatic fill-in flash possible. The original Rollei A 110 was not fit for recognising film of higher speeds. When Kodak announced ASA 400 film cartridges in 1976 on short notice, the camera needed a speedy upgrade.
Rollei E 110
The Rollei E 110 was a similar camera with slightly lower specifications. It has automatic exposure with only aperture priority based on pictograms and basic flash options. It had the same 2.8 Tessar lens as the A 110 and the ASA 400 option from the start. The camera was excellent value for money. Marketing reasons required a serious difference in price with the A 110 while specs (and production costs) were only slightly lower.
Rollei M 110
The Rollei M 110 was supposed to become a seriously less expensive camera. The camera did not have any form of electronic shutter, only two shutter speeds of 1/60 and 1/125 s. This project did not succeed. On the one hand Rollei aimed at using the same tools in order to prevent major investments but that meant producing the same costly high quality metal parts that were not going to make this camera significantly cheaper. Eventually this camera went not into production. It led to the development of the “plastic” Voigtländer Vitoret 110.