5 Frames with an Olympus Trip 35

My experiences with a little star of the 60's, but what's the verdict?...

3 months ago

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Olympus Trip 35

The Olympus Trip 35 is a tiny 'point-and-shoot' viewfinder camera first made in 1967 that, due to its popularity, stayed in production until 1984. It was designed for the amateur, which is reflected in how simple it is and how easy it is to use. It has a fixed 40mm f/2.8 lens, which is zone-focused using either the symbols on the top of the focus ring (visible in the viewfinder via a 'Judas' window) or by a distance scale on the bottom (1m, 1.5m, 3m, Infinity). In 'A' mode it's a 'program' camera: it picks an aperture for you and then selects from one of its two shutter speeds: 1/40s or 1/200s. If a workable combination of shutter speed and aperture can't be found then a red flag is raised in the viewfinder and it won't fire. You can get around this by setting the aperture manually, but this fixes the shutter speed at 1/40s and it's up to you to use a external meter to pick an aperture (or guess!), as this mode was intended for use only with a flash. Thanks to a selenium photocell-based meter, it doesn't even need a battery.

So, what's it like to use? Honestly: not that exciting or satisfying. Focusing is a guessing game, the success of which is based on your ability to judge distances and, even if you get this right, you are at the mercy of the camera where depth of field is concerned. I also quickly got fed up with the red flag raising in low(ish) light conditions, even when loaded with ISO400 film.

However, all of the above criticism is highly unfair. All of my gripes are symptoms of the cameras simplicity (precisely the thing that made it popular) and my experience with other more capable and, thus, more complicated cameras. This thing was designed to quickly and easily take snaps of the family at the beach once a year, not do moody shots with bubbly bokeh and artistic lens flare.

So, what's it really like to use? Easy! Set the thing to focus at 3m, wind on the film and push the shutter button. If the lights good, you've got your shot and you move on. If the lights bad, you obey the God of the red flag and move on anyway. It's also small and light, so you can stick it in your coat pocket or bag and forget about it until opportunity presents itself.

Finally, some pictures! Last September (2018), I loaded up a 36 exposure roll of Fuji Superia 400 X-Tra and headed off for a long weekend in Lisbon, Portugal. This was not the only camera I took with me, but I did find myself keeping it handy and using it more often than I expected. The results are pretty good; not always the best focus, not always the aperture I would have liked, but that's not the point!

"Lisbon Rooftops", Olympus Trip 35, Fuji Superia 400 X-Tra
"Late Night Lisbon", Olympus Trip 35, f/2.8 (manually set), 1/40s, Fuji Superia 400 X-Tra
"Tiles for Sale", Olympus Trip 35, Fuji Superia 400 X-Tra
"Beer & Conversation", Olympus Trip 35, Fuji Superia 400 X-Tra
"Paper Birds", Olympus Trip 35, Fuji Superia 400 X-Tra

Just for completeness: this roll of film was developed by Ag Photolab and then digitised by me using a Jessops Zoom Slide Duplicator tube on my Sony Alpha7 Mk.II.

The full album of pictures taken with this camera can be found on my website: https://www.jazzycamel.photography/Olympus-Trip-35/.

Rob Kent

Published 3 months ago

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