Experience report

Shooting with Olympus Trip 35

A small, well-built, easy-to-use point-and-shoot cameras from 60’s and 70’s, with a sharp lens but a light meter that is a bit off. If you want a film camera in your pocket, and you don’t like plastic, then this might be the answer. But they are not so robust as they look like.

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Basics

Produced from 1967 to 1984. My copy shown in the photo below is from December 1981.

Impression and experience

I have owned three Olympus Trip 35 cameras. I have paid almost nothing for them, and did not expect to use them. They came with various camera lots I bought. It seems like all homes have one of these cameras in their loft. I did not know much about them when I got them, but after having read some articles and reviews (see below for some links), and getting to know the Trip 35 cult, I decided to try to shoot with one of them.

As my first test roll I used Agfa Vista plus 200, the first one of the type I had ever used, and developed at home. The photos came out not as appealing as I was expecting based on the reviews I read. Colors are a bit off (might be because the film is not familiar to me), but almost all the photos were sharp. A couple of them are out-of-focus because I forgot to set the focus zone. Zone focusing unusual for me, and the viewfinder does not give much indication (a small window shows the focus icon in the lower-right corner of the viewfinder). Some of the photos are almost as nice as the photos I take with my Minolta Hi-Matic 7s. I also took one of my Trips to a trip to Cuba during our summer vacation in 2018. I put an Ektar 100 in it, but did not have much opportunity to shoot with it. The colors were much more pleasant with Ektar.

I need to read a bit more about the camera. In particular I want to give it a try with a black-and-white film, and use the manual aperture that is meant for flash photography. As I understand, the camera switches to 1/40 of a second when put on manual focus. So one should be able to use the camera in shutter priority with fixed 1/40 and a range of appertures.

The camera has good feel to it. I particularly like the film advance wheel which is nicer than levers you find in almost all other cameras (my Olympus XA3 is an  exception since it also has a wheel). The camera is very quiet and discrete. It is easy to shoot with it, as it invites you to use it.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Small, fits in a pocket. Though not as small as my XA3.
  • Well-built, almost all metal.
  • Few buttons and adjustments. Automatic mode is really point-and-shoot.
  • It prevents under- and overexposure with the “red flag” in auto mode. To bypass this you need to switch to flash/manual mode.
  • No battery needed (though light meter might get worn, use lens cap all the time!)
  • Light meter inside lens filter area so camera compensates for any filters you put on.
  • Film advance is a wheel, actually allows for easier operation than lever-based.
  • Good quality lens (but not exceptional).
  • Good bright viewfinder.
  • Stylish in my opinion, but not as stylish as Minolta rangefinders.

Cons:

  • Zone focusing with too discrete indication in the viewfinder, led me to take several photos with wrong focus zone. I guess it needs getting used to (my Olympus XA3 also uses zone focusing but it has a smart “back to default” function that reduces errors).
  • A bit too simplified operation for my taste. It is really point-and-shoot. You can supposedly use other apertures than A with shutter automatically set to 1/40, but I have not tried it.
  • Lens takes 43.5mm filters, not very standard. Although they don’t cost much on eBay. I also bought a couple of step-up rings but have not used the camera with filters yet.
  • They are not so robust. Two of my cameras had very loose ISO and focus rings. One of them stopped working. The other I have to be careful with ISO setting. Also the filter ring is fragile and can easily get bended. Maybe a good idea to have a UV filter on all the time to also protect the filter ring.

Accessories

  • Filter: 43.5 mm, not a standard size.
  • Cap: 43.5 Trip or Pen cap.
  • Case: both pouch and hard leader eveready cases. I have bought a hard case for mine.
  • I also have a close-up lens that I need to use. It reduces close focus range.

Other reviews and resources

  • Too many to collect here. Do a search.

Sample photos

olympus-trip-35

Verdict

  • Keeper (not because of the camera itself but because it is a cult object!). I have sold two of my three and have kept the one with the black shutter button (as shown in the photo above). It is the latest model and can theoretically last longer.

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