No Batteries Required

olympus-trip-35

This started with my looking for a good compact digital camera with a viewfinder. As a result I bought a film compact camera that was manufactured in 1972.

I prefer cameras with a viewfinder because I take better photos when I hold the camera close to my face (my arms shake). There are several good digital candidates such as the Canon G11/G12 or even the Nikon P7000. But they’re also not inexpensive and I already have a fine DSLR that I take hundreds of photos with.

Why not go back to film? I hadn’t even owned a film camera since 1997. So I started looking on eBay and Flickr and was inspired by the cult following that the Olympus Trip 35 has created.

About the Olympus Trip 35

The Olympus Trip 35 was sold between 1968 and 1984. It’s been reported that ten million units were sold, but that’s questionable since that number may have included other Trip models. Serial numbers shared online never seem to reach 6 million.

Less than 6 million is a respectable number. But what I find amazing is that virtually the same model was sold for 16 years. Today that’s unheard of for a consumer product to be left alone with just minor internal production changes.

The Trip 35 has 4 zone focusing at 1 meter, 1.5 meters, 3 meters, and infinity and takes a 43.5mm filter size. You guess the approximate range and set the focus accordingly.

This camera does not use batteries. The light meter is a selenium cell that moves a needle. That movement determines the aperture size and shutter speed. You can read up on this at the top of this web page and see the light meter in action at this YouTube video.

It’s a solid camera made out of metal and has some weight. It’s not bulky and it feels comfortable to use.

So you bought one?

I ordered 3 and there is a method to my madness.

The first one I ordered was from Paul Lamb’s Trip Man website in the UK. This company obtains these cameras, refurbishes them, and puts on a replacement for the original leatherette. They have a selection of colors, textures, and accessories.

This is a good buy because the camera comes with a 6 month warranty. This is not a modern SLR that you can get serviced anywhere. While I am not mechanically clueless, I want to be able to enjoy the camera without replacing the light seals or un-sticking the aperture blades. Trip Man has earned a good reputation and many people recommend him. I had made a small mistake with my order and this was responded to very quickly and satisfactorily.

If you want to buy a Olympus Trip 35 that just works, then get one from Trip Man.

The second Trip 35 was from eBay and sold as-is. That one arrived first (pictured above) and I bought it with the intention making repairs, replacing the light seals and leatherette.

The purchase was inexpensive and came with a strap, original leather bag, and original lens cap. This camera was going to be my experiment in stripping the old leatherette and possibly take apart and clean the aperture blades. See this link for a great step-by-step with photos for taking apart one of these cameras.

A great plan except this second camera is apparently perfect! The camera is in wonderful condition and only needs replacement light seals for the film chamber and possibly a little cleaning of the view finder.

I shot a roll of Kodak ISO 400 and will get it developed tomorrow. If the exposures are mostly good then I’ll leave this one alone and just replace those seals. Stripping the leatherette would feel like tossing a rock though a window. I may do it sometime, but not this month.

And my third camera from eBay? I want one that works but has not been refurbished. Call this one my reference model, it’s a late version with a black button. A quick bid and I have another one on the way.

So, what next?

Now I take pictures. Lily and I use Costco which not only develops 35mm film but for about $3 more you can get a DVD with scans of your film. Near where I work are a couple of labs that a friend recommends. Film is not dead yet, it’s just hibernating.

At this time I’m not interested in developing my own film. That may change but I’m more interested in improving my photography.

This is a 1970’s era viewfinder camera. While the exposure and aperture are automatic, you have to think before take the photo. When I use the DSLR I intentionally shoot hundreds of photos and cherry pick the best ones. Those end up on Flickr.

I am hoping that by using this film camera that I’ll learn for compose my shots better. Not just point and click but plan my shots. I’ll still waste film, but the ones that I like will be posted online.

2 Replies to “No Batteries Required”

  1. I’m so glad that you joined our cult. Bwaa ha ha. Connect with the community on Flickr and please submit your best work to my Trip 35 Blog. Welcome to the cult. I think you’ll like it here.

    1. So far so good! I’ve already began sharing some of my snaps on the Flickr group.

      It’s a fun camera; I just need to get another case for mine. The original Olympus leather bag is a little worn out.

      If I have a picture that’s particularly good (hey, it could happen) I’ll submit it to your blog.

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