New T-shirts arrived

You would need to know something about using the Olympus Trip 35 to get why I like this T-shirt. I ordered 2 from a seller in the UK via eBay. :-D

New skin for an old Olympus Trip 35

I wish I thought to take a “before” photo.

Last year I purchased another Olympus Trip 35 for 2 reasons. The first reason was to replace the camera that had taken a hit and stopped working. The second reason is that I wanted to try to re-skin one. Since the replacement camera cost less than $40 on eBay why not?

No turning back now

Back in December I went online and ordered a Cobalt Kid Skin (Goat) for my camera from They have quality products but are really backed up. I received my order about 60 days later.

That’s not a complaint and I really am happy with what I received, but keep that in mind if you want to order from them.

Removing the old leatherette was not difficult and I started with the back. I pulled out my old Swiss army knife and began peeling the edge up in no time at all. Yes, yes I did.

Oh yeah, don’t do that. You’ll just scratch the metal underneath and tear the old cover. Instead use your thumbnail and lift up the edge. With a little effort it will come right off as long as you proceed slow and smoothly.

On the back I didn’t do that and later on I had to remove the scraps. The front pieces came cleanly off with just my fingers and some patience.

Applying the new skin was very simple and straight forward. I had originally gotten some Purell so that I could use the wet method but I eventually went with just applying the new cover directly on.

Future Film Camera enthusiast

It worked. The pieces lined up and I now have a Cobalt Blue colored Olympus Trip 35. Looks cool! My only concern is that I have 4 Olympus Trip 35 cameras lying around. But that’s alright for now.

Here’s a gallery of the newly re-covered camera.

I included a photo of my Nikon for size comparison. Compared to the compact camera it’s huge.

This was a fun thing to do and took hardly anytime at all. But unless one of my cameras gets broken (again!) odds are I won’t do this again soon.

Thrift shop find: Sunpak Auto 121C flash

MSN-001A1 Delta Plus Gundam figurine not included

I collect old parts for a junk pile cameras and today I found an old Sunpak Auto 121C flash at the thrift shop.

When it comes to cameras, the local thrift shop isn’t often a good place to go picking. They’re like a magnet for all sorts of broken junk, most of which are really cheap plastic 35mm toys.

Occasionally you will find some decent Olympus consumer film cameras, but that’s because they don’t know what they have. Once I even found a Olympus Trip 35 only it wasn’t passing the red flag test and looked like it needed a lot of work.

Today the kids and I were there and while they searched for inexpensive toys, I saw the flash. The batteries inside had leaked but somehow hadn’t corroded anything on the inside. It was $9 so I took a chance and took it home. Success! I put a fresh pair of double AA batteries and the flash fires.

Compared to modern camera flashes, it’s a simple no frills model. But my film cameras are at least 37 years old, so it’s exactly what I wanted. With a little elbow grease it cleaned up really well.

This was a good find. The flash is small and works so I plan to take it to get-togethers and shoot off at least one roll of film.

An example of film vs digital

Last weekend my family was having dinner at my in-laws, looking at photos from their recent trip to China, and having a good time. Since I knew there would be a lot of us there I took my cameras.

Here’s a photo I took with my DSLR  and no flash.

Nikon D300s, f/2.8, 30mm (45mm equivalent), 1/25 second, ISO 640

It’s a good capture and I’m shocked that a 1/25 second exposure worked out so well. My hands shake and that lens is not a stabilized version.

A few minutes after this someone asked why I wasn’t using my film camera. So I shot this next photo using my Olympus Trip 35 loaded with Fujifilm Superia 200 and also with no flash.

Olympus Trip 35, f/2.8, 40mm, 1/40 second, ISO 200

If I had thought about it, I would have set the D300s to 200 ISO! But this is still a good comparison. The film version is more grainy and, thanks to the lighting, a little underexposed. Here the Nikon clearly beats the Olympus film camera.

My DSLR takes awesome photos but next to the Olympus Trip 35 it’s a tank. My film camera is not small enough to go into my pocket but just the right size to go with me everywhere in my backpack or even outside coat pocket.

In the year that I’ve been shooting with film I’ve shared 500+ photos on Flickr and I won’t get tired of it anytime soon. But it’s good to know my DSLR really is a better camera than the one I purchased via eBay.

It ought to be better, that film camera was manufactured in 1975.

Ilford XP2 Super 400

One of the appeals of shooting film is black and white photography. It’s the other side of the coin for color photos and somehow it tells a slightly different story. There are some really good fine grain films out there such as Kodak Tri-X 400, Ilford Delta 400 Professional, and Fujifilm Neopan 400 Professional. I’ve used Tri-X 400 before and the results were attractive.

The problem is, these films are not developed using the C-41 process. That’s the film development system/chemistry that most consumer color films use. It’s what is used to develop film at Costco via their big automated developer and printer.

To get those B&W films developed I have to use a lab in Manhattan and they’re not cheap. At Costco development with DVD but no prints costs about $5 a roll. At the lab it’s closer to $10 and the DVD has lower resolution images.

I shoot a lot of film. Costco wins.

That’s where films like Ilford XP2 Super 400 comes in. It’s a B&W film meant for C-41 so I can take it to get developed and scanned cheaply. I ordered 3 rolls from Amazon and here’s samples from the first roll.

I like the look. I can get better detail, resolution, and less noise (grain) from any of my digital cameras but shooting with my Olympus Trip 35 is a joy.

This weekend we’re celebrating Christmas at my brother Ed’s place so I plan to use at least one roll there. My sister-in-law keeps a beautiful house and there’s going to be lots of images for me to capture.

Another Olympus Trip 35 for me

Camera 360

Back in March 2011 I started taking photos with my newly acquired Olympus Trip 35 cameras. Since then I’ve taken hundreds of photos with them and even went to China with them.

In China I gave one of them to my wife’s cousin and he takes excellent photos with it. I kept the Tripman one and the oldest one is safely put away in the basement.

I broke the Tripman one. I had it in my bag last week and put the bag down hard. As soon as I did it I thought that’s it and I was right. The shutter is no longer working and the inside has something rattling around that I can’t locate. Taking it apart didn’t help and after a while I gave up.

So I went to plan B and ordered a replacement from Tripman and another one from an eBay seller. I’m back to having three functional cameras. The new Tripman arrived today and I’m planning on taking lots of photos this afternoon.

The eBay one came Wednesday and I’ve already shot a roll with it. If there are no light leaks and the photos are okay, then I plan to strip the leatherette and put on a different one. I’ll let the kids decide which color.

Once again, anyone considering a film camera should take a chance with eBay and get one. Thanks to eBay sellers I now have two working ones and each one cost me less that $40 each including shipping. The Tripman version is more money, but I got that one because it just works, has a warranty, and is really in great condition.

If you don’t mind spending a little more then you just can’t go wrong with Tripman. They’re great reconditioned models and they ship quickly.

As for the broken one, I’ve sent an email to Streetshooter in the UK to see what the backlog on his services are. Just because I can’t fix it doesn’t mean I want to leave it broken.

Olympus Trip 35 manual on Scribd

While perusing blog posts about the camera, I came across a really good scan of the Olympus Trip 35 manual on Scribd.

I got my manual from Trip Man for “why not?” but the online version is very handy.

Click on the view in full screen button to make it really readable. You can also download the scan as a PDF.

As an aside, embedding oEmbed content in WordPress is so easy to do.

More Film Photography


My playing with film cameras continues! But it’s not out of hand yet. I now have the following film camera equipment:

  1. Three Olympus Trip 35 (1 from TripMan)
  2. Olympus PS-200 flash
  3. Canon Canonet GIII QL17 coupled rangefinder
  4. Canon Canolite D flash

The kids and I shoot with the Olympus Trip 35s and its great fun. Except for the one from TripMan, it all came from sellers on eBay.

You develop film?

At this time I don’t have any urge to develop my own film myself. It’s just so easy to develop the film at Costco.

My routine is to shoot rolls during the week and then Lily takes them to Costco for development on the weekend. A roll of 24 exposures costs less than $5 with just the CD of the film scans. I also picked up an Epson Artisan 725 and print out what I want on glossy photo paper.

The film was purchased via an Amazon seller and I got 12 rolls of a mix of 200, 400, and 800 ISO speed Fuji Superia. The Costco scans are not bad and I generally don’t do any editing at all. I put a roll of 400 in one of the Trips and put it in my backpack. When the mood strikes me I take photos.

Here is a sample of what I’ve taken already, you can see more via my Flickr account.

Film is better than digital!

Okay, film is not better than digital. But it is different, and it’s tough for me to describe the difference.  On my digital cameras I shoot hundreds of photos. With film I’m conscious of the 24  limit and (generally) think before I shoot. When I get the photos back I do very little if any Photoshop work. I like the way the film comes out.

Could I get the same or better results using a DSLR? Absolutely. I’m proud of the digital photos I’ve already taken and will continue to use my Nikon. But film is less instant satisfaction and more planning. When I get back the CD of the roll I shot days ago, I rush to the computer, pick out what I like and upload to Flickr.

But why pick up a rangefinder?

I picked up the Canonet because rangefinders are cool and slick metal camera opens up to f/1.7 and I can shoot 800 film on it.

With the Canolite D flash, the rangefinder adjusts the aperture bases on focus distance. Nearer focus means stepping down to f/16; farther out mean opening the aperture to f/2.8. For a 1972 camera design that’s pretty cool! I ordered a Wein MRB625 replacement battery and I’m good to go. The light metering is good.

The Canonet is fun and cool but the Trip 35 is a better all around street shooter. You set the focus to infinity and just shoot. No battery to worry about, just keep it in your bag and go. I do use the Canonet but the Trip is my favorite and I take it with me everyday to work.

Try it!

My advice to anyone who has a digital camera is to try film. It’s really easy to do, just go onto eBay and bid for a Olympus Trip 35. Don’t bid more than $50 (that’s too much) because there are a lot of Olympus Trip 35s out there.

But do get your battery free camera, load up some 400 film and start shooting. You’ll have great fun with the results.

A short photo walk

I took my Olympus Trip 35 on a short stroll this morning and had the film developed near work. I like the results and shot another roll around lunch time.

It’s an easy camera to have on you and fits in my coat pocket pretty easily. It’s a little on the heavy side but not too much so. I’ll probably get a pouch for it so I can just toss it in my back pack.

These samples were from the CD I received when I developed the roll. All I did was re-size them but this gives a good idea of what this little camera can do.

More photos on the way; I develop the afternoon roll at Costco tomorrow. I still am trying to get the knack of zone focusing. The photos are good and look fantastic on glossy paper, but I want to work on getting sharper results for nearby subjects.

No Batteries Required


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.