The Olympus Trip 35 is a 35mm viewfinder camera that provides fully automatic exposure without the need of battery. Its programmed exposure system, which automatically sets the appropriate aperture value and selects one of the two available shutter speeds (1/40, 1/200 seconds), is powered by the selenium cell of the camera’s light meter. This little battery-less viewfinder was designed with the intension of providing an inexpensive and simple yet reliable and high image quality camera for people on vacations (hence its name “Trip”).
The major highlight of the Trip 35, besides its battery-less operation, is its D. Zuiko 40mm f2.8 lens. The lens is claimed by many to be very sharp. I believe it is due to the proven 4-element/3-group Tessar-type design. Also, it is quite unusual for an entry-level camera to have such a high quality lens (for your reference, the economical model Rollei 35B only has a 3-element Trioter lens instead of the 4-element Tessar of its higher-end siblings). Although I believe in overall pictorial value of an image rather than its pixel-level sharpness, I did run a little “sharpness test” on this D. Zuiko 40mm out of the curiosity from its praises on the Internet:
The above is a 100% crop from a 300dpi 10×16″ image which itself was resized and resampled from a 2400dpi 35mm film scan. The film used is Fujifilm XTRA400 and lens was probably stopped down to about f/16 (guessed by the weather on that day and the Sunny 16 rule). I am not sure about other people but for me, the above is more than enough for any vacation shots and carry-around street photography. Below is the whole frame of the original image:
The Trip 35 uses a zone focus system of 4 distance zones: Infinity (mountains), 3m(family), 1.5m(2 people) and 1m(single person). The distance zone selected combined with aperture setting are both visible on the lower right corner in the viewfinder through a little window (see photo below, the window behind the aperture setting “A”). For people who are more comfortable with numbers, the corresponding meters/feet are on the “other side” of the focus ring visible from the bottom.
The production run of the Trip 35 lasted from 1967 to 1984 (a span of 17 years!) and beside the chrome model shown in the photos, there is also a much rarer black model which is highly desired by many of the Trip fans (including me, anyone has one for sale at a good price?). Besides, you will also see Trip 35’s with black plastic shutter button and those are from the late production years (any body know starting from when please leave a comment, thanks!).
Below are two more sample photos taken with the Trip 35 loaded with a roll of Kodak Ektar 100:
The Story behind My Olympus Trip 35…
After I read about the Trip 35 on the Internet, I had been looking for one for quite a while. I missed several chances (both due to price, condition and need) before I finally bought this one from a local collector. At the time of purchase, it is in working condition but cosmetically it is not very nice. I then cleaned up the whole camera, restored some of the cosmetic damages and replaced the light-seals. However, the main problem was I could not find a UV filter for it since the Trip 35 (plus some other Olympus compact rangefinders) uses an obsolete filter size of 43.5mm. Although there are still shops on the Internet which I can buy a 43.5mm UV filter (some even sell colored ones) or a 43.5-46mm stepping ring, but these shops are all out of the country and getting them would cost way more than what I paid for the Trip 35 itself. Finally, I found one (the ONLY one) from the clearance bin of a local camera shop so that I can now carry the Trip 35 around without the fear of damaging its nice sharp lens and getting moisture into the selenium meter cell.
Status: In Collection