In Praise Of The Olympus Trip

I like simplicity and elegance, and a small 35mm camera has this in abundance – the Olympus Trip.

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The front showing the photo cells arranged around the lens – very pretty – and not much else but the viewfinder.

It was designed as a small, completely self-sufficient travel camera – no batteries are needed – only film (think about that for a second). Exposure is determined by the selenium photo cells around the lens which, in conjunction with the ‘power of your finger’ depressing the shutter, opens the square aperture to the required value. The reading is an averaged across the frame reading but in conjunction with print film’s exposure latitude usually gets the job done. The only exposure mode is program mode (‘P’ in modern parlance), with a shutter speed of 1/40th or 1/200th of a second and an aperture range of  f/2.8-f22.

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Top Plate – film counter, film rewind crank and flash connection. The aperture markings are for flash photography or somewhat random manual exposure. The focus zones can be seen on the top of the lens.

It was a barnstorming success – 10 million produced during the production run!

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The back – don’t get too excited! The viewfinder and the film advance wheel to the right top.

Light, easily fitting into a coat pocket and all metal bodied with a sharp and contrasty 40mm Zuiko lens it has only a zone focus control, a circular film winder at the back and the shutter release as controls. It looks like a rangefinder but isn’t.

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The film speed setting can be seen on the top left of the lens. It runs from 25 to 400 ISO on this later example. Not bad – Kodachrome 25 to Tri X/HP5 at ISO 400!

Just in case you forget the focus distances, they’re engraved on the bottom of the lens.

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Results – very good indeed! This was taken yesterday, dust spots removed and given some slight post processing in DXO filmpack.

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I always seem to use way more film with this camera – it’s a really simple camera which just encourages you to shoot more. Several places in the UK offer customised and refurbished models, the customisations usually being some bright fashion leatherette covering if you’re into that sort of thing.

It’s also a full frame 35mm camera – so the output images can be scanned to 20 Mp or even more with an appropriate scanner and film.

Disadvantages

If you’re a filter user, the size is 43.5mm – what on earth made Olympus choose this as they always were difficult to come by?

Best by far to buy a refurbished one as I did as these are old cameras – 1967 to 1984!

For long term care try and keep the lens cap on, preserving the exposure meter cells.

The shutter sounds a bit ‘clunky’ by modern standards and even by the standards of 30 years ago.

Strongly backlit scenes are a problem – the metering is very basic. To avoid underexposure against bright skies it’s possible to point the camera downwards and depress the shutter until it almost fires, then recompose the shot. Either that or mess around with the film speed setting.

Summary

All in all a brilliant piece of electro-mechanical technology. Self sufficient (apart from needing film), producing some excellent results. A much better buy than most old 35mm compacts or some of the cheap plastic cameras which seem popular at the moment. Costs are £10 for the cheapest to £50 for a refurbushed/customised example.

A great camera for a street shooter, someone who likes simplicity or just someone who likes to travel light. As it needs no batteries it’s also a very handy backup camera.

Hope you find this useful – for a bit of fun, I’ll do a comparison between a Trip and a modern compact soon.

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