5 frames with...

5 Frames with the Olympus 35RC – by Barry Carr

February 14, 2019

Last year, I started collecting Olympus rangefinder cameras from the 60’s and 70’s. I’m after a 35RC, a 35RD, and a 35SP. So far, I have an RC and an RD. SP’s are harder to come by and quite expensive. RCs tend to be the cheapest so, I got one of the those first.

Spec wise, the Olympus 35RC is typical of this type of small, fixed lens rangefinder camera. It has a 40mm f/2.8 Zuiko lens; a 1/500 max leaf shutter; a max ISO of 400 and a shutter priority auto mode. The built-in light meter only works in auto-mode. The build quality is excellent, and the camera feels good and solid in your hands. Its small, not Rollei 35 small, but small enough. I carry mine in the back pocket of my jeans, I just have to careful how I sit down.

The Olympus 35RC viewfinder is nice and bright with an accurate parallax frame that has a shutter speed scale at its top and an aperture scale at its bottom. The rangefinder patch is a bit on the small side and mine isn’t very distinct – having said that, none of the shots on my first roll were out of focus so, it can’t be that bad.

The Olympus 35RC is a fun little camera to use and I’m really pleased with the results. The lens is sharp and quite contrasty, although it does seem to vignette a little – which, I think, only adds to its charm. These shots were taken with Kodak ColorPlus 200, a film I’ve never shot before. I love the vibrancy of its colours; plus, it also has the added bonus of being the only colour film I can buy over the counter, here, in Dundee.


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  • Reply
    February 14, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    I love my Olympus 35RC. It sure is not as small as my Olympus XA, but it is more enjoyable to use when I get to use it. Most of the days, it loses to the XA as this latter fits easier in clothing.

  • Reply
    Barry Reid
    February 14, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Nice to see the McManus Galleries representing Dundee rather than the V&A!

    Enjoy the RC & RD and don’t worry too much about the SP. The dirty little secret with these Olympus RFs is that the ‘ultimate’ 35SP may have a form of spot meter and slightly better lens but for day to day use (IMHO) the SP isn’t worth the price premium as it is larger, heavier and less fun* than it’s siblings. The fun goes out of the camera in large part because the VF information is in EVs so you don’t necessarily know the shutter/aperture combo. My personal fave is the 35DC which is fully auto – like a Trip on Steroids – but the finder tells you the speed and aperture it has selected.

    • Reply
      Calum Davey
      February 15, 2019 at 9:28 am

      I completely agree with Barry (and Julian, below) — I had an SP that I hoped would be my ‘final’ camera, the one to rule them all etc, but as Barry says it’s just not very fun to use; it’s big, feels clumsy, the spot meter never gets used (I suppose that’s not its fault, but not a plus), quite noisy without being very satisfying, and with a perplexing (at first) EV system. In contrast, the RC is just great. I agree with Julian that the SP can be nice for more considered stuff, but I think there’s better (cheaper, easier to find) cameras for that

    • Reply
      Howard Dale
      March 3, 2019 at 1:43 am

      I have a Minolta Hi-Matic 9, which also shows only EV values in the viewfinder. Although in many ways I like the camera I find it hard to get past the lack of aperture and/or shutter speed information.

  • Reply
    Julian Higgs
    February 14, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    I sort of agree with Barry above, I have other the RC and SP. I much perigee the RC for street shooting. Small, almost silent and a great lens. The SP is heavier and has a loud shutter, by comparison, and the EV exposure system makes things more fiddly to use manually, but once you get used to it and take the time to shoot, it works well. I prefer the SP for more considered shooting. Both are great, but for different things. I shoot the RC more though. 😉

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