steam train
Compact Photographers

35mm Compact Photographer #1 – Stewart Duffy – A Trip 35 man

July 20, 2013

Firstly, I would like to thank Stewart for taking part and becoming the first (of hopefully many) “35mm Compact Fanatic”! Stewart, this is everything I could have hoped for, thank you for taking the time and getting the answers back to me so quickly!

First, a bit of background? As much or as little as you are comfortable sharing… Name, Where you are from, what you do, What else in life do you enjoy? that sort of thing? says most about me. Other than that, I do enjoy travelling about, especially to historic sites and properties or those monumental things I’ve always wanted to see as a kid – anywhere from Stonehenge to the Golden Gate Bridge. Favourite place of all, for both photography and to satisfy my interest in historical places and architecture, is London.

How long have you been taking photos?

28 years

What sort of photography do you enjoy or partake in the most (street, landscape, etc)

Used to do all sorts, including travel, a little bit of documentary (anti-war protests, environmental), some landscape, and now mostly just ‘street’ photography, which I find the most difficult but equally the most fun!

How big a part of your photography life are 35mm compact cameras?

VERY big. Hence my business refurbishing the classic Olympus Trip 35, and the (attempted at least!) integration of that with my love now of street photography. See,,, – all my websites.
I have always liked using small 35 compacts, and have used, amongst others, Nikon (AW35), Canon (AF-7), Pentax (various zoom models) and Ricoh (FF-9s). My main ones were always the Trip 35 and I found myself always coming back to this camera. I currently own and use two, including the oldest known example (at least amongst us ‘Trippers’, e.g. see the Trip 35 group on Flickr, where I’m an administrator) from 1967 – serial number 100372!

What about the experience of shooting with them appeals to you?

I am more comfortable using bright line frame direct vision viewfinders rather than SLR viewfinders, I like portability (important for me especially now as I become more of a ‘street’ photographer) and the image quality from most I’ve used has been adequate for my needs. I have mostly used fixed focal length compacts, and found that even the 3-element lenses (e.g. on the Nikons) yield lovely (enough) results, especially if combined with a premium quality film such as Fuji superia 200.

Do you feel they have effected your style? become part of it? or are the reason for it…?

From the outset, I have found that a compact 35 has been almost like a body part, as opposed to an SLR camera (and inevitably accompanying ‘gear bag’) being somewhat of a burden and something I want to take away from my body and leave behind. I can say that compact 35s allow me a much greater freedom to picture the world around me whenever and wherever I want, and I’m always ready for a shot. With the Trip 35 camera, I’m even more ready, as it’s a ‘passive’ machine such that it doesn’t ‘do’ anything at all unless you – the photographer – make it do something. There are no electronically driven ‘activities’ happening of their own accord, save for the ‘A’ mode doing its thing exposure-wise. Even with AF compacts, you have to half press the shutter button, and then trust that the AF system gets the lens focused quickly and accurately enough on whatever your subject is. With the Trip 35, you just lift camera to eye and click – nothing to wait for or fear won’t work as intended! I have become so used to this at this stage that I would feel naked without it – and this if you like is the way the camera itself has allowed me to create images out there in the big wide world – ‘on the streets’.

Which is/are your favourite cameras? the one/s that go with you the most?

See above re. Olympus Trip 35!

What is it specifically about these cameras that appeal to you so much?

See anything relevant already stated above, but the viewfinders are key (bright line frame, can see outside the frame, brighter experience in general compared to SLR finders – and easier to live with as a spectacles wearer!).

What was the path to this shooting habit? How did you discover it appealed to you?

Compact 35s with bright line frame finders really appealed to me from very early on in my photographic life (my first ever camera was a Hanimex 35 AF), and this initial experience prompted me to decide on the compact with bright line frame finder to go back to from subsequent SLRs and eventually use pretty much all the time. I discovered that the Trip 35 was the one for me in the end, and have been shooting with those for over 10 years now.

Show us your favourite/best image/s taken with a compact camera?

I’ve just begun putting my first themed gallery together on my website. Some of those shots were taken with compact 35s, as follows (from the top down):

steam train
Steam train, Blaenavon, Wales 2010 – Nikon AW35;

london england
London, England 2009 – Olympus Trip 35;

Embrasing couple by stuart duffy
Embracing couple (silhouette), Cardiff, Wales 2008 – Olympus Trip 35;

all the photos from Dublin, Ireland 2008 or Dun Laoghaire, Ireland 2008 were taken with the Olympus Trip 35;

What films do you shoot with and why?

Currently, I use Agfa Vista 200 colour negative film. Have always loved colour prints and I continuously maintain that there is no real substitute for a physical print in your hand (or on the wall) which came from a film emulsion. I’ve been through the whole ‘digital’ experience and just don’t get on with it, even though I’ve made some successful images from it. I feel that transparency film lends itself better to what I used to do with an SLR camera with finer exposure control (mostly for landscapes, which I don’t do so much of anymore). I really just don’t need anything else. Why Agfa Vista 200? I get them for £1 down my local Poundland! Well, also partly because I nearly always shoot 200 ASA as I find it is a good compromise between quality and having the depth of field I need from the resulting aperture values when shooting a zone focus Trip 35! I’ll occasionally shoot 400 ASA in the darker months, if I can get any for a good price.

How, where, why do you process and or print your photos?

Used to always be Jessops here in the UK (or its nearest equivalent back home in Ireland prior to 2009), but my next batch is now going to have to be sent somewhere by post as my local Jessops is no more and the only one place left is way overpriced. I tend to amass anything upwards of 10 rolls of film before I send them away for developing, and my ‘shot count’ over the past months has amounted to about that many rolls – not much by most film shooter standards perhaps, but I try to be as economical as possible, and I don’t ‘machine gun’!

What other cameras/type of camera do you regularly shoot with and why – what situations require something else/more if any?

I still hang on to an SLR or two, as I always want something like that around if I run out of steam inspiration-wise for my street photography, and fancy the odd outing where it’s ‘historical architecture’ or a ‘scape’ of some sort – anything where I don’t need to be quick or I need to set up a shot with a tripod!

For photos, please see the above-mentioned websites, including the website for purely ‘Olympus Trip 35’ images.

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