5 Frames With a Trip 35 – A Brace of Olympi Pt. 2

By Peter Roberts

Olympus compacts seemed to have been like London buses for a while round our way. No sooner had I caught the XA2 than it was closely followed by a Trip 35 at the same charity shop. As with the XA2 it was in pretty good cosmetic condition and was complete with pouch and instructions. Remembered from before as having an interest in old cameras I gave answers to the usual questions – Yes. You can still get film – No, it doesn’t have to be expensive – I get a lot of fun and satisfaction out of film photography. You know the sort of thing.

Having survived the third degree I was allowed to pay my fare and depart with the Trip. But not before promising to come back and show the results of running a film through it.

That was in the morning. In the afternoon, in spite of the iffy weather and Josie’s pessimistic prediction that it was going to rain, it was off to Greenwich again. This time with a Trip loaded with the second roll of Kentmere 400. Same destination but a different route. The XA2 took me there from the east and the Trip from the south, but like Old Father Thames, they both got there just the same.

By Way of a Brief Introduction

While we make our way, what can I possibly say about this camera that hasn’t been said before? Not a lot. It is, to use an over- and misused word, iconic. Thanks to an intensive advertising campaign featuring you-know-who the name, if not the camera itself, became well known to Joe Public of a certain age. Such is the power of advertising that yes, that was mentioned, and the advert even quoted, as part of the conversation in the charity shop.

Popular in its time with those who had been persuaded that they needed something better than an Instamatic does it still live up to its perceived reputation? Let’s find out.

The 5 Frames

In keeping with the camera’s name and implicit purpose we’ll start by being a bit touristy. Following the route through the Park I always take when showing visitors Greenwich for the first time the view from the top of Observatory Hill never fails to impress. It certainly has the wow factor and may well be known as one of the sights of London even to those who haven’t visited.

From the viewpoint, Observatory Hill

Down the hill and into the depths of the Old Naval College you can find a couple of parade grounds. These are laid out to give the impression of a man-of-war’s maindeck with a raised quarterdeck for the reviewing officers. Strangely, they don’t seem to attract the attention of many tourists. In this one the frieze above the ‘quarterdeck’ depicts the death of Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Death of Nelson

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just need to check on something. Just as I expected, still no-one in, just the reflections of the opposite side of the courtyard.

Still no-one there

Along the riverfront to the Cutty Sark and Josie has been proved right, of course. It’s starting to rain but that’s not stopping the traditional fun.

British Summer Time

Back through town for the bus home and the only sunshine of the afternoon caught the mosaic floor of what was Burton’s gentlemen’s outfitters. It is now a restaurant but as the building is locally listed it still retains some its original exterior features.

“Suits you, sir”

Comparisons and Conclusion

Given that I don’t think of Kentmere 400 as a particularly contrasty film and the fact that it was a pretty murky day I was struck by the performance of the Trip’s 40mm lens unaided by the addition of a yellow filter. In fairness, the XA2’s 35mm was no slouch in this respect either. In fact both cameras proved to be far more capable image capturers than I expected. Both punch above their weight and deserve to be considered as much more than mere snapshooters.

From a personal point of view (literally) the Trip’s viewfinder is a little on the small side for my bespectacled eye. Although a smaller camera, XA2’s is slightly, but not much, larger. On the subject of viewfinders, in the Trip’s a red flag pops up and locks the shutter when a slower speed than 1/40 would be required. In the XA2’s on the other hand, a green diode lights when a speed of 1/30 or slower, down to 2 secs. Has been chosen. So far so good, if confusingly so. But then consider this: while both cameras have a tripod socket the Trip has provision for a cable release whereas the XA2 doesn’t. I’m sure there must be logic in this, just not as I know it.

None of that of course prevents either camera being great fun to use. They both come with the added benefit of being unobtrusive and unthreatening. I quickly realised that no notice was taken of me, or if it was that I was dismissed as just an old fart snapping away with an old camera. An astute verdict that I’m quite happy to live with.

I kept my promise and showed the results, none of which have been tinkered with apart from minor cropping, to the good folk in the charity shop. As I left I overheard the remark, “I do like black and white photographs”. A fitting conclusion, I think.

Again, thanks for reading.

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About The Author

By Peter Roberts
Recently retired railwayman with a lifelong interest in all things photographic. A self-professed saddo: other interests include classic cars and model railways.
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Peter Roberts on 5 Frames With a Trip 35 – A Brace of Olympi Pt. 2

Comment posted: 31/12/2023

If it does it might cure my GAS!
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Tim Wainwright on 5 Frames With a Trip 35 – A Brace of Olympi Pt. 2

Comment posted: 21/12/2023

Lovely set of pictures Peter and a captivating article - thanks for sharing.
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Peter Roberts replied:

Comment posted: 21/12/2023

Thanks Tim.

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mike tynan on 5 Frames With a Trip 35 – A Brace of Olympi Pt. 2

Comment posted: 20/12/2023

cable release vs no cable release logic....maybe the logic was the xa has a shutter release delay timer (tripod socket and steadying foot as well ) and the Trip has a cable release.....each system can be useful when longer exposures are required. and to a lesser extent, for the XA, carrying a cable along interferes the portability-pocketability concept....
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Peter Roberts replied:

Comment posted: 20/12/2023

Thanks for your thoughts Mike. There is indeed a logic to what you say. I have to wonder though whether the market these little cameras were originally aimed at would be interested in either a tripod or a cable release.

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Geoff Chaplin on 5 Frames With a Trip 35 – A Brace of Olympi Pt. 2

Comment posted: 20/12/2023

Thanks again Peter, an enjoyable and amusing read. Once more the images are impressive for such an "amateur" camera, and the Kentmere too performed well.
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Peter Roberts replied:

Comment posted: 20/12/2023

Thanks Geoff. I was impressed by the image quality of both cameras. I was equally impressed with the Kentmere 400 and have now shot a few more rolls of it. Used with a yellow filter and processed in ID-11 it gives just the sort of punchy negatives that I favour.

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Bob Janes on 5 Frames With a Trip 35 – A Brace of Olympi Pt. 2

Comment posted: 20/12/2023

Lovely pictures - excellent processing..
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Peter Roberts replied:

Comment posted: 20/12/2023

Thanks Bob.

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Paul Quellin on 5 Frames With a Trip 35 – A Brace of Olympi Pt. 2

Comment posted: 20/12/2023

Really enjoyable read Peter. I wrote about my Trip 35 too. In my case it was the desire to acquire one of all the cameras I owned when I was young. Absolutely agree about the Trip punching above its weight and I suppose its why at least one well known photographer carried one as a backup. The cable release socket in the shutter button is a puzzle, though it allegedly it is possible to set up bulb. With the top cover off you can stop part of the mechanism to the shutter stays open. Useful if the lens focus needs repositioning after a clean. I did read of someone making a modification to allow use of B with the camera back together somehow. Given rising prices of these little cameras, its probably not best not to mess and working within the original constraints is probably a good discipline.
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Peter Roberts replied:

Comment posted: 20/12/2023

Thanks Paul, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wasn't intending to buy a Trip 35 but at the price asked for this one it would have been rude to it to have walked away. They certainly seem to command eye watering prices these days and I totally agree that leaving well alone and enjoying them as intended is a good policy.

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John Fontana on 5 Frames With a Trip 35 – A Brace of Olympi Pt. 2

Comment posted: 20/12/2023

Love the carousel shot
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Peter Roberts replied:

Comment posted: 20/12/2023

Thanks John. That's my favourite too.

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