Rangefinders (Fixed Lens)

Olympus 35 SP vs Olympus 35 RC Review – Twins – By Matt Parry

March 24, 2018

The 1980s Hollywood stars Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger are the unlikely match to play twin brothers in the aptly named 1988 film, Twins (stick with me on this one). As the story unfolds, (spoiler alert) it turns out that there is some form of genetic engineering going on, and Devito is the left overs after the Uber-mensch that is Arney is created. Anyway, the principle here is that the SP and the RC are (not so identical) twins like Schwarzenegger and Devito.

Both cameras are low-cost, high-quality fixed-lens rangefinders. They both feature 42mm Zuiko lenses. Both have built in mercury battery powered light meters. Yet they are really quite different to hold and use. For individual reviews on the two see here for Hamish’s review of the RC on 35MMC and here for my review of the SP over on Emulsive.

With a whole lot going for it, on the face of it the SP is your Arney. It is your Mr Universe, and Governor of California, it’s your Kindergarten Cop. A superb 42mm f1.7 lens, a unique dual meter (spot and centre weighted) and auto flash settings, if that’s your thing. It has all you need and more. If I’m deciding on a 35mm camera for most contexts, its quite a mean choice, It’s a Predator-killer, it’s a last action hero, it’s your god damn Terminator.

Of the two It’s pretty clear which is the ‘better’ camera’, which has the better specs. I mean if you have heavy lifting to do, there’s no messing around, you bring out the big guns. Spot meter, extra shutter speeds to choose from and an all round better lens including an extra stop and a bit, going as it does to f1.7. It’s a no brainer, Arney Vs Danny, Conan the Barbarian wins, hands down.

But things really aren’t that simple. If you asked me do you want to watch a Devito or Schwarzenegger flick, the answer would probably be “no thanks, neither”. However, if pushed to decide on whose the more enjoyable actor, then things arent as clear. That shutter on the SP stutters and clunks like the poor acting of Herclues in New York. Often I don’t need or want the (lumbering) 35SP, I simply need the decent yet fun and funny, pocket sized Devito.

Furthermore, somewhat like Schwarzenegger, unable to tone down his acting; the SP’s meter is always on and this really gets on my nerves. I don’t want to be thinking about this when using or storing camera. The RC’ s meter has an “off” setting on the aperture ring during which the shutter cannot be fired. Furthermore, the RC’s meter is found under the lens cap, effectively turning it off when the cap is on. Anoither positive is that this also means the RC meter will automatically compensate for filters, the SP would need to be adjusted manually. No big issue really, but a nice feature of the RC.

Really the RC, just like the director, narrator and actor of Matilda, has so much going for it in a somewhat subtler way than Arney. It is hard to find much of a serious fault or flaw to the SP. It ticks all the boxes. Fine, If I were to choose to recommend just one camera of the two, it’d likely be the 35SP. It’s more of a safety blanket. When the shit hits the fan, Arney has your back, there’s no doubt about it. Nevertheless, I have both cameras, and when push comes to shove; when deciding which I am likely to pick up as I leave the house; six, maybe seven times out of ten, I’ll take The Penguin over Mr Freeze.

Here are a selection of shots from the Olympus 35 SP:

And here are a selection of shots from the Olympus 35 RC:

Thanks for having a read. Find more from me at:

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  • Reply
    Ashley Carr
    March 24, 2018 at 8:54 am

    I sorely miss my SP and the one that wasn’t mentioned that say in between the SP and the RC, the also brilliant RD. The RD had one element less than the Superb SP and, I think one more than the RC.

    The RD was also slightly bigger than the RC. All excellent cameras but the Lens on the SP really was very special.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Matt, Some nice piccies thanks, not so sure about the cameras.

    In similar size, I have recently acquired a Voigtlander VF135, which is a badged version of the Rollei AF35 and both of which use a licensed version of a 40mm Sonnar lens and the whole lot made in 1970’s Singapore.

    Sounds like a winning recommendation but they really do make nice pictures, much overlooked by the Contax brigade.

    I also have four newer Olympus cameras, mju zoom 115, an XA, an XA1 and an AF10 mini. The XA is a gem.

    Out of interest, the third from bottom picture of yours, I like very much… Where is it? Which building?

  • Reply
    Johan Adermalm
    March 24, 2018 at 10:31 pm

    Love this and especially the reference to Twins. Spot on!

  • Reply
    Matt Parry
    March 25, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks Stephen. That building is in London, just on the Thames. A great building with so much glass and great shapes. I actually have a wet print of that shot for sale if you as interested.

  • Reply
    Richard B
    March 31, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    Nice article and images! Just bought an 35SP, hadn’t been used for a number of years but a quick clean its ready to go.

  • Reply
    Brett Xsoul
    April 3, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    I’ve been interested in a 35 SP, I have and enjoy the RC, shooting it with the depth of field nonclemature advice in the manual, it’s a breeze of a camera, I’ve often thought that anything that makes the shooting aspect as uncomplicated and simple as can be, is a benefit that can’t be understated. Good article and I enjoyed that photographs, this site is always a go too.

  • Reply
    R. Chan
    April 12, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    I have the 35RC model… had it for a while, but never got around to trying it out. You inspired me to give it a try. Years ago I replaced the light seals before I out it into storage, and found I had to replace them again when I took it out! Also funny that when I popped open the back, I found a roll of film in there.

    Are those black button covers that screw in to the cable release threads original equipment? I never seem them before, but like lens caps, they look like they are easy to lose track of. Can you buy after market versions?

  • Reply
    Gary Bowen
    May 15, 2021 at 3:02 am

    Hi, nice blog!

    Did you do a review or have you checked out the Olympus 35 EC? Haven’t used mine yet. It’s weighty. It came with a filter and the power light does turn on when depressing the shutter.


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