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:
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