Olympus Trip 35

5 frames with an Olympus Trip – Sell or Keep?

I didn’t own a car until I was in my mid twenties. In my late teens and early twenties, travel was all about motorcycles. At 17 an Olympus Trip 35 was my companion for on and off road adventures. I got hooked and before too long I traded it against a Minolta XG2. After that things got expensive and culminated in a Bronica SQA and a collection of 35mm kit. We all make mistakes and I gradually sold all the gear to pursue a different and worthless ambition in vain. Returning to photography after a long finance induced break; everything had changed. Dabbling with various digital cameras, I slowly becoming hooked again.

A mass produced 1970s compact camera.

Today there is reasonably impressive array of digital based kit, studio lights etc, cluttering up the house but bringing great pleasure. Enough to keep me satisfied, but then equipment restlessness struck. Late nights trawling the ‘bay’ for some of the cameras I had owned in the past, Minoltas, Bronicas, Rollei 35s and then Olympus Trips. Best start at the modest end. It seemed like a good Olympus Trip was going to cost more than I wanted to pay, but eventually finding two ‘untested’. New light seals and a few frames on a roll and the first one seemed to be working okay, though the results weren’t staggering. Accounting for the light seals it sold for about what I paid for it. The second one looked in slightly better condition. Again the light seals were replaced and this time a whole roll of Fuji 200 went through. Probably the time of year, perhaps more light, maybe more thought on my part. The scans and negatives came back and… well, really not bad. This is a mass produced 1970s compact camera after all.  Trip 35 production actually ran from the end of the 1960s into the early 1980s I believe. Here are a few images.

Olympus Trip 35 Fujicolor
Kip the collie
Olympus Trip 35 outdoors
Ramsey Harbour
Olympus Trip 35 indoors
He’s called Hero… long story

No Problem, all functioning.

Focus below hyperfocal distance seems to have been a bit hit and miss. Well it is all symbols based on the Trip, unless you turn the camera upside down and look at the distance scale on the underside of the lens.

Olympus Trip low light
Belle, missed focus on the eyes

Trips have a fairly simple system linking the meter to the aperture and only two shutter speeds, but it all seems to work really quite well and without the aid of a battery to worry about. A little red flag moves upwards into view in the finder window if there isn’t enough daylight A small secondary window enables you to see the setting and focus symbol, without moving your eye from the viewfinder. The film advance wheel is probably a little primitive and slow compared to a lever, but it has a reasonably positive feel and it does its job. Everything is automated when shooting in daylight and hardly a challenge to use. The challenge of course is forgetting trigger happy digital and making the time not to waste a frame. With the intention of selling this Trip, I even hooked it up to the studio flash set up whilst taking a shot of a Mamiya. Thought I should just test the flash sync was working. Turn the settings ring from A for auto, to the calculated aperture. Surely the sync connector is corroded after all these years? Press the shutter button… ‘dupp’ followed by the simultaneous beep as the two flash heads come back up to charge. No problem, all functioning. You could take cheap and cheerful studio shots with this thing for fun. The little Zuiko lens had quite a reputation and it does seem to live up to it.

Olympus Trip with flash
Trip in the studio

I had one of those.

Back in the early eighties, when you could buy film in most corner shops, an Olympus Trip wouldn’t turn any heads. Take one of these out today and it draws comments. Typically either ‘I had one of those’, or ‘what is that?’ I find I am pointing it at things that are important to photograph, like family, pets and friends. Things I somehow don’t get around to capturing or don’t shoot in the same way with digital.  Snaps rather than masterpieces, but isn’t that also what photography is for? This OT 35 can probably fetch more than I paid for it… but for now, I think I’ll spend a little more time bonding with it.

Keep the Trip for now

Think I’ll keep the Trip for now

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25 thoughts on “5 frames with an Olympus Trip – Sell or Keep?”

  1. Your shots certainly do the Trip justice! These really are nice little cameras. Everyone should have one; they made them for long enough and there is relatively little to go wrong with them, so that must be very nearly possible.

    I like the way that the lack of controls on cameras like this forces you to concentrate on composition, the only downside is an amount of uncertainty in framing.

  2. Thanks Bob, yes the lack of controls can also lead to some of those lucky ‘grabbed’ shots that I might have spent too long fiddling with on a more sophisticated camera.

    1. Thanks Gil. Certainly a place for a return to more mechanical and its great not worrying about batteries. I think Olympus made around 10 million Trips, so demand would probably need to rise a way further to make it anywhere near viable.

  3. I enjoyed the piece. Now, I’m wondering if my Olympus Mju ii was intended to be a successor to your Trip. I’ve found it great to have a 35mm snapshot camera in my pocket. And, occasionally the results are shockingly good. So, I’m definitely in the “keep” camp, despite the current crazy pricing.

    1. Hi Bradley. Thank you. I believe there were 2 or three models between the Trip 35 and the Mju ii, but the same ethos and I dare say the same glass. I gather some pros carried the Mju cameras for all sorts of odd jobs.

  4. Another vote for keeping it. I took mine on a trip to Italy earlier this year – a trip for the Trip, so to speak – where it performed brilliantly and helped me to hget a load of great pictures. That little lens is a beaut!

  5. David Dutchison

    Another vote for keep, though mainly on “religious” grounds. Having and using a camera that was a key part of one’s development as a photographer, where you can remember actual shots you took with it way back when, is simply good for the sole, and a powerful reminder that you have one in this world of constant distraction.

    1. Hi David, thank you for highlighting an important consideration. I wondered if it was rational to seek out cameras I knew from years ago, but I think you have underlined why we do this.

  6. This was my first camera. My 11th birthday gift back in 1980. I took so many photos with it and helped me in my developing my interest in photography. Unfortunately it was stolen, I did buy another one around 2004 though it too was stolen. They were a good little camera in their day though.

    1. Hi Jamie, so sorry to hear you had two stolen over the years. I suppose that says something about the quality of the camera as well as the state of society then as now. Maybe another one will come your way, they are quite good fun.

  7. Yes, I had one of those, but who didn’t, in the 90’s? Travel cameras par excellence, totally unobtrusive and my 40 or so years old negatives still with me are a witness of that. I can’t say I was hooked, but the Trip 35 was for me the camera that went everywhere.

    What I like about it is that one completely forgets it has only 2 speeds, when using it. It’s just liberating to shoot with it, just point and shoot really. Had some trouble in low light (as usual with this type of camera) but otherwise great photographs.

    My Trip 35 is still with me (https://juliantanase.com/olympus-trip-35/), and to my shame I haven’t used it in the last 20 or so years. Thank you for nudging my memories, beautiful pictures, lovely indeed. I would keep it, if I were you. If not for financial gain, at least for the memories !

  8. Alasdair Mackintosh

    I think you’re come to the wrong place if you want any advice other than “keep it” 😉

    Hero is very handsome, and you’ve captured him nicely.

    1. Thanks Alasdair. I was amused by his expression, as though a little camera like the Trip 35 wasn’t sufficient for him. Maybe it was just that he didn’t get awarded his usual piece of scone.

  9. I’m glad you’re keeping it, the Trip 35 is a great little camera and the AE is surprisingly accurate, I even shot slide film in mine and I think that’s where the camera really shines.

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