View Full Version : Oly RF Survey

12-02-2006, 18:01
Now that there's an Olympus forum, maybe we should take a survey of Oly RF gear. After all, inducing GAS is the RFF mission, right? :p

So, in this thread, post the following:

* Oly RF model you have or have had
* The best things about that model
* The major drawbacks of that model

No other "rules", though maybe one model per post (with sample photos if you wish) would make it easier to follow the thread.

Rich Silfver
12-02-2006, 18:29
Olympus 35UC

The Olympus 35UC is often referred to as 'The Elusive One' or, equally jokingly, claimed that it is made out of 'Unobtanium' - all due to the rarity of the camera.

The 35UC is functionally identical to the 35SPn cameras - and optically identical to the 35SP and 35SPn. The differences are purely cosmetic with some added black plastic around the view-/rangefinder windows and the version lettering. Therefore one could argue that the only reason anyone would seek out the 35UC over any of the other cameras mentioned above would be to expand their camera collection.

I ended up with two of them.

Best thing: The G.Zuiko lens
Worst thing: Price (expect to pay 2-300 dollars and up to 4-500 for one in good condition. All due to its rarity).

Photo of the camera:

Photo taken with the camera:

Blog entry about it: http://silfver.blogspot.com/2006/10/elusive-one.html

Rich Silfver
12-02-2006, 18:46
The Olympus 35SP features the excellent G.Zuiko lens in a fairly compact and, to me, attractive camera. The rangefinder is fairly bright (7 out of 10 with Leica M3 at 8 and the new Zeiss Ikon at 9) - obviously a highly subjective subjective rating scale.

Optically identical to the 35UC and 35SPn.

I ended up with four of them (now down to three).

Best thing: The G.Zuiko lens and the fairly low price for such a good lens..camera...I mean.

Worst thing: Not a whole lot really.

Expect $90-130 for a good chrome one and $100-200 for a good black one.

Photo OF three (now two) of my four SP's (the chrome one didn't make it):

Photo BY the camera:

12-02-2006, 18:48
Olympus 35SP

(Note: Functionally identical to the UC posted by Rich, except lack of battery check button, which is the "n" in the SPn designation.)

Best things
* Spot meter! I've previously posted about the spot meter being worth the entire price of an SP. I "grew up", photographically speaking, using a spot meter, and having an RF with a very useable spot meter is wonderful

* G.Zuiko 42mm/f1.7 lens. This lens is sharp, moderately contrasty and displays nice bokeh. Olympus assigns a letter to its lenses, with the letter's position in the alphabet (A=1, B=2, etc.) denoting the number of elements in the design. Not all Olympus lenses are so designated, but if it is, you can tell how many elements in the design. Hence, this lens is a seven-element design. I don't know how it relates to any other "standard" designs (if it does), e.g. Sonnar, Planar, etc.

* Size and feel. It's not the smallest Oly RF (that honour goes to the XA models), but it's also not the largest. For me, the dimensions, shape, weight and balance are perfect.

* Viewfinder. The viewfinder is bright with a contrasty rangefinder patch. Is it as good as a Leica or Zeiss Ikon. No, probably not. But without having done a direct comparison (my next task!), it's compares very favourably indeed.

* Quiet shutter. The Seiko leaf shutter is, like most leaf shutters, very quiet. It is not as quiet as the Olympus 35 LC, and I haven't done a "controlled" comparison with other leaf shutter RFs. (For example, the 35 LC shutter is quieter, eventhough it is the same shutter. My belief is that the larger mass of the LC dampens the shutter sound more effectively.) But my anecdotal memory is that it's in a group of cameras with pretty low shutter noise.

* EV metering. A lot of people aren't familiar or comfortable with EV metering, and I must admit that when I got my first SP I was not totally comfortable. But as I used the camera, I came to appreciate its benefits and ease of use.

Not Best Things

* Uncoupled meter. The meter display in the viewfinder is just that: a display of the meter reading. Effective EV as determined by exposure settings are not displayed in the viewfinder.

* EV Metering. I know, I listed this as a strength. But sometimes I would like the OM-1 match needle display.

* Price. The deserved reputation of this camera has driven the price up, though prices do fluctuate on the auction site, seemingly related to phases of the moon or some such.

* Fixed lens design. Yeah, I know, it's unfair since it was designed as a fixed lens camera. But really, this same camera in an M (or even screw) mount would be killer, killer, killer.



back alley
12-02-2006, 19:15
where it all began...

my first good camera was the the little 35rc you see here.

after a good cla a few years back it still works great, has a nice clear finder and a wonderful lens.
it is quiet to shoot but a bit more noise when winding the film.
it's small, light and easy to carry about.


12-02-2006, 19:20
The Olympus 35SP was my first rangefinder. After years of shooting with an EOS and kit lens, I was blown away by the SP. Not just by how sharp the lens was, but by how solid and well built it was. I still have it, and have added another SP, in brown covering and CLA'd by gman.

What I don't like about the SP's is that the meter's always on, unlike most RF's where the meter is on the lens ring and shuts down when you cap the lens.

I also have an RC, and briefly had an EC. I love the small RC. Sharp, and works without a battery.

I am still keeping an eye out for a reasonably priced RD. :)

12-03-2006, 06:35
I have a 35SP. I love the quality feel of the camera, the 7 element lens which is very sharp. The spot meter is great. Like others, I don't like the "always on" meter. I am trying to find a case for it on Ebay.


12-03-2006, 06:55
Another RC'er here.

A lovely, heavy little camera.

- Good
Lens, size, features, quiet shutter.

Baselength, noisy wind-on.

I also have the Olympus Trip 35 - not a rangefiner, but the toughest camera I have ever owned. I can't beleive it is still working.

12-03-2006, 11:43
I've got an XA and an XA2...

Like: Small size, very good lens, rangefinder
Dislike: plastic clamshell feel

Like: Small size
Dislike: plastic clamshell feel, zone focusing

12-03-2006, 12:39
I also have an Olympus XA and XA2.
Love the form factor and the size of them.

12-03-2006, 14:59
An Oly 35 LC has been my main 35mm shooter for some time. It's got the same lens as the later SP/SPn/UC but not the automatic mode...just a nice match needle meter. It's bigger and more battleship-ish than the SP line, but somehow feels lighter. Great camera! I'll try to find a picture of it, and by it, tomorrow.

12-03-2006, 15:30
I've got an XA and a 35SP. Love the lenses on both cameras, although my XA film advance action's been giving me trouble lately. Love both cameras although I prefer the XA for its unobtrusiveness. Both cameras are capable of great images, although this "Indian" has yet to achieve what the cameras are capable of. Unfortunately, I've recently contracted Leica disease and have been spending most of my time shooting with the new M6.

12-03-2006, 16:17
The LC is my latest Oly acquisition.

Lens, meter display format, very quiet shutter, enough mass to handhold at very slow speeds, meter on/off button

Not so likes:
A bit large, viewfinder not as bright as the SP, meter display can be hard to see in low light, meter display is at top (prefer it at the bottom), EV locking of shutter speed with aperture can be frustrating


f1.7, 1/2 sec.

12-03-2006, 16:51
XA - great carry everywhere camera

XA4 - great, sharp 28mm lens with a good close focus capability

35SP - yet to use properly - What do others do about the px625 battery?

12-03-2006, 17:19
John: The possibilities are:

1. Modify circuitry to recalibrate to 1.5 volt silver batteries
2. C.R.I.S. adapter
3. Use Wien zinc-air PX625 replacement
4. Use cheap zinc-air hearing aid battery with rubber o-ring (#9 at your local hardware store should work) to compensate for the smaller size.
5. Silver-oxide SR44W and compensate for higher voltage be adjusting ASA setting.

These are sort of in descending order of preference, IMO.


12-03-2006, 17:30
I only have the XA.
Likes: size/heft, pretty good RF. Lovely lens. Easy to find battery.
Dis-likes: Only two. The shutter button is very easy to push. I have one or two "premature exposures" on most rolls of film I've shot with it.
Some times it is too quiet--when I've been shooting at night and trying to handhold some very long exposures, I'm sometimes not always sure if the camera is "done" yet.

12-03-2006, 17:47
Rob: That can be an issue with the XA if you have a lot of noise/sound around. But the SP, man, that thing is SUPER quiet when the shutter closes. I got some interesting results last weekend cuz I couldn't hear the shutter closing, and lowered the camera before the exposure was completed.

12-03-2006, 17:55
My similar shots aren't so good. And I really do consider it an operator error and not a fault of the camera.

Phoenix Phil
12-03-2006, 18:03
I only have one XA now (I think it is my fourth). I compared it recently to the Canon QL17 and found the XA sharper and had better contrast. I love the form factor.

Has anyone compared the SP (or other variants) to the Konica Auto S2 or Hi-matic 9? I am tempted to buy the Auto S2 given the reviews that I have read and the low price.


12-03-2006, 18:30
Thank you for the battery options Earl! I have no excuse now.

Attached XA4 image of my bike near the Snowy river. The tree looks like it has a scar on it where indigenous Australians in years past cut out a canoe.

back alley
12-03-2006, 19:04
so the xa4 has a 28mm lens?
is it also a rangefinder?

if so i may have to search one out.


12-03-2006, 19:27
I have a black Olympus 35 SP. Since this camera has already been thoroughly described (as well as pictured) I'll just post a photo taken with the camera.


12-03-2006, 19:47
I carry my XA everywhere, just a great camera. Quiet and sharp.

12-03-2006, 20:21
The only Olympus I've ever used is an XA2, so I don't have a great deal of material to compare it with. Nevertheless, I never cease to be amazed by the sharpness of that lens.

12-04-2006, 03:12
Joe: The XA-4 is a scale focus camera. Its closest focus is 12", which makes it very useful.

12-04-2006, 03:51
As mentioned above, the Oly 35 SP has a great lens and I love the old-school metering. On the minus side, the uncoupled metering slows things down a bit and the meter is always on when the camera is uncased.


Carlos Cruz
12-04-2006, 06:57
I recently bought oly 35 rd with broken shutter, got it repaired for few bucks, and now rd helps me recover after the loss of petri 35

12-04-2006, 08:00
cruz: That's very cool. Where did you get it fixed?

jan normandale
12-04-2006, 08:13
Two Olympus RC's and an XA and XA2

RC's what everyone else has probably said pro/con... however carrying 2 at a time is a little like hauling two bricks
XA ... everything a pocketable RF / 35 mm should be.. no complaints.. perfect for me.
XA2... as good as the XA however the Zone focus is not quite as good as the XA, but it's all a matter of taste.

Carlos Cruz
12-04-2006, 08:24
cruz: That's very cool. Where did you get it fixed?
I recently moved from Warsaw to Katowice, and found there a very good repair shop, the guy is way cheaper than those in warsaw, I never heard from him that something is unfixable and I'd better got myself a new camera (only once with my Petri 35 which had broken shutter leaves, he refused) I gave him oly rd which is rather hard to repair he did it over weekend , now I gave him my canon P with 50/1.2 , and have to substitute it with oly.

In short : EU, Poland, katowice

12-04-2006, 09:26
Very nice; I'm sure other RFF members in Europe are always glad to know of a good repair shop.

12-04-2006, 18:23
I have 2 XAs, an XA1 simply to complete the collection, several XA2s in black and a red with red A11 flash and a blue with blue A11 flash, an XA3, and an XA4. I have several matching A11 flashes, and two A16 flashes. Obviously I like these cameras. The XA1 never goes out. The XA2s and XAs are the most frequently used.
Pros: Small size. Clamshell allows them to be pocketed without concern for scratching a lens. Sharp lens with reasonable speed. Moderate wide angle (35mm for all but the XA4, which has a 28mm) is great for me. Very quiet. Can be easily palmed. Batteries are readily available LR44s or equivalent. Self timer allow me to mount them on a bean bag and take night shots.
Cons: I feel guilty about not using a more expensive, interchangeable lens rig.


12-04-2006, 18:30
Ok, this is painful. I started out with an XA, very nice, but I whored out for a Rollei 35S, then I got a minty OM-1 w/55mm Macro, HEAVEN. So in 1991 I sprang for a brand new OM4-Ti with 28mm,50mm, 90, 180, and F280 flash. MAJOR SLR HEAVEN. In 1993 I was mugged and they got the whole thing. Now I have an OLY Stylus Epic 35mm f3.5 and dang it takes nice pictures.

12-05-2006, 03:20
Oh, Akiva, that is sad indeed. At least you had the experience of the OM "glow". ;-) I've never had a Stylus Epic, but have seen great shots with it.

12-05-2006, 05:12
cruz: how much did you pay for the repair?

12-05-2006, 07:43
Does your 35 LC have linked shutter speed/aperture dials, that is, by EV system? Mine does not, but you mentioned that in your 'dislikes'...led me to wonder if you were in error (SPs do have the link) or if there's variation within the LC series.

12-05-2006, 08:11
Doug: Mine seems linked if you change the shutter speed. But if you change just the aperture, it's not linked. So I don't know if that's the way it is designed or if it is a fault of my sample. My problem with the LC is that if the two are supposed to be linked, then I'd like to know for sure and if there's a way to disengage them so that I can change shutter speed only.

I'll have a look at both of them tonight after work.

Carlos Cruz
12-08-2006, 09:03
cruz: how much did you pay for the repair? The whole thing was 20 euros
broken camera-5
repair 15

I am going to katowitz this monday to collect my CLA'ed canon p, and visit my school after six weeks absentia, I hope they haven't expelled me yet:) If you want I can ask him if he's interested in new customers.(since he lives in Silesia there's a slight chance he's speaking german)

12-09-2006, 08:35
Thank you for the Olympus forum and this thread.

I am the original owner of my xa. I purchased it new at 47th Photo in NYC in the early 1980s after reading Colin Fletcher praise its small size and sharp lens in The Complete Walker. I wanted a pocketable camera to carry on hikes and other travel and was tired of lugging my Nikon F around. The xa has been a faithful companion ever since, and has been my go-to camera for recording life events: the birth of my daughter; birthdays, Christmasses, first days of school; family vacations; swim meets and tennis matches; and travels with my wife. Its small size seemed to ensure its availability -- because I could slip it into a pocket, it was always "there," which often made the difference between having a record of the event and not having one. When the Nikon was stolen in 1994, the xa became my only camera for a number of years.

I've acquired some new/old gear in recent years, and am renewing my interest in rf photography. I still find that I reach for the xa, however, when I head out the door, even though my bag now contains some companions. It's a terrific little camera, and capable (as many here have observed) of taking wonderful photos.

Best things about it: sharp lens, small size, rangerfinder focusing

Things about it that are not so great: weak flash, focusing patch is a little hard to see, I wish it came with manual override (ok, can't have everything).

Here are a couple of recent samples. I've previously posted these, but they seem in tune with theme of this thread.

12-09-2006, 10:07
I have an XA (I'm on my third) and a Trip 35.

The Trip 35 was given to me recently and I wasn't expecting much from it, but I was wrong. The nice 35/2.8 lens is very sharp and the camera is fun to use. It's a zone-focus camera with everything else automated. Two shutter speeds: 1/40 and 1/200 that the camera selects. Sounds really limiting but it's usually enough.


12-29-2006, 11:41
I like the quality of the engineering, the sharp 7 element lens and the general feel of the camera.
I am not so happy with the always-on meter. I paid 90 GBP for mine at a photographic shop but I have to say it is in genuine "mint" condition.


12-29-2006, 12:25
I seem to have acquired quite a number of Olympus cameras. All the ones that work are very solid, dependable cameras that provide great photo quality every time. I just sold my XA, but I still have a Stylus Epic, IS-5 fixed-lens SLR (slow f4.9 to f6.9 28-140mm zoom lens but oh, boy, the results are pretty), 35RC (needs major repair work), a Trip 35, and a C-7070WZ digicam.

12-29-2006, 16:43
After reading posts in this forum I bought an Olympus 35RD. I received it Dec 26, and I just got my first test roll back this evening, so my opinion cannot be fully formed, but the big plus is clearly the fast high quality lens in a small overall package. The minus is that my particular version needs a CLA, but I'll probably run another roll of film through it first.

Yes, the forum was successful in triggering the GAS attack.

12-30-2006, 06:33
Yes, the forum was successful in triggering the GAS attack.

Glad to be of service. :D

The RD is worthy of a CLA; if the exposures look good as it stands now, then the CLA shouldn't be terribly costly. Post some shots when you have them.

01-09-2007, 21:58
All zuiko's are Zuikotastic lol..look at my gears, nothing in this world give me the feeling of holding my 35SPn !