View Full Version : 35 SP Sharpness Concern

03-29-2008, 21:28
Hi all

I've recently purchased a very good condition SP and I'm over the moon with it. It goes where I go.

After a few rolls I'm concerned it's not as sharp as it ought to be judging by some other example shots I've seen. It could be the photographer in this case. I do use it mostly in auto mode with a 400 b&w film and often shoot in moderate light conditions. Is it possible that it's just not that sharp wide open? Could it be pushing the shutter to 1/30 most of the time? I am about to put a roll through the camera to test it while taking the same shots on a Minolta SLR. Will work my way through the apertures and shutter etc.

Below are two examples. I would appreciate it if someone can have a look for me. I've included a 1000 pixel wide export which I tend to use to showcase and a 100% crop scan weighing in at 4mb each and around 3000 pixels wide.

Both imags scanned in with an Epson 4490 using low dust correction and low sharpening. I've tested without these settings and it's not the culprit.

#2 - note railing

Could this lack of sharpness be due to an out of sync mirror? The odd thing is when I push it all the way to infinite I get soft images. I can actually see it's slightly out at infinity so I pull it back ever so slightly and the images overlap giving me a focused image. With this in mind the rangefinder should be matched perfectly but who knows. Is anyone elses out at infinity?

Finally, what can I expect from a CLA in terms of the lens? It's really clean looking so I don't understand why it's soft.

Other examples (not 100% crop)


Thank you very much for looking.

03-30-2008, 02:33
I just opened MS Paint, drew a black cross and focused on that. When I focus on landscape and turn it to portrait it seems to be out slightly. Now I know that if you move your eye left/right or up/down while keeping the camera level the rangefinder will shift ever so slightly. Allowing for this and making sure to view it square on when changing from landscape to portrait shouldn't it be focused dead on either way?

Brian Sweeney
03-30-2008, 03:31
The Rangefinder probably needs to be adjusted. They get knocked out of alignment. Looking at the photo, it appears that the actual focus is slightly in front of where you want it. This is not a hard job- but the top plate needs to be removed. Check the distance scale yourself- measure something out to about 10ft and use the RF to measure it. The Distance scale should agree with the ruler. Do this test, see what you get.

Did you use the railing as the point of focus in these pictures, or set to infinity?

03-30-2008, 03:52
The first one is infinity and the second on the railing. Others below are varied but for all my snaps I try to focus on the subject.

I've opened a few other cameras such as a Canonet 19 and a Trip 35 so I feel confident I can do this one but I really don't want to mess anything up as I do like this camera. If it's out by such a small amount I'm not entirely sure I can adjust it by that minute amount.

Do they calibrate it in a CLA?

Brian Sweeney
03-30-2008, 06:11
They do calibrate on the CLA's. That is the "C" part.

BUT- if it has to be shipped, the RF can get knocked off again. I hate that part... I had that happen to two Nikon SP's. I end up adjusting it myself. The top is not hard to take off on the Olympus SP. A set of needle nosed pliers works.

Brian Sweeney
03-30-2008, 10:57
I have a parts Olympus SPn and this question has come up before.

So I took mine apart and posted some photos here:


03-30-2008, 15:22
Thanks for that Brian. I'll have to give it a go. It doesn't look that complicated.

As for adjusting the actual rangefinder? Do I just move the mirror left/right/up/down somehow?

On another note, I was just reading that in full auto mode, which I've been using during street shots, the shutter is limited to 5 settings ranging from 1/15 to 1/125. Is this auto mode biased to select the highest shutter speed available? How does it select the combination of shutter/aperture. I'm really curious about this.

03-30-2008, 16:37
Shoot a roll on a tripod and use a remote cable. I never consider a camera tested until I am not touching it while testing it. Can't believe how many people complain about focus and sharpness while handholding the camera.

Also, as far as testing the rangefinder, I put the camera on a tripod, open the back, measure off some strict disances, ie 5 ft, 10 ft, 15 ft and 30 ft. I use a piece of flat frosted plastic taped to the film plane, frosted side in. Then put a loupe on the plastic and focus using the rangefinder, if not sharp at each of the distances, the rangefinder needs adjustment. I usually buy a plastic food container with a flat bottom and cut a piece out for the "ground glass", but I have also taken a broken ground glass for this test.

04-01-2008, 14:51
I shot a roll testing the camera on a tripod and running through some of the apertures. It appears that it is indeed sharp but struggles at f1.7. I've had a few sharp ones wide open but most handheld or full auto low light shots tend to be soft. I suspect full auto is not an ideal way to use this camera. It must like to select either f1.7 or 1/15 shutter speed for the conditions I'm shooting in.

Does anyone else have this problem wide open? I don't expect the lens to be tack sharp wide open (as most aren't) but I was kind of hoping it is at least usable.

Thanks for all your assistance :)

Brian Sweeney
04-01-2008, 15:00
The Olympus SP that I had was sharp at F1.7. Much better than what you are getting.

The screw that is lit up in the photo is used to adjust the RF. Don;t touch the mirror. Very little glue holds it in place. Olympus made great lenses, but not the heaviest made cameras.

04-01-2008, 15:50
My SP rangefinder is dead on at infinity. You'll have to adjust it.

I second the advice to use a tripod for testing.

A last note, be careful with flare - use a hood. The lens is great but prone to flare, especially at larger apertures, if used without a hood.

Brian Sweeney
04-01-2008, 15:57
Just to make sure...

PowerPoint to the rescue!


04-01-2008, 19:01
I'll have to be happy with what I have then. :)

Thanks for all the help gents. The pictures are most appreciated.

08-09-2008, 12:16
Thanks for the info - this turned my soft images into very acceptable focused ones! I love this little camera. Now I can be pleased with the focus, too.

Shot at f1.7, focused on second bolt from bottom of hinge:





Paul C. Perkins, MD
08-09-2008, 17:57
For Heaven's sakes - be sure the rangefinder is OK. The lens on an SP s superb unless it's been abused. These are GREAT cameras.

Olympus 35SP, Olympus 35RC, Olympus Trip 35
Leica M2, Leica M4

08-09-2008, 18:12
This is a great thread for me, since I've had some similar problems in low-light situations. My RF is probably off just enough to out of the acceptable DOF at open apertures.

Problem is, Brian's thread on SP disassembly seems to be missing. Anyone save these images?



08-09-2008, 19:07

Olympus made this one easy - open the back, and there's a little screw on the top film rail. That's a cover. Remove it, and a smaller screw inside adjusts the horizontal on the RF.

Nothing to it, really.