View Full Version : Olympus 35SP. Poor pictures!

07-18-2004, 09:49
I recently acquired a mint Olympus 35SP. I have heard so many good things about the quality of the lens that i had to have one. I ran a test film through it in a nice country park near to my home. I didn't bother putting really good film through it as i was only testing it is working ok. When i got the pictures back, to say i am disappointed is an understatement. A lot of them look like someone has sprinkled fine carbon powder on them, or like they look dirty. Not all shots have come out this way but it seems to be more prevalent on landscape shots that include plenty of sky. It looks like there are dark clouds in the sky. It was basically a bright overcast day. The sky was just one big bright mass of white. No obvious 'clouding' as such.

I also took my Fed 5 with Industar 61ld along and this blew the 35SP out of the water. Much better. The sky is correctly exposed. I was really expecting the 35SP to beat the Fed.

So i'm now thinking a few things that could be the problem.
1. The film was off.
2. The light seals which were gummy and dissolving let light in. Although i would have thought it would be more like dark black edges than a mucky effect over the whole picture.
3. There's something wrong with the shutter(although seems to be firing correct at all speeds).
4. Something wrong with the lens(although it's mint with no scratches or fungus).

I have replaced all the light seals exept the one under the film cassette guide plate(not worked out how to get to this one yet and any advise will be appreciated). I am going to put a better film through it, again nothing special just some new Kodak Gold whereas i used Konica Centuria on the first test.

Anyone got any advice?


07-18-2004, 12:40
My sense is to check exposure first. You did not say, but how was the density of your negatives? Did the ev values you were using make sense for the conditions. Sunny 16. Turning grey clouds white is over exposure. Meter is not reading high enough. Maybe a bad light meter sensor. The photo shows a corrosion damaged light sensor from an SP evidenced by the dark area in the CCD. A normal CCD shown above it is about to replace it. The Damaged sensor caused the meter to read 7 stops to low and caused the spot meter to read low an additional 5 stops below that. Of course the ebay seller stated that the meter worked. Beware of rummage sale resellers. One other thing that comes to mind is the possibility that your fingers were covering the light meter opening on the SP which is very easy to do. Be sure no part of the viewfinder group is covered as the light meter is there instead of on the lens. Expose a few slides so the lab can not mess with the picutres if you want an accurate way to evaluate your exposures. Good luck with it.

Rich Silfver
07-18-2004, 19:29
Paul. sorry to hear about your first roll through the SP not being to your liking. I have three Olympus 35SP(n)' and they have all produced some excellent images for me in a multitude of settings (portrait, street, beach, landscape, etc).

As Lionflyer states above it may have something to do with the metering. Next time meter with a handheld meter or another camera to make sure that the meter is working well.

The light seal being too dissolved could have let light in and if so it would have caused a lack of contrast in your negative.

Also shine a flashlight through the lens and look through it at the same time to see if there is any fogging/mold/web developed in there.

I'm surprised and sad to hear about your bad luck - this version of the Olympus 35-series have always worked like a charm for me.

Post the results of your next roll.

07-19-2004, 02:29
Paul I'm with Richard here, :( sad to hear such a bad experience with the SP, the SPn is my favorite fixed lens RF, and I found the lens to be amazingly sharp.

I wouldn't discard (as others said) a meter problem, a light leak or even some processing problems if you gave your film to a photo lab. Could you post some example of the problematic photos so we can get an idea how they look like ?

In fact if you have similar versions of the same shot with both the Oly and the Fed that would be still better.

Good luck !

07-19-2004, 06:24
I shot my first roll on an SP last week too. I did a side by side shoot with a Canonet 17. I did not rely on ewither cameras exposure metering (they did not agree anyway) and I used a handheld meter.

The Canonet was terrific, but the SP seemed overall unsharp. There is no way this camera would have passed Olympus quality control in this state, so I think there is an adjustment or two required. I suspect that there is either a very thin oil film on an internal lens element or the focus has worked it's way out of adjustment. The lens could be focusing out past infinity at the infinity setting.

The rangefinder does agree with the lens scale.

-Paul S

07-19-2004, 12:45
Here are three of the worse one's

Number 1

07-19-2004, 12:47
Number 2

07-19-2004, 12:48
Number 3

07-19-2004, 12:53
Here's a fed 5 shot.

07-19-2004, 13:02
While it would be best to try and compare the negatives too, from the prints, the SP shots look underexposed. What film did you use? Did the Fed- have the same film?

I would suggest running a side-by-side comparison with a camera that you feel confident has a properly adjusted shutter (a lot of the Russian cameras run real slow at the higher speed setting). Also use identical film and process at the same time.


07-19-2004, 21:33
What battery are you using with it? If it is an Alkline or a Silver cell, the voltage is to high making the meter read a stop or so high resulting in under exposure. Either use one of those wein zinc cells, a real Mercury cell (hard to find) or modify the metering circuit for the silver cells. I don't like Alklines as they have a sloping discharge line and the SP has no regulator in it. Again it gets back to does what the meter reads make sense for the conditions? Can you post a shot from the FED for comparsion?

07-20-2004, 09:00
Hi everyone. Thanks for the responses.

Ok, to clear a few things up. Firstly i checked the battery. All it says on it is 625A which i assume will be an alkaline battery yes? Also i checked the meter against my Gossen Lunasix and it seems the the 35SP is reading one EV value lower than the Gossen. The lens is crystal clear, not a blemish, it's mint. The shutter appears to be firing correctly at all speeds. The film i used is Konica Centuria 200 asa. Both the Fed 5 and 35SP used the same film type. Although i can not verify if the expiry dates were the same.

I have now replaced all the light seals except the one under the film cassette guide plate. Not worked out how to do that one yet!!! It's just sooooo inaccessable. Any advice?

I think my next course of action will be to get a wein cell as suggested and put some Kodak film through it. I've got some new one's hanging around. Don't want to waste Fiji Superior until i'm sure the camera is working well.

One other thing is that i know the pictures i posted look grainy and very very crappy, but they are not as bad on the photo's as shown on the pc. I had them scanned and put on a cd by the developer and to be fair all the shots from the Fed are too bright compared to the actual photo. My thoughts are that the developer could have messed up the developing and the scanning.

I'm going to try again two ways. One film is going through using the 35SP's own light meter. Then i'm going to shoot another film again but this time using the Gossen. I will use the same make, asa, expiry dated film for both.

I was feeling so down about the pictures that i ventured to the hallowed grounds that be that online auction place i dare not name. I treated myself to a nice little camera as a pick-me-up. A Voigtlander Vitomatic 2A with an f2 Ultron lens. Can't wait to get my grubby little fingers on this one!!! Here's a piccy i snatched from a website showing the little beauty.


07-20-2004, 10:18
Paul, that Vitomatic looks like a honey! The Ultron is said to be excellent. I bet you'll love it!