Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Spotlight: Olympus 35 SP


The Olympus 35 SP is a compact 35mm rangefinder camera that was first produced in 1969. The SP is more or less the big brother to the Olympus 35 RC. It has a fixed standard 42mm f/1.7 Zuiko lens that focuses as close as 2.8 feet, and stops down to f/16. The shutter is fully mechanical, so a battery is required only if you want to use the internal light meter or automatic exposure mode. The SP has a full range of shutter speeds, from 1 second to 1/500th, plus bulb.


As a whole, ergonomics are excellent. The camera is small, yet solid, and all the controls are in exactly the right place! Shutter speed, aperture, and focus controls are all located on the lens barrel, directly at your fingertips. There's also a self-timer located on the lens barrel that's easily accessible when you need it. Focus is silky smooth with a pretty short throw that's great for quick shooting. Another great little feature is that the lens has a standard 49mm filter thread, so all your normal hoods and filters will fit on the 35 SP. One thing I hated about the Olympus 35 RC was its bizarre 43.5mm filter thread I could never find a cap for.

The SP has built-in average and spot metering, which is pretty cool for a camera of the time. The spot metering is activated by pushing a little button on the rear of the body. The meter unfortunately uses the terrible PX625 mercury batteries, which can be a pain to find, and are not very reliable. I just shot without batteries and used my external meter.


The rangefinder patch in the 35 SP is much brighter and more contrasty than the one in the RC. I found focusing to be a breeze, and just about all my shots came out sharp, even when shot wide-open. The framelines in the viewfinder do not automatically adjust for parallax error, which is a shame, but certainly not a deal-breaker.

Here are some photos I made with the Olympus 35 SP over the last week. I used Ilford Delta 400 film.









































If you're looking for a high-quality compact 35mm rangefinder that won't break the bank, the Olympus 35 SP is it. As always, thanks for looking!