Thursday, December 20, 2012

Trip 35 - Handy Shooting Tips

 Rolleiflex Automat, Fuji Pro 160

Olympus Trip 35, Fuji Superia 400

I just completed another roll of film through the little camera I'm always raving on about - the Olympus Trip 35. At the start of the roll, I was able to shoot some similar scenes against my Rolleiflex Automat TLR, and the above pair is probably the best of the lot. This screams out for comparison. To my eyes, the Medium Format Rolleiflex is far superior, but one would expect that -  it's a far superior camera using a far superior film format. The Rolleiflex picture, is a bit under-exposed as I wanted to be sure I got the detail in the sky perfectly. The Trip 35 is a completely automatic camera, with an extremely limited manual over-ride that would not have worked in this situation. Although the Trip's auto exposure certainly got it right, I prefer the underexposure achieved with the Rollei in this case - that sky is absolutely spectacular.

I'd prefer to concentrate on the merits of the Trip 35, as a great little camera in it's own right. As I've already mentioned, it's "solar powered" (selenium) no battery required metering system is perfect - very reliable so that you can truly take pictures without worrying about getting a generally correct exposure. If you want to underexpose with this camera, it's difficult, but can be done by using slower than ISO 400 film, and tweaking the "ASA" dial up to higher values in third-steps. The aperture can be manually set also, but in doing so, it selects only one shutter speed meant for flash sync - that being 1/30. I was using 400 film on this occasion, which is the camera's upper limit, so the "ASA" tweak wouldn't have worked, and also 1/30 would have been simply too slow on this occasion. The best way around this is to use ISO 200 film, which provides some tweaking room for underexposure.

Olympus Trip 35, Fuji Superia 400

Here's another pic which really shows off the Trip-35 capabilities. It's a fast shooter, so you seldom will miss action shots. This is in spite of the absence of a quick-wind lever, Olympus chose a little plastic wheel on the back of the camera instead, to keep cost as low as possible. It is, nonetheless, a very fast wind that can be done with two thumb strokes. The only thing that might slow you down is that the Trip-35 is a manual focus camera, with click-stop focus positions at 1m, 1.5m, 3m and infinity. Most quick action shooting is done at infinity, due to this being a wide angle lens- keep in mind that wide angle optics are peculiar in their less-than-infinity requirements - which is exactly why they are used on cheap point and shoot cameras.

Here is the shot I was taking just before the woman with the stroller jogged past me:

I had the focus set at 3m for this one, as I felt the grasses were quite close to me. however, as you can see, the focus is a bit off here. Infinity would have worked better, or more ideally, a step in between 3m and infinity would have been perfect. The "step zones" of the Trip 35 don't need to be used - in-between steps will provide finer focusing when needed.

Finally, here's a picture in which I got to within 1 metre of the grasses in the foreground, and used the 1m (closest) Zone setting:

Here the foreground is in perfect focus, and the background is out of focus - but not really enough OOF. Don't expect great "bokeh" from the Trip 35 - this is because the shutter and aperture share the same two blades within the lens. This once again was intended to manufacture the Trip 35 at the lowest possible cost.

Keeping in mind what the Trip 35 was originally intended to be - a very compact, lightweight tourist camera, it has some superb qualities...

  • Excellent fast f2.8 lens
  • rugged build quality
  • leaf shutter
  • very bright viewfinder
  • perfect exposures every time
  • no batteries required, yet it is a fully automatic exposure camera
  • quick film wind in spite of absence of quick-wind lever

... and some real limitations...

  • manual focus
  • focussing is pure guesswork that takes some getting used to
  • 400 ASA film limit
  • manual underexposure is difficult, unless slow film is used

I can see how the Trip 35 has gained such a cult following - as long as you understand it's limits, it is a near perfect and wonderfully simple little camera.


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  2. Everybody seems to love the Trip 35. I need to shoot more with mine...
    About the bokeh, you're right it's not great but I don't think shutter and aperture are using the same blades. When half-pressing the shutter button you can see the aperture blades moving to the metered aperture long before the shutter opens.


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