Olymps 35 RD Rangefinder for Photographers

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This is a short guide dedicated to the much sought after Olympus 35 RD. I hope this is helpful to photography enthusiasts who are looking for a controllable compact camera with high quiality optics. The RD was the last of a number of high quality Olympus compact rangefinders. It replaced the excellent RC in the mid 1970's.

Why is the RD so special?

1. High quality optics

How many compact cameras include a fast 40mm f1:1.7 lens? True, the 35 SP lens was even sharper but the RD is a much smaller camera. With modern compacts, you'll be lucky to get a plastic f1.2.8!

2. Top notch construction

Forget champagne coloured plastic, the RD is made out of metal and glass. It is screwed together. This is definitely not a mass-market product.

3. Looks and image

The RD looks stunning. The big glass lens, chrome body and cool rangefinder windows make this camera look classy. The design is aesthetically pleasing, the lens is centred and the body dimensions beatifully proportioned. The RD gets old gracefully, it is a real classic.

4. Control

The RD is a manual focus rangefinder. It includes unmetered manual and shutter priority auto modes. Shutter speeds from 1/2 to 1/500 are available. For slow exposures, the RD has a Bulb setting and can be used with a cable release and tripod.

What to look for

Unfortunately this very special camera can be a liability in terms of servicing and maintenance. Grease from the inside of the lens barrel tends to migrate to the shutter blades. At best, this will cause an inaccurate or erratic shutter. At worst the shutter will not fire at all as the blades get bound with oil and dirt. The only solution is to have the shutter serviced by an expert. The original lens grease should be replaced with a modern alternative that won't migrate to the shutter. Sometimes the oil is hard to spot. You need to look from the front and back of the lens. If your're buying a used RD then you should budget for having the shutter cleaned and serviced.

Don't buy an RD that's been tamptered with or has parts missing. Most camera repairers will only service a complete camera. While these cameras are getting scarce, they do come up on ebay quite regularly so there's no need to buy a faulty RD.

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