Olympus trip 35 buyers guide

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How to buy an Olympus trip 35 camera and get a good-un!

Ok, I sell OT 35's so you can take this with a pinch of salt if you like, but I have seen a great many of these over the years, and know what to look for when buying one, and exactly what I need to do to put one in saleable condition.

First a quick overview of the OT 35.

The camera uses a single photcell to power the automatic aperture setting, and also selects one of two shutter speeds automatically. For flash use you can manually select the aperture according to the distance and the flash guide number. (Or table pirnted on the back of the flash)

If the ambient light is too low, the camera will refuse to fire, and a red flag pops-up in the viewfinder.

The camera is focussed using a zone focussing system. That sounds fancy, but really all it means is that you choose what sort of subject you are photographing, (portrait, head & shoulders, full person or group, and landscape) and the lens characteritics will mean that the range of sharp focus will take care of the rest. There is no need for 100% precision focusing, but in poorer light you might just get better results for intermediate distances by choosing an in-between setting.

The viewfinder is what is known as an 'indirect' type. All that means is that it does not look through the taking lens, and no mirrors are involved. This is more than accurate enough, and a little window shows you the distance setting you have slected.

To set the film speed a ring on the lens shows the selected speed (sensitivity) through a little window on the underside of the lens barell. The fastest film acommadated it 400iso.

That's practically all there is to it. Very simple, and easy to use. More so than most compact digtals with lot's of menu settings, (none of which seem to apply to the picture you want to take at the time!) and there ae no batteries to run out. (Perfect for holiday snaps. No charger to pack!)

Oh, and the Olympus Zuiko lens is very sharp. A lot more so than it has any business to be on a camera of this type! 

What to look for when buying.

First, these cameras were made over an extended period, from early in 1968 right through to the early 80's. Most therefore are not 60's cameras, even if the design is. You can tell an early 60's one by the fact that not only does it have a chrome shutter button, but also the flashgun shoe has a shiny top surface as opposed to a satin finish. 

If you are really interested you can check the actual date, which is coded on the back of the film pressure plate. You won't be able to see that in the listing normally, and it does not photograph very well, but any competent seller who really knows these cameras will be able to date the one being sold to the month, so that's a way of finding out if the seller knows his stuff. (It's not hard to find this out on the internet, but if the seller can't be bothered to find that out when it's that easy .....)

But none will be less than 25 years old, and what this means is that unless the problem has been dealt with, the light seals will always need replacing.

Kit's can be bought to do this yourself, but frankly I think the pricing for what I pay a few pennies for is a bit much. It is also a messy job, the old light seal material is nasty, and you will need extra materials to properly get rid of the old seal. So you should consider paying a little extra for a one where this has already been done for you. 

So what about other problems?

Well, one major problem is that the shutters or the aperture iris essential for correct exposure stick. This is easily checked. The shutter not firing is obvious, but a quick test for the aperture is to select varios apertures and depress the shutter. If the aperture stays the same size whatever the setting it is stuck. You won't be able to use this camera until it is fixed.

A related problem affects the metering mechanism. If the aperture appears to move fine but covering the lens still allows the sutter to be fired when set to auto then there is an internal problem.

For the most part these faults can be repaired, but require the removal of the lens. As this also means dis-assembly of the lens, if you do not know exactly what you are doing the focus settings may be lost. These are difficult to find again once lost, and so I do not recommend this as a procedure!

About 50% of cameras bought from non specialists have one or more of the above problems.

It is important to remember that many of the cameras found on eBay are sold by non-experts, many genuinely and honestly unaware that the camera they are selling has such a problem. So if you are not in a gambling frame of mind, it is worth making sure of your seller. If you do buy one with one of the above problems and do not know how to do the above checks, you won't know until you get the film back from the chemists. That may be too late to do anything about it, and getting it repaired will cost more than buying another from a seller who can guarantee the camera. (I have had several customers buy one from me after this has happenned.)

So you may like to consider this risk when bidding, and set your prices accordingly. (Of course listing it as faulty, may help recover some of the expense. I promise you I will be bidding for it!)

Also the photcell may be defunct. This usually only happens with cameras exposed to damp, and so look out for rust or other corrsoion. Luckily the camera usually stops working from the effects of corrosion before the cell packs in for good, but not always. If the camera always blocks the shutter in auto mode suspect photocell failure. Replacing these is difficult as the supply of cameras with good cells, that are otherwise beyond repair is extremely restricted.

Around one in 20 cameras will have defunct cells or otherwise be beyond repair. (In many cases this will not be apparent from lisitng pictures.)


Original cases will be covered in a nast sticky goo. They were made of a coated fabric and the coating has deteriorated. No original cases will be found in good condition. This goo can be cleaned off, but is another nasty job involving caustic chamicals. (It will come off in a washing machine, after a few hot washes, but I would not reccomend washing it with anything else!)

Lens caps do not fit very well and are commonly lost. Usually the only thing keeping the push-on cap in place is the carry case. (See above) Clip-on types of the right size are to be preferred. (The correct size is 43.5mm and may be difficult to obtain.)

Uv filters were not shipped with the original camera and are no guarantee of good lens condition. (They may have been fitted after damage was done.) I don't use them on mine and are not necesary. Other filters are difficult to obtain in that size so if you are planning on using filters, the get a stepping ring to a convenient size!

Wrist straps are frequently missing. This is no big deal in practice as almost any wrist strap will serve, but it will save you the trouble getting a replacement if it is included in the sale.


In summary.....

The OT 35 is a very capable little camera. Producing good results, simple to use, and generally very relaible. 

Good one's should have the light seals already replaced, and be sold with a guarantee. There is no reason on earth why a good one should be sold without a full guarantee. If they work they work, and will keep on doing so until broken.  If in 25 years I'm still around, I expect I will still see working ones in good condition.

Buying 'privately' (or from a non specialist, etc) means that you will be buying a camera need ing new light seals, and with about a 50:50 chance that it will not function correctly. Choose experienced camera sepcialists in preference or check the seller carefully. (Do not assume that because a business seller like me is also bidding that it means it's a good-un. I can afford to take the risk as I intend to service them in any case before re-selling!)

Buy safely now....


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