Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

Operation Thin the Herd: Olympus Trip 35

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A handful of film cameras have cult followings. The Olympus Trip 35 is in that exclusive club.

Olympus Trip 35

Rave reviews of the Trip 35 by its devoted fans convinced me that I needed one. Yet in the nine years I’ve owned this camera I’ve shot it but three times. Here’s a photo from my previous outing with it, in 2015. It’s one of my all-time favorite photos. (I drove through Kirklin just two weeks ago, and that Oldsmobile wagon remains parked in front of this building.)

Downtown Kirklin

When I shoot the Trip 35, I always enjoy both the experience and the photos I get. Why, then, don’t I shoot it more often? Probably because I have just too many great cameras to choose from. But that brings up the point of Operation Thin the Herd: to narrow the collection down to a set of cameras I will use frequently. And the Trip 35 is worth using frequently. Check out the excellent color I got on Agfa Vista 200 as I walked around suburban Fishers.

Famous for Steakburgers

I think making consumer-grade film look great is part of this camera’s essential value proposition. As an easy-to-use camera a family might take on vacation, it needed to make memories look great.

Buggy Parking

I’m not sure I needed permanent memories of a walk I took near my office when I needed a mental break. But I have them nevertheless. This photo required a little Photoshopping to bring out shadow detail. The Trip 35’s meter appears to bias for the bright areas.

Service is our Business

Same with this photo. I also corrected many of these photos for perspective, as on this outing I proved incapable of holding the Trip 35 level. Otherwise, these photos needed little or no Photoshop work to look great.

Parked

This camera is just great for walking around and photographing the built environment, something I do frequently. For all of these shots I just left the zone-focus control at infinity. (The other three zones are 1, 1.5, and 3 meters.) There was nothing to think about but to compose and shoot.

Red Umba-rellas

I did set the Trip 35 to one of the closer focus zones for this shot in my neighborhood, since I was so close to that rocky post. Even then I gave focusing minimal thought. I guessed “group” (3m) and counted on the camera biasing toward big depth of field to make up for any misjudgment on my part.

In Royal Run

Its 40mm lens made it easy to get wide things into the frame, but without leaving lots of useless space above and below the subject.

Fence

To see more from this camera, check out my Olympus Trip 35 gallery.

I do not need this camera. I really prefer to shoot SLRs for their versatility. My favorite SLR, the simple Pentax ME, is not so much larger and heavier than the Trip 35 to give it a serious disadvantage for walking-around photography. And when I shoot SLR I can do things I can’t with a Trip 35, such as get in close.

But I like my Trip 35. It’s light and easy to carry, and it’s almost point-and-shoot simple. As I shot it this time I thought maybe I should shoot a road trip with it, or take it as my only camera on my next vacation. When I have thoughts like that about a camera, I know it needs to stick around.

Verdict: Keep

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14 thoughts on “Operation Thin the Herd: Olympus Trip 35

  1. Dan Cluley says:

    I have an Argus/Cosina 35 that is probably not as nice, but basically the same type of camera as your Olympus. I never used it a lot, but it did go to the Renaissance festival 2 or 3 years in a row for just the reasons you mention. I could probably have gotten slightly better pictures with my full C-44 outfit, but the little camera was smaller, lighter, quicker to use and less likely to get damaged.

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  2. Interesting you mention about traveling with the Trip… my wife and I went to France for this past Xmas/New Years. Spent just over three weeks in the south of France, and I took a “few” film cameras with me (both 35mm & MF). At the last minute, I also threw the Trip into my luggage. I was stunned at the results that came out of that little guy… even with its aging selenium meter. It really seemed to love the Eastman XX b&w stock. I’ve definitely been ignoring the Trip way too long…

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  3. I think the Trip is one of those cameras that if it’s your only camera and you take the time to get know it, and how to get the best from it, it will give you consistently great results. There’s a reason they made and sold so many of them. It’s just giving it that sustained attention in the first place without picking up half a dozen other cameras in between, er, trips with the Trip.

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  4. SilverFox says:

    Never owned or used a Trip but I remember the TV commercial for these when they came out featured David Bailey along side UK comic actor George Cole. Cole was being the gear head amateur mocking the other photographer for his simple camera against his ‘pro’ gear not realizing Bailey was Bailey.

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  5. Love my Trip 35, just finished up a roll of Ferrania P30 in it yesterday! You always inspire me, Jim: I’ve never shot a roll of color negative in it but I think that might be next. Something you might consider is just shooting the film at 100 instead of 200, might help things out. One thing I really haven’t tried out yet but want to is night tripping: shooting the Trip 35 in low light with a high-ASA film. I had my eye on Cinestill 800T but with T-Max 3200 being re-released, this might be perfect!

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  6. kevi says:

    I’ve been really into the idea of getting a Trip 35, for fun excursions around town and trips to who-knows-where! That being said, I already own the XA-2, which I feel serves a similar function while being even smaller–Olympus never ceases to amaze me, really.

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