The Olympus Trip 35 is a terrific camera to take along on vacation given its automated features with no need for a battery — and given its terrific lens. My review is updated here.
Olympus Trip 35
In college, one of my roommates had one of these. He bought it new in 1985. It was a hell of a car for a college freshman to own, and he was very happy with it.
I got to drive it once. He and I had been at a bar in town and where I had just one beer he had three. He was always extra careful when he’d been drinking, so he handed me the keys.
This car is super low, so much so that oncoming cars’ headlights shone directly into my eyes as if they were high beams. I don’t know how fast it would go as I drove it only over city streets near the speed limit. But I remember its stiff chassis and excellent clutch and shifter.
I shot this on Kodak ColorPlus, which was provided by Analogue Wonderland in exchange for this mention. You can buy ColorPlus from them here.
If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.
This post is sponsored by Analogue Wonderland, who offer more than 200 films from around the world!
I shoot a lot of Fujicolor 200, a snapshot film. I like its look — well saturated color, good sharpness, managed grain. I also like the look of its main US competitor, Kodak Gold 200 — warmer, slightly less saturated, barely noticeable grain. But it’s more expensive. I’m a frugal dude, so I shoot Fuji.
Elsewhere in the world Kodak offers another ISO 200 color negative film, ColorPlus. Anywhere I find it for sale online, it costs less than Fujicolor 200. If you want to try it, you can order it from Analogue Wonderland here. As of this writing, it’s the least expensive color film they offer.
If you shot Kodacolor 200 film in the 1990s, as I did, you’ll recognize the canister inside the ColorPlus box — it says “Kodacolor 200” on it and has the same design as that film of yore. Is it the same film? It must be, yet these aren’t the same well-saturated colors on the prints I still have from those days.
Is it me or do these colors just seem off? Muted? Is that a blue caste I detect? I suppose I could have Photoshopped it away. I shot this roll of ColorPlus in my Olympus Trip 35, by the way — a snapshot film in a (very good) snapshot camera.
These colors are more muted than I like, but the sharpness and contrast are good. It’s not fair to draw conclusions about any film after just one roll because so many variables are at play: lens, exposure, processing, scanning. I’ll shoot my other roll of ColorPlus in a different camera to see if it behaves differently.
It’s not like the whole roll was a bust, either. I really like this shot I made through my car’s window.
Others have said that this film doesn’t do well in the shade or on an overcast day, but I didn’t find that to be true. Bracing myself against a wall I even made this photo inside my church, and it turned out fine. These are the best colors I got on the whole roll. (Our stained-glass windows are all marked with names in this way — original members of our congregation from the early 1900s.)
Just for fun, I’ll end with this photo of a Morris Minor I found improbably parked in Zionsville, Indiana. The ColorPlus captured its hue nicely.
If I were in some foreign country, needed a roll of film, and ColorPlus were my only choice, I’d buy it and not regret it. If Fujicolor 200 were also available, even for more money, I’d buy it instead — and almost certainly be slightly happier with my photographs.
If you’d like to try ColorPlus, order it from Analogue Wonderland here.
Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.
Some subjects draw me in every time I pass by with a camera. This scene on Main Street in Zionsville has become one of those subjects. I am sure I have at least one more photo from here, but I can’t find it now. Enjoy these five.
Nikon Nikomat FTn, 50mm f/2 Nikkor H-C, Fujicolor 200, 2019
Yashica Electro 35 GSN, Kodak Tri-X 400, 2018
Olympus Trip 35, Kodak Color Plus, 2019
Pentax Spotmatic F, 35mm f/3.5 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100, 2018
Pentax Spotmatic F, 35mm f/3.5 Super-Multi-Coated Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100, 2018
A handful of film cameras have cult followings. The Olympus Trip 35 is in that exclusive club.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Olympus Trip 35 was designed to be the ideal camera to take on vacation. It was small, light, and rugged. It set aperture and shutter speed automatically and was easy to focus. Finally, its price tag was enticing to someone ready to step up from an Instamatic. Best of all, it had a great lens – a 40mm f/2.8 D.Zuiko, of four elements in three groups. A traveler could be assured of crisp photographs with what amounted to very little fuss in those days before auto-everything cameras.
Olympus introduced the Trip 35 in 1967. By 1984, the Trip 35’s around-the-lens selenium light meter looked pretty dated. But that selenium meter meant no battery, which vacationers enjoyed because all they had to carry was film. That’s still attractive today, especially given how many cameras from the era take batteries you can’t buy at the drug store. However, left uncovered, selenium degrades and eventually stops responding to light. If you’re thinking about buying a Trip 35, get one that has been stored in its case or with a lens cap on. You can use a Trip 35 with a dead meter, but the shutter fires only at 1/40 second and you must set the f stop yourself.
The Trip 35 has a two-speed shutter: 1/40 and 1/200 second. That limits the Trip 35’s versatility, but keeps with the camera’s mission of easy good results. Indeed, after you set the film speed (ISO 25-400) and enable automatic mode (twist the aperture ring to A), taking a picture is almost point-and-shoot simple. Almost, because you do have to focus. But the Trip 35 simplifies focusing by providing just four zones, which translate to 1, 1.5, and 3 meters, and infinity. A little window inside the viewfinder shows you both the aperture and focus settings, so you can fiddle with both while framing your shot.
This little camera really caught on. Olympus spit out a whopping 5½ million Trip 35s, making them easy to come by today.
Since it went out of production, the Trip 35 has developed almost a cult following. Flickr has several groups of devoted Trip 35 photographers. There’s even a fellow in the UK who sells Trip 35 accessories and cameras and often replaces the original black material around the camera’s middle with custom skins in many colors and materials.
If you like the Trip 35, then check out my reviews of the Canon A35F (here) and AF35ML (here), the Kodak VR35 K40 (here), the Konica C35 (here), and the Olympus Stylus (here). Nothing is quite like the Trip 35, but these cameras have similar missions. You can see every camera I’ve ever reviewed here.
My Trip 35’s date code says it was made in December, 1977. It has a chrome shutter button; that button on later Trips was black. A heavy, wet snow had fallen when I loaded my first roll into it — good old Fujicolor 200. This tree, which is actually a badly overgrown shrub, sagged under the snow’s weight.
I thought I had framed images correctly on the test roll, but it turns out I was ignoring the viewfinder’s framing lines entirely. My images had far more in the frame than I intended. D’oh!
The Trip 35’s shutter button freezes when the light meter says there’s not enough light. The manual says that’s your clue to use flash. I seldom need to do that, as I shoot the Trip 35 outside the vast majority of the time. I put another roll of Fujicolor 200 into it and shot along the Michigan Road. This Shell station near my home has since been razed and rebuilt as some other brand.
Farther up the Michigan Road, in tiny Kirklin, I found this old Oldsmobile parked in front of this building that’s seen happier days.
The Trip 35 was born to use consumer-grade color film. Here I shot some Agfa Vista 200, which is just rebranded Fujicolor 200.
I prefer cameras with in-viewfinder focusing aids, such as you’d find on a rangefinder or an SLR. Without those aids, I forget to focus! But I found if I leave the Trip 35 at its landscape focus setting, the majority of the kinds of things I photograph are in focus. Just look at the jewel-like color that Zuiko lens delivers!
The Trip 35 is a good size for the hand. Its controls all feel solid though not luxurious, except for the winding thumbwheel, which feels cheap. But that’s the only chink in the Trip 35’s armor.
I put a roll of Kodak ColorPlus into the Trip and took it around everywhere I went for a couple weeks. I shot whatever felt good, even while stopped at a stoplight.
When you want to shoot the Trip up close, you need to be good at guessing how far away three feet is. I managed it here.
And here. The Trip is capable of yielding a little blurred background to make the close subject pop a little.
To see more photos from this camera, check out my Olympus Trip 35 gallery.
The more I use the Olympus Trip 35, the more I love it. I especially like how I don’t need to buy an expensive battery to use it. But even more, I like how I get good results from it with little fuss. The Trip 35 is a keeper.