I am not the first to review the Olympus Trip 35 and I certainly won't be the last. What makes people want to shout so much about this little black and silver box?
A world famous classic, selling millions of units worldwide. This means plenty are available in thrift stores, op-shops and across the internet. It’s no wonder then that so many people with a renewed interest in film photography end up with a Trip. What is incredible is that such a cult following has sprung up around them.
The Lomo LC-A’s following loves the quirks of the LC-A. Yes, it’s capable of very sharp images, is amazingly flexible with it’s almost limitless shutter speeds and the new LC-A+ can achieve very high film speeds. It’s renowned for it’s lovely vignetting, an effect I enjoy very much drawing the observers eye to the middle of each print. However sometimes you want something more accurate, more lifelike and that’s when the Trip comes in handy.
In short the Olympus Trip 35 give you the same quality of shot (or better) that a far more expensive SLR would. If you get the focussing right (it’s a zone focus camera so, like the LC-A, you must practice guessing distances before perfect focussing becomes natural) then images can be tack sharp with no distortion of any kind, and only occasionally minimal vignetting.
This makes it a marvelous alternative to a far larger, inconvenient, heavier SLR. The Trip can be carried in a handbag (or man-bag!) easily and like the LC-A be used in a truly fast way.
Many rave about the Trip, but it is unfair not to bring your attention to some of the quirks that make it a companion, and not an alternative to the LC-A.
When the Trip was in production, films were not as fast as they are today, this means the ISO settings on the camera are a bit strange, starting at 25 with very minor increments it only goes as high as 400. With todays films being much finer grain and not as slow the only really useful ISOs are between 100 and 400.
There are only two shutter speeds, 1/200 and 1/40. This means that you will only ever achieve those tack sharp images it’s famous for in brightish light, shake can be very evident at 1/40. The camera’s lens is quite bright at f2.8, but still, this is not as flexible as the LC-A+.
Still thinking of buying a Trip? Good. Mine has become one of my favourite cameras and I recommend it. If you do, make sure you check the light meter is working, that the ‘little red flag’ isn’t stuck. One thing you will have to do is replace the seals. After some light leaks (who want’s a leaky Trip? Its quality is the point!), I replaced the seals, easy and fast (message me for a contact who makes the kits to do so) and since then I haven’t had a problem.
Even in quite poor light with expired film, the Trip is capable of capturing amazing detail in the grass in the first shot, right to the corners of the shot — one oddity here is the vignetting, I only ever get that with expired film.
Technicalities aside, the one last word I have to say about the Trip is this. It’s beautiful. You simply cannot disagree it’s miniature SLR aesthetics, silver and black trim…what a pretty thing.