Whatever it is you’re expecting from a point-and-shoot camera, the Olympus O-Product is certainly far from it. This tiny 35 mm film shooter borrows design aspects from different schools of style and wraps it all up in a unique package.
Right off the bat, the one thing that you can notice from the O-Product is its unusual design. The rounded aluminum body is finished off by a plethora of components including the viewfinder, autofocus sensor, and lens is such an unfamiliar look at the time. When it was launched in 1988 to mark the company’s 70th year anniversary, point-and-shoot cameras of the time basically carried the same design — simple black plastic bodies with similar form factor. Olympus decided to go a different path with the O-Product.
The Olympus O-Product was released in a limited quantity of 20,000 units and was rumored to be marketed mostly in Japan. Olympus commissioned designer Naoki Sakai of Water Design studio to create this retro-inspired camera with a futuristic twist. Sakai is known for his out-of-the-box ideas and it’s easy to see how that came to be. In an interview, Sakai noted that he wanted to avoid creating another forgettable camera. Going against the grain and bringing his own aesthetics to the table, he used odd shapes and designs and brought the O-Product to life.
This camera is like an exercise in design. It just brings so many different elements into play. The mix of brushed and blasted aluminum, varying angles, and control placements make for a wildly unique ensemble. Its looks can be deceiving since you’d expect it to be super light based on the small size alone. Surprisingly, the aluminum body counters this as it adds heft to the O-Product — another characteristic that stands in contrast to the lightweight and often flimsy feel of other compact shooters of its day.
While the design is something you can expect from a futuristic camera, performance is sort of ordinary. The O-Product didn’t have new feature to boast during its time. It had a shutter speed of 1/45th to 1/400th of a second, maximum aperture of f/3.5 and a minimum of f/9. Film speed reading is also regular fare, considering it has DX code sensors that was capable of setting film speeds from ISO 50, 100, 400, and 800. The O-Product also came with a separate flash as part of the kit although unlike the construction of the camera body, the flash was made out of plastic. Still, it channeled the same retro-modern design and pairs up quite nicely with the camera.
The O-Product was a winner when it came to unique styling and a quiet participant (not a contender) when it comes to performance. With these aspects considered, it can still and will probably win the analogue hearts of collectors and camera enthusiasts with its eccentric charm. It can also serve as a cool shooting companion as well since other features like the autofocus and motorized film advance work well. Photographer who regularly go on photowalks will surely appreciate shooting this toy-like camera. After all, how could you not be interested in getting your picture taken by this looker of a camera?
Photos Taken by Our Community with the Olympus O-Product
Olympus O-Product Technical Specifications:
Type: 35 mm point-and-shoot
Lens: Olympus 35 mm f/3.5 3 elements in 3 groups lens
Focus: Autofocus system,
Focusing Range: 0.65 m to infinity
Shutter Speed: 1/45th to 1/400th of a second
Film Speed: ISO 50, 100, 200, 400, DX-coded
Film Advance: Motor advance
Viewfinder: 0.45x bright-frame viewfinder
Other Features: Detachable flash, self-timer, frame counter