Here’s another old camera kindly donated to me by my father, the Olympus 35 ECR. Taking 35mm film, this camera has some features in common with the better-known Olympus Trip 35 – they are about the same size and weight and both well-built and dependable, with fully automatic exposure. There are two main differences between the two cameras:
a) The 35 ECR needs batteries to work at all – a disadvantage in my view. The Trip 35 uses no batteries at all.
b) The 35 ECR has a rangefinder, whereas the Trip 35 depends upon scale focussing – an advantage for the 35 ECR.
The 35 ECR has a 42mm, f2.8 lens, which seems to produce fairly good results, just like the Trip. I’m not really into fine-detail comparisons between lenses – if I really want to prioritise high image quality then I’ll turn to medium format anyway.
The inages below were all made on Rollei RPX 100 film (more commonly available under the Kentmere 100 label) which was developed in Rodinal diluted 1:100, using “stand development” for one hour at 20 degrees C. The negatives were a little low in contrast, which was boosted in scanning and subsequently using Lightroom, but I think this was probably linked to the developing method rather than the lens. This was my first time using Rodinal, and first time using stand development. The exposures seemed fine so I’m happy with the workings of the exposure meter.
I enjoyed using the Olympus 35 ECR, and will do so again. It fits easily into a coat pocket for carrying around on the off chance that a photo opportunity will arise. It takes 43.5mm filters, which are obtainable but expensive, so I’ve ordered a step-up ring to enable the use of more common 46mm filters, lens caps, and and a lens hood. Two other Olympus cameras I own, the Trip 35 and a PEN-EE half-frame camera, have the same 43.5mm thread size, so they will all share the same accessory set.
I do find the designers choice of feature set a little odd, however. Rangefinder focussing, compared to scale focussing, is usually found on a slightly more expensive camera, and that slightly more expensive camera might be expected to feature manual exposure controls. Not only does the 35 ECR not give the photographer any choice of shutter speed or aperture, it doesn’t even TELL you what settings are in use, except for a warning light when the shutter speed is slower than 1/30s. The shutter speed range is from 1/800s to 4 seconds, and the camera does have a tripod bush and a cable release socket, but to be honest if I was going to carry a tripod – which I usually do on more “serious” photography trips – then I might was well choose a more versatile camera which gives me control over aperture and shutter settings, and perhaps interchangeable lenses.
I got this camera for nothing from my kind father and the batteries, if I remember rightly, cost about £8. There’s one for sale on eBay at a buy-it now price of £29.99. Not terribly expensive, but bearing in mind I recently paid just £2 for an Olympus Trip 35 from a car-boot sale, and that doesn’t need batteries, a potential buyer might prefer to lose the rangefinder and gain battery-free working by looking for a Trip instead.