I’ve owned a few cameras in the category of small 35mm fixed-lens rangefinders or scale focus, such as the Olympus XA and XA2, Olympus 35ECR, Olympus Trip, and Konica C35, but I think I’ve now found my favourite camera of this type in the form of the Olympus 35RC.
I now have two of these camera; I purchased the first from eBay for £25 and the owner wasn’t sure of how well it worked. In the event it worked pretty good except for the rangefinder being out of alignment. More technically-minded photographers than me would turn to the technical notes and diagrams provided by Rick Oleson to make the necessary adjustment, but I have got by using scale focus instead. That model also had a little sticker over a missing self-timer lever – I didn’t even realise there should be a self-timer until I bought the second model. That’s the self-timer lever above the word “Olympus” in the images above and below.
I only use self-timers on cameras that don’t have a threaded cable release, but the 35RC has one of those.
35RC no 2 was purchased for £55 but came with a metal lens hood, with a cut off to reduce the degree to which the image through the viewfinder is masked by the lens hood, a matching Olympus PS200 flash, and an orange filter – and an accurate rangefinder. The lens hood itself can cost up to £30 if purchased separately.
Exposure control is either shutter-priority automatic or manual, and both the shutter speed and aperture set are visible in the viewfinder.
The camera uses the Olympus “flashmatic” system which will set the correct aperture, and as the camera has a leaf shutter, any shutter speed can be used for flash.
As you can see above the controls are laid out in an obvious way and are limited to what you need – shutter speed, aperture, and focus. The slowest shutter speed is 1/15s which is a bit limiting if you want to shoot landscapes in dark woods, or use 1/8s or 1/4s for just a little motion blur on running water.
The focal length is 42mm and I’ve found this to be a useful choice. A wider lens might be useful to me sometimes, but an interchangeable lens camera would be much larger, and I now mainly use 35mm cameras as backups to a medium format system, so it’s not really worth making the 35mm system too bulky or heavy.
The 35RC sits inside a small shoulder camera bag next to my Fujifilm GA645Zi, which is battery-dependent. The 35RC can be used without a battery, losing only the metering function, so it makes a good totally-manual backup. The battery is PX625, which means you may have to fiddle about with the ISO setting if you use a modern alternative to compensate for the different voltage.
The film loads to the right, the opposite to most cameras, and the short distance across the film gate means you may well get one or two extra shots out of a roll of film.
So here’s the summary:
- Sharp lens
- Manual and automatic exposure
- Can be used without a battery, if you can do without metering
- Some slower shutter speeds would be nice.
And now for some images taken with my two 35RC’s ….
With Agfa Vista 200 film (Camera 1):
With Fuji Pro 800Z film (Camera 1):
With Fomapan 100 film (Camera 1):
With Kodak T-Max 100 (Camera 2):