Olympus 35 RC Rangefinder Camera

So not too long ago, I received a care package from my friend Rob. My friend Rob shares many similar passions as me and over some time had collected quite a few vintage cameras. Knowing that I have been shooting film, Rob sent me up a care package to see if they worked and if they did, we’d work something out in exchange. In this package were 3 old film cameras; an Olympus 35RC, an Olympus 35EC and a Canonet QL-17. After some research, some cleaning and some testing, I decided it was time to start shooting. I threw the small Oly 35rc into my bag and headed to California with the family.

Olympus 35RC Rangfinder Camera - Shot with old Konica Minolta 7D

I picked the Oly 35RC to shoot first because I was excited about the look, feel and the small size of the camera. I also wanted to see what the Zuiko 42mm f2.8 lens could do. I only shot 1 roll of film through the camera. While I did have the opportunity to shoot more, I limited myself to only 1 roll. This is important because I didn’t want to run a bunch of film through the camera, process and later find out that I ruined all the pictures. It’s also important because a lot of old cameras require batteries for their light meters. Many of these old batteries are no longer made and you are forced to find a substitute that has a different voltage rating. This causes the light meter to react differently. Thankfully, this type of information is all over this thing called the internet. I set the camera up upon arrival and started testing it for myself.

So, here are a few shots from my first roll of Portra 400 in the lovely Olympus 35RC.

USS Midway - San Diego, California

Cabrillo National Monument - Point Loma

Surfs up - Sunset Cliffs

In search of waves - Sunset Cliffs

Sunset with my awesome wife! - The Inn at Sunset Cliffs

This is what I found out after shooting that first roll.

1) Crap! I cannot shoot level with these things. Digital has ruined me with virtual horizon indicators and grids on screens. Every single one of my shots on film is not level! Dang it!

2) For some odd reason the battery drained quickly. Not sure what is up with that? When the meter works it’s spot on (at least for me) but I ended up shooting almost the entire roll of film using the Sunny 16 rule with some bracketing and some serious amount of guessing. Overall, thanks to films exposure latitude I did OK.

3) I love this thing. I am going to spend a bit more time cleaning this baby up. I picked up a different battery from my local camera store today. I could get along really well with this fine old camera. It’s so dang small and light that it barely takes up any room. I may need to take this to Japan with me in May.  We’ll see.

4) It is so small that I get 40 frames instead of 36. This is possible because you don’t pull so much film out of the film canister when loading.

Anyway, that’s the first roll. I’ve got 2 more old cameras to shoot so I better get shooting.

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6 Comments

  1. Not to be a “Negative Nancy”, but I did actually notice that the images weren’t level too. Funny how we start to lose skill, (or never gain it), when we rely heavily on technology. I suppose the “old guard” photogs are all wagging their heads about now!

    Well, it’s kind of like riding rigid and single speed. Once you learn the basics, you can properly build on the things learned and then go out and break rules with technology instead of using it as a crutch, eh?

    I look forward to your future images. Looks like you are having fun!

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  2. Funny, I rarely use the built-in level on my camera. It’s only available via live view on mine, and I shoot w/ the optical viewfinder about 99.999% of the time. So I’m usually fairly good at shooting level now just by repetition. That built-in leveling is nice when I’m setting up the tripod for a shot, though.

    Did you do any processing on these photos, or is it SOOC? I’m guessing the latter, and if so, I love the warm feel you’re getting from that film. Just feels “comforting” or something…

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  3. @GT – Honestly, I can barely look at the unlevel pictures. I really wanted to correct them but I wanted to share and show the learning process I’m going through. Dang it.

    Fonk – It’s funny how we all develop and use methods that work uniquely for each of us. Processing – I did zero on these except the last one of the sunset with my wife. I did level that one and re-frame it. I also pulled a little more detail out of the shadows. The warmth, color and contrast though are completely untouched in all of them.

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  4. Nice. I might have to try some of that Portra film in my old SLR (I assume it’s available in standard 35mm?); just love the warm feel you’re getting on those pics.

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  5. Give it a try Fonk. Yes, it’s available in 35mm. It is a pretty neutral color film. I print mine with a matte finish and it gives a very non contrasty image.

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  6. Level horizon: Yep! Been struggling with that one my whole photographic experience (per se). Once I got an architectural grid in my 8008s back in the day, I never ever went back. Every camera thereafter I’d get one put in. With the little Konica rangefinder I am once again struggling with the old nemesis: Level horizon lines. :/

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