Experiments with vintage cameras – Part One

It’s early October and the summer seems to already be a distant memory, this year I spent my holidays working with my vintage cameras. It was the summer of loving film again. A little camera in my pocket replaced my use of an SLR and my iPhone. Every now and again I get tired of digital images. They sit on my hard drive screaming ‘print me’ and then of course I forget. I miss the days of sending a film off and the anticipation as you waited for that packet of 36 exposures to drop through the letter box. The older I get the more I miss those days when personal photographs had a value as a physical image that you would keep in a wallet or album and share with friends. I love going to my parents home and opening up the old family albums, faces familiar from so long ago now just a distant memory with only a black and white photograph to remind me of who they once were. With digital imaging we share our memories in the virtual world, but it is fleeting and how many people really notice life beyond the click of a like button!

With film we can press the pause button and for me going back to my vintage camera gave me the chance to slow things down just a little. I’ve had an Olympus Trip 35 for about 15 years, it was a chance find in an old camera shop. Left in the cupboard for many a year it was much in need of a clean. The light seals had deteriorated quite badly, and this is a common problem to look out for on a film camera that is from the early to middle of the last century. Thankfully you can purchase replacement seals really cheaply from Ebay. I personally replaced the light seal myself as it isn’t a complicated job. At the moment you can pick up an Olympus Trip 35 second hand for between £10.00 & £40.00 depending upon the model. Earlier serial numbers have a metal shutter release button while the later models only have a black plastic one. Find a trip with a metal shutter release and you can expect to pay the higher price. A fully refurbished Trip is likely to cost you around £80.00-£100. Keep your eyes peeled in charity shops and vintage fairs and the alternative is of course Ebay, where there is a fast turnover of second hand cameras. In addition to the Trip you can also still pick up many of its accessories including the flash and close-up filter. There is an art to using the close-up filter as it relies on you being at a certain distance from the subject; to near or too far and your image will be blurred. I picked up a close-up filter for about £15.00 a few years ago and they still seem to sell for about the same price.

Why choose the Olympus Trip 35? It’s a 35mm compact camera that makes a great companion for days out and holidays. Introduced on to the market in 1967 production ran until 1984. During the 1970’s the camera was made a household name by an advertising campaign featuring renowned portrait and fashion photographer David Bailey. Over ten million Trips were sold, so there are still plenty in circulation on the second hand market. The Trip has a 40mm lens and has an aperture that can be set between f2.8 and f22 making it ideal for lots of different photography situations. From landscapes to portraits the Trip can cope with just about anything thanks to its solar powered selenium light meter. In ‘A’ mode, the Trip is set to automatic, with shutter speeds of either 1/40th sec or 1/200th sec. With ISO settings of between 25 & 400 the Trip allows for a range of film stock to be used. Built with a four-element Tessar lens this camera was built to take some seriously good holiday snaps! Over the summer I kept my Trip 35 in my handbag and it was great to have the freedom of carrying a lightweight camera as it weighs just 390g. It doesn’t need batteries, which makes a refreshing change. I get so fed up of every digital gadget needing to be charged. With the Trip you can just get up and go!


When using the Trip in low light with an exposure  below 1/40 at f/2.8, the shutter locks and a red transparent flag rises from the bottom of the finder when you are in ‘A’ setting. It is worth testing if this works when buying a Trip 35. Given the age of the camera they usually don’t flag up in low light. You can unscrew the top of the camera and clean it all out to get the flag to come up but it’s not advisable unless you are confident with technical stuff. However there are several people around who refurbish the Trip 35, so you could make the investment and get you camera cleaned and re-skinned (see refurbishment in the links below).

Below are some shots taken using the close-up filter. This simply screws to the front of the lens and you need to be approximately 30cm away from your subject to get a reasonably focused image. I like the overall effect it gives and there is a quality to the final image that feels very paint like as the background has an interesting blur to it.

If you have been thinking about getting an Olympus Trip 35 it will be the best investment in a 35mm compact film camera you ever make as they are such a fun camera to have. Hopefully my results give you a taste of just how good a camera it is.

The summer romance with film didn’t end with the Olympus Trip 35. In fact it started a bit of an obsession with vintage cameras and my next purchase was an Agfa Isolette ii and an Isolette iii but more about those cameras in my next blog post.

Suppliers and Refurbishment:

TripMan: http://www.tripman.co.uk/

Lomography: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/95094-fix-and-refurbish-an-olympus-trip-35

Stockist of light seals and cameras services: http://streetshooters.co.uk/product/olympus-trip-35-repair-service/

Olympus Trip PDF Instruction Manual: olympustripmanual


  • Experiments With Vintage Cameras – Part Two
    Experiments With Vintage Cameras – Part Two
  • It’s a Film Romance -Feeling a little nostalgic, and a little tired of the pureness of digital imagery, Kusuma Dawn Hart dusted off her Pentax MZ-S and put a roll of HP5 through its paces.
    It’s a Film Romance -Feeling a little nostalgic, and a little tired of the pureness of digital imagery, Kusuma Dawn Hart dusted off her Pentax MZ-S and put a roll of HP5 through its paces.