Olympus Trip 35

A few months ago I met my good friend Kerr for dinner where he brought along his newly purchased Olympus Trip 35. I just love how clever it was given it's simplicity, but also how solid it was for a point and shoot...it made a real impression with me. On my summer holiday I was thinking more and more about how useful it would be to enjoy film photography but in a more relaxed format. I shot both colour and black and white film on our trip and I had tried to shoot the colour film on days where we would chill out and enjoy each others company, and keep the black and white to the war memorials we were seeing in the area. This tied my camera up quite badly; I didn't need an SLR for the colour shots I was after and would find myself in situations where black and white would have been better suited but had colour film loaded and visa versa. I would end up rushing film to get onto the next roll.

As my birthday approached last month I decided I was going to treat myself to two new cameras that I had my eye on for a while and the Olympus Trip 35 was one of them. eBay had a large selection available but one ended in a couple of days and was very low in price. The description read well, "like new" and "good working order", it had the lens cap still, case and the manuals. I decided my price and bid for it at the last second. I won.

The pictures didn't lie; this camera looked great and has very few marks on the shell. It was built-in October 1974 according to the code printed on the press plate in the film door. A quick run through the operations showed it worked well...bar one important feature...the red flag. With this camera the auto exposure is it's sweet-spot; with no batteries needed, the selenium cell on the front will adjust the aperture and limited shutter speeds to give you a good exposure. In low light the button will lock and a red flag appear in the viewfinder. This camera was allowing me to take shots in all conditions and not trustworthy in auto exposure mode. Secondly, the owner had added a UV filter at some point and this could not be easily removed due to cross-threading. I was gutted.

A look online provided a wealth of information with a guide on how to dismantle the camera to test different areas that may be causing the problem. With nothing to lose I opened the top of the camera and tested the meter by shining a light onto the selenium meter and watching for the internal needle to react. Nothing.

Next I was onto the aperture blades and this involved carefully breaking down the lens to get to the blades and then cleaning them. Two or three steps in and I was faced with removing the photocell on the front of the camera and it soon became clean what was wrong as it came away disconnected from the wires feeding the meter.

This was going to need soldered and I didn't have the tools do that so I was onto Amazon and ordered one. I carried on down the lens until the I got the aperture blades and cleaned them up with lighter fluid.

The lighter fluid worked a treat and, although the blades were not sticking badly, they completely freed up. I also applied this to the red flag mechanism as it was clear that this was having its own problems outside of the lack of metering, it worked though will need a lubricant to help it more.

The soldering iron eventually arrived and I started to solder the ends back onto the photocell. The meter jumped into life but sadly my skill in soldering - non-existent - let me down badly and I'm unsure I've now caused more damage than good.

Soldering a side, the filter attached to the film speed ring was also removed earlier. I didn't want to damage the camera and was willing to sacrifice a UV filter to get it off. Sacrifice I did. With pliers and screwdrivers I destroyed the filter being careful to keep the damage I was inflicting to the filter and also little pressure on the camera as I did it. It wasn't for the faint of heart. Eventually the glass fell out the ring and with a pair of pliers I twisted the metal away from the camera and lifted it off.

The fact the soldering worked briefly is both annoying and good news. It's annoying because now it is my own skill letting me down, and good because there is little wrong with the camera. My eBay watch list is still full of Trip35 auctions and it may get to the point where I cut my losses but I'm never one to give up so easily. As long as it is costing me very little then I'm happy tinkering...and there isn't much I don't know about how these cameras work now.