Olympus RC Is this "The One?"

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by mjferron, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. Really I've just discovered these little gems. Reasonably well built, Shutter priority if you want it and meters that actually work. I'd love to be a Leica guy but that stuff is beyond my means. I have several Rollei 35's that I like a lot but they are quirky at best and have no way to focus accurately. Some thing about Canonets leave me a bit indifferent. But this Oly really talks to me. The focus patch is easy to see, the film advance is very smooth and the lens appears to be very sharp. I'll post some photos when something worthwhile comes along.
  2. The Olympus 35 RC is one of my personal favorites of this genre - the affordable consumer grade fixed lens rangefinder. But it's not quite perfect.
    • Lens: The Canonet GIII QL17 has a faster lens that's pretty darned good wide open. The Olympus 35 RC f/2.8 lens is good wide open, but forces me to push process more often.
    • The rangefinder is slightly better than the 35 RC, after it's been cleaned up to remove decades of haze. There's also a bit more separation between the viewfinder and rangefinder in the Canonet, making for somewhat more accurate focusing.
    • The Canonet is somewhat better ergonomically for folks with larger hands. I have long but skinny fingers, so the Olympus is fine with me. And the 35 RC's top mounted shutter speed dial is somewhat easier to adjust than the Canonet's lens-barrel shutter speed ring.
    • The Canonet's quick load system is terrific for quick film changes. No such doodad with the 35 RC and Olympus never quite got it right with any quick load system, even on the iS-series ZLR.
    • The 35 RC film advance lever tick-tick-ticks slightly, while the Canonet is nearly inaudible, other than the sound of the film itself moving. In a live theater setting, that can be a critical difference between taking the shot now, and waiting a second until there's just enough stage noise to cover the camera noise. Sometimes I'll put the 35 RC into my shoulder bag to mask the film advance sound while winding.
    • Best of all, the Canonet's meter works reasonably well in manual mode. To use the 35 RC's meter for manual mode, you must switch to auto-exposure mode, then *c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y* depress the shutter release slightly to get a reading without tripping the shutter, then switch to manual mode. Or remember to not advance the film and cock the shutter before metering. Or just tote an incident meter. Or just guesstimate, which is my usual solution.
    • The Canonet, matched with the Canolite D flash, is very slightly more convenient for good snapshot flash results. But the 35 RC comes close with distance based flash, as long as you know the guide number of the attached flash and choose the closest appropriate setting on the lens barrel. I have the Olympus PS 200 flash, which is relatively uncommon, but other flashes work just as well using guide number/distance based flash.
    But for me, it finally came down to portability and a reasonable compromise in features and ease of use. The Olympus 35 RC is the smallest of that entire genre with fully manual override for focus, exposure and flash. It's very quiet, which suits my needs for snapshots at live theater, ballet or opera performances. And for some inexplicable reason, I finally sold or gave away all my other compact fixed lens rangefinders from that era, after buying a second Oly 35 RC to replace the one I foolishly sold during the 1990s.
    Dunno why, but while my SLRs are all Nikon now, all of my favorite small P&S type cameras are Olympus: the XA-3, 35 RC and C-3040Z digital - and I'm leaning toward Olympus for my next small digicam. I've tried other brands and end up selling 'em or giving 'em away. Olympus seems to have a knack for making appealing small cameras.
  3. Wow! All the above, I guess, plus the fact that, in the hands of a competent operator, the 35 RC can actually take quite decent pictures....Joking aside, Michael, it's really all in the lens and that little Zuiko is a sterling performer. I'm looking forward to the pics...
  4. I just finished replacing the seals on a 35RC. I have yet to run a roll of film through it, but the examples I've seen from them are remarkable.
  5. Nice looking example, Michael. Good luck with it.
    I'd love to be a Leica guy but...​
    Take a look at the Canon P rangefinder and LTM Canon Lenses. Not nearly as expensive as the Leica gear and makes a great RF system
  6. Really like my 35RC also. Olympus built some interesting compact fixed lens RF's. They also seemed to work hard to design in some annoying quirks. For me it's not those mentioned by Lex but there are two on my list.
    1. Trapped needle auto exposure. This necessitates the long and high pressure shutter release stroke. I've become fairly good at pressing the shutter release down to 1mm above it's collar, holding, and then squeezing off the shot after I frame what I want.
    2. The (censored) 43.5mm, (censored) inset filter thread! Come on Olympus! Your Pen F lenses have 43mm as well as the Pen D. One lousy .5mm and filter choice drops to almost nil. I searched and searched for a 43.5F to series 6 adapter and still had to clearance the ID so it would fit in that channel. Now I just leave it on all the time.
    OK, rant over.
    One more note. I use the #675 zink air hearing aid batteries in mine. Work fine and last about 3~4 months.
  7. I've bought and sold a couple of RC's on EBay and agree with Les, the egonomics are really bad, to the point where I seldom used those cameras. My Olympus Pen D on the other hand was a joy to use so Olympus can do it right, sometimes.
  8. I have a 35 RC but do not use it often. Of the Olympus RFs my favorite is the 35 SP. I don't mind the extra size and weight. I also have an RD and, I think, an EC. The RD is also good when f/2.8 won't do. My favorite camera of this type is the Minolta Hi-Matic 7SII. I wish its rf patch was a little more contrasty but I like the camera's other features. The Konica Auto S3 doesn't easily allow full manual control but if it's just a backlighting situation I can tilt the camera down, lock the needle and then tilt back up and shoot. I prefer using an SLR in most situations but I find it difficult to limit myself to one lens. If I am using one lens and it's a zoom some of my favorites are the Vivitar/Kiron 28-85/2.8-3.8, Vivitar Series 1 28-90/2.8-3.5, Minolta 35-70/3.5 MD (2nd version), Soligor C/D 35-70/2.5-3.5. If the lens isn't a zoom then I will use a macro lens in the 50-55 range or a 35mm wide angle in the f/1.8-2 range.
  9. Charles says "the egonomics are really bad"
    How so?
  10. There is nothing wrong with the Rollei 35 focusing system. If you set it for 25 meters or whatever it will be precisely sharp at that distance.
    Of course, there may be something wrong with your ability to accurately estimate distances, but that's not the camera's fault. ;)
    Nice Oly camera, but can it take pictures?
  11. I do like RC a lot but it's not what I'd call equivalent to a Leitz lens. In my view the Rollei 35 (Tessar or Sonnar) is much more like it.
  12. JDM says"There is nothing wrong with the Rollei 35 focusing system. If you set it for 25 meters or whatever it will be precisely sharp at that distance."
    I agree and most times I don't have a problem with it. But if you want to shoot a portrait or object @2.8 and 3 ft shallow DOF will demand an exact focus point at which i'm gussing.
  13. John, you described the 35 RC's quirky metering better than I did.
    I was lucky to find a 35 RC with the original 43.5mm Olympus protective filter. And now that I have it, I'm tempted to take it off and put it away somewhere. A hood would be nice, but I'll probably have to cobble one together. So far it hasn't been too flare-prone outdoors in daylight.
    The ergonomics aren't so bad, unless you have sausage fingers. Not really any worse than the Canonet's crowded lens barrel, with the focus, aperture and shutter speed rings all competing for the same real estate. None of these cameras is really well designed for quickly making adjustments by feel. But it's a reasonable trade off for the compact size.
  14. Yes JDM, it can take pictures. :)
    Those last two had some PP done to them but the rest are straight out of the camera. As far as the ergos go, the ring around the lens is pretty small and fiddly. Other then that its a great little camera, very solidly made with an interesting electro mechanical exposure system. I just dont like the fact that its shutter priority. My brain just doesnt work in shutter priority when I shoot. Thats why I love my Yashica Electro G rangefinders...aperture priority all the way. Fortunately batteries arent an issue for me since I have a local hookup on mercury batteries. :)
  15. Good to own several models. RC for travelling light. Canonet for faster lens and larger jacket pocket. Or skip the pocket
    and pick up a Konica Auto S2.
  16. Wicked nice.
  17. Thanks. :)
  18. As for the Rollei:
    I agree and most times I don't have a problem with it. But if you want to shoot a portrait or object @2.8 and 3 ft shallow DOF will demand an exact focus point at which i'm gussing.​
    If you're working very close and worried about DoF, then you probably need to look up a classic SLR. Otherwise, the viewfinder of the Rollei does have parallax marks, and there are ways of getting close up distances very precisely. :) Just sayin'
  19. Hold still while I touch your nose with my measuring device? LOL
  20. Rave review of Olympus 35 RC <<< Click
    "The Olympus 35RC is a simple camera that just happens to do everything a serious photographer needs. It has nothing to get in the way, and has a superb lens and exposure system that ensures perfect, sharp shots every time with a minimum of weight and fuss" Ken R.
    Some stunning images from this 5 element lens in the full info review.
    "By using an advanced 5-element deign, and the perfect normal focal length, Olympus is able to give the immortal 35RC incredible optical performance far beyond that of mere mortal cameras" Ken R.
  21. Interesting, I have a few Canonet QL17 cameras, yet in none of them will the meter work except in Auto mode. Having
    shot both types of cameras quite often, I find the Olympus cameras generally have better lenses than the Canonets.
    The best of the bunch would be the SP, in which the meter works regardless of whether the camera is in auto or
    manual, has a faster lens than the RC, and a sharper lens than the Canonet.
  22. The Rollei is just too expensive whenever I had looked into one! I'd love one though.
    The Zuiko lens is no slouch as your images prove. Wonderful contrast.

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