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Olympus 35 RD
Compact, full featured
fast lens, manual over-ride, shutter priority AE with lots of nice features.
The Oly 35 RD belongs in the elite small group of compact 35
Rangefinders with faster than f/2 lenses, automatic exposure, and manual over-ride.
It competes with the Leica CL, at far less cost.
The Plus Side
- Compact 35 Rangefinder with six element 40/1.7 lens,
focusing to 34"
- VERY Nice viewfinder/rangefinder with AE selected
F/stops in finder when it's cleaned. These 70's cameras
were comparatively modestly priced and not well sealed against dirt. After 30
years, the finders usually fog or haze up. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
Do not use one of these on a regular basis without making sure the finder is
as clean as it gets. Case in point, I thought I had a relatively clean Olympus
RD finder. I had it cleaned anyway when I was doing a shutter
lubrication. It made ALL the difference,
turning an OK finder into a bright very usable finder.
- Shutter priority AE with manual over-ride
(non-metered), with lock beyond its limits
- The AE chosen f/stops are shown in the finder
- The RD has Guide Number Automatic Flash exposure! What's that you ask? A great way to get accurate flash shots.
Before flash units electronically set their exposures, photogs had to manually set the
f/stops to the flash every time they refocused per the inverse square law. Nope, not
going to get into it, if you are not familiar with it, look into a good intro photo text
book. Anyway, you set the f/stop ring to the flash symbol, and set the camera
to the GN number of your flash (GN 45 to 90 in feet, 14 to 28 in meters), and then
just flash away. As you focus, the f/stop will automatically with the focused
distance to give you the correct exposure. This system is often is more
accurate than electronic flash control since it can not be fooled by dark or light subject
deviating from the standard gray. IF you are a Nikon or Topcon SLR fan, you might
remember some lenses using this GN system.
- Very Quiet leaf shutter.
- AE exposure lock, just depress the shutter release
- Manual over-ride, alas with no metering.
- An unusual feature is that the Viewfinder will
still show the chosen f/stop on manual exposure. Most compact 35's have no
finder indication of f/stops when on manual.
- Large, convenient easy to use controls
- Beautifully finished
- Electronic Flash sync at all speeds, 1/2 to 1/500 plus B.
- CDS cell inside 49mm ring, making filter
- ASA range 25-800
- Lens caps serves as ON/OFF switch to save battery
- Hot Shoe and PC outlet
- The battery off switch is the lens cap, which on
the lens stops current flow.
- Weight 17 oz, measurements 4 1/2" x 2
3/4" x 2 1/4", slightly smaller than the Canon GIII QL, 49 mm filters
- Not an easy to find camera
- No metering in manual mode, typical of this 70's class of
- Uses the outlawed in the US Mercury 625 batteries.
Though new old stock mercury batteries can still be found
occasionally, the best solution may be having the camera adjusted to take the alkaline
To really appreciate the Olympus
RD you need to try to find a new camera today with its features. You can't.
There are simply no compact rangefinder cameras made today with a faster than f/2
lens. If you want available light and quiet shooting on a budget, this is an
Olympus RC and RD: 2 oz and 1 1/3 f/stops apart.
Olympus RD and Leica M3 with non-aspheric 35/2 Summicron and
Voigtlander Kontur 35mm finder: 8.5 oz and $1650 apart. Hmmm.
Olympus 35 DC: a modified RD with the same body, lens and rangefinder
- AE operation only, no manual override
- Battery test added near the rear eyepiece
- Viewfinder shows both the selected f/stop and shutter
- Back light compensation adds 1 1/2 stops to the exposure
-- an unusual feature for compact AE RF's of this era
- GN guide system now set by a dial on the top plate
- Hot shoe or PC connection
- An interesting design and a viable alternative to the RD
if you can do without the manual over-ride
- Generally much less expensive than the similar RD.
Olympus 35 ED: a stripped down RD, same body, apparently same rangefinder
- 38/2.8 lens instead of 40/1.7 lens
- AE operation only, NO indication of chosen f/stops and
- Uses larger batteries, two HM-N or RM-640
- the RC is an obviously better choice than the ED, in my
November 28, 2006
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Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved. This means you may NOT
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