Author Topic: Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders  (Read 5803 times)

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imagesfrugales

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Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« on: September 13, 2014, 12:20:35 AM »
l-DSC06462 by imagesfrugales, on Flickr

It took some time (years) after I came back to (analogue) photography in 2008 to get used to and to like rangefinders. I am the SLR guy, beeing able to compose precisely, be it frame or focus, enjoying the huge and bright finder image of SLRs since the 70s. I only once had a M-Leica in my hands and it was simply perfect. But - to expensive for me for sure. I am poor as a churchmouse, almost. Many affordable japanese rangefinders have quality problems after decades of usage or non-usage. They usually have wobbly lenses and sticky shutters. Repairing yourself can be a night mare. Additionally some highly reputes makes have no-go features as the imo heavily overrated Konica Auto S3, no manual exposure at all. No go! and prices rise and rise. CDS-equipped meters are also a big problem. Many (most) of them are so off today that they are unusable today. So a manual mode is a must. Many lenses, though highly reputed, can not keep up with a cheap and simple Cosina 50 mm SLR lens  from the 70s. I'm not talking about snapshots but high grade photography. Furthermore the finders are dim and dirty, but the cleaning can be done at home if you don't have to left hands. You see, a lot of quirks made this kind of camera rather undesirable for me. After trying some models like the Minolta 7s or 7sII, Olympus XA and some more, I decided that rangerfinders are not my cup of coffee. But for IR-photography that I started to like a rangefinder would be so much better that a SLR. The finder of a SLR is useless with an IR filter. Now, the rangefinder I was looking for had to be or have

affordable
solid built quality, no lens wobble
smooth working shutter with slow speeds
smooth working self timer for tripod usage (I alway loose or forget cable releases)
manual exposure setting
outstanding lens quality

 I tried a lot and din't like anything. I found an Olympus 35 RD with broken shutter speed ring and a second one with with almost everything broken except the shutter speed ring. I paid 5 Eur for the first and 10 Eur for the second. I made one of the two and it's a great camera. Especially for IR-photography and when you can't need camera shake at all. The shutter is ultra-silent and vibration-free. The lens is on par with a good SLR lens. The finder is OK, but still I would prefer the spectacular finder of a Voigtlander CLR. Compared to a SLR you have to visualize the result with your hopefully existing brain. The light meter is broken, but heh, it's crappy CDS and none of the affordable cameras had a silicon cell. The Olympus 35 RD is the first rangefinder which I can afford and who gives me the desired results.

The 35 RD has a great 1.7/40 lens - period. A small and light-weighted tripod will be fine, no camera shake at all. A Gorilla-Pod and your bicycle will be fine. A perfect small outfit. Or you can handheld speeds of 1/30 or even below. Full manual operation, no batteries needed. Built like a tank. See the big damage of the camera top left in the picture above. The camera fell on a stone floor from 1 meter height. It works! As shown I often use it with a step-up ring and 55 mm 720 nm IR filter.

2 samples on Agfa ASP 400s film with IR 720 filter, exposed at EI 25 and developed in homebrewed Parodinal, see the biggest available size on flckr:

sinister sky by imagesfrugales, on Flickr

Thorn by imagesfrugales, on Flickr
« Last Edit: September 13, 2014, 12:22:10 AM by imagesfrugales »

Peter84

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Re: Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2014, 02:41:14 PM »
that is beautiful work, is the (light) sepia tone due to the Parodinal? And on that subject how do you homebrew that  ;D

02Pilot

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Re: Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2014, 07:47:24 PM »
Olympus made some damn fine rangefinders in their day. I looked around (only semi-seriously) for a reasonably-priced 35RD before I stumbled on a very reasonably priced 35SP, which pretty much took care of that particular need.
Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it;
and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.


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imagesfrugales

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Re: Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2014, 09:18:01 PM »
Peter: the color of an inverted negative (= picture you look at) is always depending on the processing, not the development, let aside cross processing or faulty developments. Be it bw or color, wet print or scan. Only transparencies can be left unprocessed, negs always need "interpretation". And that's why I prefer shooting negative film. Here the negs were "scanned" with a dslr, bellows and Rodagon enlarger lens, the files were processed in Gimp and my favorite faststone image viewer.

I use Donald Qualls reliable recipe http://www.digitaltruth.com/data/parodinal.php but with 10 % less paracetamol/tylenol. I mostly dilute 1:50 and use Rodinal times with success.

O2Pilot: yes, the Olympus rangefinders have excellent lenses for sure. The 35 SP is probably the king, but a lot bulkier and heavier and much more expensive than the RD. I'm perfectly satisfied with the RD.

« Last Edit: September 14, 2014, 09:38:47 PM by imagesfrugales »

02Pilot

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Re: Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2014, 10:13:38 PM »
Yep, the SP is bigger for sure - there are times I wish it was smaller - and the shutter is really loud compared with virtually every other leaf shutter I've encountered. It would probably have been a lot more expensive had it not been missing the spot meter button when I got it (since repaired and working fine), but missing parts tend to drop prices fast. In any case, they're both great cameras.
Any man who can see what he wants to get on film will usually find some way to get it;
and a man who thinks his equipment is going to see for him is not going to get much of anything.


-Hunter S. Thompson
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Hungry Mike

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Re: Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2014, 12:18:27 AM »
Nice work and interesting commentary on the RD. I have been doing a similar exploration of rangefinders having mostly used SLRs and P&S/Viewfinder cameras previously... I've tried a lot of them (in fact I have a box lot of Fujicas that need attention this autumn). The one I've kept coming back to is the Oly RC. Very small & compact (possibly too small but I have smallish hands) and a nice lens. I have a SP as well but I haven't warmed to it. Maybe it is the size, the weight, or maybe I haven't got my head around the spot metering, I don't know. I'll have to shoot with it more to make up my mind.

One thing though, your images and your review definitely renews my RD lust.

bence8810

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Re: Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2014, 02:36:48 PM »
Hi Reinhold,

Try the Konica IIIa, its a beautiful camera, very well built and has excellent - albeit fixed - 48mm f2 lens.
I have it and shot many great photos with it. I live in Japan so it is possible the price I paid was cheaper than what you'll find it at, I bought it for 70USD and paid 100USD for an overhaul. I also have a Leica M3 which I equally love, but the Konica produces the same images at a quarter of the price if not less and it has a better 1:1 finder that no Leica to date has.

It is meter less of course, not sure if that's a concern. I just prefer old mechanical cameras and don't mind to meter myself.

Good luck!
Ben

bence8810

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Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2014, 02:46:18 PM »
REMOVED IRRELEVANT POST
« Last Edit: October 02, 2014, 12:36:28 AM by bence8810 »

Francois

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Re: Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2014, 10:45:16 PM »
Guys,

I have the Pakon F-135 Plus scanner which was delivered to me about 2 weeks ago from AAA... The scanner works well with my iMac 2009 using Parallels and XP. It was a bit tricky to set up, ended up needing to install a different flavourless XP which wasn't what I had installed at first. Pakon is picky for sure, but once it works, my word!

I have a few questions if you guys don't mind.

1. Once the wheels start turning, I hear a squealing noise but the film is carried without trouble.
2. I scanned only strips so far but what I noticed is that the film isn't being spat out at the end, I need to pull on it slightly to get it out of the enclosure. Is this ok or a problem?
3. My negatives are slightly scratched. I fear it is being done in the enclosure or at the entrance / exit. Do you guys have any similar experience?

I am debating whether I should take the thing apart and look inside or not. Was thinking about taking the top off, blowing it out and seeing if it makes a difference.


Thanks,
Ben
Wrong thread :)
Francois

Film is the vinyl record of photography.

bence8810

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Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2014, 12:35:11 AM »
Quote
Wrong thread :)

Whoops sorry, will try to edit it out.

Ben

Skorj

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Re: Olympus 35 RD - thoughts about rangerfinders
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2015, 01:47:38 PM »
Nice summary of the RD. I think there was even an RD - wide too. Really rare JDM only. I hunted for one for ages and settled on the Canonet QL17...