Style over function is what the Olympus LT-1 is. The association that is often made between something wrapped in leather and quality is broken by the plastic Lt-1. All this would be forgiven of course (by me) if it was a good camera but sorrowfully it is not. It has a 35mm f3.5 three element lens that is said to be the same as the Olympus Stylus and to be honest I have to go against the prevailing notions and say it isn’t that great. I know the Stylus (not to be confused with the Stylus Epic) is an important camera that sold in the millions but I find that wide open there is a lot of softness and aberrations in the corners with this lens. Also lacking in the functional department is the on/off switch, whereas the Stylus and the Epic turn on by sliding open their clamshells, here you need to pull the leather lens flap away and fiddle with the switch beside the lens on the side of the camera you are supposed to be pointing at something rather than looking at. And that flap is always threatening to include itself in your pictures doing what flaps do…flapping.
On the positive side of things it is a nice looking and feeling camera and it stands out as different, and sometimes isn’t that what you want? A camera that is a lifestyle choice rather than pure performance. If your using this camera you’ve already chosen to use film so it probably matches your handmade leather belt and satchel.
One thing about one camera: LT stands for leather tech and if you don’t like the notion of your camera being covered in an animal you can relax it is faux leather.
It would have been a lot better story if it had ended as the simple trade of my Canon AE-1 for this Olympus SP35 Rangefinder but things never seem to be that easy. I suppose I should back up and start from the beginning. Back as a teenager I bought my first brand new camera a Minolta X700 (Yes the story goes back that far) Saving you from further boredom I will jump ahead to this year. I acquired a Canon A-1 which made my Canon AE-1 superfluous so I decided to sell it and a few others at the local flea-market. A fellow approached and was looking at the cameras, he too had a camera in a case around his neck. After a brief discussion it turned out it was an Olympus Sp35 a model which I had never seen before. It also turned out the wearer of said camera was a photography student and wasn’t happy with it for several reasons one of them being the rangefinder focusing. He wanted an SLR and I love rangefinders so we did a straight trade, the Canon for the Olympus, and that’s the point at which the story should have had a happy ending but unfortunately didn’t. I think he hardly got through the first roll before the Canon jammed which isn’t conducive to completing photo assignments. He happened to be taking the photography class with a friend of mine so he contacted me and I met with him to exchange cameras back but I also offered the alternative to keep the Canon and also receive a Minolta X700. A camera which may have been that first camera I ever owned but I can’t be sure because I had two. He took the Minolta and that’s the last I heard from him.
Well that’s the story of the camera swap at the swap meet. Fortunately the Olympus SP35 is a fine camera and it’s my new favourite, well until something else comes along.
I shot an entire roll of film through my Olympus OM1…twice. It was on purpose of course and I took quite a bit of care in lining the film up for the second go around. I achieved this by making a small scratch on the film so that I could align it the same both times. This actually was harder than it sounds as each time you start loading the film it’s like some sort of random position generator. The first exposures were all of various line art from old technical books and some of my own block prints. What I discovered was that such small areas of high contrast like this were not ideal for double exposures. Many of the line art images are lost in the other second images. However that is how you learn and improve. I added a further layer of complexity to my endeavor by making a list of all the images and then trying to make some sort of match between the two. Here are some of the better examples from this test, in the future I think I would make sure that I used larger areas of dark and light so it makes more of a cut out effect of the second image. The other thing is that despite the visual contrast of black on the white of paper this isn’t nearly enough contrast. Not like what you get from a light source and a silhouette.
If I haven’t said it before I will say it now, the Olympus Stylus Epic is the best small 35mm camera that is readily available. They can be found in all kinds of different places because Olympus sold them by the millions. It’s the perfect carry anywhere camera because of its size and that you can turn it on without looking at it or fumbling for a button, just slide the clamshell open and you are good to go. It also has a great little 35mm f2.8 lens. You don’t have to take my word for it, A quick browse through a Flickr Stylus Epic group will show the versatility of this little pocket wonder. A search of my blog turns up many more examples from this camera Stylus Epic
The Olympus Trip AF mini is the third Amigo amoung my Leica Mini and the Minolta Freedom Escort. As I outlined before the three cameras share a lot of internal components Fraternal Twins. In fact when you look at the three with there backs open they are nearly idestinguishable. The Olympus and the Minolta appear to share the same 34mm lens while the Leica has a 35mm lens that has a different coating (Leica fairy dust)
Now more specifically this camera, the Olympus Trip AF mini has a 34mm f3.5 lens. I found it to produce vignetting on the order of one stop limited to the extreme corners. The lens is quite sharp though and without much distortion. The camera is incredibly light weight but easy to hold with its molded grip area. It has the same flash override as the others and suffers from the same slow startup where the lens extends out in a noisy slow motion mating display. Like the others though it produces results that are much beyond what their plastic shells would have you think.
One of the smallest rangefinders you can find, the Olympus XA is a great little carry anywhere camera. The only drawback is the tiny little focus control and it’s semi hidden nature makes focusing somewhat fussy. You can set the aperture and focus in such a way that it works as zone focusing. At f5.6 and focused at xyz everything from x feet to infinity is rendered clearly enough for most uses.
Yet more images from Calgary with the fantastic little Olympus Stylus Epic.
The Olympus Stylus Epic (mju ii) is my go to pocketable film camera and there isn’t much more to say that hasn’t been said other than to re-iterate what a great camera this is. I used Kodak Ektar 100 film which I also think is a perfect pairing for this camera. Other posts from and about this camera can be seen here Olympus Stylus Epic
It’s a very different proposition comparing film cameras to each other vs digital cameras because the major differences are always the lenses, focus and the exposure system the sensors (film) is the same. With digital there are many more things that differentiate cameras. Because of this it’s almost easier to speak of certain cameras as a group. The group that the Olympus stylus 150 falls into is that of the auto exposure zoom compact. This was the end of the line for film point and shoot cameras with their slow lenses requiring fast film and with the often poor results people got from camera shake at the telephoto end, it was inevitable that camera companies turned their attention fully towards digital capture. These cameras after all were what people were comparing to digital cameras when deciding which to buy at the beginning of the millennium.
Other cameras in this list are: Canon z180u (2004), Nikon light touch zoom 150 ED (2002),Pentax Espio 140v (2002) Samsung Evoka 140 (?) ,Ricoh RZ3000, (1998)
These last kick at the film canister cameras are destined to mostly disappear, they aren’t particularly collectible other than as a marker in camera history and they don’t produce results that stand out.
The Olympus Stylus 150 lens is 37.5mm to 150mm f5.1 to 13.3, 8 elements in 7 groups with both ED and aspherical elements. Autofocus is 11 point and is designed to accommodate off center subject framing.