Friday, August 24, 2018

A Quick Review of the Olympus 35 LC Camera

If you ask film users about Olympus 35mm rangefinder cameras, there is no doubt that you'll hear about the popular Olympus 35 RC, the Olympus XA, and probably the Olympus 35 SP. It's unlikely that you'll hear a peep about the Olympus 35 LC.  While the 35 LC was produced from 1967 to perhaps 1970, it just does not seem to be as commonly seen as the subsequent Olympus rangefinder cameras.
Last year, I happened to come across an Olympus rangefinder camera that I had never seen before.  The Olympus 35 LC is an interesting 35mm rangefinder with a CdS light meter.  It's not auto-anything, and is somewhat on the large size, compared to the later Olympus 35 RC.  The 35 LC features a 42mm f/1.7 Zuiko lens, shutter speeds from 1 sec to 1/500 sec + B, an ISO range of 10 to 800, and an easily focused lens with a lever on the lens barrel.  This is a nice all-metal camera, with a very quiet shutter.  There is both a PC socket and a hot shoe for the flash.  The meter needle shows both in the viewfinder and in a window on the top deck of the camera.  The meter requires a mercury cell for 1.3 V, but I used a 1.5V silver-oxide cell, as that will be close-enough for b&w and C-41 films.    The bright-frame viewfinder is large and has parallax correction.  The RF focus patch is easy to see, making the camera a joy to focus.  No squinting into a tiny window with this camera.    Since the CdS meter window is inside the lens ring, you can use filters and the camera will meter through them for proper exposures.

The Olympus 35 LC stands out as being larger than the compact 35 RC.  Released in 1967, it predates the smaller SP and RC rangefinders by 2-3 years.  The 35LC dimensions are  138 mm W x 81 mm H x 70 mm D. Compare that to the 35 RC, which is 110 mm W x 70mm H x 50mm D.  While it's a larger camera, it feels right in the hands, much like a Konica Auto S2. 

The Olympus 35 LC features:

  • Lens: G.Zuiko 42mm f1.7, 7 elements in 5 groups, 55mm filter ring
  • Apertures: f/1.7 - f/16
  • Shutter: Copal-X, speeds B, 1-1/500 sec.
  • Meter: CdS cell, inside the filter thread
  • Viewfinder: Bright frame viewfinder with parallax correction.
  • Film speed: ASA 10 to 800.
  • Self timer: on lens barrel
  • Tripod socket centered 
  • Flash- PC  socket on left side, standard hot shoe, x-sync only
  • Power: 1.3v mercury for meter - I used a 1.5 V cell with good results.
  • Weight: 660 grams.

The meter is actuated by a button on the top right of the rear of the camera body. You can use the top-mounted display to see where your settings are centering the needle (or not), or you can use the display that appears in the viewfinder.  There is no auto setting. 

The camera has a fast 42mm f/1.7 lens.  The 42mm focal length makes it just slightly wider than the standard 50mm that we consider "normal."  By comparison, the Olympus 35 RC has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 with its 42mm lens, which makes it more compact, but definitely not as capable.  The shutter speed range on the 35 LC is B, and 1- 1/500 sec, with all of the standard intervals.  You can use any 55mm screw-on filter, and the CdS cell will give you an accurate reading through the filter. Of course, with a polarizer, you won't be able to see the maximum effect like you would in an SLR.

I find the camera to be pleasant to use. The focus ring has a lever to grip, and the focus range is just under 3 feet to infinity.  The outer ring on the lens barrel comtrols shutter speed, and the inner ring controls aperture. Each has a different feel, making the operation easier without looking.  The shutter is very quiet, and the film advance is a single stroke.  It's not as light as my Olympus Trip 35, but then again, this is a far more capable camera, not a point and shoot.  I love the logo on the front -- rather old-school, and it looks like a quality camera.   I see the 35 LC on eBay for around $100 for good examples.  As a quality camera, this is a steal.

As always, the proof is in the results. 

Marquette, MI, Tri-X

Ann Arbor, MI. Tri-X

Collingwood, Ontario, Polypan-F

Collingwood, Ontario, Polypan-F

Collingwood, Ontario, Polypan-F

Ann Arbor, MI, Polypan-F

Collingwood, Ontario, Polypan-F


Unknown said...

Nice review. Thank you. A manual metering beautiful rangefinder with that SP lens that's supposed to be the best. Definitely worth a look.

Thomas Shafoaloff said...

Beautiful camera...well lens...very nice viewfinder. CDs meters are accurate and sensitive in low light situations.

Thomas Shafoaloff said...

Oh, forgot, your pictures are first rate examples of lens performance. Thanks!

mfophotos said...

Thanks, Thomas. It's a great camera that I ultimately sold earlier this year. Too many RFs and I found myself using the Yashica Electro 35CC more and more. On top of that, the Leica M2 and Canon 7 demand my attention! The Oly 35 LC is a far superior camera to the little 35 RC, and yes, it's lens is really good.