Olympus Trip 35 – zone focus film camera that needs no battery

Olympus Trip 35

The Olympus Trip 35 was extremely popular back in the 1970s and 1980s. According to the Olympus camera website, the Olympus Trip first went on sale in 1968. Over the next two decades, Olympus produced and sold over 10 million of these little zone focus film cameras. Those made prior to 1978 had a silver metal shutter release button. Those made after 1978 had a black plastic shutter release button.

The Olympus Trip 35 was designed to be very simple to operate, relatively cheap to produce, and didn’t require any batteries to run the light meter. The name Trip refers to the idea that this is a great little camera to grab and take with you where ever you go. It is quite small compared with many other cameras made at that time. This overall feeling of compactness is enhanced by the D-Zuiko lens protruding a very short distance from the body of the camera. With a soft case, the little Olympus Trip 35 fits easily in a jacket or coat pocket. However being made mostly of metal it has a solid feel to it.

With Olympus cameras made during the 1970s and 1980s, the capital letter that prefixes the name of the Zuiko lens signifies the number of glass elements used in its manufacture. The letter D being the fourth letter of the alphabet tells us this lens has four elements. It is a Tessar design with four elements in three groups. It is surprisingly sharp with great contrast.

One thing to look out for is fungal growth on the middle or rear lens elements. This can be difficult to see as there is no B setting so the shutter cannot be held open. You can get a fairly good look through the lens by cocking the shutter, and then press the shutter release most of the way down in poor light so the aperture blades are wide open. Then fully release the shutter while shining a torch through from the back. I did this on one Olympus Trip that was producing very flat “milky’ negatives only to discover that half of the rear element was covered in spidery fungus lines! A tiny bit of fungus won’t matter but too much and it diffuses the light producing horrible soft images.

The controls on the Olympus Trip 35 are very simple top operate.

With the aperture ring set to A the camera operates in Program Automatic mode, albeit with just two shutter speeds available: 1/40 sec and 1/200 sec. The aperture in Automatic mode is set by the camera depending upon the strength of light falling on the selenium light meter on the front of the lens. The range being between f2.8 and f22.

No battery means the absence of a battery compartment on the bottom plate.

Olympus Trip 35 has an exposure lock

Should there be insufficient light for correct exposure a mechanical red warning flag pops up in the viewfinder and the shutter is locked. This means you have to use a flash. You can test to see if the in-built light meter is working by winding on and placing your hand over the selenium cell with the aperture ring set at A. With your hand over the light cell the red warning flag should appear in the finder and the shutter should lock. By pointing the camera towards the light and removing your hand the shutter should fire normally. If not the meter is dead.

Although there are only two shutter speeds this is quite sufficient in most photography situations. The smallest aperture and fastest shutter speed combination of 1/200 sec @ f22 will be fine with ASA 400 film even in bright sunlight. At the other end of the spectrum, 1/40 sec @ f2.8 using ASA 400 film will permit shooting indoors provided there is strong lighting. The ASA range is 25-400. Some of the earlier produced cameras had a maximum ASA of 200. The ASA film speed is set by turning a ring on the front of the lens.

The Olympus Trip 35 is very compact.

The Olympus Trip 35 has exposure lock. This works by pressing the shutter release half way down with the camera aimed at the subject you wish to expose for, then recomposing the shot before pressing the shutter all the way down.

The Olympus Trip 35 is zone focus only

When using flash the aperture ring is turned to the setting recommended on the flash. With the aperture ring in any position other than the A setting the shutter speed is automatically set at 1/40 second. However, I found that the aperture is not locked at the setting marked on the ring. It still stops down in bright light even with a flash on the hot-shoe.

There is no rangefinder. The Olympus Trip is zone focus only. This is quite adequate but does require the photographer to be aware of the need to set the focus based on a rough estimate of the distance to the subject before each shot if out-of-focus frames are to be avoided. It is easy to forget to set the distance. On top of the lens, there are four small icons indicating four focusing zones. There are also distances marked in feet and meters on the bottom of the lens.

Note the thumb wheel for winding on the film instead of the usual lever. Undoubtedly an economy measure to keep down the cost of production. It works very well.
On this Olympus Trip Flickr Group, it shows you how to date your camera. According to my calculations mine was made in October 1981.

Inside the Olympus Trip 35. Note the thumb wheel for winding on the film instead of the usual lever. undoubtedly an economy measure to keep down the cost. It works very well.

The code on the inside of the film pressure plate, along with the black shutter button, shows the date of manufacture. It indicates the camera was made in October 1981.


Lens: D-Zuiko F2.8 f=40mm. Four elements in three groups.

Shutter: Programme Automatic 1/40 sec or 1/200sec Manual 1/40 sec X Syncro contact.

Aperture sets automatically from f2.8 to f22

Viewfinder: Bright frame finder (Magnification 0.55) with parallax correction mark and zone focus marks.

Film Speeds: ASA 25-400

Filter size: 43.5mm Size and weight: 116 (width) x 70 (height) x 57 (depth) mm, 410g

Allan Burgess

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Allan Burgess

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