olympus 35 rd
“Is that a Leica you’re wielding like a sword?” uttered the street snapper as I walked past him one chilled out afternoon in east London. “I beg your pardon? oh this? It’s an Oly”. He was then immediately less impressed and apparently more understanding of my nonchalant attitude to the camera.
You will occasionally see me holding my camera by the neck strap while walking, leaving it free to swing back and forth. The gentleman used the wrong medieval weapon metaphor of course - the correct one would be a ball and chain. He could also be forgiven for mistaking it for a Leica. I’d by then pimped the thing up with a Leica Leitz style vented hood, and the self timer lever had snapped off in such a way that it left a Leica looking ‘red dot’ in the correct place.
The Olympus 35 RD has been referred to elsewhere as the ‘RC on steroids’. That’s basically accurate. The lens on this thing is simply magnificent. The aperture opens all the way to f1.7, and the slow shutter speed settings of 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and the all important B are a low light dream!
I’d been eyeing the camera for a while, but was constantly discouraged by the ‘gummy shutter’ issue widely discussed on the blogs and forums. They are quite rare to find, the RD, as many of them did not survive into the present day because of said shutter gum issue. I enjoyed the Yashica’s f1.7 aperture so much that I wanted it badly enough. It was perhaps the only setting ‘missing’ from my beloved RC. I was even considering a Canonet QL17, but I wasn't prepared to part with the kind of money asked on eBay for that cult camera.
I loaded it at the antique stall where I bought the camera with an expired roll of Kodak Gold 200 I’d found in a charity shop hours before. The dealer thought I was crazy not to clean the camera first. What?! The dealer was clearly the real deal and knew next to nothing about hipsters.
We They WANT the dust in the photos man, come on!
Inspired by the Mexican American street photographer Jesse Acosta, I decided to make a print for the dealer that gave me a great deal for this camera. I chose this one taken at Stonehenge because it illustrates how sharp the lens is on the RD. And being a gear guy, I was sure he’d appreciate that.
I bought a cheap shutter release button for it, which in essence gave me another 2 stops. Loaded with 800 or 400 speed film, I was basically hand holding night shots at up to shutter 1/8! That’s incredible. And there's the option to push to 1600 with black&white.
This camera has since replaced the RC as my most used camera for street photography. It is yet to go on holiday with me, as I haven’t gone on any, but there is no doubt this camera will be accompanying me to exotic locations soonest. And until that inevitable day when the shutter gums up, it's me and you RD.