olympus 35 sp

I remember when I was first searching for a good 35mm rangefinder, there came a point when it was between this one and the Canonet GIII Q17.  Goodness knows how many hours I spent watching YouTube videos and reading forum reviews, but I never did get my hands on either, until now.

The Olympus 35 SP that I found is in near-mint condition.  In my excitement I popped in the usual Agfa 200 film and headed outdoors to snap some photos before even bothering to familiarise myself with the camera first.  Besides, I'd shot so many rolls with its siblings the Olympus 35 RC and Olympus 35 RD, it's pretty much second nature to me now.  Boy, was I wrong.

Straight away I couldn't understand what the heck I was looking at when I looked through the viewfinder.  The RD, and even better, the RC spoils you with speed/aperture information in an easy to understand way.  What I could see in the SP were a bunch of numbers I was sure meant something, just not to me.  I went ahead and snapped some frames of nothing in full manual mode before returning to the Internet to learn a little more about the camera and those crazy numbers.

I fell in love quickly with the way the SP focuses.  It's got a little focus lever that I found made focusing at least twice as fast as with an RC or RD!  In fact, I think the SP is the fastest focusing manual camera I've ever used and it's even faster than some cameras with autofocus.  I was starting to understand why so many street photographers love this camera so much.

Talking of street photography, I figured I should go point this camera at some people on the streets rather than at walls - that is, of course, once I'd figured out the mystery numbers to be Exposure Values (duh! it does say 'EV' next to the numbers).  

I loved every minute of it.  At first though I was reluctant to get close to my subjects.  I had been shooting an SLR (Asahi Pentax Spotmatic) the previous week.  The Pentax is relatively silent for an SLR, but it still makes an audible sound from close up.  So I kept my distance.

The beautiful G. Zuiko f/1.7 lens performed flawlessly in different light conditions - indoors, outdoors in blazing sunlight and so on.  This was no surprise  of course, as I got the same great performance from the lenses on the RC and RD.

Soon enough, I re-adjusted to the silent shutter of a rangefinder, and got closer to my subjects.  Even though the SP is physically larger than the RC and RD, it still has such a small profile that I was able to basically stand next to people and take photos without any reaction at all.

I'm heading to Africa in a couple of weeks or so.  It's now a decision which camera to take with me - the RC, RD, or SP?  At present, the RD is most likely because it's somewhat a compromise between the SP and RC - it's almost as small as the RC, yet its lens is almost as good as the SPs.  


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