- Type: 35RC
- Serial No: 185489
- Manufactured: 1970-1979
- Manufacturer: Olympus
- Format: 135
- Shutter: Olympus metal leaf shutter
- Shutter speeds: B, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500
- Lens: E.Zuiko 1:2,8 f=42mm
- Aperture: 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22
- Lens Serial No: -
- Lens mount: -
- Last CLA: 2012
Which is the World's smallest 35mm manual rangefinder camera? One could think of the Rollei 35 or the Minox 35 as the smallest 35mm camera, but none of them has a rangefinder, unfortunately. Or the Olympus XA which has rangefinder but lacks manual mode. The thing is that there is a camera which is almost as small as the above mentioned three but it has a rangefinder, light meter, shutter priority mode with exposure lock, full manual mode, flashmatic mode, self timer, a sharp 5-element lens - basically everything an enthusiast photographer needs and even more. Surprisingly, this camera is not highly regarded, even barely noted by the Camerapedia. And it's damn cheap on ebay.
It is the Olympus 35RC. The ultimate compact rangefinder from the '70s.
The Olympus 35RC is small. In fact, smaller than the half-frame cameras. A Fujica Half looks like a giant compared to it - and again, the Fujica has not even a rangefinder.
The shutter speed range is just right: 15-500 and B. No long times but come on, can you remember when you used 1/2 last time? The shutter is a two blade mechanical metal leaf type. Setting the right speed is easy with the top dial which can be turned in any direction.
The aperture ring is a different story. It's so thin that there is a fair chance that you will move the focus ring with it when you set the aperture. There are three special positions on it: OFF, A and the lightning symbol.
The OFF switches off the light meter and prevents the shutter from firing. Logical.
The A sets the camera into automatic shutter priority mode. You set the speed, the light meter sets the aperture. Exposure lock can be activated with halfway pressing the shutter release. This way you can read the aperture set by the light meter as well. (It is shown in the viewfinder.) If no appropriate aperture exists for the given light and shutter speed, the camera won't fire. It's fool proof.
The lightning symbol sets the so called Flashmatic mode: you set the speed and the flash guide number and the camera sets the right aperture based on the focusing distance.
The viewfinder is informative. You can see the selected speed on the top and the aperture on the bottom of the frame. There are bright parallax correction marks. The rangefinder spot is not too contrasty but usable. The rangefinder itself is precise. The small base distance is perfectly enough for the 42 mm Zuiko lens to be set on focus.
Loading the film is as easy as it is possible with a mechanical camera. It's self explanatory as the most of the features of the little 35RC. (Not like the Pentacon Six which needs me to watch the video tutorial bookmarked in my smartphone every time before I load a roll of film into it.)
The overal feel of this camera is a bit controversial. It's relatively heavy for its size and this implies some serious engineering inside. The way the aperture ring and the shutter speed dial works just validates this. But the plastic focus ring and the shutter release wobbles giving an imprecise, if not toy-camera feeling to the whole.
And the sharp and fast 5 elements Zuiko lens has a two-blade aperture. Can you believe this?
The Olympus 35RC is an easy-to-use handy little camera. Good action shooter with
no-hassle features and the simplest possible control set. The lens is sharp and capable. The closest focusing distance is around 0.8 - 0.9 m which is an acceptable compromise regarding the camera size. The only thing I don't really like is the bokeh. This 2 blade diaphragm makes it mediocre. It has a 70's feeling, however.