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Monday, November 06, 2006

Olympus 35 ECR - Abandon all control

In my continued efforts to try to run more film through my less used cameras (in some cases the first roll through them...) I this past weekend decided to take my Olympus 35 ECR out for a spin.

Now, first a small disclaimer/explanation: The Olympus 35 ECR does NOT work without batteries and it will be the first battery-dependent camera I am talking about on this blog. I'm simply including it as it's a rangefinder camera in the classic Olympus-35 series (well, that and the fact that I felt like posting something) that I found that I liked more than I remembered.

About the Olympus 35 ECR

This is a very small, compact camera that sports a true rangefinder (with a fairly good viewfinder and focus spot). 'ECR' stands for Electronically Controlled Rangefinder and 'electronically controlled' in this case means that you abandon all control over the exposure settings. After setting the filmspeed (up to ISO 800) all you do is focus and shoot as the camera automatically determines the correct exposure. You won't even know what settings were used as they are not displayed in the viewfinder. In a way this puts this camera in the point-and-shoot category - but hey, it's a P&S with a rangefinder!

The lens is, as far as I've been able to tell, identical to the lens found on it's bigger brother the Olympus 35 RC. As such, the five elements 42/2.8 E.Zuiko lens is an excellent performer and provided both sharp and contrasty images.

The shutter is a Seiko-ESF leaf shutter with speeds between four seconds and up to 1/800th and is, as mentioned above, fully controlled by the built-in CdS meter.

Battteries. Yes, batteries. They are required here as the camera will not function without them. Should you ever come across one of these little beauties on eBay the odds are high that the seller will describe the camera as not working. Pop two A640PX 1.5v batteries in and the camera may well come back to life. (Batteries can be purchased from a number of places, including

Using the camera is a nice 'break' and quite liberating in that composition and focusing are the only things in your control. Walking around with the camera I found myself working much faster and really enjoying myself.
It is no Leica when it comes to build-quality. The thumbwheel on the back of the camera (instead of an advance lever) feels cheap and it's also hard to squeeze off the shutter which may make this less of an ideal camera in low-light situations.

In summary I really enjoyed using it and would recommend anyone interested in a 'point-and-shoot-rangefinder-camera' (come on, who isn't?!) to take a second look at this 1970's compact jewel.

What to pay?
I believe I paid about $15-20 for my camera and that still seems like a likely price point. How's that for a good deal?

Some photos from the past weekend's outing with this camera (oh, and it's so small that it fit into my jeans pocket) using a roll of XP2 Super:

A scanned copy of the manual is available here.


Anonymous Jordan said...

Those are some pretty impressive results. I feel the same way about my Yashica GSN (also underused, also doesn't put much control in the user's hands, but also gives great pictures).

November 06, 2006 11:25 AM  
Blogger Sigivald said...

Yeah, I was gonna say - sounds a lot like the Yashica Electro-35, only probably smaller.

(Mine was 10 bucks or so on eBay - half of that was shipping. And it works flawlessly.)

November 06, 2006 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I just picked up an ECR after seeing the results from yours. Can't wait to try it. It arrived almsot new, with box, batteries, case and instructions.


February 23, 2007 1:50 PM  
Blogger Rich Silfver said...

Happy to hear. It has a great little lens on it. Hmm..maybe I will make it the camera for this weekend..

Post a link to show your results :)

February 23, 2007 2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also an olympus 35 ecr user and now I'm shooting my first test roll. My first impressions are that the camera is very nice looking good and very easy to use. IT1d really looking something more expensive and rare.

June 30, 2007 2:26 PM  
Anonymous incy wincy said...

I too have a 35-ECr but didn't know what betteries to get, many thanks for the info

February 01, 2010 12:02 PM  

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