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Olympus Trip 35

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The Trip 35 is a fully-automatic 35mm compact camera, manufactured by Olympus from 1967[1] to 1984, during which time over ten million units were sold.[1] (This oft-quoted figure is likely to have included later plastic-bodied Olympus cameras with Trip branding, as the original Trip 35 had serial numbers going up to around 5,400,000.)[2] The auto-exposure mechanism is effectively solar-powered by a selenium cell surrounding the lens, and consequently the camera runs entirely without batteries. Until June 1978, the shutter button was silver-coloured metal. After that date, all Trips had a black plastic button.

Auto-exposure mechanismEdit

With the aperture ring set to "A", the camera operates as a program automatic with a working EV range of 8.32-17.4 at ASA 100.[3] Half-pressing the shutter-release button locks the exposure with both the aperture and shutter speed (of which there are only two, 1/40 and 1/200s) fixed by a delicate but accurate mechanism. As explained by one repair page,

The camera uses a "trapped needle" mechanism for setting the proper exposure. The aperture is held stopped down to f22 by a spring. When the shutter button is pressed, a bar comes up and “traps” the meter needle against a plate. Following right behind the bar is a cam which is connected to the aperture blades. This comes up until it touches the trapped meter needle. The distance the cam travels determines how far the aperture opens.

The combination of aperture and shutter speed that the exposure mechanism chooses depends on the amount of light available. The precise amount of light that triggers a change of the shutter speed is not documented in the user manual, but it is believed to be around EV 13. When brightness of EV 13 or more is detected, the Trip 35 will increase the shutter speed to 1/200 sec in preference to using a smaller aperture, and use a narrower aperture as light levels increase from there, presumably to avoid the diffraction effects that affect all 35mm cameras below f/11.[4] Below EV 13, it will use the 1/40 sec speed and widen the aperture for lower light levels. The camera will refuse to fire if there is not enough light, with a red plastic flag appearing simultaneously in the viewfinder. This mechanism makes it impossible to make the error of shooting with the lens cap in place.

When the aperture is set manually (primarily for flash photography), the shutter speed is set to 1/40th of a second. However, the meter is still active even in this "manual" mode. Setting the aperture manually merely sets the widest permissible aperture, and the auto-exposure mechanism may still choose to set a smaller aperture than this if it sees fit.[4]

Other than this, the camera offers no controls for setting exposure manually, though one can easily set exposure compensation by changing the film ASA dial to a higher or lower value.


The Trip 35 has a 40mm f/2.8 Zuiko non-interchangeable lens, with four elements in three groups. Ken Rockwell suspects this to be a front-element focusing Tessar.[5] This lens has a reputation for being extremely sharp, even in the corners; in Rockwell's tests, Costco-scanned Fuji ISO 400 print film loaded into this camera out-performed a Canon 17-40 f/4 L lens in the corners.[5]

The lens provides simple zone-focusing with 4 cute distance symbols marked on the top-left of the lens. These correspond to the real distance markings on the underside of the lens: 1 meter, 1.5 meters, 3 meters, and infinity.


The viewfinder is an albada-type, with parallax markings for closer focusing. The windows are made of plastic. There is a second, very small window under this, nicknamed the "Judas window", which shows the current aperture setting and distance symbol which are on the lens barrel.

A small red flag will appear in the viewfinder if the auto-exposure mechanism decides there is not enough light and refuses to fire.

Common failure and fixEdit

Although Trip 35 units are considered to be well-built and mechanically reliable, many vintage units are experiencing a similar symptom: stuck or sticky aperture.

Identification of misbehavior: On a normal Trip 35, the aperture hole must automatically retract to minimum f/22 whenever shutter button is not pressed. Set the lens to different manual aperture setting and press the shutter, the aperture bore should open to different size accordingly and retract to minimum as soon as the shutter button is depressed. If the aperture does not respond, get stuck somewhere in the middle, then the aperture assembly has a lubrication problem.

The following webpage described the remedy in detail: However, there are a few steps that can be improved.

1. It's not necessary at all to open the upper cover to take out the aperture assembly. Keeping the top cover in place has 2 advantages: improved handling and what's more important, top cover is the best position to draw reliable referencing dots which is explained later.

2. When disassembling upper cover, it's not necessarily at all to have the rewind crank removed. simply lift the handle and rotate, and screws will expose.

3. Since focus in this model is done by rotation of screw type front lens element, positioning is absolutely crucial and messing up will be very painful. The online article documented this step however is confusing. The detailed steps should be as follows:

1. Remove the outer ring while having the focus ring set to infinity ('Mountain') 2. Use a marker pen to mark the position of 12 o'clock on plastic edge of front lens. This dot is temporary and shall be removed in step 4. For accurate matching, it's best to use a ruler to mark another spot on metal top cover in a line along the diameter. (Call it 1ST DOT for reference) 3. Rotate the front lens fully clockwise till the bottom(in the article, the term 'the whole way' is really confusing and caused big trouble for me). Then, again using a ruler, draw another dot on metal top cover (2nd dot) along the center and the marked spot on front lens, . 4. Remove the mark on the front lens. 5. When reassembling front lens, first double check the focus ring is in position of infinity, then screw the lens in fully clockwise to the bottom. Draw another dot on the lens edge along 2nd dot and lens center. Let's call it 3rd dot. 6. Rotate the lens counter-clockwise until 3rd dot is aligned with 1st dot. 7. Reinstall front ring, be sure to insert the extend directly into the pit in focus ring, tighten 3 screws and make sure outer ring (With Olympus Zuiko Made in Japan mark) rotate symmetrically with focus ring.

Follow this procedure, factory-level focus accuracy should be retained after a lubrication maintenance.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Olympus' history of EE-equipped cameras
  2. Serial numbers collected by Flickr group
  3. Specifications in the user-manual.
  4. 4.0 4.1 See the Trip 35 program graph, and the explanation in this thread.
  5. 5.0 5.1

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