Olympus 35 SP

March 12, 2023

I always wanted to get myself a film rangefinder, so I'm constantly keeping an eye on auction sites for inexpensive rangefinders that I like.

After a few failed bids on various cameras, I found an auction for a 1969 Olympus 35 SP that peaked my interest, it looked ok, despite the description stating that it was "untested but seemed to be in working order". I gave it a try and ended up winning it for a nice price.

Olympus 35 SP Maintenance

The Olympus 35 SP. Don't mind the background mess in my tiny workshop.

Fast forward a couple of weeks it arrived. Everything looked ok except for a worrying sticker on the camera with "focus" handwritten on it. The body has minor marks but looked good, the lens focus and aperture rings appeared to be working well, the aperture mechanisms works, the shutter appears to work nicely but no idea on its accuracy, the light seals look like they've seen better days, the rangefinder was hazy/cloudy and the lens had a bit of dust in it. I guess that meant taking it apart.

Olympus 35 SP Maintenance

Rangefinder mechanism.

Took the top off, gave the rangefinder windows and mirror a nice clean with isopropyl alcohol, and everything looks good and clear including the rangefinder patch.

Took the lens apart and cleaned every element, almost everything cleaned nicely except for a tiny spot less than 1 mm on the front lens element that does not come off, but considering it's location I'm guessing that it should be imperceptible on photos.

Ordered new light seals to replace crumbling dead light seals and they were a pain to install. The adhesive kept sticking to the wrong places but after much cursing and repeated atempts all was in place. There aren't any light leaks but the door is a bit slugish to open. Not a big deal, I'd rather leave it like that than to go through it again.

To test the rangefinder focusing, I placed an object at the distance matching the presets on the focusing ring (0.85, 1, 2 and 5 meters) and checked if the focusing patch was offset or not. Apparently it's good but the real test will be with a film roll.

The lightmeter seems to work. The camera came with a working battery, but I don't know how old it is.

So far so good, now I'll have to grab a roll and give it a try.