Olympus 35 ECR rangefinder camera

The Olympus 35 ECR is a fully automatic, 35mm film camera with a fixed 42mm f/2.8 lens and rangefinder focusing aid which was produced by Olympus in the early 1970s.

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My Olympus 35 ECR

I was given my copy of the Olympus 35 ECT by a fellow camera collector, with a note explaining that there were some problems with it. To be honest, that was a couple of years ago now and I can’t remember exactly what is wrong with it, although I seem to have a memory in the back of my mind that it was something to do with the film transport. The only obvious problem is that the light seal would probably need to be replaced before the camera would be light tight.

Irrespective of any mechanical problems, my example is in pretty good physical shape. The only slight issues are a small dent in the top of the camera and the covering material is starting to peel off the camera on the side under the viewfinder. This could be because the glue is ageing, but it’s more likely that it has been removed at some point.

Olympus 35 ECR Description

The camera is a small, light unit intended for carrying about in one’s bag ready for any ‘snap shot’ situation which might arise. In size, it’s pretty similar to the Minolta Hi-Matic F camera and has a similar feature set.

In keeping with its main use, the camera is fully automatic regarding exposure, and is fitted with a fairly wide and fast 42mm f/2.8 lens. All the user needed to do to take a snap is look through the viewfinder and focus, and make sure that the orange light at the top of the viewfinder goes out as you press the shutter button. If it does, the camera will correctly expose the image; If it doesn’t, this indicates that the camera would be setting the shutter speed to a value within the range 1/30th to 4 seconds i.e. too slow for hand held operation. In this situation you need to fit a flash unit to the camera.

When the flash unit is fitted, (because the orange light is showing), the camera will again correctly expose the picture as long as the flash’s guide number is correctly set on a thin dial which runs round the inner portion of the lens barrel. In this situation, as the shutter release is pressed, a small green light comes in in the viewfinder to show that everything is working correctly.

In order to correctly set the light meter, which controls the exposure, the film’s ASA rating is set on a small dial which runs round the lens. As this dial is rotated, the film’s speed is shown in a small window at the bottom of the dial and a filter is moved over the light sensor window at the top of the dial, thereby calibrating the exposure system. The position of the light sensor, within the lens barrel, was common on cameras of this type and meant that any filters fitted to the camera for artistic effect, were automatically compensated for by the exposure system.

When I first looked at the camera I thought it had a self timer because there is a small lever on the front under the shutter release which looks exactly like a self timer winder. This is actually an mechanical lock for the shutter release which stops it being accidentally tripped which the camera is in the owners bag.

Olympus 35 ECR Specifications

  • Olympus 35 ECR 35mm fixed lens rangefinder camera
  • Fixed Zuiko 42mm f/2.8 lens
  • Automatic exposure
  • Shutter speeds 4sec to 1/800 sec automatically set.
  • ISO 25 to 800
  • Light sensor in lens mount
  • Short throw rangefinder focusing
  • Hot shoe and cable flash sync socket
  • Simple thumbwheel film advance
  • Frame counter
  • Top of camera battery indicator
  • In viewfinder exposure control indicator
  • Framing lines
  • Shutter release lock
  • Auto exposure with flash using flash guide number
  • Powered by two RM-640 batteries
  • Ser No: 215752
  • Manual available on-line here

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