-The Olympus 35-SP -
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The Olympus 35-SP Rangefinder Camera,
precision 35mm photography and classic design.

This page was compiled by Andrew Yue

© 2002 - All Rights Reserved:
See bottom of the page regarding fair use.

Olympus 35-SP Specifications:

  • Aperture Range: Auto Exposure - f/1.7 to f/22, Manual Mode - f/1.7 - f/16
  • Automatic Exposure Control: Fully automatic program exposure, EV 5.5 - EV 17
  • Battery: PX625 1.35 volt mercury cell or MRB625 1.35 volt mercury-free air/zinc cell
  • Metered-Manual Exposure Control: Full exposure in EV steps, EV 3 - EV 17
  • Full EV Range in Manual Exposure Mode : EV 1.5 to EV17 @ ISO 100
  • Exposure Meter: (CdS photo cell) and galvonometer needle - EV 3 to EV17 @ ISO 100
  • Exposure Meter: (continued) center weighted or 6 degree spot metering
  • Film Advanced: Lever type - single stroke or several smaller strokes
  • Film Rewind: Film release button on the bottom of the camera.
  • Film Speed Scale: ASA 25 - 800
  • Filter Size: 49mm
  • Flash Synchonization: at all shutter speeds using the X contact or PC socket
  • Flashmatic System: Guide Number Scale {10m to 80m, ( 32ft to 260ft)}
  • Focus Range: .85 meters/2.8 ft. to infinity
  • Focusing: double image coupled rangefinder
  • Lens: G. Zuiko f/1.7 - 7 elements in 4 groups - G is the seventh letter of the alphabet
  • Self Timer: Lever operated with a 10 second delay
  • Shutter: Seiko mechanical leaf shutter, between the lens
  • Shutter Speeds: (Manual Mode) B, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8,1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500,
  • Viewfinder: 0.7x, EV indicator, yellow and red zone for insufficient light
  • Size & Weight: 5 1/8" x 3" x 2 1/2" - 22 ounces. (600 grams)

  • A 35mm Rangefinder With Few Equals.

    In late 1969, the Olympus Optical Company, Ltd. of Japan introduced what was to be its most technologically advanced fixed-lens rangefinder, the Olympus 35-SP .   It is without question the very best of the Olympus 35 rangefinder series.   Like other Olympus cameras of the period, the 35-SP features a solid, all metal bodied, construction, that is wonderfully executed with a high grade of fit and finish.   More often than not, this camera is noted for its unique 6 degree spot metering capability, but the superb seven element lens of the Olympus 35SP is reason enough to own one.   With regard to its light meter, the 35SP is the only fixed-lens rangefinder of the period to come with a dual mode light meter, one that is center-weighted in its normal mode and with a push of a button the meter switches over to its highly regarded spot-metering mode.   The light meter is also always on when ever the camera is out its case, a convenient feature when manually setting the exposure.

    The fast, f/1.7, seven element , G. Zuiko lens truly ranks as one of the finest lenses ever fitted to a fixed-lens rangefinder.   The G. before Zuiko refers to the seventh letter of the alphabet to signify seven elements.   Originally developed for the 35 LC and 35 LE, the G. Zuiko 42mm lens delivers razor sharp resolution, while yielding excellent contrast and color saturation.   It truly matches or surpasses many prime lens available today.

    First introduced in 1969, the Olympus 35-SP was offered in three configurations between 1969 to 1975.   The original SP was produced from 1969 to 1972.   A black-bodied SP was also offered and is a relatively rare find in today's used market.   The slightly freshened up 35 SPn had some of the original chrome trim blacked-out around the rangefinder window and featured an added battery check feature.   It was sold mainly from 1973 to 1974 and is a highly desired rangefinder by collectors.   The 35-UC , which was the final face lift for the 35-SP, had even more chrome blacked-out with a plastic overlay.   For whatever reason, the 35-UC was styled much like the Olympus 35-LC, the predecessor of the the SP line.

    The entire 35-SP line was in effect retired after the lesser equiped, but more compact, Olympus 35-RD was introduce in 1975.   The RD is a fine fixed-lens camera, but it's 6 element lens is a grade below the better corrected seven element lens of the 35SP.   Both lenses utilize unit focusing, which moves the entire lense assembly as a unit back and forth when focusing.

    Overview of the Control Center on the 35 SP.

    Other than setting the film speed on 35-SP and pushing the button at the rear of the top cover for the spot-metering, all of the controls for setting the exposure are located on the lens barrel.   Even the lever for the self-timer is located here.   There are three selectable exposure modes on the Olympus 35-SP.

    • A full automatic, program mode in which one simply sets the aperture and shutter rings to A, then focus and shoots.
    • A metered manual, exposure mode which requires one to adjust both the aperture and shutter speed to a preferred position.
    • A flashmatic mode, which with by moving the aperture ring, the user selects a guide number setting for their particular flash.   This allows the camera to automatically set the aperture as the focus is adjusted.   The result is a near perfect exposure of the subject, so long as the focus is properly set.

    The Light Meter and Viewfinder.

    The light meter indicator in the viewfinder utilizes what many now consider an archane system that is read a 14 stop range of EV numbers, which I'll call exposure values.   The common gripe that one must read the EV number in the viewfinder and then use a scale on the lens barrel to make sure that their selected shutte/aperture combination matches the needle reading.   The plus side of this arrangement is one has the ability to view how the current reading relates to a much wider range of exposure values.   Most cameras of this era only allow one to read 7 stops and require the user to chase the needle when it is off scale.

    The actual metering cell is located adjacent to the viewfinder and there is no on/off switch.   Because of this, the light cell will function normally whenever the camera is out its case.   Keep in mind that this is true even when the lens cap is covering the lens, wihich allows one the opportunity to take as many photos of the inside of the lens cap as he or she so desires.   As there is no on-off switch for the light meter, try to remember that the meter using power whenever the camera is out of its case.   Unlike many cameras I've worked with, the Olympus 35P happens to be one a very few Japanese compact 35mm rangefinders to have a working meter in its manual mode.   Most of its contempories in the rangefinder field offered have no meter in their manual mode.

    The above illustration shows the relatively uncluttered viewfinder on the Olympus 35-SP.   Notice, again, how the meter needle indicates an exposure value rather recommending a either a shutter speed or an aperture setting.   Oddly, the needle moves from right to left.   Sadly missing, is the lack of an indicator for the selected aperture setting.   An aperture indicator would aid in zone focusing when in the auto mode and be very helpful when setting up the exposure for a fill-flash.   There are two sets of bright-frame marks in the viewfinder.   The outer frame marks indicate the exposure frame at infinity.   Inside these are a couple of non-moving parallex correction marks that need to be used inorder to prevent cropping off the top parts of the subject when shooting at close-range.

    Compared with some other fixed-lens rangefinders of this era, the viewfinder info in the 35-SP is remarkably bright and the RF patch is viewable even in a room with low light.   The range finder patch at the center is coupled to the lens focusing ring via a mechanical linkage.   The superimposed image of the range finder patch moves as you adjust the focus ring and once the double images line up, the camera is focused.   The RF patch also shows the approximate field of the spot meter.

    Let me mention that there are two idiosyncracies to this arrangement.   First, the photo cell for the light meter on the 35-SP is housed in the camera body, which is outside the filter ring.   So, there is no automatic filter compensation.   The meter is only coupled to the film speed dial.   It is not coupled to either the aperture or shutter settings as it would be in other cameras

    Also, the meter ranges between between EV 3 and EV 17 at ISO 100, which is one stop too low in bright reflected sunlight during the early afternoon.

    Adjusting the ASA dial adjusts an aperture opening in front of the metering cell.   When one looks at the front of the camera, more specifically to the outer corner of the viewfinder window, there is a second smaller window adjacent to the front of the viewfinder, which houses the CdS metering cell .   Adjust the ASA dial while looking at the diamond shaped aperture within this window, and you will notice that the opening is enlarged or reduced via an adjustment of the ASA setting.   Since the light cell is not located on the lens barrel as in other fixed-lens rangefinders, filter compensation in the AE mode is done manually by by setting the ASA speed to 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 of the actual film speed - depending on the type of filter in use.

    The Olympus 35SP 's Program Mode

    The easiest way to use a 35SP is in its automatic exposure mode.   In the AE mode, one just needs to focus and shoot.   That's essentially all there is to it, provided that you shooting in daylight.  With the spot meter button held down, the AE exposure will be set to the available light at the center most part of the frame.

    To select the automatic exposure program mode set both the shutter and aperture rings so each of their letter A's line up with the centerline on the lens barrel.   In this mode, which is a full program mode, the camera automatically sets the aperture and shutter speed for you.   Again, the AE program mode works well as long as the exposure is taken in good lighting.

    Note that because the camera's AE mode is a mechanical design, the use of the AE mode requires the photographer to very slowly press down on the shutter.   By modern standards, there is a lot of travel before the shutter will release, due to the complicated mechanical engagement of the AE mechanism.   There is also a half-way point, where one can hold this automatic exposure setting, recompose the shot, then release the shutter.   This comes in handy when taking a spot-meter exposure of a subject from the center of the frame and then recomposing the frame so that the subject can be off-center.

    The 35SP utilitizes what is at best a valiant effort to provid a full program AE mode a mechanically operated camera.   Hence, the Olympus 35SP only has five shutter speeds in its full program AE mode.   About a decade after the SP was introduced, Canon made a fortune with their electronically controlled AE-1 Program 35mm SLR cameras that used microchips to set the exposure.   Unlike the electronically controlled cameras that by now everyone has grown accustomed to.   Meanwhile, the 35SP's full program mode sets both the aperture and shutter speed via a mechanical trap needle design, which literally relies on springs, cams and levers.   It's a common design of a period that preceded the electronic marvels which would later appear at the end of the 1970's.   Since pushing the shutter release on the 35-SP involves the movement of levers, gears and cams, it is recommended that the photographer press down on the shutter release very slowly to get an accurate exposure in the AE mode.

    Here is a brief summary of the drawbacks that will be encountered in the AE mode.   First, there are no indicators in the viewfinder to tell the photographer which aperture setting or shutter speed will be selected by the camera's AE program for each exposure.   Secondly, as mentioned above, the range of shutter speeds in the AE mode is limted to the equivalent of five settings, between 1/15th and 1/250th of a second.   In insufficient light, the AE system *will* *lock* the shutter release.   The third drawback in the AE mode is that one has no choice but to adjust the ASA setting to compensate for filters, such as polarizers and colored filters.   For example, when using a red #25 filter with ISO 400 film, it will be necesssary to adjust the ASA selector to ASA 50, which is 1/8th of ASA 400, in other words a three stop compensation used for this paritcular filter.

    Operating the Olympus 35-SP in its Manual Mode

    Automatic operation is fine for casual use.   Luckily, the 35-SP has a full manual over-ride mode which is essential when shooting in low light, difficult lighting or when full creative control is desired.   The light meter, observable in the viewfinder, is fully useable in all modes.   (Let me mention again that the light meter is on whenever the camera is out its case).

    Going back to the biggest complaint I've received with regards to using the manual mode on the Olympus 35SP.   Many former SLR owners find it be slow going.   It can be said that the 35SP's ergonomics are very much in the tradition of 1950's rangefinders with leaf-shutters from Europe.   Unlike its European predecessors, its light meter is useable in low light.   In what had been the norm during late-1950's and early-1960's, the 35SP has an EV scale on the lens barrel for setting the exposure.   The meter gives the photog a EV reading, which is then used to select a shutter speed and aperture combination.   With practice, one is able to use this scale to their advantage.   It really is no different than using a hand-held meter and with the spot-metering capability one is able in a blink of an eye measure contrasting light values within a frame.   Frankly, I find that using the on-camera light meter to set a manual exposure on later rangefinders such as the Canonet QL17 GIII and the Oly 35 RD to be even slower to use, as they need to be switched to AE mode to take a reading before setting the exposure manually.

    In addition to providing the capability of full manual override, the use of the manual mode also offers five extended slow shutter speeds that are not available in the AE mode.   Therefore when one wishes to capture an image in low light without a flash, the 35-SP is capable of taking an extended exposure up to 1 second.   Naturally any such use of a long exposure speed will require either a full tripod or a small table pod.

    1.35 Volt Battery Replacement Suggestions

    As mentioned, like more than one rangefinder camera from this era, if the battery quits, only the light meter and the AE mode are disabled.   To extend the battery life on the Olympus 35 SP, store the camera in its case when its not in use.   There is no on/off switch, so again, keep in mind that as soon as the camera is out its case the light meter is drawing a current from the battery.

    As far as I know, the 1.35 volt mercury oxide battery cell that is used in the 35-SP is no longer being made.   That's a shame, because mercury oxide cells, in addition to being long lived, have a very even and reliable discharge voltage that's a perfect match for these old CdS light cells.   So, it may pay do a search for either the PX625 or PX13 button cells while there are few left somewhere.   The more practical alternative is to try a zinc-air replacement for the mercury oxide cell.   Wein Inc. markets a Zinc-air replacement cell that is a drop-in replacement, but has a limited life span once its seal is opened.   I'm currently using a Z625PX zinc air from photobatteries dot com and it works well.   In the humid climate where I live, they last about four to six months.   With a little ingenuity a size 675 zinc-air hearing aid cell can be made to work for about a $1 a cell.   The more permanent solution is to have light meter calibrated to accept a silver oxide battery cell.   This usually can be done while having the camera cleaned, lubed and adjusted, CLA'd, at a reputable repair facility.   Silver oxide cells are widely available, and provide a constant voltage over their life.   However this voltage is about 1.55 volts, so you can't just drop one in and expect to have accurate exposures.   In case you are considering the use of alkaline cells, be aware that their oultput voltage will decline significantly during use, resulting in an even wider range of inaccurate meter readings.

    Using the Flashmatic Mode on the Olympus 35-SP

    Another desireable feature built into the Olympus 35 SP is its flashmatic mode.   Before the advent of automatic flash units with built-in light cells and TTL flash metering, the "flashmatic" system used by the Olympus 35SP was the state of the art with regards to automatic indoor flash photography.   Thirty years later it still is a precise method to set the exposure automatically when using a flash unit.   With the aperture ring in the flashmatic mode, select a shutter speed and install the separate flash unit, with it set to its manual mode.   The flashmatic system automatically selects the correct aperture, while you focus and shoot.

    The flashmatic portion of the aperture ring uses Guide Numbers.   So, you need to know two things.   First, you will need to know your film speed.   Second, you'll need to know the guide number rating of the flash unit.   If you don't know the guide number of the flash unit, then look on the back of the flash unit for an info table.   On the info table look for the various aperture settings to be used for ASA 100 film.   Pick a distance, usually 10 feet is the easiest to use and multiply the distance times the recommend aperture setting. (no. of feet) x (aperture) = Guide Number, (GN).

    • Here is an example for the flash unit in the above photo:
    • (Distance = 10ft) x (Recommended Aperture = f/8) = GN 80
    • Note: there is no setting between GN65 and GN98 on the 35-SP
    • So use the GN 98 setting for this hypothetical flash unit

    The available range of guide number settings for the flashmatic system on the Olympus 35 SP is quite impressive and it should accomodate even the largest flash units using either the hot shoe or for better balance a bottom mounted flash bracket.   The flashmatic system will work with a flash unit rated with a guide number up to 260 ft.   That's a huge number.   The Rollei Beta 4 bounce flash in the above photo is a relative compact bounce flash unit with GN of 80ft. and believe me it still looks huge of the SP.   Ideally a flash unit with GN rating of 60 ft or 65 ft would be a better match for the 35-SP, but sometimes you can't pass up a good deal on an odd ball flash.

    The above guide number setting works with ASA 100 film only.   In theory and in practice, if a a roll of 200 ASA film is being used in the Olympus 35 SP, an adjustment is in order.   This is because the Olympus SP's "flashmatic" system is not coupled to the film speed dial, it is only coupled to the focusing ring on the lens barrel.   So at ASA 200, the GN setting on the camera which was GN98 at ASA 100 needs to be increased by a factor of 1.4 to GN130 for the "flashmatic system to work accurately.

    If a flash unit with a GN of 60 were used, then all that would be necessary would be to move the GN setting up by a single click each time the film speed is doubled.

    • ASA 100 film - GN 65 = for a flash with a GN of 60
    • ASA 200 film - GN 98 = approx. 60 x 1.4, which is 84
    • ASA 400 film - GN 130 = approx. (60 x 2) or (84 x 1.4)

    Yeah, I know it doesn't look that exact, but I'm too lazy to use the square root of two which is 1.4124213562.....

    Suggestions for Indoor flash Photography

    I received an email from a photographer who suggested using a flash with a smaller guide number and a slow shutter speed to force the 35-SP to use a larger aperture opening.   The advantage of this strategy is to pull in details of the background by relying on ambient light.   Too often an indoor flash exposure has a properly exposed subject against a grossly underexposed background.   In short, the photo is all flash and no ambient light.   The suggestion was to use a flash with a guide number of 45 feet and a shutter speed of 1/30th or slower.   In short, the combination of the slow shutter speed and flash unit with a small guide number requires the use of a wider aperture in conjunction with a longer exposure time that allows for a better exposed background.   It's a technique that is comparable to using a slow shutter speed synch on newer electronic cameras that have a built-in flash.   By using a tripod the use of an even slower shutter speed is possible, should one wish to achieve a balanced indoor fill-flash.   Experiment a little.

    For those folks who prefer an automatic thyristor flash, feel free to forego the "flashmatic mode" completely and select the aperture manually as per required by your particular flash unit.   Keep in mind that an auto flash unit is often fooled by either very dark backgrounds or white backgrounds such as walls.

    Light Values and EV numbers

    Before cameras with built in light meters and automatic exposure modes were common, photographers were able to set the shutter speeds and apetures using a handheld light meter that gave readings in EV numbers.   It became common practice on early cameras with built-in to use an EV meter.

    Like its late 1950's predecessors, the light meter on the Olympus 35SP functions much in the same way as an old hand-held meter.   It displays exposure values EV 3 thru EV 17 in its viewfinder.   That's 14 increments compared to the usual six or seven increments on other rangefinder cameras.   Each numerical increment represents an increase or decrease of ambient light that is different by a factor of 1/2 or 2 with depending if the EV number it succeeds or precedes a particular EV value.   For example, EV 11 signifies that there is twice as much light reaching the meter than would be the case at EV 10.   A scene with a bright area of EV 12 is 4 times brighter than the shadows which may read EV10.   It also means that a light meter reading of EV 13 is 8 times brighter than EV 10.   Consequently, EV 14 is 16 times brighter than EV 10.

    Exposure value charts aren't used much today, but each EV number in the chart below has a variety of available shutter and aperture combinations that can used for a proper exposure for each specific exposure value.

    EV numbers for the Olympus SP at ASA 100:

                                         Aperture Settings
    1.7 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16
    1/1 1.5 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    1/2 2.5 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    1/4 3.5 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    8th 4.5 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
    15th 5.5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    30th 6.5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
    60th 7.5 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
    125th 8.5 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
    250th 9.5 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
    500th 10.5 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

    EV numbers for the Olympus 35SP at ASA 400:

    These are not the exposure values that will be displayed in the viewfinder of a 35SP for they are referenced to an ASA 100 norm.

                                         Aperture Settings
    1.7 2.0 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16
    1/1 -.5 -0 1 2 3 4 5 6
    1/2 .5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
    1/4th 1.5 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    8th 2.5 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    15th 3.5 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    30th 4.5 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
    60th 5.5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    125th 6.5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
    250th 7.5 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
    500th 8.5 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

    Effective shutter speeds for hand-held photography are usually 1/60th of a second and faster.  That said, by carefully bracing your body and arms against an immoveable object, hand-held exposures down to a 1/15th of second are possible with a between the lens leaf shutter system used by the 35SP.

    A comparison of the two EV tables shows that you gain some exposure options at the low end of lighting, while losing a couple of options at the brighter end of the EV scale when switching to ASA 400 film.   Although, ASA 400 film doesn't produce as fine a grain negative as ASA 100, it will do for common 4 x 6 inch prints.

    Exposure Values Relative to Available Light

    Referenced for ASA 100 film using a shutter speed of 1/125th of second.

    Gray Overcast
    No Sun or

    Full Shade
    Lots of Trees
    Bright Cloudy
    Light Shade
    Sun Behind Clouds
    Hazy Sun
    Soft Shadows
    Distant Landscapes
    City Haze
    Full Sun
    Distinct Shadows
    Blue Sky
    Away from Reflections
    EV 12
    EV 13
    EV 14
    EV 15

    The above chart reflects approximately the appropriate aperture to use for a middle gray subject place in four lighting situations.   Do note once again the relative brightness of each setting.   A gray card sitting outside beneath a bright cloudy sky will reflect twice as much light as a gray card sitting under a large porch or shade tree.   Should the clouds move away then be in full sun, it may reflect 8 times as much light as the gray card under a large porch or tree, which is a difference of 3 f/stops.

    Difficult Lighting Encounters

    Both amateur and professional photographers are more often than not presented with situations where the available light isn't uniform throughout the frame, as is the case when the subject is standing in the shade and the entire background is in full sun.   The strong contrast between the shadows and the bright background can vary by a multiple of exposure stops.   As Ansel Adams would say each surface in a scene has its own luminescence.   A typical outdoor scene will often have major elements within it range from full shade to full sun, (see the above chart).

    Luckily, most color print films have an exposure lattitude that will allow the photographer the photographer to record an image that covers four different EV stops.   The film itself will record date over about seven different exposure values, but the automated machine used to print the photo will only make a print in which only three or four exposure values within a scene really come out well.   So, if you rely on an one hour photo processor keep in mind what can be photographed and printed well.

    How to Survive in Difficult Lighting

    Fortunately, the spot metering capability on the 35SP solves many problem in this regard.   Just meter off the shadows using the spot meter button, then hold the exposure by pressing the shutter half-way and finally recompose your photo if you have the camera in the automatic mode.

    Below are two photos taken using the automatic exposure mode on an Olympus 35-RC.   The first photo was taken by pointing the camera at the subject and allowing the meter on camera select an exposure.   It's a typical auto exposure where the subject in the foreground underexposed and the background overexposed.   Unlike the 35-SP, the 35RC has no spot-metering capability, so the meter simply took the average of the two contrasting light values and neither came out well.   On the second photo, still in the AE mode, the light reading was taken off a shady patch of grass and then the exposure setting was locked by holding the shutter release half way down.   The results are somewhat better, but unfortunately the range of lighting in the scene still exceeds the printable exposure laitude that is obtainable an automated photo printer.

    Real trouble seems to start whenever scene has important elements that range over four or more exposure values.   This is what occurs on a typical sunny day with some parts of the frame in full sun and others in full shade.   At a difference of five f/stops, the dimmest object is reflecting only 1/32nd the amount of light as the brightest spot in the scene.     Again, the main point is to be aware of which scenes simply exceed the printable exposure latitude that is obtainable a modern automated photo printer.   There are times when it is either time to give it up or get out the flash unit, even though you may get a strange look or two on a sunny day.

    Use of a Fill-Flash on Sunny Days

    Unlike the Olympus 35 RC and RD, where one can utilize the flashmatic system to aid in determining the proper aperture for a fill flash, with the 35-SP one has to select the required aperture for a fill-flash by brain power alone.   The procedure below assumes that a flash unit with a manual setting is to be used.   The basic premise of a fill-flash is to only blend in a little light to lighten dark shadows, so they will be within a stop or two of the bright background.

    Part 1: You need to determine the recommended aperture selection for your flash unit at the specific distance that you'll be shooting from.   In full sun, the subject will need to stand 8 to 14 feet from the camera, if the flash unit has a GN between 60 - 80ft and 100 ASA film is being used.

    • Install the flash on the camera, make sure it's turned-on
    • Use the rangefinder to focus on the subject and take note of the distance setting on the lens barrel.
    • Use the aperture selection chart on the back of the flash to determine the recommended setting.
    • Or as best as you can, divide the guide number of the flash by the distance.
    • For example with a flash with a GN of 80ft is divided by 12ft to equal 6, or 6.33 if you use a calculator
    • Round up 6 to the next aperture opening, which is f/8
    • This is the recommended aperture to use with a flash with a GN at this distance to the subject

    A special note: more often than not at this point, the calculated aperture setting will fall between two aperture numbers, such as f/5.6 and f/8.   In this case, round up to f/8.   Now, using f/8 as a reference, select the next higher aperture setting for your exposure.   The recommended aperture at this distance was almost f/8, so the next step is to set a proper exposure for the background using f/11.

    Part 2: Set the camera for proper exposure of the background, using an aperture setting that is at least one stop smaller than the recommended flash setting.

    • Now set the aperture ring on the 35SP to f/11
    • Take a spot meter reading of the background, not the subject,
    • Make a mental note of the EV value. Let say its EV 15 on a sunny day.
    • Rotate the shutter ring until EV15 is lined up in the window at one 250th of a second
    • 1/250th of sec and f/11 are perfect for a sunny day exposure that equals EV 15 @ ASA 100

    Part 3: One may wish to use an automatic flash if they wish and just do Part 2.   If your automatic flash is able to provide for a f/5.6 flash exposure, just use either f/8 or f/11 to take and set the actual exposure.

    In summary, the goal of performing an outdoor fill flash is to brighten the dark areas of the subject just enough so that the shadows illuminated by the flash are approximately one to two exposure stops less exposed than the bright background.   The aperture and shutter speed combination for the final exposure is set for the background, not the flash falling on the subject.   Again, rather than eliminate all shadows, all that is necessary is to brighten the subject's shadows enough so that the details within them can be recorded on film in such a way as to show up in the final print.   If no flash is used, only a underexposed silhoette of the subject appears on the final image.   If the recommended flash aperture is one stop below the actual aperture used for the final image, the subject in the foreground will stand out somewhat from the sunny background.   When the recommended flash f stop setting is two stops lower than the aperture used in the exposure, the subject gains warmer or somewhat more pleasing look in the final image.   It sounds like a lot to do, while juggling your composition, but if you master this technique, you'll really be pleasantly surprised when you receive your prints.

    Fill-flash ratios for three different situations.

    • Mid-morining or mid-afternoon - recommend flash aperture is 1 to 2 full f/stops less than the exposure f/stop.
    • At Noon in Full Sun - recommended flash aperture is 1 stop less than the actual exposure f/stop.
    • Extreme Overcast - recommended flash aperture is 2 to 3 f/stops less than the actual exposure f/stop.

    To sum up, the Olympus 35 SP is not a modern computerized 35mm camera, but the techniques used to extend its application range can be applied to a modern electronic camera.   On a modern electronic SLR, the flash unit, camera and lens each have built-in microprocessors.   So on your Nikon N80 or N90s, the camera is able to do a TTL fill-flash in the autopilot mode with a selectable ratio and using both the camera's matrix and spot metering capabilities, to shut down the flash the instant the proper amount of fill flash is achieved.   Therefore, it's a much quicker operation than one I described for the 35-SP.   Whether or not the average owner of one of these electronic marvels is aware of this capability is a whole different matter.   The point to remember is that the old think and shoot methods are now electronically programmed into today's sophisticated prosumer SLR cameras.   You just have to be able to select the correct icons using their LCD display panels.   To do this efficiently, it certainly can do no harm to have already mastered a variety of basic strategies such as the fill flash technique on a manual camera.

    By relying on the human rather than the electronic brain, the 35-SP provides ample opportunity to polish one's kraft.   Plus, it has a marvelous image taking lens.   This is a precision rangefinder camera that deserves to be used instead of posing behind a collector's glass case.   On that note, I hope you enjoy using your 35-SP.   Thanks for visiting.

    A note on copyright infringement: Please do not cut and paste any of the above work for publication either on the internet or for anywhere else without first getting my specific permission.   This is a noncommercial web page written for educational purposes and it is intended to be of assistance to anyone interested in amateur photography.   No I didn't invent the wheel, but the above web page is my interpretation of the wheel and I've tried my best to be original, (even to use my own photographes when there are much better ones on other web pages). Fair use in my book allows for appropriate content used for description purposes by search engines, quotes on your web page that state, "See Andrew Yue's web page for more information," or printing for personal not commercial use.

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    -Last Updated on 09/28/05-

    -Last Updated on 09/28/05-