Olympus 35 SP Rangefinder
It arrived a week ago and what a beauty. I have been looking for another of these after selling my original SP last year. Having experienced several Olympus rangefinders - RC, DC, LC and XA I am keen to shoot the SP and view the results from the reportedly outstanding lens for myself. This lens is a G Zuiko 42mm f1.7, 7 element gem offering a 'normal' focal length and fast f1.7 aperture. I am expecting fantastic low light results. The SP is good and solid to hold in the hand measuring L13xH8xW7 (including lens). Of course not pocketable yet easily accessible from an unobtrusive shoulder bag. With no battery there is no metering but the camera, being all mechanical, can still shoot - just use the sunny 16 rule. The SP came to market in the early 70s and was very sophisticated and well made. 40 years later, a well cared for example is as new. The spot metering ability and the G lens are what makes the SP stand out with the meter able to operate even in manual mode, provided there is a battery. There is no on/off,with the meter on whenever the cell is exposed to light, draining the battery. It is a good idea to keep the SP in its case when not in use so saving the battery. Although just running the meter, the 625 Wein cells do last quite some time. Don't forget to remove the lens cap as the meter is located to the right of the viewfinder therefore not blacked out by a lens cap. It is a great disappointment to have many shots of the inside of the lens cap!
Compared with the little RC where a lens cap effectively shuts the meter off. Even the earlier LC which also has the 7 element 'G' lens, has a lens mounted light cell, but the LC is much more cumbersome in other respects. To use the manual exposure system of the SP using the viewfinder EV scale, firstly set the shutter speed appropriate to the shot situation - bright outdoors might be 1/125 - 1/250 or lowlight 1/15 - 1/30 where a tripod should be used. Then, pointing the camera at the subject scene take the EV reading indicated in the scale at the top of the viewfinder, transfering this reading to the window just to the front of the fstop ring. You are ready to shoot and hopefully you haven't forgotten to manually set the appropriate film speed on the dial at the right hand side of the body.
6 months on and I now have some results using Ilford FP4/125. Everything I had expected with that 'je ne sais quoi' that differentiates real film photography from digital. Like the 7SII, the SP has become quite sought after and an example in good condition and working order can command upwards of $400.00, but worth it and will go on shooting for years. An investment which will appreciate.