in Cameras

A Blurry Trip

I’ve been looking at the results of a couple of test rolls that I put through the Olympus Trip 35. The exposures are all fine, but they are annoyingly inconsistent – some are very blurry, and some are quite nice and sharp. At first I thought that perhaps the focussing was stuck on a particular zone, but that doesn’t work because I have pretty sharp photos at a few different ranges.

Not too bad

Now these aren’t great at all

I am thinking that it may be camera shake. Blur does tend to correspond to pictures where I remember not taking much care. The Trip has a relatively simple program auto-exposure system that mostly alters the aperture for low light, but which also switches the exposure from 1/200 to 1/40 when it feels like it. I found a graph which indicates that it goes down to 1/40 at EV13, which in theory with 400 film should be relatively dark, but, you know, this is London. 1/40 is fine for digital cameras with image stabilisation but without that, you have to be quite careful. I rarely go below 1/125 with other cameras, and am sure to keep myself still when I do.

Of course, it might be something else. I should try another roll, being more careful to keep myself as still as possible, which is always good practice anyway. Some people can keep handheld cameras rock steady for up to half a second, and if you’re that good it means that with image stabilisation you could take huge long exposures with a digital.

I hope that I can make my peace with the Trip, because apart from this issue it’s really a lovely camera to use on the street – really comfortable and natural. Not too big, not too small, everything in the right place. Perhaps it’s too comfortable, and I’m half forgetting it’s there, as opposed to using something like a TLR which constantly reminds you that it is a camera and you should be paying attention to it.

  • MicheleBrownArt

    Film is never as sharp as digital images can be of course…I always get frustrated by sharpness because screens on computers have higher and higher resolutions so it means every single flaw shows up. Good luck with the trip and a new roll of film !

  • Rangefinders do drift with time. It is possible that your camera needs a tuneup. Some instructions for various cameras here: http://jay.fedka.com/index_files/Page422.htm but google around and I’m sure you’ll find more. 

    It is possible that you are suffering from camera shake, but the 35 is a reasonably wide lens, and as such is less prone to shake at slow shutter speeds. (Double the focal length and you need to add a full stop of shutter or ISO to counter vibration.)

    You should be able to hand hold a 35 right down to 1/30s with correct technique. Lock an elbow against your body, stand firm, take a breath and hold it, squeeze rather than stab the shutter. Basically sniper techniques adapted. 

  • Evidently the the Trip only has an infinity adjustment, which is handy. The screw should be inside the camera on the top film rail, possibly covered by a larger screw to plug the adjustment hole.

  • (Oh, and tangentially: have you discovered http://www.diyphotography.net/ ?)

  • ordinal

    I couldn’t find anything about adjusting the Trip from the inside, without taking the cover of the lens off, though that isn’t too hard. Unfortunately it isn’t just a question of calibrating a rangefinder, apparently (since there’s no actual rangefinder, it’s just zone focus).