in Cameras

Blurry Trip – the fix

I decided that there was no point not trying to fix my Trip 35 with the focussing problem, but knowing that I don’t have the best record when it comes to disassembling cameras, I also decided to use the least invasive method possible. Here, for the record, is what I did.

Ingredients

  • Very small jeweller’s screwdriver, flat head
  • One roll of film – in this case, some old HP5+ 400 that I had
  • A tape measure
  • Small tripod and cable release (you may not need either as long as you can keep the camera in the same place reliably)
  • A newspaper or other detailed object, to focus on

Steps

  1. Expose the lens adjustment part. The ring at the front which says “Olympus D. Zuiko…” has three tiny screws around the outside. Undo these, but not all the way out or they’ll be hard to put back in. You can just loosen them and then pull the ring out.

  2. Find an area dim enough that the aperture opens wide when you check the light – this will make it easier to find the right focus. Or just set it to f2.8, if you’re sure it won’t completely overexpose.

  3. Set up the tripod 1m away from the newspaper using the tape measure. Set the camera to the first zone (which should be 1m).

  4. Load the camera with the film, and take a few shots to advance it to frame 1. Put the camera on the tripod. Turn the lens that you see underneath the ring fully clockwise, then, under the top cell on the light meter, make a pencil mark on the rim that you just turned, as a marker.

  5. Take a picture. Turn the lens one cell anticlockwise, so that your pencil mark is below the next cell around. Take another picture. Repeat this as long as desired – I found my ideal spot after 12 turns, but 36 frames will take you all the way around. 24 should easily be fine. (You might be able to just ignore all of this and use my figure of 12, actually, given that this was a mass-produced camera, but I can’t guarantee that.)

  6. Rewind the film and get it developed.

  7. Look at the frames you shot and see which one is the sharpest. For me, frames 11-13 were the best, so I settled on 12.

  8. Turn the lens around so that the pencil mark is this many cells anticlockwise from the top, and put the ring back on. Note that there is a sticky-down bit on the ring which needs to be put into a notch, at about 1 o’clock around – you can see the notch if you look closely. Tighten the screws back up on the ring.

This is the setup that I used…

and this is a timelapse video of the newspaper, from the frames that I got out of it. Horribly grainy due to the use of some old developer but I was hardly going to mix some up fresh just for this.

I took the Trip out to test it, and it seems to be working as per the range guidelines now. I’m treating it as “working”. I did notice a few things in use though:

  1. It’s not really much good indoors. You can’t set the speed higher than ISO 400, and because the AE is (sort of) shutter priority, it won’t sit there and take long exposures. Any indoor environment that isn’t by a window or brightly lit will mean you get the red flag in the viewfinder – “Trip says no”. At that point you have the opportunity to set it to flash for f2.8 manually, which means 1/40s, but it won’t go any slower than that. If I was taking pictures indoors or at night with it, I expect I’d use, say, HP5 pushed to 800 or 1600, and leave it at f2.8 and 1/40, which would probably give reasonable results. But actually I’d likely just use another camera.

  2. I saw reference to the depth of field on the 3m setting being “to infinity” – this is not the case in practice, at least for me. At f22 it might be, but this is London and it seems more likely to go to about f8-11 for things I take pictures of, even with 400 film. At f11, with its 40mm lens, this online depth of field calculator says that a 3m focus has DOF of 1.8m to 8m, and f8 has 2.1-5.4m, which sound about right. The upshot of this is that you can’t just leave it on the 3m setting, unless you are just taking pictures of things right in front of you. Though for street photography, it’s probably the best one to use.

  • If you ever have to perform this calibration again, it can also be done by using wax or tracing paper (in the absence of ground glass) on the film plane. Also ensure you then calibrate the rangefinder back to the lens, by focusing the lens on infinity, then moving the bright viewfinder reflection into line. Rangefinder adjustment is usually a screw near the rangefinder itself or just under it somewhere on the film rail.

  • ordinal

    Luckily the Trip doesn’t actually have a rangefinder, so I’m spared that part.