Lens: G. Zuiko F/1.7 42mm
Meter: Uncoupled CdS, 6 point spot meter
Viewfinder: 0.7 magnification, parallax corrected
Battery: MR-9, substituted for LR44
Shutter: Seiko FLA, 1~1/500 seconds, B
Focal range: 0.85m to infinity
Sold for 24,800 Yen(1969), 88,363 Yen(2019)
Purchased for $65 (2019)
Introduced in 1969, the 35 SP was Olympus' last flagship attempt prior to shifting wholly to SLR's and in many ways, was the swan song for mid-market rangefinders. It was 10 years after the modular Nikon F had overcome both the market and photojournalists' hearts, and this camera from an obsolescencent lineage coexisted with excellent SLR offerings from Minolta, Pentax, and Canon. It doesn't have an interchangable lens mount or depth of field indicators. It was never offered with motor drive accessories or 10 foot film reels. These deficiencies endemic to rangefinders now showed more visibly with the prevalence and refinement of SLRs, who provided versatility at a lower price.
The 35 SP was emblematic of the last non-Leica flagship rangefinders but as the last of its kind, it underwent refinement that would only be later improved on by Cosina and Chinon in the late 1990's.
Only 3 years after the 35 SP's release in 1972 would Olympus release the first of their excellent OM-series, a counterpoint to the heavy, bulky professional cameras offered by Nikon and Canon. The OM series was a full-fledged SLR system, with many of the features listed above. But despite the 35 SP's 1969 release and lack of modularity common in later SLRs, this genetic dead end is refined eroticism. The Zuiko 42mm F1.7 lens is renowned for its sharpness at all apertures. Like the OM1/2/4, exposure controls can be easily seen from the top of the camera, all easily manipulated with one hand, Its viewfinder is giant and yellow focusing patch screams for your attention. The 35 SP even features a spot meter, identical to the now obscenely expensive OM-4 released 14 years later, and almost never seen in rangefinders as a whole. Interchangable lens aside, it is the
Of course, it's not perfect. The 35 SP is a large camera. It towers over the OM1/2 and_
And the lack of a lens mount, while eradicating the clutter of multiple framelines in the viewfinder, is a definite limitation that is worsened by the prospect of damage or fungus to your only, unremovable lens.
This is technically my second 35 SP. The first, a rachety beaten-down SPn, was quickly returned on ebay.