Review – Olympus 35 ECR

Binge

I can’t remember why I bought my first EC but it led to buying another for some reason, selling both and at some point buying an ECR because it was a bargain (by auction site standards). I’m going to sell this one now too, but I’d be lying if I said I’d be sending it on its way without some semblance of regret. The EC and the ECR share the same lens, and it’s produced some bloody lovely results on occasion, yet once again this is a camera that leaves me conflicted.

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Council flat garages with the EC.

Boring stats (ECR)

  • Type – Full auto rangefinder
  • Exposure – Full auto
  • Shutter – 1/800 – 4sec
  • Aperture – f2.8 – f13
  • Focus – Coupled rangefinder
  • Lens – 42mm f2.8
  • ASA – 25 – 800
  • Size (mm) – 67 x 111 x 52
  • Other stuff – Hot shoe, shutter lock, weird shutter button

Grope

I’m very much swayed towards or away from a camera by its looks, and how it feels in my hands. On those merits the EC and ECR are bloody wonderful. They’re solid, heavy metal cameras with wonderful little details such as the unique rewind lever. They’re compact, stylish and have responsive, quality-feeling controls… with one exception.

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Some miserable git on the ECR. Backlight handled brilliantly by the meter.

The shutter button on these things is truly abysmal. It’s an uncomfortable nub that requires disproportionate effort to shove down and which then forces your finger back up with a conspicuous ‘SSSHWICK’ sound. Pigeons would explode into the sky at the sound of the shutter button. Old men with weak constitutions would clutch their chests in shock.

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Nice vignette with the ECR.

The first roll I shot with an EC was hurried due to this trait and I felt disheartened and wasn’t looking forward to seeing the photos. But two things made me reconsider the shutter button horror. Firstly, I discovered that the button acts so strangely because it’s cocking the shutter for the next shot, this is not done with the film advance wheel as with most other cameras. Once I knew there was a purpose to it it wasn’t so annoying. And secondly, the photos came back looking great.

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Wife on the EC. Slightly missed with the guess focus but bloody lovely contrast and colour.

Woof

The EC and ECR are entirely automatic with no overrides. Set the ASA and focus, nothing else. The viewfinder provides a warning light for slow shutter speeds and either a distance needle (in the EC) or a rangefinder patch. The yellow rangefinder patch on my ECR is the brightest I’ve seen so far. Much brighter than that of my (admittedly knackered) Olympus DC. And if you prefer scale focusing or need to grab a shot quickly, the lens barrel has adequate information for accurate guess focus. I had to pre-focus for this shot of these dogs (and then run away).

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Roo roo roo on the ECR

The ECR is very compact considering it’s almost entirely metal. I’ve carried it in my trouser pocket with no problems, and if like me you’re not keen on plastic cameras and don’t mind bulging pockets, I’d definitely say this is a good alternative to an XA2. You’ll need a belt on though, the EC(R) is a hefty little thing and could easily be used as a devastating melee weapon.

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Perfectly aligned double exposure. Aw yis.

Twice

The rewind lever on the EC(R) is located on the bottom of the camera and its design lends itself well to manually shooting double exposures. With practise you can let go of the rewind button at just the right moment during winding to save the next frame. Most manual doubles require you to kill the next frame because the rewind button needs a few winds to re-engage, but I managed to bypass that with the EC(R). Whether you try this or not, the big, solid rewind lever and thumb-wheel film advance means you can easily get perfectly aligned doubles like these.

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Another double.

Taps

I’m selling the ECR because I’m buying a house and I need the cash for boring things like taps. But this really is a brilliant little camera. If you’re not a petty person and can get over the shutter button, you’ll love the feel and results of it. Unfortunately I certainly am a petty person and the ghastly shutter release just about tarnishes the many excellent sides of this camera enough for me to let it go.

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Wizzy looking extra soft. ECR showing the accuracy of its rangefinder.

Update:

My god Wizzy really does looks extra soft in this shot. She’s like a marshmallow.

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