I recently bought an Olympus 35DC rangefinder for the princely sum of £15. The 35DC is the cinderella of Olympus rangefinders because it’s fully automatic and there’s no manual override – in fact no manual settings at all apart from ISO and focus. I wasn’t expecting to like it much due to the lack of manual control, but I thought it was worth a punt at £15. And it’s been a revelation, small, discrete, quiet, fast to use because of the auto exposure, and with a tack sharp 40mm f1.7 Zuiko lens. The lack of manual control hasn’t bothered me one bit. There is a back-light button which gives about 1½ stops more exposure and you can alter the ISO if you really need to further adjust the exposure. But most of the time it gets the exposure spot on.
One other ‘disadvantage’ of the 35DC is that it has an exposure lock in low light. However, it will keep shooting down to 1/15 sec and f1.7 so that isn’t really a handicap for hand held shooting – and it’s not the sort of camera that I would put on a tripod anyway. So for me the exposure lock in low light isn’t a problem. In fact, it’s an advantage because you can’t take a photo with the lens cap on – an easy thing to do with most rangefinders. And no more accidental shots with the camera in a bag or pocket.
One of my first outings with it was to Tate Britain in London. Its small size and almost silent shutter were perfect for taking candid photographs in a quiet gallery. I don’t think any of the subjects were aware that they were being photographed.
All in all, £15 well spent!