My latest toy

Batteries, batteries

Much as I enjoy the benefits of digital photography, I am sometimes concerned about the ever increasing role that rechargeable batteries seem to play in our lives (take away my AA NiMHs and my world grinds to a halt), and on these occasions I seek shelter amongst the toys of an earlier, less current consuming (consumed?) world.

I had thought that my Rollei 35LED was sufficiently old to achieve this escape, but the metering battery expired and I was forced to admit that if I had ever been able to judge exposure by eye, I couldn't now. I was unable to use the camera until a replacement was found, which wasn't easy because it was originally a mercury type, which are no longer made (although for very good reasons, I suspect).

This problem was solved when I found The Small Battery Company but it was inconvenient and I had had to suffer scathing "I thought you said..." style comments from a friend to whom I had been expounding on the benefits of all things mechanical.

Clearly, something had to be done, and just as clearly the solution of buying a spare battery was far too simple.

"The Plan"

Soon after this I remembered the Olympus Trip 35, a seventies icon advertised by David Bailey, no less. Growing up at the time, I had coveted one for years. I had later used one briefly (Thanks Mum!) following the theft of my trusty/weighty Zenith, and had enjoyed it. It had a reputedly fine lens and a selenium photocell to drive the automatic exposure system no batteries ... at all ... ever. I decided to look for one.

The camera

Statements on affordability can be tricky, with one person's "reasonable" being another's "How much?", so let's just say that if you can buy film you can probably afford to get one of these. I bought one in an eBay auction for roughly what I paid for the 36 exposure Kodachrome 64 that is currently in it - and that included the postage.

It isn't pristine - I didn't want one that was - but after I cleaned it up a bit it with an old tooth brush and a few lens tissues it didn't look too bad - especially when you consider that it must be at least twenty years old.

Olympus Trip 35 (front)

Olympus Trip 35

Olympus Trip 35 (top)

... and from the top

The results

The camera proved to be as pleasant and easy to use as I remembered and I was pleased by the results from the test film that I quickly ran through it:

A shop window in Harrogate

A shop window in Harrogate

As an aside, perhaps the above will answer the question a young friend of mine asked at the time, which was along the lines of "Why did you take that?" On the other hand, perhaps it won't.

The negative for this was scanned on a good quality scanner (Thanks Dad!), this is a sample of the resulting file:

Image sample

...and "blown up"


So I've fulfilled a long-standing, if relatively minor, ambition and I can take photgraphs without any reliance on batteries. Of course now there's the problem of where to get hold of film these days - but that's another story...


Thanks are due to the man who prevented me from proving how right I was not to spend a fortune on it, by bringing it back to me after it had fallen out of my rucksack whilst walking in the Peaks. Cheers sir!