Olympus Wide S 35mm F/2 - Photo Jottings

Olympus Wide S 35mm F/2

I’ve been trying to get a good copy of an Olympus Wide S camera for quite a while, so when this one showed up on ebay, I jumped on it.  I was pleasantly surprised when I received it and found it to be in excellent shape, even the shutter speeds were dead-on.  The lens was clean and all looked pretty good except for some corrosion on the body, but oh well, that’s not a big deal for me as I intend to use it, not display it behind glass.  However, just to be on the safe side, I checked the focusing and rangefinder before I loaded a roll of film, and all looked reasonably well.  I took it on a hike using some Kodak Gold 200, and finished the 24 exposures, then waited for development to see my results.

Well holy crap, something went wrong, and the whole roll was out of focus.  As I looked further into the issue, I discovered what looked like hammer marks inside the camera, way back by where the lens attaches.  It appears that whomever performed a clean, lube, and adjust had a hard time removing the lens to get at the shutter.  Instead of knowledge and finesse, they just used brute force, and in the process wrecked the camera.  It looks like the lens is forward of the seat about 1/8″ or 3mm,  so that means it won’t focus beyond a few feet. It also appears that the brass threads were damaged also, so I decided to send this mess back for a refund.  The seller never responded, but ebay refunded the money including shipping, so that was good.

I’ll keep trying to get a good copy of the Olympus Wide S, it’s not easy, there aren’t many good ones that come up for sale.  In the mean time, here’s a review without any sample pictures; and if I do find a good copy and get some pictures, I’ll complete the review and let you know with a post on the homepage.

Anyhow, let’s take a look at the Olympus ‘Wide S’ specifications.

Name; Olympus Wide S.

Manufactured by; Olympus Optical company LTD, Tokyo, Japan.

Date of manufacture; around 1957.

Price; a 1957 magazine ad lists $124.50 new, and $134.50 with leather carrying case.  Current eBay prices range anywhere from $150 to $350 or considerably more depending on condition.

Build material; mostly metal, with a nice fit and finish.

Box contents; camera, and instruction manual as far as I can tell.

Weight; forgot to weight it.

Dimensions;  forgot to measure it.

Focal length; 35mm.

Aperture;  F/2-16, adjustable in one stop increments.

Focusing distance; 2.2′ to infinity. (0.7m-∞).

Lens; 35mm F/2 coated H. Zuiko-W, 8 element in 6 group design.

Shutter and speed; Seikosha MXL nine speed with bulb, 1 sec to 1/500s.  Five straight aperture blades, five leafs.

Features; coupled rangefinder with auto compensating parallax correction; and ¼-20 tripod socket.

Film; all 135 (35mm) cartridge film.

Other models; earlier ‘wide’ model has a four element D. Zuiko 35mm F/3.5 lens.

Accessories for this model;  ?

Crippling features and omissions; no tested, unknown.

Good features; excellent lens and rangefinder.

Product shots with descriptions.

Other than the lens, there are no markings at all on the front face of the camera.  Pointing slightly forward are two conveniently located strap lugs, and they’re rounded, so they won’t tend to catch inside your carrying case.  The Olympus H. Zuiko-W 35 F/2 is quite large, especially for a fixed lens camera, but it doesn’t seem unbalanced.  The three windows at the top are: rangefinder window on the left, the ‘luminous’ frame window in the middle, and the viewfinder on the right.  The round knob by the lens is used for turning the focus ring.

The back of the camera features an exposure dial.  In a nut-shell, you turn the inner dial until you match the scene on the outer dial with the lighting conditions shown on the inner dial.  choose your film ASA with the tab and pointer around the thumb wheel and see what your light value is.  Next, set your exposure using a combination of shutter speed and aperture; the corresponding light value number on the dial will be in a little window below the aperture scale on the lens when your combination is set correctly, see below.

The top of the camera is very simple; you have your film rewind knob on the left, with folding crank and lock; an accessory shoe in the middle, and the 120° film advance lever on the right.  Inside the advance lever is the additive type exposure counter.  The threaded cable release and shutter button is just to the right of the ‘wide S.’

The lens base ring is used for focusing, and the distance is measured in feet; at least on this model.  A depth of field chart is engraved into the lens barrel.  The shutter speed ring is next, and the outer ring is for setting the aperture.  Notice the light value setting in the square window between the two rings; here it’s set to 10.  When you adjust the aperture and/or shutter speed, the number may change; it depends on the combination you use.

Nothing much along the bottom plate other than the way-off-center ¼-20 tripod socket, and recessed film sprocket release button for rewinding the film.  Under the lens is a switch and PC socket for flash use.

The back opens up by lifting a bent tab near the right side of the top plate.  Inside there is nothing out of the ordinary; film pressure plate, tensioner, film sprocket and take-up spool.  The black viewfinder escutcheon is plastic.

Here is a picture of the leather ever-ready case.  Olympus thoughtfully made a hole in the case so you can see and use the exposure dial without having to remove the camera.



No sample pictures, so no conclusion, but I’ll keep you posted!  I’m really hoping to get a good copy of this camera, the 35mm focal length is my favorite, and the fast, (and hopefully super sharp) eight element lens might be perfect for my mostly contemplative style of shooting.

That’s it for this review, thanks for visiting!

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