Olympus 35RC – Fuji Neopan 1600 – Leeds Photographers’ Get Together

posted in: Film Photography, Rangefinder | 12

Two weeks ago I travelled to Leeds on the train to meet up with some of my fellow wedding and portrait photographer friends. We are all members of a support and social network that help each other run our photography businesses. I decided to only bring a film camera with me along with a couple of rolls of film. The easiest camera to take was one of the two Olympus 35RC’s I have due to its compact size. Unfortunately I hadn’t yet had a chance to use either of them. One of them has a bit of damage to the lens (I think the coating has deteriorated with age) and the other has pretty bad light seals that needs to be replaced. So I decided to try the one with the damaged lens to see what impact it would make on the final image. The result being; not too bad, but I can see a bit of loss in contrast and sharpness consistently throughout some of the images… but perhaps this is a light leak?

Here’s a portrait of the Olympus 35RC taken with the Canon EOS 5D MKII and 50mm f/1.2L. The rest of the images in this post are taken with the Olympus and Neopan 1600. All pictures were taken in full manual exposure mode as I don’t have a battery fitted – I haven’t even tested if the light meter works.

Olympus 35RC

Spec information (mostly from Camera Wiki)

  • Zuiko 42mm f/2.8 lens
  • Shutter speeds: 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15 and Bulb.
  • Apertures: f/2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16 and f/22
  • 135 Film
  • Focusing: Double image coupled rangefinder, range 0.9m to infinity
  • Dimensions: 109x70x50mm (tiny!)
  • Weight: 410g (feather light!)

I shot two 135 rolls of the discontinued Fuji Neopan 1600, which I’ve never used before (I’ve only ever used the ISO 400 version). I thought ISO 1600 would be the best compromise for the low light and outdoor scenarios I was going to want to capture. In hindsight I probably would have rated it at ISO 3200 and pushed the processing 1 stop to give me denser negatives from the low light stuff, but you’ll see the results later.

The first picture is a partial frame – I don’t like to waste any film so instead of taking blank frames until the counter reads ‘1’ I shoot knowing that some of the frame will have been completely overexposed whilst loading the film (see the left of the image).


We met at a pub called then Adelphi for lunch on a particularly wet day in Leeds. Here’s Jennifer Clare waiting outside (the pub wasn’t open yet) so we waited in the shelter of the doorway. (Very) quickly composing this shot (so not to get too wet) I made sure to get the ‘Adelphi’ sign hanging towards the top right of the frame. I was interested to see the result, being so used to digital where everything is colour before B&W conversion, you can barely make out the name on the sign! I can’t remember the colours, but they must have had similar luminous levels resulting in the same grayscale on film. Interestingly, you can see the name very clearly reflected in the window; the window must have reflected less light from the colour of the background than from the name.


Barnaby Aldrick and Timothy Atkinson with some mega nasty flare from the bright window:

Here’s a picture Barnaby took of me… I’m not sure he figured out the rangefinder focusing (which is pretty hard to use in low light) and so I’m nicely out of focus.


Some pictures of everyone chatting before lunch. The lens doesn’t seem to cope too well when there is a lot of back lighting, perhaps due to the lens damage, but it’s not too bad. I’m also still trying to get to grips with scanning when the negative has a large density range; the result is extremely low contrast and needs a lot of careful Photoshop curves tweaking, which can be tricky.

Here’s Timothy, Mike Galley, Annemarie King and Barnaby:



Jennifer, Rebecca Honeywell and Cris Matthews (in the shadow!)



Barnaby decided to pull gang signs(?) in every frame he could… as you do! 🙂



Rob Booker arriving with Paul Stott looking on:


Barnaby getting a wrist slapping from Rebecca and seemingly enjoying it. Decisive-moment-hand-motion-blur-tastic!


Tom Arber with his extremely modern and gorgeous X100:



Susie Lawrence and Jennifer Clare:


Ian Olsson showing Rebecca a few Lightroom tips:



Tom and Olivia Brabbs:


Group Lightroom tips session:



Jennifer Clare pulling a nice pose – she’s good at that!


A nice shot of Barnaby not pulling a gang sign!



Our evening meal was at Sam’s Chop House where strangely there were no chops on the menu….! This is a very quick snap as it was pouring with rain at the time!!


Barnaby too busy drinking to pull a gang sign (Peter Boyd behind Barnaby):


Stewart Randall (founder of the legendary Folio Albums) joined us for the evening meal:


Stewart passing on his wisdom:


I love this shot of the waitress and I love her pigtails! John Hope in the foreground:



I love the light on Mark Lenik in this one. Light is obviously vital in good photography, but even more so in film photography it seems:




Barnaby just can’t help himself. We’re off to pub now…


At this point ISO 1600, f/2.8 and 1/30s is just not enough. I really should have tried 1/15s (the slowest shutter speed before BULB) but for some ridiculous reason I didn’t! I’m fairly certain that the feather light shutter would have allowed pretty sharp pictures at 1/15s. So here are a few crazily underexposed frames. I find it amazing what the scanner can ‘see’ when the negative looks so thin; I really didn’t think there was anything captured when first looking at the negs:



This is a weird frame; it’s actually a partial double exposure. I reached the end of the film (met resistance when winding on) but I think the film advance cog slipped out of the sprockets and allowed the advance lever to complete its action and cock the shutter. So the shutter was able to fire again without the frame being advanced fully – well it was at the end of the film:



Stewart’s signature book he is using to collect notes from “photographers he likes”:


A random building I walked past on the way home:


A lovely blossom tree that would have looked nice in colour, blocking my photo of the hotel I was staying at:


That’s better:


Waiting for the train home at Leeds station:





I massively overexposed this image of my train pulling away after getting off it (due to the iPhone light meter app giving a really stupid reading, although I really should have realised!) It’s impressive I was able to get a scan from it:


Here is a retake, but the train was gone… 🙂


Nearly home – there’s our castle in the distance…


Which way again? The loss of contrast is quite evident here at the  signpost:


Hume = Home (well, just down the road from Hume). I like the birds in the corner of the frame; I waited for them to fly off the telegraph pole.


More shots of Hume castle:





My welcome committee, if you look carefully at the window (Here’s where a polariser would have helped!)


And now for the obligatory take-pictures-of your-kids-and-dog-to-use-up-the-rest-of-the-film-so-you-can-get-it-developed bit!







12 Responses

  1. Rebecca Honeywell

    Love them! The one with Abby and Jodie is my absolute favourite. Look forward to seeing you again soon x

    • James

      Thanks Rebecca, it was wonderful to see you! Can’t wait for the next one!! 🙂 x

  2. Iain Kendall

    Great post James, I love the look of the the little rangefinder. Looks like a great meet up, something you don’t see enough of.

    • James

      Thanks Iain, I’d definitely recommend it. Next one I’m going to try is the even smaller Olympus XA and XA2!

  3. Jennifer

    Great shots of a great day James, have inspired me and will dig out my 35mm Pentax for the next one 🙂

    • James

      Thanks Jennifer, yes, you should!! In fact don’t wait until the next one, shoot with it now! 🙂

  4. Hazel

    Sorry to have missed out seeing you all – looks like you had a great catch up! x

    • James

      You have good reasons for missing out, but sorry not to see you too!

  5. Rosalind

    These are great and it’s really nice to get a glimpse of everyone. So sorry I couldn’t have been there.. 🙁

    • James

      Thanks Ros! Sorry you couldn’t be there too, hope to see you soon!

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