Unobtrusive, nonthreatening and stealthy - these are some the attributes of a good street photographer and a good street camera. Light and simple, the Olympus Trip 35 might just make the perfect tool for taking street photos.
The ability to make a few simple settings and shoot quickly might just get you that shot in the decisive moment. Cartier-Bresson used a small Leica in a similar fashion. The Trip 35 shares some similarities to his cameras. Small and sturdy with a high quality lens, no batteries required, Olympus got it about right.
They made the Trip 35 from 1968 to 1984. One of the longest production runs of the same design camera ever. And for good reason. It worked. People like them. Designed for travel photography and family holiday snaps, the camera was built to meet the demands of millions of normal people. It just handled so well and produced lovely pictures with little effort.
So what makes it ideal for patrolling the city streets too? This is easy to answer. The 40mm lens has almost the perfect angle of view and the f2.8 aperture allows shooting in relatively low lighting. Just two shutter speeds, 1/40 and 1/200 offer the perfect combination to freeze the kind of pedestrian movement you'll experience.
The camera fits in a coat pocket or hand bag or can be strapped to your waist in a suitable pouch. Leave the camera set to 'A' for automatic exposure, focus set to the red 'group' symbol (about 3 meters) and it will be ready for most street scenes in an instant. Draw the camera up to your eye and squeeze the shutter and you won't even be noticed. If you use 400 ASA film, you will be able to shoot in a wider range of lighting conditions too. The clever selenium light meter works out the correct exposure, setting the aperture and shutter speed for you. Simple.
There are some accessories that might help too. The metal lens hood will reduce the chances of flare. A Skylight or UV filter will reduce haze and blueish tones as well as protecting the lens. Use a yellow or even a red filter to give black and white scenes more punchy contrast. A lovely leather Gordy's wrist strap will be a comfortable way to carry your Trip at the ready.
Because the Trip 35 is nice and small and retro, you'll notice that people won't mind you taking their photos, or maybe they won't even notice! The shutter is so quiet.
It is hard to think of a nicer way to do street photography and you don't need to be rich and buy that Leica. Enjoy the Trip!