Olympus 35 ECR Review : The retro future simplified

This month has seen the departure of another camera. Lucky thing, this Japanese compact rangefinder, as it’s off  to Oz to enjoy the sun. But why did I sell and was it any good ?

Olympus 35 ECR
Olympus 35 ECR 35mm Rangefinder

The main issue for selling was that I really needed to have a good go at reducing Camera numbers and as Georgeous looking as it  is I can’t justify keeping YAJAR (Yet Another Japanese Automatic Rangefinder.

Dog Tired
Olympus 35 ECR with Kodak Ultramax 400. Sept 2014 ©

Olympus 35 ECR Specs

  • Lens: E.Zuiko 42mm 1:2.8
  • Focus:  Coupled Rangefinder
  • Metering:  Coupled CdS
  • Aperture : f/2.8-13
  • Batteries : 2 x PX640 *
  • Shutter: 4-1/800 sec
  • EV (100) :  1-17
  • ASA range : 25-800
  • Filter-Thread:  35.5mm

* Now defunct see text below

The 35 ECR shares its classic olympus styling with other late 60’s early 70’s cameras like the Trip 35 and the Pen E series. The 35 EC to which it belongs was sold alongside the more famous Trip 35 from 1969 on. The EC & EC2 were CdS metered zone focus cameras but the 1972 ECR is a rangefinder.

Olympus had developed a good reputation for making rangefinders and the 35 ECR struggles now to stand out from the 70’s line up that includes classics like the 35 RC. It is a much simpler affair than its more illustrious siblings with just fully automatic metering but this puts it firmly in the Konica C35 class.

Lincluden II
Lincluden Collegiate Church. Olympus 35 ECR with K2 yellow filter and Kodak BW400CN. 2014

Unlike the Konica C35 and cheaper rivals like the Chinon 35EE there is little info in the viewfinder.  A yellow LED flashes on to tell you the batteries work and will stay on if at low shutter speed and a green LED will come on if using flash. Unlike the Konica & clones where you have to turn off automatic and set the guide number(GN)/aperture, the ECR switches straight to flash mode when a flash is inserted into hotshoe and will fire the flash if too low light. You still have to set the GN  and unlike the Konica et al you can’t use in a sneaky fixed shutter manual mode by exploiting the flash settings. The camera used 2 defunct px640 1.35Vcells but these can be replaced with modern equivalents (the easiest is PC640A/PX640A  1.5V alkaline cells which will overread slightly and are pricey – mines came with 625A cells – much cheaper and they worked although oddly 4 cells were put in originally – I used 2 fresh ones on ones side and bridged the second compartment later with good results). A neat feature is the lock switch on the front that turns off the electrics and locks the shutter, prolonging battery life.

Olympus 35 ECR with Kodak Ultramax 400. Sept 2014 ©

In use it is a fine enough camera. Pretty sharp but not quite up there with the Konica or IMHO the Chinon 35 EE but is a reasonable YAJAR.  The spot isn’t as clear as some to use and you miss the meter feedback of other rivals re the shot settings although  it does have better slow speeds. This is at a lost of narrower apertures mind

It has a tripod mount, cable release point, Hotshoe & PC sync but no timer. It uses Olympus’s standard 43.5mm filter thread.

Lincluden III
Lincluden Collegiate Church. Olympus 35 ECR with K2 yellow filter and Kodak BW400CN. 2014

Not bad camera but not Olympus’s best compact rangefinder by some margin. That said tends to go for less than the classic and if you’re a fan of Olympus compacts and want an easy to use rangefinder it might be for you. Otherwise not the best in class and outgunned by its bigger brothers (and then there’s the batteries..)

Why Buy ?

  • Classic styled Olympus Compact
  • Competent
  • 4-1/800 sec shutter range
  • Cheaper than sibs

Why not ?

  • Battery replacement issues
  • No feedback on exposure
  • Can’t override flash mode to give manual shooting
  • Good but others better

What I Paid, Sold & current eBay Pricing

  • Paid £16 + £2.80 P&P with strap, Olympus filter & cap in 2014
  • Sold for £7.24 without filter (+ £3.50 P&P)
  • Most sell in the £10-20 mark at time of writing


  • Chinon 35 EE – Cheap as chips compact rangefinder
  • Konica C35 – benchmark auto compact rangefinder
  • FED Mikron 2 – The Soviet C35

Helpful links

11 thoughts on “Olympus 35 ECR Review : The retro future simplified”

  1. i have gone all through the Olumpus 35 ECR Info i can find on google but still do not come up with the battery size that was suggested by Olympus. Where might i go to get this info.
    Thanks Joan Matzke

  2. Two LR44 in one compartment and metal spring in the other and you are good to go. If the battery goes bad rapidly most likely there were mecury cells in it that leaked underneath the battery holder and corroded the insulation tape and/or corroded wire. The tub can be pulled up with some moderate coaxing and the tap pieces replaced to repair the short from the corrosion on the tub but a corroded wire will either take some soldering or delicate wire twisting to correct. If it is just corroded wire you will notice even with new batteries the light will not be bright or the camera will just not operate. If it is the corrosion of the tape insulators under the tub the camera will operate but you will notice shortly that the batteries will discharge even with the switch off. If you have the soldering equipment and take your time [spare wire, solder, resin and shrink wrap ideally; then protect the rest of the camera with foil or something so that nothing drops into the works and you do not melt the plastic tub! And, practice solder on something else before you actually do it on the camera…you will wind up with a beautiful little jewel that you can haul around easily…particularly if you have the custom case that came with it. Have fun!
    Thomas E. Shafovaloff

  3. g’day… your honest assessments are highly commendable, especially reporting the price drop you took to sell it. the vintage market is so quirky in some respects, as shown by the current ridiculous prices achieved for the trip 35.
    thanks for an interesting and very informative read!
    henry t.

  4. Hello!

    I just got this camera and after reading lots of comments everywhere about the batteries I am still not able to make it work. I also tried with the LR44 as suggested by Thomas but it did not work. Someone also recommended to fill it with cents coins… nothing… I am not sure anymore if the issue is the batteries or it does not work at all 🙁

    The manual thumb wheel for the film is locked, I assumed that is because it needs the batteries, I am correct? I am a real newbie and would appreciate the help. THANKS a LOT, loved the post.


    1. I think you should still be able to wind on without batteries. But if shutter needs battery power then possibly you may find locked locked. Sorry I can’t confirms this as i Sold that ECR a few years ago
      Check the contacts are clean. not all coins are great conductors and sticking some tinfoil in might be better if you’ve problems.

  5. Hi Alan, thanks for replying! I tried without success… need to try now to get it to a shop here in Germany and maybe they can help. I hope I can find a way to make it work, can’t wait to use it!

  6. I just picked up one of these today at a church sale for $5 CDN. I’m a sucker for rangefinders. Even if they don’t work, they’re pretty on a shelf.
    Indeed the shutter will not wind on without batteries in the camera. I put two LR44s in one side and a small spring in the other; cut a piece of dowel the size of the PX640 and drilled it out to the size of a small spring – e.g. half of a ball-point-pen spring. This keeps the spring centred. It came to life. I tried adjusting the film-speed setting and the shutter and aperture changed accordingly.
    Not sure when I’ll actually get around to running film through it. For now it’s up on a display shelf with random other pretty cameras 😉
    I’m thinking that a good project for someone with a 3D printer would be to make little adapters/spacers for batteries.

  7. I have a beautiful little ECR whose shutter fires randomly when there are batteries in it, but none of the lights work. And when I say the shutter fires randomly, what I mean is that there is a click every time and the film winder gets reset with every click. However, when held to light with the film door open, the shutter is only opening some of the time.

    There is just the faintest sign of corrosion on one of the battery contacts down inside the tub. I suppose I will have to dig inside and see if this corrosion went any further. Any other tips to bring her back to life would be highly appreciated!

    1. Sometimes just cleaning corrosion off terminals enough is all you need. Fiddle with different battery combos might help. Got mines working with 2 as I say but really should have needed 4

  8. I purchased Olympus 35 ECR way back 1975 and it was brand new and good. My first 35mm. It was real pretty and fascinated me. Unfortunately,even then I bought it without any batteries. 24 December. Later, in first week of jan I could buy 2 batteries which worked but were white with leaked chemical. Made it my priority to sell it first thing I could.
    Later on ,after much heart burning and research I discovered that the longish battery used in Yashika Electro 35 called as 4LR44 , yes 4 LR44 if opened delivered 4 shiny thickish batteries and I used two of them in the Olympus without any problem. And kept remaining two as spare.
    This was closest I came to having NEW batteries for this camera. 4LR44 were available here in Bangalore brand new as late as 2000.
    Having committed myself not to buy or keep cameras with this kind of problem, exchanged it for Canon QL 17 1.7

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