Sunday, 4 March 2012

Vorsprung durch Technik

This 1969 Olympia SF came from Oxford at the same time as the Good Companion 4. So, I was walking along the riverbank yesterday and spotted a 52mm Nikon lenscap - just there on the path. Nobody was around so I picked it up and took it home. It is always useful to have a spare.

I was packing the cap away with my old 'analogue' camera kit: a couple of outdated Nikon FMs and assorted lenses, and there were my old macro extension tubes and 50mm f1.8 Nikkor AIS, just sitting there, doing nothing. I clicked them together and fitted them to the DSLR and had a play under the glare of a 60watt Anglepoise.

For image quality, the 25 year-old lens knocks spots off the new kit zoom lenses I generally use - even though it was designed for full-frame 35mm and you have to set aperture and focus manually. Besides, in macro, you set the focus on infinity and shift the camera to and fro to get focus - exposure's just a matter of trial and error. It doesn't take long. Old meets new - I kept looking for the red exposure guide in the viewfinder. You just have to check the LCD monitor though. I reckon using old analogue lenses with a digital body is a very appealing way to take photos.

Doing this reminded me of a conversation I had a month or so back with someone who was praising the merit of 'fixies'. A modern pushbike with neither gears nor freewheel. You either get it or you don't. If you like the idea of fixies - you'll probably like this way of taking pictures for the same indefinable reasons.

Meanwhile, back to the subject. For all-round typing ability, small dimensions and beautiful results - this Olympia SF is the best ultraportable I have used. By miles. I'm not sure what the differences are between this, the angular SF and the Splendides. Until I took the macros, I thought the typeslugs were spotless but even dirty, the type is sharp, clear and effortless. German engineering perfection. Typecast coming soon.

PS: Anyone know why Olympias sometimes use the four domino dots for the margin release? 

PPS: I feel I should add that all these photos are unedited apart from some overall sharpening to compensate for any softening during processing, and re-sizing from 4288 pixels to 640 pixels.


  1. Wonderful closeups -- they really give us a new perspective on typewriters.

    I don't think I've seen that :: symbol on any other brand. Don't know where it came from.

  2. maybe the 4 dots are a coded German way of saying 'I'm stuck :: help me'.

    Great close-up shots. I lvoe macro photography. Thos type slugs look industrial; and the little dust hairs on the arms - nice detail. And I've got an old FM2 lying around somewhere, but with a very cruddy zoom lens, not a fixie. Hmmmm ideas...

  3. Incredibly cool shots. I thought Torpedo until you showed the Margin Release.. I'm sure this is only present on Olympias, and only on european ones - the US ones have MR, I think.

  4. Super closeups!! I hope I can do this one day. I knew "Vorsprung durch Technik" from "Audi" (cars). Did Olympia use this slogan too?

    1. No, I don't think so. I just appropriated it for them and with some irony concerning the possibility of technology not always leading to advancement - whatever that means.

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks Fernando - now I know why Tilt-shift pictures looks like miniatures. It is all about depth of field (or lack of it).