5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Shoot With Film

An old Olympus Trip and a 35mm Film Disaster

An old Olympus Trip and a 35mm Film Disaster

Relying on your experience as a photographer doesn’t mean that you are not going to suffer disasters as my recent encounter with an old Olympus Trip camera loaded with 35mm film proves!


Recently I found an old Olympus Trip camera in one of our unused drawers. It belongs to my wife who hasn’t shown any interest in photography beyond using her mobile phone to capture family events and the odd image that catches her eye. The camera, in excellent condition even after some 35 years of being hidden away, just needed some batteries to scream back into life. Having a number of rolls of old film stored in the fridge I opted for some Fujifilm Superior 100 (Classic Negative) film which was duly loaded into the camera. This film is from 2002 so results were very likely to be variable but I had high hopes that I would capture something of interest and besides, I have always loved analogue film so the experience would be interesting if nothing else.

Shooting Film

There’s no real difference to shooting film over digital other than the need  to process your film before you can see the results. That takes time. Because I am such a fan of analogue photography I am currently building a medium format pinhole camera from a nice wooden box I have knocking around where I intend to try to expose photo-sensitive paper directly rather than use film. The idea is to reduce the time needed to process the images before seeing the results. Even so, and as with film, in general terms this won’t be instantaneous, you need to have patience.

Once this project is complete, I will post a story on the construction of the camera and the results obtained, assuming of course that I have something worth showing.

The Camera

The Olympus Trip you may recall was advertised using David Bailey who is a celibrated UK photographer. Active from the late 1950’s onwards, Bailey was instrumental in helping Olympus to sell millions of Olympus Trip cameras in the 1970’s although the camera was available for much longer, between 1967 and 1984. His cheeky smile made him an instant hit as he fought his way forward, armed only with the Olympus Trip 35mm camera, to capture the decisive moment while being pushed and shoved by professional photographers all armed to the teeth with professional gear. It’s an advert I still remember well even after what is now almost 50 years!

Loading the 35mm Film on the Olympus Trip

As with digital, there is no significant difference when shooting film other than having to load your camera before use. This particular camera, the Olympus Trip XB41 AF, is a fully automatic camera with auto wind-on and off. Load the film, manually engage the start of the film in the LHS of the camera making sure that the location sprockets are engaged in the holes along the film edge at the top and close the back. Shoot a few frames and the camera automatically winds on the film each time to correctly position each frame. Pretty easy stuff really. The fact that after each shot there’s a whirring sound and the shot counter increments i.e. 1, 2, 3 up to 24 or 36 gives you a warm feeling that all is well.

Quelle catastrophe!

Now, one small problem here,I don’t have a manual and I didn’t bother to check if there was a particular way to engage the film. As it was, after shooting each frame the shot counter was incrementing so all seemed well. The problem however came when trying to respool the exposed film back into the film cannister. For some reason, and despite the implication that the film was re-spooling back into the cannister, in fact, nothing actually happened. The film simply didn’t move. Of course, seeing the frame counter at S (for start) meant that I wrongly thought that everything was good when in fact, the image you see above is what I ended up with.

Researching the Issue after the Event

In truth, I am not really sure what went wrong. Having found several videos on YouTube for this and similar Olympus cameras it seems I was doing it all right. To respool the exposed film is simply a matter of pressing the respool button on the camera bottom and waiting for the film rewinding process to complete. Using my now ruined film, I manually respooled the film and repeated the process I had seen on the various videos. This time, it worked perfectly, the film wound on OK and respooled OK. It’s difficult to understand what then could have heppened.

The Moral of the Story

If there is a moral to this story I am really not sure what it is. The camera appears to be working as designed. The film loaded perfectly, and wound on as designed. Did I check that the sprockets were engaged in the film? I can’t honestly remember. Then again, the counter incremented perfectly for each frame and the film, when the back was opened, was all wound on to the LHS as you would expect for this camera. All in all it is a complete mystery as to why this problem occured.

The one thing I can take from this is that next time, I need to ensure that sprocket wheels are engaged and that I use a changing bag when respooling the film to ensure that I can open the backwithout ruining the film if something has gone wrong.

Have I lost muc?. I actually can’t remember what was on the roll as I used it intermittantly over a few months, including this morning when I shot off the last few frames. Probably some family shots, a few birthdays and some street stuff. Sadly, I guess I will never know now!

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