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How old is my vintage Olympus Trip 35 film camera?

Updated on May 9, 2013

An easy guide to finding out when your Olympus Trip 35 was manufactured

The Olympus Trip 35, the compact 35mm film camera made by Japanese company Olympus between 1968 and 1984, is still as popular today as it was in its heyday with a new generation of photographers exploring the world of analog photography. With its easy to operate zone focusing, selenium photocell light meter (no need for batteries), high quality Zuiko 40 mm f/2.8 lens, and robust metal body, this is the perfect point and shoot camera to keep in your bag for street photography and more. It's not surprising that this jewel of a camera has a cult following!

With an estimated 10 million units coming off the production line the Olympus Trip 35 is hardly rare. I recently found an Olympus Trip 35 on a market stall on a holiday in the UK going for a song (and have since bought another with its original case on eBay). One of the first things I was curious to discover, however, was the exact age of my particular cameras. Luckily, if you are prepared to investigate inside your camera, all Olympus Trip 35 cameras carry a date code showing the month and year that it was made. I hope the following brief guide will help you discover the age of your camera.

Photo of Olympus Trip 35 © Deborah Swain

David Bailey...Who's he?! - A classic Olympus Trip 35 television advert in the UK

Method #1

Approximate date

Approximate date from clues on outside of camera

Olympus Trip 35
Olympus Trip 35

Photo of Olympus Trip 35 parts © Deborah Swain

The perfect carrying case for your Olympic Trip 35 - A modern bag with traditional style

Your search for the perfect bag for your Trip is at an end! Most camera bags are either way too big (designed for a digital SLR), or far too small (designed for a compact).

National Geographic NG 1152 Earth Explorer Medium Camera Pouch
National Geographic NG 1152 Earth Explorer Medium Camera Pouch

The main compartment is padded and will hold and protect your Olympus Trip 35 camera.

There are also plenty of pockets for your films and filters.

A belt loop and a neck strap with brass fixings included.

Doesn't scream "I'm a camera bag" to potential thieves when out and about!


The first things to look for on your vintage Olympus Trip 35

  1. Look at the shutter

    The very first thing to look at on the Olympus Trip 35 is the color of the shutter. Metal shutters were in use until June 1972, with a black plastic one replacing it for the rest of the production run. This will give you a rough estimate.
  2. Look at the serial number

    Whilst the serial number on the top of an Olympus Trip 35 camera does NOT give you the precise date of manufacture, it will give you an approximate idea of roughly when your camera was made. The Olympus Trip 35 hit the 1,000,000 million units mark in 1972 so if your serial number is only 6 digits long, chances are that you have an early edition. By roughly 1979-80 the serial numbers were nudging 4,000,000.
  3. Look at the hot shoe

    A shiny chrome hot shoe is indicative of an early model.
  4. Look at the distance symbols

    An orange group symbol (rather than red seen on my camera above) is only found on extremely early Trips with serial numbers in the first few hundred thousand!

Method #2

Precise date

Open the back of your camera!

Identify the pressure plate
Identify the pressure plate

Time to take that brave step and look inside your camera!

This next step will involve removing the pressure plate on the back of the camera door, but please don't be afraid - it's very easy to remove and return to its correct position. You won't break your camera...!

Photo of Olympus Trip 35 pressure plate © Deborah Swain

How to remove the pressure plate on an Olympis Trip 35

Remove Olympus Trip 35 pressure plate
Remove Olympus Trip 35 pressure plate

Simply apply some gentle pressure to the metal tabs - there's no need to use force - and the plate will bend just enough to free itself from its plastic locating pins.

Photo of Olympus Trip 35 © Deborah Swain

Look at the 3 character code on back of pressure plate

Look at the 3 character code on back of pressure plate
Look at the 3 character code on back of pressure plate

Photo of Olympus Trip 35 date code © Deborah Swain

Understanding the 3 character code

  1. Symbol or letter:

    This will be either a Japanese Kanji character or a letter. This is some extra information telling us the assembly plant where your camera was made.
  2. Number:

    This indicates the last digit of the year of assembly. In our example 4, therefore 1974.
  3. Number or letter:

    This indicates the month of assembly, with numbers 1-9 representing January - September, and X, Y, and Z representing October - December. In our example 7, therefore July.

Check the color of your shutter!

In our example above the date must be 1974 not 1984 because the shutter on the camera in question is silver not black!

Does anybody still shoot film these days?

Olympus trip 35 with black shutter  ©   art_ura
Olympus trip 35 with black shutter © art_ura

Olympus Trip 35 with black shutter © art_ura

Digital versus film - what kind of camera do you use?

See results

Excellent review of the Olympus Trip 35

Olympus Trip 35 lens cap - An essential accessory!

Maintain the life of your Olympus Trip 35 by always keeping the selenium battery covered. You will need a 43.5mm lens cap.

Did you find this lens helpful? - Please leave a comment before you go!

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    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

      Nice lens! I have my old Pentex that I just can't seem to let go...when we emigrated from Germany my mom got rid of my dad's cameras, such as, Leica, Rolleiflex /Carl Zeiss etc. and others.

      ~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~