For anyone who wants to take well exposed, sharp pictures but can manage with a fixed focus lens and without fancy filters, I would recommend the trusty old Olympus Trip 35. Not the new plastic bodied, plastic lensed toy variety, but the metal bodied multi-coated Zuiko lensed model promoted so sucessfully by David Bailey in the '70s - a camera capable of producing pictures indistinguishable from those taken with a top professional 35mm camera. We've had ours for 20 years and it's still working perfectly.
The bad news is you can't buy a new one as they've been out of production for years, the good news is that you can buy one secondhand in near perfect condition from most photography shops for around £30.00 and you won't be disappointed.
Using the Trip 35
The Trip is extremely simple to use. It has an auto-exposure system operated by a selinium photo-electric cell light meter to control the lens aperture. The beauty of this type of meter is that it doesn't require batteries to operate.
Unless you are using a flashgun, the aperture ring is set to "A" for automatic. The camera will then adjust the aperture as required.
We have found that it is also possible to take a light reading and hold it for back-lit situations (where the sun or light is behind the subject). In a similar way to most electonic cameras, all you have to do is to point the camera at an area with similar lighting to the subject, and press the shutter release button half way. Hold the button in this position, re-compose the shot and fully depress the button to take the picture.
The only other control is the focus ring. This is marked with distances on the underside for the rare occasions when you need to be that accurate, and with symbols on the top of the ring - a head and shoulders to indicate 1 metre, two figures to indicate 1.5 metres, three figures to indicate 3 metres and mountain peaks to indicate infinity.
The viewfinder has a main frame and markers to indicate the slight framing adjustment required at the 1 metre setting to allow for the paralax error caused by the lens and viewfinder being in different positions. There is also a "Judas window" within the viewfinder through which you can view the aperture and distance marks.
Film is advanced by a thumbwheel rather than a lever which we have found to be far more convenient; you can operate it whilst holding the camera in one hand - very useful in place such as markets when you want to hang on to your belongings with the other hand!
Make sure you fit a UV filter over the lens. As the genuine Olympus filter may be difficult to find, make sure the one you buy is fully compatible. Some models fit too close to the lens and will prevent the lens from moving forward fully during close focussing. Check it out in the shop before parting wih your money.
The only real disadvantage with the Trip when compared with modern 35mm compacts is the fact that it doesn't have a built in flash. With small automatic flashguns being so cheap these days, however, this should not be a problem for most people. All you need to do after fitting the flashgun to the hot shoe is to set the aperture ring to the correct f-stop.
Don't forget to move the aperture ring back to the "A" setting before using the camera again without the flash. This is one of the few mistakes you can make with this camera. The others are the converse one - leaving the aperture ring set to "A" when using a flash, not setting the film speed correctly, and not loading the film correctly, though the Trip is one of the better manual load cameras for this.
It's good to have my OM4 and all the gear with me on holiday, but if we're travelling light we're quite content to manage with the trusty Trip. I hope the pictures will adequately illustrate the point.