Classic Cameras: Olympus O-Product and dubble film Color Neg Film

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Classic Cameras: Olympus O-Product and dubble film Color Neg Film

The Olympus O-Product is a perfect real-world example of the phrase ‘You can’t tell a book by its cover.” Designed and produced in 1988 by industrial designer Naoki Sakai of Water Design to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Olympus cameras, under its skin the all-aluminum, retro-styled Olympus O-Product was in fact a plain Jane Olympus Infinity Junior point-and-shoot camera. Produced in a limited run of 20,000 units - half of which were strictly for the Japanese market, the O-Product was also about as tongue-in-cheek as production cameras get.

Above Image: Olympus O-Product, circa 1988

Technologically, the O-Product is bare-bones as it gets. The lens is a fixed 35mm f/3.5 semi wide-angle lens with an 80s-vintage center-weighted autofocus system. The auto-exposure system offers zero overrides, and it comes with a detachable “potato-masher” style flashgun for indoor and low-light shooting.

Photographs © Allan Weitz, 2019

Olympus O-Product without flash attached and a rear view with flash

The designer’s tongue-in-cheek attitude is evident throughout the camera. The words “ALUMINUM BODY A.D. 1988 TOKYO JAPAN” are engraved into the rear of the camera. When you pop the film door open, you’re greeted by the following: "A new concept in product design. Olympus O-Product. Functional imperatives molded to artistic form. A camera shaped with simple lines, elegant contours."  Like I said, if tongue-in-cheek humor is your thing, this is the type of camera you like having by your side.

The O-Product displays a cheeky, playful attitude inside and out.

Even if your sense of humor is buried deep within you, there’s no way you can pick up an O-Product and not crack a smile. Better yet, when you aim the camera at somebody, the camera invariably brings a smile to your subject’s face simply because unlike black-clad, Darth Vader-like DSLRs, the O-Product is not at all threatening when aimed one’s way.

When it was introduced in 1988, the MSRP for the O-Product was about $500. The camera on which it was based—the Olympus Infinity Junior, only cost $115! Today, clean O-Products can be found used for anywhere from $150 to $400. (I paid $165 for mine in the B&H Used Department.)

Being a quirky camera, I decided to shoot a few rolls of equally quirky film during my camera review—dubble film, to be precise. dubble film (the “d” is lower cased by design) is a line of color negative films marketed by a company called KONO!, which has built itself a reputation by taking existing film stocks and exposing them to controlled measures of light to produce color shifts and controlled light leaks. You might say dubble film is the photographic equivalent of pre-bleached/pre-shredded designer jeans.

It should be noted that the dubble film company does not manufacture its own film. Peel back the label on the film canister and, lo and behold, you have a roll of Kodak Kodacolor 200 color negative film. Unlike conventional Kodacolor 200, these rolls have been “reanimated” in what the folks at dubble film unsurprisingly call the Reanimator, a contraption of sorts that adds the hokus-pokus (i.e., color shifts, light leaks) into the mix.

dubble films, which come in 24-exposure rolls, are available in a number of flavors, and for this review we tried three of them. The descriptions are vague, but they sort of explain what to expect for your efforts.

dubble film Moonstruck (ISO 200)

According to the folks at dubble film, Moonstruck produces “exceptional and unconventional colours. As shooting conditions vary so will the effect.” My results with the O-Product yielded warm color casts with a strong bias toward the green end of the spectrum, though in some cases, the effects were minimal.

dubble film Moonstruck 35mm, 24-exposure color negative film, ISO 200

dubble film Sunstroke (ISO 200)

dubble film Sunstroke is described as being “reanimated with a beautiful light leak like effect.” My results had fairly straight color and normal saturation and contrast, albeit with what look like the kind of orange light leaks you get when you accidentally open the back of the camera, or for that matter, shoot with an old Holga.

dubble film Sunstroke 35mm, 24-exposure color negative film, ISO 200

dubble film Monsoon (ISO 200)

Our last test film, dubble film Monsoon (now discontinued), is described as being “renanimated with special tones producing refreshing images.” That sounds terrific, but my results reminded me of the types of photographs I used to get when I shot long-expired color negative film. The color, saturation, and contrast were universally flat. Esthetically speaking, I wasn’t terribly moved by my results, but I know there are plenty of shooters who love this look.

dubble film Monsoon 35mm, 24-exposure color negative film, ISO 200

Care to try one or more of these films? We have most of them in stock, and they can be processed by any lab with a C-41 processing line. Olympus O-Products pass through the B&H Used Department from time to time, and they can usually be found on eBay.

Have you ever shot with an O-Product or any dubble films? If so, let us know about it in the Comments field, below.

To read about more great classic cameras, click here.

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