Olympus 35-S

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Olympus 35-S and 35-S II

Olympus 35-S / Tower 18 user manual

Olympus 35-S current value
Olympus 35-S II / Tower 35-S current value 

Two cameras of the same name, of different crop and slightly different. A common phenomenon in the camera universe. The German manufacturers are notorious for producing step-up models marked with the same name, perhaps for a reason or just for legacy.  In the motor industry, it is common, so a Civic is a Civic over time. It can be defined by the model year, but I wonder if any camera owner would know the year his / her camera was made.

The first Olympus 35-S was introduced in 1955. A period when the Japanese camera industry cane out of juvenile period into maturity, producing cameras at equal quality to the West German and exceeding that. Cameras of the years between the war and this period were basically a shutter assembly attached to a body. The shutter and lens came off a specialized manufacturer where the rest from the brand carrier. It is not the case with Olympus, but typical to dozens of other minor brands that do no longer exist.

A basic rangefinder, no fireworks, nice to hold and use. Controls are on the lens barrel, leaving the top bare. So-so lens, yet perfect for the casual user. On the bottom of the barrel is the external sync port, by the mode selector. Smallish finder, dim. Spool rewind crank pops out by pushing a tiny slide, assume to save user’s fingernails.

The second generation, at least the exemplar I have, is a tad confused. Introduced in 1957, carrying the same model name together with the Sears Tower logo.  It is also cataloged as the Tower 18 within the Sears rank. Am not sure if the second version had been sold without the Sears branding.

The body is slightly taller, about 3mm – 1/8″. rest the same size. Slight cosmetic changes. The real difference comes by way of the viewer. Here it is much brighter, bigger and shows image framing marks and dynamic parallax correction. This is also noticeable on the camera front, where the 2nd generation front viewer window is larger, and there is an extra window in the middle.

Lens barrel looks as of a further generation. Early 35-S looks like the early post-war camera crop, while the later model is a harbinger of the 70s design. Apart from the lenses and shutter specs are the same. A cute addition on the 2nd version back is the speed and aperture selection guide. It goes into detail of hours in the day and month of the year. innocent at today’s fully automatic cameras.

Cameras are 35mm full-frame.



List number 51574 1771
Brand Olympus Olympus
Format 35mm full-frame 35mm full-frame
Model 35 S, 1st version 35 S II, 2nd version
Introduced 1955 1957
AKA Sears Tower 18 Olympus 35-S
Country Japan Japan
Type Compact Rangefinder Compact Rangefinder
Body material Metal Metal
Mode Manual Manual
Weight 610 gr,  Body with lens 670 gr,  Body with lens
Class average weight 640 gr,  Body with lens 640 gr,  Body with lens
ASA range NA NA
Kit lens 1.28/48 1.28/48
Lens make M. Zuiko M. Zuiko
Filter size 35 mm 43 mm
Lens mount Fixed lens Fixed lens
Mount size NA NA
shutter Leaf Leaf
Light meter None None
Winder Lever Lever
Lock No No
Speeds B,1,2,5,10,50, 100,250,500 B,1,2,5,10,50, 100,250,500
DOF preview No No
Exposure lock No No
Exposure compensation No No
Shoe Cold Cold
External sync X/F/M X/F/M
Sync speed
Timer No No
Battery None None
Battery style
Battery voltage
Other Parallax compensation, guide dial on back



Olympus 35 S

Olympus 35 S II – Sears 


Both compared

Repair notes on pheugo.com


2 Responses

  1. My 35s is the first model and has the tower symbol on it and it is definitely not a 35Sii. Maybe sears mde them earlier than your 1957?

    • Thanks for your note. Cannot vouch for what Sears sold. It may well be that they sold the earlier style under their banner, I have no reference about that. Will dig deeper and will post if found further info.

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