|Camera: Olympus ACE-E Rangefinder W/ E.Zuiko 45mm F2.8
Film: Ilford Delta 400
Dev + Scan: Rewind Lab, Glebe
Shooting location: Sydney, Australia
For our test roll this time, we chose to shoot with the Olympus ACE-E Rangefinder, which was originally released during the late 1950s. The design of Olympus's ACE series was apparently heavily influenced by the Leica M3 from its rangefinder windows, to the bright viewfinder and the introduction of its interchangeable lens system, where a series of Zuiko lenses were specifically designed to suit the ACE-E (there were only four). My test roll was shot with the 45mm f2.8 standard lens.
Having limited experience shooting with a rangefinder, I was unsure how my photos would turn out. The ACE-E has a very bright viewfinder and rangefinder patch, the viewfinder only displayed the framelines and the focusing patch, nothing else. The light meter was externally placed on the top of the camera, which was quite an effort to meter, check and adjust. Not a problem though, as the light meter on this one had already worn off (it was a selenium meter), so I had used an external hand-held light meter! Below was my set up for the roll:
This was also my first roll shooting with Ilford Delta 400 (thanks to the recommendation I got during our recent photowalk, woo!). Here goes the roll!
Finally, the roll ended at our neighbourhood cafe. There was more to the roll but I ruined them when I accidentally opened the back without rewinding properly, as you can see the light leaks of the last photo. Thankfully I only lost 4 frames! The photos exceeded my expectations for sure and loved how it turned out with the Ilford Delta film.
I had a great experience shooting with the ACE-E. I had known of the accuracy of focusing in rangefinders, but I was always held back thinking it was going to be a difficult learning curve. But this test roll really transformed my assumptions and thoughts towards rangefinders. It hardly took any longer than a point and shoot and it made me a lot more aware of my subject, composition, focus and understanding of light.
As a person that is short-sighted and doesn't like wearing glasses or contacts, I found it so easy to use with the rangefinder focusing and surprised that all of my shots were in focus! Very different experience with SLR manual focusing or medium format waist level focusing, which I was less confident about with or without glasses.
Finally, the ACE-E is also a fully mechanical camera which is always a plus. I highly recommend those that haven't tried a rangefinder system before to give it a go!
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Being in Tasmania, it is a welcome surprise to discover some content about the Ace from Australia, a camera for which there is not an abundance of information on the web. I have an example of the original model in clean condition. It was not working as the shutter would not release, and its rangefinder was off a bit. Gorgeous viewfinder though. I’ve brought it back to 100% although the rangefinder calibration process was one of the most tedious I’ve ever carried out—far worse than adjusting a Voigtländer Vitessa for example. Now that I’ve brought the Ace back to perfect working order I am looking forward to trying it out, to see for myself just how good its trio of early Zuiko lenses are.
Thank you for your article and photos. I just ordered what appears to be a very nice Olympus Ace from Japan.😊