Classic Fixed Lens Rangefinders:
Olympus Wide-S

by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

The Olympus Wide-S was a revolutionary camera when it was released in 1957. It was an affordable (¥37,000) rangefinder with a very bright wide-angle lens. In comparison, the Nikon SP released the same year with a 50mm f/1.4 lens kit was ¥98,000.

It was the second revision of the Olympus Wide (1955) which had a very wide 35mm lens, but no rangefinder. Since the Wide had only an f/3.5 lens, you could get away with just scale-focusing. But the Wide-S came with a bright f/2 lens, so it needed a rangefinder. Olympus put in a very nice coupled rangefinder and replaced the Copal leaf shutter with a Seikosha shutter that could reach 1/500 sec.

The Zuiko lens in the Wide-S is incredible. It has 8 elements in 6 groups and is very well corrected. That Olympus put such a nice lens in a consumer camera is a testament to their dedication to optical quality.

I bought my Wide-S at a yard sale in St. Paul in 2003.10. It was the seller's mom, and he was selling it for next to nothing. It came with the original "Tower" everready leather case. The Tower case indicates that it was sold through the Sears Roebuck department store, which used to be a major camera dealer. The camera itself has no markings indicating the relationship with Tower/Sears, although the rangefinder is calibrated in feet.


Interesting quirks

Trivia: The Wide-S stands for "Wide-Super" but it's not marked that way on the body. The 8 element lens is extremely well corrected, but is prone to flare.


Technical Details

Camera Name
Wide Wide-S
Olympus Olympus
Place of Manufacture

Body: Japan
Lens: Japan

Body: Japan
Lens: Japan

Date of Manufacture
1955-57 1957-58
Focusing System

Viewfinder (no rangefinder)
Projected framelines

Coupled rangefinder (~xx mm baselength)
Approx 0.x x magnification

Fixed Lens

35mm, f/3.5, D.Zuiko-W lens (4 elements in 3 groups)

Minimum focusing distance = 0.7 meters (~2.2 feet)

Left focusing (infinity on left side)

35mm, f/2, H.Zuiko-W lens (8 elements in 6 groups)

Minimum focusing distance = 0.7 meters (~2.2 feet)

Left focusing (infinity on left side)
42mm filter size


Copal-MXV leaf shutter
1 sec ~ 1/300 sec + B
Selftimer+X+M sync

Seikosha SLV leaf shutter
1 sec ~ 1/500 sec + B
self-timer (V) + M & X sync

Metering System




f/3.5-f/16 (1 step stops)

f/2-f/16 (1 step stops)


External cold accessory shoe
PC socket

External cold accessory shoe
PC socket

Film type / speeds

Type 135 (35mm standard) film

Type 135 (35mm standard) film

Battery type
none none
Dimensions and weight
125 x 80 x 60 mm
xx x xx x xx mm
Retail price
¥16,900 (1955) ¥39,000 (1957)


About Olympus

Although people think that Olympus must be a recent company, it actually has very old roots. It was founded in 1919 as "Takachiho Seisakusho" as a manufacturer of optical goods, with its first product being a microscope. In 1921, they released their first "Olympus" brand product. Their first camera came out in 1936, the Semi-Olympus with 75mm f/4.5 Zuiko lens. In 1949, the company changed their name to "Olympus Optical Co." after their main brand. One of their designers Yoshihisa Maitani, is famed for some classic designs:

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