Introduced in 1975, the RD was the culmination of the Olympus 35 line of compact cameras.
The Olympus 35 RD is the sibling to the 35 DC that I recently shot. But unlike the DC, the RD allows for both shutter priority AE and full manual control. Both are rangefinders and share a fast 1.7 lens and a compact size. With the DC you focus and the camera picks the shutter/aperture combination for you. (It does show you what it picked in the viewfinder but does not give you control.) The RD focus the same with a nice clear rangefinder, but then you set the shutter speed and have the option to set the aperture or let the camera decide. If you set the aperture, the selection will show inside the viewfinder. Shutter speed is not displayed, other than on the lens.
This is the Olympus answer to the Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII and the Canon Canonet QL17. Or to be more accurate, the Canon came first, then the Olympus and then the Minolta. So the 35 RD was the answer to the QL 17 and the 7sII was the answer to both the 35RD and the QL 17. Clear?
I have enjoyed the Olympus 35 line of cameras that I have shot so far (SP,EC, ECR, RC, DC and now RD) and think I have shot most of the major models. They carry the proud name of the original Olympus 35 introduced in 1948.
The 35 RD was a fun camera to use. Mine was a nice find of an in the original box item and showed no sign of use. It looks new but has also been in a box for year, so the shutter was a bit sticky and need to be serviced before I could use it.
If you can find one or have one this is a great compact rangefinder. It seems to be more difficult to find than the Minolta 7sII or the Canon QL17, so is it worth passing on the 7sII and the QL17 to seek out a RD? I don't think so. I would say it is a contender as far as use and is a peer to the others but not specifically better. If you have a thing for Olympus or find the esthetics of the RD to be better that is up to you. The one place my RD was superior is the clarity of the rangefinder, but that could be a function of having never been used and just been serviced.
As a future entry, I may do a compare and contrast to pick my favorite. I also, need to decide what if any of the Olympus 35 compact line I will be keeping and what to sell.
Lens: Olympus F.Zuiko 40mm f1.7
Film: Kodak Porta 400