It’s red, it’s plastic, and it’s covered in pleather. It’s the Olympus Stylus Zoom 105 LT. This little gem cost me $6 on eBay (factor shipping and a new battery, $25) and it stands out as one of the coolest cameras in my collection.
More Than Meets the Eye
The “On” button on this camera really starts the show. Flip the switch on the front to “on” and the camera comes alive. The chrome cover opens, the lens extends to 35mm, and the flash automatically extends. My boy thinks it’s a transformer robot. It has a nice little LCD info screen on top showing the frame number, flash setting, and timer.
Next up is the lens 38-105mm zoom lens. It takes decent sharp photos across the range, and it has the added benefit of looking very alien when the lens is fully extended.
It sports a cool little gimmicky feature called “Panorama.” A younger generation co-worker yesterday asked me how to pan with it since it doesn’t have a back display. The actual panorama is a set of curtains that block part of the image path, basically letterboxing the image and the viewfinder.
Shooting with it is awkward for a couple reasons. For one, you have to train yourself to ignore the electronic noises and just listen for the shutter click. Otherwise you’ll find yourself frustrated that it seems to take forever to snap a photo. All of the noise is the film advance after it has taken the shot. Also, it has the tiniest viewfinder in the universe, and it is square in the middle of the camera. You’re likely to be more accurate shooting from the hip or, at a minimum, pre-planning your shots so you have time to compose.
Holding the camera, it feels very well built. I like heavier compact cameras because they give the impression of durability and build quality. This particular model is leather-ish trimmed (hence the LT designation) and it feels great to hold it.
Overall it’s a really cool camera that screams 1990s hipster tech. I wouldn’t recommend spending any serious bank on one unless it comes with a fresh battery (mine came with a Lowepro case, roll of expired film, and a cleaning cloth — $6 + shipping). This is a thrift store find. Bargain Cool.