Introduction: Custom Leather Olympus Trip.

About: I am a British Graphic Designer and Photographer, when I am not working, I spend my time making an array of projects. I used to make a lot of props, but now I spend most my time building crazy cameras and shoo…

 A recently retired colleague of mine was kind enough to give me a couple of cameras before he disappeared to Thailand.

The first was a coronet midget. The second was an Olympus Trip.

The Olympus Trip was a successful mass produced camera. It boasted a built in light meter, making taking great photos a point and shoot affair. 

The great thing is, you can pick these up for about £15 on ebay. 

I had yet to get round to running a roll of film through this camera, and decided it needed a spring clean, and some slight improvements before I put it to good use.

Step 1: Materials, Parts, and Tools.

You will need the following:
  • An Olympus Trip, or other vintage camera in need of a new look
  • A stanley knife, Scalpel, Boxcutter, X-acto Knife, or a Sharpened flint rock. 
  • Plenty of new sharp blades on hand.
  • Scotch tape
  • Precision cross head screwdriver
  • Light seal foam (or something similar that will do the job.)
  • Pencil
  • Metal rule (a must for getting a nice cut without ruining the ruler or your fingers)
You may also find use for
  • Scissors
  • A soldering iron
  • Paper to make templates (If you intend on doing this to the same camera over, some templates may be handy)

Step 2: Clean Out the Viewfinder.

The first thing I noticed is that the view finder was a little clouded. This is mainly due to a build up of dust.

There are three screws located ontop of the olympus trip, one obvious one near to the shutter release. There are two further screws located underneath the rewind lever, if you lift it up, and open out the handle, you will see the screws, spin the handle around till you can a clean line of sight for your screwdriver.

Carefully lift the top straight up, you may want to use a thin slither of soft plastic to help lift it out of place. Although the camera is well built and hard wearing, no point mauling it with a flat head screwdriver!

Note that the top is attached to the camera via a single wire (attached to the hotshoe flash). There is no need to detach this, if you do (on purpose, or accident) then you can re-solder it on.
Beware, that the plastic element on the hotshoe will melt very easily if soldering, so be quick, and try not to hold the soldering iron on for more than a few seconds.

Now that we have the camera open we can go about cleaning, I found the best method was to use a little bit of scotch tape, this allowed me to precisely and easily remove dust and fibres. 

Cotton buds are also an option, but I found they left more fibre behind than it was worth.




I did try and give it a custom paint job. I thought it would be a great idea while I had the shell removed. 

I used the best paint I know of, a wickes own brand direct to metal spray paint. It bonded beautifully with the metal, and I was very happy with the effect, however I noticed that it chipped slightly when knocked. Car paint would have probably done a better job, but instead of messing around with extra coats, or respraying, I decided the original silver finish was nice enough.

I then spent several hours slowly scraping the paint of using some soft angled bits of wood, which did a much better job than cleaning it off with chemicals.

Step 4: Custom Leather.

This step is where the customising takes place.

Firstly, I visited my local leather tannery, they have a big scrap bin where everything in it is essentially free to help yourself to. Great for small projects like this.

The leather I picked up is a thick (3-4mm) suede finish, and is a pleasure to hold.

My first piece of advice for a nicely cut finished piece of leather is to always use a new blade on your scalpel/boxcutter/exacto/stanley knife. Using a slightly dull blade will just give a messy un-even cut. This camera deserves better than that.

Using the old dull blade that you just removed from the handle, you can carefully lift up the edge of the existing grip material. Once you have freed a little, you should then be able to grab and peel it off with relative ease.

Next, I took the original grips I had peeled off and placed them on to the leather. I cut down the height first, then the details at one end.

Ensure you leave the length on one side alot longer than the original as per the final picture.
This is important, due to the thickness of the leather, we actually need a longer section than the original grip

Once you have the more detailed section cut out, align it to the camera, and wrap it around, carefully mark where the leather needs to finish. You will notice a difference of about 5-10mm.
Every time you curve the leather around the camera, the length you need will be greater.

Cutting the height first, then working out the length by placing it on the camera will always give you a better result than trying to measure, or calculate the bigger size.

Step 5: Glue the Leather.

My recommendation for gluing the leather onto the camera is contact adhesive. Double sided does work, but I found it does not hold. Double sided carpet tape worked at first, but the leather seemed to dry out the glue in the tape, and the leather peels off.

With a contact adhesive (I used a tube of UHU) you apply a thin layer of the glue to either piece, then leave it to go tacky, (not sticky to the touch, but not completely dry) check your glue instructions. If you are not sure, try it out with some spare leather.

Once the glue is tacky, carefully place the leather onto the camera, you sometimes get a small amount of side to side movement, but not alot. Press firmly on the leather to ensure a good bond.

While the glue is still not 100% dry, go around the edge and push any small bits of exposed glue under the leather using a toothpick, it should bond to itself and be hidden under the leather.

Step 6: Light Seals, and Extras.

My Olympus Trip had got degraded light seals, so they had to come out.

On ebay you can easily find packs of sticky backed foam for light seals. The pack I bought had a mix of different thickness, as well as some foams with no sticky back.

I found very quickly that it was a pain to get the sticky back strips to fit into the groves on the Olympus Trip.

Instead I cut thin strips from the non sticky back foam, and gently pushed it into the groves. It may not be secure, but the camera holds it in place easily enough.

At one end of the camera I did use sticky back foam, as it required a bigger easy to position block.

My final addition was to buy a new lens cap, I did still have the original, put it was only a push on cap, and could easily be lost.

Step 7: Fin

Not my most complex project. However I learnt alot of lessons that I thought should be passed on.

Using the same methods I also managed to give my Coronet clipper a nice leather finish.

Let me know what you think, and more importantly, this is a kind of on going mod, so be sure to suggest other additions.