The Ace series were rangefinder cameras introduced in 1958 by Olympus, as their first and only rangefinder cameras with interchangeable lenses. There were two models, the Ace and the Ace E with built-in uncoupled selenium meter. The Ace series featured:

  • separate viewfinder, brightline-frame and rangefinder windows, following the style of the Leica M3
  • parallax correction for viewfinder and brightline frames.
  • brightline frames for 35mm, 45mm and 80mm focal lengths.
  • Copal SV leaf shutter in the Ace,with 1 sec to 1/500 sec plus B speeds, with M and X flash synchronization.
  • Seikosha SLV leaf shutter in the Ace-E,with 1 sec to 1/500 sec plus B speeds, with M and X flash synchronization.

The Ace interchangeable bayonet-mount lenses were designed specifically for these cameras, and will not mount to any other cameras. These lenses mounted onto the shutter housing face, rotating into place and locked in place with a hidden pin, and the three-flange bayonet mount extended into the housing throat. The lenses' rear elements were then close to the leaf shutter plane. The lens focusing setting was coupled via a moving pin to the shutter housing face, then to the body rangefinder and parallax correcting mechanisms.

The smaller leaf shutter opening resulted in a limited range of focal lengths and apertures. Only four Zuiko-Ace lenses were produced:

  • Normal 5-elements, 4 groups E.Zuiko 4.5cm f:2.8
  • Wide angle 5-elements, 3 groups E.Zuiko-W 3.5cm f:2.8
  • Short telephoto 5-elements, 5 groups E.Zuiko-T 8cm f:5.6
  • Later short telephoto Zuiko-T 8cm f:4

The uncoupled Ace-E meter was linked to the lens shutter speed and ASA film sensitivity rings, but not to the aperture ring. Setting shutter speed and ASA then made the meter indicate a light value leading to an aperture setting.

Olympus Ace production began in December 1958 and lasted until 1960. The 'look' of the Ace was strongly influenced by the style of the Leica M3.

The successor Ace-E, introduced in December 1959, was the same body with restyled top cover and selenium meter. The top of the Ace-E featured a circular meter reading window. Its production lasted until April 1961. It was also sold as Sears Tower 19.

The Olympus Ace and Ace-E are normally found in chrome finish, but a black Olympus Ace-E has been sold at Westlicht photographica auction #5, 29 May 2004.


Olympus Classic Cameras
Semi | Semi II | Six | Chrome Six | Flex | Standard | 35 | Ace | Pen | Pen F | FTL | OM-1/2/3/4 | OM-10/20/30/40 | OM-707 | OM-101 | XA