Going Analog: Olympus OM2 or Canon AE-1?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by relix, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. relix

    relix Member

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    I'm a regular DSLR shooter but want to try something different by going analog (cheaply). I've been researching several cameras and apparently the Olympus OM series, Nikon FM, and Canon AE series are highly regarded as oldies but goodies.

    I would like to have a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4, and a 28mm lens. I'd also like the camera+lens to be as small as possible.

    The Olympus OM2(n) is much more expensive on Ebay than the Canon AE, while I can't find many differences between the two models. That's probably because I really don't know what to look for in an old, manual 35mm body. I'd like to shoot with 3200 film, and apparently the OM2 auto-mode only goes to 1600, so that might be a disadvantage. That's all I could find.

    So, in short: what do I look for, and will both cameras produce equally good quality photographs?
     
  2. Hamster

    Hamster Member

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    If you take the time to learn and understand the camera and film then both with give you superb results. Especially with the lens and film combination you mentioned.

    The price difference was due to AE-1 being a very popular semi-pro camera during the early eighties and the program mode was a major step foreward at the time. Many more AE-1 were sold compared to OMs so the ebay price for AE-1 now is low, but doesn't mean in any way it is a lousy camera.

    I never owned or used an OM-2 but I was in the market for one a while back. So please correct me if I am wrong.

    On the OM-2 you can adjust + or - 2 stops with the knob next to the film advance lever, so that should give you the possibility to use ISO3200 film by giving an extra stop.

    However note that ISO3200 films have an actual ISO rating of about 1000-1200, and often give better results when used in auto mode at ISO800-1600. That should still give you the possibility to photograph in many night time indoor scene with regular lighting and have shutter speed of 1/15 sec when using the f1.4 lens.

    Implication is I won't worry too much about ISO1600 limit on auto mode, once you are used to the character of your camera and film, you can easily work around. What might possibly concern you is that the OM series have the shutter speed select is around the lens, some people like me can't get used to that.

    And a side note:

    Delta3200 exposed as 1600 and developed in PMK give surprising good results. There is an article at unblinking eye about that. http://www.unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Times/D3200/D3200_Grain/d3200_grain.html

    Also consider Spotmatic + Takumar 50/1.4, it is reasonably cheap still, and if it doesn't work for you then you can mount the takumar on your DSLR and have a happy time. The Spotmatic is as pure as they come. Cannon FD mount cameras have lots of cheap lenses and body available, AE bodies are cheap aplenty. Nikon I never liked because the bodies are expensive and I feel locked in to nikon system.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2009
  3. geauxpez

    geauxpez Member

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    The biggest difference between the Canon and the Olympus is in the auto mode. The Canon does "Shutter Priority" and the Oly does "Aperture Priority". The Olympus is also a much smaller camera if that's what you are after as well.Both will give great results. The Canon is set up a bit more traditionally with the shutter speed knob on the top plate to the right (near the shutter button). On the Olympus, the shutter speed ring surrounds the rear of the lens on the lens mount. The Olympus design meas that if you are using the camera manually, you can support the camera with your left hand while you change the shutter speed and your shutter finger never leaves the shutter. With the canon, you have to use your right hand to change the shutter speed, taking you out of the "ready-to-fire" mode.

    If you intend to shoot a lot of on-camera flash, you may have problems with the Olympus flash shoe -- they are plastic removable thingies and got brittle with age.

    The Canons are prone to "shutter squeak". I'm not sure what that is, but it does not sound healthy.

    I had both bodies with standard 50mm lenses at one time. I sold the Canon -- I just loved shooting the Olympus.

    By the way -- the Olympus 50mm/1.8 is a brilliant lens and be had very inexpensively.

    If you are looking for a good auto/manual camera body, don't forget about the Pentax ME Super. They tend to be pretty affordable. It has shutter buttons that take a bit of getting used to, but it is a great compact camera (slightly smaller than my OM2n) with a solid hotshoe. Pentax manual lenses tend to be a bit more expensive because they are backward with their digital SLR's. I would certainly take the Pentax over the Canon. I have the OM2n and the ME Super right now and I keep flip-flopping.
     
  4. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    *******
    OM2 over the AE-1 by a long shot. The AE is a competent, reliable, camera; the Om, despite having a larger mirror, is smaller, quieter, smoother, more ergonomically set up.
     
  5. Hamster

    Hamster Member

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    Oh one more thing, welcome back to film! You will like it!
     
  6. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    The OM series are very high quality bodies...some would argue pro-quality (I would). AE1s were very popular and good cameras, but definitely targeted at the amateur market. Both have great lenses available. For me, the OM series has perfect ergonomics with very small bodies and lenses. The OM series is also about as quiet as an SLR can be. The faster OM lenses tend to be a bit pricey, but the 28 f2.8 and the 50mm f1.8 are cheap and wonderful...just not as fast. If you end up wanting a 100mm, the 100mm f2.8 is a sweet lens....and tiny.
     
  7. glockman99

    glockman99 Member

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    Get the OM2n. Trust me on this. Some VERY good Zuiko (Olympus) lenses can be had rather cheaply.
     
  8. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    I have both. The shutter priority makes me grab the AE-1. The OM-2n is the superior one I think. The Metering was the first of it's kind on his time and even today it's outstanding. The Zuiko lenses are superior to the Canon ones I think. I have many of both Brands.
     
  9. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

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    Hands down the Olympus OM2
     
  10. mudman

    mudman Member

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    and check KEH.com - they have bargain OM2n's for $59.
     
  11. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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  12. elekm

    elekm Member

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    By now, both the OM-2 and the AE-1 will need to have new foam seals.

    I can't recall if the AE-1 had interchangeable screens. The OM-2 did.

    As others said, the AE-1 was aimed at the consumer market. At that time, there was discussions about the AE-1 because it was the first camera to use a plastic top deck. And once Canon discovered plastic, it couldn't stop. Unfortunately, it dragged others down this unholy path.

    There are some advantages to plastic in that it can take a knock here or there and won't leave a ding. On the other hand, I think it encouraged the camera makers to continue to find ways to cut corners and in the end cheapened the quality of construction (and I mean this in a negative sense).

    Now that my rant is finished, I really like the OM-2. It's a sturdy reliable camera with some great lenses available, and as others have pointed out, most are available at bargain prices.

    You also should know that neither lens mount (OM or FD) is supported anymore, although that shouldn't be a problem with the amount of used lenses on the market.
     
  13. KOG

    KOG Member

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    As a AE-1 user for the past 33 years, I can say they are great cameras. I can also add that the OM2 is a great camera as well.

    If you get a chance, handle both of them and then make your decision.

    Kevin.
     
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  15. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I don't know about the AE-1, but a few weeks ago, on a whim, I bought an OM-2 with a 50/1.8. It has quickly become one of my favorite cameras. It's small, easy to use, has a great meter and the 50/1.8 produces some really nice results.
     
  16. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    While I haven't owned anything in the Olympus camp being mostly a Canon or Nikon and sometimes Pentax user, and I know that people speak highly of them, I think you would be better off in the Nikon camp with a comparable body. The OM's were just too long in the tooth when I researched them and I decided to go elsewhere. Check into the smaller Nikon bodies and have a slew of lenses to buy from besides parts being readily available. I personally shoot an A1, N80, FTBn, M3 and Nikkormat in that order.
     
  17. Java

    Java Member

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    "Shutter squeak" is when the bearings, I think, in the mirror mechanism dry out so when you fire the shutter it makes a very annoying "squeak", had it on a T90 but it was easily fixed.


    Another vote for the Olympus OM2, thinking about getting one to compliment my OM4
     
  18. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Welcome home-- I'm an Oly user from the stone age -- go for an OM-2s program. You get manual, auto AP, auto program(shutter/aperture combo),TTL flash, and more. More than that-- Zuiko optics. At one time Zuiko suplied glass for all Japanese cameras, including Nikon. Bodies are smallish, and yes the shutter speed is controlled via ring mounted at the bae of the lens(not the lens itself) however you do NOT have to change your grip on the camera to change shutter speed. I've found this to be VERY handy over the last millenia. You might check an OM-4 once upon a time the flagship of the Oly lineup. Spot metering with highlight, or shadow bias at the touch of a button. OM-1 is manual only with match needle meter.
    well enjoy the hunt for your next camera.
    Rick
     
  19. relix

    relix Member

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    Excellent responses! Thanks all for your time!

    Since I'm absolutely addicted to aperture priority, I won't buy the Canon AE. You guys said some very nice alternatives, like the Pentax Spotmatic and the Pentax ME Super. Since these are more cheaper than the Olympus, I'm still not sure what to buy now :tongue:

    It was mentioned that the Olympus was old and would almost certainly require servicing. How much would this cost approximately, and does anyone know where in Belgium or Europe this could be done?

    If on Ebay the seller says it's in good working condition, does this mean it still might require servicing, so do the e.g. broken light seals only affect the quality of the shot, instead of making the camera totally unusable?
     
  20. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    Regardless of the camera you buy; you'll probably ha to do a CLA. Cleaning, dusting, calibrating the meter, replacing the foam behind the mirror, etc. After 40 or 50 years light seals tend to desintegrate and become a dark, gummy thing that doen't do it's job ( impede light from hitting the film other than through the lens) If I had to choose a different one; I'd go for the Pentax Spotmatic with a Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f:1.4 ( screw mount M42)
     
  21. relix

    relix Member

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    Is KEH.com trustworthy? Will the cameras still need servicing? There are some very good prices on there, especially on the OM2S + 50mm F1.4 ($130 :surprised: ). Too bad they're in the US, which means high shipping costs and at least 21% import duty.

    Any such second-hand sites in Europe? I've found a few through Google but none carries the Olympus OM2
     
  22. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Why not go with Canon A-1?

    Jeff
     
  23. RH Designs

    RH Designs Advertiser Advertiser

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    Ffordes are listing several from 85 GBP up.
     
  24. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Member

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    I used to do weddings in the 80's and used OM1n and OM2n bodies + various lenses. Via a circuitous route (which, over the years, included owning AE-1, A-1 and T90 + others) I now have an OM1 and OM2n again.

    For me, the OM1 / 2 / 3 / 4 models are true classics. There's absolutely nothing wrong with an AE-1 and, if shutter priority is your thing then it's the one to choose, however, the OMs are just beautiful little jewels as well as exceptionally capable cameras.
     
  25. relix

    relix Member

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    The A-1 does look very interesting! 5 differint program modes (including Aperture priority), and aperture + shutter speed shown in the viewfinder.

    Hmmm...

    You're not making it easy to choose :tongue:
     
  26. John Hermanson

    John Hermanson Member

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    Another big difference between Canon AE-1 and Olympus OM-2N is that on auto mode, the OM-2N reads the light off the first curtain during exposure. Once the AE-1 mirror goes up, the meter is locked and creating an exposure from memory. The Canon line also used foam in the shutter mechanism that is commonly found as light seal around the camera back. This foam (as everyone knows) breaks down and turns to tar. Okay if it's only in the back, but in the shutter it affects shutter speeds and the tar may start to show up on the curtains themselves. A BIG repair job. John, www.zuiko.com