Size matters: Olympus OM or Canon FD

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by dnjl, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. dnjl

    dnjl Member

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    Hello all,

    I prefer SLRs over rangefinders when it comes to street photography. I find them much easier to compose with and quicker to focus. I don't want to get into a debate on rangefinder vs SLRs here. My preference is clear and I'm okay with the disadvantages of my choice (mirror slap, noise, size and weight). However, size and weight are a real issue and for that reason, I've been considering swapping my FD for an OM system. I have a few questions for experienced OM shooters:

    1) How is the viewfinder of an OM-1, OM-2 or OM-4 compared to, say, a Canon F-1n with laser matte screen installed? I need a really bright finder.

    2) The only focal lenghts I use are 35mm and 50mm. I currently own the excellent FD 35mm f2 (non radioactive) and the very good FD 50mm f1.4. How good are the equivalent lenses (same aperture or faster) in the OM system? I know that the OM 35mm f2 is considerably smaller than my big FD lens (49mm vs 55mm filter size), and the same goes for the 50mm.

    3) How reliable are the OM cameras? Can you play football with them, like you can with the Canon F1? I'd need a fully mechanical body as my main camera and another one as backup, mechanical or electronic. The OM-3 is out of my price range, I'm afraid.

    4) Finally, would you think swapping systems is worth it for the sake of size/weight and better viewfinder?

    (Things I don't need/care about: flash, motor drives, high shutter speeds, any lenses other than 35/50mm, auto exposure, lots of blinking lights in the viewfinder)

    I'd appreciate your comments.
     
  2. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    From what I have seen, the better viewfinders and lighter/smaller camera's weight usually occurred in selections of AF camera systems. My N80 has a great viewfinder, is light and very quiet. My inherited Minolta 7000i body has a beautiful viewfinder, but on the other hand a body a little too big. I'm sure you'll get alot more remarks. If anything, consider parts/repair potentials.
     
  3. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    The OM's have one of the brightest finders around and is very quiet. I used one for a while and thought it was too small, more difficult to focus easily and adjust speeds and went back to Nikon. The OM speed ring is around the base of the lens ALA Nikkormat.
    If you have the FD lenses I'd opt for the F1n body before changing systems.
    I just weighed an OM1 and Canon AE1 with 1.8 lenses and the difference in weight was fractions of an ounce. I don't have an F1 to weigh. Maybe the Canon site will have specs
    WRT size, the only thing similar to the OM is Pentax MX/LX. The ME/ME Super aren't comparable at all in terms of ruggedness. For comparison the AE1 is about 1/2" longer and equivalent height.
     
  4. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    What do you consider to be a great/beautiful viewfinder?

    In my experience, AF cameras have very bright viewfinders, but they don't snap into focus well, making them not so useful (understatement!) for manual focusing.

    IMHO, there are very few cameras which manage to combine a very bright viewfinder and excellent manual focusing.
    (Hint: the better Olympus OMs are some of them)
     
  5. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    Obviously the OM's are very much smaller and lighter than the F1, but seeing as you are an SLR man anyway that is not going to be a problem right? One advantage of the FD system is the availability of great lenses (you already have two) for bargain prices.
    The OM system lenses seem to be creeping up in price, and while good, I still prefer FD lenses and also the F1, but that's just me. For street,the lenses that you have are ideal but there is also the excellent 100mm F2 and 28mm F2 that could work as well.
     
  6. dnjl

    dnjl Member

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    I already have the F-1n and I really love it. The thing is, I will be backpacking extensively this summer and I want to haul as little gear as possible. I want to take two bodies and two lenses (35mm and 50mm). My FD system would consist of an F-1n, FTb, 35mm f2 and 50mm f1.4. I'm looking at roughly 2kg of equipment here, not counting peripherals.
    If it wasn't for traveling, I wouldn't consider changing seeing as I'm quite happy with my current gear.

    waynecrider, thanks for the suggestion. I know that autofocus plastic gear can be very light and compact, but I don't like these electronic wonders. Somehow, I just need my manual film advance and a solid lens under my fingertips. It's a mental thing.
     
  7. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    I can't speak for Olympus, since they're one of the few SLR systems I haven't bought into, but have you ever considered the Minolta X-series? I have the XG-1, XG-A, and X-700, and they seem to all have very bright viewfinders, easy manual focusing, are relatively light, the lenses are cheap, fast, and super-sharp, and their shutters are very, very quiet for SLRs. They also meter with only the touch of your finger on the shutter, so it's almost like a stealth mode. Their only flaw from your criteria is that they're not fully mechanical.
     
  8. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Not only are the OM's much smaller, but you will save a considerable amount of weight just in the bodies alone:
    F-1N 795g vs OM4T 510g
    FTB 750g vs OM1 490g​
    You will also realize savings in size and weight on equivalent focal length lenses with the Zuikos compared to the Canon.
    The OM4 has some distinct advantages over any manual focus aperture priority auto exposure cameras like spot meter, off the film metering, very long auto exposure and TTL flash while the F-1N is much less battery dependent.

    If you haven't yet, you might also consider the Pentax LX & MX as they are the two smallest slrs in their class.
     
  9. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    Two OM bodies is a little over 1 kg. The 35mm f2 Zuiko is 240 grams. The 50mm f1.4 Zuiko is 230 grams. The weight savings is roughly half a Kilogram. The OM-1 should be robust enough for backpacking use. I am not really inclined to recommend switching for a half kilo savings. The 35mm f2 Zuiko usually sells for $300 these days and a late 50mm f1.4 would be at least $100. You would probably pay over $500 for the camera bodies and lenses that you are seeking. Is it worth it to you?
     
  10. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    Zuiko glass is all crap. Send to me for disposal.

    Actually, I'm a big guy with big hands and the OM system fits perfectly. If you are only looking to use a 50mm and a 35mm you will spend some relatively big bucks on the 50 1.2 and 35mm f2, however a 50mm 1.4 and 35mm f2.8 can be had for a reasonable number. You can't use any camera as a hockey puck and expect it to hold up to the abuse. Fully mechanical, meaning it keeps working after the bunny has died, would be eith the OM 1 or 1n and the OM 3 or 3Ti. The ones are affordable the 3s pricey. Oh, forget about it. Just send the glass my way, it is all crap. If you don't agree, you may end upwith as much of it as me. Bill Barber
     
  11. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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  12. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    The OM system has been rising in prices and I may say is overpriced now. Part of the problem is that the better non-kit lenses are quite hard to find.
    For instance the 35mm f2 is going for 200-250 when last year it was around 150. The 50mm f1.4 is actually decently priced. Try for a higher serial number as Olympus quietly updated their coatings over the years.
    In any case, for a light-er weight kit, get the slower lenses as well. The 35mm f2.8 and 50mm f1.8 should do you well.
    -I say light-er weith because the olympus system is quite solidly built. It is no lightweight!

    Really, imho you should just take one body with you. You will get the advantage of the lighter weight and not have to spend more money on another system.
    Take a Olympus XA or Stylus Epic with you to suppliment your kit..
     
  13. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    Oh, to answer some of your questions..
    The reports of the viewfinder being bright on the OM are overrated.. It is a big viewfinder 'for such a small camera' but is no where near the F1-N. Also, the screen used on OM1 and 2's was a standard screen. There were brightscreens made later when they were producing the OM3, but were not ever standard on the OM1/2. Still even with a brightscreen, you are not going to get the same effect as that big beautiful finder of the F1 with its laser-matte screen.

    Regarding the lenses.. the 50mm f1.4 is on par with the canon. The later serial numbers are better. People pay a premium for the 1.1 million+ but I cant see a difference in mine. The 35mm f2 gets mixed reviews, but that may only be in comparison to the olther olympus fast lenses. I dont know. I have one but I have not used it yet. The canon 35mm f2 concave only gets rave reviews though.

    Regarding the reliability. They are very good. The OM1 was designed for 100,000 actuations. However most are quite old and used now. The battery they were made for is no longer available and replacements dont give a steady voltage. The OM2 will eat batteries so do not store it with the batteries in it.
     
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  15. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    For the record I currently shoot with a OM2 and OM4. I have a few different 50mm's. Also the 24mm f2.8, 35mm f2, 85mm f2, and 135mm f2.8.
    I used to use the Canon FD system and had a F1N and A1. I switched because I wanted better metering of the OM4 and easy exposure compensation of the OM2.
    i carry both bodies in a shoulder bag that used to hold just one camera. The OM's are small but the canon's handled better.
    (if you hear me pining for my F1N yeah I miss it somewhat)
     
  16. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I'm used to the RB67, so to me the F1 is small and lightweight.

    Jeff
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The OM1 battery issue is easily handled - either by using appropriate adapters for modern replacement batteries, or having a simple modification done on the camera (usually at the same time as a CLA).

    I carry an extra set of readily available MS76 or equivalent batteries for my OM2n and OM2s cameras. The batteries last a reasonably long time, but not as long as some others.

    For me, the OM bodies and lenses handle better than Canon FD bodies and lenses.

    My standard kit (OM 2n or OM2s with zuiko 24mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2 and 85mm f/2) fits nicely in a very small camera bag.
     
  18. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    OM-1(n) without hot-shoe + 50mm = Gorgeous.
     
  19. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    Well if you are into taking pictures of your camera then yes the OM-1 is quite attractive.
     
  20. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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  21. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    It may be an unfair comparison, I never really found the OM 35mm f/2 to be "as good" as the lens it replaced.

    I bought it to replace the Pentax Super Takumar 35mm f/2 the one with the 67mm filter ring. And I used to backpack with a Star-D tripod and shoot Kodachrome 25.

    Sooo. Maybe it was by comparison that when I was shooting Velvia 50 with OM4, 35mm f/2 and a smaller tripod (or sometimes handheld), I never got the same kind of results.
     
  22. Tony-S

    Tony-S Member

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    My Super Tak 35mm f/2-67 is rather soft wide open. Really not until f/4 does it sharpen up.
     
  23. thuggins

    thuggins Member

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    The viewfinder of the OM's is well known for being big and bright. I can't imagine how it could be brighter, as it looks about the same as looking directly at a scene. Contemporary lens tests showed the OM lenses to be among the best made. I'm not sure why you're fixated on fast lenses. The 35f2.8 and 50f1.8 are both tiny (the 35f2 is huge by comparison and takes a 55mm filter). If you want low light capability, the smooth shutter and mirror of the OMs easily gives two stops over other SLRs. I regularly shoot a 35mm at 1/15s, often at 1/8s, and sometimes at 1/4s - all hand held.

    I shot primes for many years, as well as the 35-70f3.6. Recently I've gone back to my original 35-70f3.5-4.5. It is a small as any prime and gives excellent results. The only reason to carry two bodies is if you want to have two different films.

    Final points --> The OM bodies are the smallest full frame 35mm SLRs. The replacements for the OM-1's mercury cells are readily available. I've had an OM-2 for 30 years and never had problems with the battery life.
     
  24. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    For light weight and good glass the Olympus. I prefer the OM-1n. I also have the F-1, F-1n, New F-1, etc. I find myself using both. I guess weight is not a problem for me
     
  25. dnjl

    dnjl Member

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    Thanks, everyone. I've decided to keep my FD system and just deal with the extra weight. It looks like the overall cost of swapping systems outweigh the benefits.
     
  26. pekelnik

    pekelnik Member

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    There is also the late OM 2000. It's made by cosina so people don't consider it a real OM, but it has a number of benefits. It's very small, very light, has spot metering and usual shutter speed selector.