Thinking about switching to Olympus OM system, need some guidance...

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Dr.Pain-MD, Jul 8, 2011.

  1. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    Hello everyone, I am currently thinking about what to do regarding an SLR because I miss shooting with one. Long story short, after some time my beloved Nikon FE became completely unreliable (shutter jams frequently) even after a CLA and my dad's old Kiev-19 F-mount SLR just jammed recently out of the blue. This left me with two lenses, the Helios-81 50mm f2 and the Nikkor AI 28mm f2.8. I have been shooting mostly medium format for the past few months and haven't even thought about SLRs in a while until I recently started to get back to shooting more 35mm with my Olympus 35 SP rangefinder. I realize how much I miss the feel of my FE and want another, but I am now wary of them (even though I probably shouldn't be).

    For some time now I have been very intrigued by the Olympus OM series SLRs. After doing some research, I realized that an Olympus OM-2/OM-2n would be a great replacement for my Nikon FE seeing how it shares a lot of the same features (main one being aperture priority). The OM appeals to me with its smaller size and larger viewfinder (amongst other factors), but I have a few questions.

    - What's the difference between the OM-2 and OM-2n (not interested in the sp version)?
    - A big concern for me was reading that the aperture priority caps the shutter at 120 seconds on the OM-2. What I like about my Nikon FE was that it could automatically time exposures for many minutes (hours even supposedly). Is it true that you cannot go past the measly 2 minutes?
    - Olympus lenses are supposed to be great optically (the G-Zuiko on my 35 SP is amazingly sharp), but I've read that the build quality of them is not the greatest. This sounds like baloney, but I want to make sure it's false, anyone care to chime in? I absolutely love the feel of my Nikkor lens and every other (manual focus) Nikkor lens that I've handled. Do the Oly OM lenses compare well?
    - I also read that the OM-2 eats batteries quickly, but I'm not sure if it only applies to the OM-2sp or the other models. I've never had to change the batteries in my FE since owning it for close to a year, I would like to not have to do it often. How is the battery life on the OM-2?

    OM lenses seem to be cheaper than comparable Nikkors, so that's another great plus. I hope that I can like the OM enough to get one, so help me out in my decision. I'm also open to any other advice regarding the OM vs Nikon system debate, let's hear what you can say. Thanks!
     
  2. jochen

    jochen Member

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    Hello,
    the difference between the OM-2 and the OM-2n is that the OM-2n cuts the long time exposures at 120 seconds to save batterie energy. The OM's have a horizontal rubberized cloth shutter with 1/60 synchro time whereas the FE has a vertical metal shutter and 1/125. I'm not quite sure but I think the OM-2n has a better electronic circuit than the OM-2. The OM-4 was known for having an unreliable electronic circuit which quickly emptied the batteries of older cameras like some FE-2's do, the OM-4Ti (with titanium top cover) was o.k. and is the best of all OM's and is capable of measuring contrast on several spots. Olympus had many specialized accessories for macro. The shutter speed on the OM is set with a ring on the lense flange and not with the wheel on the top which is very uncommon. The OM-2 measures the reflected light from a statistical pattern which is printed on the shutter curtain before exposure and during the open shutter phase from the film surface. You'll find much more used Nikkors than Zuikos, some of them have a real cult-status (and price).
     
  3. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Look up KEH to see what is available.

    Jeff
     
  4. Carl V

    Carl V Member

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    If you're after an aperture-priority and manual camera, then you won't go wrong with the Olympus OM-2n. This and the manual-only OM-1 were both outstanding SLR's and very reliable. I've never personally heard of any issues with regards to the build quality of the Zuiko lenses so I wouldn't concern myself too much about that if you've got your mind set on an Olympus system.

    The Nikon FE2 replaced the FE in around 1982, so you may wish to have a look at this model before deciding. Again, this is an excellent camera and as already mentioned, Nikkor lenses are more widely available on the used market.

    Admittedly, the Nikon FM3a is much more expensive but this is pretty much like the FM2 and FE2 combined into one. It offers aperture priority and full manual, but the beauty with this one is it's fully mechanical in the event of battery failure so can be used at all shutter speeds. It's also the most recent of Nikon's manual-focus SLR's having only ceased production in around 2006. They do command high prices however, particularly in good condition but I thought perhaps you may want to consider this model too.
     
  5. Selidor

    Selidor Member

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    MIR is your best friend here. Theres a page on the OM-2, look that up too.

    What keeps me attached to Olympus rather than Nikon/Canon/Minolta is how the shutter speed dial is on the lens mount, not the top plate. This makes shooting in manual a breeze. Furthermore since an OM-1n was my first SLR, all the other systems just feel "wrong" to me despite using the "traditional" layout.

    The other thing I like about my OM-2n is how sensitive the meter is in low light;I believe a range of
    -5.5EV
    to +18EV. I think this remains unsurpassed in 35mm cameras.

    Zuiko lenses are great, apparently the photography magazines of the day ranked them top of the pile, along with Nikkors. Build quality is just as good. However Jochen is right, there are far more Nikon lenses (esp. 3rd party) on the used market. If you're after a specific and not particularly common model at a decent price, you may have to wait a little.
    The other thing is that Olympus made several manufacturing changes throughout the production lifetime. For example, Chrome tipped variants are older and regarded to be a little softer, plus lack multicoating; the last "Made in Japan" 50mm/1.8 version is the finest; 50mm/1.4 models with a higher serial numbers (esp. >1,100,000) are better than those made earlier. But sample-to-sample variation exists at much greater incidence of equipment of this vintage (this probably explains your Nikon FE woes).

    Ultimately though, you will find faults with the OM system/OM-2. I for one would have preferred a fixed hotshoe with an ISO range that extends to 3200, and the highly praised small, compact form of the OM bodies feels slightly awkward in my large bear-like hands (a Nikon F5 was perfect). But our cameras, despite being mass produced, are very personal items in the way we use them. It could help if you take time to imagine using the system, trying to weigh up the how it might hinder/help your photography.

    Oh and the OM-2sp is the one that eats batteries!
     
  6. oldglass

    oldglass Member

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    These days with just a modicum amount of patience, you can get a nice OM-2n for not a lot of money.
    Go with the 'n' model as it has newer design electronics.

    As alluded to above, OM-2n has one of the best implementation of aperture-priority meter in the industry.
    I'm amazed at the ability of the camera to handle tricky lighting situations.

    The second main attraction to the OM system is the "elite" Zuiko lenses (most of them can be identified simply by having max. aperture of f/2 to f/2.8).

    I would choose an OM-2n as my first OM camera. While OM-1n is a true manual classic, I *never* bother with the meter on my OM-1n.
     
  7. Bateleur

    Bateleur Member

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    Here's another vote for the OM2n it's small light and robust. Shopping around will turn up a good buy. To some though the location of the shutter speeds need getting used to, being around the throat of the lens. And the aperture in use is not visible in the viewfinder.
    As mentioned the newer lenses are optically improved and are of just as good build quality as the Nikkors.
     
  8. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Damn good cameras. I have 2 OM2s now and couldn't be happier. They do a far better job than my Bessa and cost 10 times less.
     
  9. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    The OM-2n (and OM-1n) use the Silicon Blue photocell, which is superior to the CdS (cadmium sulfide) photocell found in the OM-1 and OM-2 bodies. As for battery life, the OM-1n and OM-2n only consumed battery for metering, not for mechanical shutter control...the 1.35v mercury battery would last a year. The OM-2sp had an electronically controlled shutter and used silver oxide batteries, like the OM-4, and both consumed batteries at a much faster rate (Olympus released the OM-4T to address the battery consumption issue) While the OM-4 had a superb multispot metering system which set the standard for the world, the viewfinder of the OM-1 and OM-2 was far superior in viewfinder size because the newer bodies had to cram in so much supplemental information into the display area, competing with the focusing screen for space.
     
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  10. John Hermanson

    John Hermanson Member

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    OM-2N is an excellent choice. Though the instruction book lists long exposure limit at 120 seconds (2 min.) in use you'll find actual exposure will stretch out to more like 210 seconds (3.5 minutes). The 2N has all the factory improvements that ever went into the 2. OM-2/2N both have silicon blue photocells. These cells read off the first curtain/film for auto exposure. Meter needle position is determined by 2 cds cells aimed at the focus screen. 2/2N shutter speeds (except for B) are battery dependent. Battery life (silver oxide only please) is excellent, no battery drain issues. John
     
  11. parkpy

    parkpy Member

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    i'd wholeheartedly recommend the OM-2n. It's near impossible for the camera to expose a shot incorrectly. And the viewfinder is MUCH better than the one found in a Nikon FE. Bear in mind, that the OM-2n only accepts film up to ASA 1600. I wanted a faster higher end shutter speed. I sold my OM-2n and picked up an OM-4T. Loved the OM-4T, but the OM-2n feels much better in your hands.

    Sold my OM-4T off (including 24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4, and 85mm f/2.0) as mine began locking up intermittently.

    Now I shoot a Nikon FM2n. Believe it or not, but it's been much cheaper and easier trying to procure lenses for my FM2n. It's a love/hate relationship with the FM2n. Love, because it's so damn reliable. Hate, because the viewfinder sucks, it's not as quiet as the OM-2n, it's bigger than the OM-2n, and the optics do not have the same character as OM lenses.

    I really feel like OM-2n and Olympus gear has increased substantially in price recently, while manual focus Nikon gear seems to sit, or decrease in value.
     
  12. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    I have both an OM-2 and FE2. I should probably like the FE2 more than I do, but the metering is off so I usually shoot in manual mode and use a handheld incident meter. That sort of defeats the purpose of having a built in meter. Nor do I care for the way the winding lever has to be out to the detent to activate the meter and take a picture.

    The OM-2 on the other hand, has a most excellent metering system and is generally extremely accurate. It handles very well too and so easy to read the shutter speed in the viewfinder.

    Both cameras were picked up used and I had to send the OM-2 to John, who posted above, for a CLA. It is now like new.

    Dave
     
  13. BobD

    BobD Member

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    This is news to me and I've used Nikon FE/FE2 for many years. Have you actually done this with an FE?
    I don't find this mentioned on any FE spec sheet. Just 8 seconds max shutter speed.
     
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  15. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Afternoon, Dr. Pain,

    I concur with the generally favorable comments made by the previous responders. Following the OM-4 was the availability of the OM-2000 which was not a "real Olympus," but which accepts Olympus lenses. OM-2000's have the advantages of being relatively newer and, more significantly, employing a vertically-running shutter which allows for a 1/125 sync speed, and taking easily-available A76 batteries. They also offer either spot or averaging meters. While I very much like my classic OM-1n, I also find my two OM-2000 bodies get regular use.

    Konical
     
  16. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    There is nothing wrong with the Nikon FE/FE2 series. Don't let your experience with one body influence your perception of the group. If you already have some lenses there is no reason to switch.

    The OM2 compares very well with the FE/FE2. Both systems are reliable, but being vintage cameras you should set some money aside for a repair or CLA.

    Regarding lenses, it can be downright hard to find some of the lenses for the OM and they dont come cheap. Each system has its sought-after lenses and its bargains.
     
  17. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    I used to take laparoscopy pictures with the OM-1. Never failed. Today I have 2 OM-1, 2 OM-1n, 2 OM-2, 2 OM-2n, 2 OM-4Ti. Meters excellent, lenses extraordinary.
     
  18. alapin

    alapin Subscriber

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  19. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I think Zuiko glass is more expensive and harder to find than Nikon glass (other than the common 28, 35, 50, 135 lenses). I don't think build quality is an issue. I love my OM-2n and OM-1n. Only negative in my mind is the flash shoe.
     
  20. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    True on both counts. However, the Nikons with aperture priority auto exposure will determine exposure time when shutter is depressed and maintain that regardless of any changes in the scene. OTOH, the OM2 has OTF (off the film) metering and will constantly monitor the scene and adjust accordingly - longer/shorter as suited.

    Only the Pentax LX has OTF to constantly monitor the scene and adjust accordingly as well as take a very long exposure. I have successfully achieved hour and a half exposures with it.
     
  21. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    Both Nikon and Olympus make fine cameras. I have owned and used the Nikon F, F2, F3, and F4 and the Olympus EP-1. I have never used an Olympus OM, Nikon FM, or Nikon FE series camera. However, I did develop opinions as I considered them for possible purchase.

    The reason I considered them for purchase was that there were times when I needed to use an SLR that was smaller, lighter, and expendable.

    Since I have always preferred manual/mechanical cameras to automatic/electronic cameras, the Nikon FE camera series was never high on my list.

    Higher on my list were the FM series cameras. I liked all of the FM series except the FM10. On two occasions I came very close to buying an FM series camera but did not for the following reasons:
    1. The FM cameras were smaller and lighter but were either too good or too expensive to be expendable. I ended up purchasing a lower priced Nikon EM instead and later replaced the EM with a Nikon N70 body that cost less than $100.
    2. When I needed an extra body, I almost bought a Nikon FM3a. However, at the time, there was so little difference in price between the FM3a and the Nikon F4 that I decided to buy the F4 instead.

    I have always considered the Olympus OM-1 as one of the most attractive looking 35mm SLR cameras. The Nikon F2 with a meterless DE-1 prism viewfinder was just as attractive but the Olympus with its built-in light meter was more functional. I was seriously considering buying the OM-1 but did not for the following reasons:
    1. It was too good and too expensive to be expendable.
    2. I did not like the location of the shutter speed control.
    3. Photographers reported that the OM cameras did not hold up as well as Nikons when subjected to daily use and abuse.
    4. I stumbled upon a good deal on a Pentax ME that was even smaller and lighter than the Olympus OM-1. With inexpensive third-party 28-70mm and 80-205mm lenses, this camera serves as my smaller, lighter, and expendable backup.


    Bottom line – I have complete confidence in the Olympus and Nikon 35mm camera systems and I could easily rely on the Olympus OM or Nikon FM camera series to capture the 35mm still images that I need.
     
  22. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    My two cents

    I will state up front that I am biased. Some might call me an Olympus fanboy, or a Zuikoholic. My first camera was an Olympus OM-2S Program in 1984 (27 years ago). I still have that camera. In spite of what others may say about the OM-2S Program, I have never found it to go through batteries faster than any other Olympus camera I own. I like the following features of the OM-2S: Aperture preferred Auto exposure (with real time OTF metering) , Full Manual mode (battery dependent), and Spot metering. I haven't used the Program mode in years.

    I only own three OM-1 MD's, one OM-1N, three OM-2S Programs, one OM-3Ti and five OM-4T's. I have never felt the need for anything else. In 27 years of using Olympus cameras, I have only had two problems (an OM-2S and an OM-4T have become jammed)(repairable). My daily use cameras are the OM-4T's.

    In my experience, Olympus Zuikos tend to be more expensive than comparable Nikon lenses. OM Zuikos with f2 maximum apertures can be extremely expensive but to me they are worth the extra money because of optical performance and features. Most of the f2 lenses feature floating element design to correct for close focus aberrations. Build quality is very solid. I only own the following Zuikos: 18mm f3.5, 21mm f2, 24mm f2, 28mm f2.8, 35mm f2, 40mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 50mm f1.4, 50mm f2 Macro, 55mm f1.2, 85mm f2, 100mm f2, 135mm f2.8, 180mm f2.8, 250mm f2, 300mm f4.5, 400mm f6.3, 500mm f8 Reflex, and 600mm f6.5. I am happy with all of these lenses, and NO they are not for sale.
     
  23. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I guess you can scrape by with that.:D

    "Only", eh? Well, like I said...

    BTW, just how thin is the depth of field of that 250mm f2 wide open?:blink:
     
  24. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    The Pentax LX has an EV range (in auto) of -6.5 to 20, though in reality it will hold the shutter open for hours, metering OTF the whole time. In my experience, its actual lower EV limit is as long as it takes, or the sun comes up, or the batteries die, whichever comes first.

    So sayeth the lxdude.
     
  25. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I had an Olympus OM-2N for a while. I really liked it. I found it in a thrift shop for $5 with a 35-70 f/4 constant aperture zoom. Shot it for a while, but I couldn't warrant having Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, and Olympus systems, so I sold it for $25. (Canon was my main system, and the other ones I had just found in thrift shops for cheap.) If I had been starting from scratch though, I would have really considered Olympus due to their small size and super cheap price. So, I can definitely put in a good word for the OM-2N. Not too sure about their other offerings and how they might differ.
     
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  26. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    I almost never hear of a disappointed OM owner. The few I have read about were people already emotionally invested in another brand. I don't recall ever reading about anyone disappointed with the quality of their OM photos taken with Zuiko lenses.