Which Olympus OM?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Roundabout, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. Roundabout

    Roundabout Member

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    I've read a fair few threads about the Olympus OM cameras and I'm keen to get one. I'm still just a bit unsure about a few of the features and how they might apply to the way I photograph.

    I think I'm mainly considering the OM1n versus the OM2n. The OM4 seems much more expensive. I shoot manually and rarely use aperture priority and so on.

    Reasons why I'm looking at this camera range.

    1. Lightweight. I'm really 'over' carrying big heavy cameras around. I was even considering getting a new Bessa. I like rangefinders, but I also use SLRs and I've heard great things about the OMs and I also heard that even the lenses are quite light - true or not?.

    2. I can't quite work out the light meter situation with the OM1n. Can you see the meter through the viewfinder? I don't need intricate measurements. I just want the meter to be more or less accurate.

    3. Also, are batteries easily available? I get the impression that OM2 batteries are current and fairly easy to get, whereas OM1 batteries are not? I don't want to have get anything converted or adapted.

    4. However, I quite like the idea of the OM1 shutter being mechanical.

    Anything else I whould be thiking about when making a choice? I am not a collector. I want to actually throw the camera in my bag/pocket and use it on a day-to-day basis.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    If you don't want to spend the money for OM-4, then OM-1n would be a good choice. Personally I got fed up with in-camera meters and I don't even put batteries in any longer. John Hermanson could do a CLA and convert it to Alkaline if you found a good usable OM-1n for a low enough price to give you the leeway to afford that.
     
  3. DLawson

    DLawson Member

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    I've had an OM-1 since 1976. Handling anything else feels like an anchor, including older folders that I have.

    Yes, the meter indicator is clearly visible in the viewfinder. The needle may overlay the subject area, but it does not obstruct it.

    The original batteries for the OM-1 are not available. There are some said to be compatible, but I haven't tried them. The main options are conversions (zuiko.com does great work) or adapters (fit original battery chamber and hold smaller button battery). Zuiko.com sells the adapters for $45. I've never used the adapters. I have the camera updated.

    Mine spent many years being stuffed in school desks and then many more years in a college backpack, a belt pouch, a pocket when the coat was roomy enough. It never complained.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I bought my first OM-1 in 1974/5 - a plain OM1, not the later OM1-MD or OM1n.

    I'm currently without an OM1 body, but I do have 4 other OM bodies: one OM2n, one OM2s and two OM-Gs (aka OM20s).

    All the bodies I currently own use readily available, current batteries.

    The single digit OM bodies are wonderfully compact, but they aren't as light as later, more electronic cameras. I have a couple of Canon EOS film bodies that are a fair bit larger than my OM bodies, but a lot lighter than an OM1n or OM2n.

    In recent years while using my recently sold OM1n or OM1 bodies, I used them with two different types of battery adapters.

    The first type of adapter is the type that John Hermanson sells on zuiko.com. It allows use of a smaller silver oxide cell in the larger battery compartment of the OM1, and it converts down the voltage to the right amount. There are other sources as well for similar adapters. They work very well, and in something like an OM1, the silver oxide cell lasts for a long time.

    The second type of adapter also works well and is less complex, and therefore less expensive. It has no circuitry, but it allows a small hearing aid battery to power the OM1 meter. The hearing aid batteries use the same chemistry as the zinc air cells, so they have the right voltage and discharge curves, but like the more expensive zinc air cells they don't last particularly long. The hearing aid cells are incredibly cheap in quantity and are easily found at drug stores as well as Costco. I bought my adapters from Jon Goodman, who posts here regularly and was formerly active on eBay, particularly with respect to his light seal kits. His adapters are very reasonable in price.

    I would recommend that you have John Hermanson service any OM1 or OM1n. As posted above, he will convert the camera to modern silver-oxide batteries (not alkaline, as posted above), and deal with one problem that OM bodies have. The cameras depend on a type of light seal material that can degrade over time. The light seal material that is near the prism is particularly important to remove, and John does that.

    FWIW, both my OM2n and my OM2s are very easy to use for manual exposure. They do, however, require batteries for more than the meter, so if battery dependency is a problem for you, they may not be suitable.

    You indicate that size and weight of the camera and lenses is important for you. The OM lenses are as compact as the bodies, but like the single digit OM bodies, they are well built and fairly heavy - again in comparison to something like the kit zoom lenses that were sold with some more recent electronic film cameras.

    I like to carry a three lens kit with a single OM2n or OM2s body - a 24mm f/2.8, a 35mm f/2 and an 85mm f/2 lenses. The body and lenses together are extremely compact - they fit together into a very small camera case. Those lenses are fairly popular, and can command a premium price on eBay or through other appropriate sources

    The OMGs/OM20s are also interesting. They are clearly aimed at the amateur market, but they are equally compact, quite good to use, and a fair bit lighter than an OM1. They aren't as robust as the single digit OM bodies, and they are also battery dependent.

    If you haven't already seen it, the so called Olympus OM Sales Information file is your friend for details about the system. Note the links thereon to scanned manuals: http://www.star.ucl.ac.uk/~rwesson/esif/om-sif/mainindex.htm

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. DLawson

    DLawson Member

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    I forgot to put in details.

    I'm on my second OM-1, my original being in the desk waiting for service (not bad for almost 40 years).

    I have no idea of current prices. The 2nd was bought from eBay for $42 about 3 years back and rebuilt by John Hermanson (zuiko.com) for about $110. (I looked for my bill email, but I guess I did not file it well.)

    If you are better than I am at buying used stuff, you might skip the refurb/rebuild. Since I already knew the product and already loved it, it was worth it to have it brought to spec before I used it.

    OM-1s in unknown/random condition are or were cheap. When I spent $42, I could have spent $25, but the difference wasn't that much to my budget, and I wanted a fresh body to use.
     
  6. Roundabout

    Roundabout Member

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    Thanks everyone, for the information. It's really helpful.

    Actually, that's a thought. It's one reason that the Bessa still appeals. I have a couple of Canon rangefinders and a Topcon RE2, all in working condition. But they are like carrying a brick. I'm after a camera that works and feels good (and I heard that the OMs are reliable - even though I've factored in CLA costs and time).

    Digitally, I use a Nex 7 with the Zeiss 24, after giving up on Canon SLRs for the bulk/weight issue. So I don't really want anything heavier or bulkier than that.
     
  7. Jim Rice

    Jim Rice Member

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    The OM-1n that I had was a wonderfully intuitive feeling camera for me.
     
  8. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Thanks for correction, I was picturing the px625 size batteries, which I've only seen in alkaline lately.
     
  9. noacronym

    noacronym Member

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    I've seen the voltage curves of the current 625 alkaline battery. Extremely sad sight. See this link. I wanted to use my original Luna Pro. I found online a guy who had actually had a little voltage regulator I was able to install inside the meter case and use MS76/347 silver batteries. It took the approx 3.1 V of the 2 silver cells and regulated it to 2.7V, which was the original mercury battery. The discharge curve of this has been phenominal, flat as a pancake from day 1 till death. If you just drop 2 modern PX625's in there and dial down your film speed, you can expect about aone day next month when the meter is accurate. From there, it overexposes each day till your film is just nearly black.
     
  10. noacronym

    noacronym Member

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  11. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Comparing the OM1n and OM2n. I have both. Handling is virtually identical. OM1 works without batteries at all, just the uncoupled meter doesn't work. OM2n has a coupled meter for aperature priority but won't work without batteries. OM2n takes SR44 as standard. OM1n needs modifying. OM2n will give TTL flash metering with olympus compatible flashes and the "off the film/curtain" exposure system is very good. OM1n has no TTL but the "n" as opposed to the "non-n" does have a "flash ready" light with olympus flashes thru the viewfinder. Both have the same possible foam-rot over the prism so should be CLAd and re-foamed if there is any hint of stickiness on the door/mirror foams. Which side of the pond are you, because if you are the UK side its simpler to send the camera to Mike Spencer at Camerarepairs-r-us than John. Mike also does battery conversions and is an ex-japanese factory trained camera tech.

    just to add, yes its a lightweight system (but my part plastic Minolta X300 is the lightest system I have), and pretty much ALL olympus zuiko lenses are really good - even the often maligned zooms. The only lens of mine I don't like is the little 35-70 f3.5-4.5 zoom. I think its very small size was a step too far. The v.cheap 35-70 F4 is terrific (or mine is anyway), the F1.8 50mm is a star, and the 75-150 zoom is far better than many would have you believe and often only £25

    As you can tell I am an OM fan. Never disappointed that this is my choice of 35mm system and thanks to Mike my 4 OMs are all in good shape.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2013
  12. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    I've recently started using an OM1n. I've been using a Bessa R2a rf for the past couple of years.
    I wouldn't say it's a light camera, but it sits in the hand nicely, though I sometimes miss having a bit of a grip on the rhs.
    with a 50/1.4 or 24/2.8 it's very compact indeed
    I do use the metering (I also had Michael Spencer cla & convert mine), but in very low light or at night the metering is unusable as the needle disappears in the gloom.
    It is a camera that I want to pick up and use just for the pleasure of using it.
     
  13. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    Considering an OM there are only two decisions to be made:

    aperture priority automatic or purely manual
    and
    Spot metering or center weighted integral

    Spot metering and aperture prio.: OM2 spot, OM4
    center weighted integral and aperture prio.: OM2, OM4

    Spot metering and purely manual: OM3
    center weighted integral and purely manual: OM1, OM3

    The purely manual cameras have a mechanical shutter and will work without batteries
    Any of the cameras with electronic shutter can be used manual in the same way as the cameras with mechanical shutter.
    As far as I know, the OM2spot can not be repaired anymore
    The OM3 can be hard to find and is expensive. An OM1 is dirt cheap. Though the OM1n has some internal improvements over the OM1 I see no reason not to try an OM1 if you do not need a motor drive or the flash ready light. Someone has said that something is perfect, if you can not leave anything out without making it worse. To me, in this regard an OM1 is just perfect.
    A CLA (and battery conversion) is not part of the decision process as any one will need it as long as the seller doesn't tell you the camera already had one.
     
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  15. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    OM-1n on any day.

    OM-2sp is lesser OM-4 but cocking shutter is not smooth with my camera.

    Tele: Zuiko 85mm f/2.0 is good, but if cash permits you can get 100mm f/2.0. I personally do not see the use of 135mm.

    Normal: Zuiko 50mm, but I seldom use this focal length.

    Wide: 35mm f/2.8 is good when stopped down, but absolute beauty is 28mm f/3.5. I paid Euro 40 for 28mm and shot nearly 20 rolls during trip in Italy on last summer.

    Macro: I do not have any macro lens yet.

    Flash: I use Metz CL-45 with SCA adapter.

    CLA: I have sent to Michael Spencer.

    Please make sure you get flash shoe when buying OM-1(n).
     
  16. rolleiman

    rolleiman Member

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    I used OM1n's years ago when working as a pro. Couple of points, flash sync. speed not high enough for realistic "fill in" flash in daylight. Motordrive cover on base had a habit of "dropping off", best to cover with tape if not using a drive.

    I recall some OM2's & OM4's suffered "battery drain", believe problem cured with later models. Great for carrying around, lenses excellent in the main. Unfortunately, Olympus (at least in the UK) don't seem interested in servicing them. Spares could be a problem.
     
  17. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    Like others here, I have had OM slrs since 1975. I love them.

    The OM-1 has a great meter. Compensation is easy to set for backlit or high contrast scenes. You just have to use your head a little. But it all feels very natural and quick.

    If batteries are a concern, you can use hearing aid batteries but I would recommend an adapter or conversion.

    Also be careful putting a heavy flash unit on an OM-1 or OM-2 since they can crack your valuable accessory shoe. The Olympus T-20 is a great flash and light enough with only 2 batteries inside.

    --
    Just for confusion, there are also the OM2-sp and OM-PC (OM-40) that have a full program mode. (setting both shutter and aperture automatically). And the OM-PC has the ESP matrix metering which is great for slides.
    --
     
  18. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    OM2n would be my recommendation if the choice was limited to one, but the bodies are so cheap I would also get an OM1n.
     
  19. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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  20. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Just to confuse things, the Pentax MX is worth a look too.


    Steve.
     
  21. John Hermanson

    John Hermanson Member

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    Converting OM-1/1N

    My OM-1/1N meter conversion uses silver oxide 1.55V batteries (357, SR-44W, G-13, MS76, KS76, S76, 303 etc.) Alkaline batteries lose voltage as soon as you start to use them, undoing any meter calibration that might have been done. Silver oxide cells have a more level output until they weaken and die. John
     
  22. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    John did a great job on my Olympus Pen FT and converted it to use modern battery too. Camtech Photo Services is highly recommended!
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    For clarity, Camtech Photo Services is John Hermanson and his/their website is zuiko.com.

    And with respect to the OM2s (OM-2sp in some parts of the world), some parts of the camera (the circuit board?) are unserviceable, but other parts are as serviceable as any other 30+ year old camera - i.e. it depends on part availability.

    I bought mine new, and have enjoyed it thoroughly.
     
  24. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Thanks for clarifying, I had stuck in my head the shape of the battery compartment - not thinking it could be re-worked. For the OM-1, do you replace the battery compartment or fit an insert (like a grommet) to accommodate the smaller cell? Do you make it one - or two - cells?
     
  25. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

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    A SR44 is somewhat smaller than the original one but that does not matter much. Some use an o-ring to the space but that is really not necessary. The conversion lies under the hood: The meter has to be adjusted to the higher voltage.
    As others said, the OM1 has to be serviced anyway. The conversion is done alongside.
     
  26. BardParker

    BardParker Member

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    I have the OM-1n and the OM-4T. Both are great cameras, but I love the OM-1n the best. It just fits me and gets out of the way. I love the simplicity of the match needle metering.