The Lesser OM Family Member
I'm still waiting for the terrible day when my faithful Olympus OM10 develops an infirmity or (Heaven forbid) gives up the spirit altogether. Not that I can detect any visible or audible signs of that calamity approaching, but browsing analog photo forums, including APUG, has convinced me that it cannot be far away, and I can only prepare myself to bear it with fortitude.
I have and use other cameras, but my old OM10 is very dear to me. I bought it second-hand in 1992, and for the past two decades the two of us have spent uncounted happy hours together, producing thousands of technically, if not artistically perfectly usable negatives. The faithful machine has never let me down: not once has it exhibited the smallest malfunction, not once has it displayed reluctance to comply with my orders, and not once has it complained of work overload. In return it has asked for nothing but occasional gentle cleaning, a little tender care, and perhaps a shining new lens on the occasion of an anniversary. Myself being well into the sixties, we have jokingly pondered which of us will outlive the other. I consider myself very lucky to have and hold this camera which has never spoiled a shot for me. "Who can find a virtuous SLR? for its price is far above rubies," about sums up our happy relationship.
Or rather did sum it up, until I unwisely did a generic search for "OM10" on various analog photography forum sites and had a severe shock. The number of posts maligning this camera is simply overwhelming. One is left with the impression that the OM10 - quite apart from being a waste of money and not worth using, let alone owning - was a catastrophe and a scandal, an insult to serious photography and ditto photographers. "Cheap; consumer grade; budget quality; crap; mass market; flawed design; junk; unreliable; frequent issues ..." In short: a camera not worthy of the name. Owners should expect it to disintegrate or melt down any minute. It's for the dustbin; it doesn't even merit an assignation as a doorpost.
For quite a while I was a broken man. There is nothing so disheartening as to have your prized treasure denigrated by supposedly knowledgeable experts. No matter how satisfied you have been with your possession so far, an ugly doubt enters your soul to fester there for ever after. There is a thorn in your flesh; the relationship has been tainted, the trust is gone. After reading the massive onslaught, I hardly dared take my OM10 out, lest the exertion of shooting a few frames make its poor, fragile innards stop working.
I was actually tempted to lay the camera to premature rest in a cupboard and finally go digital, because I felt that no other analog SLR would be able to take the place of my OM10 in my heart, but fortunately my brain started working again, and my usual spirit of obstinacy reasserted itself. I took a fresh look at the OM10. Didn't more than two decades of faithful service prove the detractors wrong, or at least not a hundred percent right? Expecting the worst, I loaded an inexpensive film and set out to capture some windy autumn impressions on silver gelatin, and soon the OM10 and I were clicking happily away just like before. The camera passed the test gallantly without jamming or breaking down, and as I hanged 36 well-exposed frames up to dry that evening, I decided to forget about all the ugly things I had read about this particular OM model, and trust my own experience instead.
While I am quite ready to believe that some OM10 cameras have given grief to some users, perhaps even to many, my own experience proves that not all OM10s are junk. When I rise to defend my defamed companion, I do so not least to give solace and support to other hitherto happy OM10 owners who might let themselves be depressed by the pervasive, sweeping criticism of their chosen tool. I also think that Mr. Maitani would have been gratified to know that there are photographers who do not consider the OM10 a sad mistake. The scathing scorn which some forum contributors see fit to heap upon the camera should be tempered, I think, with sympathy for the man who let the broad masses enjoy, in some measure and at an affordable price, the excellence of the OM camera series. And while we're at it, mass market products are not necessarily inferior (planned obsolescence being a quite different matter); as far as I know, the popular AK47 rifles, produced in really vast quantities, continue to give uniform satisfaction and are still in constant demand among those who shoot other things than pictures.
Admittedly, the OM10 is but a poor relative of the single digit OM aristocracy, but even a lesser member of a noble family deserves to be treated with civility, if not with respect ... if it behaves. Mine does. Still. Blissfully ignorant of any slander.
That information about Olympus deciding to "beef up" the OM's original film advance components was told directly to me by an Olympus Regional salesman. At the time, I was managing a large retail camera shop in NJ. We had a few OM film advance failures early on, which Olympus quickly fixed, and then assured us that the "problem had been identified and corrected."
Originally Posted by dsmccrac
The size and weight of the OM System were the big selling points, as well as the large viewfinder. Certainly, OM cameras were used in Vietnam, but the Nikon F was far and away the camera of choice because of it's heavy-duty construction.
The Lesser OM Family Member
Interesting story on the original advance levers being problematic on the OMs. I presume we are talking early OM-1? It is a lot to ask of a conversation that happened a while ago ;-) but do you remember when that was? The OM bodies i have bought are usually newer ones (and like the 2n the best) so maybe that is why I have not personally seen this issue. Also I know I am a small sample set haha.)
Even if I knew it would preserve the life of my OM, I am not sure I would use a powerwinder - the small size of the system is one of the things I like.
BTW, not challenging a rugged old Nikon could likely pound nails longer than an OM, but I do not baby my OMs ;-)
The Lesser OM Family Member
I have jammed the film advance on an om40 and one of my om4ts by just advancing too quick and with a bit too much force. Easily fixed by popping the bottom plate and unjamming though. But I carry two bodies when I can so it hasn't affected me.
Weak OM film advance
That's exactly what I was referring to in my original post.
Originally Posted by Newt_on_Swings
I seem to recall it was about 1973.
The next year saw the introduction of the Canon AE-1 and that became the hot camera in the amateur market. Canon sold more versions of the AE-1, AE-1P, AV-1, A-1, T50, T70, T90, etc. than any other brand.
Everyone else began playing catchup.
It wasn't until ten years later, when the Minolta Maxxum was introduced, that Canon's lead began to erode a bit.
Olympus, Fuji, Konica, Pentax, and Yashica, never fully recovered.
Only four lens mounts from those days remain today in the digital world: Canon EOS, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony (Minolta Maxxum).
From about 1965 to about 1995 were the "glory" years for 35mm SLRs.
The transition went from fully manual to built-in metering to automatic exposure to auto-focus.
Those were the days!
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The Lesser OM Family Member
Shame on anyone who denigrates the OM10! It was my first camera and it travelled all over the Sahara and West Africa with me, through dust and being dropped in a lake. It never let me down and led to a life-long love of OMs. I still have it, 32 years on, though now it's been joined by an OM1, 2 and a couple of 4tis. I know a lot of photographers who started on the OM10 and they all loved it.
More power to the so called lesser family member. Use what you like. I always take advantage when a model I like is denigrated by buying up an extra copy on the cheap! Sometimes the prestige models aren't worth the premium over the less glitzy ones.
It's really the glass that makes the pictures anyway, not the body, and Olympus glass has nothing to apologize for. I mostly settled on the '60s-'80s Nikon system these days because of the wider availability of used gear, but my experience with Olympus lenses was spectacular. Most of my lenses are worth more than the bodies to which they are mounted.
I confess I'm a gear nut within my price range. ;)
Nikon FM2n, FG, FG20, N2000, Nikkormat, Olympus Stylus Epic
Minox 35EL, Voigtlander Bessa-L
Yashica-D TLR 6x6, Seagull TLR 6x6
Agfa Isolette 6x6, Welmy 6x6
Kodak Tourist 6x9 Anaston lens