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  1. #1

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    Size matters: Olympus OM or Canon FD

    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.
    And the sign said, "long haired freaky people need not apply"

  2. #2

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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.
    W.A. Crider

  3. #3

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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.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  4. #4
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynecrider View Post
    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.
    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)
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  5. #5
    tony lockerbie's Avatar
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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. #6

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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.
    And the sign said, "long haired freaky people need not apply"

  7. #7
    Terry Christian's Avatar
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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. #8

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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. #9

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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?
    Dave

    "She's always out making pictures, She's always out making scenes.
    She's always out the window, When it comes to making Dreams.

    It's all mixed up, It's all mixed up, It's all mixed up."

    From It's All Mixed Up by The Cars

  10. #10
    nsurit's Avatar
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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

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