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  1. #1

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    Going Analog: Olympus OM2 or Canon AE-1?

    I'm a regular DSLR shooter but want to try something different by going analog (cheaply). I've been researching several cameras and apparently the Olympus OM series, Nikon FM, and Canon AE series are highly regarded as oldies but goodies.

    I would like to have a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4, and a 28mm lens. I'd also like the camera+lens to be as small as possible.

    The Olympus OM2(n) is much more expensive on Ebay than the Canon AE, while I can't find many differences between the two models. That's probably because I really don't know what to look for in an old, manual 35mm body. I'd like to shoot with 3200 film, and apparently the OM2 auto-mode only goes to 1600, so that might be a disadvantage. That's all I could find.

    So, in short: what do I look for, and will both cameras produce equally good quality photographs?

  2. #2

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    If you take the time to learn and understand the camera and film then both with give you superb results. Especially with the lens and film combination you mentioned.

    The price difference was due to AE-1 being a very popular semi-pro camera during the early eighties and the program mode was a major step foreward at the time. Many more AE-1 were sold compared to OMs so the ebay price for AE-1 now is low, but doesn't mean in any way it is a lousy camera.

    I never owned or used an OM-2 but I was in the market for one a while back. So please correct me if I am wrong.

    On the OM-2 you can adjust + or - 2 stops with the knob next to the film advance lever, so that should give you the possibility to use ISO3200 film by giving an extra stop.

    However note that ISO3200 films have an actual ISO rating of about 1000-1200, and often give better results when used in auto mode at ISO800-1600. That should still give you the possibility to photograph in many night time indoor scene with regular lighting and have shutter speed of 1/15 sec when using the f1.4 lens.

    Implication is I won't worry too much about ISO1600 limit on auto mode, once you are used to the character of your camera and film, you can easily work around. What might possibly concern you is that the OM series have the shutter speed select is around the lens, some people like me can't get used to that.

    And a side note:

    Delta3200 exposed as 1600 and developed in PMK give surprising good results. There is an article at unblinking eye about that. http://www.unblinkingeye.com/Article...200_grain.html

    Also consider Spotmatic + Takumar 50/1.4, it is reasonably cheap still, and if it doesn't work for you then you can mount the takumar on your DSLR and have a happy time. The Spotmatic is as pure as they come. Cannon FD mount cameras have lots of cheap lenses and body available, AE bodies are cheap aplenty. Nikon I never liked because the bodies are expensive and I feel locked in to nikon system.
    Last edited by Hamster; 04-16-2009 at 07:56 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3
    geauxpez's Avatar
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    The biggest difference between the Canon and the Olympus is in the auto mode. The Canon does "Shutter Priority" and the Oly does "Aperture Priority". The Olympus is also a much smaller camera if that's what you are after as well.Both will give great results. The Canon is set up a bit more traditionally with the shutter speed knob on the top plate to the right (near the shutter button). On the Olympus, the shutter speed ring surrounds the rear of the lens on the lens mount. The Olympus design meas that if you are using the camera manually, you can support the camera with your left hand while you change the shutter speed and your shutter finger never leaves the shutter. With the canon, you have to use your right hand to change the shutter speed, taking you out of the "ready-to-fire" mode.

    If you intend to shoot a lot of on-camera flash, you may have problems with the Olympus flash shoe -- they are plastic removable thingies and got brittle with age.

    The Canons are prone to "shutter squeak". I'm not sure what that is, but it does not sound healthy.

    I had both bodies with standard 50mm lenses at one time. I sold the Canon -- I just loved shooting the Olympus.

    By the way -- the Olympus 50mm/1.8 is a brilliant lens and be had very inexpensively.

    If you are looking for a good auto/manual camera body, don't forget about the Pentax ME Super. They tend to be pretty affordable. It has shutter buttons that take a bit of getting used to, but it is a great compact camera (slightly smaller than my OM2n) with a solid hotshoe. Pentax manual lenses tend to be a bit more expensive because they are backward with their digital SLR's. I would certainly take the Pentax over the Canon. I have the OM2n and the ME Super right now and I keep flip-flopping.

  4. #4
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by relix View Post
    I'm a regular DSLR shooter but want to try something different by going analog (cheaply). I've been researching several cameras and apparently the Olympus OM series, Nikon FM, and Canon AE series are highly regarded as oldies but goodies.

    I would like to have a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4, and a 28mm lens. I'd also like the camera+lens to be as small as possible.

    The Olympus OM2(n) is much more expensive on Ebay than the Canon AE, while I can't find many differences between the two models. That's probably because I really don't know what to look for in an old, manual 35mm body. I'd like to shoot with 3200 film, and apparently the OM2 auto-mode only goes to 1600, so that might be a disadvantage. That's all I could find.

    So, in short: what do I look for, and will both cameras produce equally good quality photographs?
    *******
    OM2 over the AE-1 by a long shot. The AE is a competent, reliable, camera; the Om, despite having a larger mirror, is smaller, quieter, smoother, more ergonomically set up.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  5. #5

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    Oh one more thing, welcome back to film! You will like it!

  6. #6
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    The OM series are very high quality bodies...some would argue pro-quality (I would). AE1s were very popular and good cameras, but definitely targeted at the amateur market. Both have great lenses available. For me, the OM series has perfect ergonomics with very small bodies and lenses. The OM series is also about as quiet as an SLR can be. The faster OM lenses tend to be a bit pricey, but the 28 f2.8 and the 50mm f1.8 are cheap and wonderful...just not as fast. If you end up wanting a 100mm, the 100mm f2.8 is a sweet lens....and tiny.

  7. #7
    glockman99's Avatar
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    Get the OM2n. Trust me on this. Some VERY good Zuiko (Olympus) lenses can be had rather cheaply.
    Dann Fassnacht
    Aberdeen, WA USA

    glockman99@hotmail.com
    -------------------------------------
    My film cameras are all Nikons: F3HP, F4s, N90s, N8008, N8008s.

  8. #8

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    I have both. The shutter priority makes me grab the AE-1. The OM-2n is the superior one I think. The Metering was the first of it's kind on his time and even today it's outstanding. The Zuiko lenses are superior to the Canon ones I think. I have many of both Brands.

  9. #9
    Jeff L's Avatar
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    Hands down the Olympus OM2

  10. #10

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    and check KEH.com - they have bargain OM2n's for $59.

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